Archive | February, 2012

Virgin Media join the ‘whole hog club’!

27 Feb

This guy seemed to have gone to considerable lengths to maximise problems for pedestrians on a very wide pavement beside a dropped kerb, thereby become eligible to join our exclusive ‘whole hog club‘, and yes, he had left the door propped open. When I asked him about it he explained that he had been careful to position his vehicle to minimise inconvenience to other road users… to his credit, he did immediately move his vehicle without any quibble or complaint when I pointed out that he appeared to have forgotten about inconvenience to pedestrians. Thank you for that, which is much better than the normal bolshy response I often get. However, it would be even better if his company had previously provided him with some effective pedestrian awareness training!

Virgin Media completely blocking the pavement

Introducing the ‘whole hog club’!

25 Feb

Most drivers who park up on the pavement do at least leave two wheels on the carriageway leaving a little space for pedestrians. There are however a minority of more ambitious parkers who park with all four wheels up on the pavement and thereby achieve a far higher standard of obstruction. I would like to introduce our new exclusive ‘whole hog club’ for such drivers. To be eligible to become a member a motorist must:

1) park with all four wheels on the pavement
2) Leave less than 800mm of the legal footway available for pedestrians (800mm is evidently the legal minimum internal door width for disability discrimination legislation!).

Here are some examples, the first was one I saw this morning  – I challenged the driver in a very careful, non-threatening way and got a load a abuse (as I have learnt to expect from time to time). I do however know that many people do change their behaviour next time after being challenged. The next was taken in Dudley recently by cyclistpaul. The rest are from my collection.

Going the whole hog in Ipswich

Diagonal Dudley hog

Sorry mate, didn’t see the sign!

The only way past is on private property or on the carriageway

'but this is why I have a 4 wheel drive vehicle!'

‘but this is why I have a 4 wheel drive vehicle!’

Mervyn Lambert Traffic Management – ‘a safer method of Traffic Management’

25 Feb

Traffic Management explain on their website that they offer ‘a safer method of Traffic Management’ – curious, given that they have almost completely blocked a pavement in Ipswich with motorist diversion signs forcing pedestrians into the road. These signs leave about 300mm of width of the pavement, which is less than half that of a typical 2′ 6″ internal doorway in a house and far less than the absolute minimum of 1 meter required by law. I phoned their emergence number this morning (which was helpfully printed on the back of one of their signs) and asked them to move them in the next few hours. Lets see what happens. (see below for update – very impressive response time and attitude – thank you).

400mm for pedestrians

400mm for pedestrians

A convenient place to leave a sign

A convenient place to leave a sign

Update

OK, so they had an ’emergency phone number’, they answered it promptly, and then moved the signs within 2 hours (including driving all the way from Diss)! I met the guy on-site who was very helpful and supportive. We also had a useful discussion about some of design defects of current road works signs which will be the subject of another post soon. Thank you Mervyn Lambert. Needless to say the purpose of calling them out was to remind them in a very clear way that they need to get this sort of thing right in future, so lets just hope they get the message and have a word with the guy who plonked the sign down so thoughtlessly across the pavement in the first place costing the company 3 hours in staff time and 50 miles in a company van.

Winter stories and toilets

16 Feb

Just spotted this grit-bin plonked down across a pavement by Hampshire County Council. Shame that they couldn’t find anywhere for it which wasn’t blocking the pavement for buggy and wheel-chair users, especially as they had been to the effort to create a dropped kerb. The hedge could do with a trim as well.

Grit bin obstructing most of the pavement

Back in Ipswich, I spotted Ipswich Borough Council doing more repairs to the local pavements which is good, however I can’t help thinking that they could have organised the barrier around their roller and portable toilet a bit better. To their credit they did adjust it to reduce the problem after I had taken the picture, but why wait for someone to point it out? They continue to leave signs illegally obstructing the pavements, but that isn’t news any more so I will leave the pictures this time.

Workmens’ ‘stuff’ obstructing pavement whilst, err.. renovating pavements

Talking about toilets, I recently also spotted this portable-toilet/van which now regularly left parked half-way across the pavement in a nearby residential area. Do these companies check where their staff are going to park them before suggesting that they take them home?

Highway Maintenance toilet parked across pavement

Customers – please stay at home!

11 Feb

We read a lot about how local shops need good convenient free nearby car-parking and how out-of-town shopping and internet shopping are creating difficulties for the high street.

So let’s see how one section of high-street is managing to attract customers in this cold weather we are having. Fyi, it snowed 6″ a week ago and hasn’t done so again at all since then. If the shop-owners had cleared it on the first day they would have had a clear pedestrian approach all week.

My story takes place along this row on shops is on the south side of Felixstowe Road at the junction with Derby Road in Ipswich (See it on Google streetview). Being on the south side does of course mean that they have had no sun on the pavements to help clear them. You should also be aware that the legal footway  stops in front of the post-box and telephone box. The land behind is private property and the shop-keepers can do what they like with. The footway should be keep clear for pedestrians, however they are would probably get more custom by attracting people to walk past their doors. Interestingly, they could also be legally liable for anyone who slip over while coming to their shops which is not something that I think they have considered. Here is the street scene back when it was warm when the Google Streetview car came through town.

Street-scene back when it was warm (and the pavements were clear)

This first picture taking today shows the bed-shop van parked as normal on the area outside the bed-shop (on private property) with sheet ice on the pavement where people have to walk.

Nice crossing, shame about the sheet-ice – nice van!

Here is a close up of the ice on the crossing by the van. Lots of money spent by the council on blister paving and bollards, but not effort from the locals to keep it usable this week.

Trying getting across there! Why doesn’t a shop-keeper sort this?

Here is a view from the other direction, the diagonal black car was ‘only going to be 2 minutes’. The other back car it probably partly partially obstructing the footway.

Nice ice sheet and nice wheels.

A little further along and there is the sign for the hair-dresser out across where people are walking (which is private property as the owner reminded me). I spoke to her because she had objected to my bike leaning against her shop and came out and moved it!

Shop owner explained that pedestrians should go to the left of the letter box

What is a shame really that she someone didn’t come out a bit earlier and stop this driver from blocking the pavement on the zigzags of a toucan crossing with his large van. The driver explained to me that he had ‘only been two minutes’ and wasn’t interested at all.

Van blocking view to toucan crossing – not concerned at all!

Finally, and a little further down the road we come to the Red Cross shop. Nope, they hadn’t cleared their forecourt at all, it is partly clear only because a car happened to be parked on the spot over the night when it snowed. They gave various reasons for not clearing both their forecourt and also the pavement, which included 1) we don’t have a shovel 2) we would have to buy salt 3) we tried but it was too hard 4) We would be liable if we touched it (wrong) etc etc. What is sad of course is that another division of the red-cross, for whom my wife works as it happens, is dealing with all the old folk coming into hospital who have fallen over on the ice this week. (Stop Press: see below…)

Red-cross – nope, they didn’t clear the snow – the clear bit was where a car was parked!

So there you have it. Yes – a few people are able to park really close to where they are going and can then slither along like everyone else when trying to actually get to their destination. But.. no, it is not attractive and I can’t believe that there has not been a shop-keeper or shop-assistant who would not have been able to find time this week to clear it.

Update

OK, so I passed by again this afternoon. A new car had blocked the pavement joining the advertising signs, However the Red Cross shop had obviously had a re-think and cleared their access which is progress!

Another car blocks the footway

Red Cross clear their forecourt. A success!

I did not want to be mistreated…

8 Feb

We have had a comment on our Facebook page today suggesting: “Ask your council to include on radio traffic updates a reminder the pedestrians have a right to walk in the road, esp when the footway is covered in snow and ice (and the road is clear thanks to the gritting we all pay for). Drivers should keep speed down and proceed with utmost caution.”

Needless to say, pedestrians are hardly allowed to use the pavement at all, except in places and at times where it is not required by motorists. I am reminded of when Rosa Parks refused to stand up on the bus in Montgomery to allow a white man to sit down (the deal at the time there was that ‘colored’ people were only allowed to sit in the colored section of the bus, which was demarcated by a movable sign hung from the ceiling). As normal, the sign was moved backwards on that day to provide enough space for a white person to sit down. Of course, Rosa refused to stand, all hell broke loose leading to a bitter civil struggle which continued for years. Life afterwards for Rosa was not easy but the story of her gentle defiance is  told to every child in the land and her body now lies in state in Washington. In 1992 She explained that:

I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

Not wishing to be over dramatic, but there are parallels. Blacks were expected to retreat as required for the convenience of whites, and pedestrians are currently expected to retreat as required for the convenience of motorists. Anyone who challenges the status quo has hell to pay.

Rosa Parks, with Dr. Martin Luther King jr in background 1955 (USIA)

With thanks to Wikipedia!

Three ways to clear snow

7 Feb

Three different strategies for clearing snow. The first picture shows a local shop-keeper who has actually cleared the pavements and dropped-kerbs outside their shop to make it easier for customers and passers-by alike. Thank you. We then have the nursing home where they cleared the path very very carefully right up to the edge of their property and then stopped; I can only presume that they believe (incorrectly) that they could be prosecuted for clearing the snow to the edge of the carriageway or indeed all along their frontage. Finally there is the dumb-headed approach where householders clear snow from their property and pile it up on the pavement where it obstructs pedestrians. More common than one might hope as can be seen from the two examples below.

Here are a few snowy pictures:

A shop-keeper clears outside his shop – keep it up!

Nursing home in fear of actually clearing the pavement

Let’s just pile this nasty snow up on the pavement (and then drive on the pavement!)

Let’s pile the snow along the pavement, no one uses it anyway!

As a postscript… after clearing the snow along the frontage of my house I noticed a couple of guys clearing snow off the roof of their car piling it up across the pavement I had just cleared. I, not very politely, (sorry) suggested that they might like to remove it which they did without complaint which was decent of them, but it is interesting to note how little social awareness there is around all this.