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Is Pickles right on urban parking?

At Clearview Traffic, we came across an interesting article, in which Eric Pickles, the Conservative Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, made some challenging statements about changes to ease the pain of parking in our town and city centres – but is he right?

Double yellow parking lines

Pickles suggested that rules on parking on double yellow lines should be relaxed to allow people to park for up to 15 minutes on a ‘grace period’, so that they can nip into shops and collect items quickly.

There isn’t consensus on this within the Coalition, with Norman Baker stating the proposal isn’t workable. Part of the problem is that double yellow lines have not been deployed uniformly in accordance with guidelines – which has confused the understanding around what they are there for.

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As Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association, states: “Many double lines are there for historical reasons and could be lifted. There is plenty of opportunity to ease back on the signs and lines in many places, giving drivers short-term waiting bays instead, so they can stop briefly to buy a paper or loaf of bread.”

Decisions and U-turns

Before making further embarrassing decisions and U-turns, we should be reviewing how, when and why they are enforced, and local authorities should be validating whether the requirement for double yellow lines is still applicable in many areas.

It might mean more areas utilising double red lines for those key routes where it’s not acceptable or safe to stop and park for any period of time – or possibly the replacement of double yellow lines with single yellow lines, with areas clearly marked for loading and unloading.

The wholesale removal of double yellow lines is likely to result in more congestion, and a potential increase in incidents involving pedestrian casualties at certain times of the day.

Why is it an important issue?

The perceived cost of parking and local availability is seen as too inconvenience and expensive to many, and is blamed for shoppers not wanting to visit town and city centres.

We feel that this flies in the face of the need to remove drivers from town and city centres to remove the increasing burden of traffic congestion in the UK.

Also, it doesn’t seem to be joined-up with the long-term arguments for improving journey reliability, increasing road safety, reducing urban pollution and reducing traffic congestion.

Addressing parking space shortages

Eric Pickles suggested a change to address parking space shortage challenges, by relaxing planning permissions rules, so that homeowners who wish to rent out their private driveways would no longer need planning permission to do so.

It’s a good idea in principle, and websites such as www.parkatmyhouse.com could help to match supply and demand, although the responsibility for picking up any disputes remains a grey area.

Optimising the use of existing parking spaces

In terms of moving forward and addressing the issue of urban congestion, the optimisation of existing parking spaces and pro-active management presents a viable solution – particularly through the use of Smart Parking.

Solutions that can monitor parking bay usage, such as our Golden River M300 range, combined with the ability to alert incoming road users to where parking spaces exist via smartphone apps and sat nav applications could ease this burden.

These apps could direct road users to the nearest available parking space, whilst also empowering parking enforcement officers to more efficiently monitor areas where road users are over-staying and causing congestion.

If you’d like to find out more about our traffic data solutions, traffic data collection and traffic management systems, please feel free to contact us here.

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