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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 11:53pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Stiffer fines can only ease, not solve, Hong Kong's parking problem

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:04am

Illegal parking is a common problem in many cities. From New York to Tokyo, there are drivers who leave their vehicles illegally parked for convenience sake. But their convenience can be a nightmare to others who use the road. Not only does it slow down vehicle and pedestrian flow, it may also cause traffic accidents. The situation in Hong Kong is no different. What sets the city apart, however, is the low penalty. The driver can walk away with a mere fine of HK$320, compared with HK$2,000 for jay walking and HK$1,500 for littering. What is more baffling is that the level has not been adjusted for two decades. The case for a review is obvious.

The momentum has been renewed as the police weighed into the debate. More than 860,000 tickets were issued in the first 10 months of this year, up 13 per cent from the same period last year. It's unclear whether the rise reflects a worsening trend or vigorous enforcement. Whatever the case, the figures show there are reasons to be concerned.

The police are right in saying that the penalty is too low to deter non-compliance. For instance, drivers in Sydney face a much higher penalty, of A$607 (HK$4,300) for breaking parking rules. Offenders in New York pay US$60 to US$515, while Londoners will be fined the equivalent of HK$1,020 to HK1,660.

Illegal parking is unlikely to be eliminated even with a heavier penalty. There are the well-to-do who are always willing to pay for some convenience. But as the police said, the fine should be high enough to have some deterrent effect. The transport bureau should look seriously into the matter and the community can debate the appropriate level.

But the problem goes beyond penalties and compliance. With some 650,000 licensed vehicles, the city has more vehicles on the streets per kilometre than most cities. This is aggravated by a severe shortage of parking facilities. Only 198,000 of the 683,000 that exist are for public use. This includes 18,000 on-street parking metres. Given the shortage of parking spaces, illegal parking is likely to persist, but a steeper fine could deter breaches and hopefully, reduce the problem.


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The intractable illegal parking on roads is because there is the need to suit a purpose that either involves with people or goods. While people waiting other than for the handicapped or sick is excusable, no other people waiting should be allowed. Goods loading and unloading is very part of living and should be allowed but managed.
I propose that for all existing condition that change is not possible, use selective time to allow use of roadside at traffic down time period. If necessary, such activities can be even restricted to midnight. For any future building, loading area must be incorporated. Make this requirement to be part of the environmental traffic impact study for all new buildings or new use of buildings.
Roadside illegal parking is not an intractable problem. It is the lack of will of the government to solve the problem. Why?
One more assignment for CY Leung on livelihood issue in Hong Kong.
In Central today and travelling along Des Voeux Road. Traffic almost at a standstill and reduced to 1 lane because of illegal parking. No police or traffic wardens in sight. Why? If the fines are increased, more traffic wardens could be employed to strictly enforce traffic regulations. Why are Alphards allowed free reign to double park and slow down traffic? Melbourne caters for the rush hour as parking is strictly prohibited in the CBD and offending cars are towed away. The Government should introduce a similar policy here or will the overpaid civil servants be searching the compounds for their vehicles or having their ears bent out of shape by their over-privileged friends that their drivers can no longer block traffic?
'The driver can walk away with a mere fine of HK$320'
The illegally parked driver is not the person who has to pay the $320 fixed penalty - it is the owner of the vehicle who is responsible to pay. Yes, $320 is inadequate + pointless.
It is also true there are totally insufficient on street parking spaces - the overpaid Govt oafs should get off their b-sides & find more on-street designated parking availability. If Govt want money for vehicle licences they should provide adequate parking in proportion.
Now that the brown bombers are waiting 2 minutes 59 seconds before the idling vehicle drives away that is even less time for them to issue parking tickets. The fact the vehicle is most probably parked illegally + idling means they should get a parking ticket instead of waiting 3 minutes.
In busy areas like Central there should be a clamp+tow policy.
Ayaaa car stolen - call police - no, your car is at the pound - go to pound - find you do not have your insurance certificate - go home or office to get same - go to vehicle pound- no proof of ownership - go back home - go to pound - pound closed - come back tomorrow - pay the towing fee et al
Mega inconvenience inflicted on pedestrians now returned with a vengeance
This driver / owner will not park illegally again
So contract out the clamp+tow operation
Problem solved in one month
Once clamped you cannot just pay - the car will be lifted onto the back of a truck and taken to the pound.
I wrote this in response to Leo Lok's s letter in the "letter to the Editors " column ~ Space for vehicles is a problem for Hong Kong. It's time for Government faculties to look into "parking allocation" in buildings as a facility needed for commercial vehicles users especially those vehicles that are used for our daily living needs, like vehicles of movers company, delivery goods vans, vans for people with special needs, etcetera. Consider specially allocated spots on crowded streets for such vehicles that serve the public, and special alighting or pick up points for chauffeur driven vehicles. Sorry people who are chauffeured driven, you may need to inconvenient yourselves and walk a little distance. Increasing the fines will not be a problem for the super rich, but it will have an effect on those genuine roads users mentioned above whose livelihood involved vehicles. Let's all give ideas to government to improve our needs of our daily life for this space deprived city, Hong Kong.
make the fine $5000
don't want to pay? don't illegally park.
that will cover the cost of additional manpower


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