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Solving the Parking Dilemma in Big Cities

By Carlos Díaz Wandel - Parkeo
Founder and Director


By Carlos Díaz | Founder and Director - Mon, 02/27/2023 - 13:00

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One of the biggest problems in dense cities is parking. It's also key in the mobility puzzle that’s turning into a nightmare for most big cities around the world.

The parking problem in big cities is caused by the limited availability of parking spaces compared to the high demand for them. Cities around the world are seeing a huge spike in car ownership. This leads to difficulties for drivers finding a place to park their cars, causing traffic congestion, air pollution and increased stress. Additionally, the construction of more parking facilities is often expensive and takes up valuable urban space that could be used for other purposes. This causes the cost of living, such as rent and retail prices, to go up. As a result, cities around the world are exploring alternative solutions, such as car-sharing programs, bike lanes and cycling infrastructure, and improved public transportation.

On the other hand, public transportation has a social stigma associated with its high access costs, lack of trust, lack of comfort and security issues. Furthermore, the conditions of public transportation in terms of flexibility, speed, and comfort remain unattractive to car owners.

Traditionally, when people mention the problem with parking, they’re referring to a lack of space for cars in a particular place. In reality, the parking problem is an issue of overall transport policies that have given priority to private vehicles over other forms of transportation, with governments showing a marked trend of directing investment toward automobile infrastructure.

Mandatory parking minimums require developers to allocate a specific number of parking spaces in their buildings, which is a common practice in many cities. The availability of parking actually increases the likelihood of car ownership and creates traffic congestion. It also takes away valuable urban space that could be used for housing, public transportation, parks, and other public areas. This leads to urban sprawl, making it harder to walk everywhere and increasing the need for cars and, therefore, more parking spaces, creating a vicious cycle that keeps vehicles at the center of big cities instead of more sustainable mediums like walking or cycling.

What is troubling is that a car only moves 5% of the time. Ninety-five percent of the time it is parked. At Parkeo, we expect that nearly a quarter of parking spots in Mexico City’s private buildings will sit empty throughout the day and go to waste.

Luckily, Mexico City's authorities recognized that the city’s direction was heading toward a total catastrophe. The study called Less Parking, More City, or in Spanish, Menos Cajones, Más Ciudad, found that parking spaces accounted for 40% of everything being built in the city. The research found that between 2009 and 2013, 250,000 parking spaces were constructed, which cost approximately $10,000 per space. This resulted in parking taking up more space than housing and made clear the city’s prioritization of car infrastructure.

In July 2017, Mexico City’s government published a new standard for construction projects regarding parking, which imposed maximums on the construction of parking spaces instead of minimums. The maximums will be 30% of the total construction and will also depend on the type of property land use and its specific location. If the developer exceeds these maximums, they will have to make a contribution or payment, which will be directed to the Public Fund for Mobility and Road Safety for the implementation of related projects and infrastructure.

The key concepts of the new standard were: 

  • The possibility of constructing 0 parking spots if possible

  • Repurposing of already constructed buildings to suit the new paradigm

  • Maximum number of spots depending on land use type

  • Mixed land use

  • Bicycle parking 

Personally, I think it's a great measure that will make constructors build better buildings that place human beings in the center of their design, meaning less space will go to waste.

I also truly believe that the parking problem is more of an optimization issue that could be tackled with better information and better access to the existing and underused private spaces. This is where Parkeo can contribute. As a key player, it can work with these urban policies as an excellent tool to optimize parking space use in Mexico City and other big cities in Latin America. 

Some of the benefits Parkeo brings are:

  • Reduction in cars circling for parking 

  • Less construction of new parking areas

  • Less pollution, stress, and waste of time

  • Optimization of underused land

  • Creation of new sources of income for homes

  • Better parking experience with digital tools: credit card, search, notifications

The parking problem in big cities is a result of a skewed transport policy that prioritizes private vehicles over other forms of transportation. This has led to high demand for parking spaces and difficulties for drivers finding a place to park their cars. To address this issue, cities are exploring alternative solutions like car-sharing programs, bike lanes and improved public transportation. However, public transportation has its own set of problems, including high costs and lack of comfort. Mexico City has taken a proactive step by implementing maximums on the construction of parking spaces and directing any surplus funds to the Public Fund for Mobility and Road Safety. Parkeo can play a crucial role in optimizing the use of parking spaces in Mexico City and other big cities in Latin America. With its benefits like reduction in cars circling for parking, less construction of new parking areas, and a better parking experience with digital tools, it can help reduce the parking problem and create a more sustainable urban environment.

Photo by:   Carlos Díaz Wandel

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