Parking made easier

I’m trying to understand how an app that tells you that your car will cause the council to be fined for illegal levels of air pollution if you drive into the city and provides you with a free parking space and a rat run through residential streets will do anything other than create a nightmare for families walking/wheeling or cycling their kids to school.

The underlying issue is that the decision to implement a Clean Air Zone “C” (do not charge old cars) vs “D” (charge old cars) was inherently a political one. The council should have implemented a Clean Air Zone, with digital information boards on the boundaries and then DEFRA’s air quality unit should use active pricing based on current levels of air pollution. Yes sometimes you could come in with your old diesel SUV for free, but when it got bad, no, it would cost you. Just leave it at the Park and Ride or take a bus or even grab an eBike (7-9 miles is easily doable).

One thing the council has got right is delivering Liveable Neighbourhoods and Resident Parking Zones. These truly tackle “free” parking and return residential roads, never designed to handle enormous volumes of through traffic back to what they were designed for, quiet residential streets where kids can play out safely and enabling people to walk/wheel or cycle. Remember 42% of car journeys in Bath are under 2 miles. Nationally around 60% are under 5 miles.

What would also help, given the focus of this article on the rural residents coming into the city, would be for all bus services into Bath to be capped at Park and Ride prices.

Giving people an app that helps people that own old heavy stinky SUVs to rat run through residential areas to a free parking spot makes absolutely no sense whatsoever given the council’s stated aims around the climate emergency and necessary reduction in road miles driven by 24% by 2030. Rural road miles are the biggest generator of those miles and not something the council should be enabling and encouraging.


Artificial intelligence that helps drivers find parking spaces in busy city centres is being developed at the University of Bath.

The software will also incentivise drivers to cooperate with local councils in their quest to keep pollution within safe limits in busy urban centres, as part of a far-reaching programme designed to reduce toxic air in city centres.

As city populations continue to grow (it’s expected that the world’s urban population willmore than doublebetween now and 2050, with 7 out of 10 people living in cities), the need to use new technology to mitigate pollution and congestion becomes ever more pressing. However, any measures introduced to curb the use of cars in cities will also need to factor in the needs of people from rural communities who may rely on their cars to access essential services.

The new project is a collaboration between computer scientists at Bath and

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  1. Adam – completely agree re the CAZ with similar grants for residents inside the zone to help with changing cars.
    However, I think there are two groups of people that your suggestions are negatively impacted. Please think about these two groups when considering the liveable neighbourhood plans. They are the residents who live on the main through routes and our quality of health as more and more stationary traffic is forced outside these peoples houses. The other group being those with limited mobility ie the elderly and disabled. If every time there is a new suggestion we all think of these two groups and see what it means for them – that way we will get plans that work for all, reduce car use and improve air quality.

  2. I’m not sure I follow your logic. Liveable Neighbourhoods do not restrict vehicular access to homes and Resident Parking Zones simply remove the ability for people to easily park for free in residential areas ergo making Park and Ride more attractive. If over 40% of cars on our roads are doing trips under two miles we need to create the environment where people, particularly children, can get around safely. The status quo is unacceptably hostile for walking/wheeling and cycling, particularly for kids which make up over 25% of the city’s population.

    • Hi Adam.
      My points were as follows
      LN – generally will move traffic from one area to a main round – eg one suggested LN is to block the Weston Lane entrance to RVP and so have more cars travelling down Park Lane and along UBR.
      Secondly in your piece you said how easy 8-10 miles are on an eBike -I agree not much of a challenge for you or I (at our current ages) but perhaps in 20 years time that might not be as easy.

      • So what you’re saying is that those that can should walk/wheel, cycle, or use public transport whenever possible leaving the main roads for those that have no choice but to use a car.

        The reality is that the travel independence of elderly is not impacted by the policies yet the 40% of households that have no access to cars or the young that simply cannot drive are currently stopped from getting around independently by the status quo. We need to change the status quo so that any parent can feel safe letting their 10 year old daughter cycle to school on her own. If it works for her, it works for everyone.

      • And what I’m saying is if the 10 year old lives on a main road, you should consider the air quality that she will suffer at her home if more cars are asked to travel along her street.

        I’m just saying think of all aspects and get to a better place.

        I agree we need to stop the 2-3 mile journeys that clog up Bath. This would be achieved by making CAZ a “congestion charge” so irrespective of age of car a charge was levied, and that all are liable (subject to normal reliefs for certain groups).

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