Sunday, 2 March 2014

Inconsiderate and Illegal Parking

There is so much illegal and inconsiderate parking that we almost don’t see it. With this in mind, and after noticing some blatant examples on a recent ride, I decided to look back over the footage of taken on my head-cam to highlight a few examples.

The attached video shows what I mean. First up, we have a group of commercial vehicles all in a line, all parked entirely across the pathetic excuse that passes for a cycle lane and much of the pavement too. A series of drivers all think that their convenience is more important than that of the people who might like to walk or cycle along this way.

Then we have the lazy driver who has parked on double yellow lines outside a local shop. Just a few metres along there were spaces to park. Would it have been so difficult to have parked a little further along and walked back to the shop?

A minute or so further along we have cars parked entirely or almost entirely on the pavement. Never mind if you are trying to walk along that way or wheel a pushchair, or wheel yourself in a wheelchair. Do these people not realise that the pavements are not designed for the weight of vehicles? Over time, the surface of the pavement is damaged causing risk of injury to people trying to walk along and costing council tax payer’s money in repairs.

Finally, we have a white car parked on a junction. A few years ago, I acted for the mother of a young boy who was killed in an accident that was contributed to by the thoughtless actions of a motorist who parked their vehicle so close to a junction that it reduced visibility for other road users. That person’s convenience cost a human life.

It really is time that people thought more about where they are going to park their cars and also time that the authorities took action.

We also need, as a society, to wean ourselves off this almost religious devotion to the car and the fanatical insistence upon being able to park where the hell we want that comes with it.

Tim Beasley, Partner, Levenes Solicitors

Friday, 24 January 2014

Cyclist and Lorry Driver see each other - nothing bad happens.

On my commute in to work the other day, I was riding in the bus lane in the Newtown Area of Birmingham. Traffic from Birchfield Road emerges from an underpass which bypasses a traffic island. Cyclists are permitted to ride in the bus lane. Normally that means just having to watch out for buses. However, there is a left turn just ahead. Traffic coming from Birchfield Road often drives across to the left across the bus lane to take this left turn. 
On this particular morning, I noticed a Pilkington glass lorry. He was coming uphill (having just come out of the underpass) and was slowing down. I was going downhill having come down from the island above the underpass. I was going ahead at the next lights and I was gaining speed. The lorry intends to go left. I am gaining on him rapidly as he slows right down and he looms towards me somewhat ominously. I see his indicator and brake. I realise what he intends to do. Thankfully, we have both seen each other. When he realises that I have slowed right down and that I am not going to come through, he makes his move. 
So you might ask, why should I be drawing attention to this little incident when nothing bad happend. 
When I viewed the footage, I realised how much we depend on looking out for each other on our roads.  Many of the deaths of cyclists on our roads have involved cyclists who have been crushed by left turning heavy goods vehicles. I ask myself, if I had continued at my previous speed and the lorry driver had not seen me, I would be dead. As I was in my lane and he was in another lane, it would have been his fault because I am entitled to proceed in my lane at the speed that traffic in my lane is proceeding. That's would not be much comfort to my wife and children. However, since I did not want to tangle with him, I gave way.  There was noone right behind me. What would have happened, if a bus was just coming up behind me and had not noticed me? By braking to avoid the lorry, I could have been hit by a bus. 
In the Netherlands, the construction of proper road infrastructure has reduced the risk that a moments inattention of a cyclist or a lorry driver does not result in an inquest. People do make mistakes. Death should not be the consequence.  We have it within our power to reduce the death toll on our roads by providing proper Dutch style infrastructure. 
Tim Beasley, Partner, Levenes Solicitors Birmingham Office.