Manny Rasores deToro, Mr. Parking is tweeting madly about local authorities in the UK that are considering ‘Free Parking” to help central city merchants increase their sales. Check Manny out at @mrparking on Twitter.
He refers to this article. The local Business District head says it won’t help, the Chamber of Commerce says it will, the politicians are firmly on the fence.
They currently give a half hour free and merchants want to expand that. The questions is, what will happen when free parking is instituted. My guess is that the first thing that will happen is that the folks working in the stores will park on the streets and take all the spaces that were meant for shoppers. Customers will go somewhere else, and there will be British tumbleweeds in the streets.
They should read their own history. The National Health Service had free parking and so many people from the local high street (shopping area) were parking at the hospitals that ambulances couldn’t get through. When they instituted parking charges, the problem mysteriously disappeared.
For those who couldn’t afford parking at the hospitals, a system of validations was begun. Problem solved.
If the merchants feel strongly about the issue, why not give their customers a coin or two to cover the parking fees. It would appear to be “free” to the parker, and all would be right with the world. I can just hear the merchants scream that if a parker went to store A and received reimbursement for their parking, and then went to store B, B would be getting a free ride.
Paying for parking seems to be a much bigger deal in small UK country towns, than in major cities. You assume you are going to be ripped off in London or Birmingham, but never in Lower Piddlington.
I don’t worry too much about this, Manny. The merchants will learn. Remember when they tested parking meters in Oklahoma City nearly three quarters of a century ago. They tried them on one side of a street and almost before the first parking ticket was written, the merchants on the other side demanded that they be installed there, too. They understood quickly that charging for parking means that parking will be available.