Bengaluru can’t ‘park’ its problems anywhere

Pay-and-park, app based parking facilities, reserved spots for women in the CBD – the city has been rife with answers to the growing space problem. Even so, parking is a major concern, with commercial buildings adding to the issue and denying visitors permission to park on their premises. The BBMP conducted a recce and found that parking areas are being used for generators and as rooms for security guards and housekeeping staff. While authorities are looking at smart parking systems and multi-level spaces, experts believe that this is a temporary solution and the answer lies in encouraging people to use public transport, reports Team DC

Time was when visitors to Bengaluru marvelled at its lovely weather. But now all they can seem to talk about is its traffic. Adding to the nightmare on the roads is the rise in the number of vehicles parked on them, especially around commercial and residential complexes that don’t have parking facilities for their visitors.

The scene is common not just in the Central Business District (CBD), but across the city. In fact, a number of commercial buildings have blatantly installed signboards denying visitors permission to park on their premises. While the BBMP has failed to keep a check on these establishments to ensure that they provide parking space for visitors as required under the law, it recently joined the city traffic police in cracking down on those that have put up these signboards.

Says a senior police officer from the traffic department, “The BBMP and a few officials from the jurisdictional traffic police stations  conducted a recce recently and summoned and warned the owners or  managers of the establishments that had installed these boards that they could be issued notices by the BBMP if they failed to provide parking space for visitors.”

The officer reveals the department has asked the BBMP’s town planning committee to issue the notices and penalise the owners or managements of these buildings if they continue to stop visitors from parking on their premises.

“We plan to carry out these surprise checks frequently  to ensure that the owners do not violate the law. This is a matter  of serious concern as the vehicles parked on roadsides obstruct traffic. When we ask the motorists to remove their vehicles, they tell us they are not allowed to park inside the apartment or shopping complex they are there to visit. So it is unfair to blame them. The onus lies entirely with the owners and managements,” he concludes.

An official of the BBMP’s town planning committee, says the issue has been raised several times in the council meeting and the civic agency is now considering imposing a huge fine on buildings that do not allow visitor parking.

Mayor Sampath Raj, for his part, says the recent recce of the buildings revealed that their parking area was used for generators, and rooms for security guards and housekeeping staff. “We will put a stop to this and  ensure these buildings provide adequate parking space for visitors,” he assures.

Soon, drivers to be penalised for using parking lights unnecessarily

A city resident, Dinesh Krishnamurthy, has had the worst experience when parking his  vehicle before a relative’s apartment as it was towed away not once but  twice. 

“I visit my relatives in this apartment with my old parents and whenever I try to park inside, the security guards ask me to leave my car outside as visitors’ vehicle are not allowed in.  I cannot blame the police, but the association running the apartment for my vehicle being towed away,” he grumbles.

 According to him, the apartment has provided for parking of its residents' vehicles in its basement , built a few rooms for the security guards and made space for a generator, a  water pump and a small play area for children, but  made no provision for parking of visitors' vehicles.

“The BMP should make sure that  every building provides parking space for visitors’ vehicles before  approving its plan. Anyone not following this rule should be penalised strictly,” he suggests.

Mr Mohan Kunjal, an associate manager at a well known shopping complex on Residency Road, admits people coming to it are upset when they don’t find parking in its grounds.  “Customers often complain about the lack of parking space and we do not have a satisfactory explanation to give as the parking lot is filled with vehicles of employees and other staff at the complex. Visitors have no choice but to park their vehicles on parallel roads and walk to the shopping complex,” he says.

In his view, its too late now for the complex to provide parking anymore as it doesn’t have room for expansion. “  Such details should have been kept in mind when it was being  built. In the end its we managers who are at the receiving end of customers. We are aware that the complex loses out on visitors because of the lack of parking space, but we cannot do anything about it,” he shrugs helplessly.

Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic),  R Hithendra, says the problem of roadside parking is rampant on busy stretches like MG Road, 100 feet road, Indiranagar, Old Madras Road, Koramangala, HSR Layout, and JP Nagar main road, among others, as many commercial establishments here have provided no parking space for their customers.

“It has been observed that people park their vehicles on the roadside and go away to pick up a pizza or an ice cream or do a bit of shopping. We warn them to remove the vehicle or tow it away if  we find it in a no parking zone. But we cannot do much when the driver is seated inside with the parking lights on. We will soon start penalising them for using the parking lights unnecessarily,” he warns. 

Guest Column: ‘More parking means  more congestion’

Dr Ashish Verma
associate professor at the Department of Civil Engineering, IISc

Firstly, why do we need more parking space? If there is more of it, it will only invite more vehicles in an area,  leading to more traffic congestion. Instead, people should be discouraged from taking out their vehicles and encouraged to use public transport.

Also, arrangements can be made for parking of vehicles in peripheral areas  from where the drivers can use cycles or e-vehicles to get to their destinations.  Customers too can cycle to shops,  without worrying about parking. If they used cars they would have to find enough parking space and shell out money for it.
 Take a look at Brigade road, MG Road and Commercial street where there is constant conflict between vehicles and pedestrians. As these areas are known for shopping, the government should follow the European rule, and give priority to pedestrians, and keep vehicles out. This way people can walk around and enjoy their time shopping. It will also help in keeping the environment clean and the air less polluted.

We need to bring about awareness among the public about opting for such little changes, which can make a huge difference to the whole eco-system.

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