Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Parking traumas A recent survey carried out for the AA suggests that one third of neighbour disputes is car-related: ‘An AA-Populus survey of 23,450 AA members (11-17 June 2013) found that 33% of neighbour bust-ups are rooted in car-related disputes.’ I don’t have access to the questions asked so I can’t tell what is meant by ‘bust-ups’ (or ‘flare-ups’ which is another term used in the media release). It’s a large sample but they are of course all likely to be car users and car-oriented. The two great sins in this field are blocking access to a property; and parking on a designated disabled driver’s space. I was asked to comment briefly on this finding, on BBC Radio London the other day, and had time only to note the way cars are often treated as an extension of the home, giving rise to a problematic territoriality; and to raise questions about an apparent correlation of aggression and car use (e.g.). If people spend less time on the streets in their neighbourhood, which seems often to be the case, their perception of the publicness of that space diminishes. When social policy appears to endorse this detachment from the public realm, we can’t really be surprised if there is a growing tendency for people to claim bits of it for themselves. Two related thoughts. At the time I was unaware of this curious small Polish study which suggests that people who use both a car and public transport have a lower tendency toward aggressive driving, but it seems to confirm what we might expect. Secondly, I heard a presentation last week by Frances Hodgson, who studies sustainable transport: she noted that there seems to be a distinct trend among young people not bothering to learn to drive, on the grounds that they cannot anticipate being able to afford to do so.

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