Architects, city planners and parking industry experts are now imagining a future where parking lots will be turned into industrial kitchens, gyms and transportation centers where driverless taxis can be charged between trips. Parking lots that are difficult to find a new designation for because of the slopes built in, will be designated for demolition and will make their way to green sites or new development.
“We will not need street parking, we will not need parking lots or built-in parking lots and we will certainly not need low-level parking structures,” says Andy Cohen, co-CEO of the international architectural firm Gensler, based in Los Angeles.
Cohen and other experts say demand for urban parking spaces will soon plummet as a result of several trends.
Demand is changing
The rise of autonomous vehicles for sharing travel and tiny mobility vehicles like electric bikes and scooters will play a key role, experts say, as well as a lower rate of car ownership among Generation Z and Millennials. In addition, cities are moving away from minimum parking facilities that in the past forced contractors to build more square feet for vehicles than for office workers. Remote work and shopping from home – two trends that have accelerated the epidemic – mean that people travel less to the city center.
“This is going to change the demand for parking significantly, and in the long run, long before there will be autonomous electric shared vehicles,” says Marie S. Smith, senior vice president at parking and mobility consulting firm Walker Consultants, in relation to the decline in city center commuting. By 2040 or 2050, she predicts, demand for parking in city centers will drop to about 30% of pre-epidemic demand – close to 15% if a hybrid work week becomes the accepted norm.
“There will always be a need for parking, no matter what type of vehicle we drive in the future,” said Robert Zuritsky, president and CEO of Parkway Corp. But he calls the entire post-Corona period “one big experiment” given the change the hybrid work makes.
The idea of an urban street filled with robotic taxis or other autonomous vehicles led Gensler to design office buildings that have parking facilities that can be easily converted to their designation – even if it means the price at construction is 15% higher due to features like higher ceilings.
Center for many uses
The National Parking Association predicts that future car parks will be the father of multiple uses of transportation. There will be shops on several levels, and areas to unload and load goods at the front.
“Autonomous cars will be able to pick up someone in his neighborhood on demand and take him to the terminal where he will board a train to downtown,” said Giovanni Circle, director of the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at the University of California, Davis.
The range of electric cars will probably increase greatly, says Circla, and sometime in the future battery charging will only take a few minutes – two developments that will reduce the need for autonomous vehicle storage. Wherever autonomous cars are parked, the absence of a driver means they can be more crowded compared to today’s cars.
Since there are cars, people have needed a place to park them. A 2011 study by researchers at the State of Arizona and the University of California at Berkeley found that there were at least 722 million parking spaces in the United States at the time. That’s about three parking spaces for each of the approximately 240 million passenger vehicles.
“If truly autonomous cars become profitable and common, then we can end up with a situation where parking inventory is small or unnecessary,” said Michael Chester, an associate professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering at Arizona State University, who helped carry out the assessment.
As of 2017, in San Francisco there were 275,500 parking spaces on the streets. The city says that if they were put head to tail, they would be 1,440 miles longer than the entire length of California.
Voice command for parking
Even as demand continues to exist, companies are already rethinking how to operate parking lots. Parkway of Philadelphia wants to make it easier for drivers to find parking, get to it and pay without taking a printed card or taking out a credit card. The company has partnered with FlashParking from Austin to digitize its facilities so that drivers will use voice commands to ask the car to find a parking space.
In no time, drivers will be able to ask the car for parking tips and get questions like “Do you want to park very close to the point? Are you willing to walk a few blocks?” Said Donald Shop, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the city of Seattle, Flash is working with a parking lot operator to store 400 electric scooters in a parking lot close to Spice Needle, as part of a plan to disperse 500 such scooters in facilities across the city. There will also be mooring points for electric vehicles. “Parking plus last-minute mobility and parking that includes a charge for electric vehicles,” said Dan Sharplin, the company’s chairman. “These are two things we think have matured today.”
As for the existing car parks, Rafflin sees them functioning as logistics centers where shipping companies can move the contents of containers from trucks or crates to smaller vessels. Ghost kitchens for food delivery will work on the ground floor, Smith says. Underground parking lots can be turned into information centers or fitness clubs, Cohen said.
Before the plague, Flash helped the City of Las Vegas use excess parking spaces in an attempt to attract Uber drivers to get off the congested roads during low tide. In the evenings, two parking lots in the city that are barely used by tourists have been packed with furniture and toilets and Wi-Fi connectivity. The city recently launched the plan and it expects it will ease traffic congestion when tourism and travel apps get back on track, says Brandy Stanley, the city’s director of parking services.
The same model can be applied in a world dominated by autonomous vehicle fleets, only without the drivers and services.
Destroyers of parking lots will get expensive real estate after that, said Christopher Leinberger, professor emeritus at George Washington University. “They’re going to get out of the 20th century business they are in now,” he said. To be of much greater value. ”