Parking in Motion

CNET has an article of interest about a new mobile app: Tiny start-up tackles big driving hassle: Parking

“[Parking in Motion], in its early stages now, is mostly a directory of parking lots and garages. Like GasBag, a database of gas stations and the prices they charge, Parking In Motion shows you how much you’re going to pay for parking at various lots. Users can update the data if it’s inaccurate. Great feature: the app has arrows to show where garage entrances are.
Ultimately, the app will do much more, according to co-founder Sam Friedman. First of all, it will show which lots or garages are full. This information can’t come from users–it’d be too late to be useful. Parking In Motion is instead working with garage operators to collect this data on a broader scale. But first it might have to help operators actually get that data themselves.
Tighter integration with parking structure operators will eventually allow drivers to reserve spots and to pre-pay for them–possibly with a discount. This is where Parking In Motion will make its money, taking a percentage of those transactions.
The app will also, eventually, offer advice on street parking. It won’t be able to direct you to a specific spot, unfortunately. Even though many cities are installing smart parking meters, the data collection is too slow to direct drivers to open spaces. Rather, Parking In Motion will collect data from users and meters and tell them which streets or areas are most likely to have open spots, and how long it will likely take to find them.
Down the line even further, Friedman has this vision: “Five years from now, you’ll be able to get in your car, find parking on the street, and pay for it from within your car. And then if you’re in a meeting and it’s running over, you’ll be able to re-up your meter from the conference table.”
The company’s flagship cities are Philadelphia and Santa Monica, Calif., where it has reservations and street parking data coming online. But it has garage data in about 300 cities, and the iPhone app is free and available in the App Store today.”

50 years of traffic wardens – Telegraph

The Telegraph reports on 50 years of traffic wardens

It was in September, 1960 – 50 years ago this year – that parking enforcement as we know it today began, when the first traffic wardens marched onto British streets.

In fact there were 40 of them and they inspired fear and fascination in equal measure as, in distinctive military-style uniforms with rows of gilt buttons, yellow shoulder flashes and yellow cap bands and with the power to issue £2 fines, they went in search of law-breaking motorists on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

The very first ticket was issued to Dr Thomas Creighton who was answering an emergency call to help a heart attack victim at a West End hotel.
The medic’s Ford Popular, left outside as he tended the victim, was ticketed but – just as happens today when mean or thoughtless wardens ticket hearses, ambulances (or even rabbits in their hutches…) – there was such a public outcry that he was subsequently let off.

Some things never change. Today, in the Borough of Westminster, where it all started, 200 parking attendants – or Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), as they are now known – patrol the streets.

And while their appearance has changed – witness the blue jacket, polo shirt, jumper, black trousers and baseball cap – and they work for the council instead of the police, their intent has not.

Last year Westminster issued 500,272 parking tickets, generating £69,301,000 and a surplus of £30,170,000. But it’s just one of 34 authorities issuing parking fines in London, which issued 4,151,901 tickets worth an estimated £337,911,693*.

A further 245 councils issuing tickets in England and Wales, by means of an army of about 18,000 parking attendants, issued 4,035,555 parking tickets in 2009, raising an estimated £267,761,347 in the process. Nationwide, Telegraph Motoring figures* suggest, drivers cough up £605,673,040 for parking misdemeanours.

Why Robot Cars Matter

Why robot cars (autonomous vehicles), as demonstrated by Google this week (and randomly captured by Robert Scoble in the video above), matter.

1. Safety – cars would be safe if only there weren’t drivers behind the wheel. Driverless cars seldom get distracted or tired, have really fast perception-reaction times, know exactly how hard to break, and can communicate (potentially) with vehicles around them with Mobile Ad Hoc Networks. But this improves not only vehicle safety, it improves the safety and environment for pedestrians and bicyclists.

2. Capacity – ‘bots can follow other driverless cars at a significantly reduced distance, and can stay within much narrower lanes with greater accuracy. Capacity at bottlenecks should improve, both in throughput per lane and the number of lanes per unit roadwidth. These cars still need to go somewhere, so we need capacity on city streets as well as freeways, but we save space on parking (see below), and lane width everywhere. If we can reduce lane width, and have adequate capacity, we can reduce paved area and still see higher throughput. Most roadspace is not used most of the time now.

3. Vehicle diversity – Narrow and specialized cars are now more feasible with computers driving and increased overall safety. Especially if we move to cloud commuting (as below), we can have greater variety, and more precision in the fleet, with the right size car for the job.

4. Travel behavior – if the cost of traveling per trip declines (drivers need to exert less effort, and lose less effective time, since they can do something else), we would expect more trips (my taxi can take me wherever) and longer trips and more trips by robocar.

5. Land use – if acceptable trip distances increases, we would expect a greater spread of origins and destinations, (pejoratively, sprawl), just as commuter trains enable exurban living or living in a different city.

6. Parking – my car can drop me off at the front door, and go fairly remotely to park, so we don’t need to devote valuable space to parking ramps (garages) (we still need space, it is just far away), searching for parking is also less critical. On street parking can be abolished.

7. Transportation disadvantaged – children, the physically challenged, and others who cannot or should not drive, are now enabled. Parents, friends, and siblings need not shuttle children around, the vehicle can do that by itself. The differences between transit and private vehicles begin to collapse. We can serious consider giving passes to driverless taxis for the poor, since costs should drop with lower labor costs, and if the point below holds, paratransit services become much less expensive as well.

8. Reduced auto ownership – cloud commuting becomes possible.People no longer need to own a car, they can instead subscribe to a car sharing service.

Parking Lots Help Predict Earnings

From GigaOM

Parking Lots Help Predict Earnings: “”

UBS Investment Research has started incorporating analysis of satellite images of the parking lots of big-box retailers into its earnings estimates, reports CNBC, forecasting an uptick in sales based on parking lot traffic where a drop was previously expected.

I imagine one could do the same with Traffic Counts for the economy as a whole, without requiring satellites, though it would not be store-specific.

With a Sit-Down Stand, a Briton Kicks the Boot






From NYTimes

With a Sit-Down Stand, a Briton Kicks the Boot:

“Mr. Zafaryab, 27, defied a tow-truck team by sitting in his car for 30 hours, eventually running up more than $6,000 in parking fines, as towing company officials, supporters of Mr. Zafaryab and police officers gathered in the delivery area behind a shopping plaza where he had started it all by parking for two hours in a restricted zone.

Eventually, with the popular hubbub rising, the towing company relented, after plastering Mr. Zafaryab’s windshield with more than 40 tickets, and settled for a $160 fine. But the episode, which occurred last Wednesday, had reverberations far beyond the showdown at the Plaza Parade in the London neighborhood of Wembley, where Mr. Zafaryab parked to visit a nearby mosque for his noon prayers — then decided to make a stand, as he put it, for “the little man.”

On Tuesday, the British government announced that it would introduce legislation in the fall banning private companies from clamping — the British term for what Americans know as “booting” — or towing any vehicle parked on private land, and limiting the companies to a regulated system of parking tickets.”

What they do to illegally parked cars in London (in this case, probably a stolen car as well), shown in the pictures, taken by me from my flat in 2006.

Illegal parking is of course wrong, but private law enforcement is a dubious practice.

Clock is ticking for Australia’s bikini-clad Meter Maids – Australasia, World – The Independent

From The Independent

For decades women in gold lycra bikinis have patrolled the streets of Surfers Paradise, the popular resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast, feeding meters to save motorists from parking fines.
The maids first appeared in 1965, the brainchild of a Surfers entrepreneur, Bernie Elsey, who wanted to highlight the opposition of local businesses to the introduction of parking meters. Since then, they have become an institution on the Gold Coast, a 21-mile strip of beaches backed by nightclubs, souvenir shops and fast-food outlets.

This is essentially advertiser sponsored parking.

Minneapolis limits street parking until April 1

From Strib: Minneapolis limits street parking until April 1

Minneapolis is banning parking on one side of most residential streets starting Thursday.
That day at 8 a.m., parking will be banned on the even-numbered side of non-snow emergency routes.
The ban will last until April 1, unless conditions allow it to be lifted earlier, the city said Tuesday.

This is an interesting experiment. (What data should be collected?) I think streets should be used for movement rather than storage of vehicles, though I recognize the traffic calming effects of parked cars.