The Big Interview: Clearing the road


Annually motorists driving around one shopping district of Los Angeles travel a distance equivalent to the Moon and back again, twice, while looking for a parking spot.

So says Stephen Ladyman, the former transport minister and now strategic advisor to the traffic technology specialist Clearview. By Mr Ladyman’s own admission, credit for this anecdotal statistic actually goes to the UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup. It’s difficult to picture the meaning without some context.

A distance of 950,000 miles is obviously quite big, but how many vehicles are accumulating this total each year? More meaningfully, prof. Shoup has estimated that up to 30% of traffic at any one time in downtown LA is driving up and down looking for somewhere to park.

Mr Ladyman uses prof. Shoup’s quote to back up a view that sorting out parking problems will do a lot to solve issues of traffic congestion and air pollution. Most of the UK’s local authorities will know they have related problems of congested roads and parking, but Mr Ladyman’s real point is that technology for addressing both is readily available.

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