Thursday, 15 September 2016

What's Inside Your Garage?

Recycling bins on a Peterborough street
Peterborough is a city proud of its long history of household recycling.
But poor town planning is making it unsafe.

It's supposed to be simple. The roads are are for vehicles and the pavements are for people.

We do things a little differently in Peterborough, but not that differently. Many of our pavements double as cycleways. This seems to work pretty well. I hear the odd complaint from residents when a cyclist has objected to a pedestrian being in their way (and vice versa, both should be looking out for one another). But on the whole, it works.

What doesn't work is what I just observed from my window: a large Peterborough city council recycling lorry mounting the pavement and driving BACKWARDS along the shared cycleway to avoid parked cars, some of which are parked half on the shared cycleway/pavement and half on the road, making the cul-de-sac impassible by larger vehicles.

You may think the residents are the ones at fault for parking without thinking about how lorries are supposed to access the houses on our street. But I don't blame our residents. What I just witnessed is the result of bad town planning.

Visit most new housing estates in Peterborough and this is what you will see: cars parked half on the road, half on the pavement or cycleway. The plain fact is that most households have more cars than parking spaces.

This is a contentious remark, however. There possibly would be enough parking for all vehicles if everyone parked their car in their garage. Very unfortunately, modern houses tend to offer far too little in the way of storage space, so many residents use their garage as an additional room for storing anything from furniture to fridges full of food. I've yet to meet a neighbour who keeps a car in their garage - have you?

Garage full of junk
Admit it. Your garage looks like this, doesn't it?

Modern housing estate design isn't keeping up with modern living. 

How is a refuse lorry reversing at some speed up a cycleway in a modern residential street acceptable in 2016?

I've already told you about the horrific cat-versus-vehicle incident that happened in my road late last year. The cycleway the refuse lorry was reversing up runs next to a playground for children aged under 12. How long will it be until there is an accident involving a small child?

I'm not suggesting the council workers weren't being careful. They were being as careful as they could be in the circumstances, although if they had driven away without emptying the rest of the bins on the street would it have been fair to blame them? We know from events elsewhere that refuse lorries should never, ever mount the pavement.

Our streets should be safe. Our modern housing estates are not fit for purpose. The decision-makers who choose profit over safety may one day find themselves held to account for an accident that might have been avoided through better town planning.


  1. I have just complained to Highway depart about parking spaces that are just too close to our windows. Everyone that parks there at night shines their headlights into our home. We have had an exploding car right out side but that apparently does not matter, as long as the flats next door have some where to park, yes not even for us to park, again bad design is causing misery. Spaces should have aleast been sideways on, we have no where safe for ambulances or disabled drivers to set down / pick up, and since this is an extra care facility you would have thought we would have a little more consideration for the needs of the aged and disabled. But no we have to put up with doors slamming, car stereos, car headlights waking us up all times of day and night.

  2. I feel your pain. We had a similar sort of problem last year with a high-sided van that parked outside our house every day, blocking the view, blocking the light, causing stress. I complained to the well-known delivery company whose logo was emblazoned on the side of the van, only to be told that so long as the van was parked 'legally' there was nothing they could do but sympathise. The problem eventually went away when the self-employed driver moved house. Although the van was really annoying me, I felt for the driver too - as where is he supposed to park his work vehicle? With more and more delivery drivers being self-employed they are expected to park their vans in their own residential streets. It's causing problems country-wide.

    The situation you describe sounds very stressful and is another prime example of poor planning. All planning applications are subject to scrutiny by the public, the parish council and the city council planning committee. As tedious as it will undoubtedly be, it's worth checking out that paper trail (using the city council's online planning portal) to see if the parking places that are giving you these problems were actually approved.

    It is well worth contacting your city councillors about this as it is a situation that could (technically) be remedied. From all you say this needs to be addressed as a matter of public safety at the very least.