When the law is optional….

5 Apr

I promised to post a photo showing how carefully these socially-minded fitters from Express Glass had created a safe route for pedestrians around their vehicle when while they fitted a heavy plate-glass window to this shop in central Ipswich. They seemed surprised when I said that I found this level of consideration and awareness of the law and the Highway Code unusual.

Image

Many other businesses who should know better seem to see what they can get away with… 24 hours earlier I had spotted fitters from another glass company, who were installing a window in our local MP’s office, and who didn’t seem to have gone to any great effort to accommodate the needs of pedestrians. Possibly the staff in Ben Gummer’s office could have said something?

Image

And this was not a one-off, here are another set of workmen with a large vehicle up on the pavement outside his office.

Image

Needless to say, it is MPs who create the laws, and people who break the laws may end up being taken to court in one of these vans. It does seem a bit ironic then that Serco park up on the pavement outside the back of Ipswich Magistrates’ Court on double-yellows in a no-loading zone. They do this regularly, and the receptionist explained that traffic warden has given them permission to do it. Doesn’t exactly send a good message to wrong-doers does it!

Image

And of course yellow Lines don’t just appear by magic, they need to be painted onto the road by people who drive heavy lorries like this ones. Seems ironic then that they have chosen to park it up on the pavement across a cycle lane on a section of double yellows in a no-loading zone. Possibly they shouldn’t bother painting them at all?

Image

Speaking of double yellow lines, privatized of the Royal Mail by our MPs has regrettably not stopped their staff from blocking pavements on a regular basis. In this picture we have not one, but two Royal Mail vans blocking the same pavement which takes some skill! When I ask them to not do this, they typically point to the royal crest and say that they are on queen’s business. Needless to say, they no longer serve the queen, and unfortunately I can’t see anything much that is ‘royal’ about them any more.

Image

Privatisation of mail delivery was of course designed to create competition which is good and drives down prices and gives choice. One unfortunate expression of this competitions seems to be for these companies to attempt to deliver fastest with fewer drivers in larger vehicles (where did postman Pat and his bike go?) and explore which laws can be ignored in pursuit of profit. Here is a very large TN lorry up on the pavement on yellow lines in a busy city-centre street.

Image

And it’s not just TNT – here are UPS delivering to an address in the same street, one which happens be a major pedestrian route between the town centre and the waterfront. Notice the muddle of people trying to pass each other on the bit of remaining pavement. This particular driver appears however to take pleasure in ignoring all requests to be more considerate, and has reassured me that ‘he has never got a ticket’.

Image

Needless to say, police forces are not always that keen on enforcing the law, as in this famous case where the police in Bristol apparently deemed that this car, parked fully across the pavement on a bend was not causing an obstruction!

Police in Bristol said that this car was not causing an obstruction

What really worries me however, is when I saw this milkman parking up on pavements on double yellows just as kids are on their way to school. He evidently choose to avoid the hassle of driving all the way into the free car park visible in the left of the picture because it was more convenient for him to simply dump his vehicle on the pavement.

Image

All of the above seems to confirm that authority has no great interest in pedestrians and their needs. The people who make the laws don’t seem to be too worried about them, nor are the people paid to implement the related regulations, nor are those employed to deal with people who break the other law interested in obeying them. Creating a competitive market for deliveries in these conditions only increases the chaos, where competing companies are incentivised, indeed almost compelled, to see which laws are optional in pursuit of greater profits!

 

To be continued….

 

BBC totally ignore pedestrians in program on car crashes again..

13 Nov

The BBC recently showed a documentary, Impact, A horizon guide to car crashes without even mentioning pedestrians or cyclists, or anyone else not in a car, which is a shame considering that almost 30% of all people killed on the roads these days are not in cars (In 2011 there were 453 pedestrian and 111 cyclist deaths out of a total of 1,901 people killed on GB roads). This isn’t even the first time it has happened. In 2011 the BBC showed a program titled ‘surviving a car crash’, which also failed to even make a passing nod to the dead and injured pedestrians and cyclists.

Please complain to the BBC about the program which was last shown on BBC4 on October 24. Here is the text I used, which you are free to adapt as you see fit:

“The BBC has again aired a program about car crashes and technological changes to make vehicles safer without mentioning once that pedestrians or cyclists also get killed. The program is called ‘Impact, A horizon guide to car crashes’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03f438q) For the record, in 2011, of the 1901 people killed on the road in GB almost 30% were not in a vehicle, (453 were pedestrians and 111 were cyclists). Regrettably, this isn’t even the first time the BBC has done this. Back in 2011 you did the same with ‘surviving a car crash’. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ylxg8)

“Please can you prepare and air a documentary focused on the work being done (and not being done) to help vulnerable road users and ensure that pedestrians and cyclists at least get a mention in any program about vehicle safety. Incidentally, are you aware that  cars with pedestrian ratings of zero are still allowed to be sold in this country. (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/cars-fail-in-pedestrian-safety-tests-6327782.html)

motorism is…

3 Oct

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Motorism as an ‘addiction to or practice of motoring‘. I, along with other sustainable transport activists prefer the definition first proposed in 2010 on the Green Bristol Blog, which defines it as ‘a deep rooted prejudice in favour of motorised traffic at the expense even of the safety, let alone the convenience, of those that dare to travel on foot or bicycle‘. As it happens I wrote an article on what I called ‘institutional motoristism’ in July 2012. The ‘As easy as riding a bike’ blog echoed the theme in a piece on the subject in March 2013. There is also an  ‘Anti-motorism’ Facebook group which describes itself as ‘a resource for those interested in recovering from the addiction to the automobile. There are alternatives‘. This Cambridge blog has also picked up the theme.

I suggest that it might be worth exploring if it is appropriate to think of motorism as another ‘ism’ like racism, classism, sexism etc, possibly with institutional, and internalised elements.

So.. what is motorism here in the UK?

Motorism is…

Where an average of 25% of vehicles, rising to 60% in dense urban areas, are left on the highway over-night even though there is ‘no legal right for anyone to park on a public road or outside their property‘.

Where motorists vigorously defend their right to park on the highway for free. By way of example, Philip Green responded to a proposal from Westminster Council who dared to suggest charging for parking in the borough saying ‘people who come to London know they have got to find a place to park. Charging people on a Sunday is just outrageous behaviour‘.

Where motorists are allowed park on pavements if ‘they have to’, even if this results in pedestrians having little on no space to walk and even if it is illegal. Are there parallels with the way that black people ‘had to move’ to make enough space for white people to sit down on the buses in Montgommery? (black people had to stay behind a movable ‘whites only’ sign which was moved back at busy to make enough space for any white people to sit). See ‘I did not want to be mistreated’.

Where respected broadcasters fail to even recognise that pedestrians exist, as with the BBC’s documentary, ‘ending all fatalities from car crashes‘, which was in fact only about ending deaths of vehicle occupants. It was previewed on their website in an article that talked of a ‘motoring miracle’ with ‘fatal smashes eliminated’. Unfortunately, it failed to mention non-car occupants, fatalities of non-car occupants, anything to make it safer for non-car occupants or indeed even that pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists exist at all.

Where vehicles with ‘dire’ rating for pedestrian safety are still allowed to be sold and driven in urban areas. The Range Rover, Jaguar X-type and Vauxhall Frontera all scored only 6% for pedestrian safety back in 2002, but are still being sold and used. Even the AA, RAC and DfT say the situation is unacceptable.

Where motorists routinely drive past children at speeds where they would almost certainly kill or permanently maim a child who unexpectedly step off the pavement confidence in the knowledge that they would not be held liable unless it was proven in court that they were. Strict Liability would reverse the burden of proof, and in the case of the death of a child the motorist would always be held liable. See ‘Danger from the strangers behind the wheel‘ from the New Statesman.

Where 44% of motorists believe that they ‘own’ the road outside their house.

Where major retail companies roll out a new home-delivery services that require their drivers to break the law dozens of times a day. Tesco for one assured me on the phone that they expect all their drivers to obey all laws while in their employment, but then totally ignore all my evidence that their staff are routinely driving on the pavement virtually every time they make a delivery. They clearly need help!

Where the police refuse to use laws that could easily be used to discourage pavement parking saying that it is not in the public interest to do so.

Where the police have a policy of allowing vehicles to travel very significantly higher that the speed limit without risk of prosecution (+10% + 2mph), meaning that motorists can confidently do 35mph in a 30 limit and 46mph in a 40 limit.

Where the police have explained to parliament that they ‘don’t enforce 20 mph speed limits‘.

Where commercial vehicles are fitted with mandatory speed limiters, but cars are not. However.. I have just noticed that the EU is evidently now proposing that just such speed limiters should be fitted to cars. Needless to say our Transport Minister ‘erupted’ when the proposals landed on his desk and he has told his officials to block the move!

Where school-child are expected to walk along the side of rural roads with no pavements, where speed limits are set at 60 mph.

Where a father is threatened with arrest for driving behind his son who wants to walk to school along such a road, rather than insist that motorists drive in a legal and safe manner. See ‘Archie wants to walk to school’.

Where the police tell parents that a children’s a jumper used as a goal-post is an causing an obstruction in the road, but then ignore vehicles parked on the pavement in the same road.

Where councils act to remove items such as rocks, DIY bollards used by residents to stop drivers parking on verges outside their houses on the grounds that it is an ‘offence to place unlawful items on the public highway‘, but ignore the fact that on the same page the same council explains that motorists have no legal right to park vehicles anywhere on the highway in the first place!

Where a law to ban pavement parking received Royal Assent in 1974, was not enabled for 37 years, before being dumped!

Where road-works signs, used  to inform motorists of diversions or obstructions, are left across the pavement where they obstruct pedestrians  and no one even seems to notice the irony.

Where a blind man is arrested and locking-up for threatening to let down the car-tyres of some of the vehicles in desperation, having failed to get the local police to deal with the vehicles which regularly obstruct the pavement.

Where a bicycle parked on an unusable pavement outside a London hotel is treated as a ‘health and safety risk’ but three Range Rovers, also up on the pavement, outside the same hotel are not!

Where motorists intimidate or threaten violence towards those employed to enforce the law. See ‘Parents stone traffic wardens‘ for an extreme example of this.

Where motorists consider it to be a mandatory courtesy towards other motorists to park with two wheels up on the pavement, without any consideration of the inconvenience this causes the pedestrians, even when there would be no inconvenience to other motorists if they parked on the road.

Where motorists are genuinely amazed and affronted if someone challenges them for driving onto or parking on the pavement, but then feel that it is completely acceptable for them complain about cyclists riding on the pavement.

Where motorists intimidate pedestrians who dare to attempt to walk in the road to get past parked cars blocking the pavement.

Where enough motorists will respond rudely, abusively, or violently to any pedestrian who challenges any aspect of motorism.

Where policy-makers confuse the terms ‘traffic’ and ‘cars’ implying that all road-users are motorists.

Where motorists believe that they have more rights to road-space that other road users because ‘they pay road-tax’ (they don’t, its called Vehicle excise duty or vehicle tax, road-tax disappeared in 1937).

Where drivers drive along pavements to pass other traffic rather than wait for a gap on roads where parking makes it impossible for vehicles to pass each other on the carriageway.

Where governments proposes to ban councils from using CCTV technology to enforce parking regulations, insisting that regulations should only use expensive, and less effective patrols.

Where motorists use the speed or size of their vehicles to intimidate other road users.

Where pedestrians are a risk of charged with criminal damage should they scratch or damage a vehicle parked up on the pavement while trying to get past, not that it stops many pedestrians doing just that it seems.

Where pedestrians passively accept all of the above as being either totally normal and something that is unchallengeable.

Any more? Do please make suggestions in the comments section and I will add them.

Eric Pickles is not even supported by the motoring lobby!

26 Aug

A few months ago Eric Pickles suggested that motorists should be allowed to park on double yellow lines for 10 minutes (later raised to 15 minutes or longer) to help the local economy. Today we learn that he wants councils to end their “draconian” parking policies, “over-zealous traffic wardens” and end their “anti-car dogma”. Needless to say, this sort of thing results in loads of hostility from the left which I guess he enjoys. I find it more interesting that the police and the core motoring organisations also object. If he doesn’t have the support of these people, then who is it who is being dogmatic I wonder?

By way of example:

The West Midlands Crime Commissioner wrote “I do find Eric Pickles’ proposal for people to be able to park on yellow lines an ill thought out and potentially dangerous proposal… It will also be immensely difficult to take effective action against anyone exceeding a 15 minute stay and would require officers checking vehicles approximately every 20 minutes.  To achieve this, you would probably need to treble the number of parking enforcement officers… This policy is damaging to safety, smooth flow of traffic and to the attractiveness of shopping centres themselves”

The RAC Foundation, the AA and the British Chambers of Commerce all suggested that yellow lines regulations were fine as they were, The RAC Foundation explaining “allowing people to stop for longer periods of time on double yellow lines would add to rather than diminish local congestion and parking problems.”

Personally, I can’t express it better than the British Parking Association who wrote an open letter to him to express their “immense frustration” at his “irresponsible” suggestions and his “wholly unacceptable attack on civil enforcement officers”. They also noted that 60% of drivers think parking enforcement is about right and that another 20% think that it is not tough enough!

Here is their letter in full:

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London
SW1E 5DU
19th March 2013

Dear Mr Pickles

Parking Enforcement

I am writing to express the immense frustration felt by local authorities by your comments about parking enforcement at the Spring Forum at the weekend.

Your central argument seems to be that local authorities should allow motorists “10 minutes” to visit local shops. You must know that many local authorities already provide short term parking for shoppers in smaller town centres and invest heavily in off street parking in large towns where the demand for on street parking is high.

It is irresponsible to encourage motorists to park on waiting restrictions which are designed to manage congestion and reduce road safety hazards as well as, in some cases, help buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

With reference to the way Councils manage their enforcement contracts, your comments have encouraged a wholly unacceptable attack on civil enforcement officers who are providing an important public service to protect the interests of the silent majority of motorists who benefit from their actions and who recognise the impractical proposition of everyone being able to park exactly where they want.

The parking profession recognises its role in promoting and sustaining the High Street during these difficult times and you will know through your Town Teams initiative that there are many good examples of how Councils use their parking policy to make towns more accessible and their car parks more attractive, convenient and safe. However, recent reports by both the Association of Town and City Management and London Councils shows that there is only a tenuous link between parking and the sustainability of our High Streets. Additionally a recent RAC Foundation report found that 6o% of drivers felt there was the right amount of enforcement on Britain’s High Streets with 20% feeling there should be more and 20% arguing there should be less. It is no coincidence I suggest that only around 20% of motorists receive parking tickets.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these points further but perhaps more importantly to assess how we can help in assuaging your concerns about parking policy particularly as new technology provides new opportunities to better manage traffic and parking in our towns and cities.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Troy
Chief Executive

Pavement hogs

16 Aug

The government has just introduced £100 fines for people who “needlessly hog the middle or outside lane” of a motorway or dual-carriageway.

I find this curious, because the rule 264 of the Highway code reads: “You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, HA traffic officers in uniform or by signs.

The word ‘should‘ in the Highway Code is code for ‘this is antisocial but not illegal’. ‘MUST NOT‘ means that it is illegal. Conclusion — lane hogging is not illegal, but is antisocial.

Curiously Rule 244 of the highway code says: “You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.” Forget London (unless you live there). For most of the rest of use this would read: “You should not park partially or wholly on the pavement unless signs permit it.” Conclusion — pavement parking parking is antisocial, but not illegal (unless you live in London).

However, in addition Rule 145 of the Highway Code says “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.” Conclusion —- in order to park on a pavement a driver has to break this law twice, once to drives onto the pavement, and again to get off.

In summary:

  • Pavement hogging involving breaking the law at least twice (but is largely ignored by the police and politicians).
  • Lane hogging appear not to be illegal, but the politicians have determined that the police should fine people £100 for doing so.

To add insult to injury, Rule 145 (which is ignored for motorists), is vigorously enforced when people cycle on the pavement!

So.. the big question is what are we going to have to do to get the politicians to wake up to this issue.

The problem is that every year there are more cars, every year more people discover that they can park on pavement without getting into trouble, and park more audaciously. Every year more people get more confident of their ‘right’ to park on pavements. Every year it gets tougher for pedestrians.

To illustrate the point, here are a few incidents I have noticed locally over the past few weeks. Driver appear to be totally confident that the police won’t do anything even if they block the entire pavement.

Image

Image

Image

Image

The good news is that the politicians have demonstrated that they can act even if they want to. Now we just have to make them want to!

Update

Carlton Reid has just commented that the paving outside the shop in the first two photos is very cracked. He also noted that pedestrians do not crack paving slabs when they walk across them, but that vehicles often do! Here is a photo of the same area taken when it was free of cars. Needless to say, in this case motorists are breaking loads of additional laws, including parking on the pavement next to a double yellow line, parking in a ‘no loading’ place and parking within 10 meters of a junction. Any more? Anyone care to estimate how much this paving would cost to fix?

IMG_4780

Update 2

I have just found another really classy bit of parking outside the side the same shop. Notice all the road-signs and bins on the pavement the other side of the vehicle.

IMG_4386

#mayguerney – ignorance, or simply contempt for pedestrians?

23 Feb

May Gurney have excelled themselves this time. It is not uncommon for them to obstruct pavements illegally, but they normally leave more than the 640mm they did yesterday to the right of the first sign in this picture, followed by 950mm to the left of a second one. Neat to make pedestrians weave one way and then the other. Why? did they not think, or don’t they actually care? Needless to say, both of these leave less than the mandatory 1m and advisory 1.5m of pedestrians.

Image

I have emailed the company, explaining that I have removed the first sign into storage for health and safety reasons. Given how ineffective emails have been in the past, I have also suggested that they refund my costs, which I have calculated at £5 for the email and £5 per week, or part thereof for storage. I have reminded them that they also own me £1 for a phone call made to Anglian Water when they blocked another nearby pavement some time back. I have offered to give the money to Living Streets, and suggested that they can make a cheque out to that organisation if they prefer.

No idea if this will wake them up, but emails, complaints and blog-posts alone have achieved absolutely nothing over the past 2 years.

Update

Fyi, I have received no reply at all to my email telling them about their sign being in storage. The sign continues to rot beside my garage. By my calculations storage costs after 6 months stand at £100 with £6 administration totalling £106.00.

I think I will write to them one more time and then reuse/recycle the sign if they apparently have no further use for it!

 

Yet again, pedestrians and cyclists don’t actually exist!

15 Dec

My local Labour party have just put a leaflet through our door promoting the idea that Suffolk County Council (the transport authority) should ‘re-open Rope Walk’, which is a local street recently blocked to motorised traffic, rather than install traffic calming in the neighbouring streets which is what the County are proposing.

The silly thing of course is that it is still ‘open’. Well… it is certainly ‘open’ to the numerous pedestrians, mainly students, going between the newly rebuilt Suffolk College which fronts onto Rope Walk and Ipswich town centre. It is also ‘open’ to many cyclists using local cycle route 4/national cycle route 1 to get from the east of the town in to the town or the railway station. Needless to say, the only form of transport to which this road is not ‘open’ is the type of metal box that people sit in that we call a motorcar. This is what it looks like now currently:

Rope walk, an attractive pedestrian approach to the college

Rope walk, an attractive pedestrian approach to the college

Curiously, in their leaflet they suggest that opening Rope Walk to motorised traffic again would ‘reduce rat-running through Kings Avenue, Oxford Road and Milner Street‘ and would end ‘the farce of traffic jams on St Helen’s Street‘ (which is the main arterial road into town).

However… back in 2009 the Borough Council explained that Rope Walk was being closed to motorised trafiic in order to ‘significantly improve pedestrian and cycle access along Rope Walk, and to reduce rat running in Rope Walk and the surrounding roads‘ (my emphasis).

The Borough and County Councils are also grappling with illegal levels of air pollution from motorised traffic on Grimwade Street, which is next to Rope Walk and which falls within an ‘Air Quality Management Area’.

As it happens the Borough council is also engaged in the implementation of major £21m current transport scheme to make Ipswich more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists, of which the changes to Rope Walk made in 2009 form a important part. To quotehigh quality paving materials to link in with previous improvements and provide a continuous shared off-street cycle and pedestrian route between Rope Walk and University Campus Suffolk‘.

Here is their leaflet. Notice the invitation to email them with your thoughts at: You can contact them using contact@ipswich-labour.org.uk.

Image

'Open' Rope Walk, back

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 369 other followers