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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 6, 2015
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Dash to Deadline
with Eli Tajanlangit

Does the parking ban really help?

It has been over three months since City Hall ordered the Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. ban on parking along Lacson and Araneta streets, the two major avenues of the city and I think it is time to assess if it is indeed working as it was envisioned.

That it has eased the traffic in Lacson and Araneta I think nobody can argue, although now that it is no longer hot news, gridlock still happens along these roads from time to time, courtesy of drivers who must believe they are exempted from the rule. These drivers cause the usual traffic City Hall had wanted to address when it declared the ban.

Now more than three months into the implementation, we have to ask: is it effective? Is it wise? By far the only traffic problem the ban has addressed is the one on Lacson and Araneta, and in fact, it has not really totally solved the problem.

So the question is: is the ban worth the inconvenience, and even the lost business in the area? Is the better traffic flow on these streets worth the lost business and opportunities in the area?

The questions assume more significance if we consider that the ban affects the area that has been declared Tourism Strip in 1997 and has slowly been earning a good rep among visitors and tourists to the city. You also have to consider that in the wake of its declaration as Tourism Strip, businesses in the area have in fact sunk in their money in building and renovation, precisely to suit the label Tourism Strip. It is more than coincidental that since 1997, more restaurants and entertainment places have opened in the area. Indeed, this was one example of the private sector following the directions of government: it took the city government then under former Mayor Bing Leonardia with Councilor Homer Bais a simple declaration of how they envisioned the place to be, and businessmen followed suit. Of course aside from the declaration as Tourism Strip, the Electric MassKara was there to boost the tourism pull of the place.

It is just sad, however, that few of the investors of our Tourism Strip included parking space in their plans; otherwise, there really wouldn't be a problem there now

But really: while the parking ban may have helped ease traffic flow in the area, it might, in fact, also have thrown a monkey wrench on the momentum of the Tourism Strip. We may have imperiled a major tourism effort that had all indications it was working.

You have to consider, too, that, aside from Lacson and Araneta streets, we continue to have traffic problems in the city. The reasons for these are myriad, but the point here is the parking ban's positive impact is limited.

There is no actual count on the volume of their businesses and sales, but perhaps the Lacson Street operators can join this conversation and tell us the impact of the parking on them. After all, they are the ones most affected by this.

I know, however, that my dining crowd refuses to go to Lacson for lunch, knowing they will have a problem parking, and they have to walk under the murderous heat of the sun to get to the dining tables.

Perhaps City Hall can examine the parking ban and see what other measures can be done to address the traffic problem, not just along Lacson and Araneta but in all parts of Bacolod.*

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