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DIY traffic calming in Beech Croft Road, Oxford

9 Jul

Here is an encouraging story about what can be achieved by a community that works together to make changes in their street.

DIY traffic calming

Here is a report on the BBC about it.

And bizarre a visit by Richard Hammond of Top Gear in the mix. I am told that Richard Hammond had no idea what was in store for him and that the residents had no idea who the presenter was going to be.

You can read more about the project on their blog, on the associated ‘road witch’ blog and also in a report by Oxford city Council. The project was the first of a number of schemes supported by the Sustrans DIY Streets project.

Incidentally… here is a great story with loads of pictures about the terrible sate the street was in for pedestrians some time back. (added following comment below – thanks).

Beech Croft Road some time earlier

Age Scotland

15 Jun

There is a great new blog post on the Age Scotland blog asking ‘why isn’t pavement parking illegal?‘. A fair and direct question that deserves an answer! I have always believed that if we will only succeed in reclaiming our pavements when both the young and the old stand up together and ask for them back loudly and clearly! Here is a short video from Age Scotland pointing out the inconvenience pavement parking causes to people in mobility buggies.

I am pleased to see that the RNIB are also on the case. Here is a partially-signed RNIB campaigner in Cirencester explaining the campaign he is running.

On the subject of youtube, this is a great way of spreading the message. Here are a few more examples of how to use video to get the message across.

Of course, the issue is not a new one. Here is a public information film on the subject which must date from the 1970s.

Parking Douche!

30 May

Check out Parking Douche and watch their video here which explains how it all works:

Pavement parking sorted :)

28 Dec

Well here’s an approach to pavement parking that will definitely get the attention of the police :)

 

Rembering the dead on London’s roads

12 Nov

Thank you to the hundreds of cyclists who took part in the Tour du danger today to highlight a number of London’s most dangerous junctions and put pressure on the Mayor and on TfL to do some serious work on them.

Here are some maps showing where people are have been getting killed and injured in recent years. The first one shows deaths and injuries from traffic crashes between 2000 and 2010, the second for 2010 only and the next one for 2009 and the final one for 2000. Areas of blue indicate were pedestrians are getting injured and killed, red shows the high risk areas for cyclists. Purple is for motorcyclists and tan/green for vehicle occupants. Click on the images to see them full size.

Road casualties in Central London 2000-2010

Road casualties in Central London 2010

Road casualties in Central London 2009

Road Casualties in Central London 2000

These maps appear to show that fatalities amongst vehicle occupants has fallen from 17 in 2000 to one in 2009 and then zero in 2010. For cyclists the trend is apparently going the other way (up from four in 2000 to eight in 2009 and also in 2010). Motorcyclist fatalities are up from 0 in 2000 to 6 in 2010, pedestrians falling significantly. Do however be aware that this map only shows one fatality blob for crashes with multiple fatalities (which may include multiple modes). I will do some more work on this in the coming week and the figures may then need to be adjusted upwards.

Based on Stats19 road casualty data. See ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain‘ for more details.

Ig nobel peace award to car crushing mayor!

30 Sep

Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania has been awarded an Ig Nobel peace prize for demonstrating how the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by destroying them with a military tank.

Ig Nobel Peace prize 2011

For those who missed it, here is the stunt that led to the award.

Is this just a bit of fun? Personally I think it is another signal that people all around the worlds are getting impatient with the private car. Attitudes are changing. I am reminded that Ken Livingston was given an award for ‘policy innovation’ by Scientific American in 2003 after he introduced the congestion charge to London.

Anyone who thinks the private car is secure in out cities should take notice of what William Clay Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford and the current executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company is thinking. In 2000 at a Greenpeace business conference in London he said that “The day will come when the notion of car ownership becomes antiquated. If you live in a city, you don’t need to own a car” and went on to explain how Ford would reposition itself as a ‘purveyor of mobility’ and would own the vehicles and make them available to people when they need access to them. Ford, good to their word recently went into partnership with Zipcar offering cars on American university campuses for hire by the hour.

Inspiration from Park(ing) day 2011

17 Sep

Inspiration from around on world from Park(ing) day 2011 which took place yesterday when people all over the world reclaim parking meters for social and convivial purposes. Here are a few photos and a great piece of artwork from the people who created the event a few years ago. Great to see a neat little park hitting London’s streets with help from ibuyeco and the Woodland Trust.

Parking day hits London's streets (copyright image)

Parking day 2011 - barber's shop

Enjoy the day! (copyright image)

Save the day - Rebar

Don’t mention the war!

11 Sep

Mike Penning, the roads minister recently claimed that there had never been a war against the motorist in a letter to Sir Peter Tapsell MP. This is very remarkable given that in July 2010 he said that ending central funding for speed cameras “is another example of this government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist”. He mentioned the war again – this time in an article about the scrapping of the M4 bus lane titled “M4 bus lane to be scrapped as Penning ends Labour war on road users” (which clarifies that this is a war on the motorist actually). Some people will also remember Philip Hammond’s rousing speech at the Conservative Party Conference in 2010 – this version, which has been dubbed and subtitled is the only version of the relevant parts of the speech available on the web that I can find (I wish that the government would publish all speeches online for people to review later). A popular blog titled ‘At war with the motorist‘ was set up immediately after this speech to challenge some of the view expressed by the minister. This clip was created by the folk behind iPayRoadTax.

This recent announcement has prompted me to ensure that the past won’t be forgotten so easily in future. I am making a small start by uploading some key video clips from recent motoring history onto Vimeo. For starters, here are some clips relating to battles and skirmishes for control of our roads. Lets start with the conservatives and their ambitious Road for Prosperity white paper which was published in 1989. It outlined a massive increase in road building and then Margaret Thatcher explained that “nothing can stop the great car economy” (and certainly not “wishy washy environmentalists.”) This clip is from The Secret Life of the Motorway produced by the BBC.

This led to massive road protests during the 1990s, including the M11 link road, Twyford Down (M3) protest and the Newbury Bypass protests. This next clip starts with a short sequence from the Reclaim the Streets protest on the road outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in 1997 (which has since been pedestrianised incidentally). This is followed by a retrospective piece about the road protests of the period – do notice how wealth rural conservative voters are pushing and shoving alongside younger activists with the support of elderly local residents. Nothing ‘wishy washy’ about this lot!

The conservative government had started backing off from their ambitious road building policy by 1994 when John Gummer denied that there ever been a ‘great car economy’ saying that it was “not one which has ever been put forward by the Conservatives“! He elaborated that “The car must become our servant rather than our master” and that we must not construct a society “which restricts freedom by not allowing people to choose a lifestyle that does not involve having a motor-car“. This new found interest in alternatives to the car didn’t however stop the  transport secretary at the time, Brian Mcwhinney, giving the go-ahead for the Newbury bypass the following year before resigning 30 minutes later!

When New Labour came to power in 1997 there was no question about the direction of transport policy. Here is John Prescott laying out their vision for transport.

In recent years cyclists and pedestrians have been getting more confident, not something that everyone in the motoring community has appreciated. Here is a clip from Road Rage, a documentary shown recently on TV highlighting the battle raging in the UK for control of the roads between motorists and pedestrians/cyclists etc.

Finally, as a bit of light relief, here is Jeremy Clarkson, announcing that this episode would be the ‘last ever Top Gear’ after the car came last in a race across London by various forms of transport (with Richard Hammond winning on a bicycle). There have however been many more episodes of Top Gear!

Clearly there is something very big going on about which lots of people have strong feelings. There are no easy ‘solutions’ to our transport challenges and the car most certainly isn’t it. It will be great if the currently government can avoid falling down the same hole that the last Conservative government fell down. Possibly denial is just part of the process of change in the political world?

Archie wants to walk to school

30 Aug

In 2009 a father phoned to police to say that because the country road between his house and his child’s school was dangerous, and because his son wanted to walk to school that he was going to drive slowly behind him to protect him from approaching drivers on the 60mph country lane. He was then intercepted before he had got to school by police to who drove the boy to school over “fears for his safety” and warned the father that he could be arrested for ‘a willful obstruction’ of the highway if he did it again. The father has subsequently written an article titled “Why do drivers have more rights than the rest?” (paywall). A good question which I will explore below.

Archie wants to walk to school (copyright image)

Let’s analyse this in some detail.

Firstly, I assume that the police were referring to section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 (“If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence”) or to section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (“Wilfully causing an obstruction to any public footpath or public thoroughfare“). Unfortunately “it has been held that to constitute an offence there must be proof of an unreasonable user of the highway” (Parliamentary briefing 2010)

It is worth mentioning at this point that all roads in the UK are ‘all purpose roads’ and should therefore be available for all road users with the sole exception of ‘special roads’ (better known as motorways) which were created by the Special roads Act 1949 on which no pedestrians are allowed. There is no suggestion in the highway code that pedestrians should not be able to walk in the carriageway where there is not a pavement. (rule 2)

It is also worth mentioning that the highway code reminds drivers to at all times “Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear“.(rule 126) According to the Crown Prosecution Service, driving too fast is reason for prosecution for dangerous driving for which the penalty is disqualification and up to two years in prison. (Careless driving, a lesser offense is not use in cases of driving too fast it seems). However a 25 year old found guilty of drivng at 103mph avoided a conviction for dangerous driving and was banned for only 90 days. A policeman who was ‘familiarising himself with his new police car’ who was recorded driving a 159mph, (and also at 120mph in a 60mph area and at 60mph in a 30 mph area) was found not guilty of both dangerous driving and of speeding! The Crown Prosecution Service overturned the ruling and he was subsequently found guilty but given an absolute discharge; before having his conviction overturned following an appeal by West Mercia Police Federation.

So, was the father acting ‘reasonably’? He appeared to be protecting a walker who wished to assert their right to walk along an ‘all purpose road’. Motorists appear to have been only inconvenienced to a minor degree. The police seemed to agree that motorists were traveling too fast to slow down safely for a slow vehicle. As such should they not have prosecuted the drivers for dangerous driving, rather than opting for the a simpler but rather implausible route of using wilful obstruction for the person protecting the pedestrian?

I am reminded of Duncan Cameron’s submission to parliament on pedestrian issues who noted that “If pedestrians placed a chair on the carriageway it would be removed immediately, even though it would obstruct a smaller proportion of the road than when a car parks on the pavement. Cars could slow down and take care to avoid the chair, as pedestrians have to with parked cars. The Highways Act applies equally to the road and the footway. Pedestrians are being discriminated against“. In this case the same police who normally avoid using obstruction legislation against parking obstructions at almost any cost leapt into action to use it against someone protecting a pedestrian. Remarkable!

There are some parallels in this story with that of the blind man who was arrested and locked up within minutes of phoning the police to say that he was going to let down the tires of cars that were persistently blocking the pavement.

Yes, pedestrians do face discrimination and this blog’s primary aim seems to be to help expose how this particular discrimination operates.

25K pageviews and a new facebook group

24 Aug

Pedestrian Liberation has just topped 25,000 page views since it started and is now regularly getting 2,000 page views a month which seems like a great time to launch a new Pedestrian Liberation Facebook group where people can discuss issues, ideas and plan responses. If you are interested in creating a better pedestrian environment then please sign up to the group and get talking. The group is ‘closed(open)’ which means that the discussion is only visible to members of the group(visible to everyone). There is no restriction on joining. Just just click ‘join group’ and you are in.

Fyi, here is our usage since we started:

Pageviews on Pedestrian Liberation to August 2011

And just here are the search terms people used to find the site over the past month. My favourities include:

  • “which campaigns deals with pavements,road signs
  • “can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb
  • “how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety
  • “why are cars allowed to park on pavements?
  • “how much does cow need living space” (not sure about that one!)
  • “why are roadsigns placed on pavements to block pedestrians?
  • “are people allowed to park on dropped kerbs?
  • “cars obstructing pavement law definition uk

And here are some of the more popular search terms:
is it illegal to park on the pavement 25
pavement parking 10
road works 6
road obstruction sign 6
raised crossing 6
pedestrian liberation 6
leicestershire pavement parking 5
dhl unmarked 4
archway road highgate during world war 2 4
pedestrianliberation.wordpress.com 4
can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb 4
example of road life 3
council yellow line enforcement private land 3
parked on footway 3
road work signs 3
biased maps 3
unloading on a dropped kerb with double yellow lines 3
fast lane speed mph 3
council clearing pavements campaign 3
destroyed road 3
roadworks 3
rectangular bananas 3
legislation for parking vehicles on footpaths for business purposes 3
welwyn garden city 3
is it an offence to park a vehicle on a drive that obstructed the footpath 3
signs for pedestrians on paveement 2
parking lot paid space toy car 2
paving leaflet 2
pavement obstruction law uk 2
pavement kerb 2
without favour or affection malice or ill will 2
alternative parking 2
highway maintenance cars 2
which campagins deals with pavements,road signs 2
safety beacon leaflets 2
new forest cow in road 2
office people 2
damaged pavement 2
parking pavement narrow road 2
problems pertaining to pedestrians and law enforcement of pedestrian offence 2
street parking laws pavement blocking 2
pedestrian liberation cycle track act 2
to be treated with contempt 2
is it illegal to park on a pavement 2
highway maintenance van 2
parking on pavement leaving 1 meter 2
road works diagram 2
car sticker wheelchair pedestrians 2
no parking on pavement 2
is the pavement common land 2
is it illegal to leave bins on pavement 2
apc overnight depots in ipswich 2
west yorkshire police rogues gallery 2
footways use 2
chapter 8 road work sign positions 2
openstreetmap speed limit time 2
street slabs 2
how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety 2
other road pavements 2
is it legal to park on pavement? 2
parked on dropped kerb outside my own garage in cardiff 2
driving on pavement law 2
map speed limits milton keynes 2
no parking on the curb sign 2
parking on double yellow includes verge and footway 2
problem pertainig to pedestrian and law enforcement of pedestrian offences 2
asphalt pedestrian footway 2
child bending over puddle 2
speed limits for ipswich 2
i hate stickers 2
car walking 2
stevenage footpaths 2
department of transport parking on footpaths 2
why are cars allowed to park on pavements? 2
netherlands 130km 2
are you allowed to park on the pavement 2
cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle 2
broken pavement 2
funny parking in the uk 2
zigzag traffic lights 2
no pedestrians 2
dpd 2
yellow lines parked pavement case 2
trek highway services 2
traffic management signs 2
are cars allowed to park on pavement 2
safety signs laws for works on pavements 2
archway road 2
sandwell school parking campaign 2
is it an offence to drive over a footpath to gain access 2
bollard planter 2
new paving designs 2011 2
broken slabs 2
speed limits on urban a roads 2
summer streets 2011 2
local regualtions regarding obstruction of a pavement 2
tnt lorry 2
road traffic act parking on pavements 2
is it illegal to park on the pavement 2010 2
what are the benefits of using email with regard to speed cost 2
range rover classic passenger safety 2
dpd van on fire 2
law on construction along the highway and busy street 2
no wheelchairs 2
lamp post damage 2
wheelchairs 2
dropped kerbs law 2
cumnor primary school 2
illegal to park on pavement 2
how much does cow need living space 2

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