An Old Idea Brings New Advantages
Automatic parking lifts have been around for a while. The earliest recorded parking structure was in Paris, just after the turn of the last century. In 1905, Paris had the most cars of any major cities, and city planners were already worried about their effect on the city's built environment. As a result, the first multi-level garage building was constructed; cars were driven on to an elevator and raised hydraulically to one of the levels above.
Automated parking lift structures also graced a number of American cities by the 1920s but their popularity would be surpassed quickly by two other modes of parking. Large surface lots were seen as an easy and cheap solution for parking – they just required vacant land. Parking garages were also built in which the many levels were linked by ramps.
But it has become abundantly clear that both those parking solutions are flawed. Surface lots are uneconomic wastes of space, and reduce the walkability of a city. Drive-in parking garages have become sites of criminal behaviour and big producers of greenhouse gas emissions.
So things have come full circle – back to that 1905 solution in Paris: the automated parking lift garage.
The Advantages of Parking Lifts
Crime is reduced in automated garages, because access to the garage can be controlled. The car owner waits in a safe, well-lit area while the car is brought down. Studies have shown that almost a quarter of vehicle thefts occur in parking structures and with no access ability to an automated garage; this is eliminated.
Similarly, a hydraulic lift garage has a dramatically beneficial green effect. One 2009 study found that 350-space automated parking system reduced carbon monoxide emissions, nitrogen oxides by 81 percent, and carbon dioxide by 83 percent when compared to a ramp facility of comparable capacity.
And there is a visual effect. Surface parking lots are not beautiful. Parking garages are rarely aesthetically pleasing places either. The spatial economy of an automated garage, with its stacked parking, is a great fit for densely populated cities, adding safety and protecting the environment.