How to Survive the Madness of Finding the Best Parking Spot in the City
Driving in a city like Toronto can be a never-ending nightmare at times, from start to finish. Being stuck in traffic alone is mind-numbing and turns people to zombies. But there’s also the issue of parking. Finding a parking space that’s affordable and convenient may feel like a treasure hunt, especially during the holidays or at special events. So how do you find the best parking spot without going crazy? Like many challenges out there, you’ll have to solve your parking dilemmas by using the right “hacks” to make it easier. Only then, will parking stop feeling like a nuisance.
Zeroing in on a Spot
Above all else, the biggest challenge with city parking is finding a space that’s near your destination, and worth the price. You often don’t get both, unless you know some tricks. However, anyone can put an end to constant circling in parking lots and through city blocks just to find a parking spot. There are a few tools that you can deploy to end the parking struggle for good.
Parking Spot Apps
It’s the digital age, which means we hardly have to play guessing games anymore. This goes for parking as well. There are plenty of apps out there to help you find the best parking spot possible, based on where you need to go. If you live here in Toronto, for example, you could use Toronto Parking Finder. It locates both free and metered parking (over 4,000 of them) in the downtown area, showing you a map of spots nearby. Of course, there are several other apps that will work just fine if you’re not too keen on using Toronto Parking Finder.
5 Other Apps to Help You Find Parking Spots
- ParkMe – This app not only helps you locate parking spots, it gives you the 411 on ideal spaces in your city’s most popular venues.
- BestParking – With the BestParking app, you can search for the perfect spot throughout 100 North American cities.
- Parkopedia – A truly global app, Parkopedia makes parking easier in 75 countries. Consider downloading it if you plan to drive abroad.
- Rover – Also based in Toronto, Rover, has been titled as the “AirBnB” of parking.
- Green P – All residents and visitors of Toronto know Green P. Fortunately, their app lets you track and find Green P spots in the city.
To say you can completely avoid parking dings would be a lie. You can’t. But you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of them happening to a near zero. For example, you might know someone who seems to drive away from the grocery store every few months with a new dent or scratch. Either someone’s out to get them, or they’re not parking in the right places. It’s unfortunate, because if they knew a few parking hacks, they would know how to find the spots that minimize the chance of getting scraped by another car or shopping cart.
Keeping your car “dent-less”
- Park away from other cars – The simplest thing to do, although not always being so simple, is to park away from other cars. Also, avoid parking in a slanted fashion or too close against the yellow lines. You’ll keep yourself clear of doors swinging open or shopping carts passing between you and other vehicles.
- Parallel park – While parallel parking may seem contradictory to avoiding dents, it’s actually a smart move. It’s all about driving psychology here. Most drivers hate parallel parking, and will avoid it. Apart from sideswipes, parallel parking is actually one the best ways to avoid dents since cars are behind and in front, not beside you. Of course, it’s not 100% foolproof – the drivers with shoddy parallel parking skills might still bump into you.
Do a Driving/Transit Split
Finding a good parking space is usually not a problem in the suburbs. So if you commute from suburban to more urban areas, you can always do a driving/transit split. An example of this would be to park at a subway station, which is reasonably priced and filled with spots, and then you’d take the train to your destination. This method accomplishes a few things. First, it relieves the stress of looking for a space in the chaotic settings of the inner city, which can prevent a lot of arguments too. Second of all, it can cut the costs of commuting downtown, since you won’t use as much gas (reduces wear-and-tear as well) or pay the often higher prices of city parking spots.
Tips for the drive/transit commute
- Determine if a regular drive is faster – Splitting your time between driving and transit use will take you longer than a regular drive. So if the purpose of your trip requires you to get there fast, it might be better to drive all the way instead.
- Plan your route accordingly – Some metropolis such as New York, London and Tokyo, have expansive subway systems that cover the entire city. But not all are like that (ahem, Toronto). So check ahead of time to see if you’ll need to get on a bus, take a streetcar or perhaps do some extra walking. Again, if the trip is too inconvenient, you might have to drive to your destination.
- Know the fares – If you’re travelling with a group, perhaps with people of all ages, make sure to know the bus/train fares beforehand. You can save yourself from embarrassment and overspending. Additionally, it’s important to know because some routes travel outside city jurisdictions, making it necessary to pay a slightly higher fare.
Get Parking Before Parking Gets You
There’s no denying that parking is a nuisance at times. When you’re in a rush, stuck in traffic, and circling around for the best parking spot you can find, it’s easy to lose your patience. But the “hacks” listed above can make your efforts to park less frustrating. Don’t let the act of parking get to you. Equip yourself with the apps, parking techniques and commuting options that will make it less of a pain. It won’t take long before you feel more confident about driving in the city, and finding the parking space you need.