You may have noticed new white bumps next to some metered parking spaces on Clement and Geary. They are part of a system the city is testing in their SFpark pilot program, designed to make parking in the city easier and convenient.
The white bumps are wireless “smart sensors” that transmit real-time information on parking space availability. According to the program’s website, “drivers will have access to real-time garage availability information by text message, on the web, and on a new network of variable message signs in key locations which will be complemented by supplementary wayfinding signs.”
Aside from the potential added convenience to drivers, the sensors will also help the city gather and analyze parking data to determine peak parking times. They can then use this data to offer “just right” prices for parking that can better balance the load between metered street parking, parking garages and lots, and block parking; or encourage drivers to park at off-peak times.
The ultimate goal is to have at least 10% of parking spaces in the city free at all times – that’s about one space per block by SFpark estimates.
According to the SFpark website, “Adjustments will prevent prices that are “too low,” which encourage drivers to double park or circle and wait for an inexpensive spot on a crowded block to open up. These adjustments will also prevent prices that are “too high” causing drivers to look elsewhere. Rather than too high or too low, SFMTA will use “Just Right” pricing.”
The city anticipates adjusting parking prices every 4 to 6 weeks. “SFpark will use “Just Right” pricing to adjust prices at SFMTA-managed parking garages every four to six weeks to encourage drivers to park in garages yet ensuring that SFMTA garages always have space available. Similarly, for metered on-street parking, prices will be adjusted every four to six weeks to help redistribute the demand for parking.”
The program also calls for upgrading meters to be able to accept payment with coins, credit cards, and the SFMTA Smart Card.
At a forum about the program last month, SFpark manager Jay Primus told attendees that the program will also help MUNI run more reliably and efficiently. MissonLocal writes, “At Thursday’s downtown forum, he blamed circling and congestion from parking issues for “why Muni isn’t as fast or reliable as it could be.”
According to MissionLocal, the outer Richmond is being used as a control group during the pilot program. Data is being collected but no adjustments are being made to meter pricing in our area.
It’s unclear how safe this kind of parking notification system will be. Driver distractions are at an all-time high (video); even Oprah is promoting a no phone zone pledge for drivers. Has the SFMTA ever looked closely at the current vulture-like behavior of SF drivers when it comes to parking? Split secod u-turns, driving across double yellow lines, three point U-turns on a side street to get a spot on the other side… we know all the tricks.
When I read about a system like this, I envision drivers racing around corners to get to the block where a spot is free. Or double parking to consult their smart phones to find an open parking space.
Even if they’re not using cell phones, do we really want more signage along our streets, displaying wholly uninteresting things like “There’s 1 parking space on Clement and 3rd Avenue”? Oh wait, I am sure each sign will have space for an ad or will rotate in ads between messages. More $$ for the city!
MissionLocal also raises an interesting point about languages. In a multicultural neighborhood like the Richmond, will signs also be in Chinese, Russian and even Spanish? I get a dolor de cabeza just thinking about it.
In the SFMTA’s most recent budget proposals, paek and off-peak meter parking pricing was noticeably absent. Mayor Newsom has said that he would not support metered parking in the evenings, but he is in favor of meters running on Sundays, primarily to help turnover for merchants.
What do you think? Will a program like this help alleviate parking problems here in the Richmond and across the city?
3:06 pm | Posted under Traffic
| 4 comments