parking – Mobility Lab https://mobilitylab.org Moving People... Instead of Just Cars Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:55:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Arlington to review parking recommendations for condos, apartments near Metro https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:39:26 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21663 This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog. Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong... Read more »

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This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.

Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong influence on the transportation choices that we make. That is why county policy encourages staff and the Board to:

  • Ensure that minimum parking needs are met and excessive parking is not built
  • Allow reductions in parking at locations well served by other transportation modes
  • Reduce parking requirements for affordable housing

Arlington County is reviewing a part of its policy on how much automobile parking developers must build with new apartments and condominiums proposed for Arlington’s metro corridors.

A Working Group, made up of Arlington residents as well as business stakeholders appointed by the County Manager, has been meeting since September 2016. The Working Group is putting the finishing touches on a recommendation to County staff.

Seven elements for flexible-yet-predictable parking minimum requirements

The Working Group recommends that:

  1. Parking minimums should relate to how far the apartment or condo building is from a Metro station.
  2. For each committed-affordable unit, allow fewer parking spaces than for market-rate units.
  3. If a developer provides extra bike parking, bike sharing or car sharing amenities as part of the project, then allow fewer private-vehicle parking spaces to be built.
  4. Allow developers to build garages where apartments or condos share parking spaces with offices, retail and other uses, depending on the time of day.
  5. Developers should be able to supply some or all of their parking for apartments or condos in another building or garage within 800 feet of the building.
  6. In some cases, allow builders to construct fewer parking spaces if site conditions make building that parking especially difficult.
  7. If developers build more than a certain amount of parking, they must take steps to ensure that the building does not generate excessive levels of vehicle traffic.

The Working Group crafted these recommendations based on previously established County policy, six guiding principles that members wrote and adopted and current practices in other similar communities.

Taken together, the Working Group’s seven elements would add more predictability to the development-approval process for residents and developers, and it would allow developers more room to decide how much parking they will provide as an amenity to their prospective residents. This would allow parking supply to better match parking demand as many buildings in the Metro Corridors have excess parking. Furthermore, if developers were to choose to build less parking as a result, then the community could benefit from lower costs to produce housing – especially committed affordable housing.

Of course, off-street parking is only one component of Arlington’s parking supply. However, the County will not make changes to the Residential Permit Parking program or hours of operation of rates for meters based on the Working Group’s recommendation. It’s also important to note that the Working Group process will not change the Zoning Ordinance’s minimum requirements.

What happens next?

County staff will take the Working Group’s recommendation into consideration along with input from the public to create a recommendation for the County Manager to approve and send to the County Board for adoption at its June meeting.

Arlingtonians, want to get involved?

Get more information on the Working Group’s recommendation at the project website. Staff will be posting the Working Group’s report there and opening an online survey that you can complete. You can also see readings and summaries of prior meetings.

Keep an eye on the “Project Dates” section of the page for more events where you can listen and share your views.

Photo by Sam Kittner for Arlington Transportation Partners, www.kittner.com

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Breaking the mold in the quest for the ultimate connected city https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/09/breaking-mold-connected-city/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/09/breaking-mold-connected-city/#respond Thu, 09 Mar 2017 22:17:17 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21529 This is part 2 of a two-part series on how advocates can create connected cities. Part 1 examined public agencies reshaping their transportation priorities. Pinellas County, Fla., just west of Tampa Bay, is one of several local governments in the nation to essentially embed Uber and Lyft into the local transit system. Transit riders can... Read more »

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This is part 2 of a two-part series on how advocates can create connected cities. Part 1 examined public agencies reshaping their transportation priorities.

Pinellas County, Fla., just west of Tampa Bay, is one of several local governments in the nation to essentially embed Uber and Lyft into the local transit system. Transit riders can get $5 back if they use those ride-hailing companies to connect to a bus stop.

Such a program from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority encourages a healthy public-private relationship and, more importantly, should make it easier for more people to not rely on private car ownership or be left in isolation because of their distance from transit.

Transportation should be viewed like a smartphone. It should allow everyone to be connected to opportunities throughout the rest of society, at reasonable and low cost. And this ride-hailing partnership with transit is a crucial example of how local governments can catch up and be responsive in a fast-moving world of technology-driven transportation options.

No longer should agencies partition buses and rail from all the newer private solutions. Simply put, shared services can be complements to transit. But this is just one way that cities can look beyond traditional thinking in their mission to better connect their transportation systems.

Public agencies must engage with private service providers

Like the auto companies that have begun aggressively investing in ride-hailing efforts, many transit agencies are ramping up efforts to form partnerships with providers like Uber and Lyft. Paratransit is one area ripe for cost savings and real-time service (rather than having to book rides days in advance) through transit agency use of private services like Lyft.

The major caveat here to work out is whether ride-hailing vehicles – with drivers who can spend lots of time driving in between fares – are actually making traffic in cities worse. The only place this has been measured, New York City – which has a unique, data-sharing contract with providers – shows that Uber and Lyft are worsening congestion. The research from the American Public Transportation Association, the University of California-Berkeley, and others have said the jury may still be out on the traffic impacts, but this is an area for local governments to concern themselves. Uber at least has taken steps to help the greater cause, having entered an agreement with Washington, D.C., and several other cities to share data with transportation planners in an effort to better manage traffic flows.

Once ride-hailing arrangements are smoothed out, the next great frontier is autonomous vehicles. In 2016, the U.S. government announced a $4 billion program for self-driving cars, and Pittsburgh took steps so Uber could use the city as an AV testing ground. How can other local governments feel comfortable and confident when considering to do what Pittsburgh has done? Or what Local Motors with its mini-bus Olli – formerly operating outside Washington, D.C. – is doing? For starters, cities need to map out all the pluses and minuses (especially financially) that AVs will bring. From there, they can implement regulations, policies, and plans to safely integrate in this mode of the future.

Don’t forget about transit

“The first thing we need to do is talk with our public institutions to try and make more partnerships, more connectivity, between the different modes, new and old,” said Paul Lewis, vice president of policy and finance at the Eno Center for Transportation, at a panel I moderated at this year’s TransportationCamp DC. “It’s not an easy task. Transit is one of the biggest areas we can do this.”

Indeed, the cities that create connections best will do so basing it off the existing core infrastructure of roads and mass transit. But we also can’t forget that to truly make this ultimate city work, people need to buy in to the concept of multimodalism. To help get there, companies like Ford  are leading the way toward one interactive pass or app that allows people to book, pay, and communicate with all travel options from anywhere. This seamlessness is key for the commute of the future.

Broadening the possibilities of the transit ride is also key. Where partnerships for transit might make the most sense is to have private companies “get people to transit from in-demand areas during off-peak hours,” according to Mobility Lab Director Howard Jennings, quoted in APTA’s Passenger Transport. This can reduce costs to transit agencies for pricey, low-ridership routes and bring in a wider customer base – a prospect that should be a more aggressive part of the mission for transit agencies. So-called “first-mile, last-mile” options are an area ripe for transit agencies to get involved, and some places are even going so far as to subsidize rides to and from transit. Orlando suburb Altamonte Springs, Fla., became the first city, about a year ago, to subsidize Uber rides to transit.

Another APTA report finds convincing evidence that on-demand modes, in many cases, complement – not replace – public transit. Transit consultant Jarrett Walker notes, “Many people who work inside of big companies [like Uber and Lyft] understand perfectly well how the profit motive conflicts with what you’d do if you were just trying to foster a better city, and many welcome regulation precisely to plug that gap.” As evidence appears that Uber may not be the answer to traffic dilemmas, the necessity for companies like it to work within a congestion-reducing framework grows even stronger.

And pricing itself will need to be worked out between all travel modes, which means car travel and parking prices need to reflect their true costs. When it’s cheaper to drive and park downtown than it is to take the bus or train or Uber, the multimodal, connected city goal will remain a fantasy. But there are signs of creativity to balance incentives: some European cities are paying residents to bike to work rather than drive.

Ideas for breaking molds

There are many directions cities could go to become “connected.” And while it could take larger cities with more staffing power to be able to do everything well, smaller cities could at least focus on a handful of these ideas, and do them well.

And as ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft get even more attractive as alternatives to transit, with dynamic in-ride app entertainment and cheaper casual-carpooling options, more and more transit agencies are examining how to use software like TransLoc that can make it easier to take services like Uber and Lyft to and from transit stations. Journalist Esther Dyson, who also spoke on my recent TransportationCamp panel, thinks this general idea can succeed far beyond city centers. “[Uber and Lyft] would have a real opportunity in small, less dense communities where there are people without jobs but with cars. They can dynamically schedule themselves,” she said, adding that hubs like hospitals and campuses could be ride-hailing hubs.

Parking is a ripe place for innovation, as it is generally overbuilt and underpriced. Santander, Spain, has become “the most connected city in Europe” because it’s focused on installing “smart” infrastructure such as sensors that monitor parking spaces. Sensor infrastructure can improve information about parking, and help people choose whether to drive or take other options.

Autonomous vehicles seem to be the elephant in the room. Cities want to prepare for them, but they don’t know how. Federal regulations and standards would certainly be a help in order to even the playing field, but there will likely be large shifts – more people might drive, parking and signage will need major reconfigurations, housing patterns will need to change – involved for the least-prepared places. A draft manifesto from several Cal Poly professors examines how AVs interact with pedestrians and people on bikes, but what about how AVs work with and complement mass transit? I’ve asked before: When cars can be summoned with a button and don’t require attention from humans, will it become even more difficult for transit to compete with the experience of autonomous vehicles? Grush Niles Associates have noted that planners should start mapping out various scenarios in which AVs could be linked into the existing transit foundations, including loops, small areas, large areas, cities, megaregions and routes where buses negate the need for AVs.

Biking, bikeshare (which increasingly see slight increases in travel share thanks to better bike parking and street infrastructure) and walking may soon have some company from electric additions: battery-powered people movers. Electric skateboards and hoverboards and electric bicycles could all soon close a lot of gaps in connecting people to transit options. It helps that 67 percent of those surveyed say they need a shower after a conventional bike trip, while 74 percent say they don’t after an e-bike trip, according to Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center.

And last but far from least, transportation demand management – which includes clear information about options – presents an inexpensive, effective path for forging and solidifying those connections. Arlington Transportation Partners in Virginia works with 221 local organizations in its Champions program to make sure residents and employees know about the many transportation options throughout the county. Places are also learning that their front-line transit information – maps – simply need to be clearer, because most of us don’t understand them. And, finally, to catch up with the allure of the personal car, TDM and marketers can promote these options to connect in more exciting ways that portray transit as the norm.

Having the freedom to walk from home to take bikeshare to the subway to get to work, then maybe take a Zipcar on the way home, should present an exciting opportunity for cities. Racing towards the ultimate connected city could allow for places to provide innumerable benefits like improved traffic, health, safety, environmental conditions, and overall quality of life for many more people.

Photo by Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com

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Single people in many metro areas becoming more car-free, with some exceptions https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/03/singles-metro-areas-car-free/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/03/singles-metro-areas-car-free/#respond Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:16:06 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21428 Ed.: In part 2 of her ongoing analysis of car ownership rates in the U.S., urban planner Sarah Jo Peterson examines how one-person households, or singles, have been buying more cars or going car-free in the first half of the decade. Below is an excerpt of her piece, which you can read in its entirety... Read more »

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Ed.: In part 2 of her ongoing analysis of car ownership rates in the U.S., urban planner Sarah Jo Peterson examines how one-person households, or singles, have been buying more cars or going car-free in the first half of the decade. Below is an excerpt of her piece, which you can read in its entirety here.

The transportation choices of Americans who live alone are important not just because singles make up more than one quarter of all households. Between 2010 and 2015, the 32 million one-person households in the United States became both more likely to live car-free and to have multiple cars. (Yes, a one-person household with two-or-more cars is a thing!) The transportation lifestyles of singles are shifting, even volatile. Moreover, their choices are an indicator that transportation lifestyles are polarizing across the states, and also across some of the largest metros and their core cities too.

Singles let go of cars in half of the 50 largest metropolitan areas by population between 2010 and 2015. Singles in 15 metros shifted to car-free living by more than 1.0 percentage point and by more than 2.0 percentage points in the metros encompassing Indianapolis, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. In just 11 metros were singles more likely to have more cars in 2015.

A number of metro areas show lower car-ownership rates among singles, while others have higher polarization (more car-free and more owners of multiple cars).

Like for the states, shifts tended to be towards the extreme transportation lifestyles. In the 25 metros where singles shifted away from cars, 22 metros showed increases in car-free living. Only in the metros encompassing Louisville, San Diego, and Atlanta were the shifts predominantly about dropping down to only one vehicle. Singles made living car-two+ more common in seven of the 11 metros with more cars. Only in the metros encompassing New York, Boston, Raleigh, and Cincinnati was the predominant shift a move from no car to one car.

Eleven metros experienced strong shifts away from cars, where living car-free went up and car-two+ went down. The eleven are the metros encompassing Hartford, Detroit, Milwaukee, Providence, Washington, Salt Lake City, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Riverside. Six metros polarized between 2010 and 2015: proportionally, more singles were living both car-free and car-two+ in the metros encompassing Indianapolis, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Dallas, and Charlotte.

Strong shifts towards more cars (car-two+ up and car-free down) only showed up in the metros encompassing San Antonio, Pittsburgh, and San Juan. Only in the metros encompassing Memphis, New Orleans, and Dallas did singles embrace living car-two+ by more than one percentage point.

Read the full post, which explains how, in some instances, singles led cities away from high car-ownership rates, here.

Photo: Townhouses and parking in Chicago (Ian Freimuth, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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12 ways developers can guide tenants to better transportation decisions https://mobilitylab.org/2016/12/16/ways-developers-tenants-transportation-decisions/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/12/16/ways-developers-tenants-transportation-decisions/#comments Fri, 16 Dec 2016 16:23:59 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19838 Real-estate developers and property managers have long been coming around to the simple business decision that, if they want to manage profitable projects and attract tenants, they should build and own near transit and other non-driving options. Just look at Detroit: A 2.5-mile streetcar system expected to launch in a few months to downtown is... Read more »

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Real-estate developers and property managers have long been coming around to the simple business decision that, if they want to manage profitable projects and attract tenants, they should build and own near transit and other non-driving options.

Just look at Detroit: A 2.5-mile streetcar system expected to launch in a few months to downtown is attracting a goldmine of $3 billion in development, with about 10,000 new housing units. On the other end, commercial real estate in car-dependent areas is proving to be far less valuable over the past decade than city cores or walkable suburbs.

This makes sense. According to Chris Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo, in a 2012 Brookings Institution study, 90 percent of increased economic performance can be explained by walkability, job density, and workforce education.

For developers in a competitive market, however, just building in these walkable, transit-rich locations is not enough. They, along with property managers, can further improve the attractiveness of their locations by taking distinct steps to ensure that their tenants make full use of those transportation options. These measures have the added benefit of reducing traffic and the improving the quality of life in the surrounding community.

Here are 12 key tactics developers creating projects near transit should consider in order to make their residents, customers, and visitors as happy as possible. The best thing is that these are no-brainer enhancements that are far less costly than the more infrastructure-focused elements of their properties.

Perform tenant surveys to understand people: Particularly if properties have a high resident-turnover rate or difficulty attracting new residents, perhaps it’s time to evaluate what the buildings are missing. On-site brochures and advertising about transportation amenities won’t make much difference if developers don’t understand how to target customers by first understanding their needs and motivations for why they choose to live near transit. A survey that asks residents questions about their commutes or barriers to trying new transportation modes could provide insight and lead to recommendations on ways to improve these amenities. For example, property management company Dittmar surveyed its Dolley Madison Tower residents in Arlington County, Va., to learn about what factors would attract them to a possible shuttle service, among other options.

Learn from past mistakes: Developers are acknowledging that car-oriented office parks are increasingly empty, which is why, for example, First Potomac Realty Trust got rid of more than two dozen suburban industrial buildings and is purchasing multiple properties along Washington, D.C.’s Metro lines, not to mention its bike-friendly streets. First Potomac’s chief executive Robert Milkovich recently noted the writing on the wall: “I’m just continually amazed at how many people are commuting around downtown by bicycle. I don’t think that was the case even five years ago.”

Gently remind people they can bike and walk: The San Francisco Planning Department has an attractive menu of options for its proposed transportation demand management program. Front and center are active-transportation elements that can open people’s minds to biking and walking, especially in the cases of new residents, the most likely to change a long-time habit. Those options include: improving walking conditions, adding bicycle parking and repair amenities, adding a fleet of bicycles, use of bike-valet parking for large events on site, transit and bikeshare memberships and discounts, and installation of showers and lockers.

Think creatively within site-plan mandates from local government: The San Francisco program works by awarding developers a certain number of points for every element they incorporate into their buildings from the draft menu of options. Two of those options might seem unrelated to transportation, but actually are: providing healthy food options in areas identified as being underserved (no longer need to travel to eat) and affordable housing units (fewer low-income people forced to live away from transit).

Get recognized for your work: Arlington County has a checklist of options for properties wishing to be recognized as a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level member in its Champions program run by Arlington Transportation Partners. Starting with just a handful of participants back in 2013, there are now 221 Champions, a sure sign that a little friendly competition can bring an entire community together to accomplish clear goals.

Set goals: To become a top-level Platinum Champion, employers in Arlington have to “achieve company mode-shift goals within one year.” That is pretty advanced, considering it requires actually having tenant mode-shift goals in the first place, and surveying to follow up.

Offer free money: Developers can lure people to their properties by simply offering the kinds of transit benefits building-wide that individual tenant companies have long offered their employees. Transit passes get people riding.

Display quality information: Some developers understand that boring information bulletin boards in lobbies don’t work for the needs of today’s mobile society. Wayfinding signs aren’t just for roads and highways anymore. Real-time transit-information displays and tailored, hyper-localized transit marketing are crucial to helping residents understand their sometimes overwhelming transportation options.

Provide pooling services: While individual building tenants may not yet be able to afford home-to-work shuttles, such options becomes more possible at the building-wide level. And there are also ways to improve traffic in a building’s neighborhood by offering passes and benefits for UberPOOL, Lyft Line, and other services; subsidies and priority parking for carpools, vanpools, and electric vehicles; and passes for car-sharing fleets like Zipcar and car2go.

Focus on the family: Back in San Francisco’s menu of options, the Planning Department lists incentives for developers who provide cargo bikes and shopping carts, storage for car seats near car-share parking, and on-site childcare services, which help remove the anxiety some parents feel about needing a personal car to make various stops along their daily commutes.

bike-parking-jon-fisher

Dedicated, secure bike parking

Forget about parking assumptions: At the top of options Arlington and San Francisco recommend to developers is to reduce, if allowed, the number of parking spaces on site. Some of the best ways to do this – and replace all those empty spots with something more lucrative – include separating the cost of parking from the cost of renting, leasing, or owning; allowing for only hourly or daily parking passes; and giving employees the possibility of “parking cash-out,” the option to receive the cash value of the space rather than the space itself.

Think about how people will get there: Better still, developers should grab a bike, walk around, and take transit lines directly to their buildings from every conceivable direction. Being in other people’s shoes will likely open possibilities that developers may not have envisioned otherwise.

Prepare for future cities: And finally, developers must not forget the dawn of the autonomous vehicle, already testing in places like Pittsburgh and Detroit. Most of these will likely – or at least hopefully, for the sake of traffic sanity – be fleet vehicles shared among groups of people. Much like how individuals should avoid paying too much for a garage in a new home, unless you’re Jay Leno, developers too should avoid going overboard on garages (or build them in smart, convertible ways). When shared autonomous vehicles are roaming the streets, they will, in theory, not need to go into those garages nearly as much. Redfin estimates one-third of urban real estate currently devoted to parking garages could become parks.

There is a lot here for developers to take into account. As people embrace more walking, transit, and other options, and the era of paving over America hopefully trends downward, there will be an awful lot of new real estate for developers to put to better use.

Photos: Top, a Metrobus on Columbia Pike in Arlington County (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com). Middle, a bike parking room at The Nature Conservancy in Arlington (Jon Fisher, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Arlington to refine its parking policy for multi-family residential properties https://mobilitylab.org/2016/10/20/refine-parking-policy-multi-family-residential/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/10/20/refine-parking-policy-multi-family-residential/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:49:52 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19290 This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog. Like many communities in the United States, the zoning ordinance in Arlington County, Va., requires developers to build parking for apartment and condominium residents. However, space is limited and land is expensive in Arlington’s urban neighborhoods. Each parking space in a garage can take up... Read more »

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This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.

Like many communities in the United States, the zoning ordinance in Arlington County, Va., requires developers to build parking for apartment and condominium residents.

However, space is limited and land is expensive in Arlington’s urban neighborhoods. Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build.

Parking supply and demand

When approving new development in the Metro corridors, the County must ensure that parking demand is accommodated without creating excessive off-street parking.

Many factors can influence the demand for parking at a specific building, such as building size, location and nearby transportation options. As new residential developments are being built in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis corridors, it is important that Arlington County have a clear policy about how and when to approve the amount of parking proposed for apartment and condominium projects.

Arlington’s residential parking working group

Arlington County is reviewing a part of its policy on how much automobile parking developers must build with new apartments and condominiums proposed for Arlington’s Metro corridors. County staff are leading the process with support from a consultant and a working group appointed by the county manager.

The goal of this project will be to deliver a recommended methodology and implementation plan to guide the county’s development-review staff in evaluating and approving the amount of off-street parking proposed under the Site Plan and Unified Commercial/Mixed Use Development use permit provisions of the Arlington Zoning Ordinance for new multi-family residential developments within the Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis Metro corridors.

Of course, off-street parking is only one component of Arlington’s parking supply. On-street parking is also part of Arlington’s parking supply. However, the working group is focused only on off-street parking in this process, and it will not recommend changes to the County’s Residential Permit Parking program or hours of operation of rates for meters. It’s also important to note that the working group will not recommend changes to the zoning ordinance’s minimum requirements.

Who is on the working group?

The working group includes 11 residents, representatives from Arlington’s various official commissions, developers, and business leaders to provide feedback to county staff. Having a working group allows the staff to involve and work directly with the public throughout the project to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood, considered, and reflected in the recommend county policy. See a list of the working group members here.

Get involved

1. Attend a working group meeting.

Working group meetings are open to the public. Anyone in the community who is interested in the project can join us and see the information presented as well as hear discussions firsthand. Meeting dates and times are posted on the project website.

2. Come to the Residential Parking Working Group Open House.

Working group members and county staff will host an informal drop-in session in mid-November (date and location TBD). Come learn about the working group’s efforts, ask questions, and share your thoughts

3. Get more information on the project website.

If you cannot make our meetings, follow along with readings and meeting summaries on the project’s “Documents” page.

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Seattle pilot will let buildings rent parking spaces as park-and-rides https://mobilitylab.org/2016/10/07/seattle-program-rent-building-spaces-park-rides/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/10/07/seattle-program-rent-building-spaces-park-rides/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 16:05:49 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19135 Though it’s made rapid progress in shifting commuters away from driving alone to work, Seattle is still looking to address ongoing congestion within the Puget Sound region. Now, the King County Metro is planning to launch a pilot to attract commuters to light rail and buses by allowing nearby buildings to rent their empty parking spaces... Read more »

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Though it’s made rapid progress in shifting commuters away from driving alone to work, Seattle is still looking to address ongoing congestion within the Puget Sound region. Now, the King County Metro is planning to launch a pilot to attract commuters to light rail and buses by allowing nearby buildings to rent their empty parking spaces to commuters.

The Washington Business Journal writes that the pilot will be open to residential and multi-use buildings, though pricing details are yet to be determined:

Participating property owners need to offer at least 20 spaces in garages or surface lots that have safe pedestrian connections and adequate lighting.

Focus group participants indicated a willingness to pay $44 to $110 per month for a guaranteed park-and-ride parking space. King County Metro will market the program and Diamond Parking will let customers find, reserve and access the parking spaces.

With the area’s light rail system expanding (one new station opened last month, and two in March), Seattle transit is well-poised to appeal to those who typically drive through areas that previously had little or no light rail access.

By renting out existing, unused parking spaces in residential building garages, King County Metro could accomplish a tricky aspect of park-and-rides: expand the availability and allure of spaces near transit centers and stations, but also not harm the livability, walkability and value of the neighborhoods near stops. The pilot would make a productive use of spaces in buildings that would otherwise be sitting unused and empty throughout the day.

When it starts in early 2017, the program will be an interesting test in appealing to drive-alone commuters.

Photo: A Sound Transit Link light rail train (Joe A. Kunzler, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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In LA, Rams’ return creates parking demand “laboratory” https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/23/la-rams-return-creates-parking-demand-laboratory/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/23/la-rams-return-creates-parking-demand-laboratory/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:32:38 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19033 Last week, the Los Angeles Rams played their first home game since returning to Southern California. And while it took place in their temporary home, the LA Memorial Coliseum – a historic stadium that has twice hosted the Olympics and currently hosts USC football games – the arrival of the NFL created a unique transportation-demand situation,... Read more »

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Last week, the Los Angeles Rams played their first home game since returning to Southern California. And while it took place in their temporary home, the LA Memorial Coliseum – a historic stadium that has twice hosted the Olympics and currently hosts USC football games – the arrival of the NFL created a unique transportation-demand situation, specifically when it came to parking.

While season ticket holders could pay $50 for a spot, the LA Times’ Brittny Mejia described a surge, where nearby lots charged hundreds of dollars for a single spot, creating a “laboratory” for transit and parking demand.

The LA Coliseum is especially notable since it’s blocks from two stops on the recently-extended Expo light rail line, which now runs from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Mejia writes:

A group of urban planners have long supported hefty parking rates as well as high road tolls as a way of encouraging motorists to get out of their cars and use public transportation.

Some cities – especially those with extensive mass transit systems – have adopted these “congestion pricing” concepts. L.A. is a tougher case because rail service is limited and so many people still get around by car.

But backers say the Coliseum offers a good test case because it’s close to the Expo Line and several bus lines and it’s also served by ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA and parking policy expert, says sky-high parking prices could be exactly what L.A. needs. Price gouging could motivate otherwise reluctant Angelenos to embrace the many mass transit alternatives to the Coliseum.

There’s some indication that fans might be taking notice already. In just the preseason, the Los Angeles Daily News noted that the Rams games boosted Expo Line ridership nearly 30 percent above its typical Saturday numbers.

And in general, LA Metro reports that the Expo line is drawing a number of riders new to transit: at least 70 percent of riders at the new, western stops were not previously regular Expo riders. Though the prices featured in the LA Times are extreme (as the demand surely is), accurately-priced parking is a key tool for encouraging drivers to try out transit and other options. As the LA Rams have three seasons to play in the Coliseum before moving to their new stadium in Inglewood, the transportation scenario – and parking prices – will be something to keep an eye on.

Photo: Packed parking in Santa Monica (Chris Goldberg, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Park(ing) Day: The annual glimpse into livelier streets https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/16/parking-day-glimpse-livelier-streets/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/16/parking-day-glimpse-livelier-streets/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2016 19:16:19 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=18988 Since the first pop-up parklet conversion in 2005, the third Friday in September has become an international holiday celebrating a vision for streets beyond the car default. Today, five parklets appeared in the streets of North Arlington, while more than 30 can be found across the river in the District, with more still in Montgomery County... Read more »

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Since the first pop-up parklet conversion in 2005, the third Friday in September has become an international holiday celebrating a vision for streets beyond the car default.

Today, five parklets appeared in the streets of North Arlington, while more than 30 can be found across the river in the District, with more still in Montgomery County and Alexandria.

In terms of transportation demand management, Park(ing) Day is about looking ahead into an environment where fewer people get around by driving. Limiting parking – and ideally dedicating that space towards other uses – is a key TDM lever to guide people toward more efficient modes. 

So what if residents, workers, and businesses discovered that they would rather their streets include benches, mini-libraries, green space, and other things that would bring life and activity to the area? What about massages or games?

 

Park(ing) Day showcases a move past our current default of “parking spot” for curbside use, suggesting instead “public space for public use.”

courthouse-parkingday

The Courthouse parklet. Photo by author.

In Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood, the parklet (above) is actually an ongoing pop-up park, which replaced a number of parking spaces at the block-wide Courthouse surface parking lot. The county hopes the small, shaded space will help passersby envision what the entire area will be like as a public park space, as depicted in the Courthouse Square plan. That plan even includes shared streets in which people, not cars, are given the priority and can walk within the street right-of-way – a definition that Arlington County is considering adding to its Transportation Master Plan.

And that’s perhaps Park(ing) Day’s greatest feature: with a few pieces of turf and a bench, it makes it easy to envision a better, less car-dedicated use of our communities.

Did you see any greater Park(ing) Day parklets in your area? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Below are a few of our favorites we’ve seen so far:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKa0r-pBxB_/

Above, D.C.’s 13 councilmembers all gave up their dedicated parking spaces for the day.

 

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How to get inventive transportation projects right early on https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/07/get-inventive-transportation-projects-right-early/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/09/07/get-inventive-transportation-projects-right-early/#respond Wed, 07 Sep 2016 17:59:08 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=18917 In 2013, the city of Nice, France, launched an ambitious “smart parking” service that allowed drivers to find available parking spaces in real-time through a smartphone app. In order for the system to work, the city paid 10 million euros (or about $11.3 million USD) to install hundreds of sensors next to parking spaces, as... Read more »

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In 2013, the city of Nice, France, launched an ambitious “smart parking” service that allowed drivers to find available parking spaces in real-time through a smartphone app.

In order for the system to work, the city paid 10 million euros (or about $11.3 million USD) to install hundreds of sensors next to parking spaces, as well as 291 payment booths across the city. This was a steep price tag, but the system quickly became a model for innovation within smart-city circles and gatherings.

However, Le Monde reported this May that the city has shut down the system and is returning to old-fashioned parking meters. How did a smart-city case study turn into a 10-million-euro failure? The same article suggests that its usage wasn’t properly tested. For instance, authorities failed to consider that people shouldn’t look at their smartphones while driving, or that double-parking is rampant in Nice and reduces demand for the designated spaces.

Whatever the actual reasons were, this 10-million-euro flop raises an important question: How can we anticipate how people will ultimately use innovative urban projects?

Lessons from Calgary’s quick-build bike tracks

The obvious answer is that cities should apply user-centered design principles when building these sorts of projects (such as simple test-and-learn methods). Unfortunately, the politics involved in urban projects have a way of making rapid prototyping not so rapid, which means that cities need to find creative ways to gather insights from users.

A great lesson can be learned from Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi. At this year’s Bits and Bricks forum, Nenshi explained how his city tackled both the complexity of planning infrastructure that will actually be useful to citizens, and the usual public resistance to allocate car space to bicycle lanes.

In 2015, the city deployed a one-year pilot program with temporary quick-build bike lanes. This means that test tracks could be deployed fast, not only from a construction point of view, but also politically. Indeed, the mayor pledged to keep a close watch on the consequences of the lanes and adapt them if necessary:

“I believe in experiments and I believe in trying things out, so we’re going to measure this very carefully and measure the impact on cars, we’ll measure how many cyclists there are, we’ll measure the impact on local businesses.”

To achieve this result, the city equipped the lanes with sensors at strategic points in order to measure bike usage. This allowed it to confirm usage patterns that would otherwise be considered assumptions and, by making this data accessible to anyone online, it eased political consensus by making the whole experiment fully transparent.

According to Nenshi, despite the fact that bike traffic tripled along specific lanes in the first month, some skeptics would still argue that the tracks weren’t being used. Not anymore: “My response is ‘go to this website and you will see precisely how many bikes went by this track on that day,’” said Nenshi.

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When data-driven design meets transit in Paris

The case of Calgary’s quick-build lanes can prove useful for future projects where there is no impeding infrastructure in place. But how do we gain access to similar insights when working around established large-scale infrastructure? For instance, how would we achieve the same results for the massive suburban rail network in Paris without spending millions in gathering data across the region’s 500 stations?

France’s railway operator SNCF explored this idea during a recent research study. The idea was to link data from trip-planning websites with real on-site statistics such as ticket validation and selling data.

scnf-data

By analyzing 100 million requests made across three months, SNCF found a very precise correlation between online trip-planning requests and the other data sources that indicate passenger traffic. These findings could prove to be extremely useful, not only because it is a very cost-effective way to gather data, but also because it allows the anticipation of traffic from between a few hours to a few days in advance.

Transportation operators can use this data to adjust services in real-time when there is an anticipated traffic spike (for example, allocating more people to guide travelers at train stations) or it can serve as data for studies and transport planning when traditional sources are nonexistent.

As Nenshi says, good data drives good decisions.

Photo, top: Crowds at Paris-Gare de Lyon train station (Patrick Janicek, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Drive less, earn a bike: Employers thinking big with TDM programs https://mobilitylab.org/2016/08/31/drive-less-earn-new-bike-employer-tdm/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/08/31/drive-less-earn-new-bike-employer-tdm/#respond Wed, 31 Aug 2016 14:46:33 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=18895 When Sonos wanted to move its Santa Barbara headquarters into a new downtown location, the wireless speaker company became very aware of the potential traffic impacts. After all, the company’s previous location had been two small buildings outside of the city core. And the city of Santa Barbara had its own site requirements for the new office, part... Read more »

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When Sonos wanted to move its Santa Barbara headquarters into a new downtown location, the wireless speaker company became very aware of the potential traffic impacts. After all, the company’s previous location had been two small buildings outside of the city core. And the city of Santa Barbara had its own site requirements for the new office, part of which called for a reduction in driving commute trips.

But rather than do just the minimum of transportation demand management outreach to employees about non-driving options, Sonos went full-on with an ambitious commuter program, called SmartRide, which gave employees the option to ultimately earn themselves a brand-new bicycle.

Speaking at the Association for Commuter Transportation annual conference this month in Portland, Oregon, Sonos senior facilities manager Allison Griffin explained how the company sees transportation options as a way to attract new employees and improve the work-life balance.

Sonos’ SmartRide program was more than a new bicycle – the company chose to offer employees two paths. In the “fast cash” option, employees could cash-out of their parking, receiving some of that money instead as a daily bonus for their non-driving commutes. After a certain number of biking commutes, the employee would receive $600 toward a new bicycle at a local bike shop. The “flexible” option keeps driving to on-site parking as an option, has lower cash bonuses for active trips, and requires more trips in order to earn the bicycle credit. A vacation-day raffle, with entries generated through biking trips, was also integrated into the system.

An internal survey of Sonos staff informed this incentive structure. Nearly two-thirds of employees lived within five miles of the campus and 86 percent said they preferred not to drive, suggesting a high potential to move people towards biking commutes.

Griffin reported that more people enrolled in the parking-less, “fast cash” option than the “flexible” alternative. Eventually, the campus was covered with new bikes, the visibility of which helped draw the attention and enrollment of even more employees. A year later, 38 percent of employees are participating, and Sonos plans to adapt the SmartRide program to its other locations in Boston and Seattle.

While not every employer has such a high potential for a bike-to-work modeshare, many stand to gain from small shifts away from excessive employee driving, such as bonding with the surrounding community to alleviating expensive parking crunches.

SCH locationThe Seattle Children’s Hospital is one employer uniquely attuned to that parking demand. On an average day, the hospital draws about 6,000 people, but only has 1,200 parking spots. In addition, as a condition for its future expansion, Seattle mandated that the hospital reduce its drive-alone commutes to 30 percent by 2030, an ambitious goal for an employer located outside the city’s urban core.

Jamie Cheney, the hospital’s director of transportation, explained at the ACT conference how parking had been addressed twofold: by allowing only daily rates that are adjusted annually (since monthly rates ultimately create a driving incentive), and by subsidizing non-driving commuters. Similar to Sonos, they loan bikes to employees who ride at least two days a week, even offering biking classes and a service shop on-campus. Any employee who logs a non-driving commute trip receives a $4 bonus.

The hospital is already well on its way to the ambitious drive-alone goal: in the last 20 years, it has reduced the number of commutes by single-occupant vehicles by 35 percentage points – to 38 percent. About 20 percent of employees carpool and another 20 percent take transit, and the 9 percent biking rate is just short of its 10 percent goal.

As a children’s hospital, Cheney noted that SCH has a unique driver for reducing driving, idling, and congestion around its campus: many patients suffer from respiratory conditions that are exacerbated by nearby car exhaust. Asthma and bronchitis comprise the first and third, respectively, most common reasons for admission to the hospital. Depending on an employer or building’s demography and location, the rationale behind TDM investments often extends past the more immediate traffic concerns.

The slate of incentives that Sonos and Seattle Children’s Hospital offer aren’t exactly the norm for TDM programs – each company has unique circumstances that informs their potential offerings. But the two case studies demonstrate the full array of options available to employers that can help influence employees’ commuting decisions.

Photo: Top, bike parking at the Seattle Children’s Hospital (Adam Coppola via the Green Lane Project, Flickr). Middle, SCH’s location outside of downtown Seattle (Google Maps).

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