There are many many ways of making a difference and not everyone will feel comfortable about doing all of them but do please do something. We have listed a number of sensible ideas below and also some pretty stupid ideas and will leave you to determine which are which!
We do not advocate anyone breaking the law. All actions should be aimed at building a mass of allies representing the ‘middle ground’ of opinion and we must not alienate these people. Remember that we will never get anywhere with hardened petrol-heads who we should leave to be dealt with by the police.
Ensure that existing laws are respected
Learn about what laws are available in your area and how they are enforced. There is lots of detail about the current regulations and how to encourage compliance in ‘The Law‘ section of this blog.
If you see someone parking on the pavement particularly badly then politely ask them to move it or not do it again. Do be ready for a wide range of excuses and remember that there is a chance that the message will sink in over time even if the driver initially appears unimpressed. Do remember to walk away if the person digs their heals in!
Print out some of these leaflets and place them prominently on badly parked cars – you will get three leaflets from each A4 sheet with additional information on the back. Remember that the leaflet is as much for the benefit of passing pedestrians as it is for the motorist. If you choose really badly parked vehicles where lots of people pass you quickly be able to spread the word very widely. Guidelines:
- Only leaflet the worst cars in an area
- Choose cars where a lot of pedestrians will see the leaflet
- Don’t repeatedly target the same car
- Only put leaflets on cars with no one in them!
Find other local people who are also frustrated about the current situation and organise together. Talk to your local police who are also probably concerned about the situation. Talk to your local councilors and raise the matter with your local MP. Tell the local newspaper what you are doing. Create a facebook group associated with a local school or street and start finding out what works.
This problem affected everyone, but in particular parents with young children, older people, those with disabilities, poor sight or who are blind. There are some great organisations that you can make contact listed to the right hand side of this blog many of which will have local groups of their own.
Say thank you to parking wardens
If you see a parking warden then please thank them for doing an important job.
There is a big move towards 20mph speed limits at the moment. The last time that the normal speed limit in towns was 20 mph was 1929 before they were removed completely in 1930!
It will be very much easier to make a big difference when there are car clubs everywhere. Agitate for one.
Well possibly not. This guy in Munich started walking over the roofs of cars in 1988. However… before you dismiss it, I do know a retired chaplain with character who did exactly that when someone blocked his lane – and… he had his bicycle with him! Incidently Munich is now highlighted as a pedestrian friendly city and there is little sign of pavement parking on Google Streetview.
Again – possibly not, but I know someone who lives in a 20 mph zone and if they feel someone is driving to fast they will cross the road diagonally and flag them down until they feel their speed is more appropriate and then give them a thumbs up. The guy who started Car Walking in Munich graduated to Jay Walking in an extreme fashion!
Either these concrete ones as used in Switzerland or real living ones as used in one Dutch town. Live sheep are good because they are not that bright and drivers need to keep alert in case they walk into the road! They do however have some less useful characteristics in an urban environment which is why they this idea may not have caught on more widely.
In Portland, Oregon the council allows residents to paint murals on the carriageway at certain junctions in residential areas which they call ‘Intersection repair‘. The mere presence of a mural on the road makes people to slow down because of the detail and strangeness of it. They then notice the benches and gardens that people have created on the verges to create a ‘square’, a ‘meeting point’ where before there was just a junction.
I have spoken to a lot of people about what they have done. A surprising number of upstanding citizens say that they have at one time or another caused damage to a car getting past with buggy when the road was really busy. We don’t recommend that but it is strange that drivers seem to think their cars are safer on the pavement than on the highway. Another lady, again an upstanding citizen, told me that she kept a tub of Vaseline in her pocket and ‘waxed’ the sides or side windows of cars that really annoyed her. Clearly that is getting a bit spiky – very surprising to have heard it from the person I did. The another group known as ‘Urban Repair Squad‘ paint cycle lanes and zebra crossing where they feel they should be – they are big in South America I believe.
Whatever you do, do something but please don’t damage anything or threaten to damage anything. We will get a lot further using joy, humour and occasionally being a bit mischievous than with anger!