Local traders not understanding car parking

When you run your own business, making things easier for your potential customers is always a good move. However one trader in the northern Melbourne of Niddrie has missed one of the simple ways to do this, as this article from the Weekly Review Moonee Valley shows.

B2.2064 heads along Keilor Road in Niddrie with an outbound route 59 service

Niddrie: Keilor Road trader vows to fight council over parking fines
Sue Hewitt
21 July 2014

A Niddrie trader has vowed to see Moonee Valley Council in court over 15 parking tickets because it has refused to issue him with a traders’ parking permit.

Steven Tsaousidis said he worked more than 10 hours a day, six days a week at his Hooked on Fish & Burger Bar in Keilor Road, but he had no all-day parking nearby.

He said he usually got a two hour car park at 10am, but had to move his car at midday, then 2pm and 4pm.

“More often than not, I have to leave the shop and customers unattended in order to move my car,” he said.

Since he started his business in September he had received 15 parking fines at $72 each, which he was taking to court to highlight the problem faced by traders, he said.

“I realise that it may cost me more by going to court, but it is a principle,” he said.

“My business and others on Keilor Road continuously bring people to the shopping strip to enjoy the various cafés, eateries and speciality shops.

“I believe that as a ratepaying tenant, I should be provided with a permit or allocated parking spot to be able to park my car here.”

The local council had the following to say:

Moonee Valley Council’s chief executive Neville Smith said the council understood traders’ desire to park near their shops and their frustration at having to move their cars.

“As Keilor Road is a busy shopping precinct [which] is a [council] designated activity centre, it is important that there is a good supply of parking for customers – and that this supply is regularly turned over,” he said.

“Unfortunately this demand for customer parking means that traders without on-site parking do need to consider alternative parking options rather than relying on street parking in this busy shopping area.

Regular columnist in the same newspaper, Alan Murphy, had the following to say the next week:

Murphy’s Lore: Selfish traders drive out customers
Alan Murphy
4 August 2014

Selfish traders and their staff continue to deny customers every opportunity to park vehicles in shopping centre car parks. Frustrated shoppers in turn probably head to Highpoint and Westfield, denying much-needed business for local retailers.

Although most local parking is restricted to one and two hours, a study of the areas confirms many motorists simply ignore the restrictions. Just as significantly, few if any motorists are hit with parking infringement notices. Just watch the exodus of staff from shops and offices when traffic officers descend on a strip. The offenders simply drive around the block and repark their vehicles.

It appears that some local traders know what effect that occupying a car park near their business will have:

As one trader puts it, if a car parks in a one-hour area all day, they effectively prevent at least eight shoppers from parking near the shopping strip.

However some traders just don’t care:

Some of the offending cars have tell-tale registration numbers, making them easy to identify as belonging to traders. But, after this columnist revealed an offending vehicle beating the system on the Rose Street strip two years back, the owner simply came to work in another vehicle – and on most days still parks there for all or most of the day.

It isn’t just the traders. Staff of service organisations – banks, utilities and so on – park in areas reserved for shoppers and routinely leave work to shift their vehicles. Watch it all unfold before your eyes in the Niddrie car parks if the traffic officers arrive.

At my father’s take away shop, bringing the car around the front after closing time was a nightly ritual – it seems that for some traders this extra effort is a step too far.

An overseas example

Over in the United States, residents of Salem, Oregon petitioned for a removal of parking time limits and parking meters. Now they regret doing so:

Free, unlimited parking clogs downtown district
Michael Rose
23 August 2014

Salem residents spoke loudly last fall: no parking time limits, no parking meters in the downtown core.

They wanted free parking. Period.

But some of the 6,000 Salem residents who signed a petition demanding free, unrestricted parking may be having second thoughts as they circle the block in a futile search for a parking space.

Lack of on-street parking in the Downtown Parking District, once a sporadic problem, is a near constant irritant. Business owners rue the day in October when Salem City Council voted to adopt a petition backed by a citizen group. The two-hour parking signs started coming down within days.

“We just aren’t getting the turnover that is critical to every single business down here.” said Lyn McPherson, co-owner of Whitlock’s Vacuum & Sewing Center on 455 Court St. NE.

Salem City Council at today’s meeting will review a consultant’s study and staff report on parking trends. No action by the council is expected at today’s meeting, but the reports will likely prompt further discussions.

Rick Williams Consulting, the firm hired by the city, found that the turnover of parking spaces in a 10 hour period has decreased by 17 percent compared to 2012.

That amounts to lost money. Each time a parking space turnovers it results in about $15 of spending, according to the consultant’s estimate.

Further reading

American professor Donald Shoup is a widely-regarded expert in the economics and availability of parking – his 2005 book “The High Cost of Free Parking” explains how parking policy shapes the development of cities.

The blog Reinventing Parking also covers the same topics, with examples from around the world.

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2 Responses to “Local traders not understanding car parking”

  1. Jacob says:

    No mention of deliveries and loading zones. I have worked as both a pizza delivery driver and a daytime courier. The councils allow all these apartments to come up but do not think that any of the residents will ever order home delivered meals! So deliveries end up late and cold or we park illegally.

    We just need a loading zone every 200 metres or so.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I haven’t thought about deliveries to apartment blocks before, but you make a good point – over the past decade many roads in Melbourne’s inner north-western suburbs have seen three to five-story developments replace old industrial sites.

      In the CBD and inner suburbs it is now quite common to see pizza delivery drivers on motor scooters instead of cars – no parking issues there!

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