With the push to re-invigorating downtowns, public officials and private developers are running into the problem of how to balance the parking needs for vehicles with that of the needs of pedestrian traffic, bicycles and public transit. Many communities are being pressured to offer less parking in an effort to encourage greener transportation and people-friendly streets. Communities are looking at the best ways to balance these issues.
Parking requires careful consideration of the specific patterns and needs of the area in question. Formulas are not enough. Often these formulas only calculate what the area needs today and does not look at where the community will be in five to ten years. Planners must consider the growth of an area and make adjustments to the amount of parking that may be needed in the future.
Developers should also consider the idea of rate stratification. When parking is free most people will want those spots that are closest to the front of the establishment they are entering. By requiring individuals to pay more for those spaces closest to the business, many people will park farther away for cheaper or free parking. This allows the developer to utilize the parking that already exists.
There are many other strategies that communities can utilize in order to maintain a balance, but also control costs. Strategic parking planning is a balancing act that public officials and developers need to be aware of and strategize accordingly.
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