Saturday 10 October 2015

My school, parking, myths & excuses

We're always told change takes time, but when road safety outside Kings Heath Primary school continues to deteriorate over a matter of years, it's hard to believe it'll ever happen.  Here's some of the feeble myths and excuses I've been given:

'Someone has to die before anything can be done'

Ghost Bike in memory of Hope - see
This is advice I've been given directly by representatives from our Highways Authority and indirectly via what local Councillors and the Head teacher at Kings Heath Primary have been told by the  Highways Authority.  People have died - 100 yards from the school Hope Fennell died, and nationally, many more on their way to and from school.

Section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 sets out the statutory duty for highway authorities to measure, promote and implement road safety measures:
"..the highway authority must also carry out accident studies on roads within their area, and take appropriate measures to prevent accidents."
The fatality statistics is only one of many studies our Highways should be taking into consideration.  Are our Highways Authority really only interested in road safety once someone has died?  If so, are statutory duties being breached?

'Residents object to double yellow lines outside their house'

Valentines Road with painting by KHP children
Sustrans conducted extensive research on Valentines Road, including a street closure with a road carpet painting experiment.  As far as I am aware, no objections were made by any local residents - if they had, the street closure could not have happened.  Speaking as someone with double yellow lines outside my house, I'm glad cars are (mostly) discouraged from parking on or near the pavement.

Ms. Hanson, Headteacher at Kings Heath Primary has attended 'numerous meetings' over many years to attempt to have double yellow lines on this stretch of Valentines Road.

Do Highways have any evidence of 'objections', and are we able to see them?  Even if residents do object, road safety, under the Road Traffic Act should, of course, be more important to Highways authorities than resident preferences.

'Restrictions on parking are getting worse and worse'

Clearly showing erased double yellow lines
on Springfield Road outside KHP

Well, on the stretch of road outside Kings Heath Primary, double yellow lines have been removed over the summer, and not replaced.  There are no lollipop people reserve staff, so if ill, we have to do without.  This has meant most days so far this term we have been one lollipop person down - they have been very effective in guiding people away from dangerous parking, which is now far more routine outside our school - see the video.

'It's a nightmare, I can't park my car anywhere near the school'

It is a nightmare - parents need to be actively encouraged to park further from the school, or find other ways to get there - there has been a steady erosion of road safety outside Kings Heath Primary School - there are more cars, more of them parking dangerously, and less attention by the Highways Authority to do anything about it -painting double yellow lines to prevent dangerous parking is really a minimum.

Brook Lane dangerous pavement parking
forces pedestrians into the road - with parking tickets

This week it is sunny and bright on the way to school - next week it could be dark and wet, meaning more cars, and more accidents and near misses.  I have three children who have had one serious accident, and numerous near misses on the way to school.  Our children are blameless and vulnerable, and have a right, in law to arrive safely at school.  Our Highways Authority should maintain existing (limited) safety measures and could do more to meet basic road safety provision.


  1. There is ample parking in asda for anyone driving their children to kings heath primary school. Every time i go to pick up my child there are cars parked right outside the school causing traffic delays. The drivers are parents of the children attending the school.ACCIDENTS will happen unless something is done to discourage parents acting in such a selfish and unsafe manner!

    1. Yes, and some double yellows to encourage parents a bit will help too!

  2. If there are RTC's then there is a mandated duty for the roads authority to investigate them - Section 39.3.a RTA 1988. Unlike rail, air and marine incidents, which are independently and objectively investigated, and a detailed report produced and PUBLISHED when there are lesson to be learned, ther is no requirement to publish and no guidance from DfT on the standard. So an FoI request is required to get this detail.

    But it gets better. Section 39.3.b then tells the roads authority TO TELL ITSELF what to do to prevent any future RTC and remove hazards/manage risks effectively. Juvenal nailed that one 2000 years ago Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Do I really need to explain further on this massively flawed system?

    Comparing the 39.3.a inputs with the 39.3.b results screams out failings and frames the incompetence of many roads authorities in delivery of their duty of care and due diligence in respect of public safety.

    A few prosecutions/FPN could be useful. It beggars belief that a photograph of a car speeding, running a red traffic signal and many other traffic offences can be used to pursue prosecution, yet the patent fact that to put a car on the footway requires the driver to commit the offence that cyclists get routinely penalised for goes unchallenged. The driver has to be caught in flagrante delicto to get the charge to stick - just a simple change in how the law is enforced could massively change the position (just tot-up the number of drivers who could be fined £30 and pick up 3 penalty points on your video) - the law is incidentally s.72 Highways Act 1835 - a brilliantly drafted piece of legislation.

    Some bits have been split off since 1835 and if you cannot get past the car on the footway (and on the carriageway with other moving traffic) you have the test for s.137 HA 1980 - Obstruction - which can be an FPN or a fine of up to £1000.

    Bear in mind also that if the vehicle weighs over 7.5T you have s.19 RTA1988 in your armoury, and you can get a prosecution for this without having to see the driver driving on the footway. I stood my ground when a truck delivering supplies to the school kitchen arrived at my kids' school and the driver attempted to drive up onto the footway - filled with kids walking in to the school to park. Words were had with the head and the supplier about the lack of any safety policy on deliveries - simply avoiding those 30 minute windows when the area around the school and even the playgrounds are busy with kids is a detail that even the dumbest of managers should be able to recognise as a high risk.

    Anyway, that's enough to get on with there, do add up the potential for £ from fines for s.72 and s.137 offences - could be an impressive sum.

    PS your head on bus crash, delivered by the bus route having parked cars forcing on coming vehicles to approach with the potential to crash head on, as they did on this occasion. I note that the moving bus seemed to have no braking at all before the crash, and that type of bus (around 650 were built) has a recall notice on the rear brake system (mixing the parts for old and new versions can lead to brake failure). Has any investigation taken place as the law mandates? Perhaps BCC can oblige with the report?

  3. Wow. A lot of excellent detail. I'll go through carefully and discuss with Head teacher and BCC. Thanks

    1. Thanks Dave and Marcus.

      Hope's mother.

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