Big push for 'polite parking' change in Aussie suburbs

Polite parking allows people to mount kerbs and grass strips, which frees up vital space along narrow roads, advocates say. But one council doesn't want to hear about it.

Cars are seen parked on on a nature strip in inner-Brisbane, beside an inset of an image of a large truck struggling make it down the narrow streets.
Locals fed up with the lack of available parking on inner-Brisbane streets say they're forced to park on nature strips. If they don't, they risk large vehicles not being able to fit through. Source: Brisbane Times/9News

Inner-city residents copping "unfair" late-night fines for parking on nature strips are calling for the introduction of so-called "polite parking" to combat the "frustrating" lack of space.

Queenslanders around Brisbane's inner-city suburbs say they're fed up with the lack of parking on suburban streets, which they say is a direct result of "an increase in the number of individuals per household" as the cost of living and housing crisis forces more Aussies into shared dwellings.

To make matters worse, streets in the area are so narrow that locals say if they don't mount the kerb, they face restricting access to larger vehicles, such as emergency vehicles.

Locals claim street parking availability in the Brisbane City Council LGA does not cater to "the number of vehicles per household", with the "pressure on off-street parking enormous".

A petition has since been launched by local woman Pamela Rose to allow polite parking, which simply means letting people park on nature strips and on kerbs, so long as they're not blocking access to pathways driveways, or vital infrastructure.

Cars parked on nature strips in Brisbane, as calls for 'polite parking' mount.
Due to an increase in people per household, there are more people than ever sharing dwellings in the Brisbane Council area, Rose says, exacerbating the lack of public parking bays. Source: ABC

Rose said that in the nearby council area of Logan, polite parking was introduced years ago and has seen success. She's calling on the City to allow its introduction in her LGA, where she said an entire street in Keperra was fined at 11.59 pm for parking on a kerb last week, which she labelled an "outrage".

Rose stated that the "zigzag parking formation on both sides of the road hinders the smooth flow of traffic" and poses "a severe safety risk for emergency vehicles navigating narrow streets". The current parking restrictions on streets narrower than six meters severely limit access for emergency vehicles, potentially delaying essential responses, she said.

"The whole thing is pretty outrageous," Rose told Yahoo News Australia.

"It's not people parking somewhere, you know, to get to work or to get a bus. It's typically university students or young adults who are stuck living with mum and dad. And I can tell you, none of these kids are voluntarily staying at home.

"Logan Council has got a fantastic model. It's successful and allows parking on nature strips in specific conditions, which prevents obstruction and ensures pedestrian access."

When Yahoo News Australia questioned Brisbane City over the petition, asking whether they'd consider allowing polite parking, a spokesperson simply said: "Council adheres to State Government legislation that prohibits parking on a nature strip."

Though, a spokesperson for Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) told Yahoo that "local governments are largely responsible for parking enforcement" and can set their own penalties under local laws. In this case, the City has lifted the state's set fine of $61 for parking on a nature strip to $116.

Within the LGA, "narrow street signage" was erected in 2022 and council has since installed around 210 signs across 30 suburbs, the spokesperson explained, with signs in place to remind people of the parking rules, including not parking on both sides of narrow roads to ensure safe access, they said.

In the Brisbane City LGA, you can be fined for stopping on a footpath, shared path, dividing strip or nature strip to the tune of $116, which Rose branded "unfair".

"I would really like council to engage with the community and start a conversation about what they can do to help combat this," Rose said.

Local woman Pamela Rose, who has launched a petition to allowed so-called 'polite parking' - where residents can park on nature strips and kerbs so long as they aren't blocking footpaths, driveways or essential infrastructure.
Local woman Pamela Rose has launched a petition to allow so-called 'polite parking' - where residents can park on nature strips and kerbs so long as they aren't blocking footpaths, driveways or essential infrastructure. Source: 9News

"Under the road rules, drivers cannot park on footpaths or nature strips, unless specifically signed," a spokesperson for TMR told Yahoo News Australia. "At a state-wide level, this ensures these spaces are free from obstructions to support safe and efficient movement of pedestrians and other path users.

"Under state law the fine for parking on a footpath or nature strip is $61. Local governments are largely responsible for parking enforcement and can set their own penalties under local laws, for example, the fine in Brisbane is $116."

The spokesperson said that "specific enforcement matters" should be "raised with the local government that has issued the parking fines". "Local governments are also able to make local laws to enable parking on footpaths and nature strips in their area," they said.

"This enables bespoke local solutions to parking, based on specific community needs. Where a local government permits parking on footpaths or nature strips, this applies despite the restriction in the road rules."

In addition to Logan City Council, some other suburbs around the country allow parking on grass strips. Liverpool City Council in Sydney is one of them, they last year clashed with residents who complained that narrow suburban streets meant navigating them was becoming increasingly difficult.

After first warning residents they would be slapped with $275 fines if they continued to park on the nature strip, the council eventually backflipped and lifted the ban.

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