Archive | February, 2011

What makes the news and what doesn’t and why?

28 Feb

I have done a quick little survey of what transport safety stories have hit the news in the past few days. I was prompted to do this when I noticed that a horrific story from Brazil about a car driver who drove at speed through a throng of cyclists taking part in Critical Mass had only resulted in 3 stories in the main-stream media (on CBS, Sky and just now also on the BBC) according to Google News. Update: This story has just hit mainstream media, and  Google now reports over 200 articles around the world. It did however take four days to do so, and only went mainstream after the driver was brought in for questioning. The event took place on Friday evening, and by Monday evening this was what Google reported, only 11 articles of which most were cycling media:

Brazil Critical Mass news reports

Have a look at the video of the incident and consider why this was ignored and check out what did make it into the papers.

The big story from today is that the UK government wants us to drive faster on motorways to boost the economy. This resulted in some 793 new articles according to Google News within hours.

Google news resuluts – 80mph

Then there were the 690 news stories acknowledging the 10th anniversary of the ‘Selby rail crash’, which should more accurately be called the ‘Land Rover driver kills 10 rail passengers crash’. Incidentally the driver of the Land Rover was out of jail after serving 30 months of his 5 year term.

Selby crash anniversary

Go back a few weeks there was the story that a possible new inquiry into the deaths of two teenagers who died five years ago while crossing a railway line at a level crossing when the warning lights were flashing. 266 articles for that one, including a front-page story in The Times.

Essex level crossing deaths

And finally there was the story about ‘the footballer who crashed his fast car’. Where have I heard that one before? Result: 305 articles.

Footballer crashes fast car

For comparison, here are the stories that relate to terrible 2006 incident where a car driver slipped on ice and crashed into a group of cyclists and killed 4 of them including a 14yo boy which only resulted in 15 news stories that Google News can find today. The drive, who admitted that he may ‘very possibly’ have been driving too fast, was only fined a total of £180 with £35 costs and given 6 points on his license.

Welsh cyclist deaths 2006

My only conclusion is that motorists (and I am one) hate to be reminded about how dangerous this activity is and of the risks that we are taking on a regular basis. We prefer to read about other stuff, even if it is that we are going to be able to drive faster and take more risks while driving. So much for ‘ending all car crash fatalities‘ as was predicted by the BBC recently!

Repairing pavements again and again?

28 Feb

Some time back I reported that Cambridge County Council estimated that pavement parking caused £3m in damage every year. Suffolk council recently replaced a load of damaged paving along a residential street in Ipswich. In this photo first photo you can see a section of cracked and damaged paving slabs, then there is a section of new paving and…  wait for it… yes, there it is, a car back on the pavement on new paving.

Damaged paving, repaired paving and… a car back on the paving

And here is a close up. Notice that nearly every paving slab has been replaced on both sides of the road on the row of slabs closest to the carriageway where the vehicles wheels go. All the ones closest to the gardens are ok.

A close up of a car back on the repaired paving

Search terms and page views

27 Feb

Here are the search terms that people used who ended up at Pedestrian Liberation over the past 7 days with the count of the number of times for each term. I did indeed mention the remarkable  Michigan Theater in Detroit, which is now a multi-story rococo car park at the end of a post on ‘Disaster car parks’.

Last week the blog had 700 page views and the best week was two weeks ago when it received 1,100. The total views since it was created is 11,000 and views are generally increasing as long as I keep post new stuff.

Take a look at what people type into search engines. The strangest search term was ‘why would heron house compliance manager in cardiff want to see me’! Sorry, but I haven’t a clue and I don’t think the blog will help either.

Search terms as logged by WordPress:

michigan theater detroit    3
pedestrian liberation    3
pavement parking    2
situation of conflict for children pedestrian    2
flickr michigan theatre    2
garden leaflet    2
is it illegal to park on the footway    2
traffic near school    2
road works signs layout    2
parcel delivery scheme    2
detroit car park theatre    2
pavement parking bays    2
go express logistics    2
section 148 of the highways act 1980 – removal of dangerous deposits    2
people walking in snow    2
pavement parking new laws    2
drop curb at pedestrian crossing    2
car park low on the ground    2
norman baker parking on verges    2
disability discrimination acts obstructing a pavement    2
police use facebook    1
pedestrian pupil    1
is it illegal to park on the pavement?    1
boy knocked down muller rd bristol febuary 2011    1
documentary safety measures while walking    1
apc overnight vehicles    1
highway obstruction    1
michigan theater parking garage    1
effective pedestrian campaign    1
norman baker pavement parking    1
norman baker on traffic issues in villages    1
car parking    1
dropped kerbs    1
car parked across footpath accident    1
why schools should have crossings?    1
controllong parents parking schools    1
dangers of parking    1
good bbc documentaries    1
nagy v wetson    1
cash cow pics    1
work blocking pavement pedestrians    1
mumsnet parking live near school    1
pavement facebook    1
speeding in car parks near hit a pedestrian    1
work obstruction pavement pedestrians    1
what type of vans do dpd lease    1
parking obstruction    1
damaged pavement    1
laid on wheel paths    1
maps biased    1
cash cow    1
highway obstruction cars on the pavement    1
pavement parking 1974 legislation    1
school crossing patrol suffolk    1
car parking on footpaths regulations    1
bbc pedestrian safety    1
angela bywaters living    1
pedestrian crossing kerb photos    1
how can pedestrians protect themselves from car accidents    1
https://pedestrianliberation.wordpress.com    1
dropped kerb    1
is it unjust to watch a pedestrian get hurt    1
zig zag lines    1
roman signer    1
when your child has a near miss on the road    1
bbc car safety    1
there was nothing to be done    1
driving faster pedestrians less likely to cross    1
england zigzag lines    1
pedestrian    1
unreasonably obstructing the path of pedestrians    1
new law parking on pavement news    1
pavement block    1
can the body of my car overhang zig zags at a zebra crossing    1
can i park a large vehicle in my driveway in west yorkshire    1
defective pavement obstruction exposed pavement    1
can you park on a pavement according to the highway code    1
tight parking    1
what can pedestrians and cyclist do to protect themselves from being involve in an accident    1
can you park on the pavement    1
can you park on pavement if you do not block it    1
ipswich parcelforce complaint    1
why would heron house compliance manager in cardiff want to see me    1
(a) the driver of a car driving at a fast speed hits a pedestrian who had just stepped down from the footpath to cross the road. is the driver liable?    1
what do english stores look like    1
petition letter for illegal parking samples    1
i am sick of people using my customer car park    1
thank you parking    1
bad leadership images    1
can i block small part of dropped curb    1
parking with one wheel or more on a urban road    1
health and safety why are drivers allowed to park on pavements?    1
pedestrian liberation front    1
what happens if i bump into a parked car on the pavement.    1
obstruction sign    1
have school crossing patrol officers been saved from closure in northamptonshire    1
uk council new powers to tackle parking on pavements    1
parking commercial vehicle on drive and covering pavement    1
pedestrain freedom    1
pediestria liberation ipswich parcelfoce    1
successful pedestrian campaigns    1
do the police use facebook    1
bbc documentary millions of people die in car crash, humans are in love with cars, road safety    1
are you allowed to blockpave highways    1
government set to fine drivers for parking on pavement    1
overnight apc    1
car street diagram    1
are the ploice alloed to park on the pavemebt    1
parking on payvaement dotted lines    1
england street zig zag line    1
roadworks vehicles from above    1
what have cars done that minimize damage to pedestrians    1
handicapped bad parking    1
how many kids drive to school    1
motorists who shout at pedestrians    1
car crash documentary    1
roman signer – engpass    1
wheelie bin in walkway in workshop obstruction    1
bbc safety    1
hamptonshire police car    1
buildiing more parking will    1
man running with parcel    1
should you park wholly or partly on a pavement and why    1
child rain puddle

Breaking news – new powers for councils to tackle pavement parking?

21 Feb

No pavement parking signage (as published in The Sun)

The Sun has reported in today’s paper that the Transport Minister Norman Baker is about to announce a ‘nationwide blitz on motorists who selfishly force pushchair mums into the road’.

He will evidently be writing to all council chiefs today to inform them of their new powers which allow them to create traffic regulation orders covering local pavement parking blackspots. After installing warning signs they will be able to fine those who park on or partly on the pavement £70. More details will no doubty follow soon.

I have selected a range of supportive and opposing comments from The Sun’s website which I have reproduced verbatim. Clearly there is considerable support for getting cars off pavements and also a vocal group of more ‘extreme motorists’ who will fight this tooth and nail.

Supportive:

  • I am in a wheelchair and live on a road used by drivers to park like that for the day and buddy up to go into town. There are no dropped curbs near these idiots so I often have to travel several hundred yards on the road which is a major bus route
  • Good. I am sick and tired of having to squeeze past cars parked like that. Trouble is though will there be anyone to give out the fines? Secondly will anyone of the selfish drivers pay? I doubt it.
  • Get a fleet of tow trucks and haul their cars away for a week that will make them think twice about being so inconsiderate.
  • We in Basingstoke, have a second hand car dealer, right on a set of busy traffic lights, he has NO customer parking, so they park on the pavement, which not only makes people have to walk in the road, but causes mayhem at peak times, so I welcome these rules.
  • Parking on the pavement is NEVER an option.  Indeed, being allowed to park on the road at all is a privilege.  There was a 17th century High Court judge who ruled that “the highway shall not be used as a stable”.  That ruling is still in force today.
  • I think its a good idea, though it does point out its not a blanket ban as sometimes people need to park that way, and don’t block pavements. As a mother I’m sick of having to go round cars selfishly parked on the path. It’s not right.
  • Some of you need to remember, pavements are for people, not cars. That’s what roads are for, so good on him for finally doing something.
  • About time too. There are no acceptable excuses for parking on pavements. If the road is too narrow to allow other vehicles to pass with vehicles parked on a pavement, that is an indication that vehicles should not be parked in that road not that vehicles should be parked on the pavement. Why do motorists consider pedestrians to be second class citizens? The rights of a pedestrian to walk along a pavement are just as important as the right of a motorist to drive along a road.

Opposing

  • traffic waldon’s are filth
  • MOTORIST`S HAVE NO CHOICE – A LOT OF ROAD`S ARE TOO NARROW FOR TWO WAY TRAFFIC TO FLOW AND THEN HAVE CARS FULLY PARKED ON THE ROAD.
  • TRANSPORT MINISTER BAKER SHOULD BE FINING COUNCILS FOR NOT DEALING WITH POT HOLES.
  • Wahay. Another way to rip off motorists. Can I set up a direct debit to have all my motoring fines each month paid straight to the exchequor?
  • Are they gonna widen the roads then? the only reason to park on the pavement like that is because the road is too narrow to park on normally, without risk of having your car side swiped. how does this also “force” buggy pushing mothers into the road?
  • This is just another of what will be an ever increasing methods the government will use to extract money from us the hard working public. The at the same time after taking massive taxes and spurious fines then have the cheek to tell us that we need.
  • I’d rather force a mother into the road, where she can stop, look, listen and navigate carefully than park my car obstructively in the road.
  • Will they make extra spaces in places where they have to enforce such rulings? like hell they will, they’ll just coin it in whenever someone gets sick of the inconvenience of parking half a mile down the road
  • I don’t even know where to begin with this, this is open to so much abuse it is ridiculous.  Wide vehicles regularly MUST park partially on the pavement to prevent endangering motorists on narrow roads, or even blocking them completely.

Update

Today’s government press release on the subject.

“The Department for Transport has given all councils in England permission to use signs to indicate a local pavement parking ban. Until now councils have had to gain special signs authorisation from Government each time they want to put a pavement parking ban in place.

In the press release Norman Baker clearly states that the regulations are aimed at a ‘selfish minority’ who ‘dump their cars wherever it suits them without a second thought for others’. Good stuff!

FOI request regarding prosecutions for ‘driving on’ and ‘obstructing’ the footway

12 Feb

I have just submitted a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk Constabulary to find out how many people have been prosecuted for ‘driving on the footway’ and for ‘obstructing’ of the footway over the past 2 years in the county. I am expecting the number of to quite low, indeed for driving on the footway it am expecting it be very low even though every car parked on the pavement was most clearly also driven on and off the pavement as well!

I have asked Suffolk Constabulary because they are my local police force, not because I think they are particularly bad – indeed I am very impressed with my local seargent who is both supportive and knowledgeable on the subject.

FOI request – Suffolk Constabulary

How was school today?

11 Feb

A quick internet news search turns up numerous stories about dangerous parking and conflict outside the school gates over the past few weeks. And… also stories of youngsters challenging this selfish behaviour and of local newspapers getting in on the campaign.

Cambridge: “A headteacher has apologised over continuing tensions between parents and residents over parking outside a Cambridge school. Parents have been hurling “abuse” at residents and police have launched a crackdown on the anti-social behaviour involving parents of children at the Shirley School, in East Chesterton.

Crewe: “Five schools on the Wistaston Green and St Mary’s wards expressed their concern regarding the parking of vehicles outside their premises. A key concern for all of us is safety for all road users. The schools, police, local councillors and Cheshire East Council are working to find a long term solution, but in the meantime a uniformed presence is in place to deter bad parking around the schools in Wistaston Green and St Mary’s area.

Pupils on the case!

Cumnor, Oxfordshire: “Children in Cumnor took to the streets to urge parents to park safely on the school run. Pupils at Cumnor Primary School have been investigating the issue after a survey found one in four of them had experienced a near-miss in the road outside the school. And they decided that parents parking on pavements and zig-zag lines were causing the safety problems in Oxford Road. To hammer their message home, they made special banners and staged a protest at school closing time, backed up by a letter that was sent home to their parents.

Maidenhead: “Mums on the school-run in Maidenhead are endangering their own kids by ignoring parking restrictions – which they asked for. According to Jenny Stephen, the headteacher of Boyne Hill Infant and Nursery School in Rutland Road, the surrounding roads are being clogged through ‘inconsiderate parking’ by a minority of parents. Cllr Mike Holness (Lib Dem, Boyn Hill) is also concerned about the danger to the school’s 200 young students while neighbours are fed-up of being blocked in their driveways.

Peterborough: “The Evening Telegraph is backing calls for parents to park safely to prevent the school run motoring mayhem that is putting children’s safety at risk. Scenes of traffic chaos surrounding a number of city schools have been pictured by our photographers showing cars blocking roads and pavements, heavy congestion and parking on double-yellow lines.

Reading: “An irate licensee has banned school-run parents from using her pub’s car park and been forced to issue parking permits to her regulars. She introduced the system after finding the exterior of the pub had been damaged and customers were being blocked in. Tracy said: “90 per cent of those using my car park had never even been into the pub – if they’re not going to patronise my establishment then why should they be allowed to damage my property?”

Sheffield: “Pupils who became concerned about the levels of traffic congestion outside their school have designed their own posters in a bid to discourage parents from parking directly outside the school gates. Youngsters at Westbourne School, in the Broomhill area of Sheffield, decided to take action after a parent contacted Sheffield Council to ask for help in improving the situation. School spokesman Angela Bywater said: “These posters are so colourful and have such a direct message that we have already been approached by other schools who all have a similar problem. “It would be great if we could see the campaign spread throughout the city.”

Wolverhampton: Plea over Wolverhampton school parking – “Neighbours have filed a petition calling for the plans to amended to include more parking spaces. They say private driveways and public footpaths are being blocked during the school run, leading to angry exchanges.

And then of course there is a repeat of the tired old ‘unfair traffic wardens and councils’ story as printed recently in a Hampshire paper. Yawn.

Farnborough: Parking CCTV to target school run mums. TRAFFIC wardens will be using CCTV spy cameras to catch people parking illegally in Aldershot and Farnborough town centres.

Government gets in a muddle over school crossing patrols

9 Feb

Goverenment, both central and local, are in a big muddle over school crossing patrols. Central government claimed that local authorities would be able to make the required savings without loosing ‘front line services’ and Eric Pickles is still sticking to that line saying ‘It just goes to show that cutting front line jobs and hitting front line services isn’t inevitable– it doesn’t have to be an option at all.’

There are 93 school crossing patrol sites in Suffolk of which 62 are currently in operation and these are used by an estimated 8,000 children daily. Each crossing patrol officer is paid £6.38 per hour for 7.2 hours a week. The annual cost to the council is £174,000. Suffolk County council is about to decide the fate of these patrols and many if not all will go. So much for front line services not being hit.

In order to find out where these crossing patrols are sited I made a Freedom of Information request asking for the information. The response was patchy and much of the information which would be required for a proper assessment was missing. They promised to collect the missing information by the end of January but have not responded to my request for them to publicise it where I can download it when it is available. I have converted the patrol sites information that they did give me into a Google map from which one can easily jump to Streetview images like this one in Ipswich where the streetview car just happened to capture the crossing patrol officers as they were completing their shift.

Foxhall Road crossing – click for Google Streetview

St Edmundsbury District Council has voted to pay for the crossing patrols in their area, Ipswich Borough Council refuses to take on an services that SCC dumps At one school a head teacher was manning one crossing herself and a local estate agent has offered to sponsor another. Crossing patrol officers in Lowestoft have collected over 6,000 signatures against the cuts.

Will ‘Big Society’ help us us out with this one? Personally I am fully in support of people doing more for themselves and believe that information technology can help people do just that, however… not all jobs can or should be done by volunteers. There are big problems with used volunteers to do school crossing patrols as the authorities are now finding out to their cost.

Can the job be done by volunteers? Well, no, or possibly or.. not sure…..  According to a newspaper article crossing patrol officers needs to be employed by the council or the police authority as it is only these organisations that have the right to stop traffic.  The SCC web site is however less clear on the matter, saying “it may be possible for a school or another authority to take on a volunteer to perform the duties of a patrol. However, currently the Law is very strict on how a patrol must operate and a school or another authority would need to fulfil all the supervisory responsibilities”.

The above newspaper article also reports that the new conservative MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer, has taken up the regulations with the Department of Transport and he is hoping to have a meeting with junior minister Mike Penning will allow the change.

The portfolio holder for transport for Suffolk says he hopes that the MP is successful. I can understand why, because in the mean time a crossing patrol officer has been injured in Lowestoft. The officer suffered cuts to the head and shock and a driver has been reported to the Crown Prosecution Service for careless driving. The crossing patrol, across the Yarmouth Road (A12) is one of those that will potentially go. A 6yo child was killed at the same crossing in 2007.

In summary it is a mess and both front line services and children will be at risk. A huge amounts of time is being spent trying to invent a new operational and management model against looming cuts.

Do we really want the school heads (who are paid a lot more than £6.38 per hour) operating the patrol or worrying if the supervision is adequate. Who will deal with the situation when a volunteer crossing patrol officer isn’t able to to come in to work? Will it up to the school to sort out a replacement or the estate agency who sponsor’s the patrol or another volunteer? So much for ‘no loss of front line services’.