Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Dealing with scofflaws

with one comment

Its a stunt. They bought the car specially.

But this woke a long repressed memory. I wanted to do this for real. At the time (c 1986) parking enforcement in Central London had collapsed under the weight of uncollected fines. People were simply stuffing the tickets they had collected into the glove box and forgetting about them. the chance of any effective follow-up being very slim indeed. the courts were jammed, and collecting on unpaid parking tickets seemed less important than, well, everything else. The impact on London’s traffic was obvious – especially buses – but nothing we suggested (we being Traffic Policy division of the Department of Transport who had taken over after the GLC was abolished) was being taken very seriously.

I had this idea that renting a mobile car crusher, and putting a few sample violators cars in them, on prime time local tv, might get some attention. Of course, we would check first to make sure no-one had left their pet dog in the car. Or a baby, too I suppose.

The Mayor of Vilnius seems to have as similar problem and came up with the same idea. I really wonder if anyone takes it seriously.

In London, at that time, illegally parked cars would be towed – eventually. To make being towed away more of a nuisance to the driver, the impound lot was a long way out of the centre: this also reduced land cost but meant the few trucks in use were away for long periods of time leaving a space that someone else was sure to occupy. So we came up with clamping – based on a pitch from the firm that had introduced the scheme in Denver. Which was introduced, but for just any offence, not just the persistent offenders as that meant we did not need to use computers and databases, which scared the politicians who foresaw problems from the civil liberties lobby. And they liked to think of themselves as free market libertarians.

Parking in bike lanes is indeed a real issue. In Richmond as much as in Vilnius.

Bad Parking 1

I did blog about this before. While this particular miscreant apologized – and paid no fine – the practice continues. And if the by-law enforcement people are doing anything I cannot say that since this event I have noticed any difference. Parking in our bike lanes does not seem important to many drivers – at least not as important as their need to “just pop in here for a minute”. Even more annoying are those who believe that since they own the house that fronts onto the street they also own the right to park in front of it – no matter what the by laws may say.

With the widespread availability of mobile devices, with GPS, and social media maybe we need an outbreak of vigilantism among cyclists. Rather like the backlash after the riot. Except, of course, being polite Canadians and there being no visible property damage in this offence we probably do not get angry enough with these selfish louts.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

One Response

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  1. When I saw your picture of the car in Richmond, I immediately recalled the video of the gentleman who protested his ticket for riding outside the bike lane by crashing into everything he encountered blocking his way. I wonder if the drivers who do this would be persuaded by a blood-splatters on their car and a paper reminder…

    Karen Fung

    August 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm


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