Transforming urban transportation

City of San Francisco

Their Goliath

How to change deeply ingrained parking habits

No one likes to search for parking. Not only is it frustrating, it endangers pedestrians and is bad for the environment. San Francisco created SFpark to test a theory. Would basing parking pricing on availability encourage drivers to park at the optimal times and places?


Focus on outreach and customer experience

Research provided two major insights. First, parking “purchase decisions” repeat daily. Second, the loudest voices often stop the best civic projects. SFpark’s success might depend on limiting complaints as much as increasing parking availability. We focused on telling a tight story to key influencers and improving the experience at the meter.


Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Before SFpark, few San Franciscans had heard of demand-based parking pricing. Simplifying a complex strategy would be key. My partners at the ace design team at WPI and I got the story down to three minute video infographic. It played before every public meeting and prominently on the project’s website.


Go with what people know

Parking signage across the world shares common element: a white P in a blue field. Accordingly, we updated the project’s original orange color scheme to this familiar blue. We chose a bold, yet simple illustration style to help outreach materials really pop.

Launch Campaign

It's not about the parking. It's about the living.

People hate parking, but they love Crissy Field, SFMOMA, and Mission Burritos. Our integrated radio/print/bus campaign focused on what you could do after you found an open space. Each ad focused on driving traffic (pun intended) to the SFpark website and overview video.

Experience Design

Simplification is addictive

Over a three-year period, SFMTA brought us back again and again to update the entire parking experience. We created an app to help people choose the best times and places to park. We made it easier to find the City’s parking garages and pay for parking anywhere.

“You really made a complex public policy so simple to understand.”

SFMTA Project Lead


Citywide success. Worldwide recognition.

The expected public pushback to demand-responsive pricing never happened. SFpark was heralded as a success by City leaders and adopted as standard policy. More than that, San Francisco’s experiment inspired municipalities around the world to try it as well.


WPI (Design), I Shot Him (Illustration), Pictoform (Garage Design).