|Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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Parking problems or just part of the local driving experience? 

page 22 parking

 

Carnival is upon us, perhaps the busiest time of the year for Puerto, and the problems of the town’s road system and parking will once again be highlighted.

The streets will be gridlocked; the parking will be woefully inadequate, cars will be abandoned everywhere as people find it quicker to walk and many potential visitors just won’t be bothered and will simply stay away.

I paint a gloomy picture, so is it really that bad? Okay, I admit, carnival is without doubt the most extreme scenario. Instead let’s look at it from a normal day to day point of view.

Let’s face it, parking in the town, or the lack of it, has been the biggest bugbear for a lot of people for years. You should write about it, I’m told. I have, my reply, many times and besides I don’t necessarily agree. There is plenty of parking; it’s just not in the right place for most people’s needs.

What they want is convenient on-street parking. Surely there is, yes, but what is really needed is some short term parking. We used to have it, pay and display, it was done away with years ago, probably as a vote winner during the local elections, free parking for all. Sounds good doesn’t it  but the reality is that on- street parking really did become a free for all and we are now left with the spaces either permanently occupied by residents or quickly filled each morning by workers.

So where does that leave the visitor? Simple, you can either cruise around the town in the hope there may be a empty space or, you do as I always do, park in the harbour car park and walk to wherever you are going.

There you have it, there is plenty of parking in the town, a huge car park, right next to the sea, but, oh yes, there is a but; there always is, more than one in fact, and  best summarised by saying it is not exactly the most user friendly car park. For one, it is in desperate need of relining. I can’t think why it hasn’t been done, just a bit of white paint is all it needs, unless of course, they are hoping for the start of the port development when the whole car park will disappear, but that’s another story, for another time.

Then there is the problem of there being only one entrance and exit, via a narrow lane, single file, and light controlled. Add to that, the approach road where you have to run the gauntlet of the last parking brainwave the town hall came up with, namely the ‘Reverse Herringbone System’. I won’t bore you with the finer point’s, just say that you sit in a queue watching drivers take four or five attempts at reversing into a bay which is set at an angle to the kerb; it’s quite entertaining if you are not in a hurry.

However, first you have to find the car park, easy for me I live here, but for first time visitors, what do they do, follow the signs. What signs? You won’t find any until you are almost on top of it and even then they are not that obvious. Finally, for many the main reason they don’t like to use the car park, there are the parking touts, who, I have noticed recently, are on the increase. Periodically the local council will claim to have resolved the problem, but never have. They are not overly aggressive, at least, they have never bothered me, I wonder why; they obviously pick on easier targets.

There are other car parks, one below the ghost town of a shopping centre at Martiánez, what an  first impression that must make on a new  visitor, and of course, the one at Plaza Europa, very convenient for the town hall, that one.  Neither  is particularly well signposted.  What the town really needs is a multi-storey and the former bus station would be an ideal site, after all it has been standing empty for a good few years.

Enough, I could go on, but I am bored with parking so I’ll climb down off my soapbox. I don’t really know why I am rabbiting on about it, as I have already said, I don’t have a problem, but that is selfish, there are many who do. The problem is not a new one, the council have for years embarked on what they would probably call traffic calming measures, but what is in reality a vendetta against the motorist. Their aim, a vehicle free town, is not that easy, there has to be some compromise.

Well, I am in this frame of mind, let’s look now at some of the quirks of the local road system and at how people make use  of it.

I’ll start with an easy one.  Why are nearly all the pedestrian crossings positioned right on busy junctions?  The ‘local’ pedestrian will always take the shortest route; if the crossing wasn’t there they would cross there anyway.

Is Puerto the only town to have a busy road going right through the middle of the “Bus Station”? Don’t be flippant Brian, everyone knows this is a temporary situation and that work on the new bus station is imminent. Is it really? Well, maybe, after all it is election year.

Why is it there so few roundabouts and none within the town centre itself? A roundabout is the most effective way of keeping traffic flowing and mini-roundabouts in particular are popular in town centres.  Their use relies on drivers using indicators, showing courtesy and giving way to other road users. Does that answer the question? There would be too many accidents.

Does the green light on a pedestrian crossing mean all traffic is stopped and it is safe to cross? Surprisingly, no it doesn’t!!!!

What is the significance of a single yellow line? Officially it means no parking, unofficially it is a  local’s parking zone.

Why is it most of the disabled parking spaces in the town are vehicle specific? Simple, they pay for the privilege of parking there.

What is the significance of yellow cross hatching? Loading only at certain times of the day, oh, and a local’s parking zone at all times.

What should you do when the car in front of you just stops dead for no apparent reason? Give a long blast on your car horn.  They have probably stopped to chat with a friend who is on the pavement. The horn won’t make the slightest difference, but at least you will feel better for it.

Why does there always seem to be a hire car on the back of the grua? You have noticed that as well! I’ve been thinking it was always just a coincidence.

And finally, the classic question to which you all know the answer. What is the inside lane on a roundabout used for?  Of course, it’s not used at all, but hang on, it¡s carnival so there will probably be cars parked in it.

As always these are merely my own thoughts and opinions and I am in no doubt that a lot of people will disagree with them.