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A Recipe to Reframe the Parking Matters® Conversation

Bridgette Brady

“You need to involve more planners in your associations,” said Gordon Price after his keynote address at the PIPTA conference in Seattle. I swear, I saw faces light up when he said it. Why? We were excited because Price, a renowned urban planner, former politician, and now writer and college instructor, had just acknowledge that what we do … matters.

During his keynote, Price offered a new way of communicating that Parking (and transportation) Matters and he did it without knowing that this is what we’ve been saying all along. He reframed the conversation about our role in creating urbanity and place by providing a recipe for transportation choice. He was no longer using plannerspeak, instead relating the topic to something we all love: food. It didn’t hurt that he was a little spicy–pardon the pun–with his choice of phrases, which kept the audience engaged.

My interpretation is this; you need a whole cup of human density in an area, a tablespoon each of mixed-use and proximity to services, with a couple pinches of good design to serve up a transportation choice. Thankfully, one choice is the car, which implies the need for parking. Of course, the other plated transportation choices are mass transit, active transportation, and sharing modes.

Price also offered a non-numeric equation for those who don’t go anywhere near a cookbook and the kitchen, using the same variables whereas TC (transportation choice) follows the equal sign. For those that prefer plannerspeak, he communicated further in the address that “form follows parking.”

Price hails from Vancouver, a city well known for smart land use and comprehensive transportation systems. His career as an urban planner and politician occurred in Vancouver, lending to his credibility as a subject matter expert. As a side note, he’s really funny too.

I truly hope that within the coming year, you are able to experience his keynote address because he gets it. He understands we need to be involved in planning for access to place. It might be odd to blog about a blog but just in case you are interested, Price’s is Price Tags.

March Madness (In a Good Way)

Bridgette Brady

March is the start of conference season for the IPI Allied State and Regional Associations and unlike your March Madness brackets, these conferences are guaranteed winners.

The Mid-South Parking and Transportation Association (MSPTA) conference will be held in Chattanooga, Tenn., March 3-5. “A popular staple for our conference has been front-line customer service training,” comments Jennifer Tougas, MSPTA president. “Oftentimes, this leads to staff coming back to work with a greater appreciation of their role in the department and a greater understanding of why Parking Matters®.

The New England Parking Council (NEPC) is back in Boston this year. The NEPC’s conference will be held in the heart of Boston’s New Innovation District at the Seaport Hotel, March 11-12. NEPC hosted 240 parking professionals in Hartford last year, and they expect more in Boston.

The Texas Parking & Transportation Association (TPTA) will hold its conference at the South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center in League City, Texas, March 24-27. About 200 parking professionals will meet for this three-day conference that includes educational sessions, a golf outing, an evening event, vendor exhibits, and roundtable discussions.

Further supporting IPI’s partnership with the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), the Pacific Intermountain Parking and Transportation Association (PIPTA) will host its Transportation Summit in Salt Lake City with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of ACT (RMACT), April 10-11.

If you are looking for some southern hospitality, the Parking Association of Georgia’s (PAG) conference and tradeshow will focus on planning, mobility, and parking. PAG’s conference will be held at the Hilton Savannah Desoto Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, April 16-18.

If you haven’t attended an IPI Allied Association conference, you really need to. “Attending the Florida Parking Association (FPA) was a very emotional and amazing experience,” says Liliana Rambo, CAPP, chair of IPI’s Board of Directors. “The educational sessions were spectacular, the events were fun, and of course the food was delicious. Having the opportunity to talk, network and reunite with long-time friends and parking colleagues was priceless.”

For more information about your State and Regional Association, please visit

On a Mission

Bridgette Brady

When asked his profession, the brick layer responded to his son, “I build cities.” His conviction influenced the behavior of the boy, who grew up to be a very successful and highly-regarded leader in the apparel industry. His son committed to lead and engage employees through the development of a company vision that paralleled his father’s understanding of the importance of his profession.

I discovered this story while researching behaviors of effective leaders and it has resonated strongly with me since. The most effective leaders are able to translate the biggest of pictures into a strategic mission and actionable plans. It seems in this context, the big picture is the preface to the mission: It is the simplest way to communicate the importance of a profession. Mission statements are where we start for strategic planning, but do they communicate why we need a mission?

As access management professionals, we know what we do is important, that it matters, and that every single person is affected by our efforts every day. However, when I’m asked about my profession in casual conversation and reply with, “I provide transportation services at a university,” I get cricket noises and blank stares. I wonder if saying, “I move futures,” would frame a different conversation and pique interest. I then envision following up with my saying, “How, might you ask?” Assuming they hang around for the answer, I’d then go on with, “My department provides transportation services to an entire university–an organization dedicated to shaping futures.”

Whether for organizations, firms, or individuals, the big picture is different, demonstrating the diverse needs of our industry’s customers, constituents, and stakeholders. It also confirms that we are widely important in the grand scheme of things–in the big picture.


Continuing the Success

Bridgette Brady

Phew! I’m still reeling from the incredible experience of the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Ft. Lauderdale. From the general sessions to the Expo hall, my staff and I brought back so much to our operations.

State and regional associations were also well represented in Fort Lauderdale and several indicated they would bring the successes of the conference home with them to their annual conferences. If you were unable to make it to Fort Lauderdale, try to attend one of these–several are listed on IPI’s Calendar of Events and in the calendar in every issue of The Parking Professional. Here are a few that are coming up:

  • Members of the Pacific Intermountain Parking and Transportation Association (PIPTA) have already talked about bringing some of the success back to their conference, July 14-16 in Eugene, Ore. The list was so long that some of the programs will need to be deferred until next year.
  • The Carolinas Parking Association conference, September 25-27 in Sunset Beach, N.C., will focus on connectivity involving intermodal travel with parking as the connector.
  • The Pennsylvania Parking Association heads back to the City of Brotherly Love October 2-4. The educational sessions that highlight case studies, bring how-to knowledge, and increase the professional level of attendees are particularly valued.
  • New to the calendar, the Wisconsin Parking Association set the dates for their conference, November 3-4 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc. There will be a strong focus on bringing information about emergent technology to their attendees.
  • The California Public Parking Association is hosting their 30th anniversary conference November 6-8 in Monterey, Calif. Congratulations to all of the volunteers that have made 30 years of regional industry representation happen!

Mark your calendar for the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo, June 1-4 in Dallas, but check out your nearest state or regional association event, too. You won’t regret it!


Good Transportation: A Factor in College Choice

Bridgette Brady

University recruiters may have been keeping a few secrets.

Among the largest is that there are fewer kids to recruit into college. A decline in birthrates in the late 1990s means there are fewer teens than previous years, which translates into fewer considering advanced education.

Recruiting from a dwindling pool of high school grads often results in lowering standards for admission, which is certainly not a great business model. It’s a tough fact to swallow when the lifeblood of any university is a continuous and consistent flow of quality students.

Here’s something that’s not a secret: transportation is moving up the lists of criteria used by students in selecting a university.

Hmmm…does this mean they need us more now than ever?

I am the director of Washington State University, which is a member of the Pacific-12 Conference (PAC-12). If transportation systems are selection criteria, we’re competing with the likes of Stanford, Cal Berkley, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of Washington, to name a few. From bicycles to buses, walking paths to carsharing programs, our system now competes with some of the best in the nation.

Our department is not discouraged, we’re energized. We’re excited by the notion that we can help WSU compete for quality students. We’re excited to have a new strategic opportunity and a new way to appeal to the university community for support of our transportation system.

I’ve begun introducing this concept to the community, including administrators, faculty members, student government, sustainability groups, or just about anyone else who will listen. And I’ve not been laughed out of the room. Pride runs deep in the university setting and competition is a way of life.

Let’s get into the game. The new message: “Help us help you. We’re all in this together.” It’s the beginning of a new era for transportation directors. When it comes to competing for students we have a seat at the strategic planning table.

It’s a good thing we’re ready.

Meet Your State and Regional Associations

Bridgette Brady

Allow me to introduce you to your State or Regional Associations. There are currently nineteen Parking and Transportation Associations representing professionals throughout the nation. Much like IPI, these associations’ mission is to advance the profession. In other words, the associations are bringing IPI home. One of the greater values an association provides is an annual conference. It is the hope that barriers to participating in these important learning and networking opportunities can be alleviated by bringing the event closer to the professional.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend or be part of planning several regional conferences and found the rewards to be countless. I’ve also found associations to be very innovative with conference programming. For example, the most recent conference I attended was hosted by the Southwest Parking Association (SWPA) this past October. Not unlike most associations, SWPA has recently set ambitious goals for increasing membership and level of service to members. The Board brainstormed on how they might achieve these goals and took a chance with a new conference format. The risks paid off for both vendors and attendees.

Some of the unique features included:

• All educational offerings were provided in a plenary format in the same room that meals were provided. Only one session was offered at a time.
• No vendor booths or tables. Instead each vendor had the opportunity to give a ten minute presentation “Power Pitch” to the entire audience during breakfast and lunch, attend the sessions and otherwise network freely during breaks and events.
• Held a “Swag Swap” at the very end of the conference and allowed vendors to take part. This helped to keep attendees engaged through the end of the conference.

For more information about your State and Regional Associations, please contact me at