Personal Freedoms vs. Public Ideals

I was talking with a friend who is a London bus driver the other day.

He was saying how important bus lane and parking enforcement were in his job and how grateful he was that local authorities take their enforcement responsibilities seriously enough to ensure that people don’t park their cars obstructing the bus. He said nothing frustrated him more than “selfish” (his word) drivers stopping in bus stops or bus lanes or on narrow corners.

I saw him again a couple of weeks later and he told me he received a parking ticket (on his own car) for stopping briefly on a yellow line. He was as cross about getting the parking ticket as he was about other drivers blocking the passage of his bus.

I tell this story because it nicely illustrates the dichotomy that many of our members face on a regular basis. We all think reducing congestion, improving road safety, and encouraging and helping buses are good things–it would be difficult not to. But we’re not happy if our personal freedoms are curtailed in the pursuit of these ideals.

The British government’s consultation–the responses to which are now being sifted through by Department for Transportation (DfT) civil servants – didn’t take account of the importance of good parking management to these objectives around congestion and road safety. The British Parking Association (BPA) has been reminding government of why good parking management exists and that we should be careful what we ask for when we fail to take account of these wider ideals.

The government’s own report says that traffic in the UK will increase on our roads by 43 percent by 2040. Local authorities will need the tools to deal with the clear threat to congestion and road safety which this growth will create. This is not a good time to be making it more difficult for authorities to address that task.

 

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