With capacity to accommodate parking for barely 15 per cent of the number of four-wheelers registered in the city, illegal parking on footpaths and roads have led to deaths of pedestrians and disrupted traffic movements in the city. Parking problems, identified as a prime concern by the Mumbai traffic police, are set to worsen over the next two years if unchecked. MEGHA SOOD, ALISON SALDANHA and MAYURA JANWALKAR take a look at the parking issues plaguing the city and the road ahead.
When the proposal to accommodate 19,000 underprivileged children being brought to watch the Indian Premier League season 7 match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab on May 4 was conveyed to the Mumbai traffic police, their first and only concern was transportation and parking of vehicles.
An hour after the children had stepped out of 450 Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses and walked into Wankhede Stadium on the day of the match, it became clear it was far easier to park public transport vehicles, as compared to the 1,500 private cars that arrived at the stadium that afternoon. Just before the match began, the traffic police were hard put to free up the surrounding arterial roads.
In a city that sees over 50,000 cars added each year on its roads, even a 15-minute roadblock due to shortage of parking space can lead to huge traffic snarls.
“On that day too, we had made arrangements, but were still left in a crisis. We had made parking arrangements for over 50 buses at Colaba bus depot and at a few other spots around the stadium. Managing these buses proved to be easier than parking the private cars. One bus carried spectators which would have otherwise arrived in 40 cars,” said B K Upadhyay, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic). “The situation would be manageable if public transport is preferred by residents. A good public transport system should be in place to solve the problem of decreasing parking space in the city,” he added.
To deal with the menace of illegal parking, the traffic police conducted a road audit in February this year, identifying 200 trouble spots that led to traffic logjams, some extending to a few hours during peak traffic. At some places, private school buses proved to be a problem. At other junctions, heavy vehicles remained parked for over a day. A drive was subsequently started to check illegal parking on roads, especially those that see traffic all through the day.
“We are still to make the drive strict since we understand the problems of the drivers. In the end, it’s space crunch,” Upadhyay said.
In 2013, around 21 pedestrians lost their lives and 168 were seriously injured in road accidents. “Almost 40 per cent of these accidents occurred continued…