As Bengaluru’s traffic grows with every passing year, the government continues to come out with old solutions of flyovers and subways to deal with it, while doing nothing about taking preventive measures like banning roadside parking that eats into road space. What has been done about providing the promised multi-level parking facilities? The BBMP should take a leaf out of Church Street and clearly mark a parking space and pedestrian space. What will it take for the BBMP and traffic police to get this right? Aknisree Karthik reports.
While the government tries hard to give the impression that it is concerned about the increasing traffic on Bengaluru’s roads with Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G. Parameshwar once again talking of building a steel flyover from Chalukya Circle to Hebbal, it is not doing the obvious : Remove roadside parking, which could make room for more vehicles and ease the congestion in the city.
If traffic crawls in Bengaluru both during peak and non- peak hours today, a lot of the blame has to be put on roadside parking, which takes away a good amount of space on the roads. Motorists may fume at the haphazard parking, but when it comes to parking their own vehicles, they are only too willing to become party to the practice, squeezing in their cars wherever possible on the roads.
It's common to find cars and bikes parked not only on the roadside, but on footpaths too, some of them near homes or buildings that have not provided a parking facility in their own grounds as required by the law.
Mobility expert and former advisor to the state government on infrastructure, M.N. Srihari has often pointed out that half of Bengaluru’s traffic troubles could end if roadside parking is done away with, but his advice has obviously fallen on deaf ears, going by the situation on the ground in the city.
So bad is the problem in some areas that vehicles are parked down the length of the road from its very start, making it difficult for other vehicles to turn left or right, complains Mr Abdul Khader, a medical representative, whose job demands extensive travel in the city.
People like Darshan, a resident of Malleshwaram, which is riddled with parking issues, point out that going by the BBMP’s building bylaws every commercial building should mandatorily have basement parking for people arriving in their vehicles for shopping or otherwise.
“Unfortunately, this bylaw is only on paper as not even 10 per cent of commercial complexes in the city have basement parking. Commercial buildings are majorly responsible for the increasing roadside and footpath parking in the city. They use the parking space to build more shops and make more money,” Mr Darshan regrets, observing angrily that the BBMP, which should take action against these buildings, prefers to look the other way.
While the government is now building a Metro Rail and pitching for a suburban rail, many believe it is acting a little too late. “It should have planned for these mass transportation modes a long time ago, anticipating the growth of the city. Planners have totally lacked in vision,” complain disgruntled Bengalureans, who have little hope of things changing given the poor urban planning the city has been a victim of for years.
Where are multi-level parking lots?
“Bengaluru has two kinds of parking problems. One, a complete shortage of parking space due to the proliferation of cars and bikes in the city and two, arterial roads being used for parking. The second is a bigger concern. The BBMP must come up with a professional paid parking regime and ban parking on public roads,” says branding expert, Harish Bijoor, echoing the views of many Bengalureans.
While the obvious solution to roadside parking are multi-level parking complexes, the BBMP claims its plans to build them at 18 locations have not taken off due to opposition from the locals. Although Bengalureans are only too willing to park their vehicles in multi-level facilities for a fee, the city currently has only two parking complexes at J C Road and K G Road. Work on a third multi- level parking complex near the former Central Prison is limping along.
Meanwhile, busy areas like Chickpet, Gandhinagar, Majestic, Malleshwaram, Kormangala, Indiranagar, Commercial Street and Magrath Road are crying out for such parking complexes as shoppers have a hard time finding parking for their vehicles in their absence.
“We have no choice to use our own vehicles to get to these areas as it is hard to carry our shopping back in autos or the Metro. But when we get there we find hardly any space to park as the lanes are filled with vehicles of the shopowners and their staff,” laments Ms Nithya, a techie, adding, “We have to circle the area for at least half- an -hour before we can find parking space.”
But ask a BBMP official and he comes up with the stock answer: “We will speed up the construction of the multi-level parking at Gandhinagar.”