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Foot soldiers in the battle for parking

Date

The Cubicle Brothers warn never to underestimate the capacity for a foot soldier to find a workaround to such a difficult situation as the Parliamentary Triangle paid parking debacle.

For years, there has been rumours that paid parking would be introduced. Just how bad is it going to get?

For years, there has been rumours that paid parking would be introduced. Just how bad is it going to get? Photo: Graham Tidy

We think Jules Verne said it best, though he was talking about India.

Everybody knows that the great reversed triangle of land,
with its base in the north and its apex in the south,
which is called Parliamentary,
embraces acres of green and gravel fields, in which is spread unequally a population of thousands of SUVs and hatchbacks.

Public servants, particularly those in "central agencies" are always a little wary of shocks on budget night. But paid parking was something that the city, still reeling from the sight of the Hindenboob, was ill-prepared for. People in the Defence area were particularly shocked, unaccustomed as they are to worrying about the Budget. Many of them only discovered they were IN the Parliamentary Triangle on Wednesday morning.

The inconvenient fact is that there hasn't been enough parking in the area for years. A decade ago, public servant cars with their smug little bumper stickers filled every metre of street frontage from Vernon Circle to Deakin. Since then new residential and departmental buildings have been built, while the well-heeled hedge-enthusiasts who populate the inner south rose up in revolt, sparking a war on residential street parking that drove waves of refugees to the protected sanctuary of the triangle.

The triangle isn't actually terribly close to many workplaces, and local food options may consist of a caravan and a place famous only for a PM losing her shoe, but the parking options have been seemingly endless. First there's the free public spaces provided near institutions like the National Library and the High Court. And then there's the rolling green fields and roadside nooks and crannies that have justified the purchase of so many gargantuan 4WDs. And now that sanctuary is being taken away, it's like declaring open season in a nature reserve.

Open season, it seems, for pretentious vitriol. We were prepared for the bile from our big city neighbours – for whom the ordeal of commuting is as righteous as the vocation itself, the usual anti-public service crowd, and even from those who don leather and lycra. But the casting of stones from our brethren across the pond in Civic (many of whom are 'part of the problem' by parking in the triangle and crossing the bridge) has been too much for many to bear.

Et tu Braddon?

For years there have been rumours that this would happen. We just never thought it could. Treasury and Finance officials whose tendency towards free markets and economic liberalism defines them, have, in the past, turned Bolshevik at the threat of losing this uncredited fringe benefit.  Surely we'd abolish the health system or consider a tightening of Defence forward projections  before we'd ever give up our parking? There is no truer sign that the national finances are in danger than this decision.

So what will be the ultimate result of this decision? Basement level 1 Carparking spots (BL1CP) will now become more coveted than a PSM. And for those who miss out, never underestimate the capacity for a public servant to find a workaround to a difficult situation. There are many types of foot soldiers in the battle for parking.

Firstly, the problem will be distributed as soon every piece of unregulated flattish 10sqm land on or near a road in the inner north and south will contain a 4WD.  Secondly, obesity levels in the lower public service ranks may decline as people find "secret parks" in increasingly outlandish but free locations like Curtin and Narrabundah. Some in Civic already do this, marching three kilometres from the National Museum to their London Circuit lairs. Flex hours will decrease correspondingly. Thirdly, competition to become Canberra's Biggest Dickhead will heat up as even more people join the race to fill every loading, disabled and taxi zone in the triangle with a salary-packaged Korean hatchback. Some contestants will form alliances to win this trophy, parking four cars at Questacon before hopping into the fifth to drive 250 metres to their shared BL1CP.

Purveyors of two-wheeled transportation will likely see a spike in revenue as many use the new parking situation as an opportunity to embrace their inner hipster with a vintage-looking bicycle. But dreams that traffic on National Circuit will soon resemble market day in Saigon will be dashed once these new cyclists confront the cold hard reality of their nipples on a Canberra morning (see Hindenboob). As for the buses — people will continue not to take them.

Ultimately, however, this is the very definition of a first world problem. And at very least it'll give us something to talk about during caretaker mode.

32 comments

  • I just love reading a humurous article, especially the reference to the Hindenboob. CLASSIC!

    Commenter
    MR
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    May 17, 2013, 1:00PM
    • Hey subs - where are the bylines for this missive?
      Author and photographer credits please....

      Commenter
      trevorpix
      Date and time
      May 17, 2013, 1:18PM
      • It's there, Trevor: the Cubicle Brothers wrote this article.

        Commenter
        Markus Mannheim
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        May 17, 2013, 1:25PM
    • Very soon you will be paying to park in your driveway at home. This is Canberra, anything can happen!

      Commenter
      adakol1
      Date and time
      May 17, 2013, 1:26PM
      • Paid parking is almost in every major city in Australia. The only problem with paid parking in Canberra is there's not a better alternative than driving. They should think about working on the public transport system - more bus routes, more accurately timed and not charging $4.20 one way for a ticket!!

        Commenter
        April
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        May 17, 2013, 1:37PM
      • April, it's only $4.20 if you pay cash. Have a look at Brisbane's public transport. it starts at $3 for one zone and then gets worse from there - even with the GoCard.

        Commenter
        kris isabella
        Date and time
        May 17, 2013, 1:48PM
      • Given that the ACT is leasehold, I wonder about the legality of charging for parking?
        Do public service offices have a leasehold agreement and if so is the parking included?

        Food for thought.

        Commenter
        selector 2
        Date and time
        May 17, 2013, 4:06PM
    • Sorry guys but surely workers etc in the Parliamentary area should expect to pay for their parking. All workers in the other main employment hubs do. The issue of 'illegal' parking should be addressed ASAP, my son was booked near Manuka oval for parking on a verve for a cricket match but every weekday 100's of cars are parked in verges in Barton and Parkes, but no action is action. What message does this send?

      Commenter
      M
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 17, 2013, 1:26PM
      • I'd him want to be booked if he parked on my verve, especially for something as sedate as a cricket match. Some mornings I'm scratching for enough verve and that's before the prospect of having to pay for parking.

        Can we get Brodburgher and others back in their caravans to serve our employment hub? Maybe then we'll feel less ticked off at being in services-bereft zone that "served" by a rubbish
        bus system.

        Commenter
        YS
        Date and time
        May 17, 2013, 3:38PM
      • The upset about paying for parking in parkes is that there are no services there. It is actually a really inconvenient place to work!

        And the all day spots tend to be 15 minutes of fast walking to get to the office and that's if you arrive at 8.00am. There are no lights so in winter that hike across dark and deserted paddocks can feel pretty dangerous. It's just not a place you should pay to park in because the infrastructure isn't there.

        Commenter
        Ellie
        Date and time
        May 18, 2013, 12:27PM

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