Over the past few months there have been many articles in the press about local councils’ imposing parking restrictions to help improve the flow of traffic and make parking more readily available. This includes Brighton Council’s attempt to make parking available for visitors to Preston Park, Nottingham and Leicester taking very different approaches to parking restrictions, and Westminster Council scrapping its parking charge after failing to alleviate congestion problems in the area. When I received a letter from my council telling me parking restrictions were now being considered in my area it prompted me to look long and hard at the different types of parking restrictions and their relative merits. Each type of restriction targets different types of road user to prevent certain types of parking behaviour, but which one is fairest?
In response the Council has suggested a number of possible solutions:
Double yellow lines on one side of the road
- Waiting restrictions to prevent road users parking on the road at certain periods of the day
- 24 hour controlled parking zone with permit parking for residents
- 2 hour controlled parking zone with permit parking for residents
- Local residents who do not commute by car and leave their car parked on the roads
- Local residents who commute by car
- Parents dropping their children off at the local school
- Suppliers / customers of local businesses
- Non-residents parking in the area to use the railway station
- Non-residents commuting into the area to work in town
The proposed solution to eliminate one of the problems, parking on pavements, is to limit parking to one side of the road in the areas where this issue occurs. Imposing this restriction on Spencer Gate and Sandridge Road solves the problem but roughly halves the parking capacity on these roads.
Like many areas near city centres and close to stations, extra pressure is placed on my area by large numbers of commuters parking on the roads during the day while they take the train into work. Arguably the council should endeavour to ensure that parking is available to local residents so the introduction of additional parking restrictions may be required to restrict the number of non-residents parking in the area.
The situation improves for residents who commute to work; their chance of being able to park on their own road increases from around 50% up to 70%. However, the situation becomes worse for residents who leave their car parked on the road most of the time and only make occasional journeys; their chances of being able to park on their own road are now below 50% and they have a 5% chance of being unable to find any parking.
The analysis of these few options does not present a clear answer, but what is clear is that small changes, even to a single road can have major impacts on the availability of parking. Eliminating one problem can easily create another, and if councils want to make parking available to both residents and local business then they will have to consider their options very carefully.
It may not be a popular solution but, if other charge- free solutions prove equally ineffective, residents may have to accept the prospect of paying for permits in order to ensure there will always be space available for them to park.