Smart Parking
Case Study

Urban Case Study
Cambridge, MA

Cambridge has developed a series of successful strategies to manage parking in a high-density, urban setting. A major component to Cambridge's smart parking approach is the use of a Parking and Transportation Demand Management (PTDM) Ordinance. Additionally, the city has enacted regulations for underground parking that are encouraging a more efficient use of space.

How Smart Parking Works in Cambridge

As one of the Commonwealth's densest municipalities, parking space in Cambridge is at a premium. With little room to expand facilities, Cambridge's PTDM Ordinance was enacted to help reduce parking demand by promoting alternative transportation and shared car arrangements. The PTDM Ordinance requires that new developments implement a variety of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Programs depending on the needs and size of the development. Smaller development must commit to at least three TDM measures. Larger developments are required to prepare an entire PTDM Plan that commits to specific decreases in single occupancy car use. While this is not an exhaustive list, the range of TDM measures available includes:

University Park Hotel & Retail Complex.
University Park Hotel & Retail Complex created structured parking for over 900 cars
  • Employee shuttles
  • Carpool and vanpool parking
  • Onsite car sharing vehicle
  • Transit and vanpool subsidies
  • Pre-tax deduction of transit and vanpool fares
  • Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program
  • Bicycle parking
  • Shower and locker facilities for bicyclists and walkers
  • Flexible or alternative work hours
  • Telecommuting program

The use of a PTDM Ordinance has been extremely effective as a means of reducing parking demand by encouraging a balance of transportation options. Cambridge's requirement for all new developments to comply with some measure of TDM standards has created a consistent yet flexible environment for developers to work in.

In addition to its PTDM Ordinance, Cambridge has enacted an underground parking regulation that exempts underground facilities from Gross Floor Area (GFA) calculations. The GFA calculations require a specific number of parking spaces based on the building size. The exemption increases flexibility for the developer and creates an incentive for constructing underground facilities as opposed to surface lots. Given the dense arrangement of buildings within Cambridge's urban environment, placing parking underground is an immense benefit to the city in increasing space efficiency and limiting aesthetic concerns. To avoid detracting from streetscape appeal and first floor uses, the roof of an underground parking facility may not be more than four feet above ground.