Probing the polls: narrow roads, and a man’s right to park on the nature strip

Genevieve Jacobs 10 September 2020 23
Jerra Jim

Jerra Jim and his illegally parked vehicle. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Canberrans are divided on the state of our roads and whether they’re deliberately designed to slow us down.

There was a strong response to our story about speed humps and narrow winding roads in the suburbs after columnist James Coleman expressed frustration with roads that are so narrow that it becomes difficult for cars to pass easily, and speed limits that have not changed in decades, or have been decreased.

We asked Should the ACT’s roads be designed to slow us down?

A total of 919 readers cast their votes. Your options were to vote Yes, slowing down won’t hurt anyone. This received 34 per cent of the total, or 310 votes. The alternative was No, it’s a false rationale that infuriates drivers. This was the winner, with 66 per cent of the votes, or 609 in total


READ ALSO: Is it time to rethink Canberra’s roads?


This week roads are still on our minds with the tale of Jerra Jim, who has mounted a Castle-like battle with the Queanbeyan Palerang Council over the fines they’ve issued for parking on his nature strip.

Although Jim’s lost a lawyer, fees and plenty of fines in the process, he still thinks that while he’s undoubtedly in the wrong legally, he’s got the upper hand morally.

The problem centres around the alignment of Brudenell St in Jerrabombera, where Jim claims there have been multiple accidents and near misses. But in line with NSW Parking regulations, rangers continue to issue tickets to residents who prudently remove their cars from the street to avoid sideswipes and bumper bar prangs.

Despite having lost well over $3000 in his battle with the Council, Jim wants to warn residents who may have become complacent about parking outside their own homes because “right through Queanbeyan and Jerrabomberra, there remain hundreds of cars, trailers and caravans still parked permanently on nature strips”.


READ ALSO: “Morally I’m right, legally I got pinged”: the case of Jerra Jim versus the council


Commenter Azel lives on Brudenell St and noted that there have been six accidents in the last year, including three parked cars being rear-ended. “This is why people are parking on the kerb … and yesterday, someone ran into a tree. The council needs to do something before someone dies”.

But Jetabe007 countered: “Finally a good use for the road. I should place all my vehicles on it as per law, keeping my driveway and or garage reserved for morning walks. I hope my neighbours also get in on this as vehicles on both sides will complete the look.”

Brian agreed, saying “if his place is like every other one in the photo then he’s got a driveway, he should park there”.

And there were plenty who argued that whoever maintained the nature strip had rights to its use.

Our poll this week asks:

Should you be allowed to park on nature strips?

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23 Responses to Probing the polls: narrow roads, and a man’s right to park on the nature strip
Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 1:41 pm 13 Sep 20

Parking on the street is an affective and great way of slowing down the majority of drivers who speed on residential streets.

Paula Simcocks Paula Simcocks 7:52 am 13 Sep 20

The town houses next door only have garage- so park on nature strip outside my place.

Clinton Berry Clinton Berry 8:35 am 12 Sep 20

Perhaps a bit of forethought from the people buying the houses, if you want 4 people living in a house with at least 4 cars, maybe move to a house with more available parking, or forego the grass and park on your own land.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:24 am 12 Sep 20

    There's some truth in that. My first house on a block of about 460 sq metres, I rented out spare rooms (to help pay the mortgage), and there was space left in the back yard to park all three cars, so we didn't clutter up the street. My car was in a car port, and my tenants parked on the back lawn, out of sight of the street. Even then, we still had a garden shed, a good sized vegetable garden, an apricot tree and a clothesline in the back garden.

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 8:13 pm 11 Sep 20

Build ridiculously narrow streets then fine residents for parking on the nature strip- fundraising ACT Govt style....

Andrew Jones Andrew Jones 7:15 pm 11 Sep 20

Surely it is cheaper for the gov to allow parking on kerb side nature strips providing that the vehicle does not cover or impede the footpath and that the speed limit is 50 or 60, then it is to build a wider road for the sake of parking that costs double to maintain and only makes the road less safe for other users.

Unnecessarily wider roads increase flooding and urban heat island effects, this is proven. Parking on the grass is environmentally friendly.

If anything the pressure should be put on development to lower the cost of housing, and provide more parking options per property.

Mike Bolton Mike Bolton 5:44 pm 11 Sep 20

As another commenter mentioned, the narrow roads situation is nothing like they have in the UK. The driving there is much more hair-raising. Many of the roads there had been made in the olden times and they might not have had the forethought. It now requires vehicle users to look ahead for oncoming traffic, and there is an etiquette system requiring flashing of headlights to signal to oncoming traffic that they can pass the narrow street with parked traffic while waiting. Something that is somewhat foreign to Australian drivers though is becoming more common on narrow roads here because of the parking situations.

Rod Bransgrove Rod Bransgrove 1:00 pm 11 Sep 20

If your parking on a nature strip forces pedestrians onto the road surface then park on the street and lobby government to slow the drive-through traffic down.

Lisa Sly Lisa Sly 12:01 pm 11 Sep 20

I live on a street that currently has a couple of houses under construction. The tradies aren’t allowed to park on the nature strips, so it’s near impossible for 2 cars to pass safely as the street is full of tradies cars. I had a friend who parked on my nature strip as the street was full and they got a parking ticket.

Mamy Watts Mamy Watts 11:20 am 11 Sep 20

Some roads are too narrow but it also makes people slow down.

On the way to pick up a colleague yesterday and today I drove past a house in Beirne St Monash. No idea how many people live there but there was about 6 or more cars, a gazebo, pots, chairs, wheels toys and much more on the front yard and nature strip (I am not joking it is packed. I suspect hoarders which is usually linked to mental health). In addition it looks like they maybe be spreading to the neighbouring yard and today literally on the road about 1m from the gutter!

Gotta feel sorry for the neighbours though.

July Williams July Williams 1:42 am 11 Sep 20

How about pedestrians having the right to walk on the footpaths.

Same with people who extend their garden to the kerb of the road.

People have to walk on the road: kids, mums pushing prams, elderly, disabled.....

Steve Wood Steve Wood 11:18 pm 10 Sep 20

Need to be wider and include cycle lanes that comply with the BS road rules of distance and force cyclists to ride single file and wear hi-vis clothing..

Barry Finch Barry Finch 10:22 pm 10 Sep 20

IF a particular street is too narrow to safely park on both sides then (a) only allow parking on one side and or (b) create more one way streets. It worked where I lived in Sydney. I don’t see why it could not work here.

Joshua Andrew Morgan Joshua Andrew Morgan 9:47 pm 10 Sep 20

keep off the footpaths and nature strips. it's the law. morons parking on footpaths deserved their cars towed or walked over the top off. my big hate in canberra. morons parking on FOOT PATHS

    Jane Vukojevic Jane Vukojevic 8:28 am 12 Sep 20

    I agree that there should not be parking on the footpath that is wrong. But when you have a nature strip that is separate from the footpath, that you have to maintain as the Govt won't and it is wide enough to park a car, should you be allowed to park there if your street is narrow and/or you have buses travelling along it. I believe that is the question being asked.

    I know I would like to know as we have more cars due to teenages getting their own cars and we have run out of driveway space and I don't want there to be permanent parking on my front lawn.

Steve Whan Steve Whan 9:35 pm 10 Sep 20

If one drives thru trendy suburbs in pre-dawn hours they will see cars littering most sidewalks, because roads are too narrow.

It will only get worse as the young families that buy into these areas grow up, & their kids also get vehicles.

The limited trendy suburb access points will clog up further as everyone tries to leave & return at similar peak times.

Whilst vehicles will eventually evolve into alternate power sources, there will still be vehicles.

If Govt continues to pay scant attention, cos perhaps they surmise vehicles won’t feature so much, then they had better start planning a return to traditional suburban street corner grocers and shops.

Boyo Birch Boyo Birch 9:31 pm 10 Sep 20

Live in 🇬🇧 if you think Canberra roads are narrow! You wouldn’t complain if you did and returned.

Anandi Venkatesh Anandi Venkatesh 9:22 pm 10 Sep 20

Are you kidding me! Canberra has the widest lanes compared to any city in Australia...except maybe in the newer suburbs.

Jenna Vdv Jenna Vdv 9:19 pm 10 Sep 20

If the conditions allow you to park on the street (as in you’re not alongside a solid line etc) then you should be able to park on the nature strip in these sections. Blocks are too small now to allow more than one car in the driveway. Good luck if you want visitors.

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 9:18 pm 10 Sep 20

I think generally we have very good roads compared to other cities. But yeah there are some areas in Canberra with room for improvement.

steve2020 steve2020 6:46 pm 10 Sep 20

It is undoubtedly poor planning to have narrow streets, some of which are planned so foolishly that they cannot facilitate waste collection vehicles or other larger vehicles. I recall this had been problem in Palmerston, ACT. The council or municipal authority legislations and regulations can impact on which places potential investors or buyers would choose.

Where I have had to park in the past had been legal, though a hazard despite safe nature strip areas nearby, but by parking on the kerb legally if possible, and not the nature strip, the hazards and incidents might be what it takes for the message to get through on better road planning or upgrades.

    tim_c tim_c 1:45 pm 11 Sep 20

    It’s even poorer planning to buy/rent a property with insufficient accommodation for you and all your stuff. Can I put my extra furniture on the road because my house isn’t big enough for it all to fit inside?

    steve2020 steve2020 1:26 am 12 Sep 20

    I see your point, however, I had gained a job afterwards which required a larger vehicle that was registered and it was parked within the legal measurement for the road width and layout. I did move thereafter. The point is that the road planning sometimes does not accommodate for growth or potential usage.

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