Parking Facilities: Policy

Parking lots serving shopping centers, office complexes, and industrial uses often contain an excessive number of parking spaces. Seldom used areas within parking lots represent an inefficient use of land and underused parking facilities create an unnecessary increase in impervious cover, resulting in additional stormwater runoff. The increase in impervious cover and runoff has the potential to limit groundwater recharge and increase downstream flooding. An overabundance of parking facilities can also result in unnecessary financial responsibilities associated with maintaining parking lot surfaces, landscaping and lighting.

In addition, roadways in Chester County are becoming more and more congested. The opportunities to relieve congestion through construction of new roads are very limited and costly. Travel demand management is a means to mitigate congestion by giving commuters opportunities to get to work by means other than driving alone in an automobile. One means by which this can be accomplished is through carpooling and the use of park and ride lots at key locations.

This tool focuses on how a municipality may utilize and/or regulate parking facilities through parking management planning as well as the use and potential development of park and ride facilities to mitigate traffic congestion. The 'Parking Facilities: Design' tool focuses on the physical design attributes and improvements that communities should consider for the development of parking facilities.

Advantages

Parking management plans can provide the following benefits:

Park and ride lots can provide the following benefits:

Limitations

The following limitations are associated with parking management plans:

The following limitations are associated with park and ride lots:

Implementation of Parking Management Programs

A parking management program can ensure that a municipal parking system operates as efficiently as possible, provides an adequate number of parking spaces, and is effectively managed. To achieve this, a parking management program is used to evaluate parking supply, determine current and future parking requirements, evaluate current policies, and implement plans to meet current and future parking needs.

A parking management program is usually associated with urban centers where on-street parking and parking fees are typical. However, parking management should be viewed from a wider perspective as it can relate to a variety of areas. Many municipalities, whether urban or suburban often discover that certain areas or uses have either a surplus or a deficit of available parking or find that there are concerns with the management or use of parking facilities. In urban centers, it is not uncommon to have parking deficit problems where older and more compact development patterns exist without considering today's auto-dependant society. The apparent lack of parking or inaccessible parking in a downtown or commercial center is often viewed as a major reason for the decline of downtown commercial business. Equally important, a parking deficit in a commercial area can cause parking to overflow into nearby residential neighborhoods.

Process

A parking management program can be created to analyze an individual parking problem or to establish a long-term municipal program. The preparation of a study to address an individual problem includes establishing objectives of the program, evaluating the existing parking system, specifying actions to address the objectives, and identifying methods to implement the actions. A long-term municipal parking management program can require the collection and analysis of the same information as an individual study, but will require day to day attention and periodic evaluation to determine whether current actions are meeting parking goals.

It is essential to clearly define the objectives of the program. Clearly defined objectives will make it easier to develop the most effective actions. Objectives will vary significantly from place to place and will depend on individual circumstances, local goals, personnel limitations, development opportunities, and available funding.

A variety of information will be useful to effectively evaluate the existing parking system including the current availability of parking, public perception of parking conditions, identification of public parking needs, and current parking policies.

Issues to Consider

A parking management program can address a wide variety of issues depending on current and anticipated situations. The following is a list of parking issues to consider when creating a parking management program.

Implementation of Park and Ride Facilities

Parking Illustration

Typical park and ride lot. Source: Chester County Planning Commission, 1998.

One of the most common forms of travel demand management is ride-sharing such as carpooling. A park and ride lot is a parking area that is used by commuters to share a ride to work or to use public transportation.

Park and ride lots come in different forms including:

Process

Historically in Chester County, the process of implementing a park and ride lot starts when municipal officials notice a pattern of commuter parking along highway interchanges or in commercial areas. Municipal officials then notify the County Planning Commission or the local transportation management association (TMA) of the potential for a lot and an investigation will determine the level of demand and feasibility. The County and TMA will then work with PennDOT to determine the best funding approach.

Historically in Chester County, the process of implementing a park and ride lot starts when municipal officials notice a pattern of commuter parking along highway interchanges or in commercial areas. Municipal officials then notify the County Planning Commission or the local transportation management association (TMA) of the potential for a lot and an investigation will determine the level of demand and feasibility. The County and TMA will then work with PennDOT to determine the best funding approach.

Issues to Consider

The following issues should be considered in the design and implementation of park and ride lots:

Refer to the Parking Facilities: Design tool for further information regarding design elements to consider when developing park and ride lots.

Parking Photo

Park and Ride Facility at US 202 and Paoli Pike in West Chester.

Examples

Related References

Related Tools

Landscapes2 Relevance

Landscapes2 policies include providing parking opportunities that encourage travel demand management to reduce single-occupant trips, and providing ample parking accessible to existing and potential public transportation routes.

Specific to energy conservation and improving energy efficiency, Landscapes2 policy EC 2.4 promotes the efficient use of parking facilities in municipal planning and zoning through parking management strategies, such as flexible minimum parking requirements, and parking facilities that are shared by adjacent uses. The Energy Efficiency Action Plan also states that Chester County will implement commuting management strategies, including carpooling and parking incentives (EC-2a).