Sheds, cycle stores, planters and sofas…

1 Aug

I was reminded yesterday that once upon a time people who parked on the highway took care to park facing in the direction of travel and to use parking lights at night. It is a long time since I heard of either these regulations being enforced and to be honest had forgotten all about them so I have done some investigating. Some things have changed in the intervening period but some have not. Here are the current regulations:

  • “You MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space” (Highway Code rule 248, Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986 Section 101, Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 section 24).
  • “Goods vehicles exceeding 1525 kg [which include Ford Transits  btw] MUST NOT be left on a road at night without lights [regardless of the speed limit]” (Highway code rule 250, Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 section 24).
  • “All vehicles MUST display parking lights when parked at night within 10 meters of a junction [regardless of speed limit]”. (Highway code rule 249, Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 section 24).
  • “All vehicles MUST display parking lights when parked on a road or a lay-by on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph” (Highway code rule 249, Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 section 24).
  • Then of course there are of course the rules that you must not drive on the pavement (Highway Code rule 145) and rule 239 which says something along the lines of ‘you should not park on the highway unless you have to’ which is of course completely pointless without a clear definition of what ‘have to’ means.

A quick survey around where I live shows that there is an average of 1 contravention per parked vehicle which is quite an achievement given that a significant number of vehicles are parked legally. One commercial vehicle that was parked at night facing the wrong way with wheels up on the pavement without lights within 10 meters of a junction scoring a maximum 4 points. Many others scored 2 (wrong direction and up on the pavement).

Clearly the authorities are not enforcing these regulations and I am quite sure that no amount of encouragement will persuade them to start doing so. So why mention it at all? Only because if these authorities seem happy for people to do pretty much what they want to when if comes to leaving cars on the highway then possibly it is time to start leaving other interesting ‘stuff’ on the highway to stir things up a bit and get some debate going.

What would happen if a rash of sheds, planters, children’s play equipment, bicycle stores and sofas etc etc turned up on roads across the country. Each item would have a clear label saying that this was private property and an explanation of why it ‘had to be’ left of the highway. One person ‘had’ to leave a shed on the highway because there was not enough room for it in their  garden? another ‘had’ to put a cycle rack in the road because the front hall was not wide enough for people to get past if the cycle was kept indoors? and a third ‘had’ to put a kids swing in the road because it wouldn’t fit down the passageway beside the house, etc etc?.

When the authorities come after the owners then the owner will ask for confirmation that the law is going to be enforced fairly and will string things out. It would be visual and engaging for the media!

I am reminded of the splendid person who gave evidence to the parliament back in 2001 who saidIf pedestrians placed a chair on the carriageway it would be removed immediately, even though it would obstruct a smaller proportion of the road than when a car parks on the pavement. Cars could slow down and take care to avoid the chair, as pedestrians have to with parked cars. The Highways Act applies equally to the road and the footway. Pedestrians are being discriminated against“.

Any thoughts?

4 Responses to “Sheds, cycle stores, planters and sofas…”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle August 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    Much as I would love to try this, I can see that the police and the courts would fine the person leaving an object on the road while still ignoring the motorist leaving a car on the pavement.

    • Peter Miller August 2, 2011 at 5:45 am #

      I wasn’t very clear. I am not suggesting that anyone attempts to retain a shed on the highway permanently, the main aim would be to create publicity and debate so possibly it would be better to describe these as temporary ‘art installations’ given that our intention is to reduce clutter on the street on increase it. As such this should purely be seen as a playful way of forcing the issue up the agenda and gaining publicity for the issue. Sheds and planters would move regularly and would be removed in response to any firm threats of legal proceedings by which time they would have done their job!

      • Graham Martin-Royle August 2, 2011 at 9:36 am #

        Ah, right, sorry, wrong end of stick an all that (well, it was late at night, I had just got in from work etc.).
        I did think of something else they would try to do you with, should you walk away and leave anything, for what ever reason, I reckon they would try to do you for fly tipping. So, stay with what ever is put out at all times, don’t let them claim it’s been abandoned (funny how cars are never treated the same way).

  2. Peter Miller August 2, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    I agree re ‘fly tipping’. That is why every item would need to have a clear ownership statement attached to it highlighting that it is private property, that its removal without authorisation would be theft and that any damage to it would be treated as criminal damage (as would be the case with any vehicle). There are processes that the council can follow to private property removed from the highway and this takes time unless there is a safety risk. See the ‘leaving things on the highway’ section of ‘The Law’ page for more details.

    In reality I am sure stuff would be taken/damaged/driven into etc etc but that could just be seen as part of the ‘audience participation’ and the performance, especially if it the event was caught on camera.

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