Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Motorcycles squeeze into urban nooks and crannies

[Update: Looking for more parking policy information?  

Parking on the door-step (literally) in Hanoi

The space efficiency of motorcycles is important for many Asian cities.

Traffic engineers usually assume that motorcycles consume about half the road space of a car. In other words, two-wheelers' PCU value is typically given as 0.5 'passenger car units' in heavy traffic.

But motorcycle parking can usually squeeze in many more than two machines per car space.

These Taipei scooters may be an extreme case. How do they get them in and out?

For the forthcoming Asian cities parking study, we found motorcycle parking space norms of up to 10 two-wheelers per car space.
Singapore’s parking standards specify perpendicular car slot dimensions and its minimum and preferred size for motorcycle slots. Together these suggest that between 4.6 and 6 motorcycle spaces take the same area as a car space (Land Transport Authority 2005). In India, motorcycle spaces are assumed to take 0.16 of an equivalent car space, suggesting a little over 6 two-wheelers per car space (CSE India 2009). Viet Nam’s parking standards suggest a standard area of 25 m2 per car and 2.5 to 3.0 m2 per motorcycle, or about 8 to 10 motorcycle spaces per car space (Vietnam Ministry of Construction 2004).

The other extreme is one motorcycle per car parking space. Vancouver bikers did this recently when they protested the lack of designated parking for their machines by taking entire parking spaces, and paying for them. [Update: here is a more in-depth account of the Vancouver protest.] Image credit: Bobskoot's blog.


By the way, the space taken by moving motorcycles also depends on the situation. A recent UK study "suggested that the slower the traffic, the lower the PCU value for motorcycles. In fast traffic they are hardly more space-efficient than cars. The study found "the PCUs of motorcycles in congested flow to be 0.40, 0.55 and 0.75 when the speeds of passenger cars are ranging from 10 to 20, 20 to 30, and 30 to 40 km/hr respectively." Presumably lower PCU values at low speeds reflects the ability of two-wheelers to lane-split and make their way through stalled queues of larger vehicles - a common sight in Southeast Asian cities.

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