When tinkering with charges might not be enough

Take a look at the video explaining about SF Park, a federally-funded initiative in San Francisco to imrpove the efficiency of finding and using parking.

I like the objective, I like the easy-peasy visualisation and the fact that it is so impressive in its scale. What worries me is the logic behind it. Whilst the cost of parking is important – and could nudge behaviour – the proximity of spaces to your planned destination is so significant (particularly to such a perambulatory-challenged nation) as to put the kybosh on the scheme?

Even if parking is significantly cheaper three blocks away, is that sufficient to offset the extra walk? What if that area is one where the lighting and security is poor?

What about the execution: Parking places are spotted and taken so quickly in urban areas that checking availability online (even on a mobile device) is not particularly helpful to the driver. It might have relevance if your passenger is on a smart phone screaming, “two blocks north there’s a space … hit it!”, how about feeding this information into your TomTom or broadcasting on local radio?

Aside: When you go to a multi-storey car park and it says ‘spaces’, what sort of tolerance do they run? Is it a literal count in must <  out + spaces? Do they allow a 5-10 car tolerance to account for people frenetically driving around looking for space? In Kingston-Upon-Thames at least one parking facility has clever little marker lights at the end of vacant bays and incorporates a live count of space per floor to inform drivers and speed up the locate-and-park situation.

Nevertheless, what a nice federally-funded project. It’s about time basic tech was applied to this sort of problem. I would encourage you to add your thoughts to the comments.

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