Friday, 16 September 2011

Zig-zag markings at schools

I favour safe and sensible parking

I am not in favour of selfish and/or dangerous parking near schools but neither am I in favour of councils filling their coffers by targeting one group of motorists as they have done recently. Here is the press release from Barnet Council (in blue):

Council continues to clamp down on irresponsible school run drivers
Actually I think that you are clamping down on drivers who happen to be near a school and the  PCN's have not all necessarily been issued to parents.

With the new academic year now under way, Barnet Council parking enforcement officers will once again be paying unannounced visits to schools across the borough, cracking-down on dangerous parking. Aren't they actually called Civil Enforcement Officers? Their visits are hardly likely to be announced ones now are they? Cracking-down? This is the use of the stick. I saw a reference in Twitter ( by Cllr McGuirk I think ) to the ruling party acting like Victorian Mill Owners. This seems to be another example of it.

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will be issued to those vehicles seen to be parked illegally or dangerously on: 
I would imagine that a CEO only has the power to issue fines for parking illegally.

o Double yellow lines
o Zig-zag and cross-hatch markings
o Kerbs and verges
o Obstructing drop kerbs and private driveways
o Parked in bus stops
o And double parking

Illegal parking not only restricts traffic flow but can pose a serious danger to pedestrians, many of whom are young children walking to and from school. Illegal parking does not restrict traffic flow (except if it is across your driveway ) and often won't be any more dangerous than the normal everyday parking we all have to contend with in London every day due to pure pressure of space.

The council has decided to take this action following concerns raised by local residents and schools themselves about parents parking dangerously at the start and end of the school day. If any resident has seen this issue raised at a residents forum please let me know. The schools should educate the parents or teach the children to.

Between 9 May and 22 July a total of 727 visits were made to 31 Local Authority and Independent schools, resulting in the issue of more than 185 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). So that is 23 visits per school across 50 school days; hardly a clamp down not to visit twice each day.
The top five schools with the highest number of PCNs issued during that time were:

St Mary’s and St John’s NW4 19 PCNs
Rosh Pinah HA8 17 PCNs
Fairway NW7 16 PCNs
Bell Lane NW4 14 PCNs
Danegrove EN4 14 PCNs
This may be related to the lack of alternative parking rather than the parents at those schools.

Councillor Brian Coleman, Cabinet Member for Environment said:

“We are sending a strong message to those motorists who feel they have the right to flout the law by parking when and where they like.
The message is, you are a soft target and we want your money.
“Parking controls are in place for a very good reason, not only to keep traffic flowing but to protect the safety of pedestrians and other road users.”
This will make no difference to traffic flow. The same number of cars will be outside the school each day.

The irony is that this enforcement is taking place at seats of learning. 

There is no mention by the council of having started first by taking steps to educate parents about the rules for parking near schools, 
no attempt to find alternatives for safe collection and dropping off ( one Bournemouth school uses the adjacent cemetery car park for this purpose which has been very succesful so lateral thinking should be employed ) 
no inclusion of setting down points in school grounds which could be done cost-efficiently at the same time as other rebuilding work at the school
no lollipop patrol to make the area safer
no redesign of the roads to make the area around the school safer by making pavements wider & putting in crossings ( it isn't immediately outside the school gate which is the most dangerous place at Foulds School in High Barnet but the junction of Wentworth Rd & Byng Rd which is heavily parked as there are no restrictions.

So I think that rather than fining motorists the council should itself go back to school and learn about improving the layout near schools and work a bit harder on educating all motorists to follow the law. There must be interesting ways of doing this; how about a quiz on the council website for starters? and teach the children to teach the parents not to stop on the yellow zigzags - yellow t-shirts for the children with a slogan about staying off the zig-zags ( have a competition amongst the children for the best design & slogan and have a small prize )

I wonder if free schools are making different arrangements for drop off and pick up?

The rules ( The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 )

The TSRGD 2002 is available from Amazon if you want a copy to become your local PCN challenge champion. It's a service you could charge for and make a tidy sum. Please tell me if you start a PCN challenge business.

The road must be painted as follows:

crown copyright

So if you get a PCN it is time to get your ruler out. If the line is shorter than 25m then appeal, if it is longer than 44m then appeal.
If the distance between the points of the zig-zags isn't close to 3m then appeal
If the lines are worn away, or there are gaps, then appeal
If the width of the lines is wrong i.e. not 150mm thick, then appeal
If the working isn't School Keep Clear or Children Keep Clear then appeal ( you get the idea )
If the lettering isn't 700mm high then appeal

In addition there has to be a sign on a plate next to the road markings. It should look like this.

The no parking symbol can be centralised on its own at the top.

There may be more than one set of times listed.

If the sign says "on school entrance markings" then appeal as that is ambiguous and that wording is not allowed for in the regulations. If the sign says "in term time" then appeal again as how can a non-parent, or a visitor from another borough, be expected to know the term times in Barnet?

How have Barnet Council done with these lines & signs ?

I was out in the car so I stopped at random at schools that I was going past. The first one was 

Cromer Road Junior School

where the lines are not in accordance with the law. Look at the photographs. 

Cromer Road - very long zig-zags
zig-zags from the other end. Across a dropped kerb!

The lines go on way beyond 45m they are 70m or more and that means that any ticket can be appealed and must be cancelled. If you have already paid one, take your own photograph for the record and apply for your money back on the grounds that you have paid an invalid ticket in error.

One other obvious thing wrong with the lines is that the words "school keep clear" are repeated twice which is why the lines are too long. The words "school keep clear" should only appear once and so that is a second good reason to appeal. 

The lines are illogically painted as they are alongside a pedestrian island where only one car will pass through, you can see the keep left bollard in the picture, so no lines should have been painted there as to park there would obviously completely block the road and no-one would do it.

click to enlarge; back to return

The sign on the pole is also incorrect as the word "school" appears and that is not required within the rules. Add this reason in to an appeal and so then you have 3 reasons which makes it very hard for the council to do anything other than allow it. 

I don't believe in looking for nitpicky appeals based on the tiniest of technical errors but 3 errors at one location is ridiculous. There is a book of rules that the council, or their contractor, have to follow. It costs £40. It is not onerous and doing it all the time one would expect the contractor to get it right and the council to check the lines and make sure the work has been done correctly. I think that Barnet Council must have paid the contractor for work which was defective.

In the case of Cromer Road the lines now all need to be erased, new ones painted that are much shorter and a new sign made for the pole. All PCN's issued should be refunded and the costs of those refunds should be reimbursed by the contractor who should not charge for the rectification work. I have also visited the school at which the most PCN's were issued in the clampdown.

St Mary's & St Johns's

I didn't expect that I would find a second school where the markings are wrong but this is even more of a disaster than Cromer Road. Look at the photographs below taken after the hours of operation of the markings. 

the lines start here and go all the way past the school and nearly up to the Finchley Rd

same lines, still going.

no idea what times the single yellow line apply to?

that is the yellow container in the distance which is in the top photo; 100m+ away
delete the word "school" and the ".00" & why all day & it should be "markings" plural

You will be an expert at this already. Some of the lines are under building materials at present but you can still see the start of the line at that end and you can't see the other end without a set of binoculars. 

The lines are at least 100m long so an appeal would be a good idea.
It may not be clear from the photographs but the size of the zig-zags varies and so they cannot all be 3m so you can appeal. 
The sign on the pole is also incorrectly worded ( I don't know why this school needs an all day restriction; that could be relaxed? )
Appeal.  You can't fail.

What else should happen?

The lines now all need to be erased, new ones painted that are much shorter & correct and a new sign made for the pole. All PCN's issued should be refunded and the costs of those refunds should be reimbursed by the contractor who should not charge for the rectification work.
I won't repeat the 4 letter word used by Councillor Coleman recently about the parking service but in essence he said it was "not very good"  ( you can watch a video of him on this link ). He may not have said it very nicely but he was right if he was referring to the compliance with the necessary rules and regulations.
I will visit more schools as I make visits to other places in the borough and report to you. In the meantime a sensible council would put its crackdown on hold until they can be sure that they are applying the law correctly. 

Yours appealingly

Miss Feezance


  1. Although the word "school" may not be necessary, I cannot see a Parking Adjudicator upholding an appeal on that basis only. It just clarifies why the marking is there.

  2. Do you have nothing better to do? I am thrilled that there will be a crackdown on dangerous parking outside schools. Parents put the lives of their own and other people's children for the sake of a shorter walk to school. Perhaps you could spend your time studying how many accidents have occurred outside Barnet schools and then you may decide to becoming a champion for safety outside schools.