Cars parked along both sides of busy roads are a common sight in the city. With the volume of traffic on the rise, these parked vehicles cause chaos. Traffic police, functioning on full alert, are towing away dozens of vehicles, much to the ire of commuters, who grumble about the absence of no-parking signs. Traffic police say they are doing their job but the commuter has little choice. Without designated parking spaces in the city, where do they park? Basement parking is mandatory, according to the BBMP but this rule is often flouted. Owners simply rent out their basements to commercial units instead. Evict these first, before a zero-tolerance policy is applied for commuters, report Aknisree Karthik and Mujahid Deputy
It’s a scene that is often played out in the city. An office-goer, Ravi Kumar, was on his way to work recently, when he pulled up at an ATM on J C Road to draw some cash to fill petrol. But as he parked his bike on the roadside and headed to the ATM, the traffic police towed it away in his absence. On returning, he panicked at seeing the vehicle gone, and nearby shopkeepers informed him that it had been towed away, leaving him flustered and angry.
His experience is not unique as many Bengalureans have their vehicles towed away after parking them on the roads and footpaths in the absence of an adequate number of parking spots to meet the demand from the growing number of vehicles in the city or the failure of the police to clearly designate no-parking zones.
While the traffic police say they are only doing their duty in towing away vehicles parked haphazardly on the roads, people complain they have little choice in the matter in the absence of proper parking areas in the city. Many believe that if the BBMP evicted all commercial units running in basements of buildings originally meant for parking, it may greatly help the city’s parking problem.
“It is very rare to find buildings with basements reserved for parking of visitors’ vehicles. They don’t care where we park our vehicles, but only about their business. The BBMP, which should ensure that the buildings fall in line on this count, doesn’t seem to care either,” says Mr Shankar, a resident of Malleswaram.
Brand guru, Harish Bijoor, believes the unplanned growth of the city is to blame, “ Bengaluru has grown far too unruly and in the process there is parking anarchy in the city. The BBMP and the traffic police must enforce zero tolerance for parking as if vehicles are parked on both sides of a four lane road, it is reduced to just two lane, which leads to slow traffic flow,” he notes, adding, “Parking on our arterial roads causes a block in the artery of our roads. This kind of wanton parking is traffic cholesterol, it needs to be cleared.”
Why aren’t there no parking signs?
“It’s common to see vehicles being towed away in the Central Business District every day. Most people, who park their vehicles in no- parking zones, do so unintentionally as they don’t find any signboards to guide them. The police don’t bother to install the no- parking boards and instead carry on with their towing-away drive,” grumbles Mr Mahesh, a regular commuter in the area. People, who are new to the CBD, find it even more difficult to find parking zones, according to him.
The nightmare for the people, whose vehicles are towed away by the traffic police, does not end there as they first need to make sure they have not been stolen, but towed away by the police. Once this is established, they have another Herculean task of locating the jurisdictional traffic police station to have the vehicle released.
“The jurisdictions of the traffic and law and order police stations are different, which makes it very confusing. There is no clarity on whom to approach if our vehicles are towed away,” says a commuter, Iqbal Ahmed.
“The law and order police station can easily be found as each area with a considerable population has only one. But in the case of a traffic police station, it covers two or three areas,” observes another vehicle user.
Many Bengalureans say they find the lack of parking and no- parking signboards across the city a huge disadvantage as it leaves them confused when trying to find a place to park their vehicles.
“Most of the roads in and around the Central Business District, for instance, have no proper parking signboards and people just park their vehicles alongside those that are already parked at a spot. And if they are lucky on their return, they find their vehicle where they left it. But if luck is not on their side, it may have been towed away by the traffic police,” observes one regular commuter, stressing that the problem can be resolved with better planning of parking and no-parking zones in the city.
Ask a senior traffic police officer about the confusion over the jurisdictions of traffic police stations and he says if anyone has a problem with locating a station or understanding its jurisdiction, all he or she needs to do is call the traffic control room for the required information.
Q&A with Gangambike Mallikarjun Bengaluru Mayor
‘Commercial units renting out basements’
Q Commercial units, which have marked their basements for parking in their building plans, seem to be flouting them openly, resulting in the parking of vehicles on roads and footpaths, that are later towed away by the traffic police.
Yes, we are aware of this. Many commercial units have resorted to this kind of a cheap tactic to fool the BBMP just to make money by renting out their basements.
Q If the BBMP is aware of this violation on such a scale, why is it not taking any action?
Before the code of conduct set in for the elections, a city- wide campaign was taken up under BBMP Commissioner, Manjunath to find the violators and take suitable action against them. But as the elections approached we had to suspend the action temporarily.
Q But why has the operation not resumed after the elections?
In zones like Mahadevpura, violators are being served individual notices to remove the commercial units and reserve the spaces for parking in accordance with the building plan. The drive needs to be expanded all over the city. I plan to discuss this with the chief engineers of the remaining zones to advise them start the drive in their jurisdiction too.