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Born: Late 18th century (for steam-driven cars).
Death: Auckland is considering banning kerbside parking on main streets, to make more room for buses and cycling.
Use: To store one car, or 12 bikes.
Description: Carl Benz is usually blamed for inventing the car in 1885, but steam-driven cars were invented a century earlier, in 1769, from which time their owners began leaving them lying about the place, blocking others’ progress — and taking the keys with them, so they couldn’t be moved. At least an inconveniently positioned horse could be click-clicked along to the next hitching rail.
The first parking restrictions were put in place in Nineveh, ancient Assyria, in 700BC by King Sennacherib. His signs read "Royal Road — let no man decrease it" and the penalty was death followed by impaling outside one’s own home.
In Japan there is a near-total ban on on-street parking and motorists are required to prove that they have a garage before being allowed to register a car.
Parking haters, be careful what you wish for: a busy street with no parked cars can be a dismal place, with traffic whizzing past pedestrians’ elbows. Parked cars don’t run people down, and they are good at separating lanes from the footpath. If all parts of a road are for moving vehicles, what happens when the road needs digging up? With no parking, there’s no spare capacity that can be temporarily cleared for diverted traffic.
Comeback: Some retailers are considering providing parking for their own customers, instead of expecting ratepayers to do so.
- Peter Dowden