This article first appeared at TraNZport and is republished with permission.
Christchurch is New Zealand’s most car dependent city, with recent statistics revealing 80 percent of commuters get to work using a private vehicle.
It’s disappointing, then, to see that Christchurch City Councillor Jamie Gough has called for free car parking to revitalise the central city. This is a poor policy that has been tried before and failed. Car focused policy is also arguably what has helped foster a central city with issues around lack of visitors, and business sustainability. It also embeds car dependency and perversly decreases accessibility through limiting choices and prioritising cars over people. Not once in the linked article does Gough mention public transport. That’s incredibly frustrating.
Had Gough instead focused on improving accessibility for people, he’d be on the right track. However, given this insight I would say he doesn’t know what needs to be done to revitalise the city. Free parking and more cars are not the answer. Sadly, this is something that is very hard for decision makers to understand in New Zealand. Gough has the wrong priorities here.