LOCAL authorities in cities should occasionally visit small towns and take a look at how things are run by their counterparts there. Sometimes, if they are lucky, they may learn something useful.
Many years ago, before the digital countdown traffic lights arrived in the Klang Valley, they were already used in Malacca. From what I was told when I first saw one there, a particular junction in Malacca town had the highest accident rate among motorcyclists before the lights were installed.
Apparently, motorcyclists and some motorists tend to speed past the junction whenever the lights were amber, not knowing that the red light would come on in a split second.
When the digital countdown was installed, car drivers and motorcyclists were then able to estimate whether they could make it past the junction before the lights turned red and before traffic from the other side moved across the junction. This has reduced accidents tremendously.
Last week, when I was in Chukai, Kemaman, I decided to drop by Hai Peng coffee shop for roti paong (local coal oven baked bread) and its famous coffee. There were no parking bays along the road near the shop, so I parked at the open car park across the road.
If you have been to this car park, you will agree that this could be one of the most environment-friendly parking systems that can be adopted by local authorities in the Klang Valley, to add to their green effort.
This car park does not use tickets that often end up being discarded indiscriminately and choking drains.
The parking area is colour-coded. Each parking bay has a number. You only need to locate an empty bay, park, and note the bay number and colour of the section.
Then you walk to the electronic parking terminal that has the same colour code, punch in the duration you need to park and pay into the machine.
The machine does not issue tickets. The parking duration is instead displayed digitally on the terminal.
The parking enforcement officer only needs to check the meter for bays where the parking duration have expired and walk to the illegally-parked car to issue a summons.
I don't know if this system is implemented anywhere else in the country, but I have not seen it in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Klang or even Malacca.
Most parking meters I have come across issue tickets that motorists then had to display openly on the dashboard. Others, like Malacca, use pre-paid coupons that you have to scratch out and display on your dashboard.
Both systems are not environment-friendly since they use paper. Chukai's parking system is paperless and it means less discarded paper get into the drains and fewer trees need to be cut to make the coupons.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Chukai parking system is cheaper to maintain as well.