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Customers – please stay at home!

11 Feb

We read a lot about how local shops need good convenient free nearby car-parking and how out-of-town shopping and internet shopping are creating difficulties for the high street.

So let’s see how one section of high-street is managing to attract customers in this cold weather we are having. Fyi, it snowed 6″ a week ago and hasn’t done so again at all since then. If the shop-owners had cleared it on the first day they would have had a clear pedestrian approach all week.

My story takes place along this row on shops is on the south side of Felixstowe Road at the junction with Derby Road in Ipswich (See it on Google streetview). Being on the south side does of course mean that they have had no sun on the pavements to help clear them. You should also be aware that the legal footway  stops in front of the post-box and telephone box. The land behind is private property and the shop-keepers can do what they like with. The footway should be keep clear for pedestrians, however they are would probably get more custom by attracting people to walk past their doors. Interestingly, they could also be legally liable for anyone who slip over while coming to their shops which is not something that I think they have considered. Here is the street scene back when it was warm when the Google Streetview car came through town.

Street-scene back when it was warm (and the pavements were clear)

This first picture taking today shows the bed-shop van parked as normal on the area outside the bed-shop (on private property) with sheet ice on the pavement where people have to walk.

Nice crossing, shame about the sheet-ice – nice van!

Here is a close up of the ice on the crossing by the van. Lots of money spent by the council on blister paving and bollards, but not effort from the locals to keep it usable this week.

Trying getting across there! Why doesn’t a shop-keeper sort this?

Here is a view from the other direction, the diagonal black car was ‘only going to be 2 minutes’. The other back car it probably partly partially obstructing the footway.

Nice ice sheet and nice wheels.

A little further along and there is the sign for the hair-dresser out across where people are walking (which is private property as the owner reminded me). I spoke to her because she had objected to my bike leaning against her shop and came out and moved it!

Shop owner explained that pedestrians should go to the left of the letter box

What is a shame really that she someone didn’t come out a bit earlier and stop this driver from blocking the pavement on the zigzags of a toucan crossing with his large van. The driver explained to me that he had ‘only been two minutes’ and wasn’t interested at all.

Van blocking view to toucan crossing – not concerned at all!

Finally, and a little further down the road we come to the Red Cross shop. Nope, they hadn’t cleared their forecourt at all, it is partly clear only because a car happened to be parked on the spot over the night when it snowed. They gave various reasons for not clearing both their forecourt and also the pavement, which included 1) we don’t have a shovel 2) we would have to buy salt 3) we tried but it was too hard 4) We would be liable if we touched it (wrong) etc etc. What is sad of course is that another division of the red-cross, for whom my wife works as it happens, is dealing with all the old folk coming into hospital who have fallen over on the ice this week. (Stop Press: see below…)

Red-cross – nope, they didn’t clear the snow – the clear bit was where a car was parked!

So there you have it. Yes – a few people are able to park really close to where they are going and can then slither along like everyone else when trying to actually get to their destination. But.. no, it is not attractive and I can’t believe that there has not been a shop-keeper or shop-assistant who would not have been able to find time this week to clear it.


OK, so I passed by again this afternoon. A new car had blocked the pavement joining the advertising signs, However the Red Cross shop had obviously had a re-think and cleared their access which is progress!

Another car blocks the footway

Red Cross clear their forecourt. A success!

Attacking the A40 bus lane in High Wycombe

17 Oct

Having abolished the M4 bus lane some hard-line motorists are now gunning for getting rid of bus lanes and are regretably even getting the support of local papers. A great example of this sort of thing is the campaign to get rid of the bus lane along the A40 into High Wycombe is now being championed by the Bucks Free Press who have created a ‘ban the bus lane’ petition to support their ’cause’.

The advocates of removing the bus lane say that it is dangerous and slows motorists – the council patiently explains that removing the bus lane will not increase the number of vehicles able to get into the town and will only result in slower journeys because of bus passengers switching to cars. The bus company point out that the lane is well used by buses and that they are about to increase the level of service with new buses.

Here are some maps showing what is going on (all taken from official data). The first one shows bus service frequency on roads in the area (yellow most frequent) and confirms that there are many bus services along the A40 from Loudwater in the bottomm right of the map into High Wycombe at the top left. The second one shows traffic counts and traffic mix in the area in 2008 – the small yellow dot on the A40 towards the bottom right indicates that over 85% of the vehicles using that road are private cars or taxis. This confirms that the problem of congestion on the road is from cars not buses!

Bus service frequency on A40 into High Wycombe

Traffic counts and traffic mix around High Wycombe

One of the reasons given for removing the bus lane is because ‘it is an accident waiting to happen’. Here are the actually accident results since 1985 on the road (big red dots a pedestrian fatality, small red dot a pedestrian serious injury, big blue dot for a driver fatality and a small blue dot for a driver serious injury). There have regrettably been six of pedestrian fatalities and two driver fatalities and also a number of driver serious injuries (how fast do you have to be traveling in a car in an urban area to have a serious injury I wonder)! Possibly this is a good reason to slower well-enforced speed limits rather than the removal of a bus lane?

The final map shows where the schools are and where the kids live. As you can see most of the kids have to cross the A40 road to get to school each day.

Fatalities and serious injuries on the A40 approach to High Wycombe

The location of school and school-age kids to the SE of High Wycombe

All maps produced by the pre-release version of ITO Map. Base mapping OpenStreetMap and contributors. All maps cc-by-sa 3.0.

Ig nobel peace award to car crushing mayor!

30 Sep

Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania has been awarded an Ig Nobel peace prize for demonstrating how the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by destroying them with a military tank.

Ig Nobel Peace prize 2011

For those who missed it, here is the stunt that led to the award.

Is this just a bit of fun? Personally I think it is another signal that people all around the worlds are getting impatient with the private car. Attitudes are changing. I am reminded that Ken Livingston was given an award for ‘policy innovation’ by Scientific American in 2003 after he introduced the congestion charge to London.

Anyone who thinks the private car is secure in out cities should take notice of what William Clay Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford and the current executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company is thinking. In 2000 at a Greenpeace business conference in London he said that “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” and went on to explain how Ford would reposition itself as a ‘purveyor of mobility’ and would own the vehicles and make them available to people when they need access to them. Ford, good to their word recently went into partnership with Zipcar offering cars on American university campuses for hire by the hour.

Young men and fast cars – a thing of the past?

28 Aug

Exploring the idea of ‘peak car‘ a little further, here is a chart showing the percentage of people with full driving licences by age and how this has changed over time. It seems that driving is morphing from something that younger people do to one that older people do and from a male thing to a much more gender-neutral thing. Notice how the percentage of 17-20 and 20-30 year olds has fallen since the mid 1990s and how the number of 50-60, 60-70 and 70+ year olds has been rising steadily; the percentage of people 60-70 year olds overtook the percentage of 20-30 year olds in 2001 and the 70+ year olds are about to do the same.

The two smaller charts break this data down by gender. The percentage of 70+ men overtook 20-30 men in about 2003. The percentage of women with driving licenses grew fast from a much lower base in 1975 getting much closer to parity with men over time. The recent decline in licences held by younger women has been less pronounced than for younger men. Source data from the Department for Transport.

Regional trends in car owership

26 Aug

Here are an interesting set of charts created from data published by the DfT showing car ownership levels in each of 11 areas making up GB (the nine English regions together with Scotland and Wales). These figures have been adjusted to changing populations within each region. What is interesting is to see how some areas with high ownership levels already are continuing to add more every year (South East and South West for example),but that levels are much more stable in the East of England and West Midlands with percentages decreasing significantly in London and in the North West. Is this an effect of the recession, of regional economic issues or ‘peak car‘? I suspect that all of these issues are relevant to different degrees in different places. The total increase in registered vehicles in the period 2000 and 2010 for Great Britain was an impressive 4,015,328 units or of which have had to go somewhere, mainly in the south it seems.

Car ownership levels 2000-2010


I have updated the above chart to include population changes within the period using this data.

The tragedy of the commons, regulatory capture and negative externalities

4 May

It occurred to me yesterday that roads can be thought of as a form of common land in that they are a shared resource available to individuals to perform a range of agreed activities. If it is common land then one can consider if the ‘the tragedy of the commons‘ is applicable which is defined in Wikipedia as being where ‘multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource’.

Another useful term is ‘creep’, which can be used to describe the changes over time that can take place in norms, habits, and regulation. It seems to me that we have had both formal ‘regulatory creep’, for example the banning of football on the highway by the Highway Act 1835 and also informal ‘social’ creep; for example the general acceptance that the highway should be available for the storage of some very particular items of private property (notably cars and more recently wheelie-bins).

If one accepts that there has been creep then one can consider if there has been a degree of ‘regulatory capture’ which Wikipedia describes as follows: ‘capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for large firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called “captured agencies“. Yes, I do think it is fair to describe the police, local authorities and the courts as partially ‘captured agencies’.

So… what does this mean for this campaign? I think it provides a useful set of terms to use in debates with also provides some clues and historical examples of what we will need to do to get our public space back! Finally… here is a picture of a cow on a road for no particular reason other than it is proof that the motorist does not always have to have priority!

Beware, cows on the road – © Copyright Steve F ccbysa

Search terms and page views

27 Feb

Here are the search terms that people used who ended up at Pedestrian Liberation over the past 7 days with the count of the number of times for each term. I did indeed mention the remarkable  Michigan Theater in Detroit, which is now a multi-story rococo car park at the end of a post on ‘Disaster car parks’.

Last week the blog had 700 page views and the best week was two weeks ago when it received 1,100. The total views since it was created is 11,000 and views are generally increasing as long as I keep post new stuff.

Take a look at what people type into search engines. The strangest search term was ‘why would heron house compliance manager in cardiff want to see me’! Sorry, but I haven’t a clue and I don’t think the blog will help either.

Search terms as logged by WordPress:

michigan theater detroit    3
pedestrian liberation    3
pavement parking    2
situation of conflict for children pedestrian    2
flickr michigan theatre    2
garden leaflet    2
is it illegal to park on the footway    2
traffic near school    2
road works signs layout    2
parcel delivery scheme    2
detroit car park theatre    2
pavement parking bays    2
go express logistics    2
section 148 of the highways act 1980 – removal of dangerous deposits    2
people walking in snow    2
pavement parking new laws    2
drop curb at pedestrian crossing    2
car park low on the ground    2
norman baker parking on verges    2
disability discrimination acts obstructing a pavement    2
police use facebook    1
pedestrian pupil    1
is it illegal to park on the pavement?    1
boy knocked down muller rd bristol febuary 2011    1
documentary safety measures while walking    1
apc overnight vehicles    1
highway obstruction    1
michigan theater parking garage    1
effective pedestrian campaign    1
norman baker pavement parking    1
norman baker on traffic issues in villages    1
car parking    1
dropped kerbs    1
car parked across footpath accident    1
why schools should have crossings?    1
controllong parents parking schools    1
dangers of parking    1
good bbc documentaries    1
nagy v wetson    1
cash cow pics    1
work blocking pavement pedestrians    1
mumsnet parking live near school    1
pavement facebook    1
speeding in car parks near hit a pedestrian    1
work obstruction pavement pedestrians    1
what type of vans do dpd lease    1
parking obstruction    1
damaged pavement    1
laid on wheel paths    1
maps biased    1
cash cow    1
highway obstruction cars on the pavement    1
pavement parking 1974 legislation    1
school crossing patrol suffolk    1
car parking on footpaths regulations    1
bbc pedestrian safety    1
angela bywaters living    1
pedestrian crossing kerb photos    1
how can pedestrians protect themselves from car accidents    1    1
dropped kerb    1
is it unjust to watch a pedestrian get hurt    1
zig zag lines    1
roman signer    1
when your child has a near miss on the road    1
bbc car safety    1
there was nothing to be done    1
driving faster pedestrians less likely to cross    1
england zigzag lines    1
pedestrian    1
unreasonably obstructing the path of pedestrians    1
new law parking on pavement news    1
pavement block    1
can the body of my car overhang zig zags at a zebra crossing    1
can i park a large vehicle in my driveway in west yorkshire    1
defective pavement obstruction exposed pavement    1
can you park on a pavement according to the highway code    1
tight parking    1
what can pedestrians and cyclist do to protect themselves from being involve in an accident    1
can you park on the pavement    1
can you park on pavement if you do not block it    1
ipswich parcelforce complaint    1
why would heron house compliance manager in cardiff want to see me    1
(a) the driver of a car driving at a fast speed hits a pedestrian who had just stepped down from the footpath to cross the road. is the driver liable?    1
what do english stores look like    1
petition letter for illegal parking samples    1
i am sick of people using my customer car park    1
thank you parking    1
bad leadership images    1
can i block small part of dropped curb    1
parking with one wheel or more on a urban road    1
health and safety why are drivers allowed to park on pavements?    1
pedestrian liberation front    1
what happens if i bump into a parked car on the pavement.    1
obstruction sign    1
have school crossing patrol officers been saved from closure in northamptonshire    1
uk council new powers to tackle parking on pavements    1
parking commercial vehicle on drive and covering pavement    1
pedestrain freedom    1
pediestria liberation ipswich parcelfoce    1
successful pedestrian campaigns    1
do the police use facebook    1
bbc documentary millions of people die in car crash, humans are in love with cars, road safety    1
are you allowed to blockpave highways    1
government set to fine drivers for parking on pavement    1
overnight apc    1
car street diagram    1
are the ploice alloed to park on the pavemebt    1
parking on payvaement dotted lines    1
england street zig zag line    1
roadworks vehicles from above    1
what have cars done that minimize damage to pedestrians    1
handicapped bad parking    1
how many kids drive to school    1
motorists who shout at pedestrians    1
car crash documentary    1
roman signer – engpass    1
wheelie bin in walkway in workshop obstruction    1
bbc safety    1
hamptonshire police car    1
buildiing more parking will    1
man running with parcel    1
should you park wholly or partly on a pavement and why    1
child rain puddle