Interview with Éric Gantelet by InnovCity

April 16, 2010
Extract: “It's kind of our golden rule: before building a new car park, try to solve the problem in another way. It's easy to say like that, but often very complicated to implement. » By Olivier Barrellier | 04.01.10
First part of our file devoted to the parking in the city, an interview with Eric Gauntlet, Managing Director of Sareco, a design office specialized in parking for over thirty years. Where he explains that, in this area, technology must provide a solution to a more organizational innovation.

InnovCity: What trends do you see emerging in the years to come?

Eric Gantelet: We are witnessing a clear reduction in the number of car parks created in the city centre, offset by the setting up of relay parks on the outskirts, located near public transport stations. That works well. Communities that have adopted this provision regularly gain several public transport usage points. Some relay parks are already saturated. At the same time, the pooling of parking facilities in the city is progressing rapidly despite serious regulatory obstacles. This involves sharing the squares between several residential, office and commercial buildings. The periods of use being different, the saving of space can reach 30%. Finally, in the longer term, the appearance of new practices, such as carpooling or car-sharing, will require regional infrastructure and specific rules that largely remain to be invented.

These are essentially conceptual innovations. What about technological innovation?

There is indeed on these subjects a expansion new technologies. Some have an immediate and obvious application, such as the protection of places reserved for deliveries or for the disabled. But, for now, the majority are in the testing or pilot stage. In addition, for Sareco, technology must meet a need, provide a material solution to a more organizational innovation. We are also struck by the fact that, in many cases, our recommendations consist in making better use of existing resources rather than creating new ones. It's kind of our golden rule: before building a new car park, try to solve the problem in another way. It's easy to say like that, but often very complicated to implement.

For what ? What is the complexity of a parking policy?

First, because it is very easy to be misled by what is simple to observe. Adding spaces in a street continually affected by illegal parking rarely solves the problem. Ban it completely either. It is necessary to understand the interactions between users, facilities, businesses, offices and the public transport offer. Needless to say, these actors are not only independent, but also subject to different constraints and objectives. Add the environmental concerns and you get an idea of ​​how difficult the exercise is.

What are your customers asking of you?

We generally work for municipalities with more than 15,000 inhabitants and on three main categories of users: residents who live on site; THE commuters who come to work there; and visitors, mainly retail customers. The recurring objective of cities is to limit the number of places for residents to the strict minimum, to deter commuters, and to encourage visitors for short periods. Then, the proposed actions are variable but always of the same order: carrot, stick and communication.

You claim to invest 15% of your turnover in R&D. How can we search in the parking lot?

I understand that this may make people smile, but it is very serious and above all very useful for our recommendations. Upstream, we carry out generic studies, such as the impact of parking on greenhouse gases. We also collect data that can be reused later on the parking needs generated by different equipment (Editor's note: for example, how many places should be provided for a swimming pool?). We also develop computerized mathematical models to simulate the impact of our recommendations. Finally, we are constantly looking for new solutions and new concepts. This notably involves international monitoring.

Sareco in a nutshell

* Activity: Parking engineering
* Creation: 1976
* Turnover: €1.2 million
* Workforce: 15 people
* References: more than a thousand studies, from Dunkirk to Singapore.
221 rue La Fayette
75010 Paris
T.: +33 (0)1 42 46 22 66
2 place Louis Pradel
69001 Lyon
T.: +33 (0)4 78 39 14 83
13 Rue Claude Chappe
35510 Cesson-Sévigné
T.: +33 (0)2 57 67 06 97
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