RACV proposes cuts to on-street city parking

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By Chris Sutton

The RACV have proposed cuts to on-street parking in Melbourne’s CBD in a bid to combat traffic and other on-road issues. But as parking is already a problem in inner-city areas, there are fears it will deter people from choosing local shopping precincts and restaurants situated in the zone, impacting economy.

Michael Doherty, General Manager of Smartphone application CellOPark, believes the proposal will cause further congestion and pollution in the city.

“In Australia and Melbourne in particular, we have a situation where there are more and more cars on the road and fewer and fewer parking spaces available,” said Mr. Doherty.

“Therefore, if the plan is to cut on-street parking spaces, there needs to be a viable alternative, somewhere for those cars to go.”

The RACV want the parking sections to be replaced by clearly marked car, bus and bike lanes as parking is viewed as an inefficient use of road space. Safety and the economy were cited as areas of benefit from proceeding with the changes, but retailers are concerned that the removal of convenient parking will result in job and profit loss. Mr. Doherty agrees with this assessment.

“Our research shows that of the 1,000 motorists surveyed, 65% of shoppers are deterred from shopping in the city because of parking issues. As a result, they tend to shop at larger outlets or online, which clearly isn’t good for local businesses.”

CellOPark is an application that Mr. Doherty believes can improve parking for motorists.

“The current parking systems are inefficient and costly, and haven’t really changed with the times. Technology, such as CellOPark can play a key part in addressing these issues and is proven to reduce congestion, free up available spaces and save motorists and councils money.”

CellOPark technology enables drivers to only pay for the time they park, and in collaboration with Curtin University the number of car park users doubled from 7,000 to 14,000 without increasing the number of spots available.

“CellOPark technology offers the community a fairer parking system helping to not only cut wastage, but to also encourage locals to shop locally through a more equitable approach to parking,” said Mr. Doherty.

In further research, it was found that during busy shopping period such as Christmas, local retailers were missing out on up to $28.12 billion across Australia to online and major shopping centres due to issues with parking. Mr. Doherty cited excessive fines and inflated parking prices as other reasons behind the issue.

RACV roads and traffic manager Dave Jones believes on-street parking is an inefficient use of space, saying councils could provide alternative parking elsewhere in side streets. While adding extra bike lanes would increase safety, encourage a healthier alternative and decrease pollution, it would also increase the pressure on employees and potential shoppers who choose the convenience of a car as opposed to the transport system, which is currently experiencing trouble.

Under the proposal, the parking spaces would be removed to widen bike and bus lanes, which in turn would improve traffic conditions. But in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s CBD, it appears frustration is the only aspect that is certain to soar.

Chris is a freelance journalist and can be contacted at chris_sutton@live.com.au

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