How everything should function: Learning from Tesco’s Parking Lot

You see this photo here?

2014-04-30 11.32.09

This is outside the Tesco Superstore here in Penang. You’ll notice on the sign that it says “motorcycle parking” but underneath it is a picture of a car.

Well, Penang drivers are a force of nature and eventually Tesco wisely relented.

Here’s what happened.

When Tesco opened a couple of years back, a ramp entrance into the store leads directly to the parking spots you see in the photo. Cars could pull up the ramp and park immediately in front of the building.

About thirty meters down on the right side Tesco put in some motorbike parking, but the motorbike parking was about 25 meters too long of a walk to the main door, so motorcyclists started parking directly opposite the door, right beside the car spots in the photo. The problem was that the bike parking kind of clogged up the ramp entrance.

Eventually, Tesco chained that area off so motorbikes could not park there. They had to go down 30 meters and park in the legitimate motorbike parking space. However, remember the distance to the front door? Motorcyclists apparently do not like walking. That’s why they are on two wheels.

Undaunted, the cheeky motorcyclists started parking in a new spot – directly in front of the front door. Yes, directly in front, as in you would have to walk through a sea of motorbikes to walk into the door. Tesco tried to combat that with “No Parking” signs, but apparently Penang motorcyclists don’t like to walk and don’t know how to read. The signs did nothing to prevent them from parking there.

So Tesco had to make a choice: should they double-down on their enforcement and start locking the wheels of the motorcyclists and make them pay a find, or do they give in and admit defeat?

Luckily, they admitted defeat. They kicked out all of those cars which were legally parking in the spots from the photo above. They repainted the lines and gave the motorcyclists the choice spots directly in front of the building.

This is proper governance in action. Instead of just enforcing a policy for the sake of enforcing a policy, the policy, which wasn’t working, was changed to meet the needs of an important constituency. Do you have any idea how many motorcyclists live in Penang?

It wasn’t a matter of public safety. It wasn’t a matter of great importance. It was a simple matter which was made better by listening to the people.

Now I am the beneficiary of a new motorbike parking spot. I must publicly thank all of the law-breakers which brought about this wonderful new scenario.

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