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Why should cars pay for on-street parking?

February 27, 2010

Although this site is not about cars, but motorbikes and scooters, we thought we would today attempt to examine the reasons why some motorists still believe that motorcyclists should pay for on-street parking, as it is currently the case in the Central London Borough of Westminster.

We have spoken to a large number of motorists over the past 18 months, who have no choice but pay for their parking everywhere they go, and a fair proportion of them have asked us why we believe motorcyclists should be exempt from parking charges while car drivers are indeed being charged to park their vehicles.

When answering the question, a Powered Two Wheeler (PTW) user naturally comes up with arguments such as motorcycles (whether motorbikes or scooters) reduce air pollution, don’t cause congestion at all and take much less kerb space than cars. All this is absolutely true, but are these arguments convincing enough? While some motorists are prepared to accept these arguments as good enough reasons for not charging PTWs for parking, others would still argue that it is unfair that cars have to pay and not bikes.

But when you ask these motorists the question “why should cars pay for parking”, they all go blank! They just can’t come up with a reasonable and meaningful answer, other than something like “well, they’ve always paid, so why not”, but that doesn’t explain why cars should pay for parking. So if no one can tell us why cars should pay for parking, then why should motorbikes and scooters also do?

If we take the example of the London Borough of Wandsworth and particularly the Southfields area, which we have recently visited, cars are required to pay for parking only between 1.30pm and 2.30pm Monday to Friday. The rest of the time, i.e. 23 hours a day, is entirely free of charge. The reason for this, as we are told, is to stop visitors from parking their car all day long while they continue their journey on the public transport and occupy parking bays that are primarily reserved for residents use. But then why does the council need to charge for one hour a day and can’t raise signs to say that those bays are for residents use only 24 hours a day, thus allowing residents to park free of charge at any time? If you visit the London Borough of Westminster, it can cost up to £4 per hour to park your four wheels, Monday to Saturday, 8.30am to 6.30pm. So why should cars pay up to £4 per hour in Westminster Monday to Saturday and something like £1.50 for only one hour a day Monday to Friday in Southfields? The question is not why cars DO pay for parking in between these hours, but why they SHOULD do so.

All motorised vehicles pay road tax, all residents of a borough pay council tax and other charges, so why in addition to all this should they pay for on-street parking? What is the raod tax for if not used to maintain the roads? Why can’t councils use some of the council tax to maintain the kerb space? Why do they need parking revenue in addition to the money they already collect from taxpayers every month?

No one has ever managed to give us a proper, meaningful and reasonable answer to the basic question of why cars should pay for parking. As we understand it, parking charges for cars were initially introduced to finance the cost of building car parks, and such charges were only a temporary measure until the funds required to build those car parks were fully collected. And some fifty years later, car parking charges are still in place, but obviously not as a temporary measure. If there is no valid and fundamental reason why cars should pay for on-street parking these days, then why should motorcycles?

One thing for sure is that cars pay for on-street parking because no one, at the time the charges were introduced and made permanent, had the courage and drive to challenge the authorities, unlike motorcyclists who will continue to inconvenience the working life of the Conservative Councillors in Westminster until they drop their unjustified and loss-making bike parking tax. Motorcyclists are being inconvenienced with a stupid and non-sense parking tax on a daily basis, therefore they will inconvenience its architects until it is scrapped. Fair deal.


Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez


If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

  1. 1frog permalink

    cars should pay because ther are too many of them ? or they cause congestion ? they take too much room ? because car drivers have never done anything against the parking tax ? because they are a danger to motorcycles ?

  2. UK France Bikers permalink

    Thanks 1frog for your comment. I agree that cars cause congestion if there are too many of them and that they also take some room. But there are other measures in place to tackle this such as the congestion charge. The original reason for charging cars for parking is not congestion related at all but rather to raise funds for councils. Councils have turned the reason for charging to congestion related matters to hide their true intention to use parking as a source of income. Instead of charging for parking, why can’t they rely on other official and accepted sources of income such as the council tax or else why can’t they rely on other Government taxes and let them maintain the roads? The question as to why cars should pay for parking still remains unanswered…

  3. Brian Hanbury permalink

    I have always thought the same thing about car parking charges. What are car drivers actually paying for? Councils obviously need to manage demand as there is only a limited number of parking spaces available, but charging doesn’t create any more space, it just means that the poor can’t even consider taking their cars in to Westminster while the rich can park where they like, when they like. Being able to park your car in the City of Westminster shouldn’t come down to wealth. If the point of parking charges is just to manage demand, then why are the fees so expensive? We all know the answer is because parking is all about making money nowadays. This can’t go on, something has to change!

  4. Jermaine permalink

    This is a joke any one paying tax should be ok to park anywhere they have paid the road tax , council tax it’s just the dirty greedy government of shitty Britain! I’m a bike and car owner and trust me I seen idiots on the road that ride stupid on their bikes and also with car drivers so don’t just slag car drivers of !

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