Lesley Hinds: Why we need extended parking charges

Lesley Hinds says Sunday parking charges could be applied.

Lesley Hinds says Sunday parking charges could be applied.

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Have your say

It’s no secret that parking in Edinburgh can at times be a frustrating experience. Whether you’re a resident searching for a permit place or a visitor on the look-out for a pay-and-display place on a busy Saturday, it’s not always an easy job.

But for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users too, uncontrolled parking can have a real negative impact on the city’s environment and flow of traffic.

We had lots of comments on parking in the city when drawing up the draft Parking Action Plan, which will be considered by the transport and environment committee tomorrow.

What we found was that residents in the centre often struggle to find spaces, despite holding permits. At the same time, people driving into the city to visit shops and restaurants come up against increasing parking pressures.

Our key priorities now are to improve parking management at the same time as supporting the development of walking, cycling and public transport as everyday travel options. To do this we plan to introduce a raft of changes, including increased enforcement, visitor parking and shared use spaces.

One thing we know is that people’s weekend habits are changing – we are working to a seven-day shopping week now.

After surveying almost 5000 drivers on various routes on Sundays, we found that 50 per cent were occupying spaces for more than two hours, with 25 per cent occupying the same space for more than six hours. This not only increases pressure for space but impacts negatively on businesses, which aren’t seeing a turnover in custom.

How many of us have been in the city centre on a Sunday and witnessed the parking chaos in our city? It’s obvious that we need to manage this, but to provide enforcement we need the resources and that’s why we’ve proposed introducing charges.

We want to balance the different and sometimes competing demands on space to make the city better for everyone, residents and non-residents alike. Our proposal to roll out shared use parking, for example, will free up spaces and increase flexibility. The introduction of visitor permits for the first time in the Controlled Parking Zone will also benefit those without residents’ permits, making it easier to park near friends and family.

Edinburgh’s parking policy plays a part in tackling congestion, improving safety and enabling ease of parking for residents and visitors alike. But it’s also about helping to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport, in turn reducing air pollution.

Changes to restrictions might just make people stop and think: “Do I need to take the car?” We have a fantastic public transport system here in Edinburgh, reaching to every corner of the city, every day of the week and into the evening.

Under the Parking Action Plan, we also want to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. By upgrading cycling facilities and creating safer, more accessible pedestrian facilities we hope to encourage alternative modes of active travel which will no doubt have a knock-on effect on parking pressures in the city.

But while these proposals are very much in reaction to feedback from the public, it’s worth noting that we still rely on your views to create a final Parking Action Plan.

What we want to do, as ever, is make Edinburgh a better place to live in, work in and visit. By giving us your feedback on our range of actions, you will help us achieve this.

Lesley Hinds is transport convener at Edinburgh City Council