Parking – a key component of integrated sustainable mobility!

By Sharon Lewinson

Cities across North America now recognize the indisputable connection between health and the built environment.  Change is happening, the pieces are coming together… but we can do more. And, specific to this article, people in the parking industry need to be involved active participants in the movement towards integrated sustainable mobility.

Parking – a connected piece of the integrated mobility solution

Over the years ACT Canada has delivered annual inspiring Summits on sustainable mobility – showcasing examples of leading policy changes, TDM strategies, programs, innovations and collaborative efforts to increase the use of sustainable travel options.  Since the inception of ACT Canada almost 15 years ago, the Canadian Parking Association (CPA) has been a strategic ACT Canada partner, recognizing even back then, the critical role of parking in the integrated sustainable mobility puzzle.  Each year CPA takes on a key and visible role in the Summit helping to address and raise awareness of parking related factors influencing urban mobility.

This year ACT Canada will be delivering Canada’s first ever integrated transportation – health focused summit, Sustainable Mobility & Healthy Communities Summit to accelerate the health-driven shift away from car-first communities toward a new emphasis on walking, cycling, public transit, ridesharing and efficient car use.  We’re at a ground-breaking pivot point in addressing sustainable mobility and we need parking industry stakeholders at the table.

ACT Canada’s sustainable mobility wheel includes parking in many segments and understanding how and where parking fits might better influence increased engagement by parking stakeholders.  Here are just a few examples of how critical parking is to the sustainable mobility equation, and how it impacts each and every segment of the sustainable mobility wheel.



TDM tools, resources, strategies and outreach initiatives typically focus on workplaces, schools or neighbourhoods.  Employer organizations…

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Rideshare Technology – no longer just for carpools

By Sharon Lewinson

A glimpse into what is happening now & what the future may hold for Accelerating Innovative Parking Strategies 

Online rideshare matching started out over ten years ago as a mechanism to help people find carpool partners.  They were launched by a few of the most forward thinking municipalities and private sector companies to help their residents or employees choose an alternative to driving alone.

Fast forward a decade and everything has changed.  The internet and associated rapid technology advances, along with private and public sector demand (mostly south of the border), have resulted in a few of these systems being fully integrated multimodal transportation portals – and they include parking!

Streamlined integration with a multimodal focus are the fundamental elements that have resulted in the increased effectiveness of these rideshare systems and their growing use worldwide.  Understanding how parking stakeholders can use or integrate with this technology can be a vital business strategy for parking organizations.  A glimpse into the state of rideshare technology today and where it’s going might help you with your business decisions or open up opportunities for collaboration and engagement with other transportation stakeholders.

What are the high level components included in an online rideshare system today?

While there are many hosted rideshare systems on the market, there are really only a very small few who can provide the enterprise level services demanded from cities and organizations today.

Multimodal systems include matching for not only carpools, but for bike, walking and transit buddies. They include online transit, bike and walking planners, links to transportation agencies, park & ride lots, shuttle routes, EV charging stations, carpool parking and more. They can be the key online resource offered to the public or employees for transportation or commuting information.

Other key attributes:
  • In general the core functionality of rideshare matching is also available in…

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A tale of too many cities: downtown merchants demand free parking

By Bern Grush, VP Innovation, PayBySky

Any municipality wishing to manage parking access in its commercial district(s) usually considers the parking meter as a management mechanism. This is almost always an uneasy solution—especially for small to mid-sized municipalities—and has been so for 80 years. Established digital technology provides a new way out for such municipalities—flexible, friendly, voluntary and free to shoppers.

In several publications predating 1927, support for parking restrictions were voiced “by some downtown businessman and property owners, who feared that traffic congestion, for which they thought the parked car was largely to blame, raised the cost of doing business and reduced the volume of business done.”1

Not long after, in 1935, the mechanical parking meter was invented to address this. While deployment spread rapidly, the parking meter has always had more enemies than friends and continues to draw ire from both parkers and merchants.

Smaller cities like Huntsville, Sarasota, Springfield, and Windsor, with populations ranging from 20,000 to 210,000, have meters going in and out as downtown merchants who compete with others on the outskirts see parking meters as a threat.

Huntsville, Ontario

In the spring of 2012 Huntsville replaced all parking meters in the downtown core with “signage…posted in certain downtown areas, limiting parking to no more than a two-hour period.”

According to an article in a local paper,2  the backstory for the Huntsville decision is that its town council had decided a few months earlier to “expand paid parking in the downtown core”. This “met with opposition from argued pay parking and parking tickets create animosity among downtown patrons as well as a competitive disadvantage when compared to other commercial areas in the municipality”. The mayor and council offered two alternatives: full authority over the policing of downtown parking, or replacement of the meters with 2-hour free parking. Characteristically,…

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