I have just returned from completing a marathon, but not the kind that involves sweating through 26 miles on foot. This week, the nation’s capital hosted the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).
The TRB is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. Its mission is to provide leadership in transportation research and information exchange, conducted in a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. From the moment I picked up my meeting materials until they closed the exhibits, I heard about a smorgasbord of transportation-related issues and what mobility will look like in the future. Great stuff!
The five-day program included almost 750 sessions and workshops on all aspects of transportation. With topics such as the Department of Transportation’s session on Map 21 Implementation (I will leave this discussion for a future post); Innovations in Statewide Multimodal Planning; Pedestrian Planning, Policy, and Demand Analysis; Nondestructive Hot-Mix Asphalt Testing; and Reducing Traffic by Increasing Passenger Ridership in Cars, Vans, and Transit, there was plenty of information for every transportation professional’s craving.
But what about parking? What about parking operations, management, technology, pricing, transportation demand management, sustainability, financing, or trends? Some of these things were discussed during the event, but let’s be honest: the only proper immersion on these issues happens at the 2013 IPI Conference in Fort Lauderdale, May 19-22. (That’s my plug, but seriously, as one IPI member said as we passed in the hallway at TRB, “Parking is covered at the IPI Conference.”)
That’s not to say that there weren’t very interesting sessions on parking-related topics, because there were. Topics such as parking’s role in congestion reduction, variable pricing, and managing parking at sporting events were addressed.
But possibly the biggest breakthrough discussion centered around parking occurred during the second day of TRB when Josh Kavanagh, CAPP, from the University of Washington made a strong and compelling argument on IPI’s behalf that TRB create a full-fledged parking committee. The interest for a parking committee is certainly at peak level and IPI leaders have offered TRB their time and expertise to making this committee tangible.
I will keep you updated on our progress.
Meanwhile, those in the parking profession should feel empowered about how vital and relevant parking is to transportation. Advancing the profession and increasing awareness for its importance is vital not just to us, but to the greater good.
I’d be interested in hearing your TRB experiences. Comment below or email me.