In the 1970s when Joni Mitchell crooned “Big Yellow Taxi”, not many realised the clairvoyance and the forewarning that the song’s lyrics expressed. Though every bit of the lyric has its own essence and social messaging, the starting couplet is resounding. The verse—“They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot”—held a mirror up to society, and here we are four decades later, perplexed and baffled as to how we got here.
Automobiles are the scourge that drive up emission levels and other environmental issues, yet their numbers continue to rise unabashed. As per a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (Delhi), it took India 60 years (1951-2008) to cross the mark of 105 million registered vehicles. The same number of vehicles were added in a mere six years (2009 – 2015) thereafter!
But when you throw ill-conceived parking systems into this mix, it is like taking gasoline to a firefight. The backlash of this self-inflicted problem is found in every nook and corner of our cities, in all sorts of positions (angular, parallel, perpendicular) and scales (on-street, multi-level, automated).
In India, the conversation surrounding parking management is kindled every now and then, only to be impounded with plans of creating more parking spaces. Or even worse, buried six-foot deep with a parking lot as a symbolical headstone. Irony at its best.
So, why is it that dialogues on parking and its management generate public ire, whereas implausible measures—such as unchecked on-street free parking and multi-level parking—venerated. The answer lies in the psyche of vehicle owners and commuters in general, who lay fodder to a whole bunch of myths regarding parking management.
Now, what are these myths and how do the arguments hold; well, not as solid as the ground their vehicles are parked on.
Let’s deduce this argument with the adage, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins”. A citizen has the liberty to own a vehicle, but it doesn’t entitle them to occupy a public space of their fancy. Furthermore, no text, context, and subtext of a right allows for the infringement of someone else’s right. Whereas, parking poses as an obstruction for someone to use that common public space from walking or cycling.
Clearly, parking is not a right or an entitlement, but a privilege which needs to be charged and heavily at that. A parking fee must be charged proportional to demand, factoring in criteria such as location, time of day, duration of parking, and category of vehicle (defined by size and type).
Take the case of Ranchi, where a pilot parking management project on the arterial MG Road stretch led to a 12-fold increase in parking revenue. Even the state of Jharkhand, spurred by the revenue spike at Ranchi’s pilot parking management project, invested efforts to regulate parking as a statewide policy. According to reports, Greater Chennai Corporation stands to gain Rs 55 crore per year in revenue from the pricing of about 12,000 ECS (equivalent car spaces) of parking in Chennai: a whopping 110 times increase in revenue from what it presently earns.
Cities can innovatively use parking revenue to encourage sustainable modes of transport. For example, Bicing—the public cycle-sharing program in Barcelona—is financed by its parking revenue. London’s Freedom Pass, which allows elderly (60+) and disabled residents to use public transport for free, is funded by the parking fees collected in many boroughs. You can find more about these cases and other best practices in ITDP’s publication, Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation.
As per Dalia Research, the average global commute time per workday is 1 hour 9 minutes, India’s commute estimate hovers around 1 hour 31 minutes. That figure helps us to the third spot in the global list, behind only Israel and the UAE. So does the solution of offering more parking space offer a concession on congestion, the answer is and has always been in the negative.
An analogy often used while talking about urban commute is “Travel time was so much lesser when there were lesser vehicle!”. Hence, parking is to private vehicles, what flame is to moths. More parking only begets more private vehicles to hit the road.
An excessive supply of parking will only encourage people to use personal motor vehicles—even when good public transport is available. Cities, therefore, need to limit total parking supply, including off-street and on-street parking. Based on the capacity of the road network, cities must set caps on the total quantum of parking available in each zone.
Most cities invest in developing multi-level car parks to resolve parking woes. But examples, from across the world and India, clearly indicate that it is a myopic attempt. Over time such infrastructures only turn into ‘big white elephants’.
Take the example of Bengaluru’s 11 multi-storeyed parking complexes—Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Company (BMTC) owns nine and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) owns two. According to a Bangalore Mirror report, these “ghost storey” parking lots barely have 20-30% occupancy, reason being parking on roads or pavements is easier, since it is free and the safer.
“Multi-level car parking doesn’t solve parking woes, better on-street management does. Multi-level parking structures remain empty while people continue to park on the streets as long as it remains free and unenforced,” said Shreya Gadepalli, ITDP India Programme Lead. Thus, cities must manage and enforce on-street parking effectively before building any off-street parking facilities, public, or private.
In 2009, Janette Sadik-Khan, the then transportation commissioner of New York City, envisioned Times Square to be a car-free zone. That is, the hub would be less of a conduit for vehicles and an urban space where people could freely walk, sightsee, dine, and take in the magnanimity that is New York. Though there were initial reservations, the results were quite remarkable and by 2010 the changes were made permanent. Citylab reported that “business for merchants in the area was booming, and travel times for cars actually went down”.
There are plenty of such examples be it Hong Kong—where demand for commercial establishments rose post pedestrianisation, Copenhagen—a pilot pedestrian project from 1962 has since reclaimed 100,000 sq.m of motorised transit. Here in India, the Mall Road in Shimla, Temple Street in Madurai, and Heritage Street in Amritsar are examples of how reinventing urban design to focus on pedestrianisation does not affect commercial establishment as feared.
People over parking: regulations allows better streets, better cities, better lives
In conclusion, the need of the hour is to regulate parking, not to take it off the table. Policies which focus on parking management not only help in easing congestion, emissions, and travel time, but also are a feasible revenue generation model for a city. A robust management system clearly defines parking zones, pegs user fee to demand, and uses an IT-based mechanism for information, payment, and enforcement—discussed at length in ITDP’s Parking Basics.
The conversation revolving around parking management has been catching up, with ITDP India Programme offering plausible solutions to cities. Leading the conversation is Pune, which is on the verge of implementing a parking management policy—a demand-based parking system that smoothens traffic movement.
Multiple studies allude that personal cars and two-wheelers occupy most of our street space, yet serve less than a fourth of all trips. They also sit idle for 95 per cent of the time—consuming over a third of street space that could be used more effectively as footpaths, cycle tracks, and bus rapid transit (BRT). The discourse over urban mobility shouldn’t revolve around parking, rather the onus must be on transit-oriented development. Wherein, last-mile connectivity and rapid system of transit ensure movement of people and not just vehicles. As cities evolve, there is an urgent need to step away from an oblivious “man proposes and parking disposes” mentality.
More resources from ITDP on parking management and reforms:
“At the end of the day, I head to a nearby store for vegetables and other items before walking home,” explains Shivani, a native of Ranchi who commutes to work by shared auto rickshaw. Her shuttle isn’t uncommon in a city that’s growing rapidly despite the lack of formalised public transport system. However, she needn’t fret – the city’s ‘go-ahead’ for a public bicycle sharing system (commonly known as PBS system) aims to improve last-mile connectivity.
In Jharkhand’s first step toward cycle-friendly streets, Ranchi city has begun construction of its PBS system stations this month. ITDP assisted the State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) in preparing the feasibility of PBS in Ranchi that proposes to see 1200 cycles distributed in the state capital. ITDP also provided technical assistance for the tender document and review of bids in the process.
Construction of PBS stations underway in Ranchi
A PBS system is a flexible form of personal public transport. Cycles are stored in a closely spaced network of stations. With a smart card or other form of identification, a user can check out a cycle from a station and return it to any other station. The system offers the convenience of cycling without the burden of ownership, and the flexibility to accommodate one-way trips.
PBS stations are being built in high-density commercial areas
With the finalisation of the operator, the system is being implemented in two phases: 600 cycles will be rolled out by May and the remaining 600 by July. The cycle stations provide access to notable public destinations in high-density commercial activity zones like Main Road and Lalpur Road, institutional areas and residential neighbourhoods.
The implementation of the system will not only enhance the image of cycling in Ranchi, but also reduce congestion and improve air quality by attracting private vehicle users. Ranchi’s endeavour to reclaim streets for people will bring them a new experience: a city that can be enjoyed on cycles!
“I used to take my two-wheeler to travel the 3 kilometers between my house and the railway station. I’m now able to walk the stretch, thanks to the continuous footpath. Best part – I’ve lost 5 kilos and my diabetes!” Mr. Manimaran, a resident of Egmore in Chennai, is thrilled at the tremendous change that a safer and better footpath has brought about in his life.
The year 2017 witnessed many such impactful changes in the field of sustainable transportation all around the country, including cities which ITDP India Programme has been closely working with. Thanking all our supporters, we take a look at the year that passed by.
Pune broke ground on its ambitious Complete Streets networks – a 100km-network with its own financial resources and 45km through support from the National Smart Cities Mission. The first phase of these street design projects on JM Road and DP Road has already been lauded by the country, owing to the vibrancy of these redesigned streets. Pune’s Bicycle Plan, recently approved by the General Body, paves way for the creation of a 300km bicycle-track network in the city.
Having accomplished over 40km of Complete Streets, Chennai initiated the next phase of street design by inviting tenders in late October to redesign 22km of streets. The city tested out the design of 5 key intersections through a tactical urbanism approach – quick, temporary, on-ground interventions. Chennai also conducted another trial run of the proposed pedestrian plaza in Pondy Bazaar, the success of which fetched the project a sanction of of Rs 55 crores (~US $9 million) under the Smart Cities Mission.
Smaller cities have also made remarkable progress this year in their Complete Streets programmes – Nashik appointed nationally-acclaimed urban designers to redesign its proposed street network of 50 kilometers, with 10 kilometers tendered out; and Coimbatore commenced construction of its Model Roads and hosted an interactive exhibition to inform the people of the design of the roads while collecting feedback. Coimbatore also started developing detailed implementation plans for its Greenways and Lake Restoration Project, which includes a 30km network of greenways (exclusive walking and cycling infrastructure) that crisscross the city and connect 8 water bodies.
Becoming one of the pioneering cities in parking management in the country, Ranchi implemented a progressive on-street parking management system on its busiest thoroughfare, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, with a twelve-fold increase in revenue. Inspired by the success of the pilot, the city has proposed to refine and expand the system to cover all key locations. The state of Jharkhand has also proposed to adopt a state-level parking policy.
Chennai recently invited tenders to select an operator for its proposed on-street parking management system covering 12000 equivalent car spaces on Bus Route Roads across the city. Since Pune is also working towards parking management, ITDP, in collaboration with GIZ-SUTP, facilitated and managed a two-day workshop on the topic, with international parking expert, Dr Paul Barter in the city. Participants included municipal officials, traffic police, public officials from other agencies as well as various local stakeholders.
An increase in demand for better public transport has provided the fillip to cities across the country to increase and improve their transit services. Chennai made considerable advancement in its BRT planning, with the interim report for Phase I approved by the state and a series of public consultation programmes organised to explain the significance of BRT to people and get their feedback on the various corridors.
In Pune, around 130 crore rupees was sanctioned to construct 13 new bus terminals to facilitate better integration of bus services with the proposed Metro Rail network. The city also commenced work on expanding the existing 38km Rainbow BRT by an additional 15km. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) initiated the process of adding 200 feeder buses to its fleet, to improve connectivity between the city and the surrounding towns.
Public bicycle sharing (PBS) is emerging as a popular mode of public transit across the country. Pune piloted a dockless PBS system with 275 bicycles and signed an MoU with 4 vendors dealing with dockless systems. Two other cities are preparing for the installation of a PBS system – Ranchi and Chennai invited operators to submit proposals for setting up 1264 bicycles in 122 stations (Phase 1) and 5000 bicycles in 378 designated parking areas, respectively.
Successful and sustained on-ground changes invariably require the backing of well-framed guidelines, policies and financial plans – 2017 was marked by many of these. Two sets of guidelines – the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) planning and design guidelines, and the Guidelines on Control and Regulation of Mixed Traffic in Urban Areas – prepared by ITDP, were approved by the apex committee of the Indian Roads Congress. These guidelines will apply for all cities across India and guide them towards low-carbon mobility.
The Government of Jharkhand adopted an inclusive TOD policy that focuses on equitable development of cities in the state, so that a majority of the population lives and works in areas with safe and accessible walking and cycling facilities integrated with reliable and high-quality public transport.
The Government of Maharashtra published a draft of the State Urban Transport Policy, which promotes low-carbon & equitable mobility and urban development by prioritising public transport (PT) and non-motorised transport (NMT). Furthermore, over half of Pune’s total transportation budget of 1100 crore rupees was allocated towards sustainable transport development for the financial year 2017-18. In the South, Coimbatore adopted a Street Design and Management Policy that focuses on creating equitable and sustainable mobility options and expanding their use.
The realisation that sustainable urban development will remain elusive without integrating women’s safety and comfort in urban transport, has generated momentum to include gender as a key factor in transport planning. Bringing this subject to the fore and as a first of its kind, a paper on Women and Transport in Indian Cities was created by ITDP and Safetipin, and released at a national workshop on gender and transit conducted by the two organisations. This paper identifies indicators, service level benchmarks and processes for integrating a gender perspective in urban transport projects, policies and programs along with good practice case studies.
2017 was a year of radical planning indeed, with many grand plans conceived, developed and initiated for sustainable transportation. With all these plans set to materialize in the coming months, 2018 will be a year of implementation and tangible transformation. Looking forward to a great year ahead: Happy New Year!
“I would like to see Transit-oriented development materialize on the ground”, stated C.P.Singh, the Urban Development Minister of Jharkhand, at the public consultation workshop held in July, for the adoption of the Jharkhand Transit-oriented Development Policy (JTODP). The workshop, organized in Ranchi by the Urban Development and Housing Department (UD&HD), thus backed by political will, was an important step towards realizing Jharkhand’s vision of making its cities safe and sustainable.
The Jharkhand government has set high goals to this end in the proposed State Transit-oriented Development (TOD) Policy. According to this policy, by 2026, public transport, walking and cycling will become the predominant modes of transport for over 80% of the city trips, thereby reducing usage of personal motor vehicles to less than 20%. Quality public transport will be accessible to a majority of the population within a 400m walk. Further, more than 50% of the residents in larger cities will have access to rapid transit at the same walking distance. Reduced trip lengths have also been aimed at. Once adopted, the policy will guide the future growth of all cities in Jharkhand.
The 21st century has seen an increase in Jharkhand’s urban population by 32% from 2001 to 2011, totaling at 7.9 million — 67% of which is constituted by 11 cities with a population of 1 lakh and more. Unplanned rapid urban growth in these cities has translated into low-density urban sprawl, longer commutes, increased dependence on personal motorized vehicles, congestion and pollution. This disastrous outcome is a result of conventional car-centric planning and insufficient development of sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport.
By 2031, the number of city inhabitants in Jharkhand is expected to further double to 13.85 million! With its cities urbanizing at such quick rates, Jharkhand faces the challenge of planning this transition in ways that will ultimately provide a safe, affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment for its citizens. The state is looking to bring about this paradigm change by adopting a TOD-approach.
In contrast to the current method of development, TOD involves actively planning for future mixed use developments — residential, commercial, and other uses — within a compact city form, so that most citizens live, work, and play within walking distance of public transit. Well designed and fully realized TOD areas can play a transformative role in the city’s economic and cultural well-being, creating vibrant and lively places for people of all ages and income groups. Adequate parking fees and overall reduction in parking supply can disincentivize the use of personal motor vehicles.
At the consultation workshop held in Ranchi, Ms. Shreya Gadepalli – Regional Director, South Asia, ITDP – presented the key features of the Jharkhand TOD policy. She reinforced the primary principle that streets are meant for people rather than for cars and stressed the need to adopt a transit-first approach to help achieve social inclusion, safety and resource efficiency. The presentation also sought to bust many parking myths and laid emphasis on managing and pricing on-street parking to restrict private vehicle use. The necessary changes to be made to the bye-laws and institutional framework were then elaborated.
Following the presentation was a dynamic discussion with the stakeholders — including Principal Secretary and Director of UD&HD along with town planners; Municipal Commissioners of Ranchi; Director, State Urban Development Authority; members of CREDAI and Architects Association of Ranchi. The discussion brought out the likely challenges in implementing the JTOD policy and sought solutions for the same, such as selection of transit corridors for TOD-transformation.
The consultation workshop witnessed Vision 2026 being received with promising welcome and endorsed by most stakeholders – along with a much needed political backing. It can be expected to soon transform Jharkhand’s urban spaces into people- and environment-friendly pockets, giving way to safe, sustainable and inclusive cities!
Ranchi, capital of Jharkand- one of India’s youngest states, is taking incredible strides to transform itself into a livable, healthy, and sustainable city in a very short span of time. With focus on improving the quality of life for its citizens, Ranchi is embracing people-centric planning practices including strengthening public transport services, implementing a progressive parking management system and adopting transit-oriented development principles for urban planning. These efforts were reflected in the city’s Smart City Proposal (SCP), which was selected in the fast-tracked second round of India’s Smart City Mission in May 2016.
Originally, Ranchi was not among the first twenty cities to be selected under the Smart City Mission. The proposal, which selected a greenfield development with focus mainly on drinking water, sanitation, sewage and solid waste management, failed to address the challenges of urban mobility posed by Ranchi’s rapidly growing urban population.
Until recently, the city’s transport problems were on the back burner. Although half of all the trips in the city are made on foot or cycle, footpaths and cycling lanes are almost non-existent. In the absence of a formal bus service, high polluting and unsafe informal paratransit caters to two thirds of all the motorised trips. Further, the limited financial capacity of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has been a major hindrance in changing the status quo.
However, in mid 2015, the city began to take its first steps towards a sustainable transport transformation. RMC assumed responsibility of overseeing city bus operations and is working towards expanding and improving the service. The city has also initiated the process to adopt a progressive parking policy to tackle traffic congestion. To test the policy, the city is working towards implementing priced parking on a heavy traffic commercial zone. The parking prices, which are pegged to parking demand, are approximately four times higher than the current rates. Building on these initial steps, Ranchi’s revised SCP, improved with technical inputs from ITDP, embraced multiple sustainable transport initiatives.
Caption:The rendering (above) shows the proposed design of a major intersection, Albert Ekka Chowk (existing photo), on the Main road in Ranchi—with all elements of a complete street.
Over the next five years, Ranchi aims to increase its modal share of public transport to 50% by expanding its bus fleet by more than five times—from existing 65 buses to almost 375 buses. An intelligent traffic management system will help improve efficiency and service of its bus fleet. Further, to provide comfortable access to its public transport and encourage walking and cycling in the city, Ranchi aims to redesign 31.5 km of its streets as ‘Complete Streets’ with wide, safe and continuous footpaths, safe crossing facilities, clearly demarcated parking bays, and uniform carriageways.
The greenfield area based development is proposed to adopt a transit-oriented development (TOD) approach with dense, mixed-use neighbourhoods planned along frequent, fast, and reliable high capacity mass transport lines. The smart city proposal reinforces the city’s intention to curb private vehicle use by managing parking through market-based pricing.
With definite funding from the national and state governments towards these tangible improvements planned in the city, Ranchi is en route to transforming itself into a sustainable and equitable city. ITDP is a proud partner to the city in its mission to embrace this bright future.
Like most Indian cities, Ranchi, the fast-urbanising capital of Jharkhand, is struggling to provide efficient transport solutions to its urban population. Despite a high share of non-motorised transport modes, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure are non-existent. Lack of formal public transport systems mean that much of the population is dependant on shared auto rickshaws for commuting in the city. While these problems affect all sections of society, lack of safe mobility options acutely affect women, often forcing them to rush home before dark, severely affecting their access to education, jobs and opportunities.
A transport assessment led by ITDP last year, threw up some worrying facts. Almost 90 percent of women in Ranchi depend on walking or use semi-formal shared auto rickshaws to go to college or work. Even though almost all women surveyed said they felt unsafe in the share autos, only 1 percent said that they would consider switching to cycling. This is hardly surprising, considering 46 percent of women cyclists mentioned being teased on the roads and 59 percent were afraid of cycling down lonely roads. While this is not just a transportation issue, lack of reliable and affordable public transport, coupled with poor quality of streets and public spaces, only increase their exposure to these dangers.
ITDP presented these findings at a two-day workshop, ‘Building a strategic framework for women’s safety in Jharkhand’, organised in Ranchi on 17th and 18th February. The workshop, hosted by women’s rights organisation Jagori and supported by the Oak Foundation, brought together multiple civil society organisations from various sectors to discuss gender issues in Jharkhand.
The role of better public transport infrastructure in improving women’s safety was also reflected in the findings from women’s safety audits presented by Jagori. The audit, conducted as part of research on Women’s Safety in Public Spaces in Jharkhand, used a mobile app Safetipin to evaluate perception of safety in public spaces in two cities – Jharkhand and Hazaribagh. Using various parameters like lighting, openness, availability of transport and people density, the audit evaluated areas frequented by women and children such as bus stops, parks and marketplaces. Findings from the audit highlighted the need for well-lit streets and well-designed public spaces that provide ‘eyes on the street’. In addition, the audit also recommended the need to increase availability of public transport so as to provide comfortable and reliable services that can be used at all times of the day.
Both these studies indicate that good urban planning practices that provide better public transport facilities, improved street design with better lighting, creation of safe cycling environments can go a long way in furthering women’s access to public space. Improving public transport systems in Ranchi and creating better walking and cycling infrastructure, will not only provide affordable and sustainable transport options for all, but will also play a crucial role in empowering women by improving their access to opportunities.
Women now are claiming their right to urban spaces, to study work and lead a life free from any form of fear and sexual harassment, said Sunitha Dhar from Jagori. A collaborative effort from different organisations and stakeholders would be required to achieve this. “A core team including women’s groups should be set up to lead the process. Tribal dominated areas should also be integrated in the intervention plans,” said Reshma from AALI, a participant at the workshop.
As one of the fastest growing cities in India, Ranchi has a dire need for improved transport sector infrastructure. Formal public transport is almost non-existent, and there are hardly any dedicated facilities for pedetrians and cyclists. These conditions are contributing toward rapid growth in personal motor vehicle usage. So far, no concrete efforts have been made to develop sustainable transport solutions for the city.
To advocate for equitable, safe, and sustainable transport in Ranchi, one of the principal strategies proposed by Ranchi Mobility Partnership (RMP) is to garner support from political representatives and parties. Many political representatives in Ranchi lack awareness regarding the transport challenges faced by city residents. While election manifestos outline priorities ranging from food security to housing to health care, they contain few details on transport, and what recommendations do exist tend to focus on interventions that benefit personal vehicle users. This emphasis is in stark contrast to the need of the majority of Ranchi residents for basic improvements in walking, cycling, and public transport facilities.
With the announcement of the much-awaited Mayoral polls in April 2014, the Ranchi Mobility Partnership (RMP) identified the election as a great opportunity to create awareness among Mayoral candidates about the pressing need for sustainable and equitable mobility solutions in the city. The Mayor, as head of the Ranchi Municipal Corporation, is responsible for several aspects of the city’s transport system, including the design and maintenance of roads; management of parking facilities; and storm water drainage.
On 19 June 2014, the RMP organised a workshop for all Mayoral candidates with support from the Citizens Foundation and the Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FJCCI),focusing on possible sustainable mobility solutions for Ranchi. The workshop was a huge success with participation from Mayoral candidates representing all major parties, ward councillors, trade and commerce organisations, civil society and educational institutions.
The presentation was followed by an open session where the candidates engaged in an active discussion with the audience and presented their visions for the city. Most candidates endorsed the RMP’s Transport Manifesto. Ms. Asha Lakra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-backed candidate,promised to promote public transport, create continuous pedestrian paths and safe cycle tracks, and develop more recreational spaces in the city.
The results of the Mayoral elections, announced on 27 June, declared Ms. Lakra as the winner with a victory of over 14,000 votes. At taking the oath of office, the Mayor Lakra declared that she would work to improve the condition of streets in the city. RMP will be working closely with the Mayor and will help translate her election pledges into reality.