It’s time to get tough on the illegal parking that is blighting our streets
Towing vehicles away and deducting points from offenders’ licences are two possible solutions, now that our usual methods no longer work
For the third time this year, there is a need to call on authorities to take tougher action against illegal parking. Police have been carrying out blitzes in traffic black spots, issuing fines to an average of 4,200 cars a day. A proposal to increase penalties is also due for Legislative Council scrutiny. But ticketing drivers and making them pay more is not the solution to roads choked by doubled-parked vehicles, as the continuing problem proves.
The chauffeur-driven limousines blocking traffic in Central say it all; raising the fine from the present HK$320 to the proposed HK$480 is small change to well-heeled owners. With parking spaces in our busiest districts so few and expensive, ignoring the rules is sometimes worth the risk. Even increasing the penalty by multiples will have limited impact, so action that better fits the crime is needed. The frustration of commuters and people going about their everyday business having journeys delayed by narrowed or blocked roads is one matter, but the obstructing of emergency vehicles is quite another.
Our knee-jerk response has been stepped-up patrols and ticketing. That has netted more law-breakers, but the problem is not lessening and the number of complaints is rising. Ours is not the only city with illegally parked vehicles and congested roads, though, and inspiration abounds. Electronic road pricing, removing parking altogether, widening footpaths to make single-lane streets, incentives like free public transport in return for giving up car ownership and banning from particular areas vehicles other than buses and delivery vans are among solutions.
But there are also less disruptive ways of teaching drivers parking dos and don’ts. Having a policy of towing vehicles that are illegally parked to police compounds is a highly effective strategy used in many other cities; they can only be reclaimed during office hours for a high fee. Removing points for each offence committed from the licences of drivers also sends a powerful message. The usual methods of dealing with illegal parking are not effective, so it’s time to get tough.