/ Motoring

Parking in Britain takes us far too long

Cars in car park

Parking. Anyone would think it was a great British hobby considering the amount of time we spend doing it. Around 25 minutes a day apparently. That might not sound like a lot, but it all adds up. And think of the petrol!

Not only can parking your car cost a pretty penny, it can also take an age. Or up to a year during your lifetime, according to a National Car Parks study of 9,000 drivers.

On average British drivers spend 152 hours a year searching for a cursed parking space and it can’t be doing our health any good. Or our wallets – parking burns away £120 of the average motorist’s hard-earned cash every year.

It’s not actually a problem for me personally, as I use public transport (I don’t have a driving licence anyway – don’t laugh) but it’s definitely a problem for my mum. Her plastic parking angel is meant to help, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this superstitious mumbo jumbo doesn’t do the trick.

And then there’s the stress of getting into that narrow space, which is worsened by the pressure of another impatient driver waiting behind. Two in five drivers polled said they’d avoid a space altogether if there was another car behind them – with women the most likely to feel intimidated.

And according to the AA, we’re just rubbish parkers in the UK, with its president Edmund King commenting:

‘As a nation in general, we are not very good parkers. You see some cars parked so far from the kerb that you almost need a canoe to paddle to the pavement. A few parking lessons wouldn’t go amiss.’

Parking takes the longest for Londoners (182 hours a year) with Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle close behind. So maybe there just aren’t enough parking spaces in our cities? And with traffic jams and school drop-offs dominating our time in these metal husks, do we really need other drivers pressuring us to park in tiny supermarket spaces?


A new Garmin sat nav coming out has a parking space ‘detector’ feature!

pickle says:
26 October 2010

ee, I like that Christophe!
I suppose it is possible to use park and ride, but unless the bus takes you somewhere near your destination it is a time waster.
So many of our cities are short of space for new car parks – so the answer to new parking space is to go up or down; Many European car parks are underground and we have a very few in this country. They are expensive – but what is the alternative?
As for parking neatly – well, my house overlooks a car park and the antics of some people is ludicrous. Perhaps the test should be tightened up in this respect.


Another little stat in the news about us spending too much time on the roads. Londoner’s morning commutes apparently take longer now than they did in 1906. Bus speeds in the city now rival horse-drawn carriages.

For instance, the 4.1 mile trip from Piccadilly Circus to Hammersmith takes the current No. 9 bus 37 minutes. In 1906 it took a petrol bus 28 minutes and 38 minutes on a horse-drawn bus.

What could be done to solve this? More flexible working hours?

Peter Day says:
26 October 2010

I think some parking spaces are too tight, I am thinking supermarkets. Every mark on my car has been caused when my car has been left in a supermarket car park.

Lady London says:
11 February 2011

is that anything to do with lady drivers perhaps being less skilled due to lack of experience? presumably the majority of people parking their cars in supermarkets, are women?


I think more flexible working hours would help, and working from home (both of which can sometimes be possible).. I’ve been able to shift my working hours to slightly outside the extreme peak travel times, and although my journey isn’t significantly faster (I usually take the train), I find the journey is more comfortable, and my stress levels are reduced. A benefit to my employer!

Sat navs at the more expensive end of the market have some rather clever traffic avoidance features which can really be useful. But with the number of cars growing all the time, I think this can only do so much in the long term.

Longer term, I think we’re going to have to find some better solutions, including leaving the car at home short journeys, if practical. As a keen cyclist, I’m pleased to see the measures taken in London recently to make cycling easier. Looking around, there are also far more places to park your bike than to park your car!

I’m quite amazed at the 182 hours per year (for London) statistic.

I think I’m going to try to ride a horse to work one day!


Everyones solution is always ‘leave the car at home’ but we wouldnt have to if councils didnt keep discriminating against motorists by deliberately making it harder to park in towns. When did Britain start hating the motorcar? Its madness. I was into cycling when i was a teenager but then i got into cars, learned to drive and i think my bike gathers dust somewhere in a shed but if people want to cycle thats up to them but why does every scheme to ‘make cycling easier’ always co-incide with making motoring more difficult. There seems to be this school of thought that the cyclist has somehow more right to be on the road or exist in society and the motorist should apologise for existing. As a motorist i no longer feel welcome in my own town, at every turn its ‘pedestrians only’ Its very odd.

Towns and cities need to make more provisions for people to be able to park, the high street was killed, sloughtered and put on the wall as a trophy by the internet long ago and the more the high street decides they dont want motorists custom the worse it’ll get. I work slightly outside the main rush hour so its not too bad for me and i have my own signed space with my initials on it now (not as posh as it sounds, just a little plaque haha!) when i go shopping i tend to drive to a supermarket at 8 on a weekday evening or do it online, more convenient. Its impossible to park in my local town now so ive not had a cup of coffee near where i live for over a year, i’d rather drive out of town to some little country pub or something. Places you can only get to with a car tend to keep the drunken neanderthal riff raff out also, far better than a pub in town near a bus stop which any idiot can get to.


I’m always amazed by the number of people who sit in queues going INTO a supermarket car park just to be a few yards closer to the main entrance. So satisfying parking in an easy to enter space slightly further out, walking past them in their queue and even better on my return when I’m nearer the exit and don’t have to sit in a queue to get out.

However, nothing irritates me more than the dreaded ‘parent and child’ spaces right outside said front door. Appreciate that extra wide spaces maybe needed but why right by the door? All empty when I do my weekly shop at an off-peak, push-chair-free time. My local Tesco, like most, even has a wide, safe, bollard-protected walkway running through the heart of the car park. Why not make the little blighters walk for a few minutes and shed some of that obesity they build up on all the fat-filled ready meals their idiot parents are about to purchase for them?

Can you tell I’m not a parent (yet)? May all change soon and then I’ll also join the brain-cell-shedded millions 🙂


I think inadequate parking provision, particularly in London is quite deliberate. There is a school of thought that if you remove the parking space, you remove the car journey. I suppose it might be good for the environment but not particularly good for business, or just the hope of getting things done relatively painlessly.

I think there is also a hefty degree of parking regulation bloat. Many roads which used to be free of yellow lines without much issue now have restrictions applying 7 days a week. It’s just daft really. CPZ’s are also ill thought out – roads overflowing with vehicles next to half deserted roads. Surely there’s a better solution – we pay the planners enough after all. Plus the applicable times seem to be totally arbitrary varying from street to street/borough to borough which just causes confusion.

That’s it…I’m going to buy a moped tomorrow!. But wait…you have to pay to park those as well now.