Reporter 446, 7 February 2000


Parking poll spearheads new drive to get staff off the road to nowhere

If the letters page of the Reporter is an accurate barometer of staff concerns, the current outlook on car parking could best be described as unsettled. More storm clouds are gathering with news that campus parking spaces may be reduced. So will the moods of 'disgruntled from dentistry' and 'fed-up of food sciences' sink still further? Or will the good ship 'park-and-ride' carry us all off into the sunset? The biggest ever survey of campus commuters was launched to find out...

Over half of all University staff drive to work, one in ten walk and a hardy three in a hundred come by bicycle. Most of the remainder entrust their punctuality to the buses and trains.

Those were the main results of a one-day traffic survey carried out as part of the University's attempts to shape its future travel and transport policy. The results of the survey revealed over 4,000 staff and student motorists currently battle for the 1,800 spaces available on campus every day. The unlucky majority compete with local residents and businesses in the surrounding streets and several dozen abandon their cars illegally (thirty on the survey day alone).

University expansion and development will see demand increase still further. The reportís authors predict an extra 700 cars will join the fray within a few years, if the percentage of those driving to work remains the same.

This rather grim picture for car-drivers is darkened further by city council plans to extend their city centre controlled parking zone (CPZ) to include the University within two years.

CPZ would prohibit non-residents and those leaving their vehicles for the entire day from using much of the Ďon-streetí parking around campus. The council has also indicated that any future introduction of taxed workplace parking would probably include CPZ zones.

The survey report authors conclude: "If the percentage of staff and students driving to work does not reduce there is an under-provision of car parking space which cannot be overcome."

As well as the one-day survey, discussion groups were formed to find out what staff and students think of the present situation. Though public transport proved unpopular (too unreliable, overcrowded and infrequent) there was widespread support for a park-and-ride system. Cycling was favoured for convenience and mobility but a lack of formal shower and changing facilities and secure cycle parks put many people off.

More students than staff walk to the University, though many feel the pedestrian crossings on both Woodhouse Lane and Clarendon Road are poorly positioned. More traffic calming measures or stricter enforcement of speed limits on campus were also requested.

So what can be done?

The report makes several recommendations. In the short-term, it says, the price of an annual permit should be bumped up to promote and pay for alternative transport methods. Around 1,900 permits are currently issued. The report also says the University should also push for better bus services through Headingley and from the station. A new map of bus routes, with the University at its centre, could also improve the situation. The city council should also be asked to improve access to the campus for cyclists and pedestrians.

According to the survey, an estimated 800 people would use a Lawnswood-based park- and-ride system. The city council wants to base any park-and-ride around a supertram system but the report recommends the University should press for a park-and-ride served by buses in the interim.

The traffic policy review group is canvassing comments from staff and students to help form the new University policy on car parking. Copies of the survey, conducted by consultants MVA, are available for loan in the Edward Boyle, Brotherton and Worsley libraries. For more information contact Michele Troughton on ext 5937 (m.m.troughton@leeds.ac.uk) or link to the pdf file final-4.pdf to view the report (you will need adobe acrobat reader to view this file, available from the adobe site).

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