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Wednesday , 29 November 2023

India is learning to Park

Smart Mobility 2018 saw a few vibrant and thought provoking discussions. One among those was on Parking . In India today, both on-street and off-street parking continue to throw up challenges. Do we create more parking space or reduce the space availability? Are our issues supply related or management related? A panel of experts – Pranjali Deshpande, Senior Programme Manager, ITDP; Vivek Pai, Director, Sustainancy Consultants Pvt Ltd; Ashok Datar, Chairman, Mumbai Environmental Social Network; Raj Cherubal, CEO, Chennai Smart City Limited and Vickram B Pillai, Senior Vice President (Projects), Lokhandwala Infrastructure P Ltd – discussed & debated on this very difficult topic.

Kicking off the session, Pranjali Deshpande provided an overview of the parking ecosystem, which consists of two parts: Public parking, which can be on-street or off-street (on open plots or multi-level parking buildings) and private parking, which includes parking in residential buildings, offices and malls. As we try to build more parking, we are getting more and more vehicles on the street.

According to her, most cities have reached a stage where parking areas far exceed open public spaces for citizens, even though residential towers try to accommodate more cars by having an almost equal number of storeys for apartments and parking. While the latter may feel they are helping solve the parking crunch, they are actually stimulating an increase in traffic on the adjoining streets.

The sight of cars double-parked, or parked on the footpath and in no-parking areas is ubiquitous. But according to Deshpande, “Parking does not have a supply issue; it has a management problem, because people will always choose to park for free on the road rather than pay for parking in parking lots”.

For off-street Parking in buildings, Indian cities should now shift to ‘parking maximums’ from ‘parking minimums’ where it is not mandatory for the developer to provide minimum private vehicle parking in buildings. European cities put ‘parking supply caps’ in their development control regulations.
– Pranjali Deshpande

“We do have minimum parking regulations in our Development Control Regulations”, she said, “which make it compulsory for developers to provide a certain amount of parking, but it also indicates that that city planners are saying, ‘Okay, let people buy more vehicles, why should we think about providing public transport?’”.

Until 2000, European countries have kept adding to their parking spaces but since then, they have started to reduce them by converting them to public spaces and bicycle parking. This, she said, has reduced the number of kilometres travelled by automobiles and encouraged a modal shift to more sustainable forms of transport. “Indian cities need to think about introducing parking caps like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, which have parking maximums, not minimums.” In areas well-connected by Metros or BRTS, developers are not allowed to provide more than a certain amount of parking. Deshpande gave the example of a well connected London commercial building which has just five parking spaces, that too only for disabled individuals.

A single parking space measures five metres by two metres, but the space required to manoeuvre a car into the space is much more. In the total area required to park a car, an affordable room for low-cost housing or a small office can be accommodated.

One good example of optimum utilisation of space is a Chinese Parking model in which the utilisation of parking spaces on weekends and weekdays is different. On weekdays, people drive their vehicles out of residential areas, and the spaces they vacate become available for cars coming to adjoining commercial areas. Thus, apartment buildings are earning revenue from opening up their parking spaces and the efficiency of parking areas increases as well.

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