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Parking controls can play an important role in encouraging more sustainable modes of transport. A new report commissioned by the Centre for London makes the case for a more strategic approach to managing parking and the kerbside, and for reallocating street space to uses that Londoners value.

London’s growing population and changing travel habits are putting our roads and streets under increasing pressure. There is now a growing consensus that tackling the challenges of congestion, air pollution, carbon emissions, road danger and physical inactivity requires a reduction in motor vehicle usage and an increase in the use of public transport, walking and cycling. Additionally, we must ensure that any car journeys that cannot be avoided are carried out in shared, low-emission vehicles. We call this shift in how we move around the city “New Urban Mobility”.

Priority Londoners ascribe to different street space uses in their local areaPriority Londoners ascribe to different street space uses in their local area
(Click on the graph to enlarge)

With increasing demand on our roads, and serious challenges including climate change, poor air quality, and road danger, the Mayor of London and London boroughs are committed to reducing reliance on private cars and to promoting public transport and active travel.

But while Londoners are increasingly concerned about climate change and local air quality, there are still some significant barriers to a less car-reliant city. Car ownership has hardly moved in London in recent years and the proportion of trips made by public transport, walking or cycling hasn’t changed for the last three years.

Yet Londoners want trees and green space, clutter-free pavements and children’s play spaces prioritised on their streets over on-street residential parking.

This report argues that while Londoners who need to drive also need to park, better use of street space would benefit everyone. It highlights that the opportunity to repurpose kerbsides and transform them into valuable public space is huge: cars parked on our streets take up space equivalent to 10 Hyde Parks.

Key recommendations

Many London boroughs are already proactively using parking and kerbside policies to achieve wider transport objectives, but different boroughs are at different stages of this journey.

This report presents a menu of interventions that councils can use to encourage residents to think differently about car ownership and use, and to create a greener and safer city, to the benefit of everyone, including:

  • Develop kerbside strategies that allocate road and kerb space in accordance with clear user hierarchies;
  • Reallocate road space gradually through introducing a cap on the number of permits issued, and using waiting lists or limited eligibility for new residents;
  • Set residential permit charges at a level that fully covers operating costs;
  • Regularly review the coverage, size and operating hours of Controlled Parking Zones;
  • Move towards an emission-based charging structure for resident permits, and escalating charges for additional vehicles.


Reclaim the Kerb: The future of parking and kerbside management

Authors: Silviya Barrett, Joe Wills and Mario Washington-Ihieme

Read the report online

Download the report in PDF format

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