11 Jan 2024

Parking Conundrums

"You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine’.”
Tommy Cooper, comedian

Our roads are increasingly overcrowded, our residential streets are lined with parked cars and parking in town centres is strictly limited. It is not surprising, therefore, that parking has become an area of contention, particularly between harassed motorists and beleaguered residents. Time pressures and frustration are all added to the mix, and tensions consequently run high. These can sometimes break out in bad-tempered parking arguments, but more usually simmer beneath the surface, the fuel for much resentment and bitterness, sometimes expressed in aggressive notes that are left on windscreens…

This is an area of daily life where consideration and good manners can go a long way towards mitigating problems:

Preparation

If you’re desperately scanning for a parking space, don’t crawl along at a snail's pace with a tail of impatient motorists trailing behind you. Indicate and pull over until the road is clear. Never, ever steal into a parking space when another motorist is already indicating their intention to park there.

Manoeuvring

ManoeuvringWhen you find that elusive space, indicate immediately to signal your intention. With any luck, other motorists will pass you, leaving you to perform your manoeuvres in peace.

However, all too frequently this tricky act of slotting your car into a compact space must be performed under the keen scrutiny of other motorists and many stressed drivers experience a kind of performance anxiety in these circumstances and make a terrible hash of their parking.

If you are observing another motorist who is losing the plot and it’s clear that parking panic has set in, never display your derision (revving your engine is aggressive and blowing your horn is just rude). Remember this could always happen to you.

Position

Park as neatly as possible. That means tucking yourself into the kerb – avoid mounting the kerb, as this is an irritant to pedestrians, especially parents with pushchairs and wheelchair users.

Always leave adequate room to front and rear for adjacent motorists to manoeuvre. Boxing someone in is the height of bad manners.

Make sure that your car is only taking up one parking space; it is extremely inconsiderate to leave half a car’s length between you and the next car and, where space is at a premium, will make fellow motorists extremely irate. They will rightly accuse you of being selfish.

Before you leave your car, check out your immediate environment and ensure that you are not blocking driveways, or endangering other motorists in any way.

Respect the road markings: if you see a single yellow line, you must check out the small yellow notices (often mounted on a wall or lamppost) that spell out specific restrictions. Do not park on double yellow or double red lines – they are there for a reason and you might be endangering yourself or other people.

Payment

Scrawled handwritten notes on windscreens (“Delivering: Back in 5 minutes”) won’t cut the mustard with zealous traffic wardens. Abide by the rules of the road. Check parking regulations and ensure that you have paid up and displayed stickers clearly. Many parking meters are now connected to apps only, so be prepared as you may have to download an app to complete your payment.

Don’t even think about poaching disabled bays or parking in residents’ permits only spaces. You are not entitled to do this – even if it is only for a few minutes.

Car Parks

Be extra vigilant in multi-storey car parks and supermarket car parks. That means you should drive extremely slowly and carefully, and always be ready to let people exit parking spaces in front of you, even if it slows you down.

Park carefully in the middle of bays; it’s inconsiderate to abandon the car at a rakish angle, which might mean that access to the adjacent car is extremely awkward.

Don’t park in parent and child bays at the supermarket if you’re not entitled to. They’re wider than normal bays for a reason; to enable parents to extract children from the car while juggling pushchairs and laden shopping trolleys. They’re often located temptingly close to the shop entrance, which is a bonus for harassed parents of small children – not for other motorists.

Guest Parking

Many of us live in towns with residents’ parking and strict conditions for non-residents. As a host, it is your responsibility to assist your guests when they come to visit you. In many towns, residents are entitled to guest parking, but you should sort it out beforehand (obtain vouchers, visit the council parking app etc) and keep your guests fully informed of the arrangements.

If there is no facility for guest parking, forcing your guests to take potluck with on-street parking, inform them of this and explain what time parking restrictions end and how they can pay for parking (app, cash, debit card, phone) beforehand. It is also helpful, if you know of certain nearby streets that generally have spaces, to also inform your guests of this fact.

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