I understand the current consultation and strategy review is seriously flawed and unprofessional. lt is not showing any evidence of a coherent understanding of the issues to be resolved, nor presenting possible options and solutions for discussion.
I understand parking strategy to be a core part of the local authority’s Public Health and Planning strategies.
Specifically, the amounts and timing of parking need and demand have not been defined; there is no discussion of what causes need and demand and what options there might be.
I therefore recommend that no decisions are taken about parking until a comprehensive review has been completed. Solutions, working from a clearly defined set of principles will probably be locality based, may vary from street to street and specific destinations and will include all forms of parking, not only of powered vehicles and street based parking.
Defining the issues
ITDP have written:
In the last few decades a growing number of European cities have led the world in changing the direction of parking policy. European citizens grew tired of having public spaces and footpaths occupied by surface parking. Each parking space consumes from 15 m2 to 30 m2, and the average motorist uses two to five different parking spaces every day.
In dense European cities, a growing number of citizens began to question whether dedicating scarce public space to car parking was wise social policy, and whether encouraging new buildings to build parking spaces was a good idea. No matter how many new parking garages and motorways they built, the traffic congestion only grew worse, and as much as 50% of traffic congestion was caused by drivers cruising around in search of a cheaper parking space.
In the cities reviewed here, parking policy has been reoriented around alternative social goals. Some recent parking reforms are driven by the need to comply with EU ambient air quality or national greenhouse gas targets. Other new parking policies are part of broader mobility targets encouraging reductions in the use of private motor vehicles. While London, Stockholm, and a few other European cities have managed to implement congestion charging to reduce motor vehicle use, more are turning to parking.
Every car trip begins and ends in a parking space, so parking regulation is one of the best ways to regulate car use. Vehicles cruising for parking often make up a significant share of total traffic. Other reasons for changing parking policies were driven by the desire to revitalize city centers and repurpose scarce road space for bike lanes or bike parking.
The amount of parking available in a city is heavily influenced by public policy. On-street parking is governed by municipal or district policy, and off-street parking is generally controlled through zoning and building regulations. These are ultimately political questions: how much parking is built in new buildings, and how much public space should be dedicated to motor vehicle parking as opposed to other uses.
The impacts of these new parking policies have been impressive: revitalized and thriving town centers; significant reductions in private car trips; reductions in air pollution; and generally improved quality of life.
Progress in Europe on parking reform should not be overstated. Most cities still impose minimum parking requirements on developers, and few cities have imposed maximum parking requirements. While a growing number of cities have mandated charges for both on- and off-street parking, they generally charge rates that are too low. The most innovative European parking practices are discussed below as actionable measures that can be applied by any city government depending on their short- and long- term goals.”
The European Ministers of Transport
Have just made the following declaration
In and around Europe’s many growing urban centres, cycling is an essential tool for congestion relief. Both for the state and for citizens, cycling is the most cost effective transport mode after walking, as it produces massive positive externalities for society at little expenditure in terms of infrastructure and vehicles. When production, maintenance, operation and fuel are taken into account, cycling is the most greenhouse gas efficient transport mode of all. Considering that half of all passenger car trips made in most European cities are shorter than five kilometres and that more than half of all motorized cargo trips in EU cities could be shifted to bicycles, there is significant potential to increase cycling’s mode share and to improve quality of life.”
Would parking actually be an issue if the Local Authority were seriously researching the possibilities of mode shifts? For example, what was the earlier purpose of a recently demolished building where a school has just been built?
How much parking is there? What does it cost?
The above outlines the requirement to define carefully what it is that the parking strategy and review wishes to achieve. It must define clearly the existing parking provision in Redbridge from all sources, how it is used, maintained and paid for, the implications of how things are done now, and how things might be done.
For example, crossovers to parking in residential front gardens require planning permission, but it is possible the local authority is subsidising off street parking, as there are no charges for the future upkeep of the footpath over which the crossover goes. It is not obvious that something that assists a private individual should be paid for from the common wealth.
As planning permission for a crossover is the granting of a licence to drive on a footpath, an annual licence charge for the upkeep of the pavement would seem to be reasonable. This link shows what happens now and how it might be.
The crossover example is actually the local authority providing free parking, apart from the original build cost, and is discussed in the following link.
There would also seem to be major implications for the local authority under its Public Sector Equality Duty and also for the proper financing of local authority activities.
Decisions about parking charges should not only look at costs of on street parking, but should be part of a detailed chain of decisions that take into account and properly audit all the costs. The GLA has published research on car usage in London.
There are very strong indications that private car use in London is declining, and very careful planning can assist in this.
Parking is a form of storage, and as such its economic costs must be clearly defined. Is it actually needed? Why?
It is not obvious why other forms of storage have not been considered in the current review – why only cars parked on streets? What about large stores and outlets, leisure facilities, work places? What about bicycles, or mobility scooters at sheltered housing schemes?
This link asks what else might the space on streets be used for?
To conclude, some very interesting changes are currently being implemented in a neighbouring Borough. I recommend that their experience is looked at in detail.