#PavementsR4Pedestrians – but often not in Bishopston, St Andrews and Ashley Down where traffic and parking is largely unregulated or, if it is regulated, the regulations are rarely enforced. The result is a daily, unsafe and unpleasant assault course for pedestrians and cyclists (1).
Residents’ pleas to the current Mayor Marvin Rees have met with inaction locally (2). What will the next Bristol Mayor do about it? In the run up to the Mayoral and council elections in May, Bishopston and St Andrew’s Traffic and Parking Group (BOSA) (3) is campaigning to find out.
What is going on?
Particularly for those with mobility and sensory impairments and for those who use buggies and wheelchairs to get around, the pavements in Bishopston, St Andrews and Ashley Down are often inaccessible, unsafe and unwelcoming (4). The blighted area, wedged between three, successful Residents’ Parking Zones, already attracts drivers wanting free, on-street, vehicle storage.
With the city centre’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) coming into force in the next year BOSA anticipates that the problems of traffic congestion and vehicle parking in areas just outside the zone are predicted to escalate as diesel vehicle drivers park for free on local streets and walk or take a bus into the zone rather than pay the CAZ charge.
When drivers store their vehicles on street corners, across dropped kerbs and on pavements, they oblige pedestrians to walk in the road – unlit after dark; or prevent them from leaving home for fear of the dangers of obstructive parking, denying them the right to access work, shops, leisure opportunities and a social life (5).
If police or council enforcement officers are asked to sanction drivers’ behaviour, local residents are told that the double yellow lines are too faded to enforce; it is possible to squeeze past vehicles stored on the pavement; staff resources are too low to enforce the regulations; and it is suggested to lobby the council to provide more double yellow lines, dropped kerbs and enforcement.
Residents have been in dialogue with councillors and Mayor Marvin Rees for five years – to no avail, despite a recent survey undertaken by council officers favouring action to regulate traffic and parking in the area (6).
What do we want?
The May elections for Mayor and Councillors give residents the opportunity to log how fed up they are with living in a largely unregulated vehicle storage zone. Weekly photo opportunities leading up to the elections will demonstrate the impact of unregulated traffic and parking in Bristol (7).
Bristol City Council already has the powers to regulate traffic and parking on residential streets, and more powers are predicted (8). But will the next Mayor and councillors use these powers? We will be asking every Mayoral and council candidate in our local area, “If you are elected, will you commit to using these powers in our area?” (9)
Notes for Editors
(1) BOSA contributed to Channel Five “Britain’s Parking Hell” (link to programme on My5 can be found at the bottom of the Resources page)
(2) No systematic pavement parking and traffic regulations measures have been instituted in the past five years in the Bishopston and St Andrews area despite repeated requests, a council survey of residents (see (5)) and ongoing communications to the Mayor, the Cabinet Lead for Transport and meetings with local councillors. Just in the past month as the next Mayoral election looms, the Mayor has replied to say that he, Kye Dudd, the Cabinet lead for transport and council transport officers are willing to meet with us. We have asked them to name a date and time. We will be seeking a commitment to making Bristol’s pavements accessible and safe, providing unobstructed, pedestrian access along them for everyone including disabled people, children, the elderly, and those pushing and using wheelchairs and buggies.
- Twitter: @bosatpgroup https://twitter.com/bosatpgroup
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BOSAtrafficandparking/
(4) Pavement parking:
- Fails to uphold the statutory authorities’ duties under the Equality Act 2010;
- Allowing it to happen legitimises it, encourages ever more extreme abuses and effectively reduces yet further the space for pedestrians;
- Reduces safe access for pedestrians, particularly those with wheelchairs, with sight impairments, needing arm support and in buggies;
- Reduces safe road crossing for pedestrians owing to obscured sight lines;
- ‘Safe routes to school’ are not safe;
- Reporting to the police is time consuming and mostly ineffectual;
- Directly impedes active travel and indirectly people’s health: ’50 per cent of older people said that they would be more likely to walk outside if the pavements were clear of vehicles parked on them.’ (Living Streets, ‘Pavement Parking Factsheet’)
See also Living Streets https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/media/3961/pavements_people_parking.pdf
(5) Parking on the pavement, even with just two wheels, can be dangerous. It obstructs safe sight lines for crossing the road and may force vulnerable pedestrians to negotiate kerbs where there are no drop kerbs and to walk in the road. It may also threaten people’s independence and wellbeing if they are put off going out and about on their own because they don’t know whether they can get to the shops or the bus stop safely. ‘Going out independently is enough of a challenge as it is, the added stress caused by thoughtless drivers is something I really don’t need and makes a life with already limited choices even more difficult.’ (RNIB Volunteer Campaign Coordinator)
(6) ‘In the Bishopston and St Andrews survey area responses were received from 1,282 properties, out of 3,315 properties in the survey area. 1,618 responses were received in total from the 1,282 properties (there was more than one response from many households).
- 70% of those responding were in favour of Junction Protection
- 60% of those responding were in favour of a Residents Parking Scheme’
(7) The press is invited to report on BOSA’s weekly photo opportunities:
- Thursday 8th April, 17.15: double yellow lines, Cromwell/Belmont Rd corner, walking to Elton Rd
- Tuesday 13th April, 12 noon: buggy and wheelchair obstructions – Grenville Rd, St Andrew’s
- Wednesday 21st April, 13.00: poster campaign, Somerville/North Rd corner, walking to junction of Belmont/Belvoir Rd via Overton Rd.
(8) Already in Scotland, London, Exeter, Worcester and Hereford parking on the pavement is illegal unless otherwise stated by street signs. In Bristol current highways legislation is ambiguous and costly to enforce, falling between local authority and police enforcement powers. The result in Bristol is that many drivers obstruct pavements and dropped kerbs on a daily basis, even where double yellow lines prohibit any parking. Often they are unaware of the danger to pedestrians that their parking habits cause.
The Highways Act 1980 (Section 130 (1)) imposes a duty on highways authorities to assert and protect the rights of the public to use and enjoy the highway. Regulation 103 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states that: “No person in charge of a motor vehicle …shall cause or permit the vehicle to stand on a road so as to cause unnecessary obstruction of the road.” This includes vehicles parked on footpaths. Contravention of this regulation is a criminal offence and the police can require removal of the vehicle. In summary, drivers are committing an offence when they park on the pavement where there are double yellow lines on the road, or where they obstruct pedestrians.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind’s position is that a failure to enforce these regulations is a breach of the Equality Act 2010 because it places blind and partially sighted people at a substantive disadvantage (‘Parking on Pavements – Quick Wins for Local Authorities’, How local authorities can work with blind and partially sighted people to build a better future, Based on RNIB’s Quick wins and missed opportunities report, June 2012).
BOSA would add that children, the frail elderly, people with mobility impairments are also disadvantaged. Rule 244 of the Highway Code states: “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.” Moreover, pavements are not built to take the weight of vehicles so the local authority may accrue unnecessary, additional, maintenance costs. Local authorities may face personal injury claims if pedestrians trip on broken pathways, or they may have a case to claim for damage caused to the footpath and kerbs.
The Transport Select Committee’s 2019 report on Pavement Parking Recommendation 5 asked the Government to speed up the transfer of parking powers from the police to local authorities for those areas that have yet to decriminalise parking. Government responded that it would move forward in haste with this recommendation (https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/pavement-parking-the-break-down).
(9) Letter from BOSA to Mayoral candidates