Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Validate My Walking

Dateline: 11:42 pm January 21, 2013 Filed under:

“Can we validate your parking, sir?” was the question posed as I paid my dinner tab this evening here in Nashville. I said “No, thank you. I’m walking.” As the waiter walked away I tried to come up with a cheeky response about validating my walking, but alas I’m not too quick on my feet. After all it was a pleasant, chilly evening, and I had a pleasant walk back to my hotel. Burning off a little dinner and getting some fresh air is enough for me – I don’t ask much.

The walk got me thinking, as walks tend to do. It put me in mind of when I visit downtown offices having arrived by light rail. The receptionist at the front desk will ask if I would like my parking validated. I flash a wry smile and say “no, do you validate the train?” This is usually met with a laugh and a half-hearted “No, but we should.” Ha, ha, ha! So funny. I guess it is OK for clients to park for free but those of us who choose an “alternative” form of transportation pay in full? It would be cheaper, after all, for said company to encourage this “alternate behavior.” While it is far easier to create an arrangement with management to validate parking in your own building, it would be a nice gesture if companies could hand out a free transit ride to clients who ride the rails.

At my old job at Dahlgren, Shardlow and Uban, company policy was to pay for each employee’s $120 parking space. I reasoned with them to save the money, and instead pay for my $80 monthly transit card and any parking I require up to $40 for the month. They went for it. In cases when I did need a car for work, we could bill clients for that parking cost. Full disclosure, nowadays I don’t bill my clients for when I need to drive (it is built in to the fee!).

But I must give credit where credit is due – DSU did the right thing by paying for my transit card, and saved themselves money by doing so. And I’m sure there are companies, stores and restaurants out there that reward “alternative” behavior as well, I just can’t think of them right now. Probably too much fresh air from my walk.


  1. One business that’s doing something like this is the Seward Coop, which has an incentive in place for biking to their store. Using a sensor installed on your bike, they can detect when you check into the store’s bike rack. Each check-in earns an entry into a monthly drawing. A bit more info can be found here:

    Bring your own grocery bag incentives share a similar mindset. It’s good for both the business and community to conduct business in a more eco-friendly manner.

    Comment by Ed Kohler — January 22, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  2. Love this. The latest tax credit thing seems to be part of it too. Many employers (the State of MN) will offer a subsidized MetroCard transit pass, too.

    Comment by Bill Lindeke — January 22, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  3. Here in California, thanks largely to Prof. Don Shoup of UCLA, we have a statewide “parking cash-out” policy. Employers that pay for employees’ parking charges (as opposed to providing free parking on-site) are required to provide the same benefit in cash to employees who don’t use the parking. Unfortunately relatively few employers fall into this category. On a happier note, my neighborhood tavern ( provides $1 off your first drink if you walk or bike there.

    Comment by Tim Rood — January 31, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>