Parking in Clarens

“Clarens has a parking problem”, they say.


I say: Clarens only has a perceived parking inconvenience.

During the busiest weekend of the year, ie. Easter, cars are parked in Roos and Church streets to just south of their respective crossings with Naudé and just north with van der Merwe street. See map below, indicated in red. This situation recurs about four times per year, during long weekends, the beer festival and MTN-Classic. For the rest of the year, most is quiet on the western front.


From the furthest parking, it is about 300m walking distance to the edge of the square. The Town planner’s technical ‘bible’ (Guidelines for Human Settlement Planning and Design, 2000, CSIR, Pretoria), states that the maximum convenient walking distance to be planned for varies between 400 and 500m, or about 7minutes walking time (pp. 5.1.10 and 5.2.1).

I rest my case, your Honour…

I have never, in my 17 years in Clarens, heard a visitor complain about the distance they had to walk from parking to the action. I guess the real complainants are locals who cannot find parking in front of the shops during busy weekends. Because of this perceived inconvenience, some have proposed change to our square for the sake of more parking. Let’s look at the facts and their implications:

– Main, Church and Roos Streets’ reserves are 70 Cape feet or 22.039885 metres wide, from erf boundary to erf boundary…. let’s say 22m.

– The square’s dimensions are 210 x 420 Cape feet, or 66.119655m x 132.23931m – let’s say: 66 x 132m.

– The existing roadway (tarmac) width around the square is 11.5m.

– Buildings such as the brewery abuts directly on the street boundary, with a 6m sidewalk between building and kerb.

– The square’s grassed and treed surface encroaches about 4.5m into the road reserve

– Currently, based on the markings next to the shop-side kerbs, 16 to 17 parallel parking spaces are available on each side of Main street(s) around the square. If one ignores the entrance ways and encroach a bit onto each corner, one would be able to squeeze in 19 parallel spaces on each side of the street. So, the square could currently ‘park’ between 16 x 4 =64 and 19 x 4 = 76 vehicles along both sides of Main Street (I am not including Market or Van Zyl Streets in this argument).


Now, if we change the current parking arrangement to the proposal mentioned earlier, which is:

– make traffic flow one-way around the square; and

– provide echelon parking (45̊)…

…the following would be the result (see figure 2):

– echelon parking would only be possible on one side of either of the streets around the square, because

– required parking bay depth is 6m, plus

– four metre ‘free’ or  manoeuvring space,

– which gives 10 m, plus a 6.1m roadway width = 16.1m, plus

– 2.8 m width for parallel parking on the other side = 18.9m,

– which leaves a 3.1m sidewalk on the shopping side, within the road reserve.

This can be done within the existing road reserve but with the sacrifice of  3m sidewalk on the Brewery (and Valley Cats) side and 4.5m of grass and trees on the square. Even so, what do we gain? With echelon parking, about 30 parking spaces could be squeezed into 132m of square length. So we win 30 – 19 = 11 parking spaces on each side = 22 extra parking spaces.

$    If we feel that we really need echelon parking on both sides of the streets, we’ll have to take 7.3m more off the square on either side and voila!  23.6m (7.3+7.3+4.5+4.5) narrower is our square. Go measure 11.8 metres from each kerbside and see for yourself what we would lose. I would venture, in terms of character, quite a lot.

$    Added to this is another drawback of the proposal: when traffic flow is changed from two-way to a one-way system, traffic speed invariably increases. Our square and ‘its’ streets is a de facto pedestrian zone during busy weekends. It is not easy to negotiate a car around the square then, which is good. This happy chaos adds to the festive atmosphere.

$    The third drawback of a one-way system is that it will criminalize current law-full behaviour: say if Diana Reed wants to go play tennis, she will have to  – coming up van Zyl street – drive left around the square in stead of just continuing straight on.

So, would a one-way-echelon parking ‘solution’ really be worth the effort?

I propose that we leave well be and divert such funds as would be needed for cutting up perfectly adequate existing parallel parking spaces, to rather build head-on parking (90̊) in Roos and Church streets. During the MTN-Classic weekend, I counted between 21 and 26 vehicles parked on either side of Church and Roos streets, between Market and van Zyl streets. With head-on parking, one can construct at least 40 parking spaces in the 132m block length, with the same spatial requirements as for echelon parking (6m x 2.8m plus 4m ‘free’ space ).

So, let’s leave the square be and rather formalise parking half a block away either side in Church and Roos streets. In that way, we retain the square’s existing parallel parking and we add 40 x 2 = 80 head-on formal spaces plus 2 x 19 formal parallel spaces = 38. So, in total, we can add 118 new, formal parking spaces, or, 34 more than with the current informal setup. And we retain our square, intact, to be redesigned at a later stage…

Louw van Biljon, 9 May 2013