Traffic management … or illegal obstruction?

14 Nov

A company called Traffic Management Solutions Ltd were called out to fix some traffic lights in Cambridge yesterday. Clearly it is good to get traffic lights fixed, however… this was the start of a very sorry tale for one of our intrepid local ‘PL support officer’ who spotted the parking choice at 10:15am and then again 90 minutes later when they challenged the driver. Before I tell you what happened lets take a look a the choice of parking spot. Firstly one has to say that no, the vehicle was not in motion – indeed if one looks closely there is no one in it. The second thing to say is that no, the vehicle was not just parked here for 2 minutes. It was there for 90 minutes. It is of course on a junction partly across a pedestrian crossing at a junction on a bend on double yellow lines within the zig-zag lines of a pedestrian/cyclist crossing opposite a dropped kerb.

Neat parking!

Here is the aerial view. The vehicle position is shown in black, the pedestrian route in red.

Newnham junction vehicle location in black

Unfortunately the driver was not at all interested and indeed claimed a legal right to park there! Clearly there were very much safer opportunities nearby, indeed reversing 10 meters further back would have helped a lot. He then got very arsey about having photos taken and threatened to phone the police claiming that it was against the ‘Data Protection Act’. So far so bad.

Our ‘officer’ then phoned the police to discover what their view on this was. They did not seem very interested in the parking but did ask if the vehicle was going to be there much longer, in which case they might swing by. They did however confirm that the driver could indeed claim ‘harassment’ or ‘alarm and distress’ if the photographer was ‘distressing’ them. Given the relative size of the two people – the driver was much bigger – and the short time the discussion took, I don’t think that would hold up in court. Also, it is my understanding that it is only harassment if a ‘reasonably person’ would have been distressed which clearly was not the case.

Lets hasard as guess about what the driver was doing wrong.  According to the Highway Code Waiting and Parking rules:

Rule 238

You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on nearby time plates (or zone entry signs if in a Controlled Parking Zone)

Rule 240

You MUST NOT stop or park on

  • a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines (see Rule 191)

Rule 242

You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.

Rule 243

DO NOT stop or park

  • opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space
  • where the kerb has been lowered to help wheelchair users and powered mobility vehicles
  • on a bend
  • where you would obstruct cyclists’ use of cycle facilities

That seems clear then! Note that in the above rules are identified by the use of the words MUST/MUST NOT are legal requirements, and “if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison.”

The words ‘Do not‘ mean that it is not necessarily an offence, but “The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see ‘The road user and the law’) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not'”.

So… I will now email Traffic Management Solutions Ltd and ask them politely to have a word with their drivers and encourage them to be a bit more considerate and aware of the law. The embarrassing thing for me is that it turns out that the company is based in my home town of Ipswich! Do we have a special driving test in this town? It feels as though this is just the start of a very long campaign!

One Response to “Traffic management … or illegal obstruction?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Willful ignorance? « Pedestrian Liberation - November 25, 2010

    […] is the third time in a few weeks that we have experienced an aggressive response to poor parking choices by […]

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