A bill has been filed in Congress that will require a prospective car buyer to have a garage before he/she is allowed to own a vehicle.
Authorities who are trying to sort out the mess that is Metro Manila traffic have overlooked the fact that many streets are now outdoor parking lots. Where I live, motorists are forced to use the middle part of the two-lane one-way street because vehicles are parked on both sides morning, noon and night.
Pedestrians have to wait in the middle of the street to get a ride in public utility vehicles. The view of the sidewalk and waiting commuters is blocked by vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
This situation is true in many parts of Metro Manila, and local governments seem helpless or do not care that motorists have to squeeze through double-parked vehicles.
When traffic crawls on major streets, motorists can hardly use alternate routes because parked vehicles clog the sidestreets.
Some people have even “grabbed” portions of sidewalks to extend their garages to accommodate more vehicles or simply to expand their property. Again, government authorities do not seem to notice that pedestrians risk life and limb by walking in the middle of the street because sidewalks have been claimed by some property owners.
I find it incomprehensible that people who live in crumbling homes would rather spend their money on a car than on decent housing. In our neighborhood, for instance, getting a ride is not a serious problem. The LRT is within walking distance and jeepneys, buses, tricycles and pedicabs are all readily available.
The long line of parked vehicles day and night on our street keeps jeepneys and taxis from stopping properly on the roadside to load and unload passengers. All it takes is for one vehicle to stop in the middle of the road to hold traffic up for several minutes.
In filing Bill 5098, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian very accurately noted that vehicles parked on the streets contribute to traffic congestion.
The congressman, according to newspaper reports, said, “Motor vehicle owners should be made to provide a permanent parking space for their vehicles (as) the street is primarily intended for vehicles or foot traffic… Any financially able purchaser of a motor vehicle can be presumed to be able to provide a parking facility for his vehicle.”
The bill penalizes not just people who buy motor vehicles even if they do not have garages, but also enforcement agency people who tolerate the offense.
I do not know what other provisions the bill contains, but if he has not done so yet, Gatchalian should study street parking regulations abroad.
In Hoboken, New Jersey, for instance, residents can pay for permits to park on designated parts of their street. Those parking sections are clearly marked and residents have to display their permits.
Other streets have sections designated for parking but, again, those who wish to park for more than a few hours have to get the necessary permit.
All streets, according to the Hoboken website, are closely monitored through license plate recognition technology; motorists cannot avoid being towed by simply moving from one area to another.
People who park on the street without regard for other road users should be made to pay for causing inconvenience to other taxpayers. Unless they have bought the space where they park, they should pay “rent.”
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido @inquirer.com.ph