Vehicle parking has gained considerable attention and resulted in a lot of debates in recent times due to the increasing number of students commuting to colleges. I propose to dwell on the factors that have caused the problem to reach alarming propositions in recent times, and suggest methods by which the problems associated with vehicle parking could be ameliorated, if not completely resolved.
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Causes for the problem
Rise in disposable Income among the Student Population
The disposable income in the hands of today’s youth has increased considerably in terms of pocket money and own earnings, and thus more and more students are now in a position to own and maintain automobiles and two-wheelers. Added to this, is the free life style and a feeling that the possession of a vehicle connotes a strong bond between the man and his machine. Motor cycles also are deemed to lend a macho image to its drivers, and the present generation cherishes this feeling. A combination of money, enticing outdoor life and personal freedom all contribute to increased use of vehicles by youngsters. Thus, the increase in the number of vehicles in turn has aggravated the problems in terms of parking spaces and increased road accidents involving young people.
Urban development causing shrinkage of common spaces
With skyrocketing values for real estate and property markets, both in urbanized and rural settings, free space has become a luxury and most spaces have become sites for building construction activities and other land development projects. This being the case, lesser spaces are available for parking and other public use. Moreover, land encroachment by organized land syndicates add to the existing problems. Pedestrians and vehicle users who own vehicles find it hard due to the congested parking spaces. Roads are overcrowded by excess traffic and mostly people do not have road space to drive them or parking zones to park them safely. I personally feel that the following steps would help to alleviate this major issue at least to some extent.
Introduction of regular permits for allowing use of parking space: Parking space should be allowed only to holders of valid parking permits. In case of guests, it should be duly ratified by authorized hosts against their parking permits and it should also have time and frequency restrictions. The rates for guest parking should be double that of regular parkers.
- Increased dependency on automobiles and two-wheelers should be discouraged. The students should pool their use of vehicles and share vehicles on day-to-day basis so as to reduce parking congestions in the premises.
- Alternative measures like walking and cycling to and from college premises should be encouraged. These are not only healthier options but also reduce the burden on parking spaces.
- Through a proper cost-effective and integrated parking management program, it is possible to reduce the parking requirements substantially. In this regard, educational institutions should conduct students’ awareness and orientation programs about parking management system and scientific use of spaces with vehicles using minimum spaces. This would allow optimum usage of facility and encourage the students to follow and practice the rules and regulations on parking. If necessary, restrictions on automobile sizes for parking should be strictly enforced and other vehicles not conforming may be made to park outside the premises of the campuses.
It is necessary to frame a set of laws that could immediately help to address the issue of vehicle parking, especially in larger educational institutions, after holding a series of joint discussions with the concerned student population, the administrative college authorities and the local public law enforcement agencies. This would help in arriving a consensus acceptable to all the parties. I believe that such a step would be in the right direction in order to make parking space management a truly viable and convenient option, ensuring elements of safety and comfort to users of parking spaces.