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Colas “We place the highest importance on safety”

17 Aug

I spotted this highway maintenance vehicle across the pavement today making it almost impossible for a group of pedestrians with young children to get past. I also noticed that their website saysWe place the highest importance on safety” and thatThe safety of the general public, clients and our own people is our top priority“. A workman nearby used the classic excuse ‘what about the cars – they are breaking the law as well’. In fairness the guy worked for another company and quickly got on the phone to get the vehicle moved and it was gone within 10 minutes. No excuse for it being there in the first place though.

For their benefit, here are the relevant rules for heavy good vehicles (Road Traffic Act 1988 section 19 and 20). Parking a heavy commercial vehicle on pavements is an offense except where “the vehicle was parked on the verge of a road or on a footway for the purpose of loading or unloading, and (b) that the loading or unloading of the vehicle could not have been satisfactorily performed if it had not been parked on the footway or verge, and (c) that the vehicle was not left unattended at any time while it was so parked“. This vehicle was unattended, there was space on the carriageway and it had been there for at least 30 minutes. It would be great if this law had been extended to all vehicles, but it has not been. I am dropping an email to the main contact for local authority work at the company to ask him to remind his staff of this law.

Colas vehicle illegally parked on the pavement

Absolutely no reason not to be parked on the carriageway

Update

I also noticed that one of Carillion’s signs for the works was leaving only 680mm for pedestrians which is less that the one metre which is required by law (Traffic Signs Manual chapter 8 clause D4.4.1). The guy I spoke to used the rather lame excuse that “we thought it was 1 metre” but said that it would be gone within 30 minutes anyway which seemed reasonable to me. At least he knew if should be one metre. He did explain that if they put it on the carriageway then they would get blamed by motorists who then hit it! Whatever the reasoning, it is great to have some laws on our side for some of this and it is well worth complaining.

Sign illegally leaving less than 1 metre for pedestrians

Illegal signage on a dangerous road

12 Aug

I discovered recently that all signage left on the footway must leave at least 1 meter clear at the side, preferably 1.5 meters; the actual wording is “in no circumstances must the width of the footway be reduced to less than 1m, preferably not less than 1.5m” (Traffic Signs Manual chapter 8 clause D4.4.1). The sign in the picture below leaves a minimal 600mm beside a very busy and dangerous road. On a positive note, I found the Palmer Group, who put the signs there, very helpful when I phoned them and they said they would sort is ‘asap’. Given the narrow pavement and the big sign I will be interested to see what they do! Update: They moved the sign to a very suitable place within 12 hours. Great work and thanks… but next time please don’t wait to be asked!

Illegal signage – less than 1 meter available for pedestrians

I have also just produced a causality map for the area in question showing where people have been killed and injured by cars in the area over the past 25 years. Two people have been killed in that time (the two red dots), 12 people have been seriously injured (the 12 purple dots) and there have been many slight injuries reported to the police (blue dots).

Foxhall road casualties map

Possible £1,000 fine for moving traffic signage

3 Aug

A few weeks ago I came across yet another sign that had been placed needlessly on a pavement. I asked the workmen to move it into the coned-off layby. They told me that they couldn’t move it because it had been put there by a subcontractor and that it would be illegal for them or me to move it. To be honest I didn’t believe them and moved it anyway. I have since spotted the law they were referring to which states: “If a person without lawful authority or excuse—(a) takes down, alters or removes any fence, barrier, traffic sign or light erected or placed in pursuance of subsection (1) or (2) above, or (b) extinguishes a light so placed, he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.” New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (section 65). Level 3 on the standard scale is currently £1,000! Here is the sign before and after I committed the offense!

The road sign placed needlessly across the pavement over the textured pavement

The same sign moved so that it will  cause no obstruction to anyone

I did however also spot one useful clause in the official manual which tells contractors where to place all their cones and signs which states very clearly that “in no circumstances must the width of the footway be reduced to less than 1m, preferably not less than 1.5m” (chapter 8 clause D4.4.1). I will continue to move signs where this rule is being broken but will probably refrain from moving signs otherwise in future!

Diversion starts, thanks to Trek Highway Services Ltd

18 Jul

The sign says ‘diversion ends’, however for pedestrians the diversion onto the road in Ipswich to get round the signage and the vehicle is just starting. Putting signs across the pavement like this is thoughtless and unnecessary, and there are plenty of other ones in the area as you can see below. We can thank Trek Highway services Ltd this time.

Diversion ‘starts’ for pedestrians who now have to go into the road

I clearer some of the stuff away to allow pedestrians to get past. It then looked like this:

That’s better! Pedestrians can get through now

Here are a whole bunch of thoughtlessly placed signs in the area:

Possibly the sign should read ‘Pavement blocked’

Make it big so motorists can read it. Just tough for pedestrians really

Let’s put this sign right across the pavement!

Here is a better position for the sign

‘Trek highway services Ltd 01842 821991’

Re-deploying useless road signage

25 Jun

This morning I came across a couple of ‘pedestrians this way’ signs back to back that were performing no useful function and decided to move them to where they would at least warn pedestrians of cars obstructing the pavement.

‘Pedestrians this way’ signs getting in the way

Warning pedestrians of a car obstructing the pavement

A ‘pedestrians this way’ sign doing some good this time

I also came across and number of abandoned ‘no road markings’ signs. Given that there were a lot of very clear new road markings on the carriageway and that most of the signs had collapsed and were now lying flat across the pavement I moved them out of the way or put them somewhere sensible as appropriate.

This one is at least still standing

Ouch! imaging falling over that one.

Yes there are road markings!

On Nacton Road this time

On Ransomes Way

While re-deploying one of the ‘pedestrians this way’ signs I was challenged by a resident who said it was illegal to move signage and that he was going to phone the police. When I took out my camera to record the situation as evidence he said it was also illegal to take photos! Neither of these are illegal to my knowledge; he did however refuse to enter into a discussion about whether one of the cars beside which I had placed a sign had broken the law. It had: (Highway Code rule 145). I now need to wait to see if I get another visit from the police. If I do get a visit I will challenge as to what law I have broken and also about why they are no spending their time more usefully keeping the pavements safe for pedestrians. I will also remind them of their duty to act without ‘favour of malice’ and ask if they have even spoken to the person who still parks his Jaguar illegally obstructing local raised school crossing despite my regular reports of the problem.

Jaguar still parking on the raised crossing outside the school

I also moved a bunch of wheelie bins off the pavement any into people’s front gardens but that is another story.

Please find alternative parking…

25 Mar

It is amazing how far pavement parking has permeated British culture. I spotted this sign yesterday which put a smile on my face. Is it saying ‘please get off the pavement that you broke for long enough for us to fix it so that you can carry on parking there‘ or is it saying ‘please don’t park on the road next to the pavement because we need unimpeded access to the pavement‘? Clearly it isn’t doing much good whatever it means as there are still cars all over the pavement.

Please find alternative parking…

Needless to say, the sign is blocking most of the pavement leaving only 950mm for pedestrians so as not to impede the more important vehicular ‘traffic’. I moved it out into the road far enough for wheelchair users and buggies to get past more easily.

A curious passer-by asked what I was doing. When I explained she told me that she worked for highways at the borough council and confirmed that pavement parking was a big, expensive and messy problem for them.

Getting the attention of MPs

23 Jan

On Friday I have a meeting with my local MP, Ben Gummer,where I made a presentation of the issues and their urgency and was pleased to get his support. He offered to provide a link to the campaign from his new website when it goes live in a ‘few weeks’ and to also draw it to the attention of Norman Baker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport with responsibility for ‘sustainable travel’. All good stuff.

As it happened, Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge was pressing Terrasa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport in on the issue of pavement parking in the Commons on the same day saying: “Could the law be adjusted so that the presence of a vehicle in a cycle path or on a footway be taken as evidence that it was driven there, rather than appearing magically, as seems to be assumed at the moment”. Unfortunately Villiers failed to acknowledge or respond to the request. This problem isn’t going to get fixed over night!

DPD Express Parcels demonstrated the issue to be convincingly outside my MP’s office by parking diagonally across the pavement for no reason and then trying to justify it.

DPD express parcel delivery across the pavement outside my MP’s office

And then as I left I came across this nice pair of signs positioned to cause as much trouble as possible including a road works sign which maintenance companies are apparently required to leave across the pavement.

Why obstruct the pavement with warning signs!