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The end of parking?

By: Bob Browand

Parking and transportation is a hot issue not only here at UH but around the country, as well as the world. Many European cities are charging a toll  to bring vehicles into the central business district. Other areas have so few parking options that streets become packed with illegally parked vehicles, causing a mobility nightmare.

Now, I’m not suggesting we do that here, I’m just pointing out that we are not alone; however, there are trends developing here at home that may change the way we park.

Autonomous vehicles that drive themselves--think of a taxi without a driver--are on the way and could eliminate the need to park all together. After dropping off its passengers, these vehicles will just continue to the next pickup point, never parking.

Other trends suggest that younger generations are leaning away from driving at all and are instead opting to take advantage of alternative transportation options including public transportation, walking and biking

The Federal Highway Administration has released the following statements:

  • Technology influences travel and how youth get their information
  • Youth concerns for the environment play a role in their travel decisions
  • More youth prefer to live in high-density areas where there are more modal options and shorter trip lengths
  • High unemployment and personal income constraints limit resources for travel and cause youth to live with parents longer
  • The average number of miles driven by “young drivers” (Americans between the ages of 16-34 years old) dropped 23 percent between 2001-2009
    -Thompson, Olive.  An End to Parking? Mother Jones January/February 2016.


The amount of young people with driver’s licenses is declining.

  • The percentage of 20-24 year-olds with drivers licenses in 1983 was 91%, in 2008 was 82%, in 2011 was 79%, and in 2014 was 76%
  • A survey taken on individuals between the ages of 18-39 without a driver’s license reported not having one for the following top 5 reasons:
    • Too busy or not enough time to get a driver’s license.
    • Owning and maintaining a vehicle is too expensive
    • Able to get transportation from others
    • Prefer to bike or walk
    • Prefer to use public transportation.
    • Of the respondents, 22% indicated that they plan on never getting a driver’s license. On the other hand, 69% expect to get a driver’s license within the next five years.
      -Schoetle, Brandon and Michael Sivak.   The Reasons for the Recent Decline in Young Drivers Licensing in the US.    The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, August 2013.

So there you have it, the projected future of parking--a new generation disinterested in driving and cars that never have to park--why didn’t I think of that!?


posted: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017