Car parking versus housing: a no-brainer one would hope.....

Are housing developments without any parking a good idea? So asks Colette Sheridan in her weekly column
Car parking versus housing: a no-brainer one would hope.....

Some new developments won’t have parking included - leaving people the option of just public transport or cycling. Picture: Stock

A MASSIVE change of culture will have to be embraced if we are to deal with the housing crisis in this country, said Cllr Dan Boyle on social media last week. He was talking about the need to discourage people from owning cars when they live close to the city.

Cllr Boyle was posting comments in the context of a public consultation being advertised for a 39-unit social housing development on the Kinsale road, close to Musgrave Park. But when asked if there will be parking spaces for cars in this development, he said that most developments like this one won’t have parking.

The Kinsale Road development is on a bus corridor route. The choice is either parking cars or building housing, said the Green Party councillor.

It’s stark. It’s not easy. It would be particularly hard for families with children that need to be ferried to football or drama classes or whatever. Not to mention the need for transport to do the weekly shopping. Try it on foot with a child or two in tow and an inadequate shopping bag or a shopping trolley. It’s the stuff of an urban nightmare, trying to live an urban life without the support of four wheels.

And if you need to take your child to a hospital, what are you supposed to do? Wait for the bus or a taxi?

Surely, in the interest of good planning, parking facilities should be included in plans for new housing developments. But space is often at a premium, leading to a need to build upwards - another bugbear for folk that don’t want things to change. But change they must, because how we live now is not sustainable. Cars are bad for the environment and car parking takes up a lot of space.

As it happens, the 39-unit development on the Kinsale Road consists of 24 one-bedroom units and 15 two bedroom units. In other words, this proposed development is not targeting families but rather, single people and couples. 

So the living wouldn’t be that hard if you had to take the bus as you’d probably be child-free.

If shopping for the week can’t be physically done without a car, there’s always the option of ordering groceries online from a supermarket.

Of course, there would be people who’d say that living in your glass box, without the human contact experienced while paying for your goods or running into neighbours in the supermarket, is just going to lead to atomised lives. And they have a point. But there are lots of ways to be sociable other than complaining about the price of tomatoes to the person next to you in the vegetable section of the supermarket. Join a club. Check out your local library for events. Strike up conversations at the bus stop.

On a contrary note, there was a recent tongue-in-cheek thread on Twitter by someone calling themselves ‘Wall Street Silver’. WSW said a banker made the economists think when he said: “A cyclist is a disaster for the country’s economy.”

That’s because cyclists don’t borrow money to buy cars (borrowing being the engine that keeps society ticking over). They don’t buy insurance or fuel and there is no car servicing, no repairs and no parking fees.

And broadening out the theme of thwarting economics as we know it, I read that healthy people are not necessary or useful to the economy. This is because they’re not buying medicine from Big Pharma, they’re not going to hospitals or doctors. “They add nothing to a country’s GDP,” it was claimed.

On the other hand, “each new McDonalds store creates at least 30 jobs. These include ten cardiologists, ten dentists and ten dieticians or nutritionists.”

And there are also the employees in the fast food outlet. The tweeter exhorted that we “choose wisely: a bike or a McDonalds”.

I would choose neither, although catch me on a downer of a day and I might just be persuaded to have a Big Mac to cheer myself up. But a bike? I know too many people who’ve been knocked off their bikes while cycling in traffic.

Cyclists are incredibly vulnerable. They can also be incredibly annoying, breaking traffic lights, so that as a pedestrian, I never take for granted that they’re going to stop when the lights are red. But when conditions are ideal, cycling is environmentally friendly. Just don’t try filling your pannier with today’s dinner ingredients. There simply isn’t room for a bag of spuds.

A cautionary note was sounded on Twitter with someone saying capitalist society will end when people can’t use their cars anymore because of the high cost of oil.

“But it will be the biggest bloodbath of human history,” posted the doom merchant.

I’m off to get a McDonalds meal to lighten the load.

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