Parking conditions in France

Mobility is at the heart of our activities. To go to work, to go shopping, for leisure, we need to move from point A to point B. In our modern society, the car is the most popular mode of transport par excellence. It embodies an individual’s freedom and social success.

This predominance of the car is particularly striking in France. In medium-sized French cities, no less than 65% of trips are made by car.

As all motorists know, traveling by car quickly leads us to a problem: finding a parking space. A particularly difficult task in large urban centers where places are expensive and scarce.

Parking space issues

Parking, the main concern in urban space management, is a delicate subject in urban policies. This is an indispensable component in the development of an Urban Travel Plan.

Essential for the attractiveness of a city, parking spaces guarantee accessibility to even the densest central districts. They offer residents the possibility to park close to their homes and traders to receive their deliveries.

The attractiveness of cities (tourism, services, shops, cultural areas, etc.) contributes to increased traffic and parking demand.

However, given the physical characteristics of city centers (density of buildings, small streets, protected heritage, etc.), it becomes particularly difficult to free up space to create new parking spaces. With a right-of-way of 10 m2 on the ground for a road space, a parking space requires significant space. As an indication, half of the Paris public space is dedicated to the car: which represents approximately 1400 hectares.

Parking facilities represent a high cost, difficult to assume for a small or medium-sized municipality.

Since the 1950s, the State has offered each town hall the power to introduce regulations and to use pricing accompanied by a time limit on parking. In this way, it is hoped to improve the rotation of vehicles parked in the city.

Unfortunately, some downtown businesses have suffered from these new regulations. Facing them, peri-urban areas and large commercial areas. Fierce competitors offering a large free parking offer. A survey conducted by OpinionWay in 2018 shows that more than two out of three French people go to the outskirts to do their shopping at the supermarket. A figure that proves the importance of a good parking offer in consumer choice.

French people don’t like to pay for their parking space

This is particularly true for Parisians. 7% of drivers paid parking fees in January 2017, they are now 17% in 2018. More than four out of five Parisians do not pass through the time stamp. An incredibly high fraud rate, partly due to two reasons: too few controllers and a fine for non-payment that was not dissuasive enough.

But then why do we have to pay to park in town?
The use of public space has a cost for communities. Parking fees are used to contribute financially to street maintenance.

It is in this sense that the government adopted the MAPAM law (Modernisation de l’Action Publique territoriale et d’Affirmation des Métropoles) end 2013. This law allows the control of paid parking to be delegated to private-company agents. Previously, only police officers, gendarmes, municipal police officers and highway patrol officers could give tickets to smuggled motorists.

As a result of this new policy, the fraud rate dropped from 50% to 20% in Bordeaux from 2017 to 2018.

You have to be patient to find a place

As part of a policy to make the heart of cities more sustainable and pleasant. Parking in French urban centers is becoming increasingly scarce. Thus, it is not uncommon for people to have to go round in circles for a long time, even a very long time, in order to park.

Every motorist loses, on average, more than one day a year in their vehicles looking for a parking space.

A major source of irritation for motorists, the search for a parking space contributes to increased stress in addition to wasting time. It also has a major impact on traffic in the city. If the flow of vehicles looking for a place does not fade, the fluidity of traffic can quickly deteriorate. So much so that it is estimated that about 30% of cars in Paris are vehicles looking for a parking space. An ecological disaster if we consider all the fine particles emitted.

The Bordeaux case

This video shows a screening of parking demand on June 22, 2018 in Bordeaux. The Bordeaux city center is particularly dense. It is a perfect example of the parking issues presented above.

The very high red curves are all located in the historic heart of Bordeaux. Not surprisingly, they reflect the very high demand on the site. A high demand that can easily be associated with the tourist, tertiary and commercial attractiveness of the city center.

The AI to optimize and facilitate the search for a place

Parking lots take up a lot of floor space. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it is now possible to anticipate the availability of a parking space on the road or in a car park up to 12 hours in advance.

The CityPark application calculates from parking predictions the best available option according to user preferences. A simple way to save time and preserve our planet while reducing the time lost looking for a place.

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