Parking is a major issue in every city around the world. It is physically impossible for everyone who wants to park a car in Delhi to find space.
As the number of cars in Delhi grows, the space available for people gets squeezed, and the human living environment gets overrun. Cars are like an invasive species that out-competes people for space.
The best policy for any large city is to radically limit and reduce parking. Restricting parking both preserves space for people and also reduces traffic, which crushes the human living environment in a city.
Wise leaders can see the horrible problems created by traffic and parking in a city. However, taking the necessary steps to restrict driving and parking requires both political will and foresight. Fighting traffic and parking in a society is difficult as each individual benefits from getting a car, but society overall suffers as that additional car undermines the human living environment of the city.
The automobile can be seen as a form of societal corruption. Countries of northern Europe have done the best job in limiting the damaging impact of the automobile, and they are the most honest and egalitarian countries in the world.
India’s problems with government corruption and organised crime manifest themselves in the sphere of parking and traffic. Fighting these problems is extremely hard, but it can be done.
Times Square at the heart of New York City was recently closed to traffic. The result was a huge success. Despite a huge outcry of concern when the Broadway was closed to cars, the pedestrianisation of the Times Square is now nearly universally acclaimed as a success. It has gone from being a dangerous, unpleasant and overcrowded space to a wonderful, people-oriented public space. Business is prospering as never before with retail rents skyrocketing by 125 per cent in just six years.
If New York can find the political will to close Times Square to traffic, Delhi can find the political will to battle its parking problem. The people of Delhi need to understand that their city will not recover from the brutalising impact of traffic until the city takes strong steps to radically limit the private car.
(As told to Atul Mathur by Mark Gorton, US-based founder and CEO of OpenPlans, publisher of streetsblog.org)