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How to Avoid Parking Hassle

I expect I am not unusual in hating the hassle that can be involved with parking the car. This is particularly the case when visiting a new town or city, particularly the centre of the city, where you do not have the benefit of local knowledge of some cunning side road where easy parking is available.

All too often you end up ploughing into the city centre, along badly congested roads, around one-way systems that take you away from where you want to go and ultimately in many cases you end up at the top of multi-storey car park having gone round and round for 15 minutes looking for a space. And then you curse when you see how much the parking is going to cost.

At least that is what used to happen to me, but with modern technology there is a solution, and it is a solution that works!

The solution

The solution is definitely NOT a council provided park and ride service. For one thing you often have to pay for this. But more importantly the service is likely to stop in early evening, and what if you want to return later than that? Also there is all the hanging around for the bus at either end, which I dislike. Overnight parking may also not be allowed (or advisable).

For my solution to the problem you will have to be prepared for a walk, but this will be of no more than about 15 to 20 minutes – in other words the amount of time you might otherwise spend driving into the centre of town and finding somewhere to park. And the brilliant thing is that your parking will be for free.

The answer, of course, is to find one of those cunning residential roads where there are no parking restrictions – the sort of road you are likely to know about in your local area – and park there. But how do you find it?

Google maps and Google Streetview are the answer! Bring up the map and scale it so you viewing an area of about 2 miles radius of the town centre you are trying to get to. Then zoom in with streetview to randomly chosen roads. I usually start with roads about 1 mile from the centre and work my way out from there (unless I immediately and very easily find a suitable road in which case I may look for another a bit closer to where I am going).

Streetview will show you everything you need to know about a road in a few seconds. It is very easy to see if the road is too busy, or too narrow, if there are double yellow lines, and if there are notices up about parking restrictions (eg 2 hours only, no return with 2 hours) it is usually possible to read these signs by zooming in.

It shouldn’t take too long to find a suitable road with no parking restrictions where you can leave your car for as long as you want. I like the sorts of residential road that are so quiet that the curtains are likely to twitch as the occupant wonders why someone is parking outside their house.

Now you can get Google to provide you with walking instructions from this point to where you are going, and you can print them off.

Now the remaining issue is how to navigate to this spot in the car with minimum hassle. To do this you will need to use your car sat nav, and this means you will need the postcode of where you are going. Fortunately Google gives you this info also, so all you need to do is enter it into your sat nav and you are sorted.

What happens if you are visiting somewhere a bit bigger?

The solution described above will work well for medium to large towns and small cities, but is unlikely to work so well for a larger city. There is unlikely to be anywhere suitable to park within a sensible walking distance of the centre. However, there is still a solution.

I don’t like to drive anywhere near the centre of a large city. Since these places are likely to be served by good bus services, you could drive to somewhere on the outskirts of town and get the bus in. You may or may not have a good experience doing this. In any case, I prefer a different strategy.

What I like to do is find a nearby medium sized town with a good train service in to where I want to go. Then I can use the original strategy to find a parking spot, walk to the train station (15 mins) and then after a short and hopefully inexpensive train ride I will be at my destination.

The larger the city, the further away this town is likely to have to be. The ultimate example of this is travelling in to London. It takes a lot to persuade me to drive anywhere inside the M25. Since I live on the South coast, the medium size town for me in this case is Fleet in Hampshire. This is located very close to the M3 so is easy to get to, has plenty of possible parking spots that you can find using the streeview method, and has a decent train service that will take you in to the centre in about 30 minutes.

Problem solved!

Hospitals

Assuming that you are physically able to do so (let’s assume you are a visitor rather than a patient), this system works particularly well when visiting a hospital.

Although hospitals tend to be located in larger cities, they are normally not located centrally, and this allows the system to work. Parking on site at a hospital can be a frustrating (and expensive) experience. I have had occasions when I have needed to be at the hospital by a certain time for an appointment, only to be stuck in the car park desperately driving around to find a space to park. By the time I had done this, the condition I really needed to be treated for was stress!

Because of this, the restrictions on parking in the roads near the hostpital are similar to what you will find in the centre of the city. But magically, when you go that 15 to 20 minutes walk away from the hospital the parking restrictions will vanish, and you should have no problems finding somewhere to park with the streetview method. What is more, as you walk to the hospital you can feel good about the fact that you are benefitting your own health by walking, you are saving yourself some cash, and you are freeing up a parking space at the hospital for those that really need it. Perfect!

Thank-you Google! You have taken the stress out of car journeys for me.


How To


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