Archive | October, 2010

‘Car Walking’

31 Oct

Some German neighbours of mine told me about this remarkable man, Michael Hartmann, who confronted truly horrific levels of pavement parking in Munich by ‘car walking’ and then went on to challenge motorists sole right to the road by waking in the road to slow the traffic.. Strong stuff!

He started this in 1988 and it resulted in numerous arrests, time in jail, time in hospital and being sent for psychiatric testing twice. He responded by saying that he wouldn’t stop and that he was the one who was sane! He also got a lot of publicity and was sent many letters of support. Make up your own mind!

The pavements in Munich seem to be pretty clear of cars now as far I can see on Google Streetview.

Here are some links:

Following the leader

28 Oct

People follow leaders. Here is a post office van parked right across the pavement outside Cauldwell Hall Road Post Office in Ipswich.

A post office van this time

By the time I had come out two more vehicles had lined up, one in front and one behind.

And then there were three!

It is actually possible to park off the pavement, but once one vehicle has parked across the pavement then others are much more likely to do so as well.

There is actuallly room to park off the pavement

Indeed, anyone parking legally would actually be making it even harder for people to get by. Here is the other way of parking three vehicles outside a shop, just round the corned from the post office. Not a lot of following going on here!

Another way to park three vehicles

Delivering essential services…

27 Oct

May Gurney have been mending a leaking water main on Newbury Road in Ipswich today which is exactly what they say they do on their website: ‘Delivering the Essential Services for Everyday Life’. Who can complain about that? See if you can spot the problem. Answers below:

Not so clever

In the first picture notice: a) A nice helpful red ‘pedestrians this way’ sign showing people how to access the nice protected walkway along the road. Nothing wrong there and all super safe. However… notice b) a triangular ‘road works’ sign on the pavement blocking the pavement before one gets to the nice pedestrian sign. Then notice c) That this is a dead end road – it would be impossible for anyone in a car to read the nice helpful road works warning sign. Now notice d) That there are two more signs blocking the pavement on the other side of the road. Personally I think a pavement is an essential service and I am sure they do too really.

When I first went past the workmen were there. I asked them to move the signs but they said they couldn’t. I returned later when they had left and the signs were still in the same position. A bit later I noticed that they had all been packed away neatly.

Excess signage seem to have gone

The excess signs are now safely stowed where they can cause no harm

Here is a view from the other direction

Now you see them

Now you don’t!

This isn’t the only problem we have had on Newbury road. Check out this earlier post about the same issue and the one about the vans parked on the pavement on the same road. I have also blogged about the new rules about not blocking dropped kerbs Of course those regulations don’t apply to ‘safety’ signage? Funny old world.

Is it really the law that they must block the pavement even when it is patently daft? I am going to email them now with a link to this blog and ask them. I will let you know what they say.


May Gurney have just written a very helpful reply which confirms that these companies appear to be required to lay out signage in this way as covered in my more recent post. I will take a look at the legislation mentioned in their response (below) and do anyone post in due course. Good on May Gurney for responding to us!

Here is what they say:

“Thank you for your recent communication regarding the use and positioning of temporary road signs.

“Firstly, may I assure you that the safety of both our workforce and that of other highway users is of paramount importance in any work that May Gurney carry out.

“To address your question regarding the legislation covering these type of works, we are bound by Section 65 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and Section 174 of the Highways Act 1980.

“I note from your blog that you are aware that positioning of the signs is dictated by reference to the Safety at Street Works and Road Works manual.

Update 2

I subsequent discovered that on no account should road works signage be positioned in such a way as to reduce the width of the footway to less than 1 meter (preferably not less that 1.5 meters). I didn’t measure the width remaining for these signs but it looks less than 1 meter to me.

When drivers won’t risk leaving their cars on the highway

26 Oct

Is Back Hamlet too dangerous for car drivers to risk leaving their cars on the road? If so then what about the many people who walk and cycle up and down it every day to get to the college/waterfront and station?

Since the change to Duke Street Roundabout cars are no longer able to use the road to get into town now that a short section of road has been made one-way (upwards out of town). Much less traffic uses the road, however local residents are clearly still concerned about leaving their cars fully on the road, and park in the newly laid out parking bays with two wheels up on the pavement!

Cars up on pavement in new parking bays

This is probably due to the fact that some motorists seem to delight in driving up it really fast, possibly because it is now virtually one way (except for access the college car park). Incidentally there was a major shunt on this road last year when a car piled into a line of parked cars in one of the bays so fast that it damaged four cars in a row.

If it is too dangerous for local people to leave park their cars then what about pedestrians. And what about the many cyclists, myself included, who cycle slowly up the hill? Strategically positioned parking bays protected by new plant containers could be used to create a chicane above the brow of the hill. This would: slow traffic reducing risk to pedestrians and cyclists, allow residents actually use the parking bays, free up the pavements for pedestrians and also reduce noise. Almost everyone would be a winner!

I am sure there are many places where such initiatives would have a huge benefit. Some will have already been completed, but there are many more still to do. Look out for them a find a way to bring them to the attention of your council, a blog is a great tool. If you do create a blog then try to always promote solutions and not just wallow in the problems which doesn’t get us very far.

I am forwarding a link to this article to my councilor now and will tell you how I get on.


My councilor responded promptly saying that there were many areas competing for traffic calming schemes like this and that there was ‘no money’.

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.


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

How’s my parking?

24 Oct

Some vehicles helpfully have phone numbers printed on them making it easier to feed information about poor parking back to the employer. Today I passed a van belonging to Sliderobes parked in a stunningly inconsiderate place right outside a kid’s playground on a sunny Autumn Sunday afternoon leaving a 900mm gap between the wing-mirror and the fence. I contacted the company by phone, asking them to get the driver to move it to one of the free parking places on the road. After a bit of discussion where the driver was trying to convince me that it wasn’t obstructing anyone he moved it.

Sliderobe’s van on the pavement outside a playground

Sometimes to takes two phone calls – this van from Specialised Fixings made a speciality of parking on the same stretch of pavement. I phoned the company to complain and didn’t see it on the pavement for a couple of weeks. When it returned I complained again and I haven’t seen it on the pavement since.

Specialised Fixings’ vehicle on the pavement outside a playground

Of course it is not only vehicles that create obstructions on this section of pavement. Last week I did a blog post about these ‘obstruction’ signs for road-works that were left obstructing the same section of pavement.

Obstruction signs obstructing the pavement

I have just seen the comment left on this post by Sliderobes themselves apologising. Not sure it the message is from head-office or from the Ipswich franchise. Whichever it is, the message seems to have got through this time which is good.

Too much stuff!

19 Oct

Outside this house on Burrell Road in Ipswich there is a parked car and 5 large wheely-bins. Some attempt has been made to keep them off the pavement but it has not been 100% effective. Interestingly no 99 next door is boarded up so this person appears to have the use of all of these bins.

This is on a major pedestrian route to the Railway station and much of the rest of the street is lined of wheely bins.

To much stuff!

This pair of houses (below) on Burrell Road have 6 bins on the street between them. The one this end could keep them on their driveway. What about the left hand house? Well they do have off-street space.

Convenient but not necessary – bins could easily be kept off the highway

Finally, this terrace. The houses have no front gardens and no alley-ways obviously visible to get to the back of the houses. Do they really need such large bins? Could other provision be made or has part of the highway been permanently ‘privatised’ for storing household rubbish?

Lines of bins narrowing the pavement

I am going to ask for clarification from the council as to the rules about leaving bins in the street at all, and in particular of having 5 bins and a car outside a single house.

Has parking in shared use footways been illegal since 1988?

15 Oct

When I was recently reading the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as one does), I noticed this interesting clause that makes it illegal to park on ‘cycle track’s, which incidentally includes shared use pavements. To quote:  “any person who, without lawful authority, drives or parks a motor vehicle wholly or partly on a cycle track is guilty of an offence” S:21). Their definition of a cycle track is any track that allows cycling and also a shared pedestrian/cycle route, but not one that allows any motorised vehicles.

I have marked the key elements in bold because for normal footways it if only illegal to ‘drive’ on them, not to be parked on one. The above appears to make it much easier to give someone a ticket for parking on a shared-use path for parking on a normal footway. At least one doesn’t have to worry about bicycles and parked cars!

This appears to mean that the police already have the powers to fine drivers for parking on share-use paths. I am a little cautious about my interpretation because no one seems to have picked up on this yet. My friendly local policeman was certainly unaware of the ruling, Living Streets don’t mention it in their guidance on combating pavement parking and nor to the cycle campaign groups. but is going to check and get back to me. If I am right then the following drivers are already committing an offense:

Car parked on a shared-use footway

Car parked on a shared-use footway


I have just been reading a useful post which defines the legal terms used for parts of the highway. It includes definitions of Cycle Track, Cycle Lane, Footpath and Footway and gives me more confidence that I am right.

They say that a Cycle track is ‘a route other than within the carriageway (e.g. on a footway adjacent to a carriageway, adjacent to a carriageway but separate from it and the footway, or a route completely separate from a highway – and which could be “permissive” or be a “right of way”). They quote the legal definition as being “a way constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on pedal cycles (other than pedal cycles which are motor vehicles within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1972) with or without a right of way on foot [Section 329(1) Highways Act 1980]. The words in brackets were inserted by section 1 of the Cycle Tracks Act 1984.

And.. I have also noticed that the Highway Code – Rule 240 confirms it. It says you MUST NOT stop or park on … a cycle track.

A forum run for police specials seems to agree and suggests that the appropriate fine would be £30-£80.

Another update:

There seems to be some difference of opinion within the cycling world as to whether a Cycle Track can be along a pavement or whether they really more like footpaths and bridleways (ie routes not beside the highway). I have queries out with various organisations as to their interpretations of the law. I will keep you posted.

Nope, that’s not an obstruction!

15 Oct

The picture below shows a car parked almost completely across the pavement. This would not currently classed as obstruction by our council or the local police because no one is actually being obstructed at this very moment and would use the fact that the woman seen walking away from us with her shopping was able to get past (just) as evidence for the lack of obstruction.

The fact that an elderly person who uses a wheelchair lives a few doors down is considered irrelevant because he is not trying to pass at this moment. The fact that the person may not even bother trying to get down the pavement any more because they knows that it is impossible is not considered relevant. To add insult to injury, if someone passing the vehicle accidentally scratched the vehicle with a bag, buggy or wheelchair then they would have caused an offense against the owner of the car!

Not an obstruction

The only reason that it might be classed as obstruction in this case is because the person may have had to have ‘trespass’ onto private property to get past. A police officer I have just been talking to about this thought that this would indeed be evidence of obstruction.

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!