Friday, November 09, 2012

In Defence of Rita – The Meter Maid

Here’s Jim Jepps: “traffic wardens do a job that serves the community, keeps the traffic moving and the pavements clear.”

And on that subject of keeping traffic moving, Area Committee 3 had an interesting discussion on Traffic Management proposals in Fencepiece Road between the junctions with Tomswood Hill and New North Road last Wednesday evening (7th November).

As usual Cllr David Poole was on the side of the “hard pressed” motorist pointing out that “street clutter” in the form of pedestrian islands restrict traffic flow especially when they are located close to a bus stop, and that the imposition of cycle lanes on both sides of the road would cut down on the room for traffic to move freely. But many is the time I have had to wait behind a bus at a bus stop, without any traffic islands in sight, simply because of the flow of “hard pressed” motorists coming in the other direction. And we heard from Cllr Harold Moth who had that day walked along Fencepiece Road counting the number of parked cars on both sides, of which there were many and there were still lots there when I got the 247 back to the Fairlop Oak later in the evening. Now, if my maths are correct a parked car takes out about 6 feet of the highway whereas a cylce lane takes out about er…. 3 feet.

Just as those people who complain about mobile phone masts and then give a mobile phone number as their preferred contact, here we have a case where the “hard pressed” motorist wants to park their vehicle on the public highway and add to the “street clutter” which causes obstruction to traffic flow for other “hard pressed” motorists.

Then there is the case of the 169 bus and Fullwell Avenue. I have seen, and have been a passenger on that bus, when it can’t proceed between the kerb and a traffic island because a “hard pressed” motorist has left some “street clutter” there in the form of a parked car, and the bus has to wait for a gap in oncoming traffic to proceed on the wrong side of the island. And this in a road where full 4-wheel off road parking is allowed.

However, I think this might be what Cllr Poole was referring to. The bus (a LB of Redbridge bus) below was “parked” in Fremantle Road on Thursday afternoon directly behind the white van.

This was the result.

The tail back stretched back along Clayhall Avenue past the brow of the hill and probably beyond The Unicorn before the bus driver finally realised he had to move. This all took place within 10-15 minutes.

We are informed today by Cllr Moth that a Traffic Management Order has been agreed to place Double Yellow Lines at this location to further “the war on the hard pressed motorist”.


  1. Lets not forget the hard pressed motorists who disobey the Highway Code and fail to give way to buses as they pull away from bus stops causing unnessesary delay
    . A kind of moving street clutter if you will.

  2. I note that the Highway Code is, like so many other things, being dumbed down these days, making it harder for the 'hard pressed motorist' to understand the real implications.

    Look at this, for example:

    "Drive carefully and slowly when ...

    ... turning at road junctions; give way to pedestrians who are already crossing the road into which you are turning."

    This used to say, IIRC: "When turning at a junction, if pedestrians are already crossing the road, they have absolute priority ..."

    The last time I checked, the word 'absolute' had been removed - fair enough, it is tautology, after all - but it lost a bit of emphasis as a result. The current wording, however, seems to be designed to have minimal impact (or the other way round, if you happen to be the unfortunate pedestrian ...).

    Most traffic law is the same here as on the continent except that our European neighbours, in general, (Italians excepted!) actually obey them. In the case of many light controlled junctions, therefore, there is no need for a separate pedestrian phase to hold up the 'hard pressed motorist', whether anybody wishes to cross, or not.

    The case that Papanomicron cites is an interesting one. Although I always observe priority to buses, my behaviour, and that of bus drivers, is tempered by the actions of those who don't. Thus there is point beyond which the bus driver doesn't expect anybody to stop and to do so is counter productive - to the extent of following drivers pulling out and passing both me and the bus if I do!

    The first time I drove abroad, I was close enough to a bus to assume that, when his indicator came on, he wouldn't expect me to stop. Wrong! My foot hit the brake and I stopped. Needless to say, I've never made that mistake again!

    In Spain, a few years ago, I was driving through a quiet town where the road had been divided into into a dual carriageway, with each carriageway being only one lane wide. A couple were waiting to cross at a light controlled crossing but the light facing me wasn't working, so I slowed down and flashed my lights, indicating that they should cross.

    The man simply jabbed his finger across the road, obviously telling me that there was a red man facing him. As I passed them, it occurred to me that they they were both of an age to have been raised under the rule of President Franco ...

  3. And in another shock to the "hard pressed" motorist the war against them takes on a new twist as plans to follow France and introduce compulsory personal breathalysers are unveiled. Click.

  4. The long queues that I see in the mornings in Fencepiece Road and all the roads approaching Fullwell Cross roundabout are caused not only by parents bringing children to King Solomon High School but by the children thmselves, who amble, as children naturally do, across the four uncontrolled zebra crossings in little gaggles of two or three and in an almost continuous stream. This situation will be worse when Ilford Jewish Primary School is moved to the site.

    The sensible option would be to put controlled crossings in place so that cars have at least half a chance of getting past them, or to have four lollipop ladies or men to hold back the children for a few seconds to give the motorists a chance.

    As for parking wardens: in St. Albans where I have a business, about five years ago the policing of parking was passed from the Local Authority to a private company. Unfortunately there was a gap of a week between the end of LA respsonsibility and the beginning of the contract. As a result people parked wherever they liked and for a week the traffic ground to a halt.

    A suggestion: a 'Flying Squad' of wardens on motorbikes who can be called to a serious obstruction like the one in your photo. Tow away and a fine of £1,000 if the flying squad is called out.