Of all the things motorists find stressful, parking is high on the list. While the problem of potholes causes more infuriation than any other single issue, it is parking which causes most conflict when it comes to the time spent not actually driving a vehicle. Leasing is becoming increasingly popular, at least in part, because it means drivers don’t have to worry about where they will be able to keep their car or van when they’re not actually in it. As the cost of living crisis bites ever deeper, it seems that institutions as well as individuals are looking for ways to save – or harvest – funds. Many motorists believe that, as usual, they are the ones caught in the middle.
The UK has a built in problem with parking. As one of the most heavily road reliant major economies in the world, there are simply nowhere near enough parking spaces for the three million plus vehicles registered to use its roads. This is a major problem because most of these vehicles only actually move 5% of the time; for the rest of it, they are parked. Meanwhile, the endemic housing shortage means that ever more properties are being shoe-horned into ever smaller spaces. While, at the start of the new millennium, new urban residential buildings catered for 1.1 vehicles per unit, this fell quickly to 0.6, and has been falling ever since.
Lack of residential provision inevitably leads to demand for on-road parking. With most British villages, towns and cities having evolved from eras of horse-driven transport, the fact is that roads are just too narrow, book-ended by junctions which are very easily blocked. All of this is a recipe for conflict, especially as city centre car park charges continue to rise at eye watering rates. Even residents with permits to park on their own streets are often finding that any rights they thought they had do not actually exist in law. It is no surprise that trying to resolve conflicts over on street parking take up a large proportion of local authority time.
On street parking can have a detrimental effect on vehicles, as well as causing stress and worry to their owners. Unnoticed damaged caused while trying to park in a confined space can lead to an automatic MOT test fail; while deliberate damage caused by aggrieved neighbours certainly will. There is even at least one recorded case of such a neighbour hiring a tow truck to remove an “offending” vehicle from the front of their property; the financial and legal implications of such actions are considerable, while the action itself illustrates how emotive these situations can become.
From another viewpoint, one resident of a terraced street in Birmingham had to resort to putting wheelie bins in on the roadway, in an effort to stop people parking directly outside their house. This was because they had work planned, and contractor needed access to carry out the work. The street in question is designated as a two way road, but it also has parking on both sides, which in practice means it is used as a one way street. It is also next to a school, which has no parking provision for its staff. Again, on-street parking has to take the strain, as do the street’s residents.
In another twist to the problems faced by motorists and local residents (which, in many cases, means the same thing), drivers are being warned that they face being fined for offences that they may not know exist. In particular, this refers to visibility at night. Man residential roads are still designated as part of larger schemes, which may mean a speed limit of 40 MPH. If this is the case, vehicle owners should beware of how they park at night.
The law says that side lights must be left on if the vehicle is facing away from traffic flow and is not parked in a designated area; or on any part of the road if it’s a foggy night. Very importantly, side lights also include number plate lights, all of which (plate included) must be free from obstruction; any such fault would also lead to an MOT test demerit. Although most local authorities do not enforce this rule vigorously, the fact is that the offence comes with a £75 fixed penalty notice. With stresses of on street parking already at a high pitch, this should be borne in mind.
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