Archive | January, 2011

Considerate Parking Initiative in Essex

30 Jan

A ‘Considerate Parking Initiative’ was started in Brightlingsea, Essex by a partnership of Essex Police, Tendring District Council, Brightlingsea Town Council and the Tendring Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership in December 2009.

Bogus parking tickets deliberately designed fool drivers, complete with the official logos and the right sort of plastic bag, were stuck onto the windscreens of vehicles which had been parked “inconsiderately”, but which didn’t break the law. The scheme won the ‘Living Streets Award’ and at the 2010 British Parking Awards and was extended in April 2010 and again in January 2010.

Inconsiderate Parking scheme launched

Norman Baker – our man

29 Jan

Norman Baker is the ‘Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State’  in charge of public transport issues, walking cycling etc and is therefore ‘our man’.

In the past he has pressed for action on the issue. In January 2010 as shadow Secretary of State for Transport he asked: “To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport for what reason powers to ban pavement parking outside London were not included in the revised civil enforcement powers introduced in 2009.” to which he got the answer “Local authorities outside London already have powers to prohibit parking on the footway where they consider this to be a problem, using Traffic Regulation Orders and appropriate traffic signs. They are also able to use physical measures such as high kerbs or bollards, which are self-enforcing and effective… There are no powers in primary legislation for the Secretary of State to make regulations that would enable local authorities to ban parking on the footway without a Traffic Regulation Order”. He was right to ask and the suggestion in the response that Traffic Regulation Orders are appropriate was ingenuous. Traffic Regulation Orders are expensive and the cost is often given as the reason for inaction.

He is of course now making the rules not challenging them. In August 2010 he gave an in-depth interview on general issue of parking in Local Transport Today – available for subscribers only – which was detailed, and fair except that he barely mention the issue of pavement parking. He did however meet with Living Streets the same month who reported that he was ‘open’ to taking action on the issue.  We now need to raise the profile of the issue with all of our MPs so that he does!

Here are a few quotes from the Local Transport Today article:

“Baker sees nothing wrong with councils charging for parking in town and city centres. “Nobody likes to pay for parking if you can get it for nothing — that’s just human nature,” he says. “But if people step back and think about it they will accept it is legitimate to charge for parking. Provided it is a fair price, and it is properly enforced, then they are happy with that.

“I think motoring itself has a consequence for society in terms of emissions and everything else, which is reflected in charges levied, whether through national taxation or local parking charges

“A “fair price” depends on where you park. “A fair price in Brighton is very different to the price in a village. To some degree it is driven by public transport alternatives. I don’t object to parking charges being high in Brighton because there are very good bus and train services there. If I want to drive to Brighton I should pay a bit more to park there than if I drive somewhere where there is no public transport. These are localised decisions.

“Baker is in favour of car clubs, and points out that car club charity Carplus has received £40,000 in extra government funding to help it continue its accreditation, data collection and information services. He notes that membership of car clubs in the UK has gone up from 22,000 in 2007 to more than 127,000 this year.

“Councils should also consider setting resident permits and car park charges based on a vehicle’s emission level, suggests Baker. “You might look at some point in the future as to whether parking becomes cheaper for low emission vehicles,” he says.

“He wants to see an improved customer “interface” between civil enforcement officers (CEOs), operators and the public. “There is a need to make a distinction between different types of offender.” He offers the example of a heavily pregnant woman who overstays slightly at a pay & display bay. She should be given some leeway, says Baker, unlike “some guy popping into the kebab shop, who is just parked on the pavement because it happens to be convenient to do so, when there is a parking space opposite.“ These are different situations, so I want people to be trained to make those sorts of value judgements and not feel obliged to stick to the rules absolutely.”

West Yorkshire Police use facebook for ‘lively’ debate on pavement parking

28 Jan

The Poltifract Safer Neighboroughoods Team, which is part of West Yorkshire police have had great results from their Facebook page with debates on many subjects; the subject that created the most debate  … yup, pavement parking.

I was particularly pleased to see this report on a visit to a particular street by the police: “PCSO Paul Guest visited a street in Pontefract yesterday after reports of a number of vehicles parked on pavements. PCSO Guest was suprised to find that not only were the vehicles parked on the pavements, they were double parked and some vehicles were parked on the bend at the end of the street”. They went on to say: “PCSO’s will continue patrols in this area and if the same vehicles are seen parked on the pavement again, fixed penalty notices will be issued.” Also that “The pictured vehicles are both illegally parked. As you can see prams and wheelchairs cannot safely pass the vehicles on the footpath. They would have to go into the road to pass the vehicles”. Great stuff.

West Yorkshire Police say this car is causing an obstruction

Not all police forces agree that totally blocking a pavement is obstruction, for example the police in Bristol apparently deemed that this car was not causing an obstruction.

Police in Bristol said that this car was not causing an obstruction

Personally I am very interested is West Yorkshire’s use of Facebook. Many public bodies seem to shy away from debating anything in public. My experience locally is that the police are far better at this than local councils. Hopefully we will see many more Facebook pages for communities to debate with authorities on many subjects in the future.

Delivery van driver reverses over cyclist outside secondary school

26 Jan

A delivery van driver reversed over a teenage cyclist outside secondary school in Shrewsbury at 4:15pm on Monday 23 Jan 2011. The driver was unaware of what was happening until the girl banged on the van who was fortunate not to have fallen under the wheels. The police are trying to trace the driver who failed to report the incident as is required after an injury accident.

There is no evidence in the report that there were any restrictions on parking at the location, but it does emphasis the dangers created by vehicles backing into parking places in the vicinity of schools at busy times.

When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns

25 Jan

In 1994 in Bogotá was deemed to be the most dangerous city in Latin America with 1,300 traffic fatalities per year and about 80 homicides  per 100,000 residents. The incoming mayor, Mayor Mockus brought in clowns and mime artists to direct the traffic and defuse aggression, he distributed 350,000 “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” cards to citizens so they could signal their views to other people who were behaving foolishly or dangerously and then he asked people to pay 10% more tax and 63,000 did. These are only some of the initiatives he tried successfully and in the period traffic deaths halved and homicides fell by 80%. Now if clowns can half traffic deaths then I am interested.

And then there are the clowns in New York, who were, well, clowning around is I guess what you would call it. However, they had the deadly serious aim of drawing attention to the dangers of parking cars in cycle lanes.

a bunch of bike-riding clowns

Video of 2008 ‘Pie of March’ event

Video of the ‘Pies of March’ event in New York 2009

As the World Bank put it on their blog, yes they do have one, ‘When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns‘. Possibly it is time for us to deploy clowns police outside our schools to defuse tension and get people thinking instead of arguing and fighting?

Getting the attention of MPs

23 Jan

On Friday I have a meeting with my local MP, Ben Gummer,where I made a presentation of the issues and their urgency and was pleased to get his support. He offered to provide a link to the campaign from his new website when it goes live in a ‘few weeks’ and to also draw it to the attention of Norman Baker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport with responsibility for ‘sustainable travel’. All good stuff.

As it happened, Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge was pressing Terrasa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport in on the issue of pavement parking in the Commons on the same day saying: “Could the law be adjusted so that the presence of a vehicle in a cycle path or on a footway be taken as evidence that it was driven there, rather than appearing magically, as seems to be assumed at the moment”. Unfortunately Villiers failed to acknowledge or respond to the request. This problem isn’t going to get fixed over night!

DPD Express Parcels demonstrated the issue to be convincingly outside my MP’s office by parking diagonally across the pavement for no reason and then trying to justify it.

DPD express parcel delivery across the pavement outside my MP’s office

And then as I left I came across this nice pair of signs positioned to cause as much trouble as possible including a road works sign which maintenance companies are apparently required to leave across the pavement.

Why obstruct the pavement with warning signs!

Turf wars in Brighton and Hove

20 Jan

Back in March 2010 it was reported that Brighton and Hove council was looking into using a by-law created by East Sussex Council which banned parking on verges but which hasn’t applied to the area since the 1990s when Brighton and Hove became a unitary authority. Councillor Meadows, who was promoting the idea explained that: “Parking on grass verges not only causes a muddy mess during winter months but also problems for people wanting to cross roads safely”.

Given that I can find on further reference to this idea then I suspect that it may have been dropped. The local paper did however publish a helpful photo of a messed up verge.

Muddy verges could be a thing of the past … possibly (copyright image)

Needless to say, one doesn’t need to go to Brighton to see such scenes, there are plenty available closer to home!