Ray LaHood Knows Parking

Shawn Conrad

“America is one big pothole right now.” This line came from former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, in an interview Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 4.59.20 PMfeatured in the June issue of The Parking Professional.

Before interviewing Secretary LaHood, magazine editor Kim Fernandez knew he has a passion for fixing/repairing America’s infrastructure woes, but what she pleasantly discovered is that he also knows parking!

For 15 years, LaHood served on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a standing committee tasked with looking after U.S. highways, bridges, rivers, public buildings, emergency management, and economic development. It was there that he learned how vital America’s transportation system is to keeping the economy growing, and committed himself to securing transportation infrastructure that remains strong and safe.

In a recent nationwide survey of local government officials conducted by IPI with American City and County magazine, IPI learned there is a disconnect in what many government officials know about the innovations and technology available in the parking industry. Happily, Secretary LaHood proves an exception to that rule. If you haven’t read the June article about Ray LaHood, please do so; you’ll enjoy his perspective.

To entice you to to pick up the the current issue of The Parking Professional, which features LaHood on the cover, I will leave you with four quotes. Enjoy:

“Transportation and parking are interrelated, and the government should help to mitigate congestion by encouraging further innovation by these private enterprises.”

“By increasing availability of parking options near busy destinations, we can help slow the sprawl of congestion. It is necessary and forward-looking to integrate parking policy and transportation policy in urban planning projects.”

“Infrastructure investment is intricately linked to quality of life for these reasons; infrastructure and economic growth go hand-in-hand.”

“One of the most important reasons for investing in American infrastructure is ensuring that the United States remains an economically competitive and viable global leader.”

Park(ing) Goes Trendy

Kim Fernandez

Do you have a 2014 IKEA catalog on your kitchen counter (or in your recycling bin)? Does the photo on p. 30 look familiar? If it does image001-1(it’s the one you see in this post), you’re probably familiar with Park(ing) Day, which is a worldwide event that encourages the temporary transformation of parking spaces into gathering places.

IKEA took it one step farther, posting this video illustrating their parking space transformation on their website. And as you probably know, Park(ing) Day and the parklet concept (turning parking spaces into gathering places on a more permanent basis) have caught the eye of the mainstream media and the public.

It’s also been embraced by parking professionals, who see it as a great public relations activity and way to reach out to their customers via something more positive than gate tickets and citations. For one day a year, they allow community residents and business owners to take over parking spaces, either by feeding the meter as they would to park or by applying for special permits, to construct everything from small parks to cafes to mini-golf courses to art exhibitions, all in the name of social interaction in the downtown area.

Park(ing) Day 2013 will happen on Sept. 20, and organizers say they expect record numbers of cities, towns, campuses, and community organizations to participate. Whether you like the idea or not, are you ready? You can read more about it in the August issue of The Parking Professional, which offers the perspective of parking professionals in several cities that have embraced it as a celebration, along with other thoughts from those on our Ask the Experts panel. And you can see it in this year’s IKEA catalog and on their website, which strikes me as something of a milestone: the parking spot as trendy attribute.

What do you think about Park(ing) Day? Will you participate this year (visit parkingday.org to register)? Let us know in the comments.

 

Parking and Gardening

L. Dennis Burns

Ahh springtime! Trees are budding (at least here in Arizona), the orange trees are getting full, and soon the excitement of Cactus League Baseball will be upon us. I am once again filled with renewed optimism and recently took stock of the broad strokes of progress being made in our industry.

In the March issue of The Parking Professional magazine, I reflect on an unlikely combination of topics: parking and gardening. Great strides are being made in the parking industry, in large part thanks to parking professionals whose energy, creativity, diversity of knowledge, and skills are transforming communities across the country.

Have you ever seen the old movie “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers and written by Jersey Kosinski? (If not, you should!) Sellers plays the main character: one Chauncey Gardener, a simple, unsophisticated, and uneducated man (except by television) whose occupation is that of a gardener. Following the death of his aging employer and through a series of accidental events, Chauncey is thrust into a very high-profile role when he is introduced to a politically connected millionaire. His simplistic responses to the media and others, based on all that he really knows–gardening–are seen as brilliant and insightful. He begins to be considered not as simple but nearly enlightened (thus the title).

Inspired by some of Chauncey’s gardening-themed responses, I began to see connections between parking and gardening that require a bit of seasonal perspective to come into focus. The progress being made by parking professionals in many communities is really quite inspiring and is explored further in my article. One of my favorite quotes in the piece is from British poet, novelist, and gardener Vita Sackville-West, who once said: “The person who has planted a garden feels that they have done something for the good of the world.”

I hope you’ll read the piece, let me know what you think, and join me in congratulating the host of parking professionals who are making significant differences in their communities every day!

 

Parking Leaders Kickstart the New Year

Kim Fernandez

The New Year’s resolution: the highlight of the holiday season or the bane of one’s existence. It can go either way. Anyone can make a January 2013 Parking Professional Coverresolution that says we’re going to drop 10 pounds or spend less time on the smartphone or read a book a week or do more yardwork, and lots of us swear that starting January 1, we’re going to work harder, treat our bodies better, and emerge 12 months later better and more successful in some way.

The real question, of course, is how you get from point A to point B. How do you lose that weight? How do you cut back on the email without sacrificing career goals? How, exactly, do you make yourself better/smarter/stronger with the same 24 hours a day you’ve always had?

Businesses are no different; nor is the parking industry. We want to be better at what we do, more efficient, more sustainable, and more successful than ever before despite financial, regulatory, and political roadblocks.

How?

Those are the questions we posed to some of the industry’s top experts in the January issue of The Parking Professional. And they answered, giving their honest evaluations of the industry as it stands and concrete advice for 2013 and beyond. Our industry leaders’ interview is a great starting point for anyone who wants to improve their department or their career this year (who doesn’t?), and we hope you find it useful.

Also in this month’s issue are the winners of our first photography contest (how often do you see a dancer on the cover of a parking magazine?), our Social Media 101 guide for parking professionals, and features on managers as coaches and cheerleaders, turning lemons into lemonade and engaging the entire community in the process, and on airport landside employees’ number-one secret weapon for dealing with difficult customers.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue!

Last Week to Enter The Parking Professional Photo Contest

Kim Fernandez

You know how the holidays sneak up on us every year? Same with tax day–we think we’re prepared and ready, and then wham! It’s here, and we end up panicking to get everything done before the big day ends.

Consider this your seven-day warning: The Parking Professional’s first photo contest ends exactly one week from today, and you have a little more than 168 long hours to get your entry in. We’ve received a lot of fantastic entries, but we still want to see yours!

Need a little motivation? How about a free registration to the IPI Conference & Expo in beautiful Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., next May? That’s what our Best in Show winner will receive, along with having his or her photo featured on the cover of an upcoming issue of The Parking Professional. You could also spice up your wardrobe with a stylish Parking Matters® shirt or see your photo published in the magazine if you take top honors in our six main categories of pictures:

  • Beautiful
  • Funny
  • People in Parking
  • Structure/Lot
  • Nature
  • Most Offbeat or Unusual

All you need to do is take a parking-related digital photo and visit parking.org/photocontest to upload it into the contest. That’s it! Easy-peasy, but you only have one more week to join in the fun.

Hit us with your best shot! I can’t wait to see all of your entries!

 

The Parking Professional and Colin Powell

Shawn Conrad

Inspiration can come from many sources. My inspiration comes from people I meet every day who make the most of their surroundings and those who look for and seize opportunities, like the gentleman on the cover of the August issue of The Parking Professional.

General Colin Powell certainly has made the most of his opportunities. He rose, as he describes  it, from “ordinary circumstances” to serve the United States in many different capacities. Since 1958, Gen. Powell has received 11 military decorations, served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. His devotion to serving did not end when he left public office. Over the past several years, he and his wife, Alma, have devoted themselves to the well-being of children, co-chairing America’s Promise Alliance, a non-profit committed to helping young people succeed.

The general is also a car enthusiast and loves his 19 Corvettes, but that’s not why The Parking Professional sought him out for an interview. As he says in his new book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, then-Secretary of State Powell had a discussion with a group of parking attendants in the State Department’s garage that we at IPI found quite enlightening.

Gen. Powell used the story about the parking attendants to remind people that our actions and how we treat people can have a profound effect on those around us.

I encourage you to read our interview with Gen. Powell in the August issue of The Parking Professional magazine , and if you’re so inclined, pick up a copy of his new book. While we will always remember Gen. Powell for his service to our country, we are also proud that he fully understands why Parking Matters®.

What I Learned from Parking

Colin L. Powell

General Colin L. Powell offered the following to The Parking Matters® Blog from his new book “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership.”

When I was Secretary of State, I slipped away one day from my beautiful office suite and vigilant security agents and snuck down to the garage. The garage is run by contract employees, most of them immigrants and minorities making only a few dollars above minimum wage.

The garage is too small for all the employees’ cars. The challenge every morning is to pack them all in. The attendants’ system is to stack cars one behind the other, so densely packed that there’s no room to maneuver. Since number three can’t get out until number one and two have left, the evening rush hour is chaos if the lead cars don’t exit the garage on time. Inevitably a lot of impatient people have to stand around waiting their turn.

The attendants had never seen a Secretary wandering around the garage before; they thought I was lost. (That may have been true by then, but I’d never admit it.) They asked if I needed help getting back “home.”

“No,” I answered. “I just want to look around and chat with you.” They were surprised, but pleased. I asked about the job, where they were from, were there problems with carbon monoxide, and similar small talk. They assured me everything was fine, and we all relaxed and chatted away.

After a while I asked a question that had puzzled me: “When the cars come in every morning, how do you decide who ends up first to get out, and who ends up second and third?”

They gave each other knowing looks and little smiles. “Mr. Secretary,” one of them said, “it kinda goes like this. When you drive in, if you lower the window, look out, smile, and you know our name, or you say ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or something like that, you’re number one to get out. But if you just look straight ahead and don’t show you even see us or that we are doing something for you, well, you are likely to be one of the last to get out.”

I thanked them, smiled, and made my way back to where I had abandoned my now distraught bodyguard.

At my next staff meeting, I shared this story with my senior leaders. “You can never err by treating everyone in the building with respect, thoughtfulness, and a kind word,” I told them. “Every one of our employees is an essential employee. Every one of them wants to be viewed that way. And if you treat them that way, they will view you that way. They will not let you down or let you fail. They will accomplish whatever you have put in front of them.”

Read more insight about parking, business, and leadership in Gen. Powell’s exclusive interview with The Parking Professional magazine–look for the August issue coming soon!

Parking’s Beautiful Images

L. Dennis Burns

I admit it, I really like parking! When you truly get absorbed into a profession or any area of serious interest, there is no end to the dimensions and nuances you can see that are lost on others.

Not many things have captured my interest as much as parking, but the one that has is photography! Stick a camera in my hand and I can wander happily for hours and hours no matter where I am. Check out this cool image from an off the beaten path parking lot in Seattle!

I was thrilled to learn that IPI had found a way to merge two of my favorite things into a friendly competition: The Parking Professional Photo Contest! How great is that!

The categories for submissions include:

  • Beautiful
  • Funny
  • People in Parking
  • Structure/Lot
  • Nature
  • Most Offbeat or Unusual

Every photo submitted will also be considered for the Best in Show award, which comes with a free registration to the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, and publication on the cover of a future issue of The Parking Professional. Winners of individual categories will receive Parking Matters® shirts and see their photos published in the magazine as well.

I can’t wait to see the kinds of images that will be submitted. Imagine trying to capture the essence of our profession in photographs. The possibilities are endless! I’m already searching my files for the perfect parking picture. I hope you will join me!

Want more info? Go to: www.parking.org/photocontest.

Thinking Outside the Lot

Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D.

Guest blogger Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D. is professor of landscape architecture and urban planning and head, joint program in city design and development, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is author of Re-Thinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and of a feature in the May issue of The Parking Professional.

One look at a typical surface parking lot raises many questions: Can parking lots be designed in a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing way? Can environmental considerations be addressed and adverse effects mitigated? Can parking lots provide more than car storage? Can they be integrated more seamlessly into our built environment in a way that is not only practical but also elegant and enjoyable? What can be learned from usage behavior and the manipulation of lots by unplanned-for users such as teens, food vendors, theater companies, and tailgating sport fans?

In the May issue of The Parking Professional [PDF], I offer thoughts from my book, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. The book explores the origins of the surface lot and its influences on our culture; I think even the most mundane lot has potential to be much more. I argue, using the parking lot as an example, that molding everyday places though simple, generative interventions can transform the way we live and interact with our surroundings.

What is needed next is a renewed vision and exciting ideas for the 21st century parking lot. As a leading voice of the parking industry, the International Parking Institute champions new directions through its Awards of Excellence, which recognize outstanding design in parking. These awards encourage imagination and creativity that help find new solutions intrinsic to the function of the lot, but go beyond the typical aesthetic embellishments and illustrate potential for our future built environment. I am looking forward to hearing about this year’s winners in June.

What do you think can be done to encourage better design in surface lots?

 

College Parking Makes the Grade

In much of the country (sorry, Colorado), birds are singing and flowers are blooming and spring has definitely sprung. April brings with it a renewed freshness as we break out of our winter doldrums, sweep out the proverbial cobwebs, open up the windows, and let a little newness in.

April means The Parking Professional focuses on colleges and universities, and there are lots of fresh ideas in this month’s issue.

We kick things off with “Shooting for Three,” which looks at how a university, a neighborhood, and a city balanced their triple bottom line when a new 12,400-seat athletic complex opened on campus. Far from shrinking from the challenge, parking professionals at the University of Oregon put their heads together and figured out how to make the new center and its crowds work for everyone.

The magazine next looks at how the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill balanced its funding when expenses went up recently. Innovative ideas helped keep the spreadsheet healthy without placing undue burden on any one group.

One of my favorite stories from the issue is about Operation Safedrive [PDF], which provides free vehicle safety inspections to students and faculty at the University of Georgia–you won’t believe how far that’s gone in good public relations for the parking services department there. Similarly, you’ll read the story of Texas Tech’s new motion awareness program that helps keep everyone–drivers and pedestrians–a little bit safer.

The magazine also features stories about Duke University’s LEED-certified garage, and how Seattle Children’s hospital used solid data and a little fun and games to proactively push TDM, with great results.

I hope you’ll enjoy the April issue of The Parking Professional. Let us know what you think!