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On-street parking problems getting worse says RAC Foundation as cars get too big for garages




Residential streets are becoming car parks for vehicles, which often can't fit in garages and are only being driven for an hour a day, a new study suggests.

While cars have been getting bigger, the size of household garages hasn't increased, says the RAC Foundation, leaving many motorists struggling to now properly park their car at home.

Research suggests cars are parked for, on average 23, hours a day
Research suggests cars are parked for, on average 23, hours a day

According to the group, dedicated to transport policy and research, despite distinct changes in both the length and width of vehicles over the decades the dimensions of domestic garages, particularly in new housing estates, hasn't been changed to reflect the shift.

The Standing Still report states many garage doors are only 2.1m wide, which leaves just 15 centimetres of clearance on each side of a popular average car being driven into it, and in turn little room for the driver or passengers to get out comfortably once inside.

Garages built with new homes can sometimes struggle with the size of modern cars, says the report
Garages built with new homes can sometimes struggle with the size of modern cars, says the report

Alongside cars getting bigger, believed to be driven by the popularity of SUVs and the addition of more technology and safety features inside, there are more than four times the number of cars on the road than there was 50 years ago fuelling demands for space.

In 1965 there were just 7.7 million cars on Britain’s roads, in 1995 this rose to 21.4 million but today stands at around 31.7 million - adding to the pressure now being placed on on-street parking.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, added: “Not only are cars getting bigger; there are also more of them. This is putting huge pressure on roadside space and explains why many of us feel that the parking bays in car parks don’t seem quite big enough.

“Crucially domestic garages are also often unfit for their intended purpose – the planning system needs to recognise that garage design needs to catch up with vehicle design, or throw in the towel and recognise that they are, in practice, garden sheds waiting to be converted to provide extra accommodation, which means thinking again about where the family car is going to be parked.”

There are four times as many cars on the road now, compared to 50 years ago
There are four times as many cars on the road now, compared to 50 years ago

Combined with this, researchers producing the report found that the average car or van in England is only being driven for - on average - one hour each day.

While the data makes a case, say researchers, for the potential for more electric charging points for vehicles and a move to more environmentally friendly cars, this inactivity is adding to the demand for available parking in residential streets.

The pressure for on-street parking spaces is being fuelled by small garages and cars being sat idle says a study by the RAC Foundation
The pressure for on-street parking spaces is being fuelled by small garages and cars being sat idle says a study by the RAC Foundation

Transport for New Homes campaigns for new housing that promotes walking, cycling and public transport and avoids a dependence on cars. Jenny Raggett from the organisation says the suggestion cars remain unused for 23 hours each day should raise big questions about future transport plans.

She explained: “The fact that cars are used only 4% of the time raises important questions about the housing we are building today, like why modern public transport – running at high frequencies right into new estates – is not a priority in planning policy and infrastructure investment.

"High-quality public transport – combined with car clubs in new developments – could reduce the need for parking space and allow more green spaces, room for walking and cycling, places to sit and for children to play.”