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City planners should take parking woes seriously

In India, as elsewhere, one of the signs of the progress is the increasing number of vehicles on roads. Increasing vehicle population come with their own set of problems and now a days the major one being parking spaces. As the number of vehicles are increasing, the parking area for offices, shopping mall complexes and even residential places have become more and also unmanageable. This increasing demand has also led to economic, social and environmental losses. Thus, the optimum utilization of space and its control is a great challenge faced by the planners now a days.

Apart from general problems mentioned above, lack of parking also leads to some avoidable problems which often results in waste of time. It’s a common fact that motorists are often not aware about the parking space and the free parking available. They spend excessive time in searching for parking space therefore is more likely to get frustrated. It’s also true that often the problem is aggravated more because of inappropriate and inefficient use of parking space rather than lack of it. The problem becomes more acute when parking is not available within reasonable distance during specific times of the day.

As the parking demand is increasing a certain parking area is not able to accommodate all the vehicles due to which all the adjacent on street spaces are utilized which in turn increases traffic congestion. Congestion and parking are interrelated as looking and waiting for the parking space causes additional delays and impairs local circulation. This causes traffic congestion to be more complex. Recurring traffic congestion is frequent because the roadways have insufficient capacity for the volume of vehicles.

Improper parking is also a major cause for accidents. As the parking area is insufficient mobility of vehicles is difficult as well as time consuming because of which collision occurs.

In most of the cities people are used to enjoy free parking services, a policy which needs a relook in the present scenario. When space is at premium in urban areas for living and public use why parking should be provided free of charges and that too in a country where a large number of people live on footpaths and slums? A person who can buy a car can also pay for parking so local bodies need to give a serious thought on the policy of free parking.

We are living in the era of smart cities and use of technology in traffic management can solve most of our parking woes. Modern intelligent transport system can provide innovative services to the vehicles as well as the users to be safer and better informed about the smarter use of networks. It combines traffic monitoring, communication, processing and variable technologies in order to provide parking guidance and information. There is urgent need for our cities to incorporate such systems in their city management.

The parking problems are the result of urbanisation and as the pace of urbanisation increases parking problems are going to aggravate. Unless the local urban body shows some visionary skills, we will have more and more congestion, environmental issues and other traffic related problems. Therefore, before things go out of hand, we need to act on this important but neglected issue.

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