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Parking problems and solutions

Increasing road traffic and urbanisation, particularly in the developed world but increasingly in the developing world make parking problems and solutions a developing question for town planners, architects, urban development officers and transportation experts specialising in road transport.

Studies of this topic indicate that more than half of the time of the average vehicle is spent parking. It is the exceptional vehicle such as the multiple user police car or van that is on the move more than half the time.

The demand for parking spaces is reaching excruciating levels in the hearts of the biggest cities such as London and Mumbai.

The superficial onlooker suggests that the answer to parking problems and solutions is: "Build more car parks." Truly, it is more difficult than that; much more difficult. Car parks in and of themselves create problems of reducing land for other uses. The "build vertically" suggestion, i.e. the making of multi-storey car parks is expensive at the outset and expensive in the running. These expenses pass on to the motorist who pays more.


So, what is to be done?

We recommend that these are safe guidelines:


1. To increase parking supply

Essentially, what this boils down to is that people put pressure on the authorities to build more parking facilities.

This has the advantage of being politically acceptable and has certain taxation advantages for businesses with staff with cars.

This has the disadvantage of raising business overheads and encouraging the use of the motor car when social policy pursues more use of public transport. In terms of urban planning it encourages sprawling low-density land use patterns and a motor vehicle friendly environment. Think for a moment of Los Angeles and Auckland.


2. More efficient use of pre-existing parking facilities

A specialist term for this is "performance based parking" that boils down to increasing occupancy rates for each parking space.

One advantage of this is that the management expert comes into his own with workable models for different parking problems.

A drawback is that it requires more administrative time in planning and in operation. A complicated overflow management in real time might result.


3. This entails

Communication of parking information to motorists in real time. This might result in real time computer programming.

The use of real time parking regulation with difficult to follow rules about limiting parking time to so much time for different times of day and different days of the week and public holidays.

Making a pedestrian friendly environment. This has almost self-evident advantages and drawbacks.

Developing a shared parking situation which has cooperation problems. What if the parties do not cooperate?


4. To take up controlled parking passes

Restricting use of certain parking facilities to particular categories of people only makes sense provided those excluded are not made to feel victimized. Many schemes of this sort distinguish between business and personal use. A parking pass can be given to an employee for city wide parking for business use (sometimes for one company only) and not for personal use such as for visits to the cinema.

This is OK provided the issue of passes is well regulated.

This merely scratches the surface of parking problems and solutions; there is a great deal more to say and write.