THE Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ) has introduced an innovative way to curb illegal parking.
The local city council installed 12 CCTVs at strategic locations around town, equipped with loudspeakers.
Whenever a car pulls up along the curb and parks illegally, an officer monitoring the area remotely turns on the loudhailer and asks the driver to move the vehicle.
In some ways, it may seem absurd, but the move is claimed to have reduced traffic and cleared obstructions in the area.
Petaling Jaya Mayor Datuk Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain last week was reported as saying that the CCTVs and hailers were part of a new initiative by MBPJ to improve the flow of traffic in the town area, and make Petaling Jaya a “Smart Town”.
“The council took the initiative of installing 12 CCTV cameras with speakers to handle obstruction especially those caused by double parking,” he was reported as saying.
He added that the initiative had resulted in a reduction of traffic offences in the area.
“Until February, a total of 1,295 drivers obstructing the road removed their vehicles after hearing instructions from MBPJ officers via the speaker,” he said.
Parking woes in the Klang Valley are undoubtedly caused by the overwhelming numbers of passenger cars being registered each month.
September may have seen a 20.8 per cent drop in overall vehicle registrations, but 40,981 units were still sold throughout the country.
A significant portion of these goes straight to the cities, causing congestion in places like the Klang Valley.
In Bangsar, the Kuala Lumpur City Council has embarked on an aggressive campaign to clamp illegally parked cars in the area.
Fines are collected on the spot, and wrongdoers stand to walk away RM100 poorer after one of these clamping sessions.
This initiative, and the constant surveillance in Petaling Jaya by MBPJ, seem to be working. However, there needs to be a long term strategy to handle the issue.
The authorities involved need to study why people park illegally in the first place. Are there enough parking lots in these areas? In Bangsar at least, it is quite difficult to find a parking bay during peak hours. Peak times are usually the lunch hour (between 1pm and 2pm) and, of course, after 6pm, when the crowds start to congregate in the popular hangouts.
Why do people double park? Is it because there are no parking lots a reasonable distance from their destination?
Do local councils care about providing sufficient parking lots?
DBKL stirred up a storm in May this year when they announced that it was looking at ways to disallow parking bays in KL buildings to reduce road traffic and encourage the use public transportation.
This policy of reducing parking bays may be counterproductive though.
The work of researcher Donald Shoup (2005) discovered that cruising for curbside parking was a major contributor to traffic congestion in certain areas of major cities. According to the literature, up to 30 per cent or even higher of cars on city streets during the day are cruising for parking. In other words, a third of all cars going around the average city block are looking for that elusive parking space.
By not providing enough parking spaces, are we solving the problem, or are we still just going around in circles?