Archive | November, 2010

Disaster car parking

9 Nov

These car parks created close to our beautiful waterfront are a disgrace. Why are they given permission? They can’t make a lot of money and create a terrible impression. They are in the middle of a dual-carrageway gyratory, known as the Star Lane gyratory and the council has been advised to reduce car parking and convert one lane to pedestrian, cyclist and public transport use. However.. it is still two lanes, breaks EU air quality rules and every scrap of land is turned into a car park of the lowest quality. Yes, I know that there re great plans for the area, but why can’t we have something better in the mean time!

The fencing has been down for weeks on this one.

Disaster car park 1

The church is closed but the parking in cheap!

Nice church, 80p per hour

The irony of this next image is that the Tudor building in the middle of this car park is owned by, and is used as the head-quarters of Total Car Parks – a car park company with sites all round the country.

Car park plus Tudor building

And when it comes to creating a good first impression…

Notice the quality and attention to detail here!

Of course the most ironic car park is this one in Detroit. The massive 4000 seat Michigan Theatre was build in central Detroit in 1926 at a cost of $5 million on the site of the garage where Henry Ford built his first car. The theatre closed in 1976 because there was no parking nearby and everyone had left for the suburbs by then and was dependent on the car. And since then …. yup, the theatre has been used as a car park for the office building next door – and they even built a concrete multi-story car park within the theatre to increase capacity. So that is the journey from inventing the car, to culture and finally a car park.

Michigan Theatre in Detroit

Or Is it is final? Actually Detroit is reinventing itself at this very moment into a cycling city and ‘grow-town‘.

Blind man locked up over pavement parking dispute

9 Nov

After many calls to the police about pavement parking without any effect, Daniel Duckfield from Narberth in North Wales finally told the police that he was going to write on one of the windscreens and let down the tires of one of the cars. The police then responded within minutes and arrested him 50 meters from the vehicle and put in the cells for three hours. He was only let out after accepting a caution for threatening to cause criminal damage.

Daniel Duckfield. Photo copyright BBC.

I haven’t heard a clearer story of how the law is set up to support motorists over the interest of pedestrians. What had made him absolutely mad was being told by one person parked on the pavement that ‘she was only going to be 10 minutes because she was having her legs waxed’.

Further reading

BBC Article

88% of the people in 18% of the space

8 Nov

I did a simple traffic count outside a local primary school today using a pair two clickers. A total of 581 pedestrians passed me, and 80 cars which means that 88% of the traffic was on foot. I then measured the width of the road which was 9 meters wide of which 700mm was available for pedestrians on one side and 900mm on the other when the cars parked partially on the pavement were accounted for. A total of 1.6 meters or 18% of the road width was available to pedestrians.

88% of people are on the pavements with 18% of the space

In reality it was worse. There was a car parked across the raised crossing for some time, another car drove along the pavement for 20 meters or so to pass a vehicle on the road and then a car hooted as it reversed out across the pavement into the road making everyone wait.

We have being playing with the idea of Ofped inspections for schools, which would be an assessment that could easily be made for schools across the country. One measure would be how many people walk or cycle. Another would be how equitably the space was allocated between car drivers and pedestrians. Points would then be deducted for dangerous of illegal activity by motorists.

Cyclists are at it too

5 Nov

In Cambridge cycles are making this own claims to the pavement. In this street the back gardens were sold for housing which lost them their back access so the bikes and trailers now end up on the pavement. Possibly a cycle rack in the road in place of a resident parking bay would be in order? I have spoken to a London Borough who wished to do just this, however their legal guys thought that while it was legal to leave a big vehicle on the highway that it was possibly not legal to install cycle racks. They may have a point, but equally according to the Law it is not legal to leave any ‘thing’ in the highway and that includes cars.

Newnham cycles

Someone has since suggested one of these, cycle racking for 6 bicycles in the space of a single car. However there is likely to be a planning issue with installing something permanent on the highway.

Cycle rack the size of a car

Moo!

5 Nov

Tory run Reading Council are planning to bring in a pavement parking ban in January 2011 which will not only help clear the pavement of private cars but will also raise money for the council. Judging by the complaints it might actually be effective. Labour opposition are saying that it is a cash cow and that people have ‘no option than to park on the pavement‘ – yawn!

Cash cow!

The conservative transport leader, Richard Willis, says that they will start with warnings letters before issuing fines. Some Labour councillors have asked for all the roads in their wards to be exempted until there is a public consultation. Labour councillor Tony Page claims that the “The layout of our streets is such that many people have no alternative but to park on pavements or verges if they want to have their cars anywhere near their homes” and that is it just a cash cow!  Now where have we heard that before!

Kirsten Bayes , a Liberal Democrat seems to have a clearer idea of the issues, saying that whereas people “struggle to park without going on to the pavement” that the pavements were “meant to be used by pedestrians, disabled users, wheelchair users and buggy users”.

Hertz are being more helpful and set up a car club at the University last month.

Further reading and references

Some of these links are a bit unreliable. Sorry about that but I think it is a problem the far end

The source of all those road-works signs on the pavement

2 Nov

I have recently posted about the nonsense of placing ‘road narrows’ signs and ‘road works’ signs across the pavement when it is clearly unnecessary and they only cause problems for pedestrians, especially those with buggies or wheelchairs etc. This evening I have come across the manual that appears to tell them to do it. It is the ‘Traffic Signs Manual‘.

Chapter 8 of this document is titled ‘Traffic Safety Measures and Signs for Road Works and Temporary Situations’. It has has lots of lovely general text about being aware of pedestrians and one specific requirement about the pavement never being narrowed to less than 1 metre. Here are the relevant sections:

  • D1.1.2 Road works on or near a carriageway, cycleway or footway might impair the safety and free movement of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians (particularly those with mobility and visual impairments)
  • D2.1.5 During the planning stage of road works schemes… attention must be paid to the needs of pedestrians. This applies especially in the vicinity of bus stops, shops, post offices, leisure facilities and day centres.
  • D4.4.1    Signs should be placed where they will be clearly seen and cause minimum inconvenience to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users alike, and where there is minimum risk of their being hit or knocked over by traffic. Where there is a grass verge the signs should normally be placed there. If no verge is present, the placing of signs on the footway is permitted but in no circumstances must the width of the footway be reduced to less than 1m, preferably not less than 1.5m.

Unfortunately the rest of the manual seems to require maintenance companies to place all sorts of signs on the pavement. For example, this diagram, which one finds replicated across the country, shows two signs on each approaches to the road works all of which are placed on the pavement. Nothing that I can see talking about using these signs with discretion, there is no discussion about what to do in situations where there are rows of parked cars and cars on the pavement and there is no suggestion that discretion and common sense should be used:

Road works layout

I don’t think that the authors considered these real life situations in our car littered towns. In this first example the road works are between two parked cars so the road is not actually narrowed, but the pavement certainly is!

I still can’t believe that someone would leave a sign here

In this second example the works are at a dead-end so the only people coming are going to be on foot!

Not so clever

An this final situation shows just how bonkers it can all get in the extreme. Notice that yet again the road is not actually narrowed at all, but the pavement is now completely unusable!

Yet another ‘road narrows’ sign, this time there is also a car to complete the picture

Foxhall Road – a lethal road that needs a crossing patrol

1 Nov

Suffolk County Council recently decided that it will not replace the lollipop lady who helps parents and children who attend Britannia Road Primary School across Foxhall Road at the junction with Britannia Road. She retires next March and the currently plans are that she will not be replaced. Have then forgotten how dangerous this road is or did they never know?

Crossing patrol sign on Foxhall Road

The location of the crossing patrol with its nice new dropped kerb.

The view across Foxhall Road

However… have they forgotten that four people have been killed on Foxhall Road within the past 10 years within 100 meters of that spot and another car passenger not far away. This must make it one of the most lethal roads in the town.

For the record in 2001 a 14 year old boy was killed walking on Foxhall Road outside St Clement Hospital on 26 January 2001. Then a 22 year old man was killed walking along Foxhall Road by Dover Road on 22 March of the same year. Next it was the 18 year old passenger who died in a car crash further along the same road on 14 November 2007. Most recently  in February last year it was the turn of two women were also killed while walking along Foxhall Road.  You can check the figures using the BBC interactive casualty map.

Before you get too alarmed… Road casualty rates have been falling for 45 years. They peaked in 1966 at a staggering 7,985 in one year. The figure for 2009 is 2,222 which is the lowest since records began in 1926. During Labour’s recent term in office between 2000 and 2009 they dropped an impressive 44% (from 3,409 to 2,222) and the number of children killed fell even further (by 61%). Don’t believe me? Well check out this Wikipedia article which I helped create and follow the references back to the Department for Transport website. To give them their due, the previous conservative government also saw big falls, from 5,953 to 3,599.

My concern that the current government has pledged to ‘end the war on the motorist’ and has cut the road safety grant by 40%. They have also cut local council budgets. See this article in the Telegraph for a reasonably cynical view! Lets fight to keep this patrol also for continued progress on road safety. Why not write to your councilor or to your MP. You can do this easily from this wonderful website.  Does anyone affected wish to start a petition? If so then let me know.

Finally, here a a chart I created shows the trend in GB road fatalities since 1929 together with many of the associated road safety interventions during the period.

Fatalities on GB roads 1926-2009

Update

My initial post incorrectly suggested that Ipswich Borough Council was responsible for this decision. They were not, this is a decision by Suffolk County Council who are the transport authority. Apologies to Ipswich Borough Council. More recently fears have been expressed that all 72 crossing patrols in the county could be axed.

Stop for the lollipop

1 Nov

Stop for the lollipop (c) copyright

Sounds simple doesn’t it! However a few selfish drivers honk, rev their engines or just push past and on at least one occasions risk the official’s life. “MOTORISTS are being reminded they must stop at school crossing patrols after a lollipop lady in North Yorkshire was nearly knocked down by a car.” see this newspaper article.

There are campaigns in many parts of the country now.

Kids provide backup! photo copyright Leicestershire CC