May 6, 2010

Are parking requirements the solution in Asian cities?

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  
Try Reinventing Parking.]

I left a comment at PT's Parking Blog in response to this John Van Horn item and its first comment.

My comment ended up quite long. I think it is worth cross-posting here.
I have been looking into parking policy around Asia. A report on it should be out next month (with luck).

It is true that Mumbai and Delhi have parking chaos and are now trying to follow the conventional suburban parking policy approach of minimum parking requirements with buildings. Dhaka, with car ownership below 50 per 1000 people, is doing the same. In a situation like that, is it really a good idea to force building managers and all of their customers to subsidize the parking of the tiny elite? So far, it is not working very well (see http://reinventingtransport.blogspot.com/2010/04/parking-dramas-in-south-asian-cities.html). Off-street parking does not magically suck cars off the streets if the streets are easy and cheap to park in.

By contrast, Japanese cities mostly have rather low parking requirements (typically one parking space per 150 to 400 square metres of floor space). And Japanese parking requirements ONLY apply to large buildings. Modest-sized buildings (below about 1500 to 2000 square metres of floor space) usually have no parking required. The full requirements only apply above 6000 sq.m. (they phase in between 2000 and 6000 sq.m).

Yet Japanese cities don't have parking chaos. In fact, they have very little on-street parking. And since 2006 on-street parking rules are quite strictly enforced. Where do people park then? (they are not ALL using the trains or bicycles). Answer: spillover parking goes mostly into commercial off-street parking, which seems to be ubiquitous (and some city-owned parking lots, usually underground).

The Japanese parking arrangements are not perfect but maybe they point towards a workable solution that is akin to John's (and Donald Shoup's) market-oriented one. At least it suggests that high parking standards are not necessary to avoid parking chaos.

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