Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

TapThe S.S. Great Britain arrives in New York

31 Mar 2012 23:33 by Rick

Breaking news 28 August, 1845. I was reading Volume 1, Issue 1 of Scientific American today and this article was at the head of page 2.

The text reads…

This mammoth of the ocean, which has recently arrived from Liverpool, has created much excitement here as well as in Europe; being in fact the greatest maratime curiosity ever seen in our harbour. She was built by the Great Western Steam-Ship Company, at Bristol, England. Her keel was laid in July 1839, and she was launched in July, 1844, with her engines and machinery on board. She is composed entirely of iron, which renders her perfectly safe against accidents by fire, and even an explosion of her steam-boilers could not sink her, as she is divided into five different compartments, each being thoroughly water-tight, so that in case of accident even one perfect division would float the vessel and cargo. The length of the keel is 290 feet; total length 322 feet; beams 51 feet; depth 32 feet 6 inches. She has four decks, the upper one being flush and is 308 feet long; the second deck consists of two promenade saloons, one of which is 110 feet long by 22 wide. The third deck consists of dining saloons, the first of which is 96 by 30 feet. The saloons are 8 feet 3 inches high and surrounded with berths of which there are sufficient to accommodate 252 persons. Her burden is 3,600 tons, and her engines are capable of working 1,000 horse powers. She has four engines united, which with the boilers, weigh 540 tons. The main shaft is 28 inches in diameter in the centre, and 24 inches in the bearings, and weighs nearly 16 tons. The power of the engines is applied to the single submerged propeller, on the screw principle, and 15 feet 6 inches in diameter. The engines and boilers occupy a space of 80 feet in the middle portion of the vessel; the boilers are heated by 24 fires, and will contain 2,00 tons of water. She has six masts, four of which are hinged for lowering when head winds set in; the masts are made of iron having iron wire rigging, so that very little surface is presented to the resistance of the atmosphere; the quantity of canvas carried, is about 4,900 square yards. Upwards of 1,500 tons of iron have been used in her construction; her draught of water is about 16 feet, and the displacement of water equal to 3,200 tons.

The great Britain was visited while at Liverpool by 33,000 persons, and probably by an equal number at London. During the few days since her arrival at New York, she has been visited by about 12,000 people, who have paid 25 cents for the gratification. If there is anything objectionable in the construction or machinery of this noble ship, it is the mode of propelling her by the screw propeller; and we should not be surprised if it should be, ere long, superceded by paddle wheels at the sides; as there can be little doubt that such an improvement would increase her speed to 18 miles per hour, and render her the swiftest ship on the ocean.

A modern photograph of her, restored, can be found here.

TapSpam Timeshare Phone Calls

9 Mar 2012 12:58 by Rick

I expect everyone gets these occasionally, but the situation is worse if you are already a timeshare owner as we are. The calls we get are from people like Bonus Week Breaks and The Gift Company who claim to know you and also claim that they are either part of or affiliated to RCI. RCI are the exchange organisation we belong to, another one is Interval International. (don’t the web sites look similar—the phone number is the same as well! Another one I have found is The Ultimate Holiday Package.)

I complained to RCI about this (knowing at the back of my mind that it was all bogus) and got this reply (extract).

We would advise you to always ask the caller for your RCI membership
number when receiving any calls regarding your timeshare. We are aware
some of these companies are referring to themselves as RCI. If they can
not provide you with the information you request i.e. membership number,
deposited weeks in your account, etc, we would advise you to terminate
the call. We have no control over these calls but we are gathering
information so that we can pursue these companies and put an end to any
misconduct.

Please be advised that RCI uphold the Data Protection Act and we do not
pass member information to 3rd party companies. We are at a loss as to
how these companies have retrieved your personal details.

The answer to the last question is that they got the information from some of the resorts who are less fussy about their clients privacy.

We are, in general very satisfied with our timeshare experience but the nuisance of these calls has tempted me to get our phone number changed.

MindTimeshare has an article about these companies and other Timeshare frauds.

TapWe’re…

19 Dec 2011 09:57 by Rick

Although they say that everything on facebook is there for ever, in practice the visibility of any one item is very transient. This fantastic rap came up on Radio Free Babylon last week and has already dropped off the front page. I think it is worth preserving so I reproduce it here (with thanks and slightly improved formatting). All credit to the original authors.

We’re reformed. We’re fundamental.
We’re traditional. Experiential.
We’re Shakers. We’re Quakers.
We’re Baptists. We’re Trappists.
We’re Friends. We’re with the Brethren.
We’re addicts. We’re reverends.
We’re insecure. We’re not so sure.
We’re being cured. We’re not so pure.
We’re Charismatic. We’re problematic.
We’re Latter Rain. We feel your pain.
We’re old fashioned. We’re progressive.
We’re laid back. We’re aggressive.
We’re a throwback to the fast track.
We’re with the Jew—and He’s with you.
We’re disciples. We’re students.
We’re careless—and imprudent.
We’re sinners. We’re winners.
The air seems thinner. We’re at the dinner.

Where you’ve been and where you’re gonna be is not for us to see.
What you did and what you’re gonna do is not what qualifies you.
Is it true that we’re just what we perceive—or what we think we believe?
We’re just trying to finish the float—and there’s room in the boat.

TapStuffed for Christmas by FirstBus

2 Dec 2011 17:11 by Rick

Throughout November and December we are replacing our current ticket and MCV machines with new smart card enabled machines.

FirstBus

Actually—no! You are introducing new “Dumb cards.”

The old ones were open season tickets which were validated on first use and then available for 7 or 31 days. I buy a wad of them when they are on discount and use them as needed. The new ones have a start and end date on them when purchased so you have to know in advance when you are going to want them. No late booking of holidays then else lose a chunk of your season ticket.

Anyway, these are only interim tickets read by eye-of-driver as the full network of machines won’t be installed and operational until April (according to the Council) then real smart tickets become available, but I wonder just how smart they will be and in whose favour.

TapTV Licencing for Students

3 Nov 2011 10:46 by Rick

It is as well to make sure you are doing the right thing with your TV licence because the agency is notoriously unforgiving, very hard to convince about unusual situations and can harass you mercilessly. They have recently clarified the requirements regarding internet watching and laptops etc. The relevant rules are&#8230.

Watching TV on the internet
You need to be covered by a licence if you watch TV online at the same time as it’s being broadcast on conventional TV in the UK or the Channel Islands.

Your parents’ TV Licence will not cover you while you are away at university unless you only use a device that’s powered solely by its own internal batteries. You must not plug it into the mains when using it to receive TV.

So it looks like you may be able to get away with a laptop without a licence so long as it is either running on battery and internet (no aerial and the charger is not plugged in—that includes not using an external monitor) or you are only using catch-up services. But I suspect it will not be easy to convince them if they turn up on your doorstep. If you use a TV capable for reception as a computer monitor it can be incredibly hard to convince them that you don’t receive programs on it. Make sure there are no internal aerials or cables nearby capable of connecting to a rooftop aerial e.g. provided by your landlord.

You don’t need a licence during the summer holidays
Good news. If you move out of your term-time address for the summer months, you can ask us to give you back the cost of the licence for that time – which could be around £37. (As long as your licence is still valid for at least three full calendar months and you don’t need it again before it expires.)

So remember to apply for a refund when you finish for the year.

TapBristol Independents

3 Oct 2011 22:53 by Rick

I have just been introduced to this organisation which is promoting independent shop traders in Bristol. They have produced a series of six recipe postcards, one for each major shopping thoroughfare in Bristol. This is the Gloucester Road one and I have also seen the Whiteladies Road one. Each one has on the back a recipe supplied by locals and which can be easily made from ingredients purchased in a short walk down the road rather than a car trip to Jamie’s or Delia’s emporium. Look out for them in your area.

See my post from July to learn more about this fascinating street.

TapWhat’s the game?

2 Sep 2011 17:05 by Rick

We buy houses - Any price, any condition. Call Emma on 07930 ******I first saw one of these adverts at the beginning of the summer. It was scrawled onto a piece of cardboard torn from a box and tied to a lamp-post with string and I thought “they have got to be kidding”. Since then this slightly smarter one has appeared in a similar place and now I have seen a more detailed one stuck to the door of a car which adds “Up to full market value paid. Fast, reliable service. No agent fees.”.

Is this some sort of scam or is it they just don’t like estate agents? At a guess I would say they they were exploiting people who are having trouble meeting their mortgage but I will be glad to be reassured that they are above board.

TapStreet of Surprises

1 Jul 2011 09:55 by Rick

A survey of the Gloucester Road in Bristol

Gloucester Road is part of the main A38 trunk north out of Bristol and extends from the end of Cheltenham Road at the junction with Zetland Road, 1.7 miles up to Horfield Common before becoming Filton Road. It says in Wikipedia (without atribution) that it has the largest number of independent traders on any one road in the UK.

There are two independent directory web sites; one, ♥ Gloucester Road apparently supported by the Gloucester Road Trader’s Association but charges for “enhanced business listings” and another, Love Gloucester Road which has unknown support but appears to be crowd sourced. Neither is complete nor entirely accurate. Also the Bishopston, Cotham & Redland Neighbourhood Partnership and The Bishopston Society take an active interest in the road.

As I now travel regularly up the full length of the road by the leisurely and stress free public bus, I thought I would survey the street and see if it is as unique as suggested and also to look at some of the frequent complaints about degeneration. I surveyed the first mile of the road up to the junction with Rudthorpe Road (Numbers 1 to 457) where the bulk of the shops are. Beyond there it reverts to a typical suburban trunk road, mostly housing with local parades of shops forming small villages. I have included a short stretch of some adjoining roads where there were businesses which could be considered part of the community—for example Overton Road. Perhaps I should have included Cheltenham Road as far as The Arches but I don’t pass that bit regularly.

Using the street numbers there are very nearly five hundred properties in the section. I observed that the numbering in places was completely irrational, particularly between 237 and 257. The Promenade (1 to 15) is included but not the houses 28 to 38 behind them. Many numbered properties are doubled up for larger businesses reducing the total to 420 separate units. Excluding the 42 private houses and apartment blocks reduces the number to 378 business premises.

It is curious that many traders don’t seem to know the number of their shop; there is even one advertising with the wrong address.

Criticism

It is a wasteland of derelict and empty shops?

I identified that 10% of the properties were vacant, 38 including one that burned down whilst compiling this report. That figure is certainly high and is exacerbated by them occurring in clumps—there are particularly bad patches between 148 and 158 which have all been empty for some time and a large property next to the Baptist church which, thankfully, now looks like it is now being renovated. Neglected and unoccupied shops became a magnet for bill posters and graffiti. The impression is not helped by traders who move to nearby premises leaving the old one in a terrible state; they should realise that it reflects badly on them, especially if it is still identifiable. Other shops which are open could do with a tidy up. I know times are hard but it is not good if you can’t tell an open shop from a vacant lot. But, overall, that is not my impression and a subjective view is that the road has improved and brightened up over the last few years.

Praise

“You can buy pretty much anything you need here.” Peter Browne, hon. sec. Bishopston Traders Association.

For each property that is occupied, and for those recently vacated where possible, I have identified the type of business and categorised them by planning code. The type of business was determined by exterior signage and mistakes are almost inevitable but it should give a general feel. The planning codes are also a guess, I have not consulted the council records. The results are

Retail (A1) 200 (53%)
Financial and Professional (A2) 40 (11%)
Restaurants & cafes (A3) 28 (7%)
Pubs & Bars (A4) 19 (5%)
Hot Food Takeaways (A5) 25 (7%)
Industrial & Office (B) 18 (5%)
Hotels etc. (C1 & C2) 1
Community Facilities (D) 28 (7%)—includes Doctors and Dentists
Special Planning Requirements 12 (3%)—businesses with a high community impact
Unknown 7 (2%)

This confirms the feeling that the street is primarily retail. The range of goods is remarkably varied but it covers a different spectrum to the city centre and Mall. The basic needs are well catered with bakers, grocers, greengrocers, butchers, hardware plus small to medium scale supermarkets. It is strong on ethnic goods having European, Oriental, Eastern European, African, Middle Eastern and South American specialists. There is also a wide selection of art and decorative retailers including jewellers and florists but is rather thin on fashion, especially men’s. Large items like furniture have moved out of town but it is good to see a strong showing in electrical goods and carpets. Services are a feature with many hair & beauty establishments. The A2 group includes banks and it is a shame that only two out of the big four are represented here. [Correction: The Nat-West I thought was closed was only boarded-up for refurbishment so there are three.]

Criticism

The street is a ghetto of charity shops, estate agents and takeaways?

The results above are not detailed enough to verify this and those that are there could be misleading so I went on to do a more detailed analysis. For example, many restaurants also have a takeaway facility which pushes their category up to A5 and cold food takeaways are excluded. The results of the further work (which only includes current businesses not ones that have closed) are

Charity Shops 13 (4%)
All Takeaways 28 (8%)
All Restaurants & cafés 45 (13%)
Estate & Letting Agents 12 (4%)
Hairdressers 24 (7%)

The street is certainly a place for eating and eat-in places out number takeaways considerably (they also overlap, some trading as both). Estate agents have dropped off in recent years and I don’t consider the number of charity shops excessive—perhaps the perception of there being a lot is because they move around more than other businesses? If you need a haircut you are well served here.

Criticism

The bars are a magnet for drunken crowds spilling onto the street at all hours?

I can only suggest that they haven’t seen Whiteladies Road and Park Street! The “Vertical Drinking Establishments” are covered by A4 above but many are small and are not used in this way. There are 11 pubs and two larger café/Bars with a slight concentration towards the lower end which may spill onto Cheltenham Road but otherwise they are well spread along the entire length. A pub crawl really would be a crawl by the time you got to the end. I have assumed that Restaurants but not Cafés have alcohol with food licences and have counted the following

Full Licence 20
Off Sales Licence 15
With Food Licence 15

The largest number of independent traders?

I have nothing to compare it against but I picked out those national chains that I recognised and came to a total of 37 (11%) with some of these being franchises with local owners. It is certainly predominately independent traders—much more so than you will find in the city centre and probably more than most county town high streets. One recent change is that there are now no chain off-licences; one has been replaced by an independent, one a supermarket and the other remains empty.

The complete analysis can be seen in the attached file (PDF). It will be interesting to review it in a year’s time to see the turnover of businesses and any trends.

TapOn the Buses – Returning after 35 years

13 Jun 2011 13:24 by Rick

In the 1970s, when I started my first proper job at Rolls-Royce, the bus was the normal means of travel. The management worked closely with the bus company to ensure that the employees could arrive on time and, when the Victory siren sounded at knock-off time, Gypsy Patch Lane and the Bus Park were awash with buses coming and going. Traffic was light so the buses were reasonably punctual and inspectors were on hand to sort out any problems. The routes were comprehensive and covered most of the city. But not everything was rosy—the buses were noisy, smelly and dirty, the drivers often surly and the ticketing was inflexible with little concession to regular users. As circumstances changed I moved to other transport—motorbike, car share and bicycle. The workforce at the factory declined and
the bus service went with it.

In recent years I have seen (from a distance) changes in the bus service but only occasionally used them. These included de-regulation which created multiple companies, the introduction and then decline of small hopper buses and the introduction of smarter double-deckers with the Showcase Partnership. The Centre is no longer a huge bus depot and only a few routes now reach the factory.

The retirement of my regular car-share partner, the rise in petrol prices and the timely email from the company Sustainability Network about special offers prompted me to look into the possibility of going back to the buses. An earlier idea to return to cycling was thwarted by a spell of poor health. I did some detailed calculations based on the per mile running cost of my car and, certainly with the special offer discount, using the bus was financially attractive so I vowed to give it a trial for a month and see how well it worked in practice.

The route

Using the internet extensively I discovered that the main service I would need was the same old Route 75 (FirstGroup) that I had used 35 years previously with the additional possibility of the 310 country bus from Thornbury and the 71a (Wessex Connect). As there is no inter-company ticket agreement I had to choose which one to use. The discount offer from FirstGroup plus the more frequent service of the 75 made the decision but it was a shame that the other route was not available as a backup as it would have been in the past. The Traveline journey planner web site doesn’t recognise this problem which makes it useless for
season ticket holders.

The loss of routes and the transfer of a few to other companies is a significant problem. The remaining routes stick mostly to the radial arteries out of the city with very few crossing between them. Had I still been living in Clifton as I had for a short time, there would no longer be a viable route to the factory. I had to do it once during the trial and the only way was into the Centre and back out or, slightly quicker, out to Cribbs Bus Station and back through Patchway.

The muddle of competing independent services—First, Wessex, ULink, Park&Ride, Flyer, Orbital, Night & others is an inconvenience for residents and visitors. London was left out of the grand bus de-regulation for this reason. Not that I would suggest that the near monopoly by FirstGroup should become absolute, but it does need a touch of regulation by the local
authorities.

Tickets

FirstGroup offers a bewildering variety of tickets—daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and even term and academic year season tickets covering one or more of three fare zones and various concessions. Some are available from the drivers, others from agents and some only direct from head office or via the internet. That is on top of the standard single and return tickets, about which there is remarkably little information—how do you discover what it costs to travel from A to B before you board and ask the driver? I suspect that day tickets and returns are now available before 9am but haven’t managed to verify that.

The special offer was for a Zone 1&2 monthly season ticket available for a two week period for £64 rather than the usual £76. So, one lunchtime, I strolled up to Patchway to find the agent and get one. The participating newsagent was neither the one on the main road, nor the one on the roundabout but a mile further on the housing estate. I was exhausted when I got back from the three mile round trip —it was unseasonably hot in April this year. Speaking to the owner of the newsagent on the main road, he said he had applied but was turned down because there was another one too near. I would disagree and, in any case, what is wrong with a little competition? Having located the correct agent I first had to convince him that the special offer existed at all and then, reluctantly, suffer a credit card surcharge.

What you get is a card which has to be read by a machine on each journey. It doesn’t require any ID so I suppose my wife could use it at weekends—an unexpected benefit. The zoning is a big improvement on the old days when season tickets were fixed to particular journeys. I never had one then because my work pattern wasn’t regular enough. These machines are twenty or more years old by now so must be due for replacement by an Oyster like system soon. Tickets purchased on board are still the traditional paper strip though now with UV anti-forgery security!

Towards the end of the experiment I looked again at the web site and discovered that, as expected, the price had reverted to normal—BUT—on closer inspection it was still at the discount price when you actually came to purchase one … so I ordered another while the going was good. These season tickets aren’t dated—the month starts from the day you first use it—but the internet form requires a start date for no apparent reason. Disregarding the discount, the best deal is the FirstExtra which gives you 12 x monthly tickets for the price of an annual season ticket and payment by instalments (interest free). It is extra good value because you wouldn’t actually use all 12 in a year if you take holidays. Of course, all these sums go for nothing if they increase the prices in line with fuel costs.

Timetables & Bus Stops

I found maps and timetables online so was able to plan my journey in detail. 14 minutes walk from home, 25 minutes on the bus, 5 minutes walk at the factory meant that I needed to catch the 7:47 to arrive in time to start my day—hence leave home at 7:35 which is about the same as when I drive.

That was the theory. In practice I soon discovered that the morning timetable was fiction. The arrival time of buses at Zetland Road was so erratic that you couldn’t tell which timetabled bus it was supposed to be. So I changed my schedule to leaving home ten minutes earlier and catching whatever came. The evening timetable was pretty reliable, perhaps because I was getting on only a mile or so from the start of the route. There is still the legendary problem of clumping and leapfrogging—no doubt a difficult one to solve.

An innovation since the old days is the electronic arrival indicator. These are fairly effective, though I haven’t quite figured out the logic of how they work and you have to allow for “Bus Minutes” being rather longer than the ones on your watch. I have seen days when the display is empty and others when buses arrived un-announced. Occasionally I was puzzled by the 07:47 vanishing from the screen altogether after having been static at “15 minutes” for some time. I have come to the conclusion that they were being withdrawn from service at the Centre. This made me very late on a couple of occasions but fortunately management is
rather more flexible than it used to be.

The bus stops in the City are pretty good, mostly with shelters, clean and with current timetables. They are easy to spot except perhaps in the central area where it can take some searching to find the one you need. It is good that they now have names on them. In South Gloucestershire the sign boards don’t contain as much useful information. The electronic display at Gypsy Patch Lane has been broken all month (Update! It was fixed sometime today, 3rd June) and I understand that there isn’t yet one at every stop.

Buses and roads

I was pleasantly surprised by how much the buses had improved over the years; they are now smooth, clean and comfortable. The entrance is at the same height as the (raised) kerb and the luggage rack is back (though I am not sure I would trust it if sitting upstairs). To go with the level entrance there is space for a wheelchair but I never saw it in use except by children’s push chairs. Free Metro newspapers are available – and the quality is what you would expect from “free”—but people do read them.

Another innovation is the “Stopping” indicator in addition to the traditional bell if you want to get off (it seems that all stops are request stops these days). This was effective on many buses but, on my regular route, the turquoise display is not bright enough for a sunny day. Another unexpected change is that country buses are no longer limited-stop making them no quicker than the city buses.

On a few buses there was a marquee display showing where the bus was going—it would be helpful for it to announce the next stop and I would have thought that the technology that does the bus stop signs could also do that. Also note that the back number boards are important but quite a few are broken.

I was impressed by the skill of the drivers—those tall double-deckers sway a lot with the road camber but, apart from low hanging branches, they never hit anything even when the shelters, lamp posts and trees were very close to the edge. The observance of regulations and courtesy to other road users and passengers was also good—even at frustrating moments when blocked by a slow cyclist that should have been on the designated track. From the vantage point of my preferred top-deck front seat you get a good view of what is happening and I saw a lot of bad driving from up there—it was very rare to see a cyclist observe a red traffic light signal for example and pedestrians seem to have a death wish.

Another observation is that bus lanes are often not the advantage that they are supposed to be. I still don’t understand why taxis are allowed to use them and, despite the regular attendance of wardens, people parking in them regularly blocks the buses forcing them out into the outer lanes. Although not an advocate of surveillance, perhaps the new bus lane cameras will be effective—I just hope their scope is limited to only that. Cycle lanes are also strange and sometimes beyond comprehension. Some are so short to be hardly worth while, just creating a false sense of security. In other places there are two lanes in parallel or not marked clearly so few cyclists use it. If a good set of contiguous lanes were available then I would suggest making them compulsory for the safety of the rider and convenience of other road users.

Conclusion

The experience overall was a good one, sufficient that I am going to continue to use the bus—at least as long as the discount holds. Some attention to detail could improve it but other problems may require long term serious research.

I was fortunate that the weather was good; only one rainy day (when the driver had to ask us to open the windows as his observation camera had steamed up). The added benefits have been the exercise to wake me up in the morning and the lower stress on the journey. The use of the ticket for extra journeys has been limited—partly because my wife hasn’t got one so where I may have taken the bus on my own we have either walked or driven together.

I won’t be giving up the car but, if it became regular, it would almost certainly be enough to reduce us from a two to one car household. The principal drawback is that the season ticket, essential to make it cost effective, discourages the use of alternatives. On the other hand, having the pass in my wallet does get me into town more often than I would otherwise have done—it is strangely liberating. No doubt the same effect is experienced by pensioners.

Key points

  • Using the bus to commute was only made cost effective by the discount. To be viable it must come close to the equivalent door-to-door journey for one person in a family saloon.
  • The routes available are very limited, particularly off the radial arteries. This is exacerbated by there being no inter-company ticket agreements. Bristol needs an integrated service.
  • The Traveline journey planner web site doesn’t recognise the ticketing limitations.
  • The web site is ok but the variety of tickets is complex and not fully described, in particular the basic single and return fares. The online ordering system is not consistent with the information pages.
  • Ticket agents are convenient but they are unnecessarily restricted.
  • I can understand timetabling is difficult but at least keep the electronic indicators working and accurate. For frequent routes “every N minutes” may be more useful (and accurate) than actual times.
  • Even locals can’t tell you where to catch a particular bus in the central area. Clear signage, maps and markers are essential. The stops in South Gloucestershire lack route numbers.
  • The “Stopping” indicators need to be clearer. Adding “Next Stop” displays on board would be helpful.
  • The drivers are to be congratulated on their skill and courtesy.
  • The arrogance of commuter cyclists has become an epidemic – and that remark comes from a once regular cyclist. Similarly illegal parking has a real effect on bus delays.
  • Bus and cycle lanes need a comprehensive review as a whole not piecemeal as seems to be the case now.

TapParking Enforcement in Bristol

3 Jun 2011 12:25 by Rick

I was at a neighbourhood forum recently where a manager from Bristol City Parking Services gave a presentation about what they do. It was enlightening! The rules all changed as a consequence of the de-criminalisation of parking offences in 2000 and has been extended since then. Note that although the rules are national, each council has its own way of enforcing them so not all of this may apply elsewhere.

In summary—what the council enforce using Penalty Charge Notices (fines) are yellow lines, school zig-zags, crossing zig-zags, pedestrian dropped kerbs, double parking and bus lanes. What they don’t control, unless covered by one of the above, is pavement parking, driveways, parking on private land and untaxed vehicles.

Yellow Lines

A change that has occurred since I took my driving test is that double yellow lines always mean “at any time” across the country and don’t require a notice. Single lines are for a proportion of the day and there will be a notice to indicate the period but most are Monday–Saturday 0800–1800. Parking is leaving the vehicle unattended. Loading/unloading is permitted unless otherwise restricted but must be visible in ANY five minute period that the warden observes—so no locking up and going for a coffee.

Loading/Unloading restrictions

These are indicated by dashes on the kerb and are the same as yellow lines – double for 24/7, single for lesser periods. The old triple dash has been abolished. They have the same force as the “clearway” and you are not even supposed to stop when these are in force even to drop a passenger, though presumably you need to be able to read the sign.

Both of these restrictions (yellow lines and clearway) apply from the centre of the road to edge of the highway—which includes the footpath—so no parking inside them as I have heard suggested and no cars hanging out of the forecourt over the pavement.

School Zig-zags

It wasn’t clear if they are all enforced but certainly some are by arrangement with the school concerned. They are treated like a clearway so no dropping your children off in the nice empty space outside the gates, that is not what they are for.

Crossing zig-zags

These are similar but only apply to on road parking, they don’t extend to the footpath. The police retain the authority to enforce these as well, and their fixed penalty notices override the parking ticket (and have greater penalties).

Pedestrian dropped kerbs

Put in place to aid wheelchair users and child buggies, these are the slopes near road junctions, usually with knobbly paving but no sign is required. The rules have been in place since March 2010 but they are only enforced if they are in pairs, one on each side of the road to avoid confusion with driveways. You can’t park overlapping the dropped kerb by any amount.

Double parking

Technically this means parking more than 50cm from the kerb but the wardens don’t carry tape measures so in practice it needs to be blatant before it is enforced. Note that the wording seems to cover ad-hoc diagonal parking. Loading/unloading is tolerated for 20 minutes when double parked or next to a dropped kerb, but it had better be obvious.

Disabled Badges

Holders of disabled permits can park in SOME otherwise restricted places. This includes yellow lines for up to three hours unless causing an obstruction but NOT on clearways where loading/unloading restrictions are in place. He also commented that there was a proposal to get an outside contractor to enforce the misuse of badges,

Bus Lanes

This is the only area where the Parking Services officers are interested in moving traffic. Where implemented they are enforced by CCTV and contraventions sent by post. It is
currently done by three operators and a supervisor not by automatic numberplate recognition and requires a separate officer to confirm before a notice is sent.

Contact

Queries can be directed to the control room 0117 9038070 which is manned Monday–Saturday 0600–2400 and Sunday 0830–1630. This for both the motorist and to report problem areas but they can’t respond instantly to an obstruction. The procedure for appeal is shown on the enforcement notice and, if there is doubt it is worth trying—they readily admit that their officers are fallible. The roadside is not the place to argue and offensive behaviour is not tolerated.

Other parking offences

Anything not listed above has to be referred to the police. This includes pavement parking, parking on junctions and blocking of driveways all where there are no yellow lines. In order for them to act there needs to be a complaint of obstruction—i.e. someone needs to be obstructed. In the case of driveways an obstruction normally needs to be to exit the property not enter it and there must be a dropped kerb (haulage-way). Untaxed (and uninsured vehicles) are now managed by the DVLA and are currently being enforced using roving camera cars with number plate recognition.

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