Dancing the car - parking waltz in chaotic Market St

20:36, Dec 27 2012
Market St, Blenheim
Let's try making Market St a mall and see what the public think

The traffic in Market St, in central Blenheim, had to stop for a good two minutes while a four-wheel-drive tried to wriggle its way into one of the under-sized car parks at the side of the street.

It was a Toyota Landcruiser, so big but not the biggest.

From behind, it appeared to be self-parking because the driver was invisible within the cockpit of the vehicle.

It's still not clear whether it was male or female, but that really doesn't matter for the sake of this story.

What does matter is that the driver was so determined to get into the park. Other drivers would have given up in embarrassment after 30 seconds of trying, but not this one.

I waited with increasing fascination as the vehicle jiggled back and forth, back and forth to get into the park between a set of blue bollards and a little Suzuki that would have been difficult to see at the back of the truck. It finally seemed to get there but the driver (or the self-parking navigation gear) wasn't satisfied, so it tried another few waltz moves.


I felt like clapping when it finally stopped.

It was relatively early in the morning so there were only five or six cars backed up behind, although there could have been more sitting out in Main St trying to make the turn into Market St.

No point moaning about it - the driver was a victim of poor street design.

It illustrated for me yet again that Market St should be a vehicle-free zone. The street is too narrow and the parking so limited that the only thing achieved by having traffic in the street is to make it less appealing for pedestrians and more frustrating for drivers.

I know, I've written about this before, and whenever I do I get a call or a note from someone at the district council saying I clearly don't understand the principles of urban design, particularly in a town where retailers demand that their customers can get a park outside their business so they don't shop elsewhere.

I don't have a degree in civil engineering or urban landscape design but I reckon I do know what works and what doesn't.

The incident with the 4WD happened about a week before Christmas, which is a busier time of year. The weekend before Christmas I made a point of watching the traffic and it was chaotic. The lack of an official pedestrian crossing just adds to the chaos.

There was no way I was going to venture along the street on Boxing Day, but I did walk across it yesterday morning to get some coffee. It was virtually deserted except for a lone four-wheel-drive coming towards me, still creeping along because the trees and the bollards create such a feeling of being in a confined space.

It's my plea for 2013 - let's push the council to at least try a pedestrian mall and see what the public think.

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