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European Parking News

Itís HOT HOT HOT, an Air Show, and Narrow Spaces for Wider Cars

September, 2018

Peter Guest

When you read this, we will be staring fall in the face, but right now it’s hot, very, very hot. Daytime temperature in the mother country is 30C or 86F in old money and we haven’t seen any meaningful rain since May. We started the year with the so-called “Beast from the East,” a cold spell that was unequalled for decades. I went for a walk in Amsterdam and got hypothermia. It was so cold, in fact, that it knocked out thousands of “modern” central heating systems. 


Thank you, government for forcing us to abandon the old inefficient systems whose sole redeeming feature was that they worked when it got cold. This was followed by the wettest spring since Noah’s flood and now we have the drought. You may want to dispute whats causing it, but climate change is here, get used to it.


Flying and Parking Collide


So, summer is the silly season when people go away and nothing much happens. Except, that is, in my home town of Farnborough we have a biennial international air show. This is big, world class, and the two big boys, Boeing and Airbus vie with each other to announce the highest dollar value in sales of new aircraft. Not sure who won this time round, but we are talking billions of dollars on both sides of the table, so no one actually loses. 


Locally there are two obvious effects. First, is that the value of the cars driving in the area increases by about 50 percent as local streets are flooded with high-end Beemers, Mercs, Audis and Jaguars. After all, if someone is coming in to negotiate buying an Airbus or two, you aren’t going to ferry them around in a Nissan compact. 


Significantly, come lunchtime, quite a few of these cars cluster round the local sandwich shop. It may not be the best in Britain but it’s certainly in the top ten. Witness the fact that the show’s organizers, with the option of getting their snacks prepared by Cordon Bleu chefs in the show, send out to here instead!


The other and rather less welcome impact is the local council’s Traffic Management plan which is imposed on the local community for two weeks and appears to have no logical basis at all. Local streets are closed, and one-way flows reversed in parts of the town that no one going to the air show would ever come near. My local butcher finds that his trade drops by 40 percent as his street is closed and vast areas of the town are turned into residents only parking areas. 


Well, actually, no, they aren’t because despite having existed since 1974, the council still doesn’t have even the most basic understanding of how to do this. So, once again, they create a nonsense, presumably to try and scare off show people who, they believe, would rather park in the local streets and walk to the show than use the free car parking and shuttle buses. 


This year they managed to ticket about 120 cars. None of the tickets are valid, but I guess the council will rely on the drivers knowing even less than they do and happily collect the money that they are not entitled to. 


And in breaking news, the 20th Century has reached Scotland! In 1991 we Brits pinched one of your good ideas, the enforcement system put into Washington DC in 1980. We changed it just enough so that it didn’t work properly and took parking enforcement off the police and gave it to the municipalities. 


A key part of this process is a system where, if the citation is challenged, then an independent arbitration system decides the rights and wrongs of the case. In Scotland ,up until July, the only way to appeal was via a hard-copy paper process. 


Now it can be done online. It is understood that the Scottish Society of Quill and Scroll makers are considering seeking a judicial review. I am guessing that it will only be a matter of time before the Scots opt to abandon the paper-based option in the name of the great god efficiency, which will at a stroke, disenfranchise the 15 percent or so who do not have internet access.


Large Cars Attack Small Spaces


Meanwhile; Houston we have a problem. Long ago in a galaxy far away, car parking spaces were 2.2 or 2.3 m wide; you can convert this yourself, or perhaps get with the rest of the world and go metric. 


However, as cars got bigger car park design guidance changed and now the norm is 2.4 m. More importantly, most car park designers, at least those worth their pay, started to build car parks without internal columns, meaning that the deck could be used more flexibly and if you wanted a bigger space you simply re-striped the deck. 


Now however, with the passage of time cars have continued to grow and now, here in Britain we have no less than 129 current models that are either wider or longer than standard parking bays. For sure, these tend to be high end, small volume models, but the writing is on the wall and only a few years after publishing the definitive national design guidance it looks like it may be time to go back to the drawing board. 


Once again, I can’t help but think that it would be kind of neat if the people that design the cars and the people that design the car parks that they are supposed to fit in, shared a coffee and had a chat.


And finally, our government is still pushing all things technological, often with a messianic fervor unsupported by any understanding of the technology they are pushing. Thus, we are still all being driven at the point of a government-owned bayonet to a “SMART” future. 


So far, they have got as far as wanting us all to have “Smart” utility meters, “because this will save us all energy”. Poppycock. The value of the theoretical energy saving is lower than the cost of the meter and now that enough meters are installed to get some real numbers, it seems that the actual energy saving is about one third of the prediction. Faced with this fact are the government thinking again? 


I told Peter that if he thinks a few weeks of 80-degree heat is bad, he should live in the U.S. where folks would kill for such cool weather. However, I also noted we have air conditioning over here. Maybe he should look into it. JVH



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