All of the urban cities in the world face parking space constraints. In big cities like New York, London, Paris and Berlin, most of the time the people need to wait for hours to find a car parking space. In the same manner, the city of Kathmandu is struggling with everyday traffic jam, frequent road accidents and inadequate parking spaces.
Because of the rising living standard, the use of vehicles to transport people and goods has changed the way people live. In particular, the tremendous and rapid development in the production of automobiles since the 1980s has resulted in various impacts on people’s lifestyle and put heavy pressure on road transport systems. The use of private vehicles is increasing everyday worldwide. In the same manner, the number of motorized vehicles in Kathmandu has increased tremendously in recent years whereas the road infrastructure has not maintained pace. It is also not possible to expand infrastructure as and when needed because space is limited. In the context of Nepal, the main focus is on building new infrastructure rather than managing the existing ones. The parking management issue was never a consideration while building urban roads in Nepal. As a result, Kathmandu is facing parking problems these days. The main city centers like New Road, Durbar Marg, Thamel, Ratna Park, etc. lack sufficient parking spaces which result in increased congestion in these areas. People run here and there looking for a suitable parking space.
The general people, employers and businesspeople are all hit by insufficient parking space in Kathmandu. Parking plays an important role in land use accessibility and the economics of the major center. Parking availability has significant importance to travelers in making travel decisions. It affects the mode, choice, trip, destination choice and trip frequency. Parking is a major urban land use. Parking availability depends on the cost of the land. Parking provision represents a major financial overhead in terms of land use, construction, maintenance and management.
The objective of parking management is to prioritize uses on the basis of specific functions such as parking for mobility of employees, visitors parking for customers and other general people parking. In Kathmandu, parking and parking-related problems have been going from bad to worse with the increase in city traffic and parking demand. The balance of parking demand and supply, therefore, needs to be considered together with other measures in a systematic way. In city centers and residential areas, parking control and management are crucial to ensure sustainable economic development and at the same time for the full utilization of existing infrastructure. There are three main factors influencing the growth of parking demand; the increased number of vehicle ownership, the level and form of public transport and the established land use.
The demand for parking spaces in city centers is very high because of the continuing growth of population and car ownership. However, the supply of parking spaces is limited in these areas because parking spaces cannot be expanded every time the number of vehicles increases. To minimize the future distortion between parking demand and supply, a realistic parking management needs to be developed.
Parking is mainly done in two areas; on-street parking and off-street parking. In Kathmandu, most of the parking is of the on-street type at major city centers. The provision of on-street parking is the most economical form of parking for service providers and for vehicle drivers. On-street parking generates a number of negative impacts such as abuse of the limited space of roads, double-parking, improper parking and it cause the traffic flow to slow down which are all of safety concern. The roads of Kathmandu are narrow, therefore, on-street parking is resulting in traffic congestion. To overcome this, the big shopping malls have their own parking lots in the basement. Still, the space is not sufficient for city vehicles. Parking management is a serious concern in Kathmandu. The population as well as the number of vehicles is increasing day by day. To balance demand and supply of parking spaces, off-road parking spaces have to be developed. Off-road parking is some space where vehicles can be parked other than along the road. It can be a driveway, car parking house/lot or a garage. Now, focus should be on building big parking houses in the city centers. If properly managed and operated, the parking houses will generate more revenue than the shopping malls because infrastructure investment costs, maintenance, operation and management costs are lower for parking houses compared to shopping malls. For instance, if big parking houses are built somewhere in Ratna Park, people would park their vehicles and visit areas like New Road, Basantapur, Ratna Park and even Thamel. It will not only reduce the traffic in city centers and the people also will not have to wait for hours to park vehicles in areas like Ratna Park, New Road, and Thamel among others. If parking management is done properly in Kathmandu, it will subsequently reduce traffic congestion and accidents.
Gajurel is Transport and Traffic Consultant email@example.com