Are parking lots a solution?
Infrastructure: People hardly use the existing parking bays
For the motorist struggling his way through Bangalore's notoriously chaotic traffic, the problem of parking is often the last nail on the coffin.
Mounting vehicular population and narrow roads have only made this problem so acute and critical that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has added parking infrastructure in its Rs 2,000 crore proposals.
The strategy put forth is five-pronged: To build parking lots at Brigade Road (the proposal is for a tunnelled bay), Gandhi Bazar, Opposite Garuda Mall, South side of Russell Market and the Freedom Park. But will this solve the problem?
Motorists have reached a stage of desperation and are ready for fresh parking facilities anywhere possible. But ask residents and shop owners at these locations, and they are bound to laugh at the proposals. Here’s one response: “It is just an ad-hoc arrangement being made by the BBMP. Digging a tunnelled parking system is simply unthinkable and that too, at such exorbitant costs,” said Suhail Yusuf, Secretary, Brigade Road Shop Owners Association.†††
Ashwin Mahesh, Urban Research Strategist, is also critical of the fact that there is no one particular approach towards solving the parking woes in the City.
“The proposed tunnelled parking area beneath Brigade Road is just another spot for the decision makers to build a parking bay. There needs to be a concerted approach on how to do it rather than where to construct the parking area,” he said.
However, BBMP Engineer-in-Chief, A K Gopalswamy justified that the Palike authorities had just mooted the proposal and no concrete decision has been taken with regard to the tunnelled parking below Brigade Road. “We are already transferring the project to BDA. They will then have to prepare a feasibility study and then decide on the project,” he said.
Yusuf believes that the government has been unable to make a clear distinction in short term parking and long term parking. “There needs to be an understanding among the decision makers on short term parking which is more of a problem in traffic hold-ups and congestion on the streets. But here the government seems to be addressing only a long term parking issue,” he said.
A five acre expanse inside the Freedom Park is another spot being considered for an underground parking facility. According to BBMP officials, the Freedom Park parking facility proposal has already been taken up with the Government of India to be sanctioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme. The project, estimated to cost Rs 20 crore, will host an underground multi-level parking bay on an expanse of five acres of land. But is this required?
Questioning the need for such a vast expanse to be converted into a parking facility, Mahesh said that there was no data to suggest such a requirement. “There needs to be a collation of data on vehicular movement in the vicinity before any decision is taken to construct a parking bay. Look at the J C Road multi level parking facility. People seldom use it in contrast to the number of vehicles that move on that stretch,” he pointed out.
The government’s resolve to solve the parking problem might be laudable. But before rushing to finalise the spots, the Palike could look at the poor usage of the already erected parking bays in the City, be it the Jayanagar complex or the JC Road parking facility.
Having dropped the controversial idea of building parking bays below playgrounds owing to media pressure, BBMP plans to work on the following parking bay
Gandhi Bazaar Complex:
This proposed complex features an area for car parking. The project is also going to be taken up under the JNNURM scheme
Freedom Park: A Rs 20 crore underground parking facility is proposed to be constructed under the JNNURM scheme. This will facilitate parking for 5,000 vehicles in a five acre area.
Brigade Road (tunnel parking): A proposal in its initial stages, this project is likely to be pursued by the BDA only after a feasibility study. Expected to run into several hundred crores of rupees, the project will provide parking space for only 70 to 100 cars.
Russell Market (south): A Parking bay has been proposed in the vacant land opposite Russell market
Vacant Land opposite Garuda Mall: Here too a multi level parking space has been proposed.