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Ipswich Borough Council blocking pavements with roadworks signage

17 Oct

Ipswich Borough Council staff are disrupting pedestrians near to road works by leaving signs on pavement with only 800mm clearance (which is about the width of an external door to a house and less than the legally required 1 meter for road works signs). Only when pressed did they confirm that they knew the law about 1 meter clearance. Their justification was that they were concerned about the risk to motorists if the signs were further into the road – no concern at all that I heard about the risk to pedestrians and old people from leaving them on the pavement. I have reported this on fixmystreet which the council monitors and responds to.

Here are some photos of the signs in question. The good news is that there is a 100% clear rule that they are breaking in this case. No excuses about it being a ‘necessary obstruction’ or a ‘willful obstruction’. It is however a very clear example of the contempt that pedestrians are treated with and is, I am sure, repeated across the country. Incidentally I am still waiting for May Gurney to ask for their signs backwhich they left blocking a pavement over a week ago!

Only 800mm for pedestrians

Only 800mm for pedestrians

Making the pavement even narrower (less than the legal 1 meter as well)

Making the pavement even narrower (less than the legal 1 meter as well)

Blocking the pavement illegally and useless due to parked car!

Blocking the pavement illegally and useless due to parked car!

Damaged sign, no sandbag, on pavment across dropped kerb by local shop

Vehicle sign blocks access to pedestrian walkway for disabled

Update

The following day all consideration of pedestrians had disappeared.

No consideration for pedestrians at all the next day

£50K fine and 5 years in prison for rubbish on the pavement – bins and cars are fine though

1 Sep

The council has recently put up signs in the area warning of penalties including fines of up to 50K fines and five years in prison for dumping rubbish on the pavement. Serious stuff! I assume there are referring to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 33). Unfortunately they then go and leave wheelie-bins all over the pavement every week after collection! The following two pictures are taken on the same street. The first shows signs warning that dog poo on the pavement costs up to £1,000 and the fines for fly-tipping. The second photo shows how the council leave bins all over the pavement after emptying them for no good reason that I can discover. Cars on the pavement are not being challenged of course.

No dumping of waste £50K fine

Bins all over the on the pavement again after collection by council

RIP school travel mode statistics – burying bad news?

1 Sep

Ministers have just announced that there will be no ‘travel mode’ question in the next school census. I find this curious because the school run is a hugely challenging and emotive subject for parents and for other car commuters. Here are a couple of charts showing who how things have changed over the past 15 years during which time this information has been collected. Notice that more primary age kids will be traveling to school by car than on foot soon if current trends continue, also that the car and local bus is gaining with secondary school age kids at the expense of waking. Cycling is lost in the noise at the bottom.  I wonder if the parents at these Brentwood schools parents will start chucking rocks at traffic wardens again? Was it relevant, per-chance that these statics were first collected in 1995 just after the previous conservative government abandoned the ‘great car economy’ following an epidemic of road protests in the 1990s? (walking is dark blue and is highest for both groups, cars are in yellow and are next highest for primary school kids and have similar percentage as for local buses for secondary school kids. Local buses are in dark purple).

Travel to school by mode of transport (1995-2010)

Local council must change its bin policy

25 Aug

The official bin-collection policy of Ipswich Borough Council policy is to leave bins after collection ‘at the very back of the pavement on the curtilage of the property … not obstructing residents’ driveways, preventing usage of drop kerbs etc‘. I have asked them why they don’t return the bins to where they found them (which is normally within the curtilage of the property on a driveway) and have also reminded them of their duties to the blind/wheelchair users and other groups under disability legislation. The response was: “We have discussed your interpretation of the Equalities Act with our resident equalities expert and we are of the opinion that we are taking the best possible action in this respect“. Umm… Strange, given that the work ‘pedestrian’, ‘wheelchair’ and ‘buggy’ don’t even appear in the text.

Here is my proposed replacement text: “a) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where they create a safety hasard. b) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where the available footway is reduced to less than 1m and should not left in a position where the width is reduced to less than 1.5m. Bins can often be returned to a position just inside the curtilage of the property. Where this is not possible they may be left on the footway or carriageway as long as the conditions in a) and b) are satisfied. Where no viable option exists then alternative provision for the collection of waste will need to be arranged. This policy is to ensure that all road users, including pedestrians, some whom may require additional width (wheel chair users, people with buggies and shopping and those with visual impairments) are able to use the highway safely“.

Here’s the reason why a change is needed. In these two following pictures there is no space for a wheelchair user of parent with a buggy to use the pavement when the current guidelines are following. In both cases it would however be trivial for the bins to be returned within the curtillage.

Bins left blocking the pavement after collection

Bin left on pavement with 400mm between bin and lamp-post.

The law is very clear on this. Lets start with Department for Transport guidance on the ‘Pedestrian environment and transport infrastructure’:

  • “Since October 1999 service providers have had to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies and procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service … These requirements apply to facilities and services in the pedestrian environment’.
  • “Those who are travelling with small children or are carrying luggage or heavy shopping will all benefit from an accessible environment, as will people with temporary mobility problems (e.g. a leg in plaster) and many older people. Thus, the overall objective of this guide is to provide inclusive design and through that achieve social inclusion
  • “Manual wheelchair users need sufficient space to be able to propel the chair without banging their elbows or knuckles on door frames or other obstacles. But someone who walks with sticks or crutches also needs more space than a non-disabled walker; so too does a long cane user or person carrying luggage, or a lot of shopping bags, or with small children. Thus providing adequate clear space on pavements, along passages in public buildings, through doorways etc, is of benefit to many people.

And also the DirectGov guidance re the Equalities Act 2010:

  • The Equality Act 2010 provides important rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in accessing everyday goods and services like shops, cafes, banks, cinemas and places of worship… The Equality Act 2010 gives disabled people rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in relation to the use of transport services. This also covers access to travel infrastructure such as railway stations and bus stations. You also have a right to reasonable adjustments.

And here is a helpful diagram published by the DfT showing the pavement width required by these different groups of pedestrians. Is it however unfortunate that the diagram is so hard to read which probably goes against their own guidance on legibility, but we can’t have everything!

Pavement widths required by different user groups (DfT guidance)

Finally, here are a set of photos illustrating the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that I am proposing to the council. The photos on the left show where the council leave bins currently and on the right you can see where I am suggesting they should be left to allow free passage (or as good as can be achieved with all the pavement parking!).

Bins after collection (as now on the left, and as proposed on the right)

I will be sending a copy of this post to the council and ask them to reconsider. If that doesn’t work then possibly the local paper would be interested in taking this on as a local issue.

Police officers arrest and fight each other in parking rows

23 Aug

Back in October 2010 a PC Roderick Lund was awarded £5,000 in damages after suing his own force for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and using unreasonable force in relation to a parking incident! It seems that Lund’s next-door neighbour, who was himself a retired police superintendent reported Lund to the police saying that his car was causing an obstruction. Duty officers arrived, agreed and asked Lund to move it which he refused to do saying that he had had a drink. The conversation became more heated with Lund challenging the duty officers motives; Lund was arrested, led away in handcuffs and detained for 10 hours. I wonder if these officers might like to return and deal with the cars and bins that seem to be regularly left obstructing the pavement of the same street.

police offices arrest each other (copyright image)

Of course, this is all pretty tame compared to South Africa where the police traded blows and drew guns on each other when traffic officers attempted to tow a police car belonging to another force.

SA cops trade blows (copyright image)

At least the people involved in the above incidents lived to tell the tale which was not the case for one off-duty policeman in Baltimore who was killed in a dispute over a parking place in which he was hit on the head by a rock in 2010.

Carillion – ‘making today a worse place’

29 Jul

Carillion like roads, they are paid to build them and maintain them and their mission is to ‘make tomorrow a better place’. Unfortunately one of their vehicles is regularly left blocking a pavement overnight, is probably also damaging the paving and is definitely making today a worse place for local residents. I have just placed a report on fixmystreet and have also complained to them using their nice feedback form. Let’s put huge pressure on these companies that are paid to build roads and who then don’t respect pedestrians. Feel free to tell them what you think as well.

Anti-social overnight parking by Carrillion (who are paid to maintain roads!)

No chance of getting by.

Not much chance of getting by!

And of course this is not one-off. Here is another highway maintenance vehicle being parked overnight on the pavement in the area.

Another highway maintenance vehicle parked overnight on the pavement

Being treated with contempt and being ‘in contempt’

25 Jun

Back in 2001 a parliamentary transport committee concluded the pedestrians were treated with contempt. Contempt is an interesting word with two main meanings: The first meaning is given as the ‘an attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless’ and ‘the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace’. The second (legal) definition is more interesting which is the defined as ‘open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body’. To be ‘in contempt’ there must be a lawful order, the person needs to have knowledge of the order, the ability to comply with the order and to fail to do so. Bill Clinton was found to be ‘in contempt’ when it was proven that he had deliberately given misleading answers to the investigators over the Monika Lewinsky affair.

As pedestrians we seem to have a choice: we can either accept that we are ‘despised or dishonored or in disgrace‘ and are ‘inferior, base, or worthless‘. If we accept this then we should just give up. Alternatively we can decide that the people who are making are lives difficult are ‘in contempt’ and act accordingly!

Here are a few local examples motorists and companies that I consider are ‘in comtempt’. All these photos have been taken in the past 24 hours near where I live. The first to are of vehicles owned by companies that are paid to maintain the highway!

The first vehicle is owned by Carilion plc, who’s moto is ‘making tomorrow a better place’. It is frequently parked across the footway overnight next to a new raised pedestrian crossing. Today there is about 500mm between its wing-mirror and the hedge.

Nice raised crossing, shame about the Carilion ‘highway maintenance’ van across the pavement

The next is a vehicle owned by Peek Traffic (or should that be ‘Peak Traffic’) which is parked on the pavement on double yellows with no-loading pips in such a way that pedestrians can’t use the pavement on the approach to a post office, a co-op and a bus stop. It has its official lights flashing and the driver is doing his paperwork. He says he had a right to park there (he doesn’t). I suggested that he moved off the pavement and onto the hard-standing but he wasn’t interested. Hopefully he will do so next time.

Peek Traffic, disruption for pedestrians

And here is a vehicle owned by Suffolk County Council which is fitted out to move disabled people around. There is no need to be parked up on the pavement at all at this point and it sends out all the wrong messages.

Suffolk County Council – should set a better example really

Of course there are all the other cars left on the pavement that the police refuse to deal with and consequently very narrow spaces left for pedestrians on the approach to schools. There are the maps that don’t including pedestrian routes (even the maps created specifically for pedestrians). When someone does dare to do something about it, as this blind man did in Wales, he got locked up. Another person who shoved a car out of the way that was blocking his garage ended up having to pay for the repair of the pavement parker’s car. There are the local councils that instruct their wheelie-bin collection staff to leave bins all over the pavement rather than back on private property and refuse to discuss the issue. I could go on but I won’t! What is clear is that pedestrians need to get out of victim mode and be a lot more assertive and start by using the right definition of contempt.

Update

Someone, possibly from Peek Traffic but possibly not has corrected me in a comment below saying that highway maintenance vehicles are allowed to ignore waiting restrictions to “allow the maintenace of roads and services there in”.   I will check these regulations at some point to see if they cover this situation.

Drivers under instruction

28 Mar

Driving instructors are there to show people how to drive. For one driving instructor this unfortunately included a demonstration of how to drive up onto the pavement to avoid walking anywhere; for another it was a demonstration of how to take the police to task about their own illegal parking and winning a public apology!

Back to the first story. This is about a driving instructor for the Bill Plant Driving school who drove up onto the pavement outside his pupil’s house to avoid the inconvenience of parking further away legally and walking. He then demonstrated to his pupil how to tell a pedestrian (me) that it was OK because he ‘had only been there for a few minutes’. Here are a couple of pictures, the first is of the vehicle as the instructor dismounted the pavement with the pupil as a passenger. The second was taken after I have spoken with the driver.

The Bill Plant Driving School vehicle close up

The second story is more inspiring. It is about a determined driving instructor who challenged the police about their parking and eventually got an apology. The police had parked their van illegally on yellow lines alongside ‘police no parking’ bollards outside a patisserie thereby totally obscuring the view for anyone, including this instructor’s 17yo pupil, who was trying to exit from a narrow side street. Rather than accept that they were in the wrong the police unfortunately tried to turn the attention onto the instructor by saying that he had committed an offense by leaving a learner alone in charge of a vehicle! Not to be discouraged the instructor had his photo of the incident published in the local paper alongside an article about the incident and got a public apology from the police.

This is important stuff. Culture is passed on by example and in particular by teachers. These examples show the difference between good teaching and sloppy teaching. I am now going to email the Bill Plant Driving School.

Do pedestrians even exist? not according to a BBC article on road fatalities

7 Feb

Update – see update note below – the article that I complained about has been updated in response to my complaint and now does mention cyclists and pedestrians.

There is an disappointing article on the BBC News website quoting vehicle safety experts claiming a “Motoring miracle” where “fatal smashes are eliminated”. it goes on to detail loads of super-clever and no doubt expensive technology that ensures that drivers survive “even truly catastrophic accidents” and to help passengers by explaining how the car “can also transmit detailed information about the crash forces experienced by passengers”.

The lead does correctly highlight that over one million people are killed each year on the roads and that human error and driving too fast are ‘at the heart of the issue’ however they then go on to imply that car crashes only happen between two vehicles and only talk about safety for drivers and passengers. No mention of features to protect pedestrians or cyclists, especially no ‘miracles’ that will eliminate the risk to a pedestrian from a vehicle traveling at normal urban speeds.

A ‘road traffic collision’ in legal and professional circles does not need to involve two vehicles. The definition clearly includes a single vehicle where anyone (other than the driver) is injured. The law defines a reportable road traffic collision as “an accident involving a mechanically-propelled vehicle on a road or other public area which causes:

  • Injury or damage to anybody – other than the driver of that vehicle,
  • Injury or damage to an animal- other than one being carried on that vehicle (an animal is classes as a horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog).
  • Damage to a vehicle – other than the vehicle which caused the accident.
  • Damage to property constructed on, affixed to, growing in, or otherwise forming part of the land where the road is.

The simple fact is that one of the best way of making roads safe for pedestrian is for vehicles to be made to travel more slowly, and to be required to protect everyone including pedestrians. The article fails to mention that the vehicles with offer virtually no pedestrian safety are still offered for sale. For example the £43,oo0 Range Rover which was described in the official report as ‘dire’ back in 2008 but which is still available for sale and use in urban areas.

I have made a complaint to the BBC about the article. Others may also wish to do so.

Update

The trailer for this article, the title of the article and possibly also the content of the BBC article referred to in this post are changing frequently this morning – possibly due to the interest it is generating or possibly that is normal practice. In particular the trailer now reads ‘Auto-braking -Could a computer stop your car from crashing?’. The title of the article is now ‘A future without car crashes’ but still claims that ‘fatal crashes could be eliminated’. A new sentence reading: “Drivers, passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists could one day be protected from bad driving” has been inserted.

I am getting a lot of comments to this post, many of they of the ‘get a life’ type which I am not approving. I have been approving comments which in my mind are justified. I have corrected the post to remove my incorrect assertion that the experts were ‘un-named’ or not expert following a comment pointing that error out to me.

On reflection the lead into the article does inform readers that ‘one million people die each year on the roads’ and also that most collisions are a result of human error including driving too fast for the weather conditions, make unwise decisions and fail to notice or anticipate potential hazards. I have adjusted my post to reflect that.

Update 2

The BBC responded to my complaint within a few hours saying that they had updated the article. To quote: “The article did not intend to imply that all victims of road accidents are in cars, and it has been amended to reflect that”.

The article now includes the text “Drivers, passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists could one day be protected from bad driving”. However… the Horizon documentary that it was promoting and which was shown last night didn’t once mention pedestrians or cyclists or motorcyclists or anyone else outside the vehicle. In their letter to me the BBC explained that the piece was “largely focused on research being done in the car industry. Much of that, inevitably, relates to car occupants.” I guess it will be inevitable until pedestrian safety ratings get rammed in the manufacturers faces! Not so good that the BBC fell for it though.

Labour continues opposition to pavement parking ban in Reading

20 Jan

We reported some time back that the local Labour group in Reading were campaigning against a pavement parking ban in the town as promoted by the local Tory and Lib Dem council claiming that it was just a ‘cash cow’. Since then Labour councillor Jan Gavin has been pressing the administration to say “which roads would become impassable to emergency vehicles and bin collection carts if they parked wholly on the road”. Notice the implication in that statement that motorists will ‘have to park on the pavement‘. Is she implying that it is the responsibility of the council to ensure that motorists can store as many vehicles on the highway without charge as they wish and if these vehicles spill onto the pavement then that is just one of those things! Car clubs? no thanks. Cycling? not really. Walking? only if you can find a gap wide enough on the pavement or wish to take your chances on the road.

It got messier when a Freedom of Information request that she submitted was refused as being ‘not in the public interest’. She is now celebrating that the administration appears to be letting the issue slip commenting “Cllr Willis accused Labour Group of obstructing the proposal, me and Labour colleagues of scaremongering and clearly stated that it had never been their intention for there to be a widespread systematic fining of people who were sensibly parked on the kerb”. Are we going to get a definition of ‘sensible pavement parking then?”. Isn’t local politics wonderful.

She also helpfully published this photograph on her blog showing how little pavement is left for pedestrians in the current situation. Could you get down there with a buggy? or with shopping, with a guide dog or in a wheelchair. Well – it would be a challenge. I am passing a link to this blog to her in case she objects to my reuse of the image or feels I have not presented her views fairly.

Local councillor campaigning against pavement parking ban in Reading (copyright image)