Righto – two things right up front:
(1) I lived in Edinburgh for nearly 30 years, though I rarely drive into the city these days. Outdated knowledge of a place is confusing – you have to accept that you are a stranger, and read the traffic signs carefully, as a stranger would.
(2) I have very little patience with the eternal chorus of whingeing on behalf of the poor, oppressed motorist; I take my share of the collective blame, but our environment and (especially) our cities are being steadily destroyed by the motor car – something has to change soon, though I’m not convinced the things which are done at present achieve much beyond producing short-term revenue for the authorities.
This week I drove my van into Edinburgh City Centre on two occasions. Parking is a nightmare, which is hardly a surprise, but I was struck by a strange anomaly [I should be more careful – these anomalies get everywhere]. Edinburgh is a bit unusual since a lot of the central areas are residential – i.e. people live there (like). During the working day it is evident that there are a lot of empty parking spaces, but they are all marked PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY, which means residents.
I am intrigued by this. A large (and expanding) area of the city contains apartments and blocks of flats which have no gardens or garaging, and parking on the street requires a permit from the City Council. The cost depends on the location, and also on the size and emission level of the vehicle. It will normally be hundreds of pounds for a year – a vehicle of 3 litres or over will cost about £450 for a year’s parking. Application for a second vehicle for the same household costs 125% of the normal rate. You get the idea.
This is a hefty outlay – what the residents get for this is not an earmarked space, but a notional share in a number of parking spaces which is deemed adequate for the street. You have no control over who parks outside your house, but the detailed permits should be clearly displayed in the vehicles, and – in theory – there should be enough spaces available somewhere around.
The PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY regulation applies between 7am and 6:30pm Monday to Saturday, and not at all on a Sunday. If one of the permit holders drives away to work, only another permit holder for that street will be allowed to occupy the space he has vacated. This means that, in areas where most residents drive to work, there is a lot of unuseable parking space of this type during the day – as I saw on my visits.
It also means, since anyone can park in these spaces after 6:30pm (the regulations stop at that time), anyone arriving home from work after 6:30pm will find that his street is full of parked cars, which do not require a permit, and thus he should not expect to get a space. Many of the parked cars will belong to permit holders from other streets, who arrived home a little earlier to find that their own street was full.
Therefore an outlay of some hundreds of pounds can be expected to result in an empty, unused space being available somewhere near your house during time when you are likely to be at work, and no space at all during the evening when you get home. I’m sure I haven’t quite thought this through, but there is something counter-intuitive about this arrangement.
Presumably this parking permit deal exists in other parts of the world beyond Edinburgh?