Parking: on-street, off-street to decongest Bengaluru

Parking: on-street, off-street to decongest Bengaluru

Two wheelers parked two lines at Godown road in Bengaluru. (DH Photo)

Footpath parking, haphazard parking, double parking, the litany of complaints is never short of variety. But, as a city of over 80 lakh vehicles struggles to move ahead, a glaring gap comes out loud: The utter lack of planned parking. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) now seeks to address this.

Now in its draft phase, the CMP has its focus on paid parking spaces and demand management for parking. In a nutshell, the plan is this: Refurbish the existing off-street parking lots and develop 50 new lots within the city’s core area.

Before embarking on a plan based on the Parking Policy for Clean Air and Livable Cities prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the CMP talks about the current state of parking in Bengaluru: The city, being overwhelmed by mixed land use, has an overdose of on-street parking.

Off-street parking

The root of Bengaluru’s parking woes is this: An acute shortage of public off-street parking facilities. There are only 11 such public off-street parking spaces for the entire city. Of these, nine were developed by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and two by the Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Beyond these purely public spots, there is a parking space developed under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model adjacent to Garuda Mall. Two parking complexes have also come up, one in Maharaja complex on KG Road and another in Jayanagar, built by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

But, all these facilities put together, the total off-street parking capacity available for the general public does not exceed space for 1,300 cars and 4,000 two-wheelers, says the draft CMP. The lack of a well-planned, scientifically designed parking mechanism has left the city in total chaos.

Also Read: Motorists welcome Kasturba Road smart parking project

Unregulated mess

As reality checks in street after street show, on-street parking is an unregulated mess. Even in demarcated slots, double and haphazard parking are the norm. Two-wheelers parked on footpaths, invading into the already encroached pavements are scenes repeated across the city. ‘No Parking’ signs are in various stages of imminent collapse.

To address this chaos, the draft CMP has proposed a restriction on the total demand. This implies limiting the number of private, personal vehicles by increasing public transport ridership. In a small way, an attempt has been made by alloting parking spaces at a few metro stations.

But why would Metro commuters use these facilities when on-street parking is available for free next door? The near absence of a manned, monitored and monetized model of parking in the city has only intensified the chaos. Can the CMP address this with a total overhaul of the existing system?

Parking surveys

As part of the CMP, On Street parking surveys were conducted to understand the ground situation in Core Bengaluru. Here’s what the surveys found: “Most of the major roads and streets have witnessed mixed land use. This situation with no off-street parking spaces available (except for large shopping malls) resulted in one lane of streets turning to parking lots.”

This has affected mobility with reduced road space available for traffic. Maneouvres of parked vehicles also obstruct traffic flow, often leading to congestion, notes the report.

The CMP surveyed seven locations in the city’s core areas. For instance, in the City Market area, the survey found that most of the commercial/ shopping complexes did not have the required parking facilities to meet the visitors’ demand.

Market area

It was observed that the road users parked their vehicles on Avenue Road, K R Market road, SJP Road and S P Road. “The central business district part of Bengaluru, comprising Gandhinagar, Avenue Road, Chickpet, BVK Iyengar Road and surrounding areas, records the highest number of business transactions but lacks adequate parking space.”

In this area, on-street parking has reduced the capacity of roads by about 18% to 48%, the survey found. “Two-wheelers form the major component of the parked vehicles with a share of 82% followed by cars with a share of 7%. The average duration of parking is found to be one hour.”

High parking demand was observed on AS Char Street, BVK Iyengar Road, Banappa Park Road, Chickpet Main Road, Nagarthpet Road, RT Street, SJP Road and S P Road.

High parking fee

Additional Director General of Police, M A Saleem, who had earlier served as the city’s Additional Commissioner (Traffic) makes a case for levy of high parking fee to boost public transport. He contends that the parking fee can be truly representative of the value of the land occupied.

Saleem seeks preference in allocation of parking space for public transport vehicles and non-motorised modes and easier access of work places to and from such spaces. This, he feels, would go a long way in encouraging the use of sustainable transport systems.

Multi-level parking complexes, he says, should be a mandatory requirement in city centres with several highrise commercial buildings. “If this is not taken seriously in the coming years, a lot of problems will pop up. Such complexes could even be constructed underground, including below areas declared as green belts in the master plan.”

Short-term measures

Here’s a list of short-term measures he recommends to ease the city’s parking woes: Establishment of differential parking norms and guidelines based on public transport services; Appropriate pricing with respect to real cost to discourage use of personalised vehicles; and a ban on on-street parking in critical areas, besides a pricing strategy for on-street parking in residential areas.

Among the suggested medium-term measures are discouraging higher FAR / ground coverage in congested areas, regulation of illegal activities through traffic impact assessment and provision of parking facilities in critically deficient areas by introducing park and ride systems.

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