Latvians forced to park too tightly, initiative suggests

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Economics, will have to revise the regulation of public parking spaces near shopping malls, the government agreed Tuesday, April 16.

The "Don't Scratch the Car - Ask for More Parking" initiative on wider parking spaces was submitted to the Parliament in February last year. The authors of the initiative drew attention to frequent accidents in parking lots, stressing that the requirements in the legislation on the width of parking spaces do not correspond to the size of modern vehicles.

According to the Latvian Motor Insurers'  Bureau (LTAB), 6,442 accidents in parking lots have been reported to insurance companies from 2017 to 2022 (1,010 accidents in 2022).

The highest number of accidents occurred in car parks in Riga near the "Spice" shopping centre, in Ādaži near the "Apelsīns" shopping centre, in Liepāja near the "Rietumu centrs", in Daugavpils near the "Ditton nams", in Jelgava near the "Valdeka", in Valmiera near the "Valleta".

These accidents resulted in claims of €5.09 million, of which the average claim was €790.12 and the highest claim was €16,561.69.

LTAB pointed out that these are only the recorded accidents, but a significant number of accidents remain unrecorded (up to 70% according to the State Police estimates), minor accidents are not reported because the damage is minor or it is not possible to identify the person who caused the accident.

At the same time, it is suspected that claims are often filed for accidents that occur outside shopping center car parks, but the location of the accident is the shopping center car park. The reliability of the available data could therefore be questioned, the report points out.

Currently, according to the regulations, parking space is calculated on the assumption that one car requires approximately 25 square meters for parking, access, and egress.

There are also national recommended parking widths of 2.5 meters for easy access and egress and 2.3 meters for difficult access and egress. 

LTAB, one of the authors of this initiative, notes that, by comparison, in Estonia the standards set a minimum width of 2.6 to 2.7 meters and a length of 5 meters, while elsewhere in Europe the recommended minimum width for a car parking space is 2.5 meters.

Moreover, the standard in Latvia was developed in 2002 and the parameters of cars have changed considerably since then, e.g. in 1974 a Volkswagen Golf I was 1.61 metres wide and in 2012 a Volkswagen Golf VII was 2.03 metres wide.

The LTAB considers that the most convenient parking arrangement is the 'herringbone' or diagonal arrangement of vehicles at a width of 2.5 meters.

The responsible ministries will now have to review the recommendations. Meanwhile, the Economics Ministry has stated that it does not think a change in regulation is necessary, whereas the Environment Ministry said that specific solutions must be discussed individually.

The institutions involved agree that in order to address the issue of safer parking in public car parks, it would be necessary to clearly define the respect of legislation and standards in the development and implementation of planning documents and possibly make recommendations for the revision of parking width standards.

The authorities consider that municipalities should inform developers of the need to pay attention to parking widths and, where possible, design parking spaces with a 'herringbone' layout. 

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important