x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Parking to become easier in capital

Almost 700 new spots are to be made available in Al Falah as new carpark is formed and roads are rerouted.

Extra parking spaces have been created by either turning two-way streets into one-way roads or by using the existing extra space on two-way roads.
Extra parking spaces have been created by either turning two-way streets into one-way roads or by using the existing extra space on two-way roads.

ABU DHABI // Drivers on the hunt for parking in the capital will now have almost 700 additional spots available to them in Al Falah.

The new spaces are bordered by Al Falah Street, Hazza Bin Zayed Street, Al Salam Street and Al Najda Street, Mawaqif officials said yesterday.

A new parking area, behind the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, where the Al Falah Medical Clinic once stood, has been formed, creating 220 parking spaces. Rerouting the inner roads in the area also formed an additional 453 spots.

A number of spots were created by either turning two-way streets into one-way roads or by using the existing extra space on two-way roads, said Najib Al Zarooni, the general manager of Mawaqif.

"By doing this not only do we get more parking spaces, but we also reduce congestion and accidents," he said.

Different parking orientations were used, including vertical, horizontal and angular plots, to make efficient use of the space available.

"Angular parking allows us to add more spaces, and also forces motorists to follow the direction of the road since it's difficult to park in an angular spot if you're coming from the wrong side," Mr Al Zarooni said.

While officials acknowledged the demand for parking spaces in the city, they also said that paid parking was also part of a strategy to move people out of their private vehicles and into public transportation.

"If we meet the demand by 100 per cent, then no one will use the buses or the upcoming metro. We're working in parallel with the Department of Transport to meet the Abu Dhabi vision," he said.

"Part of the problem is that people don't want to walk; they want to park right at their doorsteps. International standards show that people can walk between 300 and 500 metres to their destination."

The climate did play a role but only during part of the year, officials said. They added that other countries where public transportation was prevalent also experienced poor weather conditions, such as ice, snow and rain.

"For example, the heat could be easier to handle than walking in rain," Mr Al Zarooni said. "We need to promote a walking culture."

Stringent measures were being taken to ensure that Abu Dhabi residents followed the parking rules, Mr Al Zarooni said.

About 280 inspectors are roaming the field, making sure that motorists are abiding by parking laws. Offenders are subject to fines and vehicle impoundment.

In the past month alone, 90 vehicles had been towed, said Ahmed Al Hammadi, the head of projects and maintenance at Mawaqif.

"We are focusing on vehicles that park in areas dedicated to those with special needs, those that block fire hydrants and access to emergency service vehicles, as well as those that block legally parked vehicles," he said.

All penalised vehicles, whether towed or fined, must be photographed for documentation and evidence, Mr Al Hammadi said.

In the sector near the Central Market, at the corner of Airport Road and the Corniche, people recently complained that there was a significant shortage of parking spaces, and those who flouted regulations were not being penalised. Officials said yesterday they were investigating the issue.

"We are looking at ways to solve the problem," Mr Al Zarooni said. "We must first find a solution before we begin enforcement."

Motorists whose vehicles have been towed must pay a Dh500 impound fee as well as the penalty fee, which depends on the type of offence. An additional Dh100 is charged for each day the vehicle is stored at the DoT impoundment centre.

Money generated from the parking scheme, whether in the form of fines or ticket payment, was funnelled towards parking infrastructure, Mr Al Zarooni said.

"At this point we are investing more than we are making," Mr Al Zarooni. "Whatever money we generate we are using on improving the parking situation."

In Al Khalidiya, for example, where the Mawaqif scheme had significantly improved the parking situation and cleared the roads, officials said police had complained that drivers were speeding down inner roads at speeds of 80kph. To prevent this, Mawaqif installed speed bumps.

New services would also prevent trips to the payment machines, Mr Al Zarooni said. The phone text service, for example, allows users to register online and pay via text message, and also alerts users 10 minutes before their payment period expires.

Other electronic services, such as online payment, are designed to make life easier for Mawaqif users.

"Rather than displaying a ticket on the windshield, the inspector will simply scan the licence plate and bring up information about the vehicle. Everything will be interconnected to a network."

The new payment methods would be introduced by the end of this year, officials said.

mismail@thenational.ae