Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins, April 30, 2019, Will the public take to the future utopia of parking?
Among several hats I wear is one that compels me to write as freelance contributor for a magazine called Parking News. Yes, it has appeared on Have I Got News For You.
The point of mentioning this is that I attended the annual Parkex Conference in Birmingham recently where all things parking-related are debated by local authorities and private parking operators.
In addition, companies involved in the provision of parking get to showcase the latest parking equipment on the market.
It was actually fascinating. Among the many debates and seminars were several devoted to how parking could reduce emissions in urban areas by speeding up the parking process, hence reducing the amount of time a motorist spent driving around looking for a space.
This would be done by improving the digital information motorists receive prior to parking.
It might involve booking a parking time in advance or being directed to parking spaces earlier in their journey - possibly via an app on their phone or in-car information system.
Another common thread related to the ‘final mile’ of a journey into town.
By providing electric-powered public transport from a bus or train station or an out-of-town car then there would be far less carbon-emitting vehicles in the urban area itself.
New parking payment options were heavily centred around apps.
Paying on a mobile phone has been around for a while but that has been joined by parking which can be paid for via Apple Pay or Google Pay and Apple Watch can now be used.
Management of the kerbside was discussed, with proposals for different parking restrictions to be imposed through the day.
For example, delivery lorries could use kerbside space early morning, the space would be kept clear of all traffic during rush hour, disabled motorists might be able to it for part of the day and then visitors could park on the kerb in the evening.
This information would also be available via in-car systems or an app.
All of which is a vision of a utopian future where the air is clean, the streets are free from clogged-up traffic and the high street is once more buzzing with visitors.
The fly in this ointment? Well, so many of these plans rely on the public adopting the technology.
I always put such ideas through a stringent litmus test – would my grandmother be able to use it?
On that basis, I don’t think the public is quite ready to join the parking industry in its bright new world.