Why parking arrangements on quayside are ill-conceived

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I refer to the ill-conceived revised mixture of herringbone and parallel parking along Ramsey quayside, and its authoritarian implementation by additional ‘parking controllers’.

It’s time to speak out on behalf of the people of Ramsey who are very cross at having this dangerous and unworkable scheme imposed on them. Even the ‘controllers’ themselves consider it ridiculous. Basically you’ve just got it completely wrong.

Let’s look at why it’s wrong:-

1) There is no great problem in Ramsey of finding a suitable parking space to warrant such a scheme to theoretically increase the number of spaces. In fact this scheme has reduced the number of spaces used, as people tend to avoid the herringbone parking, and therefore the commercial viability of the town is threatened. Just what we need! On any day if you care to notice, the parallel spaces are well-used and the herringbone spaces avoided like the plague.

2) The previous scheme of parallel parking worked – maybe not as many spaces – but it was safe. It allowed people to access spaces from either direction; everyone including folk of decreasing mobility could position vehicles to get in and out safely. There was good visibility – there was access to car boots. Basically, it worked well. But, if it ain’t broke, let’s fix it until it is broke. This is typical central government fiddling, with absolutely no common sense, and we pay – again and again and again.

3) The general road width with herringbone parking (previously parallel parking) is reduced to 22ft 9in – 7m average. To reverse into the parking bay (by DTI order) requires a minimum of 20ft – 6.1m beyond the front of the parking bay. (These are the recommended standards which have applied for years). That means crossing the opposite carriageway into oncoming traffic – considerably holding up traffic – dangerous yes! This is especially dangerous as this is a 30mph road and used by articulated trucks and buses.

4) The marked spaces are 5m long by 2.4m wide – (16ft 3in x 7ft 10in). Old standard was 16’ft x 8ft. Since the 1960s cars have tended to get larger and have large wing mirrors to further increase their width. OK, so far not too bad. The snag is that the parking bays laid out are lozenge shaped (a parallelogram). Unfortunately, vehicles happen to be rectangular not lozenge-shaped, so imposing a rectangular shaped vehicle over a lozenge shaped parking bay means the front right-hand corner of the car overhangs the front of the parking bay. This makes the available road width even narrower. Vehicles are not lozenge shaped.

5) Extend the thinking. The white lines indicating the parking bays should reflect the shape of vehicles i.e. rectangular. Applying this commonsense approach with a little maths to this herringbone parking would extend the front right hand corner of the bay by 1.7m (over 5ft 6in). This would in effect reduce the average road width from 22ft 9in to 17ft 3in (7m to 5.3m). That’s only just less than 9ft per carriageway (2.7m per carriageway). Clearly the Department would have a problem here. The department has ignored the principles involved, in a misguided effort to impose a parking scheme and attempt at the same time to pretend that there is still an effective and safe two-way carriageway – what nonsense!!

6) Having managed to reverse into the designated space (more of that) what about coming out? In a previous life dealing with transport issues, it was laid down in stone that visibility was paramount when exiting on to a road. This required the ability to see oncoming traffic from the driver’s position – assumed to be 2m (or 6ft) behind the road edge of the junction. To be able to see oncoming traffic from the herringbone space (assuming a vehicle parked next to you) requires you to push your bonnet into oncoming traffic by 2m. Thus any approaching vehicle has to dodge into the opposite lane to avoid an exiting vehicle. And yes, they still charge down at 30 mph and never mind cyclists or motorcyclists. Thus to exit from properly laid out bays if they had existed would reduce safe road width further by 2m from 5.3m to 3.3m. Bluntly – you can’t see and it’s extremely dangerous. By the department’s own criteria, it’s plainly wrong.

7) My old text books tell me this form of herringbone parking is for omni-directional car parks where the speed is about 5mph, not 30mph highways.

(Note here – Douglas Promenade parking benefits from an ultra wide carriageway so drivers can avoid those vehicles taking road space to park, plus the ability to hang their rear ends over a kerb – naughty. No such luck in Ramsey, only chains!)

8) Again the old text books on traffic management advise driving forwards into a herringbone space because you can see more clearly and have more control of your car’s position. Remember this should be for car parks. By dictat (DTI) you have to reverse in, where you cannot see the white line demarcations and just go for a good guess, and scrape your rear end on the post and chains which you also have difficulty seeing, and are not able to open the boot.

Not only that, it is very difficult to judge an angle reverse, especially 45-degrees – straight back at 90 degrees is relatively easy, the eyes can reference that. I’ve seen some terrible very near misses and soon it won’t be a miss – it will be a hit, and I’m not the first one to make a complaint about this dangerous situation.

9) Just a few other points for you to consider – after all it’s just the application of common sense – or in modern jargon ‘user analysis’.

a) Fishing boats use the quay requiring the attendance of engineering vehicles to take up maybe a number of spaces. ‘It’s a quayside’.

b) After the Douglas exodus – those left may be a little more advanced in years – wider spaces required, so you can open the car door more.

c) Goods vehicles and buses oversail the middle line and sometimes come to an impasse with traffic building up behind – the road is too narrow,

d) The introduction of a centre white line makes it more interesting akin to a Formula 1 chicane.

It’s tortured, it’s off-line, it’s just wrong, it doesn’t work. Change it back! Don’t even think of changing the position of the quayside chain and posts.

This opinion is my personal view and that of very many disgruntled Ramsey folk who have expressed similar dissatisfaction.

I am a new member of Ramsey Town Commission. However these views in no way reflect any observations the commission may have on the matter.

Graham Stewart Jones

(Retired Chartered Architect)

Ramsey.

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