Archive | June, 2010

Say thank you to a parking warden!

28 Jun

I was prompted to write this post after reading the sorry tale of ‘celeb’ Ingrid Tarrant’s outburst after being challenged by a police officer for parking in a bus stop; she drove off, resisted arrest and was convicted for ‘unnecessary obstruction, wilfully obstructing a Pc, resisting a Pc and failing to stop’ and was fined £2,700 with £1,200 costs. Not content with that she appealed, lost and received a further £750 costs yesterday. The appeal judge said “She has been able to persuade herself that she was in the right and the officer was in the wrong and that self-deception enabled her to believe what she had said.”

Personally I think that this ‘self-deception’ is behind the whole phenomenon; most motorists would probably grudgingly agree if challenged that without enforcement of parking regulations life in urban areas would quickly descent into chaos for everyone (including motorists), they would probably also agree that traffic wardens need to actually issue tickets and not respond to special pleading from every motorist who comes back to their car as they are issuing them.

The phrase ‘it’s a fair cop’ doesn’t seem to be considered to apply to parking offenses. If someone makes a racist remark or sexist remark it is likely to get challenged, but berating traffic wardens is still ok (just). Personally I think that change is coming and motoring culture is becoming a bit tired in many cities – possibly I am being optimistic, however people are starting to challenge this position, check out the ‘Traffic wardens are people too‘ article for further thoughts on the matter.

When I pass traffic wardens these days I say ‘thank you’ and appreciate them for doing a great job; and I have starting doing this more contentiously since being told by one warden that I was the first person who had ever thanked them for doing their job in their entire career! Isn’t that extraordinary – someone doing an important job (like police officers, nurses, firemen etc) but never ever get thanked for doing it.

I think that PL should do some more work on this at some point; in the mean time try saying ‘thank you’ next time you pass a traffic warden and see what happens. My experience is that they need a little convincing that one is even being genuine!

‘Micro Parks’, ‘Parklets’, ‘NoParks’ and ‘(re)Parking day’

28 Jun

A temporary park created during (Re)Parking Day (photo Tom Hilton)

There seems to be growing interest in the USA in ‘microparks’, ‘parklets and ‘NoParks’ which are small parks created from parking bays and also in places sections of street where no one should park. Authorities are creating these small green space in  San Francisco, New York and Buffalo (NoParks are created opposite fire hydrants in New York where no one should park a car anyway).

In addition to these official and permanent parks ‘(re)Parking Day‘ each September encourages the creation of more and more temporary single-car sizes parks from of conventional parking bays in more and more places. In 2009 700 parks were created in 140 cities around the world in 21 countries.

What all these initiatives have in common though is their challenge to the acres of space in urban centres with is currently allocated for the storage of private vehicles and re-purposing them to healthy green spaces.

Junior Speed Watch

22 Jun

Children from Perry Beeches Junior School in Birmingham have joined forces with  the members from the West Midlands Police to monitor the speed of traffic outside their school and to catch speeding motorists.

They found that the 30mph was being broken by some motorists even though the approach is clearly marked as a ‘school zone’. Using speed cameras they caught six vehicles speeding the fastest of which was clocked at 40 mph. Check out a video of the event published by the police on their facebook page.

The statistics are compelling – a pedestrian hit by a car at 40 mph has a 90% fatality rate which drops 2.5% at 20 mph.

The same approach was previously used outside Southmead School in Bristol where school children working with the local police using speed cameras caught 25 speeding motorists who were then given a choice to take a survey presented by the pupils or receive a fine and three points on their licence!

This is a great example of how to empower pedestrians to challenge the ‘rights’ some motorists think they have to drive where they like, at a speed of their choosing and then park all over the place! Let’s have more of these junior speed watch events around the country.

“You can’t park on that!”

22 Jun

Oh dear! This car seems to have been parked on a pedestrian who is now is now stuck and in terrible pain! Ok, so of course it is really just a set-up dreamed up by those fine Pedestrian Liberation folk in Woodbridge to draw attention to pavement parking and have some fun at the same time!

As always there is of course a serious message, which is that cars on pavements often force pedestrians onto the road with all the inherent dangers of getting knocked down or whatever.

We like this idea and are now planning some follow up sessions with a broader cast of characters who get into difficulty when trying to negotiate or cluttered pavements – stay tuned for more fun!

On the Verge of destruction

10 Jun

Pavements are not the only area affected by bad parking, grass verges also fall victim and suffer irreversible damage. Drivers may think that they are doing the right thing in not blocking the road but there are few grassy areas left in towns due to roads and paths so they should be looked after.

We sent the Pedestrian Liberation Parking Warden out to investigate an affected area by Ravens-wood primary school. He was not impressed! The entire area had been turned to dust/mud depending on the weather.

He was also very unhappy at dropped kerbs which had been installed to help parents with buggies being used by vehicles to get onto the grass – not the idea.

Most verges are owned by the council who are expected to repair the damage with all of us local ratepayers covering the cost. Strangely it is not currently illegal to park a vehicle on the verge (unless there are parking restrictions on the associated road).

A waterfront garden?

10 Jun

A virtually empty car park right up against an ancient church!

The waterfront in Ipswich is separated from the town center by a pair of major roads (the Star Lane Gyratory) and a number of ugly surface-level waste-ground car parks which have been crudely flung together from very rough and unattractive materials.

Rough hoardings which have been there for years

They were created in response to the familiar cry ‘there is not enough parking’ which became hysterical just before Christmas 2009 when the Crown St car park was closed following structural problems. However… these waterfront car parks are very poorly used with most drivers preferring to queue for the car parks in the town center.

Another virtually empty car park

They are close to a number of significant historical structures, including Wolsey’s Gate and also to St Peter’s church and to St Mary’s church and could form attractive areas linking the town and the waterfront.


Runner beans doing well!

So… we decided to brighten them up and make them a little more attractive. For starters we have been doing some planting and have more plans for the near future. The beans that we planted a couple of weeks ago to attract the attention of the public have started to grow. There are about 6 inches tall already thanks to the rain and it wont be long before they are climbing up the bars of the fence.

We are choosing the perfect spot for a next veggie patch. The waterfront is ideal because amongst all the construction, finished developments and car parks there is very little plant life which we are going to try to change. 

First gardening project

1 Jun

The growing number of naff car parks in Ipswich town center, mainly around the waterfront are now starting to cover large area. The waterfront has seen considerable development in that past few years with new businesses setting up within walking distance of the town center. So why should so much land be dedicated to cars and why are the owners of these eyesores allowed to take from the community without giving anything back.

We are taking it upon ourselves to brighten up these areas and give something back. We have started planting in this area, our first action is a trench of peas and runner beans on the waterfront. We are hoping that passing pedestrians and motorists will be able to see these clearly and appreciate a nicer use of public spaces. We feel the Car parks in this area are a problem and need more of our attention which it will receive.


We got plenty of beans planted in a great spot. Some were unfortunately ‘strimmed’ during the course of the year but others bloomed and produced a crop!