Archive | May, 2011

AA Streetwatch

4 May

The AA are asking members of the public to survey motorists at junctions this week reporting driver behaviour – including speeding, seatbelt wearing, mobile phone use, indicator use and defective brake lights. Their survey takes about an hour and must be completed by 9 May 2011. If you think any of these are issues in your neighbourhood then why not  choose a suitable junction and get on with it.

Last year they got people to do surveys of local conditions for pedestrians (broken kerbs, dog mess, pavement parking etc). Here is the map they produced highlighting which parts of the country had more and less pavement parking. I notice that my area is ‘not too bad’, if that is the case then I do really pity the red areas! It is great to see the AA, which was set up to warn motorists of police speed traps, doing work like this.

AA pavement parking survey results 2010

The tragedy of the commons, regulatory capture and negative externalities

4 May

It occurred to me yesterday that roads can be thought of as a form of common land in that they are a shared resource available to individuals to perform a range of agreed activities. If it is common land then one can consider if the ‘the tragedy of the commons‘ is applicable which is defined in Wikipedia as being where ‘multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource’.

Another useful term is ‘creep’, which can be used to describe the changes over time that can take place in norms, habits, and regulation. It seems to me that we have had both formal ‘regulatory creep’, for example the banning of football on the highway by the Highway Act 1835 and also informal ‘social’ creep; for example the general acceptance that the highway should be available for the storage of some very particular items of private property (notably cars and more recently wheelie-bins).

If one accepts that there has been creep then one can consider if there has been a degree of ‘regulatory capture’ which Wikipedia describes as follows: ‘capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for large firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called “captured agencies“. Yes, I do think it is fair to describe the police, local authorities and the courts as partially ‘captured agencies’.

So… what does this mean for this campaign? I think it provides a useful set of terms to use in debates with also provides some clues and historical examples of what we will need to do to get our public space back! Finally… here is a picture of a cow on a road for no particular reason other than it is proof that the motorist does not always have to have priority!

Beware, cows on the road – © Copyright Steve F ccbysa

More bins on the pavement and silence from the council

3 May

I have been writing to my council and my local councilor and have been leaving reports on FixMyStreet since October 2010 in relation to bins left on pavements. I am writing to the relevant officer again today.

Here are some new photos from over the weekend from one housing area in Ipswich. The first two pictures show the way that the pavement is being used for the permanent storage of bins by some, but not all, residents; the last one shows bins left scattered all over the only part of the pavement available for pedestrians after they have been emptied by the council contractors in a way that I believe is illegal under the Equality Act 2010

Bins along a very narrow pavement

More bins on the pavement

Bin assault course on collection day

Update: The council have now responded and said that they do follow up complaints about bins being left permanently on the pavement and get them moved. Lets now see what happens. They have however said they won’t change the instructions to their binmen on where to leave the empty bins which I am going to challenge them on.