The third age of parking

Ever had a parking ticket? Ever been clamped or had your car towed? Ever driven pointlessly round and round looking for a space? We all have. It’s incredibly frustrating and it’s incredibly boring.

So apologies for reminding you of your pain, but give us a minute and we will put your parking plight into historical context.

Those awful things happened because you have lived and driven in the second age of parking. The what? The second age of parking!  

Bear with us.

Parking was invented the day the car was invented.  Stands to reason.  So one day in 1885 when Karl Benz tightened the last bolt on the first automobile and headed off home with a satisfied epoch-making smile on his face, he was inadvertently also inventing our modern hell.  That night he left that car . . . parked.

Mass production, suburban sprawl, roads, motorways (Hitler was an early advocate), flyovers, bypasses, tunnels and traffic lights followed in quick succession and for most of the next 100 years, the parking of those new-fangled automobiles was easy.  You parked where you stopped.  No need to really think.  This was the first age of parking, the age of convenience.

This lasted until July 16, 1935, with the introduction of the world’s first parking meter in Oklahoma City (we have no idea why there).  Parking was no longer free. Fines and enforcement quickly followed.  In 1960, London and New York saw the world’s first ‘traffic wardens’ and ‘meter maids’ and with them came pay-and-display, clamps, tow trucks, car pounds and fines. For the first time parking was regulated. 

But this was not the worst of it.  As cities become more crowded, parking lots and parking buildings became prime real estate, and like any valuable urban asset attracted profiteers.  And profit they did and profit they do. In most big cities parking is dominated by a duopoly of local government (on behalf of the people) and usually one major player (on behalf of rich shareholders) that in most cases buy up the majority of parking lots and buildings and promptly make a fortune off the hapless motorist. The more of the market they can corner - the more they profit.  Because this is the second age of parking; the age of scarcity and enforcement. It is the age of parking misery.

We could go on and on about the iniquity, inefficiency and suffering created by this situation, but we know you have been on the receiving end at some point, so we will instead talk about a happier parking future that is coming your way.  The third age of parking; the age of shared parking.

A number of technologies are coming to our aid and they are coming fast. Ride and car sharing apps like Uber are making urban journeys much more affordable and convenient, and optimise the use of private vehicles in our crowded cities. Electric vehicles will reduce air and noise pollution. Driverless vehicles will eventually see those (mainly electric) cars used with exponential efficiency, removing redundancy in the form of wasted journeys and exploiting the 95% of the average car’s life in which it is stationary. They will also (eventually) remove the personal responsibility for parking altogether. And before then, e-bikes, electric scooters and skateboards along with flexible and remote working will help to alleviate parking pressures further.

But above all, technologies like Parkable will see the optimisation of our existing and enormous parking reserves. Instead of wasting time searching for parking spaces that never seem to appear, drive directly to a free space and reserve it so you know it will remain free until you arrive. Instead of leaving your driveway or extra parking spaces at work unused, share them with the community, and receive some sharing in turn.

So the third age of parking is coming, but if you want to escape the second age now, then download Parkable and start parking with freedom and confidence again.