“Future of Parking” designed by Shiku Wangombe

Something I’ve been contemplating for a little while as part of my revisit to disruptive urbanism is the future of parking.

Self driving cars are all the craze, and with good reason. There are a multitude of companies and individuals making the push towards fully autonomous vehicles, with some companies like Uber hoping to make self driving cars ubiquitous by 2020. That’s only three years away.

Some predict that the rise in self driving cars will herald a decline in car ownership. This leaves the future of parking somewhat compromised: if everyone is using autonomous vehicles, what does that mean for parking?

First, the facts:

1. It is estimated that there are 3 non-residential parking spaces for every car in America (NY Times). The effects of this is an increase in the heat island effect due to excessive paved terrain.

2. Cars are parked 96% of the time.

3. Parking garages take up a lot of space, especially in cities like Los Angeles that were built for cars.

 

Some assumptions:

1. Many of the autonomous vehicles of the future will be solar powered/electrical. As such, charging stations will need to become as ubiquitous as parking meters.

2. As vehicles become integrated with the Internet of Things, there will exist mobile platforms that will enable users to locate parking spots and charging stations.

3. One assumption I previously made when I first thought about this is that parking may also be monitored through online applications, and payments be made wirelessly on those same platforms, and thus, there will be no need for meter maids. But why would someone need to pay to park a car that is not theirs? It’s more likely that they would pay to use the vehicle, but not to park or charge it. Parking itself will be demonetized as car ownership decreases, thus becoming an urban utility.

4. Parking garages will undergo programmatic shifts to enable new functions, such as urban farms, living spaces and more, since there will be less need to park. Some architects & designers are already developing proposals to that end.

5. Since vehicles will be shared, there will be an increase in their utility and they will spend much less time parked. This, in concert with a decrease in required parking spaces may allow for the development of more open, public spaces in urban areas.

6. The cost of using these technologies will become drastically cheaper, and thus transportation will be democratized.