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Pioneering pavement parking ban for Welwyn Garden City?

18 Jul

Welwyn Hatfield Council and Herts County Council are planning to ban all vehicles and in particular commercial vehicles from parking on pavements and verges in central Welwyn Garden City 24/7 using the new legislative powers announced by the government back in February. The engineer for the council said ‘Vehicles driving over and parking on footways and verges in these areas have been observed to cause damage to kerbs, paving slabs, soft verges and can cause obstruction and risk to pedestrians’ and ‘ the scheme would make parking or the loading/unloading of a vehicle on the footway or verge in these areas illegal.’

Great stuff, especially as Welwyn Garden City was designed with every road having  wide grass verge with a central parkway which was once described as one of the world’s finest urban vistas! Indeed it still is very pretty as shown below, but do notice the car tracks across the verges in the foreground. Not major at present and possibly there are worse problems elsewhere, but it is best not to drive on a garden!

Parkway, Welwyn Garden City (copyright Google)

Preston City Council to confiscate wheelie-bins left on the pavement

4 Jul

Preston City Council has announced that it will remove bins left permanently on the pavement and charge people for their return. They approach will be to first leave yellow stickers, then a red ones and then confiscate them and charge the owners £11 to get them both. Both the labour and conservative groups support the move; deputy leader, Councillor John Swindells explained: “People have complained bitterly about them being out on the streets all the time.. we have tried with education and neighbourhood management teams. Residents requested further action be taken”.

Needless to say, one does not need to go to Preston to find bins left permanently on the pavement. Notice that these people living in my home town have actually got space on where they could store their bins on their land but choose instead to keep them on the pavement where they get in someone else’s way and create a pretty little garden on their patch. It makes a mockery of the dropped kerb; notice also that the bollards which were put their to keep the pavement clear of parked cars are now making the pavement even less usable. My council have said that it would be too difficult to do anything about it and have not followed up my complaint with any letters or whatever.

Bins on pavement with pretty private garden behind

Cars Off Pavements campaign leads to 75% reduction in pavement parking

4 Jul

A trial ‘Cars Off Pavements campaign‘ at four parking hot-spots in Charnwood, a borough of 167,000 people in Leicestershire, led to a 75% reduction in pavement parking and is now going to be rolled out across the borough. The campaign is being run by Charnwood Borough Council, Leicestershire Police and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. Charnwood Borough Council street wardens will issue £50 Parking Charge Notices to offenders who park on pavements in contravention of the signs and lines. Police officers and PCSOs can issue fixed penalty notices to offenders who cause pavement obstructions.The local MP was out recently showing his support. Great to see such no-nonsense coordinated action on the issue!

Charnwood parking leaflet (copyright)

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.

Paris chic and rectangular bananas

28 Mar

The EU has plans to ‘phase out conventionally fueled cars‘ in urban areas in Europe by 2050 and to be moving close to eliminating deaths by road accidents. Sounds interesting but it is realistic? Well, in Paris they have been getting on with it while in Britain the government has rejected these proposals while muttering about rectangular bananas and about not getting involved in individual cities’ transport choices.

In Paris they are in the final stages of implementing a very chic and well ‘French’ scheme that is making great strides in that direction. Having had huge success with their ‘velib’ scheme they are about to introduce a fleet of 3-4,000 ‘autolib’ electic ‘Bluecars’ which will be available on short term hire from 1,000 locations. These are not going to be any old electric cars either, they are being manufactured by Pininfarina (who also work for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar). It will be possible to hire a vehicle from one station and leave it at another.

One of the justifications the French authorities give for the scheme is it will reduce parking pressure in the city where 95% of cars in Paris are parked at any one time and where some 16% of vehicles are used less than once a month. Reductions in traffic (which is down 25% in the last decade) will probably mean that the mayor will be able to remove 1.2 miles of left bank expressway in central Paris (from the Musée d’Orsay to  the Alma bridge) by 2012 thereby creating 35 acres of new recreational space and cafes.

Meanwhile in London the Government is saying that it won’t get involved involved in individual cities’ transport choices. Personally, can can’t see how any national government can avoid  getting involved in these choices and this current government is certainly doing so at one level; as well as providing much mood music about cheaper motoring, faster motoring, on ending ‘the war on the motorist’ and relaxing planning restrictions it also instigated the removal of the strategic and successful M4 bus lane on the western approach to London without even consulting with Transport for London. It is subsidising the purchase is 60,000 private electric vehicles with £300m of public money which will no nothing to alleviate parking pressures or congestion. The UK government needs to recognise that in the information age it is increasingly irrelevant what we own as long as we can access what we need when we need it.

Many of us need a car from time to time but most private urban cars spend a huge amount of time doing nothing except getting in other people’s way. Car sharing schemes eliminates parking grief but do need serious support from government and until the UK government starts paying serious attention to car clubs and other sharing schemes then we aren’t going to make much progress. The switch from petrol/diesel fuels to electric propulsion is a perfect time to also move from an ownership model to a rental one.

Reporting from the front line

6 Mar

It’s been an interesting few weeks! Motorists have been fighting (sometimes literally) for the right to park their beloved cars somewhere. Police and authorities have been fighting back. People have ended up in hospital, in court and some have almost gone to jail. In one instance the police in South Africa ended up drawing guns on each other over a disputed parking space.

Starting with the good news..

Police in Loughborough will be delivering leaflets to every household in the town warning of a crack-down on pavement parking by the police and the council. In future motorists will risk getting a fine if they leave less than 1 meter of pavement clear for people to get by. The RNIB regional campaigns officer said that they were “ incredibly pleased that we have had such a positive response from all the organisations. .”

In Perthshire the police have warned drivers that they face receiving three penalty points and a £60 fine if they block pavements. The police have told drivers that they should leave at least enough room for a pram or wheelchair to get pass. They have got their work cut out, because traffic wardens locally have been assaulted on numerous occasions over the past few years with one motorist threatening to shoot a warden and another trying to run a traffic warden down.

In Bolton the police have warned drivers that if they force wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs into the road by parking on the pavement they could soon be fined £70. They launched the campaign after ‘a flood of complaints’ and their action has the support of 57% of those who responded to a poll organised by the local paper.

In Reading Labour councilors are objecting to plans by the Conservative-led council to ban pavement parking. Labour think this should only be brought in for roads where all residents have ‘adequate’ off-road parking, which they define as meaning off-road parking for ‘one or two vehicles’. I see… if the motorists ‘need’ the pavement then they get it, if not then the pedestrians can use it. Nice.

In Middlewich a parent claimed that irresponsible drivers were ‘dicing with death‘ after her 5yo son was nearly knocked down by a reversing car outside the school.

Meanwhile a man in Machester only just avoided a jail term after punching a female traffic warden to the ground – he was given a four month prison sentence suspended for a year and 250 hours unpaid work.

In Oxford a 24yo man was also given a suspended prison sentence after punching a 66yo traffic warden and dislocating his shoulder.

A survey of 3,000 motorists in the UK found that 25% of these drivers admitted to ‘verbally assaulting’ other motorists for their parking decisions or worse and in one third of cases the incidents related to parking on pavements.

In New York and woman is in a coma after being punched in the face during an argument over a parking space.

And finally…  in South Africa police from two different forces drew guns on each other when officers from one force attempted to tow away a vehicle belonging to another force from outside their offices. It is reported that the argument escalated with more and more policemen coming out of the building, fighting, and then threatened to shoot each other!

West Yorkshire Police use facebook for ‘lively’ debate on pavement parking

28 Jan

The Poltifract Safer Neighboroughoods Team, which is part of West Yorkshire police have had great results from their Facebook page with debates on many subjects; the subject that created the most debate  … yup, pavement parking.

I was particularly pleased to see this report on a visit to a particular street by the police: “PCSO Paul Guest visited a street in Pontefract yesterday after reports of a number of vehicles parked on pavements. PCSO Guest was suprised to find that not only were the vehicles parked on the pavements, they were double parked and some vehicles were parked on the bend at the end of the street”. They went on to say: “PCSO’s will continue patrols in this area and if the same vehicles are seen parked on the pavement again, fixed penalty notices will be issued.” Also that “The pictured vehicles are both illegally parked. As you can see prams and wheelchairs cannot safely pass the vehicles on the footpath. They would have to go into the road to pass the vehicles”. Great stuff.

West Yorkshire Police say this car is causing an obstruction

Not all police forces agree that totally blocking a pavement is obstruction, for example the police in Bristol apparently deemed that this car was not causing an obstruction.

Police in Bristol said that this car was not causing an obstruction

Personally I am very interested is West Yorkshire’s use of Facebook. Many public bodies seem to shy away from debating anything in public. My experience locally is that the police are far better at this than local councils. Hopefully we will see many more Facebook pages for communities to debate with authorities on many subjects in the future.

Are we winning?

15 Dec

In one way everything seems to be getting worse. A huge problem and one that is getting worse as the number of vehicles increases. However…. there are also some interesting positive signs. Here are a few of them.

We now have a prime minister and a mayor of London who are keen cyclists. William Ford (Henry Ford’s grandson) who is executive chairman of the Ford Motor company recently said “The day will come when the notion of car ownership becomes antiquated. If you live in a city, you don’t need to own a car”. I think it is interesting when someone in that position says that. Simon Kuper commented in the Financial Times “Cars are going out of fashion.. Once cars lose speed and power, they become unglamorous everyday tools, like washing machines, and nobody, presumably, derives status from their washing machine”. Thanks to ‘Life outside the box‘ for bringing my attention to that one.

Here is some evidence:

This is a video I put together of people and traffic crossing London Bridge (not Waterloo Bridge as I call it in the video). Notice that there are virtually no private cars and that the vast majority of people are on foot.

Then there here is one I make of a a street in centre of my home town of Ipswich. For sure most of the space is again allocated to car drivers but most of the people are on foot.

In relation to that comment, here is a video I took during a recent trip to Detroit showing a virtually completely empty freeway outside their world headquarters near Detroit. Detroit is a great place to cycle btw and they spending a lot of money making it better.

Finally, a couple of images from my company showing the decline in vehicles in London in the past 10 years and the increasing numbers of bicycles.

Declining numbers of cars in London shown as red

Increasing use of bicycles in London shown as blue

Major motorcar manufacturers have needed to be bailed out and the British Motorshow has been canceled again (both the 2010 and 2012 shows have now been cancelled) and may in reality never return.

All this is not a reason not to keep pushing for change, it is just a reason not to give up!

Pavement parking petition launched in York

12 Nov

A petition has been launched by York’s Labour group calling for urgent action to stop motorists parking on the pavement in University Road, York. Residents said the parked vehicles were putting pedestrians in danger. Terence Fisher, 73, of Fulford, said he saw a young woman with a pushchair forced into the road because a car was blocking the footpath. Read the whole of the York petition article in The York Press. The petition can be signed online at

Of course I recently blogged about Labour councillors in Reading blocking a conservative initiative to ban pavement parking in that town calling it a ‘cash cow’. Funny old world.

Here is a nice example from York of parking on a cycle track, on double-yellow lines pushing cyclists onto the pedestrian path.

Photo by greensambaman


5 Nov

Tory run Reading Council are planning to bring in a pavement parking ban in January 2011 which will not only help clear the pavement of private cars but will also raise money for the council. Judging by the complaints it might actually be effective. Labour opposition are saying that it is a cash cow and that people have ‘no option than to park on the pavement‘ – yawn!

Cash cow!

The conservative transport leader, Richard Willis, says that they will start with warnings letters before issuing fines. Some Labour councillors have asked for all the roads in their wards to be exempted until there is a public consultation. Labour councillor Tony Page claims that the “The layout of our streets is such that many people have no alternative but to park on pavements or verges if they want to have their cars anywhere near their homes” and that is it just a cash cow!  Now where have we heard that before!

Kirsten Bayes , a Liberal Democrat seems to have a clearer idea of the issues, saying that whereas people “struggle to park without going on to the pavement” that the pavements were “meant to be used by pedestrians, disabled users, wheelchair users and buggy users”.

Hertz are being more helpful and set up a car club at the University last month.

Further reading and references

Some of these links are a bit unreliable. Sorry about that but I think it is a problem the far end