It is not news that vehicle emissions have an enormous impact on the environment. Technological advances are making a positive difference, however, it takes time for society to adopt those changes particularly when there is an obvious individual cost associated with making a change. The big wheel moves slowly to say the least.
One thing that can make a difference in the short term is simply redesigning the process to work with existing technology or current methods. Offering alternatives without impacting cost or the final outcome is where technology is playing a large role in reducing the time it takes for drivers to locate available parking spots. Sites such as ours are taking the technology to a level where drivers can save time and money by using the online service to locate, reserve and pay for parking without even starting the car. Looking for a parking spot can be glacial – but it doesn’t have to be.
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The hunt for parking spaces is not just frustrating, it is a major contributor to congestion, says Paul Watters of the UK’s Automobile Association. “Most people are creatures of habit and like to park in the same area, so if their preferred spot doesn’t have any spaces they will often drive around waiting for one to become free rather than searching further afield.”
That means more emissions. According to a 2007 study by Donald Shoup at the University of California, Los Angeles, drivers in a 15-block district of LA notched up a staggering 1.5 million kilometers a year looking for parking spaces. That’s the equivalent of 38 trips around the Earth, 178,000 liters of wasted gasoline and 662 tons of carbon dioxide.
As the majority of the world’s population moves to metropolitan areas, key city systems, including city streets and transportation systems, are being strained to the breaking point. Additionally, vehicle emissions resulting from drivers looking for parking are so closely linked that a year-long study found that drivers in a 15 block district in Los Angeles drove in excess of 950,000 miles, produced 730 tons of carbon dioxide and used 47,000 gallons of gas searching for parking. As well as frazzling tempers, this circling produces copious pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Around the world, commuters deal with the daily struggle of finding a parking space. In fact, experts estimate that this causes 30 percent of urban traffic congestion. A global survey of commuters in 20 international cities conducted by IBM found that nearly six out of 10 drivers had abandoned their search for a parking space at least once and drivers have spent an average of nearly 20 minutes in pursuit of a coveted spot. Studies further suggest nearly one-third of downtown traffic consists of drivers seeking parking spots. During peak shopping times it’s likely the same story on those paved acreages surrounding suburban shopping malls.
In congested urban areas parking of motor vehicles is time-consuming and sometimes expensive. Urban planners must consider whether and how to accommodate or ‘demand manage’ potentially large numbers of motor vehicles in small geographic areas. Usually the authorities set minimum, or more rarely maximums, of the number of motor vehicle parking spaces for new housing and commercial developments, and may also plan its location and distribution to influence its convenience and accessibility. Many building owners now prefer to use the space for higher-yield commercial use than car park use. This opens up the door even further for drivers to consider residential parking spaces as a viable option.