No more building of parking spaces in modern cities!

Parking spaces have become a major issue in modern cities. As a matter of fact, a significant number of individuals term car parks as a basic need, hence creating the hype that has seen through the intense efforts to build car parks “almost everywhere” in town centers. City planning professionals convince themselves that they are seeking to end congestion in streets and also reducing traffic jams via the construction of car parks. Such is not the case. There is a myriad of motives behind the heightened efforts to create many parking spaces. There is also a multitude of reasons why such should be shunned and alternative solutions sought and implemented.

Do we need parking spaces? We all need car parking spaces for several reasons. Chief among them is security. We need to park our vehicles in designated areas that we are sure that we will find our belongings intact and safe. Some cities are so risky such that one might leave their cars locked, only to return and find the wheels, side mirrors, and other components missing. We also need parking spaces to reduce the congestion that usually occurs in streets, hence reducing the occurrence of traffic jams. How so? Providing enough parking spaces reduces the number of vehicles circulating the streets. Hence, cases of traffic jams reduce and people reach their destinations punctually.

Car parks and congestion in modern cities

Modern parking spaces appear as innocuous, seeming simply as a couple of lines colored on asphalt. Mismanaged and multiplied though, parking spaces can act as the origins of traffic jams, contribute to air pollution and even force major cities to sprawl. How so? The availability and cost of parking spaces significantly influence people’s commuting habits more than light rail lines and rapid buses that modern cities are so keenly building. Other than other valuable policies such as road-tolling and congestion-charging, changing parking is easy. Consequently, rapidly growing metropolitans such as Asia and Africa need to learn this before copying western cities.

Asphalt Modern Park Spaces

In a majority of the modern cities, individuals can park their vehicles on the street without incurring any pittance or significant costs. For instance, most parking meters in Boston cost $1.25 per hour while the charges for the same parking space in Chennai is 30 cents in a day. Such as been made possible by the fact that the number of individuals taking advantage of such terrific deals, instead of paying the standard market rate for parking in a garage, is higher than the supply of parking spaces. Consequently, drivers finally end up driving and circling the city blocks. Besides, results from recent surveys and conducted research have periodically indicated that much of traffic in the main Australian cities constitute of drivers in search of parking spaces.

Having made the conclusion that the chaos and havoc of their cities, town centers, and streets, are caused by traffic jams and inadequate parking spaces, many cities have embarked on creating more parking spaces. For instance, states such as China, India, and Australia have made it mandatory for developers to construct parking spaces whenever they erect a new building. This has not only been adopted in Australia but also in the US. For instance, the state of Minnesota mandates that four spaces must accompany every hole on a golf course. Similarly, one space must be allocated for every three nuns bound in a covenant. Surprisingly, it is due to these requirements that cars have been given a higher priority than individuals. In modern buildings, more space is being allocated to cars than to humans.

(Daily Telegraph) Cancer patients are missing out on parking in designated area due to a lack of parking at Park Central. Picture: Robert Pozo

Another reason as to why people should be more cautious when constructing parking spaces is that they tend to result in inefficient use of public resources. For instance, Europeans adopt a different perspective to scarce parking. Majority reserve parking spaces for residents paying very low parking charges. For example, near the economist tower in London, parking a vehicle costs roughly $6.10 per hour. Given the fact that most of the residents of London join the public transport means or just cycle, and other rich neighbors pay £145 for the same parking lanes, public resources become inefficiently allocated.

The fact that a majority of cities have adopted such parking arrangements does not imply that they are sensible. Flooding towns with cities work only in that they make it easier for people to find the parking spaces. However, the overall cost of such is very high. Eventually, people tend to misuse parking because it is plentiful and free invariably. Besides, another study found that flooding cities with parking spaces influence people’s desire to buy cars and live more luxurious lifestyles. In other words, it increases the chances of people driving home alone instead of sharing cars, a fact that has dire consequences to the environment and the general human populations. Worst, the adoption of generous parking considerations lead to the creation of asphalt deserts. The latter saps the cities’ aesthetic value and vigor. Also, the finances invested in constructing useless car parks bears an economic effect, which ripples to all individuals. It makes life costlier for all persons, car owners and non-car owners, drivers, and non-drivers.

Cities and town centers must quit rigging the market to please homeowners and therefore cease from increasing the supply of parking services in an effort to mitigate the adverse impacts created by many parking spaces. Instead, contemporary Australian cities should increase the cost of parking spaces until such car parks are nearly full. Residents are bound to complain due to the loss of their privileges. However, the profits gained from the collection of parking charges and fines in streets will be large. From here, the local governments could use such revenues to fund their projects such advancing resident’s security and beautifying their cities with multiple flower gardens.

Image: DailyTelegraph

The final reason as to why parking should be highly charged is that it will initiate and catalyze a transport revolution. For instance, assuming that automated and self-driving cars are invented and allowed to pick and drop off individuals as required, such will render unnecessary the very many car parks cities have been constructing. This is just a taste of the future, which will come true quickly if the government raises the costs of parking, autonomous vehicles will soon be serving humans at an advantage.

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