The thromde will soon do away with parking spaces on Norzin Lam and keep in abeyance a plan to completely close the street to vehicles.
The move was made after consulting with business owners and the community living in the area.
The thromde is to be commended for making a decision following a discussion involving those who will be affected by the closure of the street.
Many, especially businesses located on the street, must be relieved that the move to turn Norzin Lam into a pedestrian street is currently suspended.
Norzin Lam can be turned into a pedestrian street eventually, but that must happen, only once adequate arrangements are in place.
If the thromde is considering building infrastructure that would render the highway through Norzin Lam inaccessible to vehicles, then it would be expected that all buildings along the street should first have access to a secondary motorable road for emergency services like fire engines, ambulances, and police. Utility vehicles should also still be able to reach these buildings at all times, along with mass public transport, i.e. buses.
Once road connectivity is ensured then perhaps the street could be closed permanently, allowing some to walk and enjoy the street at a leisurely pace, and some who are in a hurry to still be able to use their vehicles to reach businesses along Norzin Lam.
On doing away with the parking, some issues of concern remain.
Vehicles will be able to park only if they have their hazard lights blinking and for a maximum of 15 minutes.
Besides Norzin Lam becoming one bright flashing lights street, the move will undoubtedly de-congest the road. Many would welcome this development.
However, one consequence of doing away with the parking spaces would also mean that parking along other roads, whether parking slots have been designated or not, would increase. Already most roads are clogged with parked vehicles. While Norzin Lam may be decongested, the rest of Thimphu may get more congested.
Some other questions remain. Will there be enough traffic police personnel to ensure vehicles aren’t parked for more than 15 minutes? Shouldn’t traffic police personnel be assigned with more important jobs instead of monitoring how long vehicles are parked for?
Perhaps, the parking fee collectors should remain on the street and continue monitoring parked vehicles but ensure vehicles aren’t parked for more than a certain time period. If a vehicle exceeds the time, then maybe, it could be brought to the attention of the traffic police.
The amount of time a vehicle can park must also be reexamined. Some businesses like restaurants will see a drop in income if their clients cannot park for at least an hour or two. Having in place a system where the parking duration is strictly monitored but limited to a few hours, could solve the problem of freeing up parking spaces for both residents and customers.
If parking for long periods is a problem, perhaps, the rates could be increased with longer durations incurring heavier fees.