Using parking lots to improve mobility and enhance the urban experience

October 1, 2020

The major cities are facing constant demographic growth: in 2019, almost 10,000 people will choose to live in Brussels, compared with 3,714 in 2016. But what about the mobility and cars of these new citizens opting for urban life?

In a metropolis like Brussels, the growth in the number of vehicles is, fortunately, slower than the growth in the population. Despite this, the ratio of on-street parking spaces to inhabitants is still one in five. To this, we have to add hundreds of thousands of commuters who drive into the city every day. These motorists are all faced with the same observation: parking spaces are a scarce commodity in Brussels, and this lack contributes to increased urban congestion and pollution. So how can parking lots be a vector for creating a smoother, more pleasant, and gentler mobility?

Existing initiatives mainly seek to discourage commuters from taking their cars to the city. We see, for example, the removal of on-street parking spaces and replacing them with cycle paths or green spaces to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants. In spite of these initiatives, the car is still a heavily used means of transport and the demand for parking is still growing.

How can this demand be met, while at the same time providing smooth mobility for commuters and a more pleasant urban experience for local residents? By offering shared and connected off-street parking lots. These private and under-utilized parking lots, such as the parking lots of certain companies, are then opened and made available to users who need them. This sharing not only frees up space on the street but also gives users a feeling of security. Above all, it represents an opportunity to create a new way of getting around.

Tomorrow's parking lot is not just for cars

Urban mobility is changing. In 5 years, the number of cyclists has doubled in Brussels. If we take into account the switch to electric vehicles, the new flexible modes of mobility, and shared mobility, parking lots must also keep pace with this evolution. The parking lot can no longer just be used for parking cars; it must become a space that gives users the opportunity to choose their means of transport.This is exactly the purpose of shared parking lots.

In these parking lots, we will find bicycles, motorbikes, and scooters. The shared parking lot is also the place where you can leave your shared vehicle or have your electric vehicle charged.

The icing on the cake? The shared parking lot connects this multitude of means of transport. Imagine the scenario: you go by car to a parking lot, then decide to take an electric scooter from there and leave it in another, more central parking lot, where you can catch the train, tram, or metro to reach your final destination.

Mutialize parking lots in the city: the key to soft mobility, improving urban life

As a result of this information, it is now possible to give a clear answer to the question "How to use parking to create soft urban mobility".

The mutualization of parking lots makes it possible to unblock the immobility of buildings to allow the city to be uncluttered.

It will be de-cluttered because the traffic linked to the search for parking spaces will be drastically reduced, a fact that is not negligible when we know that it represents 30% of urban traffic. A city will also be de-cluttered because the cars usually parked on the streets will have migrated to a secure private parking lot. Finally, a less polluted and more pleasant urban life will exist, because these parking lots offer new possibilities for mobility, for example by providing spaces for cargo bikes for residents and goods transport.

With the opening of immobile parking lots, we can finally unlock mobility.

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