20110108

Parking Design

The amount that Oakland doesn't know about automobiles and their storage could fill blogs, and it has. Oakland doesn't know where to put drive-through lanes. Oakland doesn't know how to price parking. Oakland doesn't know that you shouldn't have surface parking lots downtown.

In fact, Oakland knows so little about automobiles and their storage that I often argue that, rather than try to improve it's thinking, maybe Oakland should just think about automobiles and their storage a whole lot less. Or maybe not. But one area I wish they would have thought more and better about is the design and installation of the newish parking kiosks.

Aside from the fact that most of the time they just sheared off the old meter heads to create thousands of 2" diameter trash cans that never get emptied, rather than cool bicycle parking. Or that you can't pay with paper money, so you have to use your credit card, carry around tons of change, or actually go into a bank every so often to get a roll of dollar coins. Or that when you are paying for a parking space, the kiosks don't tell how long you can park for, but what time you can park until, but don't tell you what time it is, forcing you to dig into your pocket or bag and find your phone.

Aside from all those things, the new parking kiosks are just plain ugly, with tons of different stickers and signs on them because it wasn't very well thought out in advance. But it doesn't have to be that way. San Francisco does it better, and solar powered too! So does Melbourne for their bike parking (image above). Max is right, Oakland can learn a lot from other cities, maybe even about automobiles and their storage.

10 comments:

Gene said...

Yay, you posted again! :-) Great to meet you at the Blogoaksphere gathering.

Fortunately they've put in some bike racks, because those sheared off parking meters are unsightly and useless -- you can just lift the lock over the top. I recall there was some mechanism to request new bike racks around the city, but that was before the budget implosion, so it's probably way down the priority list.

Ralph said...

What are the new meters? Are you referring to the big brown boxes? I have often observed big signs that tell you how long you can park. There is a clock on the face of the machine (I use it to mark time when I go for a run); thus, you should never need to whip out a time device. Theoretically, the amount of time you buy should be determined by need not by time.

Raymond Johnson said...

Yes, the big brown boxes, though I thought they were black. I wasn't referring to the signs, but the clocks on the kiosks. Unfortunately, those clocks change from the current time to the time that you are allowed to park until the moment you add. And I always put money in before I check the time.

It is just poorly designed. I don't care what time I can park until, I just want to know how long the money I have already put in allows me to park. Is it 15 minutes, or 45 minutes? That is far more intuitive.

Instead it's "Oh, I can park until 3:07? Well, what time is it now?" Fumble through bag, "it's 2:55." "Great, I've got about 20 minutes...no wait, I forgot to carry the one," (or something). Obviously it isn't the biggest deal in the world. It is just one of life's little annoyances that could have been ameliorated through better design.

Ralph said...

Okay, so you somewhat prefer that the new meters operated like the old meters. You put in a qtr and the machine indicates 15 minutes. The problem I have with those machines, I need to go back to the car to look at the clock to find out my starting time. Now you started shopping and you can't remember when you put money in the meter.

It is for that latter reason I prefer the new machines. I hated being in a store wondering if I started shopping at 1:20, 1:30 or 2:20. The only thing I need to remember is when my time expires. I bet seeing the time printed on the paper aids in memory. Life moves forward not backward.

In truth, the old system required you to whip out a time device as well. I think the only improvement you are seeking is a permanent clock face. Or you could do like the rest of us, read the time first :)

Raymond Johnson said...

That would work too. I think you are right about the printed ticket aiding memory. I guess I just have pretty good internal clock, and so wouldn't need the external one if I just knew how long I had. If I was using them daily, I'm sure I'd remember to check the time, but since I don't drive that often, I don't have stellar parking kiosk habits.

molly said...

Good to meet you at the Blogoaksphere party (we talked about Detroit's creamsickle houses). I like your blog! Today's post was interesting. Have you seen the Velibes bikes in Paris or the similar urban bike meters in Montreal?--Molly

Daniel Schulman said...

Those of you interested in parking issues should come down to the Planning Commission meeting on January 19. There are not one, but two parking issues on the agenda -
http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/ceda/documents/agenda/oak025427.pdf.

522-20th Street (Thomas Berkley Way)
Temporary auto-fee parking (up to four years), surface lot, up to 49
spaces (24 paved, and up to 49 with valet service)

Then everyone's favorite Temporary Conditional Use Permits as a part of zoning policy!

andrew said...

Oakland's black kiosks are solar powered; at least they have solar panels on top where people leave their pennies.

Becks said...

Glad to see you blogging again!

The design doesn't bother me much, but I really wish they would accept Clipper cards. That way we wouldn't have to fumble for change or charge an absurdly small amount to credit cards (and cost the city the credit card fee). Also, I think it would lead to more people riding transit since they would not face the barrier of figuring out payment, and they'd realize pretty quickly that transit is often cheaper than parking.

Raymond Johnson said...

Good point Becks, I hadn't thought of that. Using Clipper to pay for a parking is a great idea!