Gobar Times
Open Forum

Driving to death


Do you know what's the total number of cars on the
planet? Come on, take a wild guess.
A whopping one billion (and counting).

Yes, we all have reasons to be depressed, folks!
Apart from all the other environmental hazards (the list is horrifyingly long), there is another 'car issue' that we need to address: Parking. How many times have you been so thoroughly disgusted with parking issues that has taken the pleasure out of your day’s plan? It's time we take some action. So, why not get started here?

1. Parking devours close to 8-10 per cent of urban land in Delhi; daily addition of new cars creates additional demand for land bigger than 300 football fields. But cars pay nothing or a pittance for using the valuable land

2. A car needs about 23 sq m to be comfortably parked. But a very poor family in Delhi gets a plot of just 18-25 sq m. Is this acceptable?

3. Car parking is choking roads, walkways, green spaces and cars cover only 14 per cent of travel trips in the city. Is this sustainable? The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is calling for a parking strategy for better management – to control traffic chaos as well as to contain the rising parking demands and car usage. So, what is the problem? Simple, our growing dependence on cars and availability of free parking. And the solution?

a) Shift to other modes of travel

b) Free valuable urban space for other important uses and clean up our air.

A simple solution to this complex problem is a robust public transport system. Globally, many cities are combining good public transport with direct restraints on cars to reduce pollution and congestion. They are making car parking prohibitively expensive, adding high premium to car ownership, exacting dues for entering prime busy areas, only allowing a fraction of them on roads at
a time, or just not allowing them in the city centre.

HONG KONG: Office buildings in the central area can have zero to minimal parking as they are very well connected with other modes of transport.

TOKYO: Less parking slots are provided despite high car ownership – only 0.5 slots per 100 sq m in commercial buildings.

Delhi, in contrast, allows 115 cars per 1,000 people and provides two-three parking slots per 100 sq m.

1. Policies in India have now begun to examine parking issue seriously. The National Urban Transport Policy has asked regulators to recognise the fact that land is valuable in all urban areas and parking occupies a large part of it. It recommends levying high parking fee linked to the value of land. This will make public transport more attractive.

2. The Environment and Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has recommended to the Supreme Court that there should be a limit to the additional parking space that can be created in the city. Parking provision for personal vehicles cannot be considered as a matter of public good. Individual users should pay for the use of the space for parking and ‘user pays principle’ should be applied. The Supreme Court has taken these principles on board.


“With the help of a parking policy, it is possible to arrest and reverse these unsustainable trends.
This can work well in Indian cities where public transport, cycling and walking

still carry more than half of all daily commuting trips. Cars may be choking
our cities, but a substantial part of daily commuting is on buses, foot and pedal. This is the strength that the Indian cities need to build on.”

– Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director-research and advocacy and head of its air pollution team
a) Manage parking well
b) Pay for parking
c) Limit parking where good public transport is available
d) Most importantly, offer more convenient and comfortable travel alternatives
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Driving to death