See, This is the Problem…


See, This is the Problem…

OK, we all know Koo Stark — we don”t?  She was running around with Prince Andrew a few years back, and is now a single mother  — I don’t think the two are related. However she has a problem…She drives a Prius and thinks she can park in London for free. And so it seems, does the local city fathers, well kinda.  Read the story here.

When she bought the car, she understood from no less than the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, that it was a "green" car and she could park it for free. She then began to rack up parking tickets. When she complained, she got a letter saying "so sorry, you are right, you should be able to park for free." In fact, she got two letters.

Then she was told "so sorry, but we made a mistake. You can park at some spaces for free, but not at others." So her car was impounded. She raised a stink, and got her car back, but as of this moment the city doesn’t seem to know what to do. They are handling her tickets on a "case by case basis."

I have been railing about giving free parking to "green" or "eco friendly" cars because they are "green" or "eco friendly" for years. I think it’s discriminatory. The cars take up space on the street. They cause congestion and traffic. They have four wheels and a seat. Why shouldn’t they pay to park just like everyone else?

Now if the city can’t even figure out what is "eco friendly" and what isn’t and can’t fairly enforce its own rules, how can one expect the rest of us to understand what’s what.  In some places motorcycles are exempt from certain charges. Some of the two wheeled monsters should be charged double, simply for the noise they make. But that’s another story.

The free market will work, without the help of the state, thank you very much. Mayor Ken in London passed the rule for "electric" cars. And in a country of 50 million vehicles, they have just over 1000 running around. That’s completely electric and that’s where Koo made her mistake. Hybrids (gas and electric) aren’t covered. The popular Prius is selling faster than they can make em, however the state sponsored electrics are gathering dust on the showroom floor. (This is also true in California where the state said it would give a tax credit for the cars up to a certain number sold and so those that bought their cars early paid less than those that took a few months to make the decision. Good, now that’s fair.)

But back to the problem in London. The rules on these cars are so complicated the people who enforce them can’t understand them. Car owners are being harassed for following what they, and some of the enforcers, think are the rules. We are making an entirely new set of lawbreakers.

I don’t have a problem taxing cars based on size. If they take up more room, then they should pay more. We’ve been doing that for years, charging more for limos than for regular cars. Makes perfect sense. If you have a Mini, and car park two in the space that it takes for a Range Rover, then you should pay less. Supply and demand and all that.  But to get a break because you have some kind of different way of propelling your vehicle. Nope.  Koo’s issue exemplifies the problem. And by the way, the jury is out as to whether the amount of energy generated to charge up a battery is more or less than the amount of energy generated to actually propel the car. And if you add the infrastructure (charging stations, wiring, etc) who knows? My guess is that it’s a wash.

And don’t get me started on car pool lanes…

I feel for Koo. According to the story she has enough problems without having to deal with trumped up laws and bureaucrats who can’t find the law library. The law of unintended consequences. We start down a path and have no idea where its going to lead. We have the best of intentions, but end up with the worst of results.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. Seems like a contradiction that London would have a congestion charge and a policy of allowing certain energy efficient vehicles to park for free. Fuel efficient cars have no impact on congestion, in fact they more than likely add to it since you can drive a lot more at a lower cost. Reduction of energy consumption is a completely different issue than reducing congestion, by offering free parking for certain vehicles you are actually encouraging more traffic and congestion.

  2. Regarding your article about Koo Stark. I am a resident of London and also own and drive a Totota Prius Hybrid. It is some time since I have read such a badly researched article with so many innacuries. Why don’t you actually find out the fact about London’s parking. Firstly, parking in London is not controlled by one body, it is controlled by the council of whichever borough that you happen to live in in London of which there are many. When you say that Koo understood that the Mayor Ken Livingston had said that she could park for free this is complete nonsense. Mr livinston has not stated this. However, he has made a ruling that such cars may enter London without paying the congestion charge, a tax in operation at the moment. Some London councils have also reduced the charges for these cars to park in their own boroughs, but they have only reduced them, they are not free. I would suggest that either your reporting is good and that Koo Stark has not done her homework, or that your reporting is innadequate and wrong.

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