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.
One thought on “Christchurch still Beholden to the Car”
There are three key issues:
1) Public / private provision of public parking – in lieu of congestion tolls parking provides the 2nd best travel demand management tool. Allowing private operators to provide parking (e.g. Wilsons) removes the ability to have a coordinated parking pricing as a travel demand strategy in lieu of congestion tolling. Transport Authorities should have the right to set the minimum parking price for commuter parking (based on maintaining LOS D on the roads inblound/outbound to the CBD)
2) Transport Authorities should be given the right to levy private building commuter parking at the same rate as public commuter parking
3) Visitor / shopper parking should remain uncontrolled. If there is severe offpeak congestion within the CBD then on-street parking should be charged at a substantial premium, real time parking signage provided and if needed the CBD split into a number of cul de sac cells with free shuttles between the areas.