In a recent survey run by Barnet Greens among traders in East and High Barnet, the top issue cited was parking. The papers are full of parking issues, and our Mr Mustard has become a national TV star on the back of his parking-related one-man lobbying and support campaign. But is parking in reality just the loudest-squeaking aspect of a wider problem?

One of the privileges of campaigning is talking to a lot of residents. What is the number one issue that comes up? Parking, speeding, congestion, speeding, traffic, parking on and on.

I've come to the view that we have a car crisis that dare not speak its name. I sense there's a fear of admitting there's a crisis before an election lest one provokes the Motorist: that all-powerful constituent who has done for more than one politician.

Without recognising the problem, the council, feeling it must Do Something, provides solutions from road humps, high parking charges, CPZs, various speed restrictions, and road widening schemes, which are often reversed, and fail to solve the problem. Instead they compound other problems: the CPZs were a terrible own-goal for the Tory administration and for our collective council coffer. They're also an awful nuisance for adjacent roads, whose residents complain that the roads have become car parks, leaving them nowhere to park, and the pavement cracking under the weight of illegally parked cars. High parking charges are blamed for killing the high street, and ad-hoc speed limits leave absurd incongruities in the traffic management that lead to speeding and congestion plaguing residents all at once.

Yet, Barnet's population is growing (it's slated to increase by about 50% from 2001-2040), with ever more people owning cars. And so the crisis builds, and with it the volume on the rants on the doorstep.

What to do? At the suggestion they forgo the car, drivers shudder and respond that they need their car. One Sebright Road resident suggested allowing each household to park only one vehicle on the road. Someone else suggested expanding a zip-car system as an alternative to car ownership. Cyclists are sure that better (well, any) cycling provision will make a big difference, alongside improving the pedestrian experience. Other suggestions include having leases on new builds that preclude car ownership; and – of course - improving public transport: make it cheaper and easier, and consider trams (John Cox can't all be wrong).

How to decide? Beware the expert who reckons they know the answer. Beware the autocratic power who will impose the solution (sound familiar?) And beware the single bullet solution to a complex problem.

In a self-respecting democracy the question wouldn't need asking. In Barnet, the question often elicits a shrug. (I told one shrugger that I would be back after the election to ask him what to do, and I saw fear flash in his eyes. I think I lost his vote. Sorry mate). But here's a prediction: eventually something more drastic than 20mph near schools will become imperative. Whatever measures are then taken, without the support of a critical mass of the people they affect, they will fail.