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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.

Welcome to Ipswich!

15 Mar

I am sorry to write such a direct post about my town, but I have being blogging on this subject for 18 months and during that time have had numerous conversations with just about everyone in authority locally, including the police, Councillors, council officers and my MP and absolutely nothing appears to have changed, if anything, a minority of motorists are getting even bolder and are parking further onto the pavement. During this time I have also become aware of the sheer number of different obstacles encountered in a small area. Do remember however that all is not lost, far from it. We are getting on the case and our job is to keep highlighting the issue in a way that the authorities can not keep ignoring and one day someone who is in a senior authority position will finally get enough courage and confidence to grab the issue and deal with it effectively.

There are many examples of where issues have suddenly been addressed after years of neglect. I believe that for years the French authorities accepted much higher levels of road deaths than occurred in the UK, until the son of the minister of transport? was killed in a traffic collision, Since that event the authorities have been having considerable success with a campaign to bring the figures down (I can’t now find a reference to this – can anyone confirm it). The French are currently introducing numerous additional road safety initiatives and produce particularly hard hitting information campaigns. It is also encouraging how cyclist safety has finally been getting very powerful media support from new sources, notably from The Times. The next step for this campaign might be when a major national newspaper to takes up the pedestrian cause in a big way with clear campaign demands.

Until something changes we need to continue to bring pressure and information to those in power who will one day realise that they just have to address it and that there is considerable support from people to address it. Until then I will continue to draw attention to the issue. To that end, here are a few examples of what pedestrians around my area have had to put up over the past 48 hours!

First off, there is the Tesco delivery truck this morning. The driver said that he had received no guidance at all on where it was acceptable to park and where it wasn’t (not that I believe that really, possibly it is more a matter of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell‘). The driver was parked so far up onto the pavement today that I could hardly get past at all without being scratched by the prickly hedge; the local guy in his wheel-chair would have no chance. As usual there was a space for the driver to park on the other side of the road, but that would have increased his drop-off time by, ohhh, possibly at least a minute and we all know that for Tesco ‘every penny counts’!

Tesco delivery - no space between van and prickly hedge

Tesco delivery - no space between van and prickly hedge

Next up, we have a delightful combination of bin day and road works. The road signs from May Guerney do at least leave the legally required 1m clearance this time, but unfortunately they create a chicane for pedestrians when combined with the bins that have been left scattered as usual across the pavement by the council making it impossible for my wheelchair-bound neighbour to use the pavement. Possibly he should just stay at home on bin-day? Or possibly the council should instruct their staff to return bins onto drive-ways where they are available and road-works signs should only be used where they are actually required for safety reasons!

Bin day and road works. No chance after council have littered pavements with bins!

So now we move the the next street where the bin collectors have left the bins neatly scattered across the pavement next to the cars which was also oh-so-elegantly up on the pavement making the pavement completely unusable. The bin-collector I spoke to was unapologetic and indicate that he was completely happy with how they had been left. His parting comment was ‘it is a kerb-side collection, not a garden collection’ which was clever of him! As regular readers will know I have been banging on to the local council about their bin collection policies for months now with no apparent effect.

Bins left on pavement by council and cars on pavement. No chance!

More bins and another car up on the pavement

Finally, we have a new ‘dropped pavement’ being constructed nearby. The council refer to them as ‘dropped kerbs’, but using the current design they lower the pavement on a slope across the whole width of the pavement. I have previously requested that they keep the majority of the pavement level as they used to in the past.

A new dropped-pavement being constructed - more sloping pavement to deal with.

And here is the result. And to illustrate the slope, I place the football at the curtilage (where the pavement joins the property) and watched it roll across the ‘pavement’ into the carriageway before settling in the gutter. Not helpful for wheelchair and buggy users. Do also notice the road-works sign (see below).

Sloping 'pavement', ball rolls into road

Finally, just past this dropped kerb I came across a road-works sign left illegally with less than legal minimum 1m space required for pedestrians. Given that I had discussed this issue with the person from the Nation Grid Gas only yesterday, and given that the road-works were highly visible, I have now removed the sign into safe keeping joining the sign from Mervyn Lambert which has still not been collected incidentally. As usual I will now email their marketing people and let them know that they can come and collect it from me.

Illegally positioned sign by the National Grid

Update

Almost at the exact moment that I pressed ‘post’ on this blog post my MP, Ben Gummer, contacted me indicating that he was going to work on the issue and was on-side. Very good news.

On a more irritating note I jumped through a bunch of not very clear hoops to get an email address for National Grid Gas from their website, but when I sent my email to that address I was told that it was no longer valid – at least they had the decency to automatically forward to the new addrress. They do also seem to be having a bit of bother with the word ‘correspondence’. “This email address is no longer valid. Your email has been forwarded to the correct address of Northampton.enquiries@uk.ngrid.com. Please use this as the correspondance address for future reference.

May Gurney – if at first you don’t succeed….

15 Jan

Taking the advice of the old saying which goes “if at first you don’t succeed then try, try and try again” I have again confiscated some of May Gurney’s signs  after finding them illegally blocking the pavement (signage must always leave 1 meter clear for pedestrians). As always when I remove their signs like this I email marketing@maygurney.co.uk and tweet using the twitter handle (@maygurney) and invite them to come and collect them.

We are making slow progress though. There was no obvious effect to my complaint in October 2010 – we exchanged friendly emails but nothing changed, and then when I confiscated two illegally positioned signs a year later I didn’t even get any response at all beyond the standard automated email acknowledgement. Only after I had removed a 2nd set of dangerously positioned signs did I finally get an email and phone response promising action. They also arranged to collect the four signs that I had in storage for them by that time.

Unfortunately they are still blocking pavements so we need to keep going a little longer! In this latest incident notice that:

  • the road works themselves are almost entirely on private property and hardly intrude onto the pavement, let along onto the carriageway which is not affected at all (so there is no logic to warning motorists of a narrowing road)
  • the signs are causing far more inconvenience to pedestrians than the road works themselves (even before one of the collapsed).
  • oh yes, and notice that the other pavement is blocked as usual by a car, so that pavement is not easy to use either.

Two signs ilegally obstructing the pavement

The top obstacles for users of Guide dogs

12 Sep

The Guide Dogs association asked 100 users of guide-dogs to identify the worst obstacles they encountered. The percentages below are based on the number of times each item was mentioned by respondents.

  1. Overgrown hedges / low-hanging branches 87%
  2. Cars parked on the pavement 81%
  3. Wheelie bins / loose rubbish 58%
  4. Shop furniture, incl. A-boards, displays, canopies, etc. 42%
  5. Broken glass 34%
  6. Badly maintained pavements 33%
  7. Cyclists/scooters/skateboards on the pavement 28%
  8. Chewing gum 22%
  9. Discarded bikes outside shops 20%
  10. Lack of barriers around road-works 19%

£50K fine and 5 years in prison for rubbish on the pavement – bins and cars are fine though

1 Sep

The council has recently put up signs in the area warning of penalties including fines of up to 50K fines and five years in prison for dumping rubbish on the pavement. Serious stuff! I assume there are referring to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 33). Unfortunately they then go and leave wheelie-bins all over the pavement every week after collection! The following two pictures are taken on the same street. The first shows signs warning that dog poo on the pavement costs up to £1,000 and the fines for fly-tipping. The second photo shows how the council leave bins all over the pavement after emptying them for no good reason that I can discover. Cars on the pavement are not being challenged of course.

No dumping of waste £50K fine

Bins all over the on the pavement again after collection by council

Local council must change its bin policy

25 Aug

The official bin-collection policy of Ipswich Borough Council policy is to leave bins after collection ‘at the very back of the pavement on the curtilage of the property … not obstructing residents’ driveways, preventing usage of drop kerbs etc‘. I have asked them why they don’t return the bins to where they found them (which is normally within the curtilage of the property on a driveway) and have also reminded them of their duties to the blind/wheelchair users and other groups under disability legislation. The response was: “We have discussed your interpretation of the Equalities Act with our resident equalities expert and we are of the opinion that we are taking the best possible action in this respect“. Umm… Strange, given that the work ‘pedestrian’, ‘wheelchair’ and ‘buggy’ don’t even appear in the text.

Here is my proposed replacement text: “a) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where they create a safety hasard. b) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where the available footway is reduced to less than 1m and should not left in a position where the width is reduced to less than 1.5m. Bins can often be returned to a position just inside the curtilage of the property. Where this is not possible they may be left on the footway or carriageway as long as the conditions in a) and b) are satisfied. Where no viable option exists then alternative provision for the collection of waste will need to be arranged. This policy is to ensure that all road users, including pedestrians, some whom may require additional width (wheel chair users, people with buggies and shopping and those with visual impairments) are able to use the highway safely“.

Here’s the reason why a change is needed. In these two following pictures there is no space for a wheelchair user of parent with a buggy to use the pavement when the current guidelines are following. In both cases it would however be trivial for the bins to be returned within the curtillage.

Bins left blocking the pavement after collection

Bin left on pavement with 400mm between bin and lamp-post.

The law is very clear on this. Lets start with Department for Transport guidance on the ‘Pedestrian environment and transport infrastructure':

  • “Since October 1999 service providers have had to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies and procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service … These requirements apply to facilities and services in the pedestrian environment’.
  • “Those who are travelling with small children or are carrying luggage or heavy shopping will all benefit from an accessible environment, as will people with temporary mobility problems (e.g. a leg in plaster) and many older people. Thus, the overall objective of this guide is to provide inclusive design and through that achieve social inclusion
  • “Manual wheelchair users need sufficient space to be able to propel the chair without banging their elbows or knuckles on door frames or other obstacles. But someone who walks with sticks or crutches also needs more space than a non-disabled walker; so too does a long cane user or person carrying luggage, or a lot of shopping bags, or with small children. Thus providing adequate clear space on pavements, along passages in public buildings, through doorways etc, is of benefit to many people.

And also the DirectGov guidance re the Equalities Act 2010:

  • The Equality Act 2010 provides important rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in accessing everyday goods and services like shops, cafes, banks, cinemas and places of worship… The Equality Act 2010 gives disabled people rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in relation to the use of transport services. This also covers access to travel infrastructure such as railway stations and bus stations. You also have a right to reasonable adjustments.

And here is a helpful diagram published by the DfT showing the pavement width required by these different groups of pedestrians. Is it however unfortunate that the diagram is so hard to read which probably goes against their own guidance on legibility, but we can’t have everything!

Pavement widths required by different user groups (DfT guidance)

Finally, here are a set of photos illustrating the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that I am proposing to the council. The photos on the left show where the council leave bins currently and on the right you can see where I am suggesting they should be left to allow free passage (or as good as can be achieved with all the pavement parking!).

Bins after collection (as now on the left, and as proposed on the right)

I will be sending a copy of this post to the council and ask them to reconsider. If that doesn’t work then possibly the local paper would be interested in taking this on as a local issue.

Challenging the local bin policy

5 May

I have now had a response to my query to Ipswich Borough Council in regard to why bins are left in just about the worst place they could be for pedestrians by their contractors after they have been emptied. The council confirmed that their contractors are instructed to leave bins “on the curtillage of the property… not obstructing residents’ driveways, preventing usage of drop kerbs etc” which they described as being the ‘safest position‘ as it didn’t risk damage to cars which she considered would be the case if the bins were left in line with the parked cars as I had proposed. Not a single mention of the needs of pedestrians in general and the blind and wheelchair users in particular. Not exactly what seems to be  required under the Equalities Act 2010 which came into force in October 2010 and provides ‘A basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport‘.

As it happened it was bin-day today and also polling day today so I was able to sample a few pavements on the route to my local polling station just after the bins had been collected. As you can see from the pictures below (on the left ) the bins were generally left in a position where they were obstructing the pavement. I moved them to a more sensible pave where I proposed that they should be left (on the right) which was often on the relevant driveway only a very short distance from where it had been left by the binmen.

Bins after collection (as now on the left, and as proposed on the right)

Update: Since making the above post I have noticed that the contractors leave bins in a much more obstructive way than the householders did. Check out the pictures below – the images on the left were taken just before the bin collection showing that the householders left them on the edge of their property sensibly, the images on the right show how to binmen then left them all over the footway.

Before bin collection on the left and afterward on the right

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