Archive | December, 2010

British Home Stores managers like parking in Arras Square

31 Dec

I spoke to one of the managers at the Ipswich branch of BHS today about their parking in Arras Square. He explained that they had discussed the issue with head office who said that it was fine for them to continue to park in the square which they intend to do. They are legally allowed to do so because they own the area immediately outside the store where they park. Indeed they complain if anyone else parks there. As such we can see plenty more of this.

Managers' cars

More manager's cars

Neat parking by a BHS manager!

The regional manager's car

Both managers block the seating today!

BHS vans blocking the seating in the square

Clearly BHS have not used their van for some time!

BHS owned vehicles:

  • Audi AV55WDE
  • Renault Clio AY10WHH
  • BMW EK59ZNV
  • VW Passat AX59FZE
  • Van KV58NPF
  • Another van AD53PFX

I discovered recently that BHS is owned by a certain Philip Green, the 9th richest person in the UK who is unfortunately pretty good at avoiding paying UK tax, £300m by one estimate. This makes it strange that the government has recently appointed him to oversee the goverment’s spending cuts. This may be why some of Philip Greens’s other shops, including TopShop, have recently been targeted by Uncut who argue that if corporations paid tax properly then the need for cuts would be greatly reduced. Philip Green says the accusations are ‘outrageous’.

‘If you block the pavements then I’ll block the road’

31 Dec

Since her 9 year old son was hit in the face by a car door opened by a driver who had parked on the pavement, a mother in Manchester has taken to blocking the road to her child’s primary school explaining that: ‘If you block the pavements then I’ll block the road’. The headteacher of St Wilfrid’s School said: “The majority of them are very supportive but it’s a shame there is a minority of parents who keep double parking and using the pavements.” Again, we hear that it is a minority of drivers who cause these issues, and it is yet another example of a child being injured by this dangerous but generally accepted behaviour.

She has got a lot of support from the comments below the article. Here are a sample of them:

  • good on you, its a nightmare when cars park on the kerbs all around schools and also dangerous!!! why dont people just walk to the school to pick up their kids!!
  • Well done mum
  • Good for you Jane.
  • keep up the good work
  • Good on you Jayne but why does it take a mums actions to get a result ? WHY
  • Good on her!
  • The selfish behaviour that I witness by school run mums beggars belief
  • Nice one. Sick to death of motorists, you can’t move in this country without a vehicle up your backside, reversing at speed without looking, opening car doors without looking, speeding around bends the list goes on.
  • Good on ya girl, you have the support of all non-selfish people and drivers.
  • Excellent, we also have huge problems at Wellfield Infant School in Ashton on Mersey, the mums can not get down Church Lane with buggies and it end up single file for cars
  • Nice one Jayne
  • Well done girl! Keep up your protest.

Finally, this longer response which is so typical of what happens if one challenged the behaviour. “I saw a woman parked on yellow zig zags outside a school in Cheadle last week. She was putting her child inside the car, not giving a monkeys for the safety of anybody elses kids. I said you ‘You cannot park there’. ‘I know, sorry’ she said. ‘Well move it then’ said I. ‘Who do you think you are speaking to’ she asked angrily. She has a problem with the way people to speak to her, but does not give a damn for the safety of other peoples children.

Pavement parking bay consultation

29 Dec

In London where pavement parking is theoretically illegal everywhere unless allowed the councils seem to be trying to regularise parking arrangements, either by enforcing the ban on exiting ban on pavement parking or by allowing parking through legislation and white dotted lines along the pavement. I was pleased to see that when Houslow recently consulted on allowing parking officially on Gould Road that they made it a requirement that 1.5 meters should be retained for pedestrians.

Gould Road, Houslow

Bays have been created in other places with considerably smaller space left for pedestrians. I was trying to find an example, in Waltham Forest I seem to remember, where there was only 700mm left of pedestrians which is less than the width of a doorway! I will update this post if someone can give me a link to the post.

Incidentally, according to the current law as it applies in most of the country outside London a car is only causing an ‘obstruction’ if someone is actually being obstructed. And then even if it is impossible for that person to get past on the pavement the police may determine that they can simply use the carriageway instead as was the case in Bristol in this example which the police said was ‘not obstructing the highway’!

Not obstruction!

one parking space = a house!

29 Dec

In Aldeburgh there is this remarkable house which fits in little more than a single parking bay in a car park! Here it is from the ground:

A small house!

And from above:

Aldeburgh house from above

It was apparently offered for sale for £250,000 recently. Amazing what one can be in such a small space. Michael Hartman of Car Walking fame has more recently taken to illegally building huts in road junctions in Germany to highlight the uses that can be made of space needed to park a single car.

Be un-prepared and then do nothing!

21 Dec

As a boy scout I was encouraged to ‘be prepared’ and then act if appropriate. While in town today I discovered that the shopkeepers weren’t prepared for the snow and then didn’t respond. They were inside staying warm while their customers were fighting there way through the snow and slush outside. These modern shop-keepers seem to expect the ‘authorities’ to do it for them and if the authorities don’t then it doesn’t get done.

A set of stone steps outside the Buttermarket shopping centre were covered in snow. The manager said they had tried to clear it but had ‘failed’, remarkable given the normal fuss about ‘Elf and Safety’. He also said that they certainly wouldn’t clear anything that wasn’t owned by them because of the risk of getting sued, which just doesn’t happen. He didn’t think they could even make a donation to the boy scouts to do it for them. BHS didn’t seem to have done anything either.

Meanwhile the BBC was reporting  ‘Cold weather hits major retailers’ shares‘ and the Ipswich Evening Star was proudly advertising ’5 pages of coverage of snow reports’. Is this Big Society or Little Britain. I will continue to encourage these people to wake up and sort things out for themselves rather than waiting for ‘nanny’ to do it for them.

Slush on Tavern Street

Slush mounds in Arras Square

Slush up to the entrance of BHS

 

Steps covered in snow and slush

 

5 pages of snow reports!

When maps are biased

20 Dec

Maps are simplifications of reality and by their very nature introduce bias based on what they include and what they leave out. Unfortunately most current maps have a bias towards the car given that they leave off most of the detail that matter only to pedestrians and to public transport users. This problem is compounded when the maps produced by authorities specifically for these user groups also leave of the relevant details.

This problem was demonstrated very clearly to me today while we were delivering some xmas cards on foot today. We delivered our first card half way down Beech Road and then needed to get to the southern end of Cambridge Road as shown on the following map from Google. This map has an amazing amount wrong and is almost completely useless for walking directions as you will see as the post develops. From this map it would seem sensible to head north then east along the busy Woodbridge Road and then all the way down Cambridge Road.

Google Map

Actually, I knew that there was a convenient set of footpaths missing from this map so we set off south to pick up a footpath that went up through the woods from Mendip Drive and then east along a short path. The paths are shown on this map from OpenStreetMap. The small blue squares are bus stops btw.

openstreetmap take 1

However, we then spotted a footpath I didn’t know about which seemed to be going in the right direction. We asked someone getting snow off their car if it would help, but he told us to go up to the main road as per the Google map. I knew that wasn’t right so we completed the trip as already planned going down to Mendip Drive. The clever bit about OpenStreetMap is the edit feature, so when I got home I pressed edit and added the missing path and the map now looks like this – notice the additional path.

openstreetmap take 2

What is clear to me is that the guy cleaning was using a mental model based on the roads as supported by the Google mapping. It gets worse though.. There is also a mapping website called walkit.com which aims to address this limitation with other mapping and which, as you might have guessed, promotes walking. Unfortunately it doesn’t have these paths on either and recommends the route as Google and the car driver! notice that there are no bus stops marked either.

Walkit.com recommended route

And then there is the local official cycle map published by Suffolk County Council which also misses the paths off!

official cycle map

And now lets look at the local bus map which also misses all the footpaths and curiously doesn’t even show the positions of the bus stops which seem to be kinda important to public transport users.

Bus map

What is going on here? OpenStreetMap which is produced and maintained by volunteers like me is available for free and is very accurate.The official cycle map which is produced at significant expense by Suffolk County Council, the local instance of Walkit.com which was commissioned and paid for by Ipswich Borough Council and the local bus map which is produced by the local bus company all largely reinforce the car drivers view of the world by leaving off this critical detail!

I will again recommend that that stop spending money on these resources and promote OpenStreetMap as Microsoft do with Bing Maps which  can now display OpenStreetMap data. OpenStreetMap data can of course be used as the map base for all of the above specialist local maps if necessary.

Bing maps supports openstreetmap

Travel “chaos”? Your snow stories….

19 Dec

The BBC has been asking for your stories of ‘travel chaos’ saying “The snow continues to disrupt transport networks”. Speaking for myself, we had a lovely walk today and were not alone… no chaos that we could see anywhere. The roads were particularly quiet. A good opportunity for people to explore where they actually live for a change.

People walking on Rushmere common

Arras Square – the sequel

17 Dec

I blogged recently about Arras Square which is in the heart of Ipswich and is named in memory of the 150,000 British soldiers who died near Arras in WW1. It has recently become a car and lorry park for much of the day. The borough Council said that it was ‘complicated’ but that they would get back when they had time.

On investigation it seems to be reasonably simple. The following people, who park here on a regular basis, should possibly review their decision. Either that or their employers should do so for them and in one case is the Borough Council!

Tourist Information Office

The tourist information office which is run by Ipswich Borough Council operates from the 15th Century St Stephen’s church which is to one side of the square. It turns out that the manager has been parking her car just by the front entrance to the centre for over a decade without a ticket or any special permit! I will ask the council if they might like to review this policy and ask their staff to park elsewhere, because there is no shortage of parking available at modest prices in the town. I will be emailing IBC about this very soon.

Old car outside older church

British Home stores

Both the manager and the regional manager for the Ipswich branch of BHS use the square as a convenient place to park. The manager is at the store nearly every day, the regional manager comes less often, but was there today. BHS claim to offer ‘Modern Living Made Easy’, well life is certainly simple for their management. Tom, who is one of their managers at the store explained how it worked and said he understood my position. Isn’t to great to see how the perks mount up. Most staff can’t afford fancy cars and even have to ‘walk’ to the store, imagine that! The manager can afford a small fast car and can park right outside the door and the regional manager not only gets a bigger shiny car but also gets to park it in a setting just like in the advertisements! Needless to say I will be emailing BHS and will let you know what happens.

The manager's car

The regional manager's car

An independent clothes shop

Merc, is a smaller clothes retailer with four outlets in the UK. The local manager said that he would stop parking in the square if everyone else stops and that he would much prefer the square to be available for a market or something. Of course today his car was one of the only ones in the square for much of the time! Again I will be emailing the company to see if we can make his vision into a reality!

Car belonging to the manager of Merc (a clothes shop)

Deliveries

It turns out that the main shopping street only allows deliveries during restricted hours, however big vans and trucks can use this square at any time. As so when ‘Memorable Cheeses’ need an urgent delivery of chocolate as they did today then the big van parks here and heads into the main pedestrian area. I have to say that Memorable Cheeses are very memorable and we have bought a lot of cheese from them over the years and judging by the size of the van they must now have a huge supply of chocolate! There seems to be some interest locally in restricting the hours of delivery in this square and there is certainly significant disruption caused by these large vehicles will appear every 10 mins or so.

dp express 'versatile logistics' delivering urgent supplies of chocolate!

A memorable cheese shop!

TNT delivering to DHS

Selling cars

And it gets worse. As well as littering the square outside the Buttermarket these little blighters even turn up inside! Here are a couple of charming little cars on display inside.

Buy a new car today!

But don’t worry, the company does support ‘Motability’!

Supporting motability

Cycle parking

It is good to know however that the Borough also provides high quality modern secure storage for bicycles. Not sure what happened to their plans to upgrade these where the local cycle group were consulted on the matter a few years ago, but hey ho, we can’t have everything.

High quality modern facilities for bicycles!

Needless to say I will be writing to the Borough Council and to BHS and will keep people posted on what happens.

Where does the highway end…

16 Dec

It is sometimes hard to see where the highway ends and where private property starts. This example was brought to my attention by a comment left on an earlier post by someone living nearby. On investigation it turns out that the shopkeeper owns the land right up to the service road and has therefore done what he wanted with it, which in this case was to install car parking even though it is a cycle shop! Children duck into the carriageway, but who knows what a blind person would make of it. The second photo shows that what is presumably the official footway is blocked by an advertising sign although no one would use that narrow path given that there is a perfectly good footway outside all of the rest of the shops.

Cycle Revolution 1

Cycle Revolution

And then there is my local electrical shop. The owner isn’t doing anything illegal by leaving his car on his land but it does create an odd impression – hardly welcoming and very difficult for someone with poor sight.

Owners car blocking entrance

The final picture of Arras Square in Ipswich which has a sign at the entrance which reads ‘No Vehicles’ but which is always full of parked cars about which I posted about a week ago. I have finally got an initial response back from the Borough Council which reads: “Thank you for your email. The position in Arras Square is very complex with several owners and leases involved and only part of the area being highway”. So here we go again! However… in all cases I think the shopkeepers can be encouraged to keep the area clear, especially if they are chain stores with a brand to maintain.

Nice bench, shame about the parking!

Car 1, pensioner 0

16 Dec

Parent in Bristol blocks private lock-up garage with his car and heads for the primary school with young child. 83 year old man opens the garage and pushes the blocking car into the road. Crowd gathers, the man tries to drive off picking a man taking his number plate on his bonnet, child runs for safety. For this and a similar incident 2 weeks later the 83yo is banned for dangerous driving, receives £1,100 in fines and costs, and is made to give £620.59 for damage to the parent’s car and £200 for the man who was picked up on the bonnet.

Clearly this is a mess but is it not part of the bigger mess outside every school? The parent who parked anti-socially appears to have been fully compensated and got significantly more than the guy who was taking down the number plate who was rammed. The driver seen stopping in the yellow school zone box didn’t even raise a comment in the news reports because it just isn’t news! New regulations will soon ban the use wheel clamps on private property, such as the land outside the garages, to stop such anti-social parking. There is incidentally a newish law against blocking a dropped kerb with a parked car, but this driver was, I believe, parked on private property so that probably doesn’t apply.

In general this gives permission for this mess to continue regardless of who is inconvenienced. He had rented the garage for 20 years and had previously tried to get Bristol City Council to do something. The recorder said “No doubt you were severely irritated with the long-existing parking problem… but … you can’t go taking the law into your own hands.” If he can’t and the council won’t and the law provides no basis for the police to act then what? It seems that users of these garages will probably just have to realise that they will not be able to access their cars at pick up and drop-off times! I notice that this video was been watched nearly 460,000 times and that most of the comments on the Daily Mail article support the older driver.

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