Municipal policymakers have tended to address parking issues in a reactive manner. When faced with a lack of parking spaces, for example, many towns and cities have simply increased the number of parking spaces. “The thing that has often been forgotten about parking management is that it is not just about addressing parking supply,” explains Park4SUMP project coordinator Patrick Auwerx from Mobiel 21 (website in Dutch) in Belgium. “It is also about managing demand. All too often, parking policy has not been properly integrated in sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs).”
Need for better parking management
The EU-funded Park4SUMP project set out to change this policy mindset. “Parking regulations – different tariffs, off-street parking and expanding parking zones etc. – are powerful policy instruments, and we wanted to focus on these,” says Auwerx. A total of 16 cities – from Norway to Albania – teamed up to share and develop best practices in the field of parking management. These included communicating clearly about parking management measures in an understandable way, and ensuring that parking rules and fines are reasonable, balanced and effectively enforced. Another key best practice was ensuring that revenues from parking fees and fines are invested in sustainable urban mobility. Citizen participation in developing parking management measures was also found to be helpful in ensuring acceptance of and compliance with new measures. In addition, digitalisation was shown to improve the public reputation and personal job satisfaction of parking enforcement personnel.
Sustainable mobility best practices
Through sharing and implementing these best practices, all 16 participating cities were able to improve their parking policies and establish parking management as central to their SUMPs. Within the project, some 55 000 new parking places were regulated, with 3 239 parking spots successfully reallocated for other use. Reducing subsidies for parking spaces, while charging for existing parking in the form of fees or fines, helped to generate income for municipalities. “This is what we call the earmarking principle,” adds Auwerx. “During the project, cities like Krakow were able to reinvest such income into more sustainable mobility options, thus helping to encourage a modal shift.” A number of policy recommendations have since been put forward. For example, municipalities should implement a maximum cap on how many parking spots a new building or development is allowed to provide, and think about putting in place more Park & Ride facilities, car-sharing possibilities and cycling lanes.
Auditing national parking policies
The 16 participating cities are still putting into practice many of the Park4SUMP findings, with insights now being shared across Europe. Central to this is the ParkPAD audit tool, a key deliverable of the project. This tool gives municipalities the opportunity to bring in a national auditor to assess current parking management policies and practices, and put forward tailored recommendations. “This is important because national laws differ,” notes Auwerx. No fewer than 22 European cities have already carried out a ParkPAD audit, demonstrating the replicability and scalability of the tool. Nonetheless, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Park4SUMP project estimates that 15-20 % of smaller and medium-sized European cities still have no regulated parking in place. The hope is that by encouraging the better integration of managed parking into SUMPs, citizens will begin to see noticeable improvements in their urban environment.
Park4SUMP, parking, mobility, cities, urban, auditing, sustainable, SUMP