How The Parking and Mobility Industry Can Promote Sustainability

May 7, 2021
By Ralf Quellmalz

In today’s business environment, sustainability trends have gained huge traction. Industries are moving towards creating more eco-friendly, sustainable, and green supply chains, products, and services.

While for authentically sustainable companies, green efforts are about preserving the environment and combating climate change and pollution, for others, it’s about staying on top of consumer trends to avoid falling behind the competition. Regardless of whether companies are embracing sustainability for the right reasons, the parking and mobility industry is no exception to this trend.

Whether we think of it or not, the mobility and parking industry play a fundamental role in driving sustainability in the world - especially around urban landscapes. The reality is that parking lots are always placed in very strategic places - right at the intersection of our communities and the mobility networks around them. Office buildings or restaurants, for example, are always surrounded by parking infrastructures.

The fact that parking lots are typically located in very strategic places within our communities, makes the industry critical in promoting greener, more sustainable forms of mobility.  

The Transportation Industry is the Biggest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation industry is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, comprising more than 29% of emissions. This refers to pollution coming from burning fossil fuels for terrestrial, maritime, and aerial transportation purposes.

Furthermore, there are more than 1.2 billion motorized vehicles in the world cruising the roads today. By 2030, analysts estimate that the number of motorized vehicles will at least double. Such a fact illustrates not only that the transportation industry’s emission of greenhouse gases will certainly keep on increasing, but also that mobility in cities and communities will worsen.

Increases in traffic congestion and pollution levels will certainly be the cause of headaches for cities all around the world. So deploying smart city parking and mobility solutions, as well as starting to future-proof cities now is among the best decisions city planners and administrators can make.

Investing in smart mobility solutions will most likely help decrease the number of greenhouse gases emitted by the transportation industry while also helping to improve urban life by reducing congestion and offering more sustainable modes of transportation.

The following are clear reasons why the parking and mobility industry will play a pivotal role in driving and promoting sustainability in the world, especially within urban landscapes.

The transportation industry, the greatest emitter of greenhouse gasses
The transportation industry is, by far, the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Reducing the Amount of Time People Spend Looking for Parking

According to research, on average, people spend 17 hours in a year just cruising in search of parking. Almost an entire day! If we multiply that average by the number of US driving licences held,  230 million people (2019) according to Statista, that gives us about 3.9 billion hours a year that American citizens spend looking for parking.

The reasons behind such statistics? Simple, yet highly complex: especially in urban areas, finding parking can be a pain.

Not only do most cities fail to digitize their parking landscapes, but they also fail to ensure citizens have access to crucial parking information - all of which worsens the problem. This prevents drivers from planning their journey in advance, easily find open parking spaces, and maximize the use of their time. All of which create unnecessary amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, harming the air quality we breathe.

Parking sensors can greatly reduce the amount of time drivers spend looking for parking
Parking sensors can greatly reduce the amount of time drivers spend looking for parking.

More Efficiently Integrating Parking with Cities and Communities

Oftentimes, parking infrastructures in cities and urban areas are treated as something completely isolated from their surrounding communities. As the International Parking and Mobility Institute informs, greener landscapes can be created by more effectively integrating parking infrastructures with campuses, neighborhoods, and communities.

By more effectively integrating parking lots with their surrounding entities, greener forms of transportation are inevitably stimulated. Communities can easily reduce people’s dependence on single private vehicles by promoting walkability, encouraging public forms of transportation, and creating safe bicycle lanes.

Promoting Micromobility

Micromobility is a form of transportation that is faster than walking, but slower than cars - such as bikes, scooters, and walking. Having said that, we’ve all been in a car sitting in traffic and what seems like a hundred bicycles and scooters pass you by! Micromobility is a very convenient way to promote sustainable mobility, as these methods of transportation often barely contribute to any greenhouse gases.

While the micromobility industry is growing at a fast rate, the reality of the situation is that many cities are not yet prepared to handle such mobility disruption. As McKinsey & Company highlights, the micromobility industry is expected to make a strong post-pandemic recovery.

Because these forms of transportation offer fewer points of contact and easily allow for social distancing, they are less risky than other shared modes of transportation and people will find them appealing as a result. The pandemic has brought a higher emphasis on hygiene, which can lead to people opting for micromobility options rather than taking the bus or ordering rideshare. Additionally, there isn’t any form of congestion when it comes to micromobility, which can further entice users.

Micromobility is a great way to reduce traffic and promote sustainability within cities
Micromobility is a great way to reduce traffic and promote sustainability within cities.

Improving Congestion Control

Technology will play a vital role when it comes to promoting sustainability in the parking and mobility industry. Gathering and analyzing data, for instance, can reveal valuable insights as to what streets or highways are most likely to be congested at a specific time and day. By having easy access to this kind of data, drivers will be able to better plan their journey and figure out the fastest and most convenient route to their destination.

Reducing congestion through smart parking and mobility solutions is a key way that city planners and administrators can better the lives of their people while also transitioning to greener forms of transportation.

Promoting the use of Electric Vehicles by Expanding Charging Stations

There is no doubt that the future of the automobile industry is electric. Almost every carmaker in the world has already announced plans to become fully electric at some point in the near future. Fossil fuel-powered vehicles are currently undergoing the late maturity of their product life cycle.

Parking can play a pivotal role in how people adopt electric vehicles. While there is still some fear and confusion regarding electric-powered vehicles due to battery life, disposal, and safety, it’s clear that sooner or later, there will be more electric than gasoline vehicles cruising the streets. Therefore, to support such a trend, cities can promote the adoption of electric vehicles by future-proofing parking lots and investing in EV charging stations.

Electric vehicles will require parking lots to be better prepared for them. Therefore, parking administrators should start investing in EV charging stations to better equip communities and campuses for their expected growth, encouraging people to build better trust and confidence in them.

Controlling Demand

In order to drive sustainable mobility, parking administrators need to control demand for parking by single use private vehicles. When parking comes at no cost, or artificially low costs, people lose the incentive to take greener modes of transportation such as walking, ride-share, and micromobility.

Dynamic pricing is a fantastic way to achieve this control over demand; as demand increases, so too does the cost of parking. Some examples where cities have done this rely on occupancy tracking to measure the demand, but this shouldn’t be a barrier to experimenting with dynamic pricing. Cities can look at historic meter data, or do manual surveys for relevant periods of time to get a baseline level of demand for different times of the day and days of the week.

Dynamic pricing in parking can promote sustainable mobility
Dynamic pricing is a great way to reduce the incentive for single private vehicle use.

Similarly, parking administrators can promote sustainable mobility by giving priority parking to low-emitting vehicles, ride-shares, and micromobility users. In doing so, parking managers will be encouraging people to opt for ride-share options and electric vehicles - both of which create fewer greenhouse gases and fewer carbon emissions.  

Parking Guidance Systems & Mass Transit Access

Some communities are already starting to use smart parking guidance systems. These small sensors, which are often placed either on the roof or on the floor of each parking space, notify drivers of which parking spaces are available and which are not.

For large surface lots or on-street parking, Spot recommends considering camera based occupancy tracking to provide these insights. Some of the most affordable are LTE cameras that repeatedly send static images to the cloud for processing using computer vision, to determine which parking spaces are vacant.

Smart parking guidance systems are an effective way to reduce the amount of time people spend cruising in search of parking - decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions emitted. Parking guidance has historically been focussed on on-site infrastructure, like those LED displays you see at shopping malls telling you how many spaces are available on each level. However, with the digitization of parking assets, parking managers can help guide customers before they set out on their journey, when they arrive, or in the case of events and temporary changes of conditions, through notifications. Spot specializes in this technology.

Similarly, both university and corporate campuses can start providing mass transit access to de-incentivize the use of single private vehicle use. For instance, especially for big universities, university campuses can offer shuttle services within strategic campus locations to encourage greener forms of transportation. Universities and corporate campuses can also invest in creating safe and enjoyable bike lanes to encourage students to get around campus by bike.

Sustainable Mobility is the Future

The future of the parking and mobility industry is green. This untapped and unexplored industry plays a critical role in the way we move, get around, and park - and can drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions created by the transportation industry.

Through the successful synergy between technology, design thinking, and the human touch; smart parking and mobility solutions will be key in ensuring that the least amount of energy, resources, and greenhouse gas emissions are exerted when getting around.

At Spot Parking, it is our mission to help universities and cities future-proof their parking and mobility infrastructures to help them promote smarter, greener, and safer communities. Through our smart parking solutions, we ensure that even the biggest campuses in the US are future-proofing their parking through customer-centric solutions - minimizing the amount of time, energy, and stress required when people plan their journey.  

Contact us today to see how we can take your mobility and parking infrastructure to the next level!

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