High Temperature and Heavy Rainfall stimulate Car Drivers to choose for Parking Garages when visiting City Centers

Editie: 31 - Global vs. Local

Published on: 24 juni 2024

This article aims to provide some first insights into the role of temperature and rainfall in the context of car drivers’ preferences regarding parking types when visiting a city center. In an online survey car drivers were asked for different temperature and rainfall levels which type of parking facility they prefer. In total, 443 respondents completed the questionnaire. A first exploration learns that more than 50 percent of the respondents change their preference due to changing temperature or rainfall levels. Parking garages are preferred most in the context of high temperatures and heavy rainfall. For low temperatures and limited/no rainfall, on-street parking is preferred most.


The car is still a popular mode of transportation when visiting a city center. It appears that in the Netherlands, the car is used in approximately 25 percent of all arrivals in city centers (CBS, 2022). Despite the fact that more and more fossil fuel cars will be banned from city centers, the demand of parking will stay at a high level because many fossil cars will be replaced by electrical and (autonomous) shared cars (e.g. Spurling, 2020). To host these cars for a short or long time period in and around city centers, a variety of parking facilities are available that can be grouped into three major types: off-street parking garages, off-street parking lots, and on-street parking spaces. Due to densification in city centers with mainly housing, more and more parking facilities are closed or moved as Park & Ride facility to the outskirts of the city centers or the city (e.g. Kirschner, 2021). Having a shortage of or having wrongly located parking facilities can result into extra high demand in certain parking facilities, illegal parking, or an increase of cruising cars looking for a free parking space (e.g. Assemi et al, 2020). Relocation of parking choices of visitors can also result into changes of pedestrian flows in shopping access streets and the centers of shopping areas (e.g. Van der Waerden et al, 2012). Previous parking studies have shown that car drivers’ preferences for a specific type of parking facilities mainly depend on parking costs and walking distance (e.g. Ben Hassine et al, 2022). At some distance, other features contribute to the attractiveness of parking facilities such as presence of security, available opening hours, and number of charging points (Simićević & Milosavljević, 2023).

Due to climate change, weather conditions have become more extreme and therefore more influential on peoples’ behavior (e.g. Lavigne et al, 2023). Both temperature and rainfall reach much higher levels than before (e.g. Robinson et al, 2021). These changing conditions might also influence the travel behavior (including parking behavior) of individuals (e.g. Gössling et al, 2023). Higher temperatures and/or heavier rainfall might trigger car drivers to focus their search for a suitable parking space on roofed parking facilities and/or parking facilities close to their final destinations. In the field of transportation, various studies have been carried out with a focus on the relation between travelers’ behavior and weather conditions. Some examples are weather conditions and cycling behavior (e.g. De Kruijf et al, 2021), transit ridership (e.g. Anta Kashfi et al, 2016), daily mobility (e.g. Böcker et al, 2019), transportation demand (e.g. Petrovic et al, 2020), travel mode choice (e.g. Liu et al, 2015), the use of bicycle facilities (e.g. Nosal & Miranda-Moreno, 2014), and congestion on motorways (e.g. Van Stralen et al, 2015). In the context of parking behavior, studies have been carried out regarding the influence of weather conditions on parking duration on on-street parking facilities (e.g. Demir & Öz, 2023), on the speed of finding a suitable parking space (e.g. Chougule et al, 2023), on off-street parking occupancy rate predictions (e.g. Fokker et al, 2022), and on parking choice behavior of shoppers (e.g. Feng et al, 2019).

Until now, limited attention has been paid to the role of temperature and rainfall when car drivers are looking for a specific type of parking facility for their city center visits. Therefore, the aim of the study presented in this article is to explore car drivers’ preferences towards different types of parking facilities in relation to temperature and rainfall. The focus in this study is on car drivers’ sensitivity regarding their preferred parking type due to different temperature or rainfall levels. The study is a first exploration of this relationship in the context of city center visits. The remainder of this article is organized as follows. First, the adopted research approach is outlined followed by a brief overview of the sample used for the analyses. Next, some descriptive analyses are presented to show the relationships between parking type preferences and included weather conditions. The article ends with the conclusions and recommendations for practice and future research.


Research approach and data

To get insight into the relationship between temperature and rainfall and car drivers’ preferences regarding the type of parking facility the following research approach was set up. For different levels of temperature and rainfall, car drivers were invited in an online survey to indicate their preference for one of the types of parking facilities (on-street, parking lot, parking garage) when visiting a city center (Figure 1). The investigated levels of temperature are Hot, Mild, and Cold. For rainfall, the following levels were investigated: Heavy, Light (Drizzle), and No Rain. The survey also included some questions regarding parking and visit related experiences and personal characteristics of the respondents (see Khaliq, 2018). The survey was distributed among Belgian members of the online marketing organization PanelClix (www.panelclix.be).

Figure 1 Screenshot of online survey (Khaliq, 2018)

The data of 443 respondents could be included in the analyses. Table 1 presents some details of the respondents. It appears that the sample consists of a variety of individuals and that all separated categories are well represented.

Characteristics Levels Frequencies Percentages






Educational level




Car type



Big city experiences


Parking experiences




45 years and younger

Between 45 and 60 years

60 years and older

Level 1 General education

Level 2 Vocational education

Level 3 Professional bachelor

Level 4 Academic bachelor and master






Mainly on-street parking

Both on-street and off-street parking

Mainly off-street parking



































Table 1 Overview of sample characteristics (N=443)



The first step of the analysis focuses on car drivers’ preferences for different temperature and rainfall levels. Figure 2 shows that preferences for the included parking types differ significantly (based on Chi-square test) between the different levels of temperature and rainfall. In the case of temperature, on-street parking is more popular than the other two parking types for average and low temperature. Parking garages are most preferred in case of high temperature. Regarding rainfall, it appears that on-street parking is most popular in the case of drizzle or no rainfall. In contrast, parking garages are more popular when it rains heavily.

Figure 2 Overview of car drivers’ preferences for investigated weather conditions

The next step of the analysis focuses on the overall sensitivity of car drivers’ parking type preferences when weather conditions change (Figure 3). The underlying question here is whether car drivers change their preference due to changing weather levels, expressing their sensitivity for investigated weather conditions. For both temperature and rainfall, it appears that approximately 54 percent is sensitive regarding their parking type preferences when the temperature and/or rainfall levels change. This means that they prefer a different parking facility for different temperature or rainfall levels.

Figure 3 Car drivers’ overall sensitivity for temperature and rainfall

A more detailed view on this sensitivity is shown in Figure 4 where different combinations of preferences are presented. The prescript ‘All’ stands for respondents who are not sensitive for the weather conditions and always prefer the same type of parking facility. As shown before, on-street parking is the most preferred type of parking facility. The other labels in the figure show what combinations are involved in respondents preferences. In this case, there is a clear distinction between the two weather conditions. In the case of temperature, more respondents switch between parking lot and parking garage while in the case of rainfall the switch between on-street parking and parking garage is more explicit.

Figure 4 combinations of parking type preferences for temperature and rainfall



The study presented in this article is a first step in the exploration of the relationship between temperature and rainfall levels and car drivers’ preferences for parking facility types. Within the limitations of the study, the study shows that the preferences of car drivers for specific type of parking facilities are related to temperature and rainfall levels. For practice, this insight can be used to evaluate an optimal number and distribution of parking facilities in and around city centers given the expected changes in temperature and rainfall levels. Optimizing the supply of parking in and around city centers includes finding a good balance between the different types of parking facilities. In addition, cities suffering from great differences between temperature and/or rainfall in summer and winter might use the results to differentiate the supply of parking facilities over the year.

To get a more precise picture of the investigated relationship, the study should be extended with more attributes of the parking facilities and more detailing of the weather condition levels. The current findings can also be analyzed in more detail using analytical models investigating for example the relationship between car drivers’ sensitivity and their personal and trips characteristics.


On the author – Peter van der Waerden

Peter van der Waerden studied Transportation at the National Academy of Planning, Transportation and Logistics in Tilburg and Human Geography at the State University of Utrecht. Since 1986, Peter is a lecturer/researcher at the Urban Planning and Transportation group. Peter provides education in Transportation Engineering and Geographic Information Systems. Peter’s main research areas concern the design and use of car, cycling, and pedestrian facilities with a focus on the relationship between these facilities and people’s travel decisions.




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