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Forum concerns parking issue
By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-18 01:03

While more automobiles are hitting the roads in China every day, the lack of parking places has become a serious headache for both Chinese car owners and administrative authorities.

Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics show that China presently has more than 96.5 million vehicles, however, only 20 per cent of the automobiles have proper parking places, according to an investigation by the Ministry of Construction.

To make matters worse, the number of automobiles continues to grow at an annual rate of more than 21 per cent, as a result of improved living standards and falling vehicle prices.

It is estimated that by 2005, the number of motor vehicles and cars will reach 30 million and 10 million respectively, and the latter will soar to 20 million in 2010.

At present, over 4 million parking spaces are needed for cars across the country.

Industrialization of parking is a big concern for the current parking difficulties in China.

Intelligent parking, or vertical mechanized parking, should be the main direction of parking construction in China.

The suggestion was provided by a group of experts on parking construction during the ongoing First Urban Intelligent Parking International Forum in Laiwu of Shandong Province.

"Parking in China must be industrialized, and parking facilities must be constructed and operated by businesses," said Ren Bomiao, director of China Parking Facility Association.

Currently parking lot construction in China is managed by local governments' communications departments.

In the United States, the parking industry makes an annual production value of US$26 billion, 3.25 per cent of its national GDP, as well as providing more than a million jobs.

Experts predict the sector will provide billions in production value in China in the coming few years.

"The best way to solve the parking problem lies in the technology of parking verticalization, the main direction for city parking reform in the future," said Ren, who added such facilities are commonly used in developed countries, and they are applicable in China.

Mechanical parking, or multilevel and above ground parking, save space.

Generally, such facilities require about one-25th the amount of space for a ground parking lot. Moreover, they are cost-effective, and convenient.

Japan, which has one-tenth of China's population, but only 4 per cent of China's land area, has successfully dealt with its parking problem.Vertical mechanized parking began 40 years ago, and intelligent parking equipment is increasing by 100,000 units per year, even though the country saw low industrial growth in recent years.

Statistics indicate Japan's parking sector is worth about US$7.7 billion.

Last year China listed vertical mechanized parking systems as a national special-type facility to operate.

From 1997 to 2003, the annual growth rate was above 30 per cent. In some major cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, the facilities are gradually becoming popular and applied in residential and business centres.

Experts say the country will introduce advanced foreign experience to upgrade the sector, including standards for design, authorization, popularization and production of the vertical mechanized parking systems.

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