Free parking is a key factor which encourages Guernsey to be so car reliant

February 23rd, 2009 by Rosie

Free parking at the North Beach car park in St Peter Port (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The Guernsey Environment Department’s lack of enthusiasm for any paid parking scheme is evidenced in a telling comment they have included in the February 2009 Billet. “It has been argued that the introduction of paid parking diminishes Guernsey’s unique identity and character.”

Do they not see that free parking, along with cheap fuel, have been the key factors that have encouraged Guernsey to become so car reliant and do they not see the negative impact that that has had on our island? Despite our small size, we can now boast to have one of the highest ratios of cars per capita in the world…. if not the highest. Is that how we want our ‘unique identity and character’ to be viewed?

Free parking was a foolish policy from the outset. It was bound to encourage more cars onto our roads, and the consequential urbanising of the island. And it was bound to encourage a belief that driving should by rights, be a cheap form of travel with the obvious resistance when Guernsey has to eventually tackle the problem. It certainly is not a policy that we should feel a jot of pride for.

If Guernsey wants a traffic policy to be truly proud of… one that would give us our ‘unique identity’ and that would have us being congratulated for putting the good of the whole community and the island first, ahead of our individual desires, we should aspire to a free and plentiful bus service. Now that really would give as a ‘character’ to be proud of. To do that though, we need to conquer the aversion we have to making driving the expensive option and recognise that car driving, although necessary sometimes, is in fact a luxury.

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