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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!

The ‘Road Witch’ trials

9 Apr

Here is a site brimming with ideas of how to challenge the current car-centric mindset in a playfull but powerful way. Highlights have got to be their Halloween Causality car crash from 2002 and the ‘scare-cars’ of 2005. Then there were the delightful human belisha beacons (made of white waste pipe, black tape and yellow balloons) and ‘Christmas dream‘ where they decked out their street with sofas, a TV (broken) piano and fire place and then unexpectedly found themselves being interviewed by Richard Hammond from Top Gear of all people! Here are a few images from the site (click to get to the full story).

All this brain-rewiring and community empowerment then led to the remarkable DIY traffic calming introduced permanently for Beech Croft Road in Oxford in 2010. Here is a description of what they had approved as as reported by the BBC and on the Beech Croft Residents Association website. However… this DIY conversion of a street deserves it’s own blog post which will be coming soon.

Two good pranks in the bag – Norwich and Ipswich

1 Apr

No pedestrian/wheelchairs/buggies’ signs were put up in a street in Norwich and in Ipswich this morning together with ‘inconsiderate parking‘ notices on some cars. In Ipswich we also chalked the space left for pedestrians in mm onto the pavement. Parents and children on their way to school enjoyed the joke and supported our aims. The local papers turn up in both towns and people were happy to have their pictures taken and to do interviews. The local police sergeant in Ipswich was very supportive as it is an issue they find particularly intractable. Some signs were ripped down and one motorist tried to remove the chalk mark from the pavement. All in all it was a great success, lets see if the articles get printed now.

This first photo is of parents with the photographer outside a primary school in Ipswich next to the signs.

Parents and children beside a ‘No buggies’ sign talking to a photographer from the paper

This next one is of a ‘no pedestrians’ sign in Norwich where the driver has left a 25mm gap for pedestrians! More photos were taken by the local paper and people were interviewed for the Norwich paper.

‘No pedestrians’ sign in Norwich – April 1st 2011

Here is an example of the width remaining being chalked onto the pavement. This needs proper ‘pavement chalk’, the thinner chalk I used was not up to the job really

Chalking the space remaining onto the pavement – 600mm in this case

And finally, here is someones attempt to rub out the news that they had left only 700mm for pedestrians! In some places signs were also ripped down – note for next year, use screws and create use aluminum-backed signs.

700mm chalk marking scuffed out

All round a success and one we can repeat in the future. Hopefully we will also get a good response from the papers. Just to reinforce the importance of what we are doing, there was an article in a local Blackpool paper yesterday alerting people to the dangers of pavement parking. Carole Holmes, a local campaigner for the visually impaired explained: “This is a growing concern for all visually impaired people because it is getting worse, we can’t drive so we have to use the pavements to get to the bus stops we use and should be able to get there safely.”

Fooling around. A call to action

31 Mar

A few days ago I proposed that we should put up some spoof signage tomorrow morning for April Fools day. I have prepared some for us here in Ipswich and I believe that we are also going to have some displayed in Norwich. Any more takers? If it works then it could become a regular April 1 event.

Here is the proposal:

  • Print out some of the signs and get them laminated (cost about £1.5 each at Staples I seem to remember).
  • Choose one or more suitable streets. Do this today.
  • Alert the local paper as to what you will be doing, where and when and persuade them that it will be worth while turning up.
  • On the morning of April 1 attach signs to suitable telegraph poles or lamp posts in time for the school run.
  • Consider also leaving ‘tickets’ under the wipers of the worst offenders cars – see proposed form below.
  • Consider marking around the worst cars in chalk writing the number plate onto the pavement.
  • Hang around at the end of the street offering fake tickets to people who are passing and tell them what you are doing.
  • Talk to the journalist and ensure that they get to talk to pedestrians and get some photos.
  • At 12noon go back and collect up the signage as it is illegal to put signage onto the street.
  • Remember to be prepared to just leave it anyone getting angry and make sure you don’t get angry yourself!

Your job is now done, other than to buy an evening paper and see if the story made it and then admire all the views that will start flying around in the letters pages on both sides of the argument over the coming days

This form is also available in a 2 up pdf version. Print on yellow paper for best effect.

Fooling around

28 Mar

April fools day is fast approaching (this Friday) and I have prepared some helpful signage which I hope will make people more aware as to how pedestrians are getting squeezed out by ever increasing numbers of cars. There are three variants, aimed at general pedestrians, wheel-chair users and for people with buggies.

If you do use them then consider where would be best for each type – on the approach to a primary school for the buggy version and close to sheltered housing or a bus stop for wheel-chair version. Ones on the approach to a school are likely to get a lot of attention. Laminate them to make them more robust and convincing. If you intend to leave them up longer-term then use a laser-printer rather than an inkjet printer given that laser colours fade less fast in UV. The local paper might even do a story on them if you let them know.

Feel free to mess about with the designs or make your own variants. If you do something using these resources or anything else on April Fools day then do take photos and add them to the Pedestrian Liberation Flickr pool.

How was school today?

11 Feb

A quick internet news search turns up numerous stories about dangerous parking and conflict outside the school gates over the past few weeks. And… also stories of youngsters challenging this selfish behaviour and of local newspapers getting in on the campaign.

Cambridge: “A headteacher has apologised over continuing tensions between parents and residents over parking outside a Cambridge school. Parents have been hurling “abuse” at residents and police have launched a crackdown on the anti-social behaviour involving parents of children at the Shirley School, in East Chesterton.

Crewe: “Five schools on the Wistaston Green and St Mary’s wards expressed their concern regarding the parking of vehicles outside their premises. A key concern for all of us is safety for all road users. The schools, police, local councillors and Cheshire East Council are working to find a long term solution, but in the meantime a uniformed presence is in place to deter bad parking around the schools in Wistaston Green and St Mary’s area.

Pupils on the case!

Cumnor, Oxfordshire: “Children in Cumnor took to the streets to urge parents to park safely on the school run. Pupils at Cumnor Primary School have been investigating the issue after a survey found one in four of them had experienced a near-miss in the road outside the school. And they decided that parents parking on pavements and zig-zag lines were causing the safety problems in Oxford Road. To hammer their message home, they made special banners and staged a protest at school closing time, backed up by a letter that was sent home to their parents.

Maidenhead: “Mums on the school-run in Maidenhead are endangering their own kids by ignoring parking restrictions – which they asked for. According to Jenny Stephen, the headteacher of Boyne Hill Infant and Nursery School in Rutland Road, the surrounding roads are being clogged through ‘inconsiderate parking’ by a minority of parents. Cllr Mike Holness (Lib Dem, Boyn Hill) is also concerned about the danger to the school’s 200 young students while neighbours are fed-up of being blocked in their driveways.

Peterborough: “The Evening Telegraph is backing calls for parents to park safely to prevent the school run motoring mayhem that is putting children’s safety at risk. Scenes of traffic chaos surrounding a number of city schools have been pictured by our photographers showing cars blocking roads and pavements, heavy congestion and parking on double-yellow lines.

Reading: “An irate licensee has banned school-run parents from using her pub’s car park and been forced to issue parking permits to her regulars. She introduced the system after finding the exterior of the pub had been damaged and customers were being blocked in. Tracy said: “90 per cent of those using my car park had never even been into the pub – if they’re not going to patronise my establishment then why should they be allowed to damage my property?”

Sheffield: “Pupils who became concerned about the levels of traffic congestion outside their school have designed their own posters in a bid to discourage parents from parking directly outside the school gates. Youngsters at Westbourne School, in the Broomhill area of Sheffield, decided to take action after a parent contacted Sheffield Council to ask for help in improving the situation. School spokesman Angela Bywater said: “These posters are so colourful and have such a direct message that we have already been approached by other schools who all have a similar problem. “It would be great if we could see the campaign spread throughout the city.”

Wolverhampton: Plea over Wolverhampton school parking – “Neighbours have filed a petition calling for the plans to amended to include more parking spaces. They say private driveways and public footpaths are being blocked during the school run, leading to angry exchanges.

And then of course there is a repeat of the tired old ‘unfair traffic wardens and councils’ story as printed recently in a Hampshire paper. Yawn.

Farnborough: Parking CCTV to target school run mums. TRAFFIC wardens will be using CCTV spy cameras to catch people parking illegally in Aldershot and Farnborough town centres.

When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns

25 Jan

In 1994 in Bogotá was deemed to be the most dangerous city in Latin America with 1,300 traffic fatalities per year and about 80 homicides  per 100,000 residents. The incoming mayor, Mayor Mockus brought in clowns and mime artists to direct the traffic and defuse aggression, he distributed 350,000 “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” cards to citizens so they could signal their views to other people who were behaving foolishly or dangerously and then he asked people to pay 10% more tax and 63,000 did. These are only some of the initiatives he tried successfully and in the period traffic deaths halved and homicides fell by 80%. Now if clowns can half traffic deaths then I am interested.

And then there are the clowns in New York, who were, well, clowning around is I guess what you would call it. However, they had the deadly serious aim of drawing attention to the dangers of parking cars in cycle lanes.

a bunch of bike-riding clowns

Video of 2008 ‘Pie of March’ event

Video of the ‘Pies of March’ event in New York 2009

As the World Bank put it on their blog, yes they do have one, ‘When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns‘. Possibly it is time for us to deploy clowns police outside our schools to defuse tension and get people thinking instead of arguing and fighting?