You may have experienced parking shortages - concerts, events, grand openings, shopping malls, but that is due to a congregation to a popular location within certain hours of the day. Now imagine that is the scene of everywhere you go, every hour of the day - to the hospital, to school, the office, that is the current problem in China.
While in developed and richer nations plan for 1.3 parking spaces per car, China faces 0.8 in large cities and 0.5 in smaller cities. The urban planners failed to accommodate the expanding car ownership in China, a rate of about 10% a year, even as their economy slows down. The rush to construct roads and housing to welcome the 400 million people, who migrated from the rural areas to the cities, has left a shortage of 50 million parking spaces not to mention the insufficient attention to many basics such as drainage and green spaces.
In an official survey conducted, nearly two-thirds of respondents said that parking had become "unbearable". While one third said they lived in places with frequent traffic jams. The two problems are notorious in China and can be correlated - the higher the difficulty to find a parking space, the more likely people will park illegally on the pavement, forcing pedestrians to spill out and thus causing a much more frustrating scene for traffic.
The solution may not be as simple as it seems, with construction of apartment blocks built without the foresight of mass car ownership; neighborhoods only have limited parking spaces. Some cities have taken an approach similar to the Japanese cities, making a parking space a prerequisite in order to buy a car. A potential car owner must first prove they have a parking space before they are allowed to purchase a vehicle.
The government has found itself constrained in the situation. A think-tank based in New York, found the occupancy of car parks in two major commercial buildings in Guanzhou, a southern city in China, never exceeded 58%. However, people would much rather jostle for cheaper roadside spots. Officials have tried pushing people towards underground parking with roadside parking fees, but that ended up sparking public anger and residents protesting rising parking prices around their apartment blocks.
Many cities are heavily investing in public transport. Strict enforcement of no-parking zones and raising roadside parking fees to encourage people to use public transit. But in some cities people would rather park their cars illegally and risk the chance of a ticket than to park inside a car park two-thirds empty. Attendants noticed people have so much money that the fines do not matter to them, yet they refuse to spend the amount of money less than the ticket to park underground and rather pay the fine instead. China's parking problem is definitely a conundrum.