Every evening on the way back from work, Oliver Harrap is forced to ‘run the gauntlet’.
In times past, this was a form of punishment where the guilty party ran between two rows of soldiers who would strike out at them with weapons as they passed. Today, in Queanbeyan, it looks like a narrow road with cars parked along both sides. A door may open or a car may pull out of a driveway at any time.
Oliver lives on Collett Street near the Hotel Queanbeyan (also known as ‘Top Pub’) and describes the situation as “dangerous”.
“The other night, when I was trying to get home, there were about five cars all backed up at the T-intersection, and we couldn’t move,” he says.
“It feels like running the gauntlet every time you drive through of an evening.”
Much like the rest of Queanbeyan, Collett Street was laid out in the early 20th century, long before cars were prevalent. Over the years, apartment complexes have risen from blocks that were once single houses, and cars have begun overflowing from designated spaces onto the street.
“If you have cars parked along both sides of the street, you can only fit one [driving on the road],” Oliver says.
The street effectively becomes one-way, blocking traffic on both ends while cars wait for others to go through.
“If you’re building two-bedroom apartments but only allocating space for one car, I’d say that’s a bit of an oversight,” he says.
“Many couples, even singles, have two cars nowadays, and especially with the cost of living at the moment, more people are sharing their houses with others.”
Oliver has raised the issue with the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) three times over the past two years, receiving an acknowledgment each time.
In August 2021, he was told some form of community consultation and planning might be needed to address the issue once and for all. Another lockdown threw a spanner in the works, though, so Oliver contacted the new mayor, Kenrick Winchester, in March 2022.
“We’re now in June, and I haven’t heard anything,” Oliver says.
“I’m not saying it should be ‘no parking’, it just has to be managed better. Make one side of the road no parking.”
The Hotel Queanbeyan sits on the corner of Collett Street and Crawford Street and says parking is their biggest problem.
“I make no apologies for having a roaring pub with plenty of customers attracted to it, but I don’t know the answer,” owner Matthew Griffin says.
“We haven’t got anywhere else to put parking. The nearby railway station has been suggested, but this is still a few blocks away.”
Matthew hasn’t approached Council about the issues yet but says the pub has “definitely” lost business over it.
“We’ve recently bought a 20-seat bus for picking up and dropping off patrons, so we’re trying to do our part. I might organise a meeting with Council about it, but I don’t know what they’re going to do about it.”
Hotel Queanbeyan is looking at a couple of options but fears that more parking spaces for patrons may not be the ultimate fix.
Parking is not a problem limited to Queanbeyan.
The lack of spaces around apartment complexes in Canberra, especially the new developments in Tuggeranong, Woden and Gungahlin, is becoming an issue as density increases.
Kerry and Mary Bennett downsized to a new apartment in Greenway several years ago and have been blighted with parking issues ever since.
“It’s horrible,” Mary says.
“For all the new apartments, there is not a sufficient number of car parks to cover them.”
Like many Canberrans, the couple owns two cars, but Kerry is forced to park his work ute at his daughter’s home in Fadden. The only other options would be to use a visitor spot but then the visitors have nowhere to park.”
They expect the situation to worsen as more developments come to the area.
Earlier this year, businesses in Braddon criticised an active travel proposal by Greens MLA Jo Clay which called for the removal of on-street parking along Lonsdale Street and Mort Street to make way for bike paths.
Braddon’s United Retailers & Traders (BURT) supports more cycleways and better paths but said removing parking would be “a death blow” to business.
“Without convenient parking, customers will head elsewhere and desert our boutique small businesses for large franchises in the malls with multi-storey parking,” spokesperson Kel Watt said.
Ms Clay noted the idea to remove street parking was to encourage discussion and there are no firm proposals to change Braddon.
QPRC was contacted for comment.