The Competition for Kerbspace

On-Street Parking in Residential Areas

In inner city residential streets residents, commuters and visitors may compete for the available kerbspace to park their vehicles. It is not unusual for the greatest point of conflict to be in the early evening when residents return home but city workers have not at that time departed.

A common approach to this difficulty is to instigate residential parking zones. These may be so extensive so as to either:

  • create such a distance from their outer edge to the town centre that the demand for on-street visitor and worker parking diminishes (the workers prefer and accept a town centre paid parking spot over the long walk)  or
  • the zone extends into and up to streets on which there is little or no demand from the local residents for on-street parking as those properties have off street parking within their curtilage and there is no conflict.

The approach adopted by authorities in many towns and cities is to extend the zones in response to actual complaints of conflict for space between residents and workers. Many authorities rely on a minimum number or quantity of residents supporting the introduction of a zone before progressing. This approach thus relies on a problem occurring before the Council reacts. This process of continuing extension can go on for many years and to the general dis-satisfaction of residents and to the reputational detriment of the Council as the issue is merely pushed a little farther out at each extension.

To be effective, Residential Parking Zones do require enforcement and administration. It is for this reason that it is common for Councils to apply a charge to residents for any parking permit held. The scheme may also create complexity for those receiving visitors or workers to their home who will be obligated to show some permit or pass for the duration of their stay. Restriction of streets for exclusive residential use can also interfere with parking used by those visiting local business and retail premises. For these reasons, residential parking zones are not necessarily universally popular amongst those for whom they are designed to benefit.

A key principle for any residential parking zone is for the number of permits issued to be controlled by the available kerbspace within the zone. Policies that permit unlimited permit purchase or link permits to properties are subject to creating a situation where the service provided by the permit degrades and creates on-going chronic difficulties for residents seeking parking near their homes.

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