Back in 2001 a parliamentary transport committee concluded the pedestrians were treated with contempt. Contempt is an interesting word with two main meanings: The first meaning is given as the ‘an attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless’ and ‘the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace’. The second (legal) definition is more interesting which is the defined as ‘open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body’. To be ‘in contempt’ there must be a lawful order, the person needs to have knowledge of the order, the ability to comply with the order and to fail to do so. Bill Clinton was found to be ‘in contempt’ when it was proven that he had deliberately given misleading answers to the investigators over the Monika Lewinsky affair.
As pedestrians we seem to have a choice: we can either accept that we are ‘despised or dishonored or in disgrace‘ and are ‘inferior, base, or worthless‘. If we accept this then we should just give up. Alternatively we can decide that the people who are making are lives difficult are ‘in contempt’ and act accordingly!
Here are a few local examples motorists and companies that I consider are ‘in comtempt’. All these photos have been taken in the past 24 hours near where I live. The first to are of vehicles owned by companies that are paid to maintain the highway!
The first vehicle is owned by Carilion plc, who’s moto is ‘making tomorrow a better place’. It is frequently parked across the footway overnight next to a new raised pedestrian crossing. Today there is about 500mm between its wing-mirror and the hedge.
The next is a vehicle owned by Peek Traffic (or should that be ‘Peak Traffic’) which is parked on the pavement on double yellows with no-loading pips in such a way that pedestrians can’t use the pavement on the approach to a post office, a co-op and a bus stop. It has its official lights flashing and the driver is doing his paperwork. He says he had a right to park there (
he doesn’t). I suggested that he moved off the pavement and onto the hard-standing but he wasn’t interested. Hopefully he will do so next time.
And here is a vehicle owned by Suffolk County Council which is fitted out to move disabled people around. There is no need to be parked up on the pavement at all at this point and it sends out all the wrong messages.
Of course there are all the other cars left on the pavement that the police refuse to deal with and consequently very narrow spaces left for pedestrians on the approach to schools. There are the maps that don’t including pedestrian routes (even the maps created specifically for pedestrians). When someone does dare to do something about it, as this blind man did in Wales, he got locked up. Another person who shoved a car out of the way that was blocking his garage ended up having to pay for the repair of the pavement parker’s car. There are the local councils that instruct their wheelie-bin collection staff to leave bins all over the pavement rather than back on private property and refuse to discuss the issue. I could go on but I won’t! What is clear is that pedestrians need to get out of victim mode and be a lot more assertive and start by using the right definition of contempt.
Someone, possibly from Peek Traffic but possibly not has corrected me in a comment below saying that highway maintenance vehicles are allowed to ignore waiting restrictions to “allow the maintenace of roads and services there in”. I will check these regulations at some point to see if they cover this situation.