One World – But A World of Difference

Reading the “Carbon Efficient City” chapters, articles, and other assigned readings – and the solutions being offered in them have me marveling (in astonishment) – they represent an 180◦ turn on my previously held views, solutions to urban problems that I grew up living through. That alone makes my learning from this class even richer – albeit in general I have learned a ton from these readings and approach to solving urban problems. These solutions are simply in stark contrast to the ones needed to solve the urban problems in Chennai, my city in India (and India in general) – the ones you may not encounter. This “stark contrast” thought kept coming all along this quarter, but this time I could not resist writing a blog post about it after reading the “Law and Order and Parking Lots, Eric DePlace” article for this week’s class.

Eric DePlace in that article talks about the mandatory parking requirement by law for bars and pubs, and that not being in line with common sense (of not needing to allocate more space for car parking (ratio to the square foot, or to number of patrons allowed) when indeed drunken driving is illegal). As mentioned earlier, in my city Chennai, the problem is lack of enough space for parking (leading to multiple rows of parking in the street, blocking lanes [photo illustration below]).

Chennai Road Parking Ariel View

Photo Credit: R.Ravindran.

Similarly, HOV lanes would not solve the traffic/pollution problem either (as most of the car owners employ a driver) and the problem is more structural, or infrastructural to be precise (old, rickety, no space for growth). Also, increasing urban density (“densification”) does not help either as the resources (such as water) are maxed out.

These said, solutions such as urban parks, parklets, the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle and global optima – integrated transportation (stressing on mobility vis-à-vis mode) are very much applicable and needed for Indian cities as well.



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