Archive | actions RSS feed for this section

Don’t mention the war!

11 Sep

Mike Penning, the roads minister recently claimed that there had never been a war against the motorist in a letter to Sir Peter Tapsell MP. This is very remarkable given that in July 2010 he said that ending central funding for speed cameras “is another example of this government delivering on its pledge to end the war on the motorist”. He mentioned the war again – this time in an article about the scrapping of the M4 bus lane titled “M4 bus lane to be scrapped as Penning ends Labour war on road users” (which clarifies that this is a war on the motorist actually). Some people will also remember Philip Hammond’s rousing speech at the Conservative Party Conference in 2010 – this version, which has been dubbed and subtitled is the only version of the relevant parts of the speech available on the web that I can find (I wish that the government would publish all speeches online for people to review later). A popular blog titled ‘At war with the motorist‘ was set up immediately after this speech to challenge some of the view expressed by the minister. This clip was created by the folk behind iPayRoadTax.
[youtube.com/watch?v=F2PwwlktImU]

This recent announcement has prompted me to ensure that the past won’t be forgotten so easily in future. I am making a small start by uploading some key video clips from recent motoring history onto Vimeo. For starters, here are some clips relating to battles and skirmishes for control of our roads. Lets start with the conservatives and their ambitious Road for Prosperity white paper which was published in 1989. It outlined a massive increase in road building and then Margaret Thatcher explained that “nothing can stop the great car economy” (and certainly not “wishy washy environmentalists.”) This clip is from The Secret Life of the Motorway produced by the BBC.

This led to massive road protests during the 1990s, including the M11 link road, Twyford Down (M3) protest and the Newbury Bypass protests. This next clip starts with a short sequence from the Reclaim the Streets protest on the road outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in 1997 (which has since been pedestrianised incidentally). This is followed by a retrospective piece about the road protests of the period – do notice how wealth rural conservative voters are pushing and shoving alongside younger activists with the support of elderly local residents. Nothing ‘wishy washy’ about this lot!

The conservative government had started backing off from their ambitious road building policy by 1994 when John Gummer denied that there ever been a ‘great car economy’ saying that it was “not one which has ever been put forward by the Conservatives“! He elaborated that “The car must become our servant rather than our master” and that we must not construct a society “which restricts freedom by not allowing people to choose a lifestyle that does not involve having a motor-car“. This new found interest in alternatives to the car didn’t however stop the  transport secretary at the time, Brian Mcwhinney, giving the go-ahead for the Newbury bypass the following year before resigning 30 minutes later!

When New Labour came to power in 1997 there was no question about the direction of transport policy. Here is John Prescott laying out their vision for transport.

In recent years cyclists and pedestrians have been getting more confident, not something that everyone in the motoring community has appreciated. Here is a clip from Road Rage, a documentary shown recently on TV highlighting the battle raging in the UK for control of the roads between motorists and pedestrians/cyclists etc.

Finally, as a bit of light relief, here is Jeremy Clarkson, announcing that this episode would be the ‘last ever Top Gear’ after the car came last in a race across London by various forms of transport (with Richard Hammond winning on a bicycle). There have however been many more episodes of Top Gear!

Clearly there is something very big going on about which lots of people have strong feelings. There are no easy ‘solutions’ to our transport challenges and the car most certainly isn’t it. It will be great if the currently government can avoid falling down the same hole that the last Conservative government fell down. Possibly denial is just part of the process of change in the political world?

Archie wants to walk to school

30 Aug

In 2009 a father phoned to police to say that because the country road between his house and his child’s school was dangerous, and because his son wanted to walk to school that he was going to drive slowly behind him to protect him from approaching drivers on the 60mph country lane. He was then intercepted before he had got to school by police to who drove the boy to school over “fears for his safety” and warned the father that he could be arrested for ‘a willful obstruction’ of the highway if he did it again. The father has subsequently written an article titled “Why do drivers have more rights than the rest?” (paywall). A good question which I will explore below.

Archie wants to walk to school (copyright image)

Let’s analyse this in some detail.

Firstly, I assume that the police were referring to section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 (“If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence”) or to section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (“Wilfully causing an obstruction to any public footpath or public thoroughfare“). Unfortunately “it has been held that to constitute an offence there must be proof of an unreasonable user of the highway” (Parliamentary briefing 2010)

It is worth mentioning at this point that all roads in the UK are ‘all purpose roads’ and should therefore be available for all road users with the sole exception of ‘special roads’ (better known as motorways) which were created by the Special roads Act 1949 on which no pedestrians are allowed. There is no suggestion in the highway code that pedestrians should not be able to walk in the carriageway where there is not a pavement. (rule 2)

It is also worth mentioning that the highway code reminds drivers to at all times “Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear“.(rule 126) According to the Crown Prosecution Service, driving too fast is reason for prosecution for dangerous driving for which the penalty is disqualification and up to two years in prison. (Careless driving, a lesser offense is not use in cases of driving too fast it seems). However a 25 year old found guilty of drivng at 103mph avoided a conviction for dangerous driving and was banned for only 90 days. A policeman who was ‘familiarising himself with his new police car’ who was recorded driving a 159mph, (and also at 120mph in a 60mph area and at 60mph in a 30 mph area) was found not guilty of both dangerous driving and of speeding! The Crown Prosecution Service overturned the ruling and he was subsequently found guilty but given an absolute discharge; before having his conviction overturned following an appeal by West Mercia Police Federation.

So, was the father acting ‘reasonably’? He appeared to be protecting a walker who wished to assert their right to walk along an ‘all purpose road’. Motorists appear to have been only inconvenienced to a minor degree. The police seemed to agree that motorists were traveling too fast to slow down safely for a slow vehicle. As such should they not have prosecuted the drivers for dangerous driving, rather than opting for the a simpler but rather implausible route of using wilful obstruction for the person protecting the pedestrian?

I am reminded of Duncan Cameron’s submission to parliament on pedestrian issues who noted that “If 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“. In this case the same police who normally avoid using obstruction legislation against parking obstructions at almost any cost leapt into action to use it against someone protecting a pedestrian. Remarkable!

There are some parallels in this story with that of the blind man who was arrested and locked up within minutes of phoning the police to say that he was going to let down the tires of cars that were persistently blocking the pavement.

Yes, pedestrians do face discrimination and this blog’s primary aim seems to be to help expose how this particular discrimination operates.

25K pageviews and a new facebook group

24 Aug

Pedestrian Liberation has just topped 25,000 page views since it started and is now regularly getting 2,000 page views a month which seems like a great time to launch a new Pedestrian Liberation Facebook group where people can discuss issues, ideas and plan responses. If you are interested in creating a better pedestrian environment then please sign up to the group and get talking. The group is ‘closed(open)’ which means that the discussion is only visible to members of the group(visible to everyone). There is no restriction on joining. Just just click ‘join group’ and you are in.

Fyi, here is our usage since we started:

Pageviews on Pedestrian Liberation to August 2011

And just here are the search terms people used to find the site over the past month. My favourities include:

  • “which campaigns deals with pavements,road signs
  • “can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb
  • “how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety
  • “why are cars allowed to park on pavements?
  • “how much does cow need living space” (not sure about that one!)
  • “why are roadsigns placed on pavements to block pedestrians?
  • “are people allowed to park on dropped kerbs?
  • “cars obstructing pavement law definition uk

And here are some of the more popular search terms:
is it illegal to park on the pavement 25
pavement parking 10
road works 6
road obstruction sign 6
raised crossing 6
pedestrian liberation 6
leicestershire pavement parking 5
dhl unmarked 4
archway road highgate during world war 2 4
pedestrianliberation.wordpress.com 4
can wheelie bins be left on dropped kerb 4
example of road life 3
council yellow line enforcement private land 3
parked on footway 3
road work signs 3
biased maps 3
unloading on a dropped kerb with double yellow lines 3
fast lane speed mph 3
council clearing pavements campaign 3
destroyed road 3
roadworks 3
rectangular bananas 3
legislation for parking vehicles on footpaths for business purposes 3
welwyn garden city 3
is it an offence to park a vehicle on a drive that obstructed the footpath 3
signs for pedestrians on paveement 2
parking lot paid space toy car 2
paving leaflet 2
pavement obstruction law uk 2
pavement kerb 2
without favour or affection malice or ill will 2
alternative parking 2
highway maintenance cars 2
which campagins deals with pavements,road signs 2
safety beacon leaflets 2
new forest cow in road 2
office people 2
damaged pavement 2
parking pavement narrow road 2
problems pertaining to pedestrians and law enforcement of pedestrian offence 2
street parking laws pavement blocking 2
pedestrian liberation cycle track act 2
to be treated with contempt 2
is it illegal to park on a pavement 2
highway maintenance van 2
parking on pavement leaving 1 meter 2
road works diagram 2
car sticker wheelchair pedestrians 2
no parking on pavement 2
is the pavement common land 2
is it illegal to leave bins on pavement 2
apc overnight depots in ipswich 2
west yorkshire police rogues gallery 2
footways use 2
chapter 8 road work sign positions 2
openstreetmap speed limit time 2
street slabs 2
how to convince parents not to park their cars outside school gates for their own children’s safety 2
other road pavements 2
is it legal to park on pavement? 2
parked on dropped kerb outside my own garage in cardiff 2
driving on pavement law 2
map speed limits milton keynes 2
no parking on the curb sign 2
parking on double yellow includes verge and footway 2
problem pertainig to pedestrian and law enforcement of pedestrian offences 2
asphalt pedestrian footway 2
child bending over puddle 2
speed limits for ipswich 2
i hate stickers 2
car walking 2
stevenage footpaths 2
department of transport parking on footpaths 2
why are cars allowed to park on pavements? 2
netherlands 130km 2
are you allowed to park on the pavement 2
cause unnecessary obstruction by motor vehicle 2
broken pavement 2
funny parking in the uk 2
zigzag traffic lights 2
no pedestrians 2
dpd 2
yellow lines parked pavement case 2
trek highway services 2
traffic management signs 2
are cars allowed to park on pavement 2
safety signs laws for works on pavements 2
archway road 2
sandwell school parking campaign 2
is it an offence to drive over a footpath to gain access 2
bollard planter 2
new paving designs 2011 2
broken slabs 2
speed limits on urban a roads 2
summer streets 2011 2
local regualtions regarding obstruction of a pavement 2
tnt lorry 2
road traffic act parking on pavements 2
is it illegal to park on the pavement 2010 2
what are the benefits of using email with regard to speed cost 2
range rover classic passenger safety 2
dpd van on fire 2
law on construction along the highway and busy street 2
no wheelchairs 2
lamp post damage 2
wheelchairs 2
dropped kerbs law 2
cumnor primary school 2
illegal to park on pavement 2
how much does cow need living space 2

Park(ing) day 2011

22 Aug

Park(ing) Day is a global grass-routes project to convert parking meter spaces into attractive social spaces for a few hours on one day each year, thereby challenging the dominance of the car in a playful and effective way. The initiative, which started in San Francisco in 2005  had already spread to 183 cities around the globe by 2010 and Parking day 2011 takes place on 16th September in a few weeks time. This could be a good day to do some stuff in our local areas. Any ideas?

In San Francisco this initiative has already inspired the city authorities to convert parking bays into pavement extensions for cafe tables, park benches, bike racks etc on a more permanent basis. Very simple, very effective and very San Francisco. Do of course remember that in North American English the ‘pavement’ is the carriageway, or more accurately the paved road surface rather than the footway. Click on the images for more information and do watch the video. Isn’t it great!

Divisadero Street Parklet (copyright image)

22nd Street Parklet (copyright image)

It’s my spot and I’ll park what I want to!

10 Aug

I friend just sent me this great link from Melbourne, Australia. The notice on the toy car reads “DO NOT REMOVE – This is the property of unit 1. We pay are rent for this parking place and shall therefore use it for whatever vehicle we want to“.

It’s my spot, and I’ll park what I want to!

Re-deploying useless road signage

25 Jun

This morning I came across a couple of ‘pedestrians this way’ signs back to back that were performing no useful function and decided to move them to where they would at least warn pedestrians of cars obstructing the pavement.

‘Pedestrians this way’ signs getting in the way

Warning pedestrians of a car obstructing the pavement

A ‘pedestrians this way’ sign doing some good this time

I also came across and number of abandoned ‘no road markings’ signs. Given that there were a lot of very clear new road markings on the carriageway and that most of the signs had collapsed and were now lying flat across the pavement I moved them out of the way or put them somewhere sensible as appropriate.

This one is at least still standing

Ouch! imaging falling over that one.

Yes there are road markings!

On Nacton Road this time

On Ransomes Way

While re-deploying one of the ‘pedestrians this way’ signs I was challenged by a resident who said it was illegal to move signage and that he was going to phone the police. When I took out my camera to record the situation as evidence he said it was also illegal to take photos! Neither of these are illegal to my knowledge; he did however refuse to enter into a discussion about whether one of the cars beside which I had placed a sign had broken the law. It had: (Highway Code rule 145). I now need to wait to see if I get another visit from the police. If I do get a visit I will challenge as to what law I have broken and also about why they are no spending their time more usefully keeping the pavements safe for pedestrians. I will also remind them of their duty to act without ‘favour of malice’ and ask if they have even spoken to the person who still parks his Jaguar illegally obstructing local raised school crossing despite my regular reports of the problem.

Jaguar still parking on the raised crossing outside the school

I also moved a bunch of wheelie bins off the pavement any into people’s front gardens but that is another story.

Ruffling feathers

22 Apr

I went out on patrol today, issuing tickets and in some cases also marking the pavement in chalk indicating the width of pavement remaining for pedestrians. I upset at least one motorist who subsequently commented on this blog that “because of argumentative people like you the world is in the state that it is, if you want a world where people tell other people what to do with their lives and create animosity like you guys are doing right now be my guest and create anarchy. We are meant to live in a tolerant society respecting each other but because the so called pedestrian liberation think that they have special treatments they like forcing themselves on to others.

Interesting stuff and not worth analysing the above too carefully given the total lack of respect offered by the motorists in question to pedestrians (they had all left less than 800mm of pavement for pedestrians). Regarding ‘anarchy’, I want to see an end to the existing ‘anarchy’ where a minority of motorists feel that they have a right to park wherever they feel like and the authorities do nothing about it.

Here are a few choice pieces of parking from today’s outing. This first photo is of another driving instructor (from the ‘Benson school of motoring’ this time) parked on the pavement leaving only 700mm.

Another driving instructor parking on the pavemet

Then there is there this one where an unrepentant motorist left a miniumal 450mm for pedestrians to get by. The owner came out and asked me who I was and why I wasn’t ‘minding my own business’. She suggested that pedestrians could walk on the other side of the road which was thoughtful of her!

The driver said pedestrians could walk on the other pavement

Finally, here is beautiful still life which consists of a wheelie bin and and car which together leave only 400mm for pedestrians. I hope the chalk marking and the leaflets will make people pay a little more attention next time.

Car and bin conspire to close the pavement!