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Cars parked at the side of the street Parked cars on street.jpg
Cars parked at the side of the street

Parking is the act of stopping and disengaging a vehicle and leaving it unoccupied. Parking on one or both sides of a road is often permitted, though sometimes with restrictions. Some buildings have parking facilities for use of the buildings' users. Countries and local governments have rules [1] for design and use of parking spaces.


Parking facilities

A multi-story car park in Gloucester, England Longsmith Street car park.JPG
A multi-story car park in Gloucester, England
Parking lot in New York City with capacity multiplied by stacking with lifts Where Did I Park %3F (10066313343).jpg
Parking lot in New York City with capacity multiplied by stacking with lifts
An underground parking garage at the University of Minnesota East River Road Garage.jpg
An underground parking garage at the University of Minnesota
A car elevator in a parking garage Car elevator (4454457711).jpg
A car elevator in a parking garage

Facilities include indoor and outdoor private property belonging to a house, the side of the road where metered or laid out for such use, a parking lot (North American English) or car park (British English), indoor and outdoor multi-level structures, shared underground parking facilities and facilities for particular types of vehicle such as dedicated structures for cycle parking.

In the U.S., after the first public parking garage for motor vehicles was opened in Boston, May 24, 1898, livery stables in urban centers began to be converted into garages. [2] In cities of the Eastern US, many former livery stables, with lifts for carriages, continue to operate as garages today.

The following terms give regional variations. All except carport refer to outdoor multi-level parking facilities. In some regional dialects, some of these phrases refer also to indoor or single-level facilities.

In addition to basic car parking/parking lots variations of serviced parking types exist. Common serviced parking types are:

Parking spaces may be variously arranged.

Parking lots specifically for bicycles are becoming more prevalent in many countries. These may include bicycle parking racks and locks, as well as more modern technologies for security and convenience. [3] For instance, one bicycle parking lot in Tokyo has an automated parking system. [4]


Urban parking spaces can have a high value where the price of land is high. In Boston in 2009 a single parking space sold for $300,000. [5] According to Parkopedia's 2019 Global Parking Index, the cost for 2 hours of parking in USD$ for the top 25 cities is as follows: [6]

United StatesNew York$34.94
United StatesChicago$20.08
United StatesBoston$18.36
United KingdomLondon$16.92
United StatesWashington DC$15.56
United StatesPhiladelphia$14.77
United StatesDenver$11.87
United StatesMiami$11.10
United StatesSan Francisco$10.99
United StatesSan Diego$10.80
United StatesBaltimore$10.45
United StatesNewark$10.10
New ZealandAuckland$9.77
United StatesLos Angeles$9.56
United StatesSeattle$9.34

In congested urban areas parking of motor vehicles is time-consuming and often expensive. Urban planners who are in a position to override market forces must consider whether and how to accommodate or "demand manage" potentially large numbers of motor vehicles in small geographic areas. Usually the authorities set minimum, or more rarely maximum, numbers of motor vehicle parking spaces for new housing and commercial developments, and may also plan their location and distribution to influence their convenience and accessibility. The costs or subsidies of such parking accommodations can become a heated point in local politics. For example, in 2006 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors considered a controversial zoning plan to limit the number of motor vehicle parking spaces available in new residential developments. [7]

Tradeable parking allowances have been proposed [8] for dense residential areas to reduce inequity and increase urban livability. In summary, each resident would receive an annual, fractional allowance for on-street parking. To park on the street, one must assemble a whole parking allowance by purchasing fractional allowances from others who do not own cars.

In the graph to the right or below the value above the line represents the out-of-pocket cost per trip, per person for each mode of transportation; the value below the line shows subsidies, environmental impact, social and indirect costs. When cities charge market rates for on-street parking and municipal parking garages for motor vehicles, and when bridges and tunnels are tolled for these modes, driving becomes less competitive in terms of out-of-pocket costs compared to other modes of transportation. When municipal motor vehicle parking is underpriced and roads are not tolled, the shortfall in tax expenditures by drivers, through fuel tax and other taxes, might be regarded as a very large subsidy for automobile use: much greater than common subsidies for the maintenance of infrastructure and discounted fares for public transportation. [9]

Cars parked on the sidewalk in Moscow. Moscow, Kozitsky Lane.jpg
Cars parked on the sidewalk in Moscow.

Where car parking spaces are a scarce commodity, and owners have not made suitable arrangements for their own parking, ad hoc overspill parking often takes place along sections of road where there is no planned scheme by a municipal authority to allocate roadspace. Heated social discourse sometimes revolves around the sense of "ownership" that informally arises. Many use parking chairs and other markers, usually without approval of municipal authorities.

For example, during the winter of 2005 in Boston, the practice of some people saving convenient roadway for themselves became controversial. At that time, many Boston districts had an informal convention that if a person shoveled the snow out of a roadspace, that person could claim ownership of that space with a marker. [10] However, city government defied that custom and cleared markers out of spaces. [11]

Festivals and sporting events often spawn a cottage industry of parking. Homeowners, schools, and businesses often make extra money by charging a flat-rate fee for all-day parking during the event. In some countries, such "cottage industry parking" has become large-scale business. The UK airport parking industry is currently estimated to be worth 1.3 billion GBP per year.

According to the International Parking Institute, "parking is a $25 billion industry and plays a pivotal role in transportation, building design, quality of life and environmental issues". [12]

The cost of motor vehicle parking plays a major role in transportation choices (US, 1999 dollars). The value above the line represents the out-of-pocket cost per trip for each mode of transportation, while the value below the line accounts for subsidies, environmental impact, social and indirect costs. Transportcostsdirect.jpg
The cost of motor vehicle parking plays a major role in transportation choices (US, 1999 dollars). The value above the line represents the out-of-pocket cost per trip for each mode of transportation, while the value below the line accounts for subsidies, environmental impact, social and indirect costs.

Annual parking revenue in the US alone is $10 billion. [13]

Some airports charge more for parking cars than for parking aircraft. [14]

Parking control is primarily an issue in densely populated cities in advanced countries, where the great demand for parking spaces makes them expensive and difficult. In urban locations parking control is a developing subject. Parking restrictions may be public or private. Local government, as opposed to central government, is the primary activator in public parking. The emphasis is on restriction of on-street parking facilities; and parking charges and fines are often major income sources for local government in North America and Europe.

Most colleges and universities in the U.S. charge for parking. Some colleges even have a parking services department that issue daily, weekly and annual parking permits as well as enforce parking ordinances. An example of one such department is at Western Michigan University.

Typically, communication about the parking status of a roadway takes the form of notices, e.g. fixed to a nearby wall and/or road markings. Part of the requirements for passing the driving test in some countries is to demonstrate understanding of parking signs.

Motorists parking on-street in big cities often have to pay for the time the vehicle is on the spot. There are fines for overstay. The motorist is often required to display a sticker beneath the windscreen indicating that he has paid for the parking space usage for an allocated time period. Private parking control includes both residential and corporate property. Owners of private property use signs indicating that parking facilities are restricted to certain categories of people such as the owners themselves and their guests, or staff members and permitted contractors only.

Electronic Parking System exit gate EPS - VivoCity.JPG
Electronic Parking System exit gate

It is often necessary not only to communicate parking restrictions, but also to have available a workable deterrent. The deterrent can take physical forms such as vehicle immobilisation exemplified by the wheel clamp, and non-physical forms such as levying parking charges on the registered vehicle owners. Sometimes photography is used to record violations.

On both public and private land, physical restrictions include: parking bollards, parking poles that swivel from horizontal to vertical, gated entry and exit with time-dependent charges. This is an expanding subject.

Parking price elasticity

The average response in parking demand to a change in price (parking price elasticity) is -0.52 for commuting and -0.62 for non-commuting trips. Non-commuters also respond to parking fees by changing their parking duration if the price is per hour. [15]

Performance parking

Donald C. Shoup in 2005 argued in his book, The High Cost of Free Parking , against the large-scale use of land and other resources in urban and suburban areas for motor vehicle parking. [16] Shoup's work has been popularized along with market-rate parking and performance parking, both of which raise and lower the price of metered street parking with the goal of reducing cruising for parking and double parking without overcharging for parking.

"Performance parking" or variable-rate parking is based on Dr Shoup's ideas. Electronic parking meters are used so that parking spaces in desirable locations and at desirable times are more expensive than less desirable locations. Other variations include rising rates based on duration of parking. More modern ideas use sensors and networked parking meters that "bid up" (or down) the price of parking automatically with the goal of keeping 85–90% of the spaces in use at any given time to ensure perpetual parking availability. These ideas have been implemented in Redwood City, California [17] and are being implemented in San Francisco [18] and Los Angeles. [19]

One empirical study supports performance-based pricing by analyzing the block-level price elasticity of parking demand in the SFpark context. [20] The study suggests that block-level elasticities vary so widely that urban planners and economists cannot accurately predict the response in parking demand to a given change in price. The public policy implication is that planners should utilize observed occupancy rates in order to adjust prices so that target occupancy rates are achieved. Effective implementation will require further experimentation with and assessment of the tâtonnement process.

Fringe parking

Fringe parking is an area for parking usually located outside the central business district and most often used by suburban residents who work or shop downtown.


Parking Generation is a document produced by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) that assembles a vast array of parking demand observations predominately from the United States. It summarizes the amount of parking observed with various land uses at different times of the day/week/month/year including the peak parking demand. While it has been assailed by some planners for lack of data in urban settings, it stands as the single largest accumulation of actual parking demand data related to land use. Anyone can submit parking demand data for inclusion. The report is updated approximately every 5 to 10 years.

Finding parking

A sign indicating that no parking is allowed on a lane Private - No Parking - Lane In Use.jpg
A sign indicating that no parking is allowed on a lane

Automated Parking Guidance System (APGS) systems, or PGS, present drivers with dynamic information on parking within controlled areas (like parking garages and parking lots). The systems combine traffic monitoring, communication, processing and variable message sign technologies to provide the service. There are a variety of technologies and approaches, including:

Mobile apps that help drivers find parking take different approaches, including:

Some connected cars have mobile apps associated with the in-car system, that can locate the car or indicate the last place it was parked. Cars with Internavi communicate to each other indicating recently vacated spots.

San Francisco uses a system called SFpark, which has sensors embedded in the roadway. It allows drivers to find parking via mobile app, web site, or SMS, and includes "smart" parking meters and garages that use variable pricing based on time and location to keep approximately 15% of parking spaces open. Some South Boston spots also have sensors, so users of an app called Parker can find vacancies. [22]

Ford Motor Company is developing a system called Parking Spotter, which allows vehicles to upload parking spot information into the cloud for other drivers to access. [23]

Parking guidance and information system provides information about the availability of parking spaces within a controlled area. The systems may include vehicle detection sensors that can count the number of available spaces and display the information on various signs. There may be indicator lights that can lead drivers to an exact available spot.[ citation needed ]

An amusing alliterative slang term for finding an ideal parking spot directly in front of ones destination is Doris Day parking named for the American singer and actor who in numerous romantic comedy films was shown to immediately drive into the perfect spot time after time. [24] [25]

Statistically, the optimal strategy is to drive past the first empty spot and park in the next available spot. [26] [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

Parking meter

A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to their traffic and mobility management policies, but are also used for revenue.

Traffic congestion

Traffic congestion is a condition in transport that is characterised by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. Traffic congestion on urban road networks has increased substantially, since the 1950s. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction between vehicles slows the speed of the traffic stream, this results in some congestion. While congestion is a possibility for any mode of transportation, this article will focus on automobile congestion on public roads.

Effects of the car on societies Overview of the effects of cars on various societies

Since the start of the twentieth century, the role of cars has become highly important, though controversial. They are used throughout the world and has become the most popular mode of transport in many of the more developed countries. In developing countries, the effects of the car on society are not as visible, however they are nonetheless significant. The development of the car built upon the transport sector first started by railways. This has introduced sweeping changes in employment patterns, social interactions, infrastructure and the distribution of goods.

Parking lot Cleared area that is intended for parking vehicles

A parking lot or car park, also known as a car lot, is a cleared area that is intended for parking vehicles. Usually, the term refers to a dedicated area that has been provided with a durable or semi-durable surface. In most countries where cars are the dominant mode of transportation, parking lots are a feature of every city and suburban area. Shopping malls, sports stadiums, megachurches and similar venues often feature immense parking lots. See also multistorey car park.

Car-free movement Movement to reduce the use of private vehicles

The car-free movement is a broad, informal, emergent network of individuals and organizations, including social activists, urban planners, transportation engineers and others, brought together by a shared belief that large and/or high-speed motorized vehicles are too dominant in most modern cities. The goal of the movement is to create places where motorized vehicle use is greatly reduced or eliminated, by converting road and parking space to other public uses and rebuilding compact urban environments where most destinations are within easy reach by other means, including walking, cycling, public transport, personal transporters, and mobility as a service.

Parallel parking

Parallel parking is a method of parking a vehicle parallel to the road, in line with other parked vehicles. Parallel parking usually requires initially driving slightly past the parking space, parallel to the parked vehicle in front of that space, keeping a safe distance, then followed by reversing into that space. Subsequent position adjustment may require the use of forward and reverse gears.

Valet parking

Valet parking is a parking service offered by some restaurants, stores, and other businesses. In contrast to "self-parking", where customers find a parking space on their own, customers' vehicles are parked for them by a person called a valet. This service either requires a fee to be paid by the customer or is offered free of charge by the establishment.

Double parking can refer to parking parallel to a car already parked at the curb, double parking in attended car parks and garages, multi-space parking, or taking two metered spots with one vehicle.

Parking space Designated location for parking a vehicle

A parking space is a location that is designated for parking, either paved or unpaved. It can be in a parking garage, in a parking lot or on a city street. The space may be delineated by road surface markings. The automobile fits inside the space, either by parallel parking, perpendicular parking or angled parking.

Multistorey car park

A multistorey car park or parking garage, also called a multistory, parkade, parking structure, parking ramp, parking deck or indoor parking, is a building designed for car parking and where there are a number of floors or levels on which parking takes place. It is essentially an indoor, stacked car park. Parking structures may be heated if they are enclosed.

Transportation demand management policies to reduce transportation demands

Transportation demand management, traffic demand management or travel demand management (TDM) is the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand, or to redistribute this demand in space or in time.

Parking violation

A parking violation is the act of parking a motor vehicle in a restricted place or for parking in an unauthorized manner. It is against the law virtually everywhere to park a vehicle in the middle of a highway or road; parking on one or both sides of a road, however, is commonly permitted. However, restrictions apply to such parking, and may result in an offense being committed. Such offenses are usually cited by a police officer or other government official in the form of a traffic ticket.

Alternate-side parking is a traffic law that dictates on which side of a street cars can be parked on a given day. The law is intended to promote efficient flow of traffic, as well as to allow street sweepers and snowplows to reach the curb without parked cars impeding their progress. Some proponents also regard the law, which can be quite inconvenient for drivers, as a way to encourage the use of public transportation.


INRIX is a private company headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, US. It provides location-based data and analytics, such as traffic and parking, to automakers, cities and road authorities worldwide, and in turn-by-turn navigation applications like Google Waze. INRIX also develops mobile phone and in-car apps and publishes annual reports on traffic congestion, parking, and autonomous vehicles in major cities.

Donald Shoup

Donald Curran Shoup is a distinguished research professor of urban planning at UCLA, and a Georgist economist. His 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking identifies the negative repercussions of off-street parking requirements and relies heavily on 'Georgist' insights about optimal land use and rent distribution. In 2015, the American Planning Association awarded Shoup the "National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Pioneer."

Car parking system

A car parking system is a mechanical device that multiplies parking capacity inside a parking lot. Parking systems are generally powered by electric motors or hydraulic pumps that move vehicles into a storage position.

Cycling infrastructure facilities for use by cyclists

Cycling infrastructure refers to all infrastructure permissible for use by cyclists, including the network of roads and streets used by motorists, except where cyclists are excluded, along with bikeways from which motor vehicles are excluded – including bike paths, bike lanes, cycle tracks, rail trails and, where permitted, sidewalks. Cycling infrastructure also includes amenities such as bike racks for parking, shelters, service centers and specialized traffic signs and signals. Cycling modal share is strongly associated with the size of local cycling infrastructure.

SFpark is San Francisco's system for managing the availability of both on and off-street parking. Taking effect in April 2011, the program utilizes smart parking meters that change their prices according to location, time of day, and day of the week, with the goal of keeping about 15% of spaces vacant on any given block. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency launched the system with congestion mitigation funding from the Federal Highway Administration in July 2010 as a fallback from a downtown cordon. It is one of several such systems in the world. The City of Calgary, Canada and the Calgary Parking Authority with their ParkPlus system have been using a similar demand based pricing model since 2008.

Automated parking system

An automated (car) parking system (APS) is a mechanical system designed to minimize the area and/or volume required for parking cars. Like a multi-story parking garage, an APS provides parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically to maximize the number of parking spaces while minimizing land usage. The APS, however, utilizes a mechanical system to transport cars to and from parking spaces in order to eliminate much of the space wasted in a multi-story parking garage. While a multi-story parking garage is similar to multiple parking lots stacked vertically, an APS is more similar to an automated storage and retrieval system for cars. The paternoster is an example of one of the earliest and most common types of APS.


SpotHero is a digital parking marketplace that connects drivers looking to reserve and pay for parking spaces with parking lots, parking garages and valet services. The company, which operates a mobile app and website as well as a parking developer platform, is available in over 300 cities in the United States and Canada. The company is based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Roads in the Neo-Assyrian Empire (ca. 700 BC) bore signs stating "Royal Road. Let no man lessen it." The penalty for illegal use was "death by impalement on a stake." Lay, M. G. (1992). Ways of the World: A History of the World's Roads and of the Vehicles That Used Them. United States: Rutgers University Press. p. 184.
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  9. 1 2 Graph based on data from Vukan R. Vuchic, Transportation for Livable Cities, p. 76. 1999. ISBN   0-88285-161-6
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  12. "IPI". International Parking Institute.
  13. van Rooij, Rogier (17 November 2017). "Why New Parking Facilities Should Be Recyclable". Cleantechnica. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
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  25. "Los Angeles Wants Its 'Doris Day' Parking". Los Angeles Times. 2002-03-30. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved 2019-06-18.
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