Monday 14 March 2011

I Guess It's Not A 'H&S Issue' After All Then?

Southend Council is to spend £75,000 altering hundreds of seafront parking bays following a barrage of criticism from motorists.
Yup, that'll be these bays. The ones the council were insisting were for our protection.
The bays, originally at right angles to the road, were changed so they slanted away from oncoming traffic, forcing motorists to drive past them, then reverse in.

At the time, the council claimed the new layout was safer, but the majority of drivers – forced to stop on the busy road and reverse against the flow of traffic – disagreed.
And there was a big hoo-ha and the council insisted that they were obeying Dept of Transport guidelines and sorry, guv, nuffink we can do, right?
Yesterday, the council confirmed it would be changing the layout so the bays faced the other way, allowing motorists to drive straight into a bay.

Mark Flewitt, Tory Southend councillor responsible for transport and planning, said work would start within days. A new zebra crossing, extra disabled parking bays and a taxi rank would be added at the same time.
Which is presumably going to account for most of that eye-watering 'Ooops, we goofed!' sum.

Which perhaps should come out of the pocket of the person responsible for ploughing ahead in the first place in the teeth of so much opposition, eh? Who was that, anyway?

Oh. Of Course. Southend Council's one-woman disaster area:
Senior Tory councillor Anna Waite was responsible for transport and planning when the slanted bays were first marked out.
A little mea culpa, Anna?
She said: “The layout was the Department For Transport recommendation for a road with a 30mph limit.

“It was also what our officers recommended to me, since we didn’t want to lower the speed limit on that bit of road.

“The council said at the time it would review the arrangement, after a season, which is what we are doing. I suspect the average speed along there is already below 30 mph, but I hope whatever decision is made considers all the safety aspects.
I think the safest thing Southend Council could do in future is the opposite of whatever this woman thinks is a good idea....


The Filthy Engineer said...

Better still. Sack her.

Rob said...

It was done that way in anticipation of an EU directive ordering us to drive on the right.

microdave said...

Reversing into a space when the following vehicles have stopped behind you has to be safer than trying to back out (blind) in the face of oncoming traffic.

But since most drivers can't reverse into a space to save their lives, I guess this is why the bays are being re-marked.

Rob's explanation is probably correct..

SadButMadLad said...

Actually microdave I would have thought it safer to drive in slowly rather than stop, cause an obstruction while you wait for the car behind you to move back a bit so that you can reverse into the bay, all the time causing traffic problems for other drivers.

Having the bay facing the traffic makes it easier to spot an empty bay too.

When reversing out of a bay you can wait as long as you want while waiting for a gap in the traffic.

If you want to see how it's done, just look to America where they have had decades of experience with such layouts.

Captain Haddock said...

Does Essex have a secret breeding facility for these morons somewhere ?

They seem to suffer from them on an all too regular basis for it to be pure coincidence ..

ivan said...

I have to agree with microdave - it is much better to reverse into a space - you can see what is behind you, than to reverse out blind int the traffic.

The drivers that complained just don't know how to reverse. They would never survive in my village. You have two choices if you want to drive to my house - reverse up the hill or down, the road is just wide enough to get my 4x4 along it and there is no turning space except in my garage. On the other hand one can always walk the 500 metres from the parking to the church.

Angry Exile said...

I think microdave and SadButMadLad both have a point, but which one of them is right depends on what others are doing at the time you park. If there's a decent sized gap in traffic and you have time to go past the space and back in then it makes sense to do so and give yourself an easier exit. It's also a lot easier and safer to be going forwards rather than reversing if you want to cross the near lane and join traffic heading right. On the other hand if you have traffic right behind you you might not be able to back in without causing as many problems for others as you solve for yourself so it can be better to go nose to the kerb.

The trouble with angled parking - very common in this neck of the woods - is that it leans on you to do one or the other. Angled away from the traffic encourages reversing in but creates the kind of problems that happened in Westcliffe, while angling toward makes it very easy to go nose in but very hard to reverse in if it's safe to do so, on top of which you have to turn your head that much further when reversing because oncoming traffic won't be coming from your 9 o'clock but more like 7.30ish depending on how close to 45˚ the bays are. A lesser quibble is that angled bays are less space efficient whichever direction they point since on a straight section there'll be a couple of triangular areas at the ends of the run of bays that can't be used for parking but are each big enough to accommodate half a car.

Make the bays 90˚ to the kerb and not only do you get that parking space back (or the existing ones can be a little wider if they've been a bit tight on room) but drivers get the choice of driving in forwards or reversing in depending on what's practical at the time and in which direction they intend to go when they leave. The only downside for the powers that be is that this naturally involves letting people make decisions for themselves, and if you're going to let that sort of thing go on what the fuck's the point of being in local government in the first place. ;-)

JuliaM said...

"Better still. Sack her."

If only. People keep voting for her, god only knows why...

"It was done that way in anticipation of an EU directive ordering us to drive on the right."

Heh! I wouldn't be at all surprised. Except Southend Council is incapable of playing the long game.

"Does Essex have a secret breeding facility for these morons somewhere ?"

It's no secret, and in Essex, it's pretty much done in the open air!

"I think microdave and SadButMadLad both have a point, but which one of them is right depends on what others are doing at the time you park."

In Southend, you can only guarantee one thing - they'll be doing whatever they feel like at the time, regardless of traffic laws.

banned said...

"...This means drivers are forced to drive past the space and reverse back into it."

We have had bays like that for years, in a busy narrow shopping street. It gets really funny when the mums arrive in their 4X4s to collect their offspring from the nearby private schools, especially if white van man is delivering to said shops at the time.

But as MD suggests, they tend to take the easy option if driving straight in leaving the dangerous bit of reversing out for when their little treasures are on boatd.