BGC set to clamp down on illegal parking—literally

DESIGNATED DRIVER - Kap Maceda Aguila - The Philippine Star
BGC set to clamp down on illegal parking�literally

A view of the Bonifacio Global City command center and its bank of CCTV monitors Photo by Kap Aguila Maceda

Did you know that up to 80,000 vehicles negotiate the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) road network daily? Interestingly, 80 percent of these merely pass through the property as they ultimately access major arteries such as C5 and EDSA.

This, of course, in no way detracts from BGC’s eminent status as a financial, commercial, and residential center – once fancied as an adjunct to the Makati Central Business District. The former Fort Bonifacio is itself now a bustling hub of activity and is also bedeviled with many of the problems associated with success.

Last week, officials of the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) and the Bonifacio Estate Services Corporation (BESC) held a roundtable discussion with members of the media to share recent efforts and forthcoming plans that are part of BGC’s so-called “pedestrian-priority program,” along with a renewed push for traffic alleviation.

Speed bumps

Recently going viral on social media platforms were the new speed bumps installed in high-pedestrian traffic locations. Reactions ranged from relief to annoyance. “I’m sure you’ve heard about the speed bumps,” said FBDC marketing and community relations manager Sean Luarca. “Rest assured that we did our research and that these (speed bumps) are aligned with international standards.” A few photos had been posted online showing scuff marks on the bumps – a result of vehicles’ undersides scraping against the asphalt obstacles.

“We understand that some people had negative reactions because (our speed bumps) are a little more abrupt than the usual speed humps,” continued Luarca. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about protecting our pedestrians.”

Replying to a question from STAR Motoring, BESC general manager Jun Galvez said that the speed bumps are a standard four inches high, but were designed to be more severe because they are aimed at making vehicles come to a full stop. “On Burgos Circle, we’ve made adjustments not to the height but the flaring,” he narrated. This flaring has lessened the severity of the bump, although Galvez rued vehicles are “gliding over it again,” instead of making a full stop.

As for the crosswalks connecting the High Street zones, Luarca rued that the speed tables – flat-topped midblock traffic calming devices that raise the entire wheelbase of a vehicle to reduce its speed – have not worked perfectly according to plan, hence the need for the speed bumps.

Pedestrian-priority marshals

To further drive the message home that BGC is serious about protecting its walking public, Luarca reported that they have partnered with the Taguig City government and the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT) to deploy 24 so-called “pedestrian-priority marshals” – all deputized volunteers – in key intersections. “Their main role is to specifically aid pedestrians in crossing, and they will be apprehending motorists who do not stop for pedestrians,” she said.

Wheel clamping

Those used to playing cat and mouse with BGC’s tow trucks are in for a rude awakening by the second quarter of 2018. BESC’s Galvez revealed that wheel-clamping operations are set to begin by then to decisively crack down on illegal parking. Also supported by the local government of Taguig, the clamping is “meant to complement existing towing operations” as BGC is overwhelmed by motorists who needlessly contribute to congestion by parking/waiting even in high-traffic areas.

Galvez told STAR Motoring that there used to be an “unspoken five-minute rule,” but a lot of motorists have abused this by just going around the block and parking again by the curb – expecting a fresh five minutes. “There’s no parking, and no waiting,” he declared simply. “We will be more strict… especially since parking slots are not an issue in BGC.” Tickets for obstruction will be issued to erring drivers who wait in their vehicles; cars parked without drivers will be towed.

Ample parking supply

Officials debunked the notion that there is a shortage of parking in BGC. “That’s actually incorrect,” maintained Luarca. “We designed the city in such a way that, from any point within the city center, there is parking for you five to 10 minutes away. The problem is that people don’t want to walk.”

Added FBDC deputy head for commercial operations Myra Ocampo, “The building code of the Philippines requires all building developments to provide one slot per 100 square meters of development floor area. In BGC, all buildings are required to provide more than that – one parking slot per 70 square meters.” The free BGC App (on iOS and Android) educates and helps “motorists easily find the nearest available parking area through real-time information.” Ocampo stated that there are 5,000 public-access parking spots within the city center, and that BGC officials are still looking at growing that number.

The future now

In a release, BGC asserted that it has “an adaptive traffic system that allows traffic lights to self-adjust their timing based on actual traffic flow. Before any new traffic scheme is implemented in BGC, it is tested using a traffic simulation software that analyzes its effect on traffic flow. This is done without impeding actual traffic.”

Meanwhile, “a state-of-the-art command center… screens real-time CCTV footage to promptly react to incidents. BGC marshals undergo regular training through the Security Transformation Initiative. BGC has begun equipping marshals with body cameras to ensure proper enforcement.”

Contactless apprehension of traffic-rule violators is something the folks at BGC are still looking at pending coordination considerations between them and agencies like the MMDA. For now, the imminent next chapter, according to Galvez, is video analytics. This means they will now have the capability for automated functions, such as alerting personnel when a vehicle is idle or parked for more than five minutes.

At the end of the day, the message is clear: BGC is focused on solving its traffic woes – right now. “We’re watching you,” Galvez said with a smile.

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