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The Parking Expert Travels

I used to be a good traveling companion. At least, I thought so and people seemed to be willing to travel out of town with me.

Then I got really into parking. The more experience I gained in the parking industry, the more intrigued I became with its facilities, especially garages. I cannot pass one without going in, or at least drawing near for a closer look at how it is designed, how it operates, the technology it uses. Moth to a flame–nothing I can do about it. This pull intensifies when I am going to a new city or place, which I am fortunate enough to do quite often.

Of particular note are those structures with evidence of distress, cracking, lack of maintenance, or an overall lack of TLC. These unloved buildings get a lot of my attention. Confusing functional design also rises to the top.

I recently traveled to Florida with a parking colleague. In this case, shopping drew us to a particular garage, but that isn’t the point. Even with our two heads together, we could not figure out which way we were supposed to go. (Please, no comments about female drivers either–also not the point.) Our complaints were detailed, our position was righteous, and we were not to be quieted. We talked about the experience long after parking the car and getting where we wanted to go.

When I travel with colleagues and friends (those not fortunate enough to be directly involved with the parking industry), my experience is altogether different. When we enter a garage, they turn to me and state, very clearly, “Don’t tell us about the details. Don’t talk about the signage to the elevator, or retrofitting with energy efficient lights. By all means, do not point out where they should put the solar array!”

I suppose I should be happy that they know so much about parking, and how much goes into garages and their operation, that they no longer need my insights.

But maybe I need to make (more) friends in the parking industry to travel with.

About Rachel Yoka, CAPP

Rachel Yoka, CAPP, LEED AP BD+C, CPSM, CNU-A, is vice president of program development with IPI.


  1. Perhaps you are just not traveling with the right people! It seems to be that the things that you are pointing out should be of interest to anyone who USES parking garages, not just designs them. For example, if there are solar panels on the roof, thereby keeping the costs to operate the garage down, couldn’t that translate into cost savings to park there? That impacts everyone, not just the designers. I have often found signage in the garages confusing; perhaps a knowledge about how the signage is decided upon could help people better understand and navigate. I think maybe you just need to look for travel companions that are more open to learning interesting new things!

  2. Wanda Brown says:

    I think this is wonderful that you draw attention to the details because it is the wonderful details that make this industry what it is. So long, society has looked upon Parking as JUST PARKING CARS when truthfully, it takes great skill and competence to build and maintain a structure. Not only the architecture and structure but the financial infrastructure that goes along with it. The technology alone is enough to get you excited about the possibilities, lean practices that can be implemented as well as the development of employees as new skill sets are created. Having said that, it is these types of discussions and personal educational opportunities that will make the next generation appreciate all that we do.

  3. Tom Nickell says:

    A wonderful post! You could have been describing what I’ve been forcing my traveling companions to endure for several years now, except you talk about interesting things like energy efficient lights and the layout. I’ve been boring my family and friends talking about how the structure looks — the maintenance and TLC issues you refer to. And, more specifically, the concrete! There’s a parking garage in my home town where the exit ramp is literally held up by turnbuckles because the concrete has fallen apart. It’s scary (though the engineers have assured me it’s safe). But, why does the population as a whole expect and accept that parking structures need to look old and deteriorated over time? Parking can be a safe, aesthetically appealing activity. Let’s keep working on changing the paradigm.

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