There is a growing trend for cities to close major roads to motorised traffic for periods of time to allow them to be enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists. Germany recently banned cars from the A40 motorway for a party to which 3 million people turned up (three times the expected number).
Other examples include the Paris Plages which have taken place in Paris each summer since 2002 on roads beside the River Seine. Initially there was one ‘beach’ with a second added in 2006, in 2007 some 4 million enjoyed the event. We have already reported on the separate closure of the Champs-Elysees which attracted 2 million people in 2010.
In London the ‘mayor of London’s Sky Ride‘ (previously London FreeWheel) has taken place since 2007 with a 14km road closure in central London from Tower Bridge to Buckingham Palace each September. In a separate event Oxford Street and Regent Street are closed to motorised traffic before Xmas each year.
In New York Summer Streets involves the closure of 7 miles from Central Park to close to the Brooklyn Bridge on three consecutive Saturdays in August. It has taken place since 2008 and in 2009 an estimated 100,000 people came out on the first day.
In Bogotá, Colombia they have a weekly event in which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic.
Of course there was a time when it was only the protesters and activists who were challenging the dominance of the car on these roads and the authorities were trying hard to keep the traffic moving! Reclaim the Streets organised many un-authorised street closures during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and Critical mass have been holding mass cycling events around the world for many years. What is encouraging is that what started as illegal protests are now becoming an important part of the culture of many of our largest cities with huge numbers of people get to experience cities without cars, many for the first time.
Here is the route of the London event.
Route of the 2009 London Skyride
Route of the New York Summer Streets event:
Route of the New York Summer Streets event in 2009
Shortly after my last post I received a call from a local Councilor who said that he shared our concerns with the parking problems at Ravenswood primary school. We had promising meeting and hopefully will be working together to get something sorted. I provided him with a copy of a presentation about our work and methods which he seems to like.
If you have any ideas or would like to offer any help then please leave a comment, hit us on twitter or email us at email@example.com. Here is the presentation:
You may remember about our plans for a garden outside Ravenswood primary school in Ipswich to stop damage to the verges there. We are now working with the officials to see if we can do something and initially the local police officers from the safer neighborhood team were very supportive, however when we were ready to start there was then a problem and it seemed that additional permission from certain officials. We want to try to work with the authorities on this one so we will need to wait for an answer and get on with other work for the time being.
Here is what the area looks like at school pickup time which was co-incidentally the moment that the Google Streetview car drove past. There are cars all along the verge and in the bus stop:
We have noticing the responses we get when we comment on people’s poor choice of parking. Recently I was taking a photo of this beautiful piece of parking when the owner returned.
He asked me what I was doing and then got quite angry when I pointed out that it was because he was parked across a pavement, a dropped curb and a pedestrian box. He told me to ‘get a real job’ and drove off!
This is a very different from the response from the one normally given by people who are ‘found out’ doing something that they know is wrong and where they half expect to be challenged. The normal response in such situations is to apologise or make some weak excuse.
I noticed a post on a forum today by a man living in West London who complained about getting a parking ticket for having one wheel on the pavements. His question and the responses nicely present the whole debate and in particular the level of irritation from the pedestrians who suffer!
This is what he said:
“I have just received a parking ticket for parking on the pavement, ticket states ‘parked with 1 or more wheels on any part of an urban road other than a carriageway (footway parking)’. The road was very narrow hence the parking on the pavement & there was no parking restriction signs. I wasn’t the only car parked this way (irrelevant really) but given the width of the road pavement parking seemed sensible if only for access for emergency vehicles, I even folded my wing mirrors back to provide additional clearance (I thought I was being a responsible citizen but there you go).
And here are a sample of the many responses against his position:
- “But the pavement is for pedestrians, if its too narrow, park round the corner next time?
- “If you can’t leave room for emergency vehicles on the road, then park elsewhere and walk.
- “This is the problem with cars getting ever wider – such as the new Mondeo. They may look great in the designers mind but are less practical in the real world.
- “Irresponsible pavement parking really bugs me, I will confess I wasn’t always especially careful with the pushchair whilst squeezing past some of the pavement blockers I used to encounter when the kids were small. (and once my daughters arm was quite badly hurt when it got trapped in tiny gap between car and pushchair)
- “I am happy you got a parking ticket. When me and my wife walk with our 1 year old son in a pram, we have to risk our life and his to walk in the road because some inconsiderate driver has parked on our pavement! Our child buggy is quite wide and doesn’t fit in the gap most motorist think is suitable.
- “As said above, I don’t think the choices are (1) Block the pavement or (2) Block the road. It should be to park somewhere legal, even if it’s further away.
- “My nephew is a firefighter – called to a fire in an industrial estate – narrow road where the police had many times asked the local businesses to move the cars. On this day, his senior officer told just “go for it”. he severely damaged 8 cars, and bent the bumper on his Scania fire tuck. The police charged the business in charge of the vehicles parked (a) for parking partially on the pavement, (b) for causing obstruction, and (c) for parking the wrong direction in a one way street.
There were also a few comments supporting the guy though – I particularly liked the suggestion that ‘the government’ should move the disabled, blind, elderly and parents with tripple buggies into ‘special areas’ – I assume he is thinking of ghettos. Nice!
- “I don’t hate pavement parkers at all. It’s often the best place to park, sometimes the only one. – And we all know how annoying it is to suddenly get into trouble over something that has always been perfectly all right until that moment… People are going to say: what about the disabled, the blind, the elderly, women with special wide triplet pushchairs… The government should arrange immediately for all such people, and those in similar categories, to live in streets where no one has to park on the pavement. It’s easy when you know how.
- “In some places, there are more cars than people who use pavement. So, parking with one set of wheels on pavement is actually better than blocking the traffic flow. It’s a musical chair game. Unfotunately you’ve got caught – so have to pay up.
And his response to all of the above…
“I thought I had a valid point, but it seems the anti-pavement parking brigade want to dominate without any discussion. Shame really.
Clearly though there is a large and pretty motivated ‘anti-pavement parking brigade’ out there as he calls us, and that it really good news for our campaign!
A recent blog post in the challenging blog titled “‘Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest’” tells us of the case of a pavement parker who won an appeal by arguing that he had done it lots of time before and hadn’t been fined. The appeal adjudicator recommended that the council reconsider any further pending fines. He also said that CCTV cameras should not be used for issuing parking fines “because that wasn’t what they were designed for. They were designed as a deterrent to theft and anti-social behaviour”.
A council spokesperson plaintively commented that “Parking on the pavement is illegal unless signs permit it. We are getting increasing numbers of calls from wheelchair and buggy users and parents complaining about the lack of space caused by cars blocking the way, which is why we increased enforcement in the area”.
Be aware that London has special powers to fine pavement parking. Cars even a little bit on the pavement can theoretically already be fined unless there is special signage and marking saying that their can.
Wow, could this be the densest collection of car parks in the land? The Waterfront in Ipswich is now home to its sixth Car Park which I don’t understand considering the numerous others don’t get used. We spoke about these Car Parks in a previous post and the same questions apply here, mainly couldn’t this space be used for something better?
As you can see this is a picture of the new Car Parks tariff. I t seems very reasonable and could be the cheapest Car Park in town but will that matter when the others in the same area aren’t being used.
Perhaps we had better try to brighten it up a bit.