Apr 29, 2010

Parking dramas in South Asian cities

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  

On-street parking (and double-parking) in the Motijheel office district of Dhaka.
Obviously the cars on the right are there all day.

As I mentioned last year, I have been investigating parking policy in 14 Asian cities. The report, commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), should be out in a month or two.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share some highlights. Yes, highlights. Don't laugh! Even I was surprised how much drama there is around parking.

Basement in a commercial street in Dhaka signposted as 'car parking' (but there are stairs not a ramp and this space had obviously been used for shops before being demolished, presumably in enforcement action.)

Newly motorizing cities in parts of Asia face some alarming predicaments over parking. For example, in South Asia it is common to find something like this:
A commercial street is clogged with motor vehicles. Many are parked at the roadside, across kerbs, and on footways and dusty verges. Some cars are double-parked.

News reports highlight the ‘shortage’ and call for action. Meanwhile, basement parking lots of many buildings along the street are half empty. They charge a small fee that is slightly higher than is charged in the streets.

Municipal regulations require these parking spaces be provided as a condition for building approval. However, some buildings have shops in their basements instead of parking. Building inspectors were persuaded to ignore these violations. Occasionally enforcement action is taken and basement shops are demolished.

The city government also wants to build parking structures itself. But the projects so far have been expensive and have low returns. Moreover, they have not prevented on-street parking chaos in their vicinities. There are plans for many more such structures but budget problems are stalling the program. The latest plan involves a developer building 10 storeys of office space in return for creating five storeys of public parking.
More on-street parking (and double-parking) in the Motijheel office district of Dhaka. The guy in yellow is a parking attendant, who takes the fee (T20 or US$0.30 per DAY I think it was) from drivers, including those who are double parking. By the way, all this double-parking is possible because almost all Dhaka cars are driven by a professional driver, who stays with the vehicle when it is parked.

The current South Asian solutions to these predicaments focus on minimum parking requirements for buildings and government-provided parking.

In many cities these policies have been ineffectual so far (as seen in these Dhaka photos). But where such medicine does create plentiful off-street parking, the side-effects may be worse than the illness (as in North America's autocentric suburbs).

Apr 28, 2010

"Taking Steps" - new URL for the yellow book

Sorry for the long silence on this blog.

In 1999 and 2000, when I was living in Kuala Lumpur and working for the SUSTRAN Network, I collaborated with Tamim Raad to produce a little yellow book called "Taking Steps: A Community Action Guide to People-Centred, Equitable and Sustainable Urban Transport".

The old URL for downloading Taking Steps is now dead, so here is a new one, via google docs.

You can view or download the Taking Steps book here.

The aim of the book was to demystify urban transport (especially for civil society in Asia):
The purpose of this guide is to introduce urban transport issues to a wider audience than just professional transport planners and experts.

Many community organisations, journalists and decision-makers need to have some awareness of the basics of urban transport. This book tries to make it easier to find out those basics.

Is the book badly dated? Not as badly as I had thought. I think I would handle various issues differently now. And it does have some out-of-date material such as the contact details listed at the end. Nevertheless, much of it still seems relevant.

Here is the table of contents:

What is this action guide all about? 1
The purpose of the action guide 1
Basic principles of people-centred, equitable and sustainable transport 2
Ten Steps Towards More Sustainable and People-Centred Transport 2
Visions and Choices 4
The Purpose of Transport: Mobility or Accessibility? 5
The Old Mobility Approach 5
The Purpose of Cities 6
The Accessibility Approach to Transport Planning 6
Comparing Transport Modes 7
How Urban Transport Works: An Introduction 8
Congested traffic moves slowly 8
Fast moving traffic requires more space than slow traffic 8
A Congestion Paradox 9
“Build it and they will come”: traffic quickly fills new road capacity 9
“Now you see it, now you don’t”: traffic evaporation 10
Peak period congestion is inevitable… unless… 10
“Running to stand still”: transport and the shape of cities 11
“Time pollution” and the illusion of speed 11
Transport modelling and predictions 12
Market Failures in Transport 13
The state of Asian urban transport 15
A brief history of transport in Asian cities 15
The current state of urban transport in Asia 20
Why worry about urban transport? 23
Social Equity 23
Transport problems of the poor 23
Physical Displacement 24
Women and transport 25
Children’s Mobility 27
Access and mobility for the frail and people with disabilities 28
Health and Safety 28
Traffic kills 28
Air pollution and health 30
Noise 32
Dangers of a sedentary lifestyle 32
Road rage 33
Quality of life and community 33
Severance of communities 33
Space invasion 34
Destruction of built heritage 35
Crime 35
Economy and low cost 36
Ecological Sustainability 37
Before the car hits the road 37
Green space and habitat loss 38
Water pollution 38
Demand for Fossil Fuels 39
Finding and Transporting Oil 39
Air pollution 40
Global Warming 40
Vehicle disposal 42
Where next? Moving towards better urban transport 43
Introduction 43
Feet First and Pedal Power 44
Pedestrians and pedestrian rights 44
Traffic calming 46
Road Danger Reduction 49
Bicycle policy 50
In defence of pedicabs 53
Public Transport Priority 53
Speeding buses with on-road priority 54
Urban rail 54
Encourage diversity: legitimate role for jitneys 55
Integration 56
Budget priorities and the subsidy question 57
Urban Planning and Land Use 58
The Compact City 58
Retail location as a transport policy tool 60
Business location as a transport policy tool 60
Housing location as a transport policy tool 61
In praise of land-use mixing 61
Housing for the poor 61
Urban Heritage Protection 63
Transport Equity and Justice 63
Gender 63
Informal sector 63
Access for people with disabilities 65
Transport Demand Management (TDM) 66
TDM examples 67
Can Road Pricing Ever Be Popular? 69
Equity issues in TDM and pricing policy 69
Moving costs from up-front into usage costs 70
Public participation, transparency and good governance 71
Motorcycles 73
Goods traffic 73
Beware False Solutions 75
Clean fuels and clean vehicles - essential but not a panacea 76
What can we do? 78
Action by community organisations 78
Some Organising Tips 78
Transport campaign examples 81
Action by employers and businesses 84
Individual actions 85
Tools for action 86
A to Z of urban transport terms 86
Directory of key contacts 94
General - People-Centred and Sustainable Transport 94
Bicycles/NMVs 95
Public Transport 96
Pedestrians 97
Road Safety and Health 97
Equity, Poverty and/or Gender issues 97
Rural Transport and Development 97
Access for People with Disabilities 98
Environment 98
Consumers’ Issues 99
Human Settlement Issues 99
Transport Research 100
International Agencies and their Critics 102
Selected Resources and Readings 103
Periodicals 103
Books, Reports and Articles 103
Internet resources 112
Audio-Visuals 116
About the SUSTRAN Network 117
The SUSTRAN Assembly 117
Please send feedback 118