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What should we be doing instead of on-street parking?

Written by: Angus Macdonald

10 August 2023

A look at many of the great alternatives to on-street parking for our roads

We looked recently at the subsidy provided to local motorists in providing on street parking. Our streets are a public resource and, whilst we see car parking continuing, it needs to be seen within the context of a broad range of alternatives. Highlighted below are the alternatives we would like to see more of in Haringey.

Protected Cycle Tracks

Getting more people cycling improves health outcomes and reduces environmental effects associated with car use. A key barrier to getting non-cyclists on a bike is overcoming concerns about road and personal safety (Cycling potential in London’s diverse communities, 2021 Slide 13).

Protected cycle routes and quiet streets have been identified as important steps in addressing this issue, particularly in helping women, older people, disabled and lower income households that have traditionally been less associated with cycling in London (Cycling potential in London’s diverse communities, 2021 Slide 6) to feel more confident.Research from UCL pointed to a sixth of London’s streets being wide enough for protected cycle lanes, which would make a real difference to the perception of safety among people taking up cycling in London. 

A look at many of the great alternatives to on-street parking for our roads

On-Street Bike Storage

Concerns about cycle theft is another important barrier identified in recent Transport for London research into Londoners taking up cycling (Cycling potential in London’s diverse communities, 2021 Slide 13).

Providing places for residents to securely park their bikes at home and the places they want to visit around the borough (shops, libraries, parks, schools, childcare etc). Unfortunately the generous space given over to parking cars leaves little room for parking bikes on the pavement without obstructing pedestrians.

Transitioning on street car parking to cycle parking in the form of Sheffield stands close to commonly-visited destinations and cycle hangars in residential areas makes it easier for people to take up cycling. Cycle hangars in particular demonstrate the value of cycling allowing 6 bikes to park in a space that would otherwise only handle one car.

Unfortunately there is a real shortage of bike hangars across the borough with a recent announcement by Haringey Council pointing to 2000 residents currently on the waiting list.

Accelerating the switch from on-street car parking to cycle hangars would go some way to addressing this.

Bike Share

Bike sharing schemes such as Santander Cycles and Lime Bikes provide a valuable opportunity for Londoners to try cycling without having to make the leap of buying your own bike or finding somewhere secure to park it. These schemes also provide an important bridge for commuters between underground and overland stations and residents’ homes. 

Unfortunately Santander Cycles doesn’t currently have any docking stations in Haringey and a lack of designated bike parks around the borough means that dockless bikes (e.g. Lime Bikes, HumanForest, Tier, Dott) are too often left on footpaths, providing a barrier to pedestrians.

Providing more bays for bike share schemes around Haringey will provide a better environment for footpath users and help more local residents (re)explore the joys of cycling.

School Streets

School Streets is a valuable initiative that sees roads outside schools with temporary restrictions on cars parking during school drop-off and pick-up times. The result is a safer and more pleasant space for parents and students. Even more important is creating an environment that will leave parents more comfortable letting their  children walk or ride to school, an increasingly important situation when we’re faced with growing obesity among Britain’s children.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs)

We’re seeing growing reports in the news of urban flooding as climatic changes see cities faced with the need to absorb sudden bursts of rainfall. Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs) address the issue by providing somewhere for water to go other than the borough’s overloaded stormwater system, essentially providing a natural drainage system.  

Whilst protecting our built environment from the threat of flooding, SUDs also provide valuable greenspaces to our borough’s streets.

Street Trees

London’s plane trees are a welcome sight on many of London’s streets but they don’t simply provide more attractive public spaces. Trees have an important role in filtering pollution and removing harmful carbon dioxide, they help bring down temperatures at street level by providing welcome shelter and also provide an environment for fostering local biodiversity.

Unfortunately trees on streets have become increasingly marginalised by cars.

Community and Business Parklets

Parklets are a great way for local residents and businesses to turn parking spaces into micro parks. This can take many forms, including gardens, benches, seating for cafes or bike parking and again provide a way of taking back space for local residents.

Bus Lanes

The bus is the most popular form of public transport in London, providing an accessible form of transport well suited to older and disabled Londoners and people travelling with young children.  

Unfortunately buses don’t have the same agility as cyclists and are too often caught up in London’s notorious congestion. Dedicated bus lanes on sections of Haringey’s streets would give bus passengers a welcome head-start over London’s car drivers but would typically require the sacrifice of some on street car parking.

Car Club Bay

Car clubs provide a valuable way of reducing car usage by encouraging residents to opt out of car ownership by relying on shared cars, booked only when they are really needed. This encourages residents to walk, cycle or use public transport, reducing demands for resident parking, car congestion and ultimately air pollution.

Electric Vehicle Bay

Whilst electric vehicles don’t address the issue of road congestion and cyclist safety, they do address the issue of emissions from internal combustion engines and the associated air quality issues. Providing more parking bays for electric vehicles is an important step in encouraging Haringey residents to switch to electric vehicles.

What do Londoners want?

It probably comes as no surprise that Londoners would like to see our streets used as more than just homes for our cars, as Centre for London research from 2020 indicates.

Priority Londoners ascribe to different street space uses in their local area

If you would like to see better use of Haringey’s streets, send a message to your councillor asking for what you’d like to see in your neighbourhood. There’s more to life than just on street parking.