Better ideas for England’s car parks are needed. Years ago when people had no cars, houses were built without garages or drives. So today these same houses often are in roads, packed with cars as there is nowhere else to put them. Around a third of all traffic is simply people driving around looking for car parking spaces, and parking is now so expensive, that sometimes it costs more to park, than to go on holiday.
Keep spare change on you, so you don’t end up paying more than you need at parking meters, which don’t give change. The 10-minute grace scheme means that if you are a little late back (say with elderly relatives or dogs), it’s worth challenging the fine, as often you won’t have to pay it.
If you are disabled (or a carer), Blue Badge costs around £10 (it’s free in Wales) and lasts up to 3 years. You need photo ID and proof of ID (and don’t leave it in your car, as people steal them). Transport for London Blue Badge has different rules (Taxicard offers reduced fares).
Innovative Ideas for Parking
- Use peer-to-peer services, where you park in someone’s driveway or empty car park (good income for small offices that shut at weekends): JustPark, Park on My Drive or Your Parking Space.
- Car and Away is a new service at Gatwick and Bristol airports. You drop your car off. Then instead of paying a car park, they rent it out to someone while you’re away, clean it and you pick it up again on return.
- In the US, cars are parked diagonally as it’s easier to get in and out of tight spaces, so you are less likely to prang other cars. It’s not true that supermarkets offer free parking to help the community (most have 2-hour limits, so you can’t walk around town after a big shop).
- Car-sharing clubs rent modern safe cars out by the hour; they pay for the car, MOT, road tax, insurance, cleaning – and most have prepaid fuel & breakdown cards. Each car is in use all day.
- Parking And The City is the condensed version of Donald Shoup’s book The High Cost of Free Parking. He recommends removing off-street parking requirements, charging right prices for on-street parking and spending meter revenue, to improve public transport.
- Portland (Oregon) charges using license plates, and this has given one Cambridgeshire farmer a good idea; he wants license numbers printed on fast food bags: that way any litterbugs can be traced and fined, to stop them dropping litter, which harms his animals. New Jersey number plates are illustrated by Mutts cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, with profits helping to fund local spay/neuter programs.