What a difference a year makes. It was great to see everyone at the PIE show last month in Dallas. W


What a difference a year makes. It was great to see everyone at the PIE show last month in Dallas. W

According to Jordan Weiner at Parking Today, I may have caused some confusion with SWMBO. So here is chapter and verse: “She” Who Must Be Obeyed” was how her subjects referred to the Immortal Queen Ayesha, the lead character in the Victorian novel “She”, by H Rider Haggard. Haggard wrote stories of daring do by Imperial adventurers. Think Indiana Jones. 

The novel was made into a film in 1965, starring Ursula Andress, which made a big impression on a 16-year-old me. The phrase was resurrected by John Mortimer in his “Rumpole of the Bailey” series of novels. The eponymous Rumpole, a curmudgeonly but wily barrister at the Old Bailey in London, refers to his long-suffering wife, a judge’s daughter who “married beneath her” this way, usually before doing exactly what he was told! So now you know.

One of John Van Horn’s recent blogs described how things at LAX have got pretty much back to normal travel wise, with off airport parking back to pre-Covid levels. Things are very different here. I took SWMBO (see above) to Heathrow, recently. The airport is dead. Two terminals are closed, for departures, and inside the airport it’s like a ghost town. Terminal parking, though, must be close to the most expensive in the world with a 30-minute stop at T2 costing over $7! And it doesn’t help that there is so much paperwork coming back that it can take more than an hour to clear immigration; so, your pick up needs a bank loan just to park!

According to some of our eggheads over here, we are not going to have car parks in the future. Instead, we will have transport hubs, where all modes will come together and support transfer between different services, and a more sustainable Transport system. We will still be able to park, but now we will be parking to transfer to buses and trams, or hire a bike or scooter, “to complete our journey”. 

Wonderful idea, until you look at the map. For sure, in big cities the idea of parking someone a mile or two outside the center and allowing them to complete the journey by a “greener” mode is attractive. Just look at the very successful Park+Ride initiatives in older cities like York, Oxford or Winchester. Significant numbers leave their cars at the edge of the city and take a high-speed bus using a reserved route into the center. So much so that the systems in several cities have had to expand in the face of an ever-growing demand. 

That’s for cities. Go down a level and most town centers are less than a mile across; so, if the “transport hub” is in the center then just about everything is walkable, no mode transfer required. Move the hub away from the center far enough to make a mode swap viable and you would have to take the bus network away from the center to the “out of town” hub and make it just about inaccessible for existing bus riders. 

Um, no. For sure, put cycle storage and changing facilities in destination car parks to accommodate arriving by bike, but this could just as easily be in a separate building next door. I don’t quite see it as saving the world.

Parking cars on the footway really annoys me. Just imagine the effect on blind people, or those in a wheelchair, or a mother pushing a buggy. A hundred years ago, a seminal book called “Pavements are for People” really set out the unanswerable arguments. In London, the councils have had the power to both penalize pavement parking, and to mark places where cars could park, on edge of wider footways since 1969. They ticket and it’s not a big problem anymore. 

Out here in the woods, it is getting worse by the day. Users of the bowls club at the end of the road regularly park all over the sidewalk and verges, meaning that pulling out of the side turning is downright dangerous. In 1835, the law banned driving on the footway, and you have to drive to park so… but it’s never enforced. About 180 odd years later and 50 years after the London ban, the government has leapt into action and consulted on a specific offense of parking for the rest of Britain. Scotland was going to bring in their own law, but this has now been delayed until 2023, because of Covid, apparently. Not sure that I see the connection. People who are most disadvantaged by this are up in arms but the motorists’ organizations have applauded the delay “to give more time to plan”. Isn’t 180 years enough?

I think that the Police are just about done with electric scooters. Last year, I was very critical of their softly, softly approach. “Giving words of advice” when they should have been arresting and seizing. Now accidents are climbing, and last week the Metropolitan Police seized and destroyed over 500 illegal scooters. The riders will get license endorsements and fines of up to $1,400. The government backed, and therefore legal, trials will continue, but the negative evidence is steadily mounting, and I wouldn’t be planning to invest money in Bird and Lime and their ilk, based on a likely future UK market.

I mentioned above that I had gone to Heathrow so my wife could travel to Holland. To make this journey we have to satisfy both Dutch and UK government rules. The Netherlands government, God bless them and keep them, have created a specific exemption to the travel ban from Britain for grandparents. This requires a vaccine certificate and two Covid test before we can come, along with paperwork to prove you have a grandchild, you’re not just going to smoke herbal cigarettes. 

Coming back, we have to have a PCR test no sooner than 72 hours before travelling and isolate for 10 days at a designated address i.e., home. We have to complete a form giving relevant details and have two more Covid tests. Before we can leave home again.

Now the government, not unreasonably, in its infinite wisdom has decided that they should check up on us and make sure that we are obeying the rules. They haven’t quite thought, this through though. First, they call your mobile. Mobile, as in not tied to any property and capable of being answered anywhere in the world where there is a mobile signal. 

We have a land line tied to the house, they have the number, but no, it has to be the mobile. Second, they then ask you a series of questions, off a script; all the answers are contained in form that we had to complete in order to get back in, so they already have all the answers. The person that you are talking to knows this is dumb, they are told 100 times a day, but they get paid to ask the dumbass questions. I wonder what they do if you give the wrong answer, SAS through the windows? After a week I was left with the inevitable conclusion that whoever designed this process is just plain dumb. And as a wise man said, you can’t treat stupid.

Article contributed by:
Peter Guest
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