Friday, May 1, 2009

Op-Ed: On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

On encouraging car-users to leave their cars behind

- Bina C. Balakrishnan, Transportation Planning and Engineering, Mumbai *

Mumbai is encouraging car- users to leave their cars behind for the commute to work, through parking initiatives.

Currently over 90% of the parking demand is met by on-street parking, which is either free or very nominally charged. A parking policy has been worked out, where there will be NO free parking and all parking will be charged –the concept of “Universal Pay & Park”. These rates will gradually be raised so as to be reflective of the real estate values of the locality- after all, a car is a personal property that is using public space for a period of time!

All residential parking demand is also met on-street, with resultant loss of carriageway capacity throughout the road network. In order to release this space for community use such as pedestrian movement or movement of traffic, the concept of “Parking Facilities” is being introduced. These will be off- street parking areas (under ground, multi-storied, or on in-frequented side lanes), with add–on features such as basic maintenance / repair facilities, valet drivers, car wash services- all under the charge of a registered contractor who will be fully responsible for the safety of the car. The entire facility can be monitored by CCTV, and connected to the Police network as well as the Internet, so that both the Police as well as owners can ensure that vehicles are not being misused. It thus becomes more attractive to park in these facilities rather than on- street.

Also, given the security concerns today, the parking concessionaire and his staff can be trained as “Neighbourhood Watch”, providing assistance to the locality if required, as well as supplementing the Police in their work, forming the lowest tier in the security set-up.

Additionally, on-street parking on all arterial roads is banned, and off-street parking facilities have been recommended in commercial areas also. The owner makes a call to the facility nearest his destination just as he is approaching, and valet drivers will be dispatched to pick up and drop off the cars.

Multi-storied parking is also being provided near train stations, connecting them through Skywalks to the train platforms, in order to encourage Park- and-Ride trips.

The road width thus released could be reallocated, and used for an exclusive bus lane on arterial roads, or to increase the width of pedestrian pathways, which are almost non- existent in Mumbai.


Mrs. Bina C. Balakrishnan,
Transportation Planning & Engineering
Mumbai, India

* 28 April 2009. Mrs. Balakrishnan is the one hundredth concerned citizen to join the informal World Streets Sentinels program (Eyes on the Street) since its inception on 2 April 2009. Click to for map showing the latest listings. Are you ready to be the 101st?

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