Government determined to ban CCTV parking enforcement

21 Jun

So… the government intends to ban the use of CCTV enforcement of parking regulations (except in a small number of situations which will be determined by the Secretary for State for Transport). It also intends to introduce a number of other changes that will make it harder for councils to discourage pavement parking by including statutory ‘grace’ periods for people who park for too long in metered locations and who park illegally on yellow lines and also by introducing mandatory discounts for motorists who lose appeals for parking fines (yes ‘who lose’!).

It appears that both the Communities Secretary and the Transport Secretary have strong feelings on the subject and are comfortable speaking very emotively on the subject. To quote (my emphasis):

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary: “CCTV spy cars can be seen lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls. Over-zealous parking enforcement and unreasonable stealth fines by post undermine the high street, push up the cost of living and cost local authorities more in the long term”  21 June 2014

Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary: “Unfair parking fines blight the use of our high streets and force shoppers out of towns. We want to rein back aggressive rules by banning the use octavo for parking enforcement, reviewing the use of yellow lines, and giving shoppers a ‘grace period’ to get back to their car after their ticket has run out before they get fined”  December 2013

OK, so we have spy, lurking, raking-in, cash, greedy, over-zealous, unreasonable, stealth and undermine in one press release and unfair, blight, force, aggressive in another balanced rather delightfully by the word grace for motorists who park illegally!

We also have a bunch of unproven assertions: Where is the evidence that this will ‘push up the cost of living’ or ‘cost local authorities more in the long term’. How on earth can the use of CCTV enforcement both be ‘raking in cash for greedy councils’ and also ‘cost local authorities more’?

And then there is weird statement: “Public confidence is strengthened in CCTV if it is used to tackle crime, not to raise money for council coffers” Eric Pickles October 2013.

Ignoring for now the emotive use of the word ‘coffers’, is he suggesting that people who are fined for illegal parking have not committed a ‘crime’. Really? The Oxford English Dictionary states that a crime is “an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law“. Is this another example of motoring law being put into a separate category of ‘not really very important laws which need not be adhered to if you can get away with it’.

A large number of organisations responded to the  consultation including:

  • Local Government Association
  • London Councils
  • British Parking Association
  • Disabled Motoring UK
  • Living Streets
  • Brake
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind  
  • Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACT)
  • Passenger Transport Executive Group  
  • Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

In their detailed response the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety noted that:

  • the consultation paper reads as though the Government has already made up its mind that local authorities are too severe when it comes to both the cost of permitted parking and the enforcement of penalties.
  • the extent to which this consultation represents real engagement likely to result in fruitful dialogue, is brought into doubt specifically by the fact that the paper makes it plain that certain, important decisions have already been taken, and that Government policy is, in key respects, not still under consideration. Paragraph 1.1, for example reports the pre-emptive freezing of parking penalty charge levels; while paragraph 4.1 states the Government’s intent to abolish the use of CCTV for parking enforcement
  • the consultation paper does not refer to, let alone make available, a robust evidence base for the changes in policy in question. Rather, these changes seem to be most strongly influenced by a record of anecdotal “concerns about over – zealous parking enforcement and high parking charges” that were expressed to the Transport Select Committee in 2013.
  • PACTS considers that the basis of the Government’s case for abolishing CCTV enforcement – that “it would more appropriate, fairer and straightforward for a parking warden to deal with contraventions” (paragraph 4.2) – is not justified by any evidence presented
  • CCTV is widely used in other areas of public realm, particularly in town centres, by the public and private sectors, to assist with a range of safety and security functions. To arbitrarily ban the use of CCTV for parking enforcement would not be justified or logical.
  • it is quite reasonable to review local parking arrangements periodically. However, we are not convinced that new powers or duties are required.
  • any grace periods should be a matter for local determination and dependent upon the specific circumstances, not for national prescription. Mandatory grace periods would no longer be grace periods.
  • PACTS urges the Government to make it simpler for local authorities to enforce against these matters, particularly parking on the footway which causes obstruction and road danger to pedestrians and mobility impaired people as well as costing local authorities substantial sums for footway repairs. The law is currently inadequate and l ocal authorities need effective legislation to tackle this problem.

The British Parking Association said:

  • there is no regulatory impact assessment on these proposals. There can be no doubt that there are very significant impacts on road users (particularly disabled people and children), on local authorities and on businesses, and the Association is very disappointed that no attempt has been made to quantify these impacts. In particular, there is no equality impact assessment.
  • the Consultation is derived from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s objective of revitalising the high street. This is a laudable objective and one which our local authority members have always taken very seriously, but traffic and parking management is also about tackling congestion, improving road safety and encouraging more sustainable forms of transport.
  • the Consultation appears to be based on concerns by a minority of road users who receive penalty charge notices. The Government should understand that a small minority of motorists receive penalty charge notices – most research indicates around 20%. The vast majority (the silent majority) benefit from the activities undertaken by local authorities to address the small minority who park in contravention of parking controls. That is not to say that that minority should not be treated fairly but we do believe that the Government should be proportionate in its response to this minority.
  • an underlying theme of the Consultation is that new technology somehow is a threat to motorists. On the contrary, new technology has significantly improved the offer to motorists, best illustrated by the use of mobile phone parking which enables motorists to be alerted to time expiry and remote topping up of time. In many other areas of Government activity new technology is being embraced positively (like the Cabinet Office’s “Digital by Default” programme) – why is this not the case with parking management?
  • the BPA believes that parking enforcement is in the main being applied fairly and reasonably throughout the UK. Constant criticism from government and the media is neither constructive nor helpful in promoting a rational debate which is why we have arranged a Parking Summit on 27 February 2014.
  • no, we do not agree [with a grace period after appeal]; it completely misunderstands and undermines the purpose of the penalty charge in the first place. • Is the government really advocating a 25% discount on the statutory parking penalty charge for parking illegally and losing an appeal?
  • there are no parking controls in place that have not been sanctioned and approved by locally elected politicians. Locally elected politicians already have the powers to decide when and where parking controls are deployed and how they are enforced.
  • the prospect of introducing grace periods for prohibited parking is unworkable; if there is room for people to park without causing a danger or obstruction to others then prohibited parking should be converted to permitted parking.
  • mandatory grace periods become the expected norm and give rise to further claims of unfairness if the grace period is exceeded by short periods.

Living Streets responded with this:

  • the Government‟s concern for struggling local shops, town centres, high streets and parades is creditable, but its proposed changes to local authority parking management and enforcement will achieve little and cost more. It has latched on to the perception held by businesses (and some members of the public) that more parking spaces, lower parking charges or even better „free‟ parking will halt this decline. However, as Living Streets‟ recent report “The pedestrian pound” the business case for better streets and places‟ shows, there are many factors contributing to this decline.
  • the allegation has been made that some local authorities use parking charges to raise revenues. Where there is evidence of this illegal activity it should be dealt with appropriately. Good parking management is essential for all road users, especially the most vulnerable: pedestrians. The use of CCTV to enforce parking is particularly important to discourage inconsiderate and dangerous parking outside schools.
  • local parking strategies and parking enforcement are local matters subject to approval by locally elected councillors. That same democratic process allows local residents and businesses raise issues of local concern. There is nothing to be gained by introducing duplicate powers requiring local authorities to review their parking provision.
  • space in towns and cities is at a premium and the needs of drivers to park their vehicles must be weighed against the equally necessary freedom of movement of pedestrians – especially younger, older or disabled pedestrians to walk safely, for pedestrians to access public transport, and for businesses to operate effectively.
  • from our experience of working with schools and parents we know that this danger is, ironically, one of the key reasons why people drive their children to school! “No stopping” restrictions on the yellow zig-zags outside schools have little effect unless enforced – and without cameras they are almost impossible to enforce outside every school, at the same, peak times.
  • Living Streets is calling on the Government to review the current regulatory framework regarding parking on the footway and to bring forward proposals for a nationwide pavement parking ban along the lines of the Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill in Scotland. Poorly parked vehicles can force pedestrians into the road. They can inhibit the independence of many vulnerable people and be particularly dangerous for older people, for families with pushchairs and for those with visual or mobility impairments.
  • there is support for a national pavement parking ban from a number of organisations. A proposed Private Member‟s Pavement Parking Bill was supported by a range of organisations including: Age UK, British Parking Association, Civic Voice, The GlassHouse Community Led Design, Guide Dogs, Keep Britain Tidy, Design Council Cabe, RNIB and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The District Council’s network, representing 200 district councils responded:

  • the District Councils’ Network recognises the government’s concern for the regeneration of town centres and thriving local areas. District councils are the statutory planning and housing authorities in two-tier areas, and research by the DCN of our members indicates that districts are already working hard to regenerate town centres and high streets, and support business location and expansion and the jobs this brings. Every local area is different and unique, and district councils, not central government, know best what an area needs and what the population expect from their democratically elected representatives.
  • the District Councils’ Network opposes this intention [of banning use of CCTV enforcement]. The DFT’s statutory guidance already states that CCTV cameras should only be used where parking enforcement is difficult, sensitive or not practical for a parking warden to do. The consultation document itself refers to these as “strict requirements”. We feel this statutory guidance is already sufficiently clear and does not need revising. Further, CCTV cameras are more cost-effective than employing traffic wardens. They also provide a clear record of any parking contravention that has occurred, ensuring that councils can fairly and reasonably apply the rules.
  • if the government does decide to abolish the use of CCTV cameras for parking enforcement, any changes to the statutory guidance that have resource implications should be fully met by central government.
  • district councils already review their parking arrangements actively and regularly as part of good town centre management. Citizens with concerns about parking can already make representations to their directly elected councillors, and many do. The reality is that some unwelcome parking or traffic management restrictions are in place for safety reasons; and if community reviews are introduced, councils must have the ability to explain to residents why these restrictions are in place. Further, councils are experiencing extreme financial pressures, and may not be able to undertake any changes even where councils and residents agree changes would be preferable.

The London Councils responded:

  • government spokesmen have labeled local authority parking enforcement as ‘arbitrary’, ‘unfair’ and designed simply as a way of raising revenue. London Councils refutes all of these descriptions. Enforcing properly made regulations is hardly unfair or arbitrary. It is also clear that local councils are not using parking enforcement with the objective of raising revenue. Not only would this be unlawful (and there is significant public interest from groups on this issue who hold councils to account for this) it would also be a very insecure mechanism for raising revenue as the costs of enforcement take up most if not all the revenue from enforcement.
  • London Councils is also surprised that the consultation document includes no regulatory impact assessment. Such an assessment is considered normal and given the substantial inefficiencies and costs associated with some of the proposals, it is surprising that the Government does not appear to have considered this
  • authorities are advised generally to provide parking provision and set tariffs for short stay parking based on the 85 per cent occupancy rule. Charges are set to manage demand and encourage bay turnover, as this in turn maximises access. If the tariff is set too high, vehicles will not park and bays will remain empty. Such an outcome would quickly lead to pressure on the authority to cut charges and even on a strict financial model, high charges with low occupancy are not financially optimum. If the tariff is set too low for the demand, then you do not get the turnover of spaces, and congestion increases as vehicles circle searching for space. In high streets this makes the location less attractive and does not lead to any more people able to visit local shops. Research has shown that where tariffs are too low, ‘searching’ traffic makes up as much as 30% of traffic flow, which does not simply lead to additional and unnecessary congestion but also to extra pollution. Neither of these make the location attractive to shoppers or visitors. It is in the interest of every borough to get this balance right.
  • estimated calculations would suggest that only 0.15 per cent of parking acts result in the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in London. This represents a tiny fraction, and would seem to indicate that the overwhelming majority of motorists do not receive PCNs. This suggests some over emphasis of the scale of any ‘parking problem’ and this is reinforced by research from the RAC which shows that the average motorist pays only £47 a year on parking, compared to more than £1,500 a year on fuel.
  • more parking does not necessarily mean greater commercial success. A well managed parking scheme, where spaces ‘turn over’ frequently can help increase the number of visitors coming to a town centre, and thereby help business.
  • shopkeepers consistently overestimate the share of their customers coming by car. This can be by as much as 400%. In London the share of those accessing urban centres on foot or by public transport is much greater. Walking is the most important mode for accessing local town centres; public transport is the most important mode to travel to International centers (e.g. Oxford Street)
  • London Councils does not agree that CCTV use should be banned, and strongly disagrees with this proposal. CCTV cameras are a vital enforcement tool and any ban would significantly reduce the effectiveness of parking enforcement and have a negative impact on the road traffic network. The use of CCTV outside schools is undertaken to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable road users. It has proved vital in changing parking habits and had a positive effect on road safety.
  • there are many situations where the physical presence of a CEO does not act as a deterrent, as drivers see the officer, move the vehicle, and then move it back when the CEO has left. The threat of CCTV eliminates this problem, and therefore increases compliance.
  • removing the ability to enforce by CCTV would result in significantly increased costs to achieve equitable levels of compliance. Any proposed alternatives would be a backward step for efficiency gains that authorities are striving to deliver in a challenging economic climate.
  • London Councils does not agree that a discount should be offered at appeal stage. It would be hugely costly to implement, encouraging more appeals, with potentially little chance of success and raise unrealistic expectations amongst motorists. No other part of the judicial process in England and Wales encourages someone to pursue a case, and be rewarded for losing. It is, therefore, disproportionate, likely to lead to an abuse of the Parking and Traffic Appeals system and an unnecessary waste of public resources.
  • London Councils does not believe that there should be a ‘statutory’ grace period. The suggestion is unsatisfactory in any circumstance, as motorists would see this as a free parking period, and therefore a right. Motorists would then adjust their habits accordingly, which would have severe consequences on traffic flow and congestion.
  • the introduction of new technological parking solutions (such as payments by mobile phone) now make it easier for a customer to receive warnings and reminders about their remaining time, and top up if necessary. Therefore customers using such options (and these are increasing) should not be in a situation where they are late back to the vehicle.
  • the notion of introducing grace periods where parking is prohibited is unworkable. It is likely that this would see:
    • an increase in congestion and vehicles causing an obstruction.
    • an increase in accidents and road safety incidents.
    • a reduction in the ability to control traffic flow.
    • a reduction in the space for those that actually need it, which would include delivery drivers and blue badge holders.
    • actual damage to the (limited) effect that parking has on high street revival.
    • an increase in motorist confusion about where and when they can and cannot park.
    • encouragement for motorists to disregard parking controls in general.

The consultation responses were evenly divided for and against. According to Roads Minister Robert Goodwill when he appeared before the Transport Select Committee in March 2014: In response to the proposal for a period of ‘grace’, the response was exactly 50:50; 45% of organisations were in favour and 55% were against and  51% of individuals were in favour with 49% against. In response to the proposal that motorists should be entitled to a discount if they pay a fine promptly after having lost on appeal 56% of respondents overall were against the change, including 77% of organisations and 46% of individuals.

It does very much look as reasoned argument is not going to make any difference at present, that the government has already made up its mind and that parking issues are going to get worse before they get better.

I enjoyed reading the warning included in the British Parking Authority that the government should “be careful what they wish for”. They urged the Government to “undertake a full impact assessment of any proposal to ensure that what they seek to achieve does not have unintended consequences”.

 

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….

 

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’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03f438q) 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’. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ylxg8)

“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. (http://www.standard.co.uk/news/cars-fail-in-pedestrian-safety-tests-6327782.html)

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
London
SW1E 5DU
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

Pavement hogs

16 Aug

The government has just introduced £100 fines for people who “needlessly hog the middle or outside lane” of a motorway or dual-carriageway.

I find this curious, because the rule 264 of the Highway code reads: “You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking. You MUST NOT drive on the hard shoulder except in an emergency or if directed to do so by the police, HA traffic officers in uniform or by signs.

The word ‘should‘ in the Highway Code is code for ‘this is antisocial but not illegal’. ‘MUST NOT‘ means that it is illegal. Conclusion — lane hogging is not illegal, but is antisocial.

Curiously Rule 244 of the highway code says: “You MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.” Forget London (unless you live there). For most of the rest of use this would read: “You should not park partially or wholly on the pavement unless signs permit it.” Conclusion — pavement parking parking is antisocial, but not illegal (unless you live in London).

However, in addition Rule 145 of the Highway Code says “You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.” Conclusion —- in order to park on a pavement a driver has to break this law twice, once to drives onto the pavement, and again to get off.

In summary:

  • Pavement hogging involving breaking the law at least twice (but is largely ignored by the police and politicians).
  • Lane hogging appear not to be illegal, but the politicians have determined that the police should fine people £100 for doing so.

To add insult to injury, Rule 145 (which is ignored for motorists), is vigorously enforced when people cycle on the pavement!

So.. the big question is what are we going to have to do to get the politicians to wake up to this issue.

The problem is that every year there are more cars, every year more people discover that they can park on pavement without getting into trouble, and park more audaciously. Every year more people get more confident of their ‘right’ to park on pavements. Every year it gets tougher for pedestrians.

To illustrate the point, here are a few incidents I have noticed locally over the past few weeks. Driver appear to be totally confident that the police won’t do anything even if they block the entire pavement.

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The good news is that the politicians have demonstrated that they can act even if they want to. Now we just have to make them want to!

Update

Carlton Reid has just commented that the paving outside the shop in the first two photos is very cracked. He also noted that pedestrians do not crack paving slabs when they walk across them, but that vehicles often do! Here is a photo of the same area taken when it was free of cars. Needless to say, in this case motorists are breaking loads of additional laws, including parking on the pavement next to a double yellow line, parking in a ‘no loading’ place and parking within 10 meters of a junction. Any more? Anyone care to estimate how much this paving would cost to fix?

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Update 2

I have just found another really classy bit of parking outside the side the same shop. Notice all the road-signs and bins on the pavement the other side of the vehicle.

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#mayguerney – ignorance, or simply contempt for pedestrians?

23 Feb

May Gurney have excelled themselves this time. It is not uncommon for them to obstruct pavements illegally, but they normally leave more than the 640mm they did yesterday to the right of the first sign in this picture, followed by 950mm to the left of a second one. Neat to make pedestrians weave one way and then the other. Why? did they not think, or don’t they actually care? Needless to say, both of these leave less than the mandatory 1m and advisory 1.5m of pedestrians.

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I have emailed the company, explaining that I have removed the first sign into storage for health and safety reasons. Given how ineffective emails have been in the past, I have also suggested that they refund my costs, which I have calculated at £5 for the email and £5 per week, or part thereof for storage. I have reminded them that they also own me £1 for a phone call made to Anglian Water when they blocked another nearby pavement some time back. I have offered to give the money to Living Streets, and suggested that they can make a cheque out to that organisation if they prefer.

No idea if this will wake them up, but emails, complaints and blog-posts alone have achieved absolutely nothing over the past 2 years.

Update

Fyi, I have received no reply at all to my email telling them about their sign being in storage. The sign continues to rot beside my garage. By my calculations storage costs after 6 months stand at £100 with £6 administration totalling £106.00.

I think I will write to them one more time and then reuse/recycle the sign if they apparently have no further use for it!