Lord Kelvin said, "If you can not measure it, you can not improve it." I must congratulate the New Plymouth City Council for taking a pragmatic approach to parking in the city and not falling into the trap of putting plasters on the symptoms. Measure what you have happening first, then make some changes.
New Plymouth City Council has a simple parking operation that is combined with the enforcement wing of the activity. Some cities have strayed into the area of thinking their parking operation, is the enforcement wing. Not so. The parking operation comes first (however it has been designed or not!), then the enforcement of the parking operation must occur. Enforcement supports operations.
So it is important to understand exactly what is going on out there by monitoring the signals form on-street, off-street, public, private and institutional parking. In this case, it seems that the time restriction may in fact prove to be too short to suit the businesses in that neighbourhood, but they wouldn’t have known that if they hadn’t taken time to collect the data correct and then see what the flavour of the feedback from the public looked like, to the enforcement of the old rules. Bear in mind, this is just technology making the existing rules more accurate.
With the sensor technology, they can now review the average length of stay and the turnover of customers. This will start to build a picture, in each neighbourhood, of the requirements of each business area or precinct, and that may be to amend the current time restrictions. Remember the purpose of parking is primarily to support and facilitate economic activity and growth. This means that access to the city for retail, leisure, well-being and commercial activities, must be optimised, or just the right amount of cars in just the right amount of spaces.
One method of doing this is to divide the city into zones large enough to affect the main parking load or driver in the area, and then create parking time restrictions (or prices) that will suit and be synchronous with the activities in the area. What may happen is that the retailers will want longer time restrictions until they get to the point where the volume of customers falls through a lack of turnover in the car parks, then they will want the time restrictions smaller until their customers can’t stay long enough to make big purchases. It’s a balancing act the Council is trying to achieve, but with the collection of accurate data, they will be able to start somewhere and then move in the right direction.
New Plymouth City Council will get a bit of stick as they go through the process of collecting the data and then making the improvements that will ensure the local businesses will be supported, but the improvements will help support the activities of the local area. To close with a pun, Lord Kelvin would be interested in the work being done to measure the temperature of car park use here.
These views are my own.