Rover Model Worth Pursuing (

***Originally Published on: Mon., Aug. 3, 2015***  by

Re: Bringing Rover to heel, Editorial July 28

Bringing Rover to heel, Editorial July 28

[See the full story here.](
On my street, as on neighbouring side streets in downtown Toronto, daytime parking is absolutely free. New mobile parking apps (like one the city has implemented for its municipal lots) should make it even easier to charge a fee for such parking – and to collect significant new revenues.
A concern about Rover is that it will bring more traffic on to side streets. It’s an odd concern given that motorists currently spend a fair bit of time circling the block in search of (free) parking.
Professor Donald Shoup, in his study “The High Cost of Free Parking,” found that for a 15-block area in Los Angeles the aggregate amount of extra driving by motorists in search of a free parking spot was 1.5 million kilometres for a single year.
Rover will apparently collect 30 per cent on each parking transaction while the City of Toronto collects 100 per cent of zero when it gives away parking. I’m happy to tell you which business model I would choose.
**Albert Koehl**, Toronto
Your editorial on this new app that facilitates home owners to rent out their parking spaces when they don’t need them suggests a compromise. It should cause a deeper re-evaluation by the city.
Very little parking is zoned as such, and only this parking can be rented; otherwise parking spots are deemed “ancillary” to the main land-use, usually residential, commercial, or industrial, and it can be occupied only by the vehicles used to transport the driver to do business – as customer, seller, or employee – at that address. Downtown such parking spaces are a market commodity and usually charged for, while those further out are usually free.
In lower-density residential areas, the parking supply is fractured, usually with each parking spot requiring its own “curb cut” for access. Unfortunately, this curb cut does two deleterious things: it requires the sidewalk geometry to be compromised such that the level surface that makes walking pleasant is sacrificed to avoid the property-owner needing to slow down to almost a standstill to avoid a big bump.
This feature causes pedestrians to shift their hips to allow one foot to be higher than the other, and it causes strollers to want to roll into the street without strong-arming by the adult pusher. It is also unfair, as the sidewalks are publicly provided and movement along them is much greater than that using the curb cut to gain egress to the private driveway.
The second effect is that the street loses one or, more often, two, street parking spots. This not only reduces the number of parking spaces on the street, but the off-street spaces that replace them are all private – thus unshared. Even though the average car is driven only 1.5 to 2 hours a day, they are parked during the day more often at other parking spaces, such as an employer’s lot.
What Rover does can actually help the residents on a street, by providing an opportunity for a visitor to park in a private spot, thus reducing the use of on-street spaces. The former would be used by someone parking longer than street parking allows, and the latter by those parking for shorter periods.
A couple years ago, a seniors centre and long-term-care home in Ottawa lost parking for employees, volunteers, and visitors to the residents when chronically underused Lansdowne Park, across the street, was redeveloped and greatly intensified, at least the adjacent portion. I proposed the centre approach owners in the residential area to set up a Rover-like program, with the centre allotting the spaces and enforcing adherence, so visitors’ vehicles would not be blocking owners when they got home from their jobs.
But the idea had to be rejected when it was realized that most parking was in garages off a rear lane and, without a private driveway in front, would be too fraught with security issues. But at least this parking arrangement, which dates back over 75-100 years, has provide many more shared street parking spaces than the suburbs do today, where car-ownership is even higher.
Another place where it could work is at hospitals which charge very high rates for the parking they provide, primarily justified by their need for funding to cover gaps in provincial financial support. But seniors, who are the most frequent users of such parking – as patients, visitors of patients, and clinic clients – are also more likely to need a car to overcome accessibility limitations and have difficulty paying the rates that exceed what the municipality charges in its downtown. Rover would help them.

Source – Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa

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