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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