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Ipswich Borough Council blocking pavements with roadworks signage

17 Oct

Ipswich Borough Council staff are disrupting pedestrians near to road works by leaving signs on pavement with only 800mm clearance (which is about the width of an external door to a house and less than the legally required 1 meter for road works signs). Only when pressed did they confirm that they knew the law about 1 meter clearance. Their justification was that they were concerned about the risk to motorists if the signs were further into the road – no concern at all that I heard about the risk to pedestrians and old people from leaving them on the pavement. I have reported this on fixmystreet which the council monitors and responds to.

Here are some photos of the signs in question. The good news is that there is a 100% clear rule that they are breaking in this case. No excuses about it being a ‘necessary obstruction’ or a ‘willful obstruction’. It is however a very clear example of the contempt that pedestrians are treated with and is, I am sure, repeated across the country. Incidentally I am still waiting for May Gurney to ask for their signs backwhich they left blocking a pavement over a week ago!

Only 800mm for pedestrians

Only 800mm for pedestrians

Making the pavement even narrower (less than the legal 1 meter as well)

Making the pavement even narrower (less than the legal 1 meter as well)

Blocking the pavement illegally and useless due to parked car!

Blocking the pavement illegally and useless due to parked car!

Damaged sign, no sandbag, on pavment across dropped kerb by local shop

Vehicle sign blocks access to pedestrian walkway for disabled


The following day all consideration of pedestrians had disappeared.

No consideration for pedestrians at all the next day

Where do people die on urban roads?

30 Sep

Caroline Russell from Islington Living Streets left a comment on my last post highlighting the fact that people get killed and seriously injured on artery roads, not on the residential roads where 20 mph speed limits are to be promoted by the government. Personally I think 20 mph limit area for residential roads are great and reduce the level of intimidation or pedestrians, I live in one. I am however also aware that people do indeed get killed and seriously injured on the arterial roads. Here is a map showing all killed and seriously injured in the period 2000-2008 inclusive for part of Islington/Hackney showing that injuries and deaths do indeed occur on arterial roads.

Killed and Seriously injured – Islington and Hackney. 2000-2008

Here is a map for a larger area – notice how the arterial road network is visible even at this scale solely from the location of traffic casualties. click to open the image at full resolution.

Killed and Seriously injured – North London. 2000-2008

And here is one for most of north London. Again the arterial road network can be identified very easily. Click to open the image at full resolution.

Killed and seriously injured – Greater London. 2000-2008

Mapping using Stats19 police data for casualties, OpenStreetMap for the rail and rail networks and OS Boundary-Line for boundaries. Maps created using ITO Map (pre-release version). All maps cc-by-sa 3.0.

Making urban roads safer for pedestrians

29 Sep

Philip Hammond has explained today that he wants us to drive faster on motorways in order to create a ‘healthy economy‘, ‘generate hundreds of millions of pounds of economic benefit‘ and ‘put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies‘. This proposal was evidently resisted by the Health Secretary and the Energy Secretary for obvious reasons and the RAC Foundation estimates that driving 10 mph faster increases fuel use and CO2 emissions by more than 20%; the AA have reported that we are actually driving more slowly now in response to increased fuel costs. Hammond says it won’t increase road casualties – others disagree. I think this whole proposal is rather unhelpful and may well back-fire on the government. However…

My main interest here is on the needs of the pedestrian and Philip Hammond also promised a big expansion of 20 mph speed limit zones in urban areas where nearly all of the 403 pedestrian road fatalities, 5,000 serious injuries and 20,000 slight pedestrian injuries occurred during 2010; 42% of all road fatalities also occurred in urban areas. We need to continually remind people of the scale of the road safety problem in our country and press for these 20 mph limits in residential areas which have proved to be very effective.

Here are a couple of maps showing the scale of our road safety problem. The first map shows the locations of all pedestrian deaths (red dots), serious injuries (purple dots) and slight injuries (blue dots) on GB roads between 2000 and 2008; other road deaths and serious injuries are shown using lighter grey dots. The boundaries are parliamentary constituencies. Click on the map to enlarge.

GB pedestrian casualties 2000-2008

This second map shows all road fatalities (red), serious injuries (purple) and slight injuries (blue) for 2008 when 2,500 people died and 26,000 were seriously injured.

GB road casualties 2008

Since 2005 the United Nations has supported the inspiring World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims which is an opportunity to reflect and remember those killed on our roads. It takes place this year on 20th November with services across the UK and all round the world. Why not ensure that a suitable remembrance service is held near where you live this year?

Mapping uses Stats19 police data and Ordnance Survey Boundary-Line data. Mapping created using ITO Map (pre-release version). Both maps available cc-by-sa 3.0.

Rural speed limits in the UK and Holland

6 Sep

Following a discussion this blog in response to my recent ‘Safe’ routes to school – no pavements and unlit at 60 mph? blog post, here are examples of rural speed limits in Holland in the the UK. Notice that many Dutch rural roads have 50 mph speed limits (purple) and 40 mph (red) rather than 60 mph (light blue) or dark blue (70 mph). Across the North Sea on the east coast of England all rural roads are 60 mph, no 50 mph speed limits at all and very few 40mph limits. The speed data is from OpenStreetMap and has been visualised by ITO Map. The speed data is not yet complete If you are able to help please then please add information to OpenStreetMap for your area and places that you visit.

Speed limits holland (click for slippy map view)

Speed limits Tendering District, UK (click for slippy map view)

This final image shows pedestrian road casualties for Tendering District since 1986. Large blobs are deaths, small ones are serious injuries. Red for pedestrian, blue for driver, green for passenger. Most pedestrian casualties are in the towns, which is likely to be for two reasons – firstly that most pedestrians movements naturally take place in towns and secondly because pedestrians avoid rural roads knowing that they are unsafe. Casualty data from Stats19 police data. Do remember that road deaths have fallen massively since 1985 when some 5,500 people were killed in GB compared to 1,857 last year.

Road casualties – Tendering district

‘Safe’ routes to school – no pavements and unlit at 60 mph?

5 Sep

Rural roads without pavements and 60mph speed limits are apparently officially considered ‘safe’ for children to walk to and from school on as long as the section without a footway is less than 3 miles long (2 miles long for under 8s). To quote the guardian todaySchool transport spending cuts mean that from this week many pupils will be walking to school along unlit 60mph roads without pavements … The current guidelines presume children will be accompanied by a responsible adult, meaning councils can declare routes up to three miles long (or two miles for under eights) safe even if they are unlit, have 60mph speed limits, no pavements or step-offs, and are used by heavy commercial traffic“. I believe that this is the road illustrated in the article as shown on Google Streetview.

Walking to school along 60mph roads with no pavements

Of course if drivers were to travel at a speed where they could stop within the distance they could see and ensured that pedestrians could walk safely along the edge of the carriageway then this might be sort of OK, but in current conditions where pedestrians are frequently forced to climb onto the verge for their own safety then it is not. Do check out my recent post about what happened to the father who wanted to ensure the safety of his child walking to school along a road that is probably very similar to the ones being discussed in this article who was threatened with arrest if he ‘willfully obstructed’ the traffic again.

Incidentally, in 2009 the Department for Transport proposed dropping the speed limit on many rural roads to 50mph estimating that this would cuts deaths by 250 per year but the idea was soon dropped. Rospa noted in 2010 thatAround one third of pedestrian fatalities occur on rural roads and the other two thirds on urban. Pedestrian injuries in rural areas are more likely to be fatal however, and the figures from table 2 show that 5% of all recorded pedestrian injuries resulting in a fatality, compared with urban areas where fatal casualties are 1.5%” and proposed lowering speed limits to 50 mph on some rural roads. Brake proposed it again earlier this year after commissioning a survey which found that one in eight drivers admitted overtaking on single carriageway roads when they could not see if it was clear.

Archie wants to walk to school

30 Aug

In 2009 a father phoned to police to say that because the country road between his house and his child’s school was dangerous, and because his son wanted to walk to school that he was going to drive slowly behind him to protect him from approaching drivers on the 60mph country lane. He was then intercepted before he had got to school by police to who drove the boy to school over “fears for his safety” and warned the father that he could be arrested for ‘a willful obstruction’ of the highway if he did it again. The father has subsequently written an article titled “Why do drivers have more rights than the rest?” (paywall). A good question which I will explore below.

Archie wants to walk to school (copyright image)

Let’s analyse this in some detail.

Firstly, I assume that the police were referring to section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 (“If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence”) or to section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (“Wilfully causing an obstruction to any public footpath or public thoroughfare“). Unfortunately “it has been held that to constitute an offence there must be proof of an unreasonable user of the highway” (Parliamentary briefing 2010)

It is worth mentioning at this point that all roads in the UK are ‘all purpose roads’ and should therefore be available for all road users with the sole exception of ‘special roads’ (better known as motorways) which were created by the Special roads Act 1949 on which no pedestrians are allowed. There is no suggestion in the highway code that pedestrians should not be able to walk in the carriageway where there is not a pavement. (rule 2)

It is also worth mentioning that the highway code reminds drivers to at all times “Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear“.(rule 126) According to the Crown Prosecution Service, driving too fast is reason for prosecution for dangerous driving for which the penalty is disqualification and up to two years in prison. (Careless driving, a lesser offense is not use in cases of driving too fast it seems). However a 25 year old found guilty of drivng at 103mph avoided a conviction for dangerous driving and was banned for only 90 days. A policeman who was ‘familiarising himself with his new police car’ who was recorded driving a 159mph, (and also at 120mph in a 60mph area and at 60mph in a 30 mph area) was found not guilty of both dangerous driving and of speeding! The Crown Prosecution Service overturned the ruling and he was subsequently found guilty but given an absolute discharge; before having his conviction overturned following an appeal by West Mercia Police Federation.

So, was the father acting ‘reasonably’? He appeared to be protecting a walker who wished to assert their right to walk along an ‘all purpose road’. Motorists appear to have been only inconvenienced to a minor degree. The police seemed to agree that motorists were traveling too fast to slow down safely for a slow vehicle. As such should they not have prosecuted the drivers for dangerous driving, rather than opting for the a simpler but rather implausible route of using wilful obstruction for the person protecting the pedestrian?

I am reminded of Duncan Cameron’s submission to parliament on pedestrian issues who noted that “If pedestrians placed a chair on the carriageway it would be removed immediately, even though it would obstruct a smaller proportion of the road than when a car parks on the pavement. Cars could slow down and take care to avoid the chair, as pedestrians have to with parked cars. The Highways Act applies equally to the road and the footway. Pedestrians are being discriminated against“. In this case the same police who normally avoid using obstruction legislation against parking obstructions at almost any cost leapt into action to use it against someone protecting a pedestrian. Remarkable!

There are some parallels in this story with that of the blind man who was arrested and locked up within minutes of phoning the police to say that he was going to let down the tires of cars that were persistently blocking the pavement.

Yes, pedestrians do face discrimination and this blog’s primary aim seems to be to help expose how this particular discrimination operates.

Local council must change its bin policy

25 Aug

The official bin-collection policy of Ipswich Borough Council policy is to leave bins after collection ‘at the very back of the pavement on the curtilage of the property … not obstructing residents’ driveways, preventing usage of drop kerbs etc‘. I have asked them why they don’t return the bins to where they found them (which is normally within the curtilage of the property on a driveway) and have also reminded them of their duties to the blind/wheelchair users and other groups under disability legislation. The response was: “We have discussed your interpretation of the Equalities Act with our resident equalities expert and we are of the opinion that we are taking the best possible action in this respect“. Umm… Strange, given that the work ‘pedestrian’, ‘wheelchair’ and ‘buggy’ don’t even appear in the text.

Here is my proposed replacement text: “a) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where they create a safety hasard. b) Bins MUST NOT be left in a position where the available footway is reduced to less than 1m and should not left in a position where the width is reduced to less than 1.5m. Bins can often be returned to a position just inside the curtilage of the property. Where this is not possible they may be left on the footway or carriageway as long as the conditions in a) and b) are satisfied. Where no viable option exists then alternative provision for the collection of waste will need to be arranged. This policy is to ensure that all road users, including pedestrians, some whom may require additional width (wheel chair users, people with buggies and shopping and those with visual impairments) are able to use the highway safely“.

Here’s the reason why a change is needed. In these two following pictures there is no space for a wheelchair user of parent with a buggy to use the pavement when the current guidelines are following. In both cases it would however be trivial for the bins to be returned within the curtillage.

Bins left blocking the pavement after collection

Bin left on pavement with 400mm between bin and lamp-post.

The law is very clear on this. Lets start with Department for Transport guidance on the ‘Pedestrian environment and transport infrastructure’:

  • “Since October 1999 service providers have had to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies and procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service … These requirements apply to facilities and services in the pedestrian environment’.
  • “Those who are travelling with small children or are carrying luggage or heavy shopping will all benefit from an accessible environment, as will people with temporary mobility problems (e.g. a leg in plaster) and many older people. Thus, the overall objective of this guide is to provide inclusive design and through that achieve social inclusion
  • “Manual wheelchair users need sufficient space to be able to propel the chair without banging their elbows or knuckles on door frames or other obstacles. But someone who walks with sticks or crutches also needs more space than a non-disabled walker; so too does a long cane user or person carrying luggage, or a lot of shopping bags, or with small children. Thus providing adequate clear space on pavements, along passages in public buildings, through doorways etc, is of benefit to many people.

And also the DirectGov guidance re the Equalities Act 2010:

  • The Equality Act 2010 provides important rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in accessing everyday goods and services like shops, cafes, banks, cinemas and places of worship… The Equality Act 2010 gives disabled people rights not to be discriminated against or harassed in relation to the use of transport services. This also covers access to travel infrastructure such as railway stations and bus stations. You also have a right to reasonable adjustments.

And here is a helpful diagram published by the DfT showing the pavement width required by these different groups of pedestrians. Is it however unfortunate that the diagram is so hard to read which probably goes against their own guidance on legibility, but we can’t have everything!

Pavement widths required by different user groups (DfT guidance)

Finally, here are a set of photos illustrating the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that I am proposing to the council. The photos on the left show where the council leave bins currently and on the right you can see where I am suggesting they should be left to allow free passage (or as good as can be achieved with all the pavement parking!).

Bins after collection (as now on the left, and as proposed on the right)

I will be sending a copy of this post to the council and ask them to reconsider. If that doesn’t work then possibly the local paper would be interested in taking this on as a local issue.