Tag Archives: ipswich

Yet again, pedestrians and cyclists don’t actually exist!

15 Dec

My local Labour party have just put a leaflet through our door promoting the idea that Suffolk County Council (the transport authority) should ‘re-open Rope Walk’, which is a local street recently blocked to motorised traffic, rather than install traffic calming in the neighbouring streets which is what the County are proposing.

The silly thing of course is that it is still ‘open’. Well… it is certainly ‘open’ to the numerous pedestrians, mainly students, going between the newly rebuilt Suffolk College which fronts onto Rope Walk and Ipswich town centre. It is also ‘open’ to many cyclists using local cycle route 4/national cycle route 1 to get from the east of the town in to the town or the railway station. Needless to say, the only form of transport to which this road is not ‘open’ is the type of metal box that people sit in that we call a motorcar. This is what it looks like now currently:

Rope walk, an attractive pedestrian approach to the college

Rope walk, an attractive pedestrian approach to the college

Curiously, in their leaflet they suggest that opening Rope Walk to motorised traffic again would ‘reduce rat-running through Kings Avenue, Oxford Road and Milner Street‘ and would end ‘the farce of traffic jams on St Helen’s Street‘ (which is the main arterial road into town).

However… back in 2009 the Borough Council explained that Rope Walk was being closed to motorised trafiic in order to ‘significantly improve pedestrian and cycle access along Rope Walk, and to reduce rat running in Rope Walk and the surrounding roads‘ (my emphasis).

The Borough and County Councils are also grappling with illegal levels of air pollution from motorised traffic on Grimwade Street, which is next to Rope Walk and which falls within an ‘Air Quality Management Area’.

As it happens the Borough council is also engaged in the implementation of major £21m current transport scheme to make Ipswich more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists, of which the changes to Rope Walk made in 2009 form a important part. To quotehigh quality paving materials to link in with previous improvements and provide a continuous shared off-street cycle and pedestrian route between Rope Walk and University Campus Suffolk‘.

Here is their leaflet. Notice the invitation to email them with your thoughts at: You can contact them using contact@ipswich-labour.org.uk.

Image

'Open' Rope Walk, back

Mervyn Lambert Traffic Management – ‘a safer method of Traffic Management’

25 Feb

Traffic Management explain on their website that they offer ‘a safer method of Traffic Management’ – curious, given that they have almost completely blocked a pavement in Ipswich with motorist diversion signs forcing pedestrians into the road. These signs leave about 300mm of width of the pavement, which is less than half that of a typical 2′ 6″ internal doorway in a house and far less than the absolute minimum of 1 meter required by law. I phoned their emergence number this morning (which was helpfully printed on the back of one of their signs) and asked them to move them in the next few hours. Lets see what happens. (see below for update – very impressive response time and attitude – thank you).

400mm for pedestrians

400mm for pedestrians

A convenient place to leave a sign

A convenient place to leave a sign

Update

OK, so they had an ’emergency phone number’, they answered it promptly, and then moved the signs within 2 hours (including driving all the way from Diss)! I met the guy on-site who was very helpful and supportive. We also had a useful discussion about some of design defects of current road works signs which will be the subject of another post soon. Thank you Mervyn Lambert. Needless to say the purpose of calling them out was to remind them in a very clear way that they need to get this sort of thing right in future, so lets just hope they get the message and have a word with the guy who plonked the sign down so thoughtlessly across the pavement in the first place costing the company 3 hours in staff time and 50 miles in a company van.

May Gurney – if at first you don’t succeed….

15 Jan

Taking the advice of the old saying which goes “if at first you don’t succeed then try, try and try again” I have again confiscated some of May Gurney’s signs  after finding them illegally blocking the pavement (signage must always leave 1 meter clear for pedestrians). As always when I remove their signs like this I email marketing@maygurney.co.uk and tweet using the twitter handle (@maygurney) and invite them to come and collect them.

We are making slow progress though. There was no obvious effect to my complaint in October 2010 – we exchanged friendly emails but nothing changed, and then when I confiscated two illegally positioned signs a year later I didn’t even get any response at all beyond the standard automated email acknowledgement. Only after I had removed a 2nd set of dangerously positioned signs did I finally get an email and phone response promising action. They also arranged to collect the four signs that I had in storage for them by that time.

Unfortunately they are still blocking pavements so we need to keep going a little longer! In this latest incident notice that:

  • the road works themselves are almost entirely on private property and hardly intrude onto the pavement, let along onto the carriageway which is not affected at all (so there is no logic to warning motorists of a narrowing road)
  • the signs are causing far more inconvenience to pedestrians than the road works themselves (even before one of the collapsed).
  • oh yes, and notice that the other pavement is blocked as usual by a car, so that pavement is not easy to use either.

Two signs ilegally obstructing the pavement

Dropped kerbs and ‘Special enforcement areas’

9 Nov

It appears to be a requirement that all rules relating to parking and pavements should be confusing and ineffective and slow to come into force. By way of example, lets look at the relatively introduced legislation which bans parking across dropped kerbs.

This legislation received Royal Assent back in 2004 with the Traffic Management Act of that year. Royal Assent was followed by five years of consultation on these new rules during which time the AA, needless to say, objected saying that it would be entirely unreasonable to expect motorists to know that it was illegal to park on dropped kerbs unless the council installed white lines on every single one at their own cost. I am glad to say that the government ignored them and the legislation was finally ‘enabled’ in June 2009. We should of course be grateful that the legislation was enabled at all, given that legislation which would have banned pavement parking entirely which received Royal Assent in 1974 was never enabled at all!

Now comes the ‘confusing’ bit. As I have said, legislation needs to be confusing. Part of the small print of the 2004 Act says that these new powers will only be available in places that adopt new ‘Special Enforcement Area’ status. Every Council wishing to use these powers then had to apply for this  Special Enforcement Area status (as distinct from ‘Civil Enforcement Areas’ which many had already been granted). To make it more complex Special Enforcement Areas can be applied for covering either an entire area of, or only part of a Civil Enforcement Area.

So.. the next question of course is to find out if my town and which other places have been granted ‘special enforcement area’ status. Is there a national map of these areas? err… no; is there a published list of such areas? err… no. Is it clear from my local authorities website if my town has been granted these powers? err.. no. The only way I found out that they had was to email them. The good news is that it has been enabled in my areas and people do get fined from time to time I understand. The bad news (for pedestrians) is that my local police didn’t even know that it parking across dropped kerbs was actually illegal and apparently refuse to enforce it in some cases. Here is a local driver explaining to be that he finds that this particular dropped-kerb is a very convenient (and often available) parking spot when doing his local shopping.

Blocking a dropped kerb, no problem

Car park this way!

7 Nov

Matthews parked their van fully across the pavement right next to their own (empty) off-street parking bay and by a sign pointing to their car park a few days ago. As a results pedestrians have to navigate through their parking bay avoiding both the ‘pavement sign’ and the bollards to get past or to take their chances in the road. To their credit the company did immediately move the vehicle but the driver did say ‘it has never been a problem before’. Possibly not for the company, but for blind people it is one of the reasons why most blind people never go out. This is not a new concern however, back in 2002 the issues for blind people were the same.

Car park this way!

Another view of the same vehicle.

Update

The van was back in exactly the same location today. The staff see absolutely no problem what they are doing, and believe that blind and disabled people and everyone else would be able to find their way around the vehicle with no problems at all.

They repeat that no one has ever complained. Odd when the police must go up that road every day. Not only are then 100% obstructing the pavement, they are also on a single yellow line during its period of operation (which of course covers the pavement as well as the road). However… the police have never been very keen about enforcing these regulations.

 

Double trouble – Sky and Virgin Media

8 Oct

Sky and Virgin Media have excelled themselves over the past two weeks around here. The driver of the Sky vehicle parked right across the pavement on a double-yellow line told me ‘he would park exactly where he wanted to’ (the message ‘lost’ on the side of the vehicles seems pretty appropriate in the circumstances). Neither of the three Virgin Media drivers I spoke to gave a damn.; the pair sitting waiting beside their vehicles which were completely blocking the pavement said they would leap up and move their vehicle at the first sign that a mother and child wanted to use the pavement (even though they were sitting so they wouldn’t see anyone trying to use the pavement anyway). The young driver who parked on the pavement on the double yellow outside the shop seemed to genuinely have no idea what the problem was. Do these companies give a damn? Do they have any policies on the subject?  Should their Health and Safety policies not say that they should leave pavements clear? Should a driver who blocks a pavement not face an internal disciplinary process? Possibly we should ask companies for their policies for the environment, community and safety.

A Sky driver gets lost and ends up parked right across the pavement on a double yellow line!

Two Virgin Media vans right across the pavement – drivers not interested in moving them.

Virgin Media – blocking pavement on junction on double yellow – no problem for the driver

Above the law? The Royal Mail

16 Sep

I spotted this royal mail van holding up two busy double-decker buses (with a capacity of over 100 people between them) parking on double yellow lines/no waiting area in Ipswich town centre yesterday. I pointed this out to the driver who took pleasure in getting out of the vehicle again, pointing at the royal crest on the driver’s door saying that this was royal business and they could ignore these irritating little rules; it appears that he is right, along with drivers of diplomatic vehicles they appear to be able to do what they like. I asked him to go and explain that to all the people in the buses but he declined. You will notice from the picture that there is plenty of space to park on the other side of the road avoiding any hold-up. I subsequently spotted two more Royal Mail vans up on pavements in the town soon afterwards. This is not an isolated incident, these folk up in Darwen are also getting pretty upset about their local mail vans as well.

A common theme about this whole parking malarkey is that too many people seen to think that just because it isn’t actually illegal then it must be OK to do it. Here is why it matters in this case. The map below shows where the the van was parked against a background map highlighting bus intensity (yellow is the highest, blue is lowest). Here is the location on Google Streetview. The second photo shows the van in question. Buses cost about £1 per minute to run btw ignoring for now the disruption to the many passengers who uses these popular routes.

Ipswich town centre colour coded by bus intensity

Royal Mail van blocking busy bus route

Map produced using soon-to-be-released features on ITO Map using bus data from Traveline, base mapping from OpenStreetMap & contributors, and building outlines from Ordnance Survey Settlement Line from VectorMapDistrict.

Here is the other van parked up on the pavement in town the same day.

Another Royal Mail van up on the pavement the same day