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Reclaiming the term ‘road user’ from the motoring lobby

22 Sep

These banners, which were proudly displayed at a fringe event at the Labour Conference, give a clear impression that ‘Driver=Road User’ and ‘Road User=Driver’. This is totally unacceptable and marginalises all other road users.

This is not an isolated instance, and we need to be challenge it. Following the success of the campaign, I suggest we complain whenever we see the term being used in this way.

Here are the banners in question.




IMG_5454 IMG_5455

Proposed CCTV ban to get rocky ride in Lords?

12 Jul

The government introduced a clause to ban CCTV parking enforcement into the Deregulation Bill at a very late stage, allowing only the most superficial debate in the Commons before passing it to the House of Lords, who appear to have little enthusiasm for the proposal with not a single statement being made in support of a ban. The Lords indicating that they will be scrutinising the bill in considerable detail over the coming months.

Why is this important? Because it is up legislators to take the lead on this issue. They need to create and support clear fair and enforceable laws to protect pedestrians. Without appropriate laws, or with laws that are in practice or by design unenforceable then they are useless.

The government has failed to do this for the past 30 years, but the mood is changing. The number of vehicles on our streets increases every year and selfish motorists getting ever bolder and more audacious in the choices of parking locations.

In response to this there is a powerful coalition of diverse interests forming that is pushing for effective regulation that includes the Local Government Association, the British Parking Association in addition to the RNIB, Age UK, Guide Dogs and Living Streets.

This latest move appears to be taking the government into a pretty uncomfortable place. I will watch with interest to see how this pans out!

Verbatim transcription

Rather than summarise the debate, I have included all relevant content from the 2nd reading in the Lords, markingwhat I consider to be the key remarks using bold.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): … Clauses 35 to 40 remove some of the outdated burdens relating to transport legislation, bringing legislation into line with practice; for example, removing the requirement on local authorities to seek permission from the Secretary of State to establish, alter or remove zebra crossings. This section also includes measures limiting the use of CCTV when issuing parking fines by post and removes the automatic reopening of formal investigations of marine accidents when new evidence, however trivial, comes to light.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): I thank the Minister for introducing the Deregulation Bill today and look forward to the many speeches to come. With more than 30 noble Lords listed to speak, I am sure that every clause and schedule will get some attention as we start what I suspect will be a long job, stretching out, perhaps, until the end of the year. We intend to scrutinise very carefully this rather mixed bag that the Government have put before us. I am joined on the Front Bench for the majority of the Bill by my noble friends Lady Hayter and Lord Tunnicliffe, but others will have to come in with their expertise on areas of the Bill. …

The Bill contains a controversial blanket ban on the use of CCTV for parking offences, something that the LGA, the British Parking Association, cycling groups, head teachers and charities representing blind and disabled people have argued against, while businesses and motoring groups offered mixed responses, with some motoring groups calling the ban a retrograde step and some businesses stressing that CCTV could remain beneficial at particular times and on particular occasions. …

Lord Rooker: In my last two minutes, I turn to two clauses that concern me: Clause 38 on parking and Clause 43 and Schedule 11 on waste collection. Anyone who has been a councillor for any length of time knows that the two subjects you never, ever touch within a year of an election are parking and waste collection. Why on earth are the Government interfering in these matters within a year of a general election? Despite that foolishness, I have to ask again about those two core activities—the core business of local authorities. Minister after Minister in all parties will say that it is local people who know best and that one size does not fit all. Why are the Government now trying to interfere and to regulate — never mind within a year of a general election—in these matters that are essential to local government?

My 40 years as a local councillor were spent representing a controlled parking zone in a town centre area vital to the local economy. We all know that one size does not fit all. That was in the London Borough of Sutton. It has a different regime from the Royal Borough of Kingston next door, or the London Borough of Croydon next door or indeed the London Borough of Wandsworth, which I know the Minister knows particularly well. Why are the Government interfering? What is the justification for this? We will go into it in very much more detail in Committee. However, as I think has been mentioned, the consultation from the Department for Transport on parking received a lot of responses, almost all of them hostile. On the issue of the CCTV ban, which this clause covers, six of the eight organisations responding—from the British Parking Association to cycling and disability groups—were strongly opposed to the Government’s proposed ban. Only two had a mixed reaction, one of which was from the motoring organisations, so even they were not unanimously agreed on the ban. We still do not know exactly what the exemptions are. It is difficult in this area to distinguish between what are actually government proposals and what has come from the Friday afternoon press release from the Secretary of State, preparatory presumably to his Friday evening in the pub, where most of these utterings seem rather better fitted than to legislation.

Waste collection again is causing considerable concern to local authorities, not least the likely increased cost and complexity of introducing these additional regulations. As has been said, this is a big deregulation Bill. I thought that the clue might be in the name. In fact we are proposing to introduce more regulation, which will make carrying out the essential task of waste collection more complex and more expensive. I know that my noble friend the Minister is, if anything, an even stronger localist than I am. I look forward in his closing speech to his justification for why these measures meet the test of proportionality and necessity.

Baroness Eaton (Con): I understand that many councils have raised concerns about the Government’s proposals to ban the use of CCTV for parking enforcement. At this point, I must declare an interest as I am a member of an advisory board for the Marston Group Ltd. I know that councils are concerned about these proposals as they could prevent them from using CCTV for parking enforcement, particularly outside schools, at bus stops, and on clearways. In particular, we must ensure that children are protected from irresponsible parking outside schools. As I understand it, the Bill allows the Secretary of State to exempt certain places from a ban but if the Bill takes effect before the guidance is in force, it may be impossible to enforce parking restrictions which will be referred to within the guidance. It would be helpful if the Minister could agree to meet with the LGA on this very important issue. …

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): … The second area we are concerned about is the banning of CCTV for parking enforcement. I have great sympathy with the Government in seeking to tackle a problem whereby the citizen receives a fine through the post, not having been aware that a charge has been laid, to which they have to make immediate return. We do not seem to have tackled this issue thoroughly or properly. On 10 June, the Government said that they had not reached a decision; on 17 June an amendment was made to the Bill in other place and was immediately translated into the Bill by a government majority.

There are real risks to road safety. There are risks at schools. There are risks in bus lanes, where drivers will chance it if they think they will not be surveyed. There are risks at bus stops. There are risks at yellow boxes on junctions. They are a good idea and have eased congestion, but a good idea is destroyed if one driver chances it and sits in that box and blocks the traffic. If the Government are open to persuasion that there should be exemptions to ending closed circuit TV prosecutions in these areas, those exemptions should be in the Bill and we will seek to achieve that. …

Lord Whitty (Lab): … I follow my noble friend Lord Davies in relation to the transport provisions and, in particular, CCTV. This is populism gone mad. If we cannot enforce parking restrictions, we not only endanger the safety of road users and pedestrians but also provide no parking space for motorists. If people can continue to park in restricted areas with impunity, there will be no parking space for the vast majority. By adopting the Jeremy Clarkson interpretation of the motorists’ interests, the Government have gone down exactly the wrong road. Just as the taxi provisions are not in the interests of the users of taxis, these parking provisions are not in the interests of the vast majority of motorists; our towns will get clogged up and there will be more accidents.

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): … Clause 38 amends the Road Traffic Act to prevent local authorities from issuing penalty charge notices through the post and using CCTV for parking enforcement in particular circumstances. I was glad to see that the Opposition have some reservations about this. The clause was inserted following a government consultation on local authority parking strategies. The Government acknowledged that a common theme in responses to the consultation was the need for a uniform approach to pavement parking, but this has not been followed up in the Bill. That is a major omission. Pavement parking is dangerous for pedestrians, especially parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people, including blind and partially sighted people, who may be forced out into the road where they cannot see oncoming traffic. Pavements are not designed to take the weight of vehicles and they cause pavements to crack and the tarmac surface to subside. This is also a hazard to pedestrians, who may trip on broken pavements, and particularly to blind and partially sighted people, who cannot observe the damage. It is also expensive. Local authorities paid more than £1 billion on repairing kerbs, pavements and walkways between 2006 and 2010; £106 million was also paid in compensation claims to people tripping and falling on broken pavements during the same five-year period.

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, with the support of at least a dozen other organisations, is calling for laws across the UK prohibiting pavement parking unless specifically permitted, such as have been in place in Greater London since 1974. Local authorities report that existing measures are insufficient. In a recent YouGov survey, 78% of councillors supported a national law with flexibility for local authorities to make exemptions. The Transport Select Committee described the current system as unduly complex and difficult for motorists to understand. A Private Member’s Bill with cross-party support has been presented in the other place by Martin Horwood MP. There is considerable support for a law of this type, and I very much hope that the Government will give it serious consideration.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab):As for banning CCTV for parking, this comes from the same Government who brought in the Localism Act but now decide to dictate to local authorities how they can enforce, or not enforce, parking as they think best, and despite six of the eight consultation responses opposing a CCTV ban. As the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said, it is, after all, local government that knows its area best. In my own borough of Camden, more than 85% of CCTV enforcements cover major junctions, bus stops, pedestrian crossings and no-waiting areas. In a busy urban area these are key to keeping traffic moving and for safety, as the noble Lord, Lord Low, the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, and my noble friends Lord Davies of Oldham and Lord Whitty said. …

Lord Wallace of Saltaire:Parking has also raised a lot of issues for many noble Lords, with the question of CCTV and parking fines. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, that we have not considered the risks of removing the use of CCTV as we are not talking about doing that. There were a number of questions about how CCTV is used at a local level, on which all of us have slightly different and ambivalent views. Again, we will come back to that in detail in Committee.

BBC totally ignore pedestrians in program on car crashes again..

13 Nov

The BBC recently showed a documentary, Impact, A horizon guide to car crashes without even mentioning pedestrians or cyclists, or anyone else not in a car, which is a shame considering that almost 30% of all people killed on the roads these days are not in cars (In 2011 there were 453 pedestrian and 111 cyclist deaths out of a total of 1,901 people killed on GB roads). This isn’t even the first time it has happened. In 2011 the BBC showed a program titled ‘surviving a car crash’, which also failed to even make a passing nod to the dead and injured pedestrians and cyclists.

Please complain to the BBC about the program which was last shown on BBC4 on October 24. Here is the text I used, which you are free to adapt as you see fit:

“The BBC has again aired a program about car crashes and technological changes to make vehicles safer without mentioning once that pedestrians or cyclists also get killed. The program is called ‘Impact, A horizon guide to car crashes’ ( For the record, in 2011, of the 1901 people killed on the road in GB almost 30% were not in a vehicle, (453 were pedestrians and 111 were cyclists). Regrettably, this isn’t even the first time the BBC has done this. Back in 2011 you did the same with ‘surviving a car crash’. (

“Please can you prepare and air a documentary focused on the work being done (and not being done) to help vulnerable road users and ensure that pedestrians and cyclists at least get a mention in any program about vehicle safety. Incidentally, are you aware that  cars with pedestrian ratings of zero are still allowed to be sold in this country. (

motorism is…

3 Oct

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Motorism as an ‘addiction to or practice of motoring‘. I, along with other sustainable transport activists prefer the definition first proposed in 2010 on the Green Bristol Blog, which defines it as ‘a deep rooted prejudice in favour of motorised traffic at the expense even of the safety, let alone the convenience, of those that dare to travel on foot or bicycle‘. As it happens I wrote an article on what I called ‘institutional motoristism’ in July 2012. The ‘As easy as riding a bike’ blog echoed the theme in a piece on the subject in March 2013. There is also an  ‘Anti-motorism’ Facebook group which describes itself as ‘a resource for those interested in recovering from the addiction to the automobile. There are alternatives‘. This Cambridge blog has also picked up the theme.

I suggest that it might be worth exploring if it is appropriate to think of motorism as another ‘ism’ like racism, classism, sexism etc, possibly with institutional, and internalised elements.

So.. what is motorism here in the UK?

Motorism is…

Where an average of 25% of vehicles, rising to 60% in dense urban areas, are left on the highway over-night even though there is ‘no legal right for anyone to park on a public road or outside their property‘.

Where motorists vigorously defend their right to park on the highway for free. By way of example, Philip Green responded to a proposal from Westminster Council who dared to suggest charging for parking in the borough saying ‘people who come to London know they have got to find a place to park. Charging people on a Sunday is just outrageous behaviour‘.

Where motorists are allowed park on pavements if ‘they have to’, even if this results in pedestrians having little on no space to walk and even if it is illegal. Are there parallels with the way that black people ‘had to move’ to make enough space for white people to sit down on the buses in Montgommery? (black people had to stay behind a movable ‘whites only’ sign which was moved back at busy to make enough space for any white people to sit). See ‘I did not want to be mistreated’.

Where respected broadcasters fail to even recognise that pedestrians exist, as with the BBC’s documentary, ‘ending all fatalities from car crashes‘, which was in fact only about ending deaths of vehicle occupants. It was previewed on their website in an article that talked of a ‘motoring miracle’ with ‘fatal smashes eliminated’. Unfortunately, it failed to mention non-car occupants, fatalities of non-car occupants, anything to make it safer for non-car occupants or indeed even that pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists exist at all.

Where vehicles with ‘dire’ rating for pedestrian safety are still allowed to be sold and driven in urban areas. The Range Rover, Jaguar X-type and Vauxhall Frontera all scored only 6% for pedestrian safety back in 2002, but are still being sold and used. Even the AA, RAC and DfT say the situation is unacceptable.

Where motorists routinely drive past children at speeds where they would almost certainly kill or permanently maim a child who unexpectedly step off the pavement confidence in the knowledge that they would not be held liable unless it was proven in court that they were. Strict Liability would reverse the burden of proof, and in the case of the death of a child the motorist would always be held liable. See ‘Danger from the strangers behind the wheel‘ from the New Statesman.

Where 44% of motorists believe that they ‘own’ the road outside their house.

Where major retail companies roll out a new home-delivery services that require their drivers to break the law dozens of times a day. Tesco for one assured me on the phone that they expect all their drivers to obey all laws while in their employment, but then totally ignore all my evidence that their staff are routinely driving on the pavement virtually every time they make a delivery. They clearly need help!

Where the police refuse to use laws that could easily be used to discourage pavement parking saying that it is not in the public interest to do so.

Where the police have a policy of allowing vehicles to travel very significantly higher that the speed limit without risk of prosecution (+10% + 2mph), meaning that motorists can confidently do 35mph in a 30 limit and 46mph in a 40 limit.

Where the police have explained to parliament that they ‘don’t enforce 20 mph speed limits‘.

Where commercial vehicles are fitted with mandatory speed limiters, but cars are not. However.. I have just noticed that the EU is evidently now proposing that just such speed limiters should be fitted to cars. Needless to say our Transport Minister ‘erupted’ when the proposals landed on his desk and he has told his officials to block the move!

Where school-child are expected to walk along the side of rural roads with no pavements, where speed limits are set at 60 mph.

Where a father is threatened with arrest for driving behind his son who wants to walk to school along such a road, rather than insist that motorists drive in a legal and safe manner. See ‘Archie wants to walk to school’.

Where the police tell parents that a children’s a jumper used as a goal-post is an causing an obstruction in the road, but then ignore vehicles parked on the pavement in the same road.

Where councils act to remove items such as rocks, DIY bollards used by residents to stop drivers parking on verges outside their houses on the grounds that it is an ‘offence to place unlawful items on the public highway‘, but ignore the fact that on the same page the same council explains that motorists have no legal right to park vehicles anywhere on the highway in the first place!

Where a law to ban pavement parking received Royal Assent in 1974, was not enabled for 37 years, before being dumped!

Where road-works signs, used  to inform motorists of diversions or obstructions, are left across the pavement where they obstruct pedestrians  and no one even seems to notice the irony.

Where a blind man is arrested and locking-up for threatening to let down the car-tyres of some of the vehicles in desperation, having failed to get the local police to deal with the vehicles which regularly obstruct the pavement.

Where a bicycle parked on an unusable pavement outside a London hotel is treated as a ‘health and safety risk’ but three Range Rovers, also up on the pavement, outside the same hotel are not!

Where motorists intimidate or threaten violence towards those employed to enforce the law. See ‘Parents stone traffic wardens‘ for an extreme example of this.

Where motorists consider it to be a mandatory courtesy towards other motorists to park with two wheels up on the pavement, without any consideration of the inconvenience this causes the pedestrians, even when there would be no inconvenience to other motorists if they parked on the road.

Where motorists are genuinely amazed and affronted if someone challenges them for driving onto or parking on the pavement, but then feel that it is completely acceptable for them complain about cyclists riding on the pavement.

Where motorists intimidate pedestrians who dare to attempt to walk in the road to get past parked cars blocking the pavement.

Where enough motorists will respond rudely, abusively, or violently to any pedestrian who challenges any aspect of motorism.

Where policy-makers confuse the terms ‘traffic’ and ‘cars’ implying that all road-users are motorists.

Where motorists believe that they have more rights to road-space that other road users because ‘they pay road-tax’ (they don’t, its called Vehicle excise duty or vehicle tax, road-tax disappeared in 1937).

Where drivers drive along pavements to pass other traffic rather than wait for a gap on roads where parking makes it impossible for vehicles to pass each other on the carriageway.

Where governments proposes to ban councils from using CCTV technology to enforce parking regulations, insisting that regulations should only use expensive, and less effective patrols.

Where motorists use the speed or size of their vehicles to intimidate other road users.

Where pedestrians are a risk of charged with criminal damage should they scratch or damage a vehicle parked up on the pavement while trying to get past, not that it stops many pedestrians doing just that it seems.

Where pedestrians passively accept all of the above as being either totally normal and something that is unchallengeable.

Any more? Do please make suggestions in the comments section and I will add them.

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