Archive | August, 2013

Eric Pickles is not even supported by the motoring lobby!

26 Aug

A few months ago Eric Pickles suggested that motorists should be allowed to park on double yellow lines for 10 minutes (later raised to 15 minutes or longer) to help the local economy. Today we learn that he wants councils to end their “draconian” parking policies, “over-zealous traffic wardens” and end their “anti-car dogma”. Needless to say, this sort of thing results in loads of hostility from the left which I guess he enjoys. I find it more interesting that the police and the core motoring organisations also object. If he doesn’t have the support of these people, then who is it who is being dogmatic I wonder?

By way of example:

The West Midlands Crime Commissioner wrote “I do find Eric Pickles’ proposal for people to be able to park on yellow lines an ill thought out and potentially dangerous proposal… It will also be immensely difficult to take effective action against anyone exceeding a 15 minute stay and would require officers checking vehicles approximately every 20 minutes.  To achieve this, you would probably need to treble the number of parking enforcement officers… This policy is damaging to safety, smooth flow of traffic and to the attractiveness of shopping centres themselves”

The RAC Foundation, the AA and the British Chambers of Commerce all suggested that yellow lines regulations were fine as they were, The RAC Foundation explaining “allowing people to stop for longer periods of time on double yellow lines would add to rather than diminish local congestion and parking problems.”

Personally, I can’t express it better than the British Parking Association who wrote an open letter to him to express their “immense frustration” at his “irresponsible” suggestions and his “wholly unacceptable attack on civil enforcement officers”. They also noted that 60% of drivers think parking enforcement is about right and that another 20% think that it is not tough enough!

Here is their letter in full:

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
19th March 2013

Dear Mr Pickles

Parking Enforcement

I am writing to express the immense frustration felt by local authorities by your comments about parking enforcement at the Spring Forum at the weekend.

Your central argument seems to be that local authorities should allow motorists “10 minutes” to visit local shops. You must know that many local authorities already provide short term parking for shoppers in smaller town centres and invest heavily in off street parking in large towns where the demand for on street parking is high.

It is irresponsible to encourage motorists to park on waiting restrictions which are designed to manage congestion and reduce road safety hazards as well as, in some cases, help buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

With reference to the way Councils manage their enforcement contracts, your comments have encouraged a wholly unacceptable attack on civil enforcement officers who are providing an important public service to protect the interests of the silent majority of motorists who benefit from their actions and who recognise the impractical proposition of everyone being able to park exactly where they want.

The parking profession recognises its role in promoting and sustaining the High Street during these difficult times and you will know through your Town Teams initiative that there are many good examples of how Councils use their parking policy to make towns more accessible and their car parks more attractive, convenient and safe. However, recent reports by both the Association of Town and City Management and London Councils shows that there is only a tenuous link between parking and the sustainability of our High Streets. Additionally a recent RAC Foundation report found that 6o% of drivers felt there was the right amount of enforcement on Britain’s High Streets with 20% feeling there should be more and 20% arguing there should be less. It is no coincidence I suggest that only around 20% of motorists receive parking tickets.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these points further but perhaps more importantly to assess how we can help in assuaging your concerns about parking policy particularly as new technology provides new opportunities to better manage traffic and parking in our towns and cities.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Troy
Chief Executive

Pavement hogs

16 Aug

The government has just introduced £100 fines for people who “needlessly hog the middle or outside lane” of a motorway or dual-carriageway.

I find this curious, because the rule 264 of the Highway code reads: “You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, HA traffic officers in uniform or by signs.

The word ‘should‘ in the Highway Code is code for ‘this is antisocial but not illegal’. ‘MUST NOT‘ means that it is illegal. Conclusion — lane hogging is not illegal, but is antisocial.

Curiously Rule 244 of the highway code says: “You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.” Forget London (unless you live there). For most of the rest of use this would read: “You should not park partially or wholly on the pavement unless signs permit it.” Conclusion — pavement parking parking is antisocial, but not illegal (unless you live in London).

However, in addition Rule 145 of the Highway Code says “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.” Conclusion —- in order to park on a pavement a driver has to break this law twice, once to drives onto the pavement, and again to get off.

In summary:

  • Pavement hogging involving breaking the law at least twice (but is largely ignored by the police and politicians).
  • Lane hogging appear not to be illegal, but the politicians have determined that the police should fine people £100 for doing so.

To add insult to injury, Rule 145 (which is ignored for motorists), is vigorously enforced when people cycle on the pavement!

So.. the big question is what are we going to have to do to get the politicians to wake up to this issue.

The problem is that every year there are more cars, every year more people discover that they can park on pavement without getting into trouble, and park more audaciously. Every year more people get more confident of their ‘right’ to park on pavements. Every year it gets tougher for pedestrians.

To illustrate the point, here are a few incidents I have noticed locally over the past few weeks. Driver appear to be totally confident that the police won’t do anything even if they block the entire pavement.





The good news is that the politicians have demonstrated that they can act even if they want to. Now we just have to make them want to!


Carlton Reid has just commented that the paving outside the shop in the first two photos is very cracked. He also noted that pedestrians do not crack paving slabs when they walk across them, but that vehicles often do! Here is a photo of the same area taken when it was free of cars. Needless to say, in this case motorists are breaking loads of additional laws, including parking on the pavement next to a double yellow line, parking in a ‘no loading’ place and parking within 10 meters of a junction. Any more? Anyone care to estimate how much this paving would cost to fix?


Update 2

I have just found another really classy bit of parking outside the side the same shop. Notice all the road-signs and bins on the pavement the other side of the vehicle.