Integrated parking policy is the answer

Published at 12:00am on October 25, 2020

INADEQUATE parking space has been a major contributor to the nagging traffic congestion in the capital, but the authorities concerned are far from implementing a holistic parking plan. Available spaces under the two city corporations are far too small against the number of even registered vehicles. As of September, 16.14 lakh motor vehicles are registered in Dhaka. In addition, there are several lakh unauthorised rickshaws that occupy already inadequate road spaces. Any city should ideally allocate 25 per cent of its areas for road development, but in the case Dhaka, the figure is only 8 per cent. Any new real estate development project should calculate the number of vehicles coming to commercial areas and create off-road parking facilities accordingly. This has, however, not been the case in Dhaka. The scarcity of parking space coupled with unregulated authorisation of vehicles to ply the roads has created a situation in which vehicle owners and drivers are left with no choice but to park illegally causing traffic congestion.

The city police as well as the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority took plans to create on-street paid parking provision, but the plans have not been materialised. On-street parking, as urban planners and architects say, is not a sustainable solution for Dhaka where most roads are narrow for roadside parking. Roads are used for various other purposes. They suggest that the authorities should conduct a real-time assessment keeping to global standards before taking up any policy. Parking facilities, according to standard procedure, are determined considering the number and length of the roads, land-use plan and the number of trips. Accident Research Institute experts urge the government to move away from solutions centred around privately-owned cars. In Dhaka, cars cover less than 10 per cent of the trips but occupy 70 per cent of the road spaces. They suggest the city authorities should adopt ‘drop-zone policy’ based on loading and unloading of motorised, non-motorised and para-transit vehicles. In addition, city authorities have to strictly prohibit illegal parking of inter-district buses and trucks in the capital to end traffic congestion. The transport coordination authorities, before finalising the parking policy drafted in 2018, need to consider off-road parking facility as a revenue generating option.

The city authorities, therefore, must frame a holistic parking policy that will encourage a safe and affordable public transport system, control over privately-owned cars on the road and ensure off-road parking facilities. In so doing, the authorities must work towards an integrated plan that will not consider parking crisis in isolation but in relation to its land-use and development plan. For any parking policy to be effective, the city authorities also must ensure designated bus depot for city service buses and inter-district terminal outside the capital. On environmental consideration, the provision for bicycle lanes could unburden the city of its parking problem to a large extent.