Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Politics of Parking

There are a lot of cars parked in the Close next to my house.  When the yellow lines were installed, eight years ago, my activist neighbours (unbeknown to me at the time) forced the Council to reserve a car-and-a-half sized unrestricted slot next to my back gate, so that I’d have space for visitors, should any ever turn up. 
Needless to say, that ‘reserved’ parking space is more or less permanently filled by one of three vehicles.  The considerate blue Micra, who always leaves me as much space as she can to get out of the drive; a white van (not the original one from three years ago, but nevertheless a van, and white); and the rusty old Spanish Renault, for which I have a soft spot.  None of these people live here, and initially they made me angry, until my neighbour opposite buttonholed me as I was on my way out one evening.
She’s elderly, like me, but acts the part.  She explained that she had difficulty backing out of her drive, because of those cars parked in ‘my’ space.  What did I think of the idea of asking the Council to extend the yellow lines right up to my gate, which would make it much easier for her?  A bit irritated, I pointed out that the space had been deliberately reserved for me, so that I had some on-street parking just like everybody else (including her).  “But you never use it, do you?” she replied.  I had no answer to that, so I just shrugged, muttered something non-committal and departed.  Needless to say, I never heard any more of it.
Shortly after that encounter, my neighbour took to parking in the road outside her house, rather than in her drive.  Obviously, this makes it much easier for her to make her getaway, and I sympathise with that.  It also makes it a bit harder for me to back out of my drive: this thought doesn’t seem to have crossed her mind, and I wouldn’t expect it to.  Nor do I particularly expect the incomer parkers to realise the consequences of their actions – they’re just looking after themselves.

There are several morals to this story, the main one being that no interactions are ever between just two parties, and that an objective assessment of the weighted balance between even these three simple sets of self-interest is nearly impossible, and probably not worth the bother.  I don’t know whether this thought depresses or enlivens me.



  1. Elderly? Hardly, dear heart, you're in your prime.

    I suppose if you were to know a visitor would need the space, you'd have to park there yourself early enough to thwart other drivers, who presumably park and go to work. And they'd probably feel quite indignant at an interloper being there.

  2. We have to park in the street, and get terribly annoyed when people park taking up more than one space. Our neighbour sometimes leaves - um - firm little notes under windscreen wipers. I dream of a house with a DRIVE...