A shared parking facility can be defined as any shared parking area that allows for multiple drivers to park with closer proximity to one another, and therefore more efficiently.
Municipalities like the City of Seattle are known to have as many as five parking spaces per household. In urban settings similar to Seattle, residents are known to navigate from one parking structure to another as they visit multiple planned destinations.
For many destinations, it’s common to have a parking facility designated exclusively to their own location. Though this is familiar, having separate parking facilities for each building often results in mostly empty parking lots, heavy traffic, and neighborhoods that aren’t very accessible or walkable. For dense urban clusters, the implementation of shared parking structures has been a groundbreaking parking management strategy. This strategy has proven to optimize space utilization and improve the walkability of neighborhoods where residents can easily access local businesses.
Shared Parking Structure Partnerships
The first step to implementing a shared parking management strategy is to identify potential candidates to partner with. Most often, public-private partnerships make sense, since a parking structure can switch over to public use once a business closes.
It’s sometimes possible to find private-private partnerships between businesses with peak hours that won’t overlap. For instance, a bank could rent its parking lot to a restaurant in the evening.
Drivers tend to pick parking options that are 300 to 1,000 feet away from the buildings they need to visit. Parking spots that are 500 feet away from the two or more businesses or public facilities sharing the parking structure are ideal.
Top Considerations for Shared Parking Facilities
Not only should proximity to neighbouring destinations be considered, but it’s also important to assess if an existing parking structure would be a good candidate for a shared parking facility program. Here are a few things to consider:
- Peak hours. Whether it’s for public or private use, it’s important to ensure that peak hours for nearby buildings won’t overlap and exceed the capacity of the parking structure.
- Seasonal use. Parking utilization can vary from one season to another for some businesses. Local events (such as football season in a college town) could also increase the need for public parking over a short period of time.
- Nearby public transit options. Residents are more likely to pick a shared parking facility with a convenient connection to the next leg of their trip.
- Neighborhood walkability. One of the benefits of a shared parking facility is to have residents leave their vehicles in one spot while they run multiple errands, which requires a safe, accessible and walkable neighborhood.
- Future proofing. To anticipate future needs, amenities like EV charging stations, license plate recognition technology, contactless payments, and spaces designed for ride-hailing or ride-sharing would reduce costs and support the adoption of these innovations.
Shared parking facilities work best when they’re part of a broader urban development strategy. It makes the most sense to place these facilities near dense urban clusters where pedestrians can easily go from one building to another after parking.
Analytics can be a valuable tool in identifying the best spots for shared parking structures, matching new projects to existing demand for parking, and creating reliable projections for peak hours, seasonal use and revenues.
Addressing Existing Barriers
Identifying and addressing potential barriers to adoption will ensure that shared parking facilities are a success. Here are some strategies that can improve adoption:
- Adding public transit options near the shared parking facility.
- Revising local zoning ordinances to create mixed-use development zones with more buildings that would benefit from sharing parking facilities.
- Replacing minimum private parking requirements with parking in-lieu fees to foster public-private partnerships.
When considering shared parking facility adoption, various factors come into play to determine the optimal locations and partnerships for your area. Especially for dense urban clusters, identifying the ideal solutions will help maximize space and encourage walkability, leading to a more neighborhood-friendly and easily accessible city.