Tag Archives: pavement parking

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.

Image

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?

Image

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

Image

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!

Image

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?

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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’.

Image

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.

Image

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….

 

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.

Image

Image

Image

Image

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?

IMG_4780

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.

IMG_4386

Institutional ‘motoristism’?

14 Jul

(or should it be ‘institutional motorism’ – see update at the bottom of this post)

Coming home recently I have notice police cars parked in illegal and/or antisocial ways on a number of occasions. In this first incident they had parked a marked police-car with two wheels up on the pavement on a double yellow line and probably within less than 10 meters from a junction. So was it a big emergency? Ok, not an emergency at all, just a routine traffic speed patrol. I politely asked them if they could re-park legally which they were fine about it, but why don’t they do it as a matter of course?

Police car up on pavement on double yellow within 10 meters of a junction

OK, so it is not an emergency, just a routing speed patrol

And then there was the time a few weeks back when I noticed this police car parked with its bonnet slicking out blocking the entire pavement. OK, so it might have been an emergency, but actually when to looked at the back of the vehicle there was loads of space into which the driver could have reversed.

Badly parked police car blocks pavement

Plenty of room for the driver to have reversed into the bay properly

Why does this matter, I hear many motorists thinking? It matters because it shows that there is a culture in the police that pedestrians and the pavements they rely on are less important than motorists and their needs for convenient places to park. One could possibly call it ‘institutional motoristism’ and then look at how society has dealt with other ‘isms’, such as racism and sexism (and homophobia)? All of these other ‘isms’ were endemic in both the police and also society but needed to be dug out of the police force before the wider societal issues could be addressed effectively.

Institutional motoristism (or possibly just ‘motorism’) has a more nasty side when the police side with aggressive motorists who threaten or assault pedestrians or cyclists. Check out ‘The Cycling Lawyer‘ blog for a cyclist/barrister’s view on the bias in favour of motorists as demonstrated by both the police and the judiciary.

Update

A comment has just be left below noting that Chris Hutt, the late author of the ‘Green Bristol Blog’ proposed the term ‘institutional motorism’ back in 2010 which he defined as being ‘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‘. That is certainly what I was referring to and is easier to say that motoristism! Neither have quite the same root as racism or sexism – to follow those it would have to be ‘transport-modeism’ which doesn’t really work or ‘modeism’ which doesn’t mean anything useful at all. As such motorism seems to be the one to use.

What is encouraging is that the term seems to be picking up gentle traction. ‘At War With the Motorist’ used the term in July 2011 saying “In the 1950s the future was the car and road transport, and for five decades TfL could get away with their assumptions and their institutional motorism. The times are a changin’. We need to show TfL that they can’t get away with this in 2011“. Apparently they picked up the term from ‘People’s Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire’ in their ‘Institutionalised Motorism near UWE‘ post from July 2011. The term is also turning up in comments on blogs around the web.

Age Scotland

15 Jun

There is a great new blog post on the Age Scotland blog asking ‘why isn’t pavement parking illegal?‘. A fair and direct question that deserves an answer! I have always believed that if we will only succeed in reclaiming our pavements when both the young and the old stand up together and ask for them back loudly and clearly! Here is a short video from Age Scotland pointing out the inconvenience pavement parking causes to people in mobility buggies.

I am pleased to see that the RNIB are also on the case. Here is a partially-signed RNIB campaigner in Cirencester explaining the campaign he is running.

On the subject of youtube, this is a great way of spreading the message. Here are a few more examples of how to use video to get the message across.

Of course, the issue is not a new one. Here is a public information film on the subject which must date from the 1970s.

Can we help Tesco help themselves?

24 Mar

Tesco appear to need help, and I am not talking about their ‘ shock profits warning‘ last week after which their UK boss quit; I am referring to a phone conversation I had with them yesterday following a complaint I had made in which they assured me that Tesco require all drivers to abide by all laws, including all motoring laws at all times. Now this is very interesting because  rule 145 in the Highway Code which reads “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” with a penalty of £500 for each offense (Highways Act 1835 section 72). They assured me that they never allow their staff to break this law!

HA1835 S72 has of course been almost completely ignored. A FOI request I made on the Suffolk police last year showed that they had only prosecuted 6 people county wide for this offense during 2009, which included prosecuting kids for riding motorbikes on heaths and bridleways etc. They were not able to identify the circumstances of each incident and I suspect that none related to people parking vehicles on pavements. What I have did notice while researching this post was an article in the Daily Mail which claimed that ‘only’ seventeen cyclists were prosecuted for cycling on the pavement in London in 2008 (which the DM thought though was way too low of course).

The police tell me that it is impossible to prosecute pavement parkers using HA1835 S27 because they would need to wait and gather evidence as to who was actually doing the driving. Technical advances have of course come to the rescue, and suddenly most of us carry the necessary evidence gathering equipment with us all the time; phone/cameras proved crucial following the London riots, and also resulted in the conviction of a police officer for the unlawful killing of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots. I see no reason why we can’t use them for our purposes now.

I think we need a test case; a quick internet search shows that many people are upset about Tesco driving (and parking) on pavements and also littering pavements generally; and that is without even getting into the wider issues relating to their size and business practices. Are they a suitable target for our purposes? I use the word ‘target’ deliberately, because I think we need to focus on a single large public company that disregards the law every day all across the country and make an example of them that they, and others, cannot ignore. We could of course choose any of the delivery companies (DHL, TNT etc) who are equally bad, however I think Tesco are the best one for us, especially given their assurances that they always obey all laws! Please let me know what you think in the comments section? Will you be able to help by gathering video of local examples? Fyi, we have been offered the support of a powerful environmental law company with this campaign and they should be able to help out along the way with this particular project.

Finally, here are some photos. The first two are from the Daily Mail who campaign vigorously when it comes to riding bicycles on the pavements, as in this example where they even quote the highway code rule ‘You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement’ in virtually the first sentence! However.. they don’t even mention that both of these Tesco vans have broken the highway code in a similar manner and that the first has completely blocked the pavement!

Daily Mail don’t even comment on breaking highway code

Daily Mail again, and again no comment regarding driving on pavement

Tesco illegally driven on pavement in Cambridge

Tesco van illegally driven along pavement in Ipswich

Obstructing pavements in Westminster

Remarkable amounts of rubbish in Kennington!

Illegal pavement advertising by Tesco in Bournmouth?

Tesco, a persistent offender?

22 Mar

Today I am focusing on Tesco, who park on the pavement (and I believe break the law) close to where I live virtually every week when doing their home deliveries. What bugs me is the way that nothing changes despite numerous conversations with their drivers over the past year; each week they come back to almost exactly the same spot. This time they inconvenienced a total or three pedestrians, including one with a small child in a buggy. Drivers normally explain that they park on the pavement to avoid inconveniencing motorists and that they receive no guidance on not parking on the pavement from their company blar blar… (in other words the same old stuff).

What is very interesting about this is that Tesco (and just about everyone else who parks on the pavement) appears to be breaking section 72 of the delightfully old Highways Act 1835 which is still in force and is probably one of the most powerful laws available to us which states that it is an offense: “If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway“. The great thing about that law is that there is very little wriggle room – there in nothing about such driving needing to be ‘unreasonable’, ‘unnecessary’ which makes the obstruction law so useless. All one needs is suitable evidence which can be provided by virtually by a mobile phone with video recording capability. Any recording needs to show the situation, the pavement, the vehicle registration number and the driver’s face. The offense can lead to a fine of ‘Level 2 on the standard scale‘ which is currently a maximum of £500 which might make them pay some attention. It would of course be necessary to convince a court that it was worth their time to bring it to court. This is certainly something to explore in much more detail going forward.

Here are a bunch of Tesco photos; the first is from last week’s delivery and the last two from today’s delivery showing that not much has changed.

Tesco delivering on 15 March 2012 – no space for pedestrians

Back on the pavement on 22 March 2012. Pedestrians approaching with buggy.

Another view of the 22 March delivery

As always, I will email Tesco and ask for their thoughts and let you know what happens!

Update

Tesco have come back very efficiently and very promptly and assured me that it is company policy that Tesco home delivery vans should always obey all traffic laws and as such should never drive on the pavement!

As such, I am sure they would be interested to hear from anyone else around the country who has problems with Tesco vans up on pavements. If you have a problem then do please email customer.service@tesco.co.uk with details of the incident and provide the following details:

  • Time and date
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Street name and town
  • Your contact details

Do please also drop a comment with the the details of the incident (but not your personal information) onto the comments section of this post and we will see if anything changes as a result.

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.