Archive | November, 2011

Dropped kerbs and ‘Special enforcement areas’

9 Nov

It appears to be a requirement that all rules relating to parking and pavements should be confusing and ineffective and slow to come into force. By way of example, lets look at the relatively introduced legislation which bans parking across dropped kerbs.

This legislation received Royal Assent back in 2004 with the Traffic Management Act of that year. Royal Assent was followed by five years of consultation on these new rules during which time the AA, needless to say, objected saying that it would be entirely unreasonable to expect motorists to know that it was illegal to park on dropped kerbs unless the council installed white lines on every single one at their own cost. I am glad to say that the government ignored them and the legislation was finally ‘enabled’ in June 2009. We should of course be grateful that the legislation was enabled at all, given that legislation which would have banned pavement parking entirely which received Royal Assent in 1974 was never enabled at all!

Now comes the ‘confusing’ bit. As I have said, legislation needs to be confusing. Part of the small print of the 2004 Act says that these new powers will only be available in places that adopt new ‘Special Enforcement Area’ status. Every Council wishing to use these powers then had to apply for this  Special Enforcement Area status (as distinct from ‘Civil Enforcement Areas’ which many had already been granted). To make it more complex Special Enforcement Areas can be applied for covering either an entire area of, or only part of a Civil Enforcement Area.

So.. the next question of course is to find out if my town and which other places have been granted ‘special enforcement area’ status. Is there a national map of these areas? err… no; is there a published list of such areas? err… no. Is it clear from my local authorities website if my town has been granted these powers? err.. no. The only way I found out that they had was to email them. The good news is that it has been enabled in my areas and people do get fined from time to time I understand. The bad news (for pedestrians) is that my local police didn’t even know that it parking across dropped kerbs was actually illegal and apparently refuse to enforce it in some cases. Here is a local driver explaining to be that he finds that this particular dropped-kerb is a very convenient (and often available) parking spot when doing his local shopping.

Blocking a dropped kerb, no problem

Beware, lobbying ahead

7 Nov

A new lobbying group “The Road Ahead Group” is apparently being set up by various business with interests in freight, and in building and operating roads. They will be lobbying Whitehall but according to the press aim to maintain a low public PR profile. True to their word, they appear to currently have no web presence but we do know that it has been set up by Brian Wadsworth who moved to a lobbying firm after a stint as Director of Strategic Roads, Planning and National Networks’ at the Department for Transport. Other supporters include Midland Expressways (who operate the M6 Toll road), my friends May Gurney and other infrastructure companies. Rather quaintly, one of their lobbying aims is to protect part of the Vehicle Excise Duty revenue for road building. (err, didn’t Winston Churchill get rid of that in 1937?)

In an apparently unconnected announcement in the past 24 hours the RAC Foundation and ARUP have claimed that the UK needs to spend £12.8bn building new roads; they talk about an infrastructure ‘shortfall’, outline 100 ‘urgently needed’ projects and say that current situation is ‘worrying’ and ‘concerning’. One thing they are not concerned about it carbon emission and climate change – the word carbon does not appear and the word ‘climate’ only gets mention in relation to the financial climate. They do however like toll rolls and Public Private Partnerships and by way of good examples they draw attention to the fact that Canada, Spain and the USA have built a lot of roads recently.

Curiously, given that neither Arup nor the RAC Foundation are publicly connected with ‘The Road Ahead Group’, but their report does happen to recommend that road building should be supported by “giving the sector a dedicated revenue stream, based on retained user charges and/or hypothecation of some motoring taxes (e.g. VED).” Incidentally, the RAC Foundation/Arup report is written by a former civil servant at the DfT, where ‘he sponsored the Department’s roles in major projects and transactions’. The doors are clearly still revolving – you can read about bit about revolving doors and lobbying in the UK on Wikipedia.

To sign off, here is an image from the RAC Foundation/Arup report. They don’t mention it by name, but it is this monsterous interchange in Los Angeles – an impressive bit of engineering for sure, but possibly not something any of us will want in our back yard, and indeed LA is going off roads and getting pretty excited about public transit.

Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange (Los Angeles)

Car park this way!

7 Nov

Matthews parked their van fully across the pavement right next to their own (empty) off-street parking bay and by a sign pointing to their car park a few days ago. As a results pedestrians have to navigate through their parking bay avoiding both the ‘pavement sign’ and the bollards to get past or to take their chances in the road. To their credit the company did immediately move the vehicle but the driver did say ‘it has never been a problem before’. Possibly not for the company, but for blind people it is one of the reasons why most blind people never go out. This is not a new concern however, back in 2002 the issues for blind people were the same.

Car park this way!

Another view of the same vehicle.

Update

The van was back in exactly the same location today. The staff see absolutely no problem what they are doing, and believe that blind and disabled people and everyone else would be able to find their way around the vehicle with no problems at all.

They repeat that no one has ever complained. Odd when the police must go up that road every day. Not only are then 100% obstructing the pavement, they are also on a single yellow line during its period of operation (which of course covers the pavement as well as the road). However… the police have never been very keen about enforcing these regulations.

 

Royal mail – An attitude problem?

7 Nov

Why on earth is this driver parking on the pavement? Normally the excuse is ‘I had to park on the pavement’, but in this case there are virtually no over vehicles in view. A different royal mail vehicle parked in exactly the same position the previous week – when I asked why he didn’t park across the road 20 meters away on the carriageway the driver explained that it was ‘too far’. This it not an isolated case unfortunately. There are more below and a few weeks back I blogged about this royal mail vehicle that obstructed two double decker buses in the centre of Ipswich. The driver explained that he could park exactly where he felt like because he was working for the crown!

Why park on the pavement when the road is empty!

Proper pavement parking

Not getting out, just sitting there on a double yellow with the door open while having a chat

Personally I think it is for the Royal Mail to do something about this. They need to do more ‘pedestrian awareness’ training or whatever and prove that they take the issue seriously. If they continue to park like this they will continue doing serious damage to their reputation.