It was US founding father Patrick Henry who made the declaration “give me liberty, or give me death”.
While some founding fathers become the inspiration for rap musicals, poor old Patrick instead inspired US punks Dead Kennedys to pay their own twisted tribute by naming one of their albums Give Me Convenience, or Give Me Death.
What was intended as a satire on consumerism back in 1987 is still relevant today – and one needs to look no further than the plan to introduce residents’ parking permits in the areas surrounding Dundee city centre to see why this is the case.
Residents in the West End, Maryfield and Coldside feel aggrieved that they often cannot park near their homes because of commuters clogging their streets during the day in order to avoid paying for parking in the city centre.
The plan to introduce residents’ parking schemes is intended to address this but is causing all sorts of consternation, largely because it will, initially, be limited to one car per household.
This means that many households might be asked to pay extra so one car can be parked close to their home – there is no guarantee they will be able to park directly outside – but if they have a second car, then they could get a parking ticket for doing the same thing.
For £62 a year, that hardly seems like a convenience at all.
In fairness, the council is trying to tackle a problem – a lack of parking – that upsets many residents in possibly the only way they can. There is a clear demand for permit schemes, it’s finding a way to make them work to everyone’s satisfaction that is the problem.
But the truth is a lack of parking spaces is a symptom of a much bigger issue: there are simply too many cars on the road.
Sadly, our automobile addiction doesn’t look like ending any time soon. Around a quarter of households now have two cars while a growing percentage have three or more.
Not only are we in thrall to our cars, vehicles are getting bigger – often too big for our smaller roads to cope.
Until we find a way to rely less on the convenience of our cars, whether as a result of improved public transport, walking, or cycling, then congestion and parking issues will only get worse.