It’s tricky to discuss parking infrastructures in any kind of comprehensive way, as different spaces have different solutions to their parking problems. For areas with ample space, it’s undeniable that a traditional, flat car park is the cheapest, easiest option. But for built-up cities and other areas with limited space, it is necessary to be more than a little creative. And the proverb is so often true: necessity is the mother of invention.
So why has the need for parking increased?
Put simply: big cities in the UK are still struggling to accommodate the sheer numbers of cars. Despite the somewhat successful promotion of public transport in London and other big cities, there are still too many cars congesting roads and carparks. This is clearly because car ownership is higher than ever, with 76 per cent of UK households now owning at least one car — a drastic increase when compared to 42 per cent back in 1965 (source).
There is a similar problem for bicycle parking, as there is a nowhere near adequate supply of bicycle parking options. But this problem is set to increase at a rate far higher than car parking, as environmental concerns and government cycle schemes are encouraging more and more people to get on their bikes and leave their car keys at home. We are already seeing a rise in cyclists, and last year’s announcement that even more government money would be invested in promoting cycling on the UK’s roads means that we can expect this number to grow even further. However, this also means that bike theft is now a bigger problem for private and public developers.
Both private and public sectors are struggling to provide ample car and bike parking spaces for customers, patrons and patients. This problem has knock-on effects which vary depending on the establishment. From a private business’s perspective, low levels of parking limit accessibility and, ultimately, limit the number of potential customers. So it’s no surprise that a substantial amount of money and time has been channelled into this area and there have been some exceptionally clever parking developments in the last ten years — both for cars and bicycles.
Parking solutions: Going vertical
The obvious answer is to build upwards or dig downwards, creating more parking space in built-up areas. There have been several successful underground parking infrastructures (such as this incredible Japanese underground parking system), but the costs and risks associated with underground construction make it a more expensive option, so most developers would need a pretty good reason to go down instead of up.
Car-stacking technology is a brilliant way to double or triple your car park’s capacity without having to bring in the cranes and construction teams. As you can see from the picture, each car rests on its own platform, and the machine is pretty easy to operate as well. Obviously, a large construction project is a brilliant long-term solution, but there is a lot of logistics and cost associated with this. Engineering and construction company, Bellsure have a selection of car-stack technology available for private purchase.
Car stackers are a particularly attractive option for areas that already have a private carpark, but are heavily congested. This way, the current space can be made more efficient, and more effective.
Bicycle parking technology
Any bicycle parking solution has to also address the problem of bike theft, so bicycle lockers are one possible solution.
Though nowhere near as exciting as the Japanese underground system mentioned earlier, the Lokbox Bike Drawer (pictured above) is a very practical solution. The drawer slides on rollers, extending fully to allow cyclists to squeeze up to two bikes into the drawer. It is then closed and locked away. This solution is particularly compelling for areas suffering from high levels of bike theft.
Bicycles are very expensive, and the costs associated with insurance and replacing them requires people to think seriously about bike lockers.
If your space isn’t at risk from thieves, then you may just be looking for some space-saving alternatives to the standard bike racks. Vertical bike racks are a great response to this problem. And like most great ideas, it’s so simple that it’s a wonder someone didn’t invent it earlier.
The principle is the same: go vertical and save on horizontal space. Vertical bike racks are perfect for indoor areas, or areas so exposed to the general public and CCTV cameras that bike thieves will be suitably deterred.
Advice to developers
Bellsure’s XPD service (expert plan and design) provides specialist consultation for bicycle and car park developments. Bellsure use your own drawings and data, along with state of the art software, such as Autocad and Solidworks, to guide you in finding and installing the best possible parking system for your development. However you decide to solve your parking problems, just make sure you do enough research to ensure that you find the right solution for your project. Perhaps there is a cheaper option? Or perhaps you need to invest more money into a more substantial parking solution? Planning and research is key, whatever you do to tackle your parking problems.