Parking It

(Photo: via Government Technology)(Photo: via Government Technology)

I remember being in Paris once and after a few days it occurred to me I had not seen an available parking space.

Ah yes, the parking space. Surely there is a commodity exchange for those? And anger management courses?

Well, the city of Los Angeles has a new system where you would pay more for the prime public parking spaces and less for the ones where you will have to walk. What will we use algorithms for next?

The idea of course is that if you are prepared to suffer a little it will cost you less to park, and in the process, the spaces available in any given area are more evenly shared creating a better “parking experience.” Or, of course, the wealthier people simply have an easier shot at the better spaces.

But if it changes parking habits then it will change use and design and even construction practices. Parking is still something of an art or a guess for many parking agencies, so complex is the math (hence the algorithm). But providing those spaces works its way into any urban plan (and if you err, err on the side of too many if you can) and the more information there is about their use, coupled with some sort of system to influence use patterns, perhaps the more efficient the future of downtown road network design.

For something that is nothing more than a piece of ground with white lines on either side, parking spaces can be a source of some serious angst.