By Jonny Ives

WHAT do you call the car on the street outside your house? If it’s your car, it might be Daisy or Doris. Perhaps it’s Herbie or The Beast. Most probably you’ll just call it ‘parked’.

If your car is parked in the street outside my house I’m likely to call it something else.

If it’s been left on the pavement, restricting or blocking the small amount of space allocated to people using the street to walk to where they need to be, I would call it an obstruction.

If it’s been left according to the Highway Code and the relevant traffic regulations, perhaps with some thought for other road-users, I might once have agreed that we could call it parked. Now I’m more inclined to call it ‘stored’.

The term ‘parking’ has for generations of car-users, myself included, implied a perfectly acceptable place to leave a car while you get on with things. If you leave it with a little local knowledge and within the lines provided there is even a chance that it might not cost you anything.

But times have changed. With road space at a premium and the arguments over who gets to use it increasing, and getting increasingly heated, are we getting to the point where parking should be a thing of the past?

Not the act, you understand, but the term.

Let’s not talk about ‘parking’ any more. Let’s instead be a little more open about the issue. Let’s call it ‘storage of private vehicle on the public highway’.

You might shrug. Surely carbon dioxide by any other name would smell as sweet? Perhaps, but language is often a driver of change and it is surely time for a change.

How often do proposals for segregated cycle lanes on major routes face objections from local residents who decry any threat to their ability to leave their car outside their house?

Too often proposals for the creation of safe, connected and continuous cycle routes are abandoned to make sure we don’t have to walk more than a pavement’s width to get behind the wheel.

If instead of demands for parking we listened to arguments for the preservation of a perceived right to subsidised on-street private vehicle storage the course of the debate might run a little differently.

We might then be able to use some of the space on some of our roads to create proper cycle facilities that would increase bike use, ease congestion and reduce air pollution instead of preserving the right of a few car owners to use a major part of the public highway to keep their car handy just in case they decide they might want to use it one day.

Call it parked if you want to. To me it’s a waste of space.