Driving in the city is a struggle. From traffic and limited parking to insufficient and overpriced gas stations, there’s a reason many city dwellers stick to public transit – subways are efficient and ubiquitous, much like the apps we rely on to manage projects and documents. Bu unlike apps that are available anywhere, sometimes for those visiting from outside the city center, a car is the only reliable way to get around.
While the major problems encountered when driving in the city don’t seem to be going anywhere soon, today’s drivers do have an array of handy tech tools that can make the process easier. By downloading these four apps before you set out, you can shorten everything from the hunt for parking to the typical hours spent inching along in urban traffic. You’ll be amazed how easy driving in the city can be with these simple programs.
The Path of Least Resistance
Perhaps one of the only navigation apps that can hold its own against competitors like Google Maps, Waze is a graphically appealing app that does more than just generate driving directions. Rather, Waze crowdsources information from other drivers, allowing you to see where major traffic jams are on your route, or where police are staked out to catch speeding drivers. With this information, you can choose to shift onto a faster route – calculated by the app – or stay the course, aware that you’ll be delayed.
Waze also sources information such as gas prices in the area, traffic camera locations, and other road hazards that can interfere with your trip. Knowing if an accident is clogging up the road in midtown Manhattan can make a big difference if you’re trying to make it to an appointment or a show.
Securing a Spot
There are always two different possibilities when it comes to parking in a major city: there’s either no parking, or there’s very expensive parking. Without street spaces for cars, convenient driveways, or a suburban strip mall parking lot, your options typically include circling the block dozens of times, driving around to compare prices, or just paying the exorbitant fee.
Well, the days of impossible to find parking may be over with Park Assist. Though technically a comprehensive parking management system, Park Assist also accepts reservations through an app, allowing you to choose what part of the garage you’d like to park in and letting you filter by parking price.
You’re also given an extra dose of security when you drop your car at a Park Assist monitored garage, since their system also features streaming security video. Securing your parking before you arrive is especially valuable if you’ll be arriving when spots are scarce, such as late in the day or on busy weekends.
When driving on the highway, many of us debate whether to drive past the rest stop and into town to get gas, or whether to just fill up right there and save the time and effort. It’s an annoying debate – no one likes to be overcharged – but at least there’s a choice to be made. In major cities, gas stations can seem so scarce that you begin to feel like the whole area is a Bring Your Own Gas party. Never mind finding the best price, you’d love to find a gas station at all! That’s where GasBuddy comes in.
GasBuddy is in some ways a standalone of the gas price feature in Waze, and it relies on the same system. The app asks those in the area to record local gas prices so others can find the best deal. In one app, you get price comparisons as well as the assurance of knowing there really is gas nearby, even if it seems like you haven’t seen a station for miles.
For the Alternative Crowd
Of course, if you drive an electric vehicle, it doesn’t really matter where the gas stations are, but it can be intimidating to head into a new city, unsure of where you’ll be able to plug in your battery. That’s why you’ll need PlugShare, the best app for locating available charging stations in any area. In addition to pointing out the location, PlugShare will also let you know their availability, costs, and whether they’re public or residential. Scope out your surroundings with this app before you arrive, so that you can charge when the need arises.
With these apps on hand, city driving can be a much easier and less stressful undertaking. With less time spent in traffic or searching for parking, you may even find you enjoy it. Though in the past navigating the crowds and narrow streets created an intolerable situation, modern technology has transformed the urban streetscape.