When dining out, I always feel excited when I see a large sign in front of the restaurant saying “free parking in rear”. It means that I could save a couple of dollars while enjoying dinner. I believe that most people have the same experience. However, even if labelled “free parking”, parking is actually not free, since we have already paid something for it without realizing it.
In general, parking creates economic and environmental problems, and even social issues, as Paul Kennedy argues in his 2013 CBC radio program Ideas, (“Paying for Parking”). In 2009, a study showed that there were “607 motor vehicles owned per 1000 people” in Canada (“Motor vehicles (per 1000)”). This car ownership rate indicates that the personally owned vehicle is one of the major modes of transportation in Canada. The huge number of vehicles requires increasing amounts of land for parking and driving in the city. As well, the large amount of land needed for parking “shapes our cities”, pushes up housing costs, and results in many environmental problems (“Paying for Parking”). The current urban planning for land use and parking regulations are the necessary and remote factors that eventually lead to economic and environmental problems.
Even though parking causes several problems, the application of technology for parking has developed a lot since 1935. The concept of “cultural determinism” (Slack and Wise 45) can be applied when examining the issue of parking technology. The world’s first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City. Oil-field workers were taking up all the good parking spaces in front of the stores where the shoppers usually parked, so the first pay-parking meter was installed to try and address the problem. Shortly afterwards, the oilfield workers moved their vehicles out of the prime parking spaces. This particular invention helped customers find parking spots easily. Hence, more parking meters were installed in front of other stores (“Paying for Parking”). The number of parking meters increased rapidly due to accelerating demand. Thus, this improvement of parking technology can be treated as a product of culture determinism. In addition, with the development of automobile engineering, it is now possible for more people to be able to purchase their own vehicles. Consequently, this increasing social need results in an increase in the demand for land to be used for parking.
If we look at parking technology closely, it is clear that parking plays an important role in our society. We can find parking spaces around most office towers, shopping malls, city halls, and apartment buildings. In the media presentation, David Hill indicates that parking technology is closely related to several social groups (“Paying for Parking”). His view can be better understood using Quan-Haase’s four stages of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) framework. The SCOT framework emphasizes the importance of social groups, which pushes and shapes the technology...