Br(u)no: Parking Made Simpler but Not Less Annoying
Photo credit: Casadei Graphics.
Parking is difficult in every city. It costs money. It involves tight squeezes. And the rules and maps are often opaque. Nobody wins — unless you find that perfect spot for sweet (temporary) satisfaction.
Brno is no different than other cities. Parking has been a topic of conversation and political debate for years.
Now the city is going through another attempt to deal with the situation. There are newly painted blue lines on the pavement and big informative signs on the sidewalks. The website is professional and available in several languages. Newspapers have written extensively about it. Citizens are voluntarily sending around a nice informative PDF document to explain it all. Every effort has gone into making the previous system more simple. And I think it is working.
Yet, there will still be a learning curve. Earlier this month I walked through Třída Kapitána Jaroše and saw dozens of available spaces (an amazing difference from how it used to be) and no less than three groups of people trying to make sense of the parking-meter machines.
Then, earlier this week, just up the hill from Třída Kapitána Jaroše, I had the unenviable task of looking for parking near the Children’s Hospital. I had assumed that Černá Pole, another traditionally dense parking area, would also be regulated. It was not and, though I would have gladly paid, there were still no parking spaces.
Re-looking at the program website, I now see that the districts in different phases of the rollout. I am a reasonably intelligent person, but it is not easy to keep the website map fresh in your head in order to make it useful weeks later when you are desperately looking for a place to park. It will definitely take some time for everyone to get used to it all.
I’ve lived in Seattle, Tacoma, New York City, Prague and now Brno so I am not inexperienced about urban parking. I get why it is important to have a simple parking system. When the foundation is established and everyone knows the rules the city becomes a better place to live.
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To be honest, paying to park just scratches the surface of my annoyance with driving in this country. Constant construction, tailgating, inconsiderate drivers, hyper-aggressive drivers — it is always an adventure to drive on these roads.
And I would do a lot more to fix the general parking culture.
For example, in the outer neighborhoods, particularly around housing complexes — panelaky in Czech — it is normal for people to jam their cars into “parking spaces” or against a kerb with barely enough room for others to maneuver. A guy down the street from me has left his car on the sidewalk for years, forcing pedestrians to walk around it — yes, they are just a few extra steps but it is an encroachment against pedestrians.
My biggest pet peeve is how the ass-end of cars stick out into the roadway, reducing the space for the flow of traffic on already thin roadways and making a simple drive through a residential neighborhood more dangerous.
In general, parking spaces are too small. Lots at Czech supermarkets are claustrophobic. Before moving here, I had never had to squeeze out of my car or pull in the side mirrors; now it is an everyday experience in the parking garage under my company’s office.
Worst of all, cars crowd you when you try to park: parallel parking is maddening when you barely have enough room to go in reverse.
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Establishing this new parking system will, hopefully, be a step forward in changing the local parking culture.
Nobody likes paying to park, but that is the price for convenience. It is logical that the cost increases the closer you get to the center.
At least, as a nice perk, this new system gives you an allotted amount of time for free, and then you pay via mobile app, a parking meter or SMS.
It feels as though this plan has been thought through and that it has gathered enough momentum to have a good chance at success. It will be nice to finally have a settled plan.
Drivers will just have to learn to deal with the fact that there are simply more cars on the road and more demand than supply.
(And we should take the tram and bus more often anyway.)
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