Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parking laws and provisions for Delhi

Have you ever got caught in a terrible Parking Jam (What! What is Parking Jam?). Parking Jam, I call a situation where you keep going around in circles to find a free (not necessarily free of cost) car parking space. I remember once I had gone out for lunch with few of my friends. We all got into Nalini's Car. She dropped us in front of the mall where we were planning to eat, and went for parking the car. It was a hot summer day. It took her 30 minutes to find the car parking space that too off the street in front of a gate of residential society. Now I would not take pain describing how it feels being on the road on a hot summer day for over 30 minutes looking for the car parking space. We all know that there is an acute shortage of car parking space in Delhi still we park in a much unorganized manner.

In my earlier posts I have written about the laws those Delhi government authorities like MCD, DDA and others should adopt to streamline the parking on our streets and roads. I sincerely feel more than the laws it is our self discipline which will help. The laws are meant only for lying down the guidelines. In this post I wanted to talk about the parking laws and provisions which Delhi government should have, to meet the requirement of car parking space. The guidelines for parking in mixed land use are very ad hoc and limited. For instance, the Gazette Notification dated 11.03.2003 by The Central Ministry of Urban Development (which allows nursing homes, guesthouses and banks in residential areas) has given only the following guidelines for parking only at those sites:

i) All parking requirements in plot size over 250 sq meters to be provided within the plot.
ii) In smaller plots land in the vicinity will be identified and common parking areas developed.

No guideline for parking exists for other commercial uses in residential areas like retail shops, even though such uses have been legalized. In my opinion Delhi Government should have a law for commercial establishments to leave 60 percent of total commercial space for parking purposes. The percentage suggested here is just a suggestion based on some of the laws which we have in other Indian cities like Bhuvneshwar in this specific case. Government should do an estimation to revise this percentage based on Delhi's car parking needs.

For markets with smaller dwellings there should be land in the vicinity, identified for common car parking areas. There should be no market at all, and I mean NO MARKET AT ALL without a car parking lot. Today in absence of these parking areas the people visiting the shops in these markets park their vehicles on the road in front of the shops. This occupies a lot of traffic movement space on the road and thus results in congestion.

To make parking facilities commercially viable effective parking pricing are also required to be put in place. Today a car parked for up to 12 hrs pays 10 - 20 Rs. This is not at all the price which compensates the parking operator to maintain the parking lot. That explains the condition of some of the car parking lots where almost every one of us has commented how badly these are maintained. Also it does not seem right when a car parked for 15 minutes also pays the same price. I would suggest the hourly parking price. The exact pricing would require some analysis based on the parking need and the any pattern on how long average vehicle is parked in a parking lot. Car parking fees should be such that it covers the opportunity cost of land. The full costs of creating car parking lots must be factored in and recovered from the users. Eventually would limit the number of vehicles in the city by shifting people from private to public transport. I would still insist on need to strengthen the public transport fleet if we wish to achieve this. Some area of parking lot can also be utilized for commercial activities like Snacks Bar/ Cigarette shop, Auto accessories shop, Newspaper stand e.t.c.

To measure the how long a vehicle is parked in the parking lot car parking meters could be installed. Taking a que from my earlier post let me mention the parking meters in Vancouver city. In Vancouver the first parking meter appeared on city streets in 1947. Motorists were charged a nickel per hour. There are now over 7,500 meterd spaces in Vancouver. I am sure we are going to require a lot of such car parking meters in the city. Every parking meter should clearly indicate the permitted time limit for the parking. If you are over parking you need to pay the over parking charges before you drive away with your car.

There also is a need for composite parking policy in the city. In the year 2004 the plans of the city agencies to tackle the problems of parking included construction of modern multi level parking systems in various markets. As per news in the newspapers MCD had to build 15 of such multilevel parking systems and NDMC had to come up with 3 such systems. But till today only 2 of the projects (1 by MCD and 1 by NDMC) have started.

Government also needs to address the parking problem in residential areas. The RPO and RPP areas could be good starting point. Closing of particular streets or areas for passenger cars (except deliveries) could also be looked at. This should reduce a lot of load from the roads and streets. While writing this, Karol Bagh area flashes on my mind. If we implement these policies these would help creating a peace of mind for people who drive as well as pedestrians.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

International parking laws make roads a driving heaven

The other day I was on my bike, driving to the nearby mall. Right at the end of the road a biker was standing with one of his friends. His bike was parked perpendicular to the road in such a manner that it blocked half the road at the corner, disregarding the traffic rules. Now I have a bad habit of giving my piece of mind to the people who have pledge not to follow the road safety and traffic rules. So I just asked this guy why you did not park the bike parallel to the road the answer I got was "I did not know that you were coming this way". The question here is that "Is it necessary that we get a parking ticket or someone object, before we follow the Traffic rules/laws or just correct our habits"? Can't we park our vhicles according to the road safety regulations?

Anyways I had promised that I'll post something about How the street parking and road usage issues are handled internationally. Well I am not an expert in road safety issues or street parking laws but, would still like to contribute my bit for making everybody's life a little hassle free. Who knows that someone concerned from a government agency comes reading this blog and might like to implement some of these International parking which have proven good for other countries. Here I am writing about the wonderful road safety regulations Vancouver has for parking and road usage.

I was talking to someone in Vancouver who provided a lot of information about street parking rules there, for rest I have googled arround. There is a separate department 'City' which is responsible for streamlining safety regulations within the city. An inspector of the city may give notice to any person ordering that person to discontinue or refrain from any work that occupy any land which is meant for public use (How many times have we seen the entire street used to dump the building material for a store being reconstructed). In India the responcibility of maintenance of roads has been given to specific branches of the government. Some roads are under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), other roads are under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and still other roads are under different authorities like NDMC, PWD and similars. I know the authorities like Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Public Works Department (PWD) have rules against these improper usage of roads. But there is a need to enforce these rules with HONESTY. Don’t we all think so? I guess these bodies should follow the international standards and take the task of defining the on-street parking laws, governing road use and road access, to clear the roads and more importantly the streets we drive on.

The Vancouver city recognizes that residents have a priority in parking on their streets thus it have rules to help reduce outside parking pressures. One of the measures that apply to most streets in Vancouver is the Three Hour By-Law. This By-law prohibits non-resident parking in front of any property for more than 3 hours between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This By-law is meant to restrict commuters from regularly parking all day on residential streets. This Law is enforced on a complaint basis only and when a vehicle is found to be repeatedly in violation. Residents may phone Parking Enforcement to report an offending vehicle. This decongest the roads (okay the streets) to help the drivers keep their cool while driving. Where parking pressures from outside a residential block are high, Residential Parking Only (RPO) signs are installed to reduce the street parking. But there are rules for Resident Parking Only (RPO) Zones. If the parking problem cannot be solved by enforcement of the 3-hour By-law, an RPO zone may be installed when the following criteria are met:

  • The on-street parking density on the block is at or near 100% during problem times.
  • The problem is caused by non-residents and occurs at least twice a week.
  • Some households on the block do not have any off-street parking spaces.
  • RPO is supported by petition signed by minimum 67% of residents of the area.

    On the other hand, areas which have schools, hospitals and other intensive parking generating buildings, are categorized as Resident Permit Parking (RPP) system areas. In these areas even the residents need to buy the permits for parking their vehicles on the roads that too where there are signs indicating "No Parking Except with Permit". RPP systems are more restrictive than RPO systems. Vehicles parking in these zones must display a valid area permit, so a portion of most blocks is left unregulated, or more commonly, governed by time-limited parking signs. But motorists displaying a permit for people with disabilities are allowed to park in RPO or RPP zones for up to 3 hours.

    The areas under RPP zones and timed stopping areas display the time-limited parking signs on the roads. These signs indicate how long a vehicle is permitted to stop in these areas. Infact timed-parking concept is common in other countries like America and England too. Vehicles can stop only up to 5 minutes for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading of merchandise or discharging or taking on passengers. While for a "No Stopping Anytime" zone, vehicles are not allowed to stop for any reason. This includes letting passengers out, picking a friend up for ride, running to the ATM machine, buying a pack of cigarettes or listeing to that ringing phone. This "No Stopping" symbol is used in bus, taxi, commercial, special event, police, parking for people with disabilities and temporary zones.

    In a "No Parking Anytime" zone, motorists displaying a valid permit for people with disabilities are allowed to park for up to 30 minutes while actively loading and/or unloading passengers or materials.

    There are many traffic laws for street parking vehicles to ensure the safe passage of other vehicles and/or pedestrians. These laws suggest that vehicles must not be stopped within 6 meters of the inside edge of the closest intersecting sidewalk. While on streets/roads without sidewalks vehicles must not be stopped within 9 meters of the nearest edge of the pavement of an intersecting street to provide clear visibility and ease traffic flow at intersections. Another law states, vehicles are not allowed to block or stop within 1.5 meters of a private road or sidewalk crossing. Vehicles must be stopped or parked parallel and within 30 cm. of the curb or the edge of the roadway facing in the direction of traffic. Any lane that has commercial property allows only vehicles with commercial identification to stop in these lanes. In busy commercial areas, warning signs have been posted in most lane entrances. Vehicles must leave at least 3 meters (roughly 10 feet) clearance in lanes to allow for the free movement of other vehicles (this would be applicable for the gentleman I mentioned in the start of my post). Vehicles are not allowed to stop within 2 meters of the inside edge of the closest sidewalk, an intersecting street or lane. These road safety rules discourage motorists from leaving their vehicles in a manner that would pose a safety threat or inconvenience other drivers or pedestrians.

    Now let me compare these street parking rules against the rules we have here in Delhi. Though we have the law against the obstructive parking, it only says that one should not park at the corner of the road or too near the crossing. But does it tell me how much is too near the road. Is it 2 meters or 2 feet from the crossing? The laws in Vancouver, those we read clearly say that, on streets without sidewalks vehicles must not be stopped within 9 meters of an intersecting street and for streets with sidewalk it should be 6 meters. People keep parking their cars leaving too much space between the street wall at times we see two or more vehicles parallel parked. This is not only against traffic rules and regulations for road usage, but dangerous for pedestrian traffic too. The rule to leave a space not more than 30 centimeters from the edge of the roadway would definitely free up a lot of space on the roads /streets for other vehicles to move freely. I would request your comments on the road safety laws I have stated above which have made Vancouver city, a heaven for driving. Also your suggestions on other traffic rules which could make our driving eased up, are more than welcome. Rest lets hope for the best. I'll keep posting on other ways to reduce some load on the roads.
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    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Traffic Regulations in India

    Traffic Regulations: Okay in my last post about the parking scenario in Delhi I have talked a lot about the wrong parking and improper usage of the roads. I guess we should also talk something about the traffic regulations which Delhi Government has formed for using the roads properly. I was browsing for the Traffic regulations in Delhi when I stumbled upon this site from Delhi Govt. Following are the excerpt for parking regulations.

    DO NOT PARK at or near a road crossing or on top of a hill or on a footpath; too near a traffic light or pedestrian crossing; on a main road or a road with heavy traffic; in front of or opposite another parked vehicle to cause obstruction; on roads that have a white line; near a bus- stop, school or hospital entrance; right next to a traffic sign thereby blocking it for others; at the entrance of a building; near a fire hydrant thereby blocking access to it; where parking is specifically prohibited.

    This rule, clearly lays out that Crossing (or too near a crossing) is not the ideal place for parking or even halts. This is a zone which is very critical for the moving traffic. We should always keep annoyance caused to others, in mind when we are on roads. Read more about Traffic Regulations from this site. After reading about the regulations lot of us would definitely make an effort to follow these traffic regulations, I know. We all are the part of very disciplined and law abiding society. But I guess I’ll also discuss the penalties for any defaulters. The penalty for the obstructive Parking is Rs. 100. If you wish to read more about the penalties for other traffic offences, visit

    In my next post I would like to explore what I feel we (Government and Public) can do to make these roads more safe and more comfortable. We can learn from how other countries are handling these issues and from some of the parking laws internationally.
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    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    Park Heavens

    The other day I had borrowed the bike from my friend. It is a 2005 model Hayabusa. It is a fine biking experience. The only grudge is these narrow roads. These don't allow me to open the full throttle. Frankly the speedster in me is still alive and at times makes me crave for that high speed action. Why can't Government Authorities make wider roads, like those we see in all those English movies, for us to have the ultimate pleasure of extreme speed? But on the second thought we do have enough wider roads in Delhi. Space wasted by parking the vehicles wrong, makes them appear narrower. Are we parking the vehicles at the right place or are we parking properly. Do we actually give it a thought. I have noticed the way people are parking their vehicles (this includes the momentary halts too, be it for buying a pack of candies). They can be categorized under 4 different categories.

    1. Around the Corner Parking: This is a phenomena that we see at the end of every street. The corners of the streets are the favorite meeting spots for the young boys. Parking your bike outside a Pan shop or a confectionary shop at the corner of the street to spend some time there with your neighborhood friends is like a ritual. Another such defaulter is the auto stands. In India if it is an auto stand it has to be right at the juncture of two connecting roads. What we do not realize here is that the turn is a very crucial part of a road/street. This is where traffic have to slow down to maintain the balance and control on the vehicle while turning. If there is a vehicle parked right at the corner, the driver will have to slow down further. This will contribute to the traffic jam on all the roads at that junction. We all hate traffic jams but do we ever notice our contribution to these jams. I seriously think that we don't. The same can be controled by bringing more clearly defined laws arround it. We can learn a lot from the international parking laws about how clear a law should be.

    2. Zigzag Parking: In front of any big store where there is no parking nearby, people tend to park on the road in front of the store.

    Parking, majority of the times is not done in an organized manner. The effect of this is that parking uses a lot more than the required road. This contributes to the traffic congestions. In my opinion, we should not park on the road in first place. Rather consider walking few steps by parking vehicle in a designated parking place closest to the store. Walking after all is a good exercise you know. We should take the responsibility of parking in an organized manner even if we have to park on the road. Laws against the obstructive parking are there, but we know the level of enforcement for such laws. Though I would still like to know what the penelties for such parking offences are. I’ll really appreciate if someone can share this kind of information.

    3. Banana Peel Parking: This is the type of parking which is made on both sides of the road. At times there would be more than one row of the parked vehicles. An 80 feet road is easily reduced to 60. Just imagine getting a one lane road to drive while actual road is sufficient enough to ply 3 lanes.

    4. Median Parking: This type of parking (usually the momentary halts) is seen in the streets. The other day on my way home from the office I saw this guy on the motorcycle. He stopped in front of a shop, I guess to pickup a bottle of cold drinks. He sure was in some hurry, for he stopped right at the center of the road. The bike was looking like a median made to divide the street for two way traffic. Now I think was it really going to take the whole lifetime to park the bike at the side of the road. Right the halt was only for a minute or two, but these two minutes cause the road blocks. Once again the question is why we keep doing these things. We like ourselves to be addressed as educated and sensible men but I don't think this kind of misconduct can put us in this category. We should think about it.

    I'll be writing more on this issue in some time. Meanwhile I'll be cribbing a littile more. My blog talks about few things which we do not notice but which contribute to more traffic jams.
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