1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

Stores Rewarding Hybrid Drivers With Choice Parking Spaces

Posted on August 20, 2008
Filed Under Corporate Adoption, General News | Leave a Comment

Wheelchair users and others with limited mobility have long had access to prime parking spaces. Then expectant mothers got their own special spots. Now some stores are setting aside coveted parking close to the door for fuel-efficient hybrids.

Ikea has designated hybrid-only spaces across the U.S., including one at its Houston store on the Katy Freeway. Home Depot and Office Depot are trying out similar parking perks for fuel efficiency in Austin, Chicago and several other cities.

Weingarten Realty, which owns several close-in, high-traffic Houston retail developments — including a large chunk of the Rice Village and much of the West Gray strip — is looking into the concept.

“We have just begun evaluating potential programs but haven’t fully developed a model,” said Henry Lichtman, regional director of property management for Weingarten. He said adding any special program to recognize hybrid use will need strong buy-in from other businesses and possibly even local government to be meaningful.

Some cities are considering special parking for fuel efficient vehicles, or are experimenting with it.

For three years Los Angeles has let some hybrids and other vehicles that get more than 45 miles per gallon park for free.

Bruce Gillman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said the city offers free parking to any vehicle with the California Clean Air Vehicle Decal.

California leads the nation in hybrid sales this year, by a wide margin. The parking program has been so popular that the state ran out of decals for a time.

“Now there are four hybrids that can park free without the sticker,” Gillman says. They are the Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid.

The New York City Council has discussed a similar idea: letting hybrid drivers park free at city meters.

Houston has considered giving preferential parking to hybrids at the city’s airports, but Cris Eugster, chief sustainability officer for Mayor Bill White, says it’s not clear whether that actually provides incentive for motorists to purchase hybrids.

“We’d rather lead by example,” he says, noting that White drives a Prius.

Hybrid vehicles pair internal combustion and electric motors, using the electric motor at low speeds and in stop-and-start driving, and the internal combustion motor at cruising speeds.

Houston recently purchased its 500th hybrid vehicle for the city’s fleet, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority has committed to buying about 100 hybrid buses a year for a total of 450 in 2011.

Which cars should qualify?

Several states, including California and Colorado, allow some hybrids in high-occupancy vehicle lanes with just a single occupant, but so far Metro has rejected the idea.

The agency argues it is tough to discern which vehicles are hybrids as they speed by. For instance, Nissan Altima hybrids look essentially the same as regular Altimas.

Metro does allow super fuel-efficient motorcycles in HOV lanes.

At the Kicking Tires blog on cars.com, drivers are debating whether giving preferential treatment to hybrid vehicles is fair. Some argue over what cars should qualify.

For instance, E-85 fuel vehicles, such as the Chevy Avalanche parked in Ikea’s hybrid spot one day last week, do not get better mileage than other trucks. But the vehicles, which can run on regular gasoline or on fuel containing up to 85 percent ethanol, reduce some emissions. Should they get to park in hybrid spaces even though they aren’t hybrids?

Francine Palvolgyi, Ikea’s marketing specialist for Houston, said there’s no enforcement of the hybrid-only rule on the company’s designated spaces, but customers seem to appreciate the spirit of the suggestion.

“Nobody is going to get towed,” Palvolgyi said. “People really seem to honor it.”

For Ikea, hybrid spaces are about promoting environmental awareness.

“The company’s philosophy is to be green-conscious, and we’d like our customers to think that way, too,” Palvolgyi said.

If one downtown hybrid parking experiment is any indication, a lot of Houstonians aren’t too interested.

The First City Houston office tower offered up preferential parking right by the garage’s elevator banks to hybrid owners, said Standard Parking’s facility manager Randy Reynolds.

That was six months ago. So far one commuter has taken up the offer.

“It didn’t really go anywhere,” Reynolds said.

Source: Chron.com

Related Posts:

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function related_posts() in /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/wp-content/themes/ultimateblogger/index.php:25 Stack trace: #0 /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/wp-settings.php(431): include_once() #1 /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/wp-includes/template-loader.php(75): wp_safe_load('/homepages/15/d...') #2 /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/homepages/15/d...') #3 /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/index.php(17): require('/homepages/15/d...') #4 {main} thrown in /homepages/15/d211799029/htdocs/MIXEDPOWER/wp-content/themes/ultimateblogger/index.php on line 25