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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.

Dropped kerbs and dropped pavements

15 Jan

There was a time when ‘dropped kerb’ meant exactly that, in other words the pavement was on the level except for a narrow strip at the kerb-edge where it dropped. What we have these days could better be described as ‘dropped pavements’. Why does it matter? It matters because with the old design pedestrians, and buggy/wheelchair users had a level surface for the majority if not all of the width of the pavement; with the modern design much of the pavement is on a slope with frequent abrupt changes in level for pedestrians. Here are some examples, firstly showing traditional dropped kerbs:

A traditional dropped kerb beside a vege - totally flat pavement

A traditional dropped kerb without a verge - 80% of the width is flat

Compare that with a modern ‘dropped pavements’, where the entire width of the pavement is on the wonk with steep entrance and exit ramps for pedestrians across much of its width. Here are a few examples:

A dropped pavement (err... plus modern wheelie-bin) - much tougher for many pedestrians

In this example 1/3rd of the 'pavement' is underwater when it rains!

Long length of 'pavement' on a slope, + bins of course

In this example there is a completely unnecessary 'step' between the pavment and driveway

Dropped kerbs and ‘Special enforcement areas’

9 Nov

It appears to be a requirement that all rules relating to parking and pavements should be confusing and ineffective and slow to come into force. By way of example, lets look at the relatively introduced legislation which bans parking across dropped kerbs.

This legislation received Royal Assent back in 2004 with the Traffic Management Act of that year. Royal Assent was followed by five years of consultation on these new rules during which time the AA, needless to say, objected saying that it would be entirely unreasonable to expect motorists to know that it was illegal to park on dropped kerbs unless the council installed white lines on every single one at their own cost. I am glad to say that the government ignored them and the legislation was finally ‘enabled’ in June 2009. We should of course be grateful that the legislation was enabled at all, given that legislation which would have banned pavement parking entirely which received Royal Assent in 1974 was never enabled at all!

Now comes the ‘confusing’ bit. As I have said, legislation needs to be confusing. Part of the small print of the 2004 Act says that these new powers will only be available in places that adopt new ‘Special Enforcement Area’ status. Every Council wishing to use these powers then had to apply for this  Special Enforcement Area status (as distinct from ‘Civil Enforcement Areas’ which many had already been granted). To make it more complex Special Enforcement Areas can be applied for covering either an entire area of, or only part of a Civil Enforcement Area.

So.. the next question of course is to find out if my town and which other places have been granted ‘special enforcement area’ status. Is there a national map of these areas? err… no; is there a published list of such areas? err… no. Is it clear from my local authorities website if my town has been granted these powers? err.. no. The only way I found out that they had was to email them. The good news is that it has been enabled in my areas and people do get fined from time to time I understand. The bad news (for pedestrians) is that my local police didn’t even know that it parking across dropped kerbs was actually illegal and apparently refuse to enforce it in some cases. Here is a local driver explaining to be that he finds that this particular dropped-kerb is a very convenient (and often available) parking spot when doing his local shopping.

Blocking a dropped kerb, no problem

A new clean URL and a re-energised twitter account

31 Aug

I have finally upgraded the WordPress account so that we can operate on the new simpler URL of ‘http://pedestrianliberation.org‘. The old addresses will still work btw but you will find that you get redirected to the clean one automatically. I have also just linked the PedestrianLib twitter account to the WordPress RSS feed so there should always be a nice new tweet for every blog post from now on and will be using twitter from time to time going forward for this and that.

And, just in case we forget what forces we are up against, here is the scene from outside our local ‘convenience store’ a while back, I guess it is convenient for a few people at least!

Dropped kerb? Yellow lines? what! where?

Privatising the highway

24 Oct

I recently  blogged about how the Traffic Management Act 2004 had introduced new regulations to protect dropped kerbs where people cross the road from being obstructed by parked cars.

I commented at the end of the post that this legislation also unfortunately allowed home-owners to ‘privatise’ the highway outside their house as long as they installed a dropped kerb and dug up their front garden! What I have now noticed is what happens when lots of people do the same. In this first photo, which is not untypical of streets around where I live, there is a continuous 44 meter section of ‘privatised kerb’ where no-one is allowed to park without the permission of one of the owners.

44 Meters of dropped kerb with automatic parking restrictions

On this nearby street there are 150 meters of almost continuous dropped kerb on one side and nearly as much on the other.

Dropped kerbs along almost the whole street, both sides

In case you don’t get the message immediately, one can of course put up a ‘private’ sign. To be fair I don’t know if they are referring to their driveway or the highway in this case.

Private!

This of course creates even more pressure on the pavements which don’t have dropped kerbs especially by larger vehicles as in my recent post about this van which was parked across the pavement outside a recreation ground which of course has no need for dropped kerbs!

A van parked inconveniently on a section of pavement without any dropped kerbs

New rules protect dropped kerbs

15 Oct

The Traffic Management Act 2004 (section 86) introduced to protect dropped kerbs from parked cars. It also covers places where the carriageway has been raised to meet the level of the footway for the same purpose.

To quote my local authority ‘ If an enforcement officer observes a vehicle parked fully or partly on a dropped footway provided for ease of access to cross a road or at a pedestrian crossing the motorist will receive an automatic penalty charge notice.’ This change means that it will finally be an offense for which a vehicle owner can be given a penalty notice to do this:

A Prius parked across a dropped Kerb is now always an offence

Again, this is now an offense (ie parking across a dropped kerb)

Car parked on dropped kerb

Conveniently for motorists the same regulatory change appears to allow home-owners to ‘claim’ the highway outside their house for their own private us! Our authority explains ‘If you find an inconsiderate motorist blocking the dropped kerb access to your home you can get in touch with Ipswich Borough Council’s Parking Service and action will be taken’.

Notice that it is only the owner of the property who can complain in this instance. This of course means that anyone who replaces their front garden with a parking place and a dopped-kerb now gets two protected spaces for the price of one. The first being in their (ex) front garden, the second right outside their house on the highway. I have created a separate post about why the car on the pavement is not currently causing an obstruction. Which all means that we can probably expect a lot more of this:

Dropped kerb creating parking for 2 cars

Finally… this car is not covered by the 2004 Regulation because it is not on the carriageway and my authorities would probably consider that it was not current obstructing anyone!

Probably not an offense!

In the above photo notice, yet again, a roadways sign that is obstructing the pavement. See my post about obstruction warning signs that cause an obstruction!

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