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When the law is optional….

5 Apr

I promised to post a photo showing how carefully these socially-minded fitters from Express Glass had created a safe route for pedestrians around their vehicle when while they fitted a heavy plate-glass window to this shop in central Ipswich. They seemed surprised when I said that I found this level of consideration and awareness of the law and the Highway Code unusual.

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Many other businesses who should know better seem to see what they can get away with… 24 hours earlier I had spotted fitters from another glass company, who were installing a window in our local MP’s office, and who didn’t seem to have gone to any great effort to accommodate the needs of pedestrians. Possibly the staff in Ben Gummer’s office could have said something?

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And this was not a one-off, here are another set of workmen with a large vehicle up on the pavement outside his office.

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Needless to say, it is MPs who create the laws, and people who break the laws may end up being taken to court in one of these vans. It does seem a bit ironic then that Serco park up on the pavement outside the back of Ipswich Magistrates’ Court on double-yellows in a no-loading zone. They do this regularly, and the receptionist explained that traffic warden has given them permission to do it. Doesn’t exactly send a good message to wrong-doers does it!

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And of course yellow Lines don’t just appear by magic, they need to be painted onto the road by people who drive heavy lorries like this ones. Seems ironic then that they have chosen to park it up on the pavement across a cycle lane on a section of double yellows in a no-loading zone. Possibly they shouldn’t bother painting them at all?

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Speaking of double yellow lines, privatized of the Royal Mail by our MPs has regrettably not stopped their staff from blocking pavements on a regular basis. In this picture we have not one, but two Royal Mail vans blocking the same pavement which takes some skill! When I ask them to not do this, they typically point to the royal crest and say that they are on queen’s business. Needless to say, they no longer serve the queen, and unfortunately I can’t see anything much that is ‘royal’ about them any more.

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Privatisation of mail delivery was of course designed to create competition which is good and drives down prices and gives choice. One unfortunate expression of this competitions seems to be for these companies to attempt to deliver fastest with fewer drivers in larger vehicles (where did postman Pat and his bike go?) and explore which laws can be ignored in pursuit of profit. Here is a very large TN lorry up on the pavement on yellow lines in a busy city-centre street.

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And it’s not just TNT – here are UPS delivering to an address in the same street, one which happens be a major pedestrian route between the town centre and the waterfront. Notice the muddle of people trying to pass each other on the bit of remaining pavement. This particular driver appears however to take pleasure in ignoring all requests to be more considerate, and has reassured me that ‘he has never got a ticket’.

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Needless to say, police forces are not always that keen on enforcing the law, as in this famous case where the police in Bristol apparently deemed that this car, parked fully across the pavement on a bend was not causing an obstruction!

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

What really worries me however, is when I saw this milkman parking up on pavements on double yellows just as kids are on their way to school. He evidently choose to avoid the hassle of driving all the way into the free car park visible in the left of the picture because it was more convenient for him to simply dump his vehicle on the pavement.

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All of the above seems to confirm that authority has no great interest in pedestrians and their needs. The people who make the laws don’t seem to be too worried about them, nor are the people paid to implement the related regulations, nor are those employed to deal with people who break the other law interested in obeying them. Creating a competitive market for deliveries in these conditions only increases the chaos, where competing companies are incentivised, indeed almost compelled, to see which laws are optional in pursuit of greater profits!

 

To be continued….

 

A double decker bus up on the pavement?!

12 Jul

Can you believe it; we now have a 20 tonne double-decker public service operating a school service being parked up on the pavement. Did the driver apologise and move the vehicle when requested to move by a reader of this blog? Err… no, in fact he evidently got pretty agitated about having the photograph being taken and has kept on doing it. What do the local enforcement guys and the DfT say? Well, err, only that there is nothing that they can do because is it a PSV, not an HGV you see. What I do know, is that the council will be paying for this school-bus service twice. Once to run the service and then again to repair the damage to the pavement caused by such a heavy vehicle. Possibly the council should just suggest that the company either behaves or loses their schools’ contract.

Umm. double decker up on the pavement!

Here is another view of the vehicle. Large isn’t it! We have disguised the operator’s name on the photos, and would request that if any bus expert reading this is able to identify the operator that they keep that information to themselves as we are trying a direct route to the management which should work based on what I know about the company. They will then hopefully have a quiet word with the driver and I think the problem will be fixed. If not then the vehicle will be back when school restarts in the Autumn and we will have to try something else.

Big isn’t it. Not doing a lot of good to the pavement either.

Welcome to Ipswich!

15 Mar

I am sorry to write such a direct post about my town, but I have being blogging on this subject for 18 months and during that time have had numerous conversations with just about everyone in authority locally, including the police, Councillors, council officers and my MP and absolutely nothing appears to have changed, if anything, a minority of motorists are getting even bolder and are parking further onto the pavement. During this time I have also become aware of the sheer number of different obstacles encountered in a small area. Do remember however that all is not lost, far from it. We are getting on the case and our job is to keep highlighting the issue in a way that the authorities can not keep ignoring and one day someone who is in a senior authority position will finally get enough courage and confidence to grab the issue and deal with it effectively.

There are many examples of where issues have suddenly been addressed after years of neglect. I believe that for years the French authorities accepted much higher levels of road deaths than occurred in the UK, until the son of the minister of transport? was killed in a traffic collision, Since that event the authorities have been having considerable success with a campaign to bring the figures down (I can’t now find a reference to this – can anyone confirm it). The French are currently introducing numerous additional road safety initiatives and produce particularly hard hitting information campaigns. It is also encouraging how cyclist safety has finally been getting very powerful media support from new sources, notably from The Times. The next step for this campaign might be when a major national newspaper to takes up the pedestrian cause in a big way with clear campaign demands.

Until something changes we need to continue to bring pressure and information to those in power who will one day realise that they just have to address it and that there is considerable support from people to address it. Until then I will continue to draw attention to the issue. To that end, here are a few examples of what pedestrians around my area have had to put up over the past 48 hours!

First off, there is the Tesco delivery truck this morning. The driver said that he had received no guidance at all on where it was acceptable to park and where it wasn’t (not that I believe that really, possibly it is more a matter of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell‘). The driver was parked so far up onto the pavement today that I could hardly get past at all without being scratched by the prickly hedge; the local guy in his wheel-chair would have no chance. As usual there was a space for the driver to park on the other side of the road, but that would have increased his drop-off time by, ohhh, possibly at least a minute and we all know that for Tesco ‘every penny counts’!

Tesco delivery - no space between van and prickly hedge

Tesco delivery – no space between van and prickly hedge

Next up, we have a delightful combination of bin day and road works. The road signs from May Guerney do at least leave the legally required 1m clearance this time, but unfortunately they create a chicane for pedestrians when combined with the bins that have been left scattered as usual across the pavement by the council making it impossible for my wheelchair-bound neighbour to use the pavement. Possibly he should just stay at home on bin-day? Or possibly the council should instruct their staff to return bins onto drive-ways where they are available and road-works signs should only be used where they are actually required for safety reasons!

Bin day and road works. No chance after council have littered pavements with bins!

So now we move the the next street where the bin collectors have left the bins neatly scattered across the pavement next to the cars which was also oh-so-elegantly up on the pavement making the pavement completely unusable. The bin-collector I spoke to was unapologetic and indicate that he was completely happy with how they had been left. His parting comment was ‘it is a kerb-side collection, not a garden collection’ which was clever of him! As regular readers will know I have been banging on to the local council about their bin collection policies for months now with no apparent effect.

Bins left on pavement by council and cars on pavement. No chance!

More bins and another car up on the pavement

Finally, we have a new ‘dropped pavement’ being constructed nearby. The council refer to them as ‘dropped kerbs’, but using the current design they lower the pavement on a slope across the whole width of the pavement. I have previously requested that they keep the majority of the pavement level as they used to in the past.

A new dropped-pavement being constructed – more sloping pavement to deal with.

And here is the result. And to illustrate the slope, I place the football at the curtilage (where the pavement joins the property) and watched it roll across the ‘pavement’ into the carriageway before settling in the gutter. Not helpful for wheelchair and buggy users. Do also notice the road-works sign (see below).

Sloping ‘pavement’, ball rolls into road

Finally, just past this dropped kerb I came across a road-works sign left illegally with less than legal minimum 1m space required for pedestrians. Given that I had discussed this issue with the person from the Nation Grid Gas only yesterday, and given that the road-works were highly visible, I have now removed the sign into safe keeping joining the sign from Mervyn Lambert which has still not been collected incidentally. As usual I will now email their marketing people and let them know that they can come and collect it from me.

Illegally positioned sign by the National Grid

Update

Almost at the exact moment that I pressed ‘post’ on this blog post my MP, Ben Gummer, contacted me indicating that he was going to work on the issue and was on-side. Very good news.

On a more irritating note I jumped through a bunch of not very clear hoops to get an email address for National Grid Gas from their website, but when I sent my email to that address I was told that it was no longer valid – at least they had the decency to automatically forward to the new addrress. They do also seem to be having a bit of bother with the word ‘correspondence’. “This email address is no longer valid. Your email has been forwarded to the correct address of Northampton.enquiries@uk.ngrid.com. Please use this as the correspondance address for future reference.

On excursion – pavement parking Ha Noi style

9 Mar

This blog is very much about highlighting the need for action on pavement parking issues in the UK, however the Google alert I have set up for ‘pavement parking’ has been throwing up various article about a saga playing out in Ha Noi, Vietnam at present.

The current situation was summed up by one recent visitor who said: ‘Hanoi has great pavements, but they are useless as they are full of motorbikes‘ and the newspaper article announcing the ban this February explains: ‘The ban was brought in to try and ease traffic chaos and create more rooms for pedestrians, who are forced to climb over vehicles or walk on the roads to avoid parked vehicles‘.

When reading the article it becomes clear that there is also a well developed system of charging people to use these pavement ‘parking lots’: ‘One worker named Huong at a parking lot run by Hanh Ly Trading and Service Co Ltd in Nguyen Xi Street told the Viet Nam News she knew about the ban, but the local authority had issued no notices. Le Ngoc Anh, a resident in the Old Quarter’s Hang Chieu Street, said the ban should be carried out immediately as parking lots in the Old Quarters usually occupied all the pavements and encroached on the roads.

I like the way the article goes on to talk about people driving ‘huge slow cars’ with one occupant: ‘Ha Noi is home to about 3.8 millions of motorbikes and almost 400,000 huge, slow moving cars that often carried a single passenger. Among them, about 184,000 cars and 2.3 millions motorbikes are operating in inner city.‘ The population of the Metropolitan Area is 6.5 million so over half of the population appear to have a motorbike and under 10% have a car.

However…. there was clearly been a bit of a political backlash, and Vietnam News reported today that the ban is to be ‘eased’ stating that ‘Ha Noi has approved a Transport Department proposal to lift the ban on parking by all vehicles on the pavements of some streets in the inner city to meet the overwhelming demand for parking spaces‘. The article then explains that any parking: ‘would have to meet requirements including leaving at least 1.5 metres for pedestrians and not blocking the entire pavement‘. The 1.5 m bit sounds sensible, however if that is the case then why the need to say ‘not blocking the entire pavement‘ in the same sentence? Is there already an acceptance that the 1.5 meters is not going to be met?

In other parts of the city, however. there are moves to impose a ban on parking: ‘The HCM City People’s Committee has asked authorities in districts to take drastic measures to stop pavements being used for parking as well as for commercial purposes. Nguyen Trung Tin, deputy chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that districts should strictly impose fines so that pavements could remain clear. He asked that the city to revoke the licences of shops that used pavements for parking vehicles. “Each district had to impose a deadline for pavement clearance and ensure that deadlines were met,” Tin said.’

Finally, here are a couple of youtube clips of traffic in the city, not for the faint-hearted, but it seems to function in a crazy sort of way! You can see how the pavements are completely blocked by motorbikes at one point in the first video.

Encroachment, obstruction, interference and nuisance

17 Jan

Suffolk County council explain on their website, that they “have a duty to protect the public rights of passage on the road and footpath network”; also that they have a duty to ensure that roads are free from “danger, encroachments, interference, nuisance and obstructions” and that their officers “are sometimes required to deal with businesses and individuals who obstruct or otherwise interfere with the rights of the public to use the road.” OK, so why are they not ‘dealing’ with the owners of these vehicles (and bins) who are encroaching on the highway, creating danger and interfering with the rights of the public to use the road, and use the pavement in particular?

Almost onto private property, but not quite!

Encroaching on the pavement from both sides at once

Ouch. No chance of getting along here.

Bins everywhere but no action from the authorities

Encroaching from both sides

A Parcelforce van this time, optimism knows no bounds!

Same old story, big car, small hard-standing and a pincer movement

More big cars ‘stealing’ part of the highway

A nasty tow-hook on this one

The pavement is impassible and the dropped kerb has been broken up by the weight of vehicles

These two vans have claimed this pavement as their permanent parking space

I will ask the council and my MP, Ben Gummer about this and see what they have to say.

Pavement parking sorted :)

28 Dec

Well here’s an approach to pavement parking that will definitely get the attention of the police 🙂

 

A shared use path!

3 Dec

OK, I get it, so this is what is meant by the term ‘shared use path’, after all it would be so unfair if only pedestrians and cyclists were allowed them and motorists had to find somewhere else to park. And that grass; is that what Philip Hammond meant when he said that the government would ‘sweat our transport assets to get value for the taxpayer’?

Check out this Google Maps aerial view of the area in Bristol where the video was taken. Thank you SteveL for the tip off to the location (see comments section below).