This one is a bit of a ranty post for anyone that’s had the misfortune to live somewhere with parking issues. You are not alone!
We have lived in our current home for the last 13 and a half years. Over that time, we have seen a lot of changes to the surrounding area, the most significant of these has to be the huge increase in traffic compared to how it was when we moved in. We live in Key Worker Housing, which, for those that don’t know, is Housing Association Housing specifically for those that work in Public Services such as the NHS, Police, Fire Brigade etc. We pay a reduced rent compared to those of private rentals in the area, the idea behind this is to provide more affordable housing for those working in front-line services. Hubby works for the NHS at the local Hospital. We are very grateful for this service, however it comes with a very big downside. We literally live on the Hospital site, and I mean literally, our next-door neighbour is the Hospital’s Fertility Clinic.
The Hospital itself is at the top of our road, and then at the bottom of our road is the local Junior School, with the Infant School adjacent to it on the road behind, accessed from our side by an alleyway.
We live on a corner plot, with our front entrance and driveway on the main road with the Hospital and School on, and our double garage with driveways to the rear of the property on the road that runs alongside our house. This second road is also the access road to one of the hospitals car parks, and the lorry access for deliveries to the hospital. It’s also where lorries and taxi’s like to line the sides of the road either taking a break or waiting for a call. It’s also a bus route.
While on weekends and Bank Holidays, our road isn’t much different to any other busy road, weekdays are a different matter entirely.
The Hospital itself has grown quite a bit over the years, employing more staff, treating more patients, and having more visitors. However, the roads and car parks have changed very little, in fact the Hospital has drastically reduced the size of one of its car parks by building extensions into it. They have tried to increase parking space by adding multi-storey parking, and turning small plots of available land nearby into car parks, but space round here is very limited, and some residents have blocked proposals to turn the existing car parks into bigger multi-storey ones. The Hospital have also restricted some staff members from being able to park in the staff car parks, saying if they live within what they determine to be a ‘reasonable walking distance'(2 miles, last I heard), then they should be able to walk to work and leave their cars at home. Many staff members disagree with this ruling. Who wants to walk 2 miles to work each day, then 2 miles back again after a busy shift? The car parks for both staff and patients/visitors are permanently full on weekdays, with queues for them constantly clogging up the road and causing impatient motorists to perform dangerous manoeuvres. Road traffic accidents round here are far too common. Everyone’s in a rush, everyone seems to think that their circumstances make it ok for them to act unreasonably, they’ve got to get to work/get to their appointment/are having an emergency etc. This has had a huge impact on the traffic and parking situations in the area. And with the NHS’s proposed plans for a ‘7-days-a-week-NHS’, this problem is only going to get worse and spread to the weekends too.
Then you have the school-runs. Queues of cars all vying for limited parking spaces outside the school so that they can drop their kids off/pick their kids up, and some parents just don’t care that they’re not allowed to park in certain places, like outside people’s houses, across driveways, on junctions, even on the pavement! It’s dangerous. There have been numerous incidents of children almost being hit by cars, or hit by car doors as they walk on what is supposed to be a pedestrian-only area outside our local schools.
On top of this, the M1 runs behind the hospital, with the Junction on the main road that crosses the top of our road. There are regular accidents on our stretch of the M1, and when traffic builds up there, it builds up here. Traffic gets diverted off the M1 and down our road, and some drivers like to drive like their still on the motorway, tearing down our road at 70mph. Traffic calming measures like speed humps, cannot be used here due to the ambulances that need to use the road all day and all night.
All of this is bad enough to negotiate just trying to drive down our road, but now try living in the middle of it. The traffic problem has gotten so bad, that leaving the house in the car on a weekday, you’re taking a gamble that you’ll be able to get back onto your property when you come home. We have driven up our road, only for traffic to be so bad, that we’ve literally had to carry on driving as we simply couldn’t get on to our own driveway. We have been known to simply go out again straightaway in the hope that traffic will have lessened by the time we come back, or drive round the block once or twice waiting for traffic to thin. We have to time when we go out and come home, because if you dare try and do either around school run or shift-change time, good luck, you will need it! We even have to time what time we leave the holiday park when returning from holiday, so as not to arrive home during a hospital shift-change, because after driving for 3 hours in a car packed with luggage and 5 exhausted kids, the last thing you want to do is get home then have to carry on driving around until you can park at your own house!
We have to reverse onto our driveway, we can’t just drive front-on, this is for several reasons, the main one being that it’s even more impossible to reverse off our driveway than it is to drive off front off. We have been sat in the car for 45 minutes before just trying to reverse off our own driveway. Outside our house are double yellow lines, so you’d think just pulling up out front then reversing onto the drive, wouldn’t be a problem. But you’d be wrong. People like to park on those double yellow lines, all the time. Sometimes they will still be in their car, so we’ll beep the horn, or have even had to get out of the car to ask them to move (not exactly easy in constantly moving traffic), and they act offended, like we’re being completely unreasonable wanting to access our own property! There are constant pedestrians who also act like they can’t see the car and will happily walk in front of (or behind it) while we’re trying to get onto or off of our property. We have to make sure the path is completely clear, which usually gives us a very small window before the next person comes along. On top of this, there is a constant stream of traffic coming out of the side-road that runs along the side of our house, and these drivers don’t ever seem to see us, they just pull out, so we have to make sure that junction is completely clear too, not easy to do when there are lorries and cars constantly lined up the sides of it, this gives us an even smaller window. And this is on top of the constant stream of traffic coming up the main road itself, and if the traffic lights change while you’re waiting for your window, you have no chance because the queue of traffic alongside you builds up scarily fast.
As frustrating as all of these traffic issues are, they are not the worst part of living here. That honour goes to the Parkers.
Parkers can be anyone, from hospital staff that either aren’t allowed to use the staff car parks or can’t find a space in the staff car parks, to hospital patients or their visitors that either don’t want to pay to park in the visitors car parks or can’t find a space in the visitors car parks, to visitors and workmen to neighbours houses with no available parking, or taxi drivers that sit there waiting for a hospital pick-up (these get reported instantly!). We also get the friends of friends, who seem to think because we’re O.K with our friends and family parking there, that it must be O.K for them to park there too. I don’t know you, you can’t park here!
Before we got a car, people regularly tried to park on our front drive. Round here, any empty space is seen as fair game, regardless of the fact that it’s private property. Since getting a car, we now just get them parking across the front of our driveway, on the double yellow lines, completely blocking us in. If we do dare to go out somewhere in the car, we have come home before to find another car parked on our front drive! I mean seriously, who does that?!
Now the front drive is bad enough but our bigger problem with Parkers is our back driveways. Despite having No Parking notices up on our garages, complete strangers park on our driveways all the time, literally every single day. Now, with parking on the roads round here illegal (not that that stops a lot of people), visitors to our home, whether workmen, friends, family etc., need our back driveways to park on, or they can’t visit us. So when complete strangers are parked there, with no way of getting hold of them to get them to move their vehicles, and no idea how long they’re going to be there, trying to plan having visitors to our home is pretty impossible. And don’t even try to park the car in the garage, because you will not only get blocked in, but could get crashed into as well. We had one incident where a complete stranger drove into the brick pillar between our garage doors, it had to be re-built. We came back from holiday last year to find a huge crack in our back garden wall, where the back driveways are, and a layer of bricks missing from the top of the wall, some were on the driveway itself, others were no where to be found, it looked like someone had crashed into the back wall! Whenever we see a car parked there, we put a warning notice on their windscreen, we usually find these screwed up on the floor when they leave. We have had more confrontations with people than I care to remember. We shouldn’t feel intimidated on our own property, but we do.
Now while I understand the frustrations of people regarding the parking problems round here, what I can’t understand is the mentality of the people who think it’s O.K to trespass on someone else’s property, to inconvenience and intimidate those of us who actually have to live here. How would they like it if I drove to their house and parked on their driveway and then just left my car there for an indefinite period of time, meaning they can’t park at their own property?! Anywhere else this would be seen as ridiculous, so why does it seem to be O.K here?
Frustratingly, there are no laws against this either. We are powerless to stop it.
I asked the blogging community if anyone else had similar stories to tell, and sadly found that we are definitely not alone. Here are some of their experiences :
Emma from Emma and Family says “We live just 15mins from Gatwick airport and any time anyone we know is going on holiday they ask to park at our house and leave their car there all week. They often expect us to give them a lift to and from the airport as well! Most of the time we don’t mind too much if it’s a close friend or family member as we do have a spare space and they do ask. But when an acquaintance asks who we have only spoke to twice before asks, that’s when I get arsey and start making up reasons why they can’t.” I can certainly understand Emma’s frustrations on this one.
Becki The Mum From Brum says “We used to live right by Villa Park but our road was handily always permit holders only on match days, and it was policed. But then a huge social club opened up directly behind our house and had massive events on non-match days so our road was a free-for-all. It was a nightmare – we had this lovely big drive that we couldn’t use because of inconsiderate parking across the bottom of it. So glad we moved to a nice quiet street not by anything…”
Laura from Five Little Doves says “I live on the same road as the primary school and I am constantly being blocked in on the driveway by other parents. They park right across my drive way for school pick up and I can be sat there for fifteen minutes sometimes waiting for them to come back – and most of the time they aren’t even apologetic!! It’s infuriating! We are currently getting a petition together to make it resident only parking but I’m not sure how far we will get!”
Tracey from Pack The PJ’s says “I live in a new-build estate. Very posh (some would say) but the whole place has a major design fault … every house is advertised as having 2 parking spaces. However that’s simply not the case as the two spaces are the garage and the space in front of it. No-one parks in their garage so they park on the roads. They park on junctions, across junctions, opposite traffic islands – massive bottlenecks to get in/out the estate. No way could a fire engine get through to us if needed on most nights because of inconsiderate parking. How the planners ever got away with it astounds me.” I think Tracey’s experience highlights the need for planners to be far more realistic and future-thinking when it comes to parking availability.
Jenna from Then there were three says “We used to live near a large football stadium. Our estate was permit only to stop supporters parking… it clearly didn’t work as I came home from work one day and someone was parked in my drive. So I blocked them in and waited for them to knock the door 😂 they even had the cheek to tell me I was “holding them up” by taking my time moving the car for them. Wish I’d left it there now!” Sadly we’ve had way too many of these experiences ourselves.
Katy from Katy Kicker says “People cut through our estate to get to various areas of the town and they NEVER stick to the 20mph speed limit in the estate. When I see people letting their children play out in the car parks it makes me feel physically sick.
Also, our parking space is an end one so whenever workers visit flats where we live they use up our space. One I caught up sleeping in his van, in our space, so I banged on his window and he jumped out of his skin “. I can completely relate here, and our children have never been able to play outside the house because of the all the traffic issues on these roads, it’s far too dangerous and that’s such a shame.
Naomi from Me Becoming Mum says “The area around my grandmother in law’s house was constantly treated like a car park by all the commuters heading to London as she lived around the corner from the train station.
It was an absolute disgrace when she needed to go to hospital and the ambulance couldn’t park near the house so just had to stop in the middle of the road instead.
Her son even had to put cones out at one point to stop people parking across the entrance to their driveway and blocking him in or out of it.
People that live in the area have petitioned the council for parking permits like the Windsor area have to stop it happening but no luck yet!” I think Naomi’s comment highlights the impact inconsiderate parkers can have on people’s lives, literally putting their lives at risk when emergency services can’t reach their home.
Lauren from Mummy Is A Gadget Geek says “When I was at university, I lived in the road between the Leicester Tigers rugby stadium, and the Leicester football stadium. On match days, if you didn’t move your car elsewhere, you got towed and then had to pay a few hundred to get the car released. I always made sure I moved my car…but then there was a match I wasn’t expecting (FA cup or something rather than premier league) and I was at uni in a lecture…so the car was towed. But aside from that one incident, the main problem was that when I had to move my car, there was nowhere to move it too as football/rugby supporters had parked everywhere that was available. As I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and at that time struggled to walk at all, it really wasn’t good!” Lauren’s comment again highlights the very real impact inconsiderate parkers have on people’s lives.
Claire from Dear Mummy Bear says “I live on a side street opposite a school and the parking is horrendous. Not that it’s bad enough that I can rarely park in front of or near my own house, and I’m constantly battling with the people on the street for a space (not physically battling of course) but like our street is half semi detached with drives and they still choose to park on the street in spaces other residents could use (I have an almost 1 year old and constantly having to park at the end of the street so I can never bring the changing bag, couple of shopping bags and him because it’s a bit further to walk) anyway, when it’s picking up time for the school, all the parents park on our street (fair enough there’s space so why not) but a lot of the time, I finish work and get home for 3.30 and there is never a space for me to park. What’s worse is, a few times, it’s been a mum waiting parked outside my house so I’ll sit and wait so I can park there but she doesn’t budge. So I think oh well I’ll just make do. I then get angry, disgusting stares as I walk to MY front door because she knew I was simply waiting to park there but she wasn’t moving at all for anybody. This happens regularly and it makes me so mad! I know it’s not like my drive or a no park zone or anything but it’s the principal and the fact they always give me really dirty looks!” I can certainly relate to Claire’s comment, the looks we get from people just for entering our own property are actually quite ridiculous!
Nellie from Nellie Pom Poms says “I used to deal with parking issues around schools and would often get shouted at by irate parents. One day I ticketed a car and the driver was the father of my daughter’s friend – we laugh now!! I would regularly get abuse and one day someone rang 999 to speak to the Chief Constable to complain.” Again I think Nellie’s comment highlights just how unreasonable the attitude of inconsiderate parkers can be.
Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders has a differing opinion, she says “I always get cross at people who live next to a school and then moan about school traffic. I do sympathise if the school was built after you moved there, but otherwise – just don’t buy the house if you are intolerant of people parking near you.” I can see where she’s coming from, but also, like with our case, a lot can change over the course of time. In the days when most children walked to school, or people would get public transport to places like the hospital, train station, football stadium etc., the area would have been very different to how it is now when almost everyone has a car. However, buying a house opposite a school and then moaning about the school traffic really is going a bit far.
Leah at Home Family Life also has a differing opinion, she says “From the age of 12 till me moving out of my parents home we lived on a main road into town. Some years after we moved in the council decided to put double yellow lines down. It did make sense putting the double yellow lines down but we were then forced to park elsewhere. There were a number of times when I had people giving me a mouthful for parking where I did. I know it would have been a pain for the people who’s house (with a drive) I parked outside. But what choice did I have.” I can sympathise with Leah’s comment, and that’s why we do allow our neighbours who don’t have adequate parking to occasionally use our back driveways when needed (as long as they ask first).
I think it’s interesting to hear other people’s experiences and opinions. Traffic and parking issues have such an impact on people’s lives, more needs to be done by the planners and councils to make sure that these issues don’t get any worse, for all involved.
Next time you’re struggling to find a place to park, before you block someone’s driveway, park outside their house, or, actually park on their property, just stop and think what impact that action could have on them, and how you would feel if it was happening to you. A bit of consideration goes a long way. Thank you x