1 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions - Yours!

In 2015 Mr Mustard has completed the challenges to over 270 PCN and lost 11 of them but as he is rather busy now in his professional life he would find it handy if you, yes you, could receive fewer PCN in 2016 (to be fair many people  ask Mr Mustard for help but once a year) as that is the easiest way to avoid paying out your hard earned. Also, the council are sharpening their act up so technical challenges are now harder to find.

By parking legally at all times you will force the traffic wardens to run around ever faster looking for victims and if you can have enough of an effect on the 153,000 (165,000 the previous year) PCN issued each year (to 31 March 15) in Barnet the number of traffic wardens might have to be reduced as they will only be retained whilst there is a profit to be made.

So, how do you avoid getting a parking ticket?

Double yellow lines - don't take a chance.

Don't park on double yellow lines, ever, day or night. This is what they look like in case you are in any doubt:

You are allowed to pick up or set down passengers and their luggage which should take less than 2 minutes (longer if you have small children, the elderly or disabled passengers). If you are disabled you can park on them for up to 3 hours as long as your badge is in the windscreen, the correct way up (i.e. showing the expiry date) and with the clock correctly set. It doesn't matter if there is an odd break in the lines, as long as they look like a set of double yellows the adjudicator will find against you.

Kerb flashes

Now on the next kind of double yellows, even blue badge holders cannot park. This is because of the kerb "flashes" which are short stripes at 90 degrees to the road. If there are double stripes that means no unloading at any time. There should also be a sign like this one:

So park somewhere else with your blue badge; a car park, a residents bay or a paybyphone bay all of which you can park in all day for free (in Barnet - you'll have to check the arrangements in other boroughs).

If there is only one stripe across the kerb you are more than likely on a single yellow line and the times at which you cannot unload, and thus cannot use your blue badge, will be on an adjacent sign.

Pavement parking

The next big mistake which people make is to treat the pavement as an extension of the road, viz:

Thank you for this photo to Alan Stanton.

Mr Mustard understands why people do it, often because the road is too narrow if you leave your whole vehicle on the carriageway but all you do is break the paving slabs (making it more likely that an old person will suffer a fall) possibly prevent wheelchairs and buggies passing along the pavement thus forcing them into the road and giving a traffic warden a golden opportunity to give you a PCN without a second's hesitation. There are 5 traffic wardens out on scooters until 11 at night looking for cars parked like this. They keep finding them, let's spoil their fun.

There are roads where you may have it in writing from the council that pavement parking will not be ticketed (treasure that letter) or the pavement may be specially marked out with bays and signs on posts saying that it is permissible, signs like this one.

If it isn't clear that you have express permission to park on the pavement, anywhere in Greater London, don't do it.

There is an exemption for builders who are unloading but it is very tightly drawn. It has to be absolutely necessary to be on the pavement, loading has to be ongoing and someone has to be with the vehicle so unloading 1,000 bricks to the rear of a property out of sight on your own won't wash.

Dropped kerbs and/or raised roads = crossovers

This is another favourite of the traffic warden.

not perfect but still obviously a dropped kerb

Now you can't park across a dropped kerb which exists to enable pedestrians (and wheelchairs) to cross the road, to enable cyclists to enter/exit a cycle lane or for vehicles to access premises. You often find them at junctions to help pedestrians.

You can park across a dropped kerb of your own home, friends or family with permission if the dropped kerb serves only one residence (as it is the practice of Barnet Council to only issue PCNs on demand for dropped kerbs, except inside CPZs at operational times when it is automatic). So, if you and your neighbour share one drive, or you live in a small block of flats and even though you might be the only driver, you cannot block that dropped kerb. Also be wary inside a CPZ as the dropped kerb might have a single yellow line across it and that would operate at the times shown on the CPZ entry plates. If a white line is painted across the dropped kerb it means nothing legally and is intended to alert you to the existence of the dropped kerb.

The car in the picture above got ticketed in Barnet and had to go all the way through the appeal process before the PCN was cancelled at PATAS.

Single yellow line inside a CPZ.

Lots of people get caught out with this one especially in Golders Green on a Sunday.

Now, if you find a single yellow line with a time plate nearby then you know exactly where you are. The sign has the times during which you cannot park. If you cannot see a time plate do not park without further research. A single yellow line means that there is a parking restriction which is less than 24 hours. Now you have to find out what it is. The answer is on a sign like this one:

A bit grubby this one, not easy to read after dark
So this sign, which you passed half a mile ago and didn't really notice is the one that applies to your single yellow line. The idea is to reduce street clutter but in Mr Mustard's book it increases confusion in the eyes of the motorist. Many will look at the adjoining bay (they all have to have signs so clutter reduction is not that great) and assume that the same times apply; they might or they might not. The answer is to start looking out for these signs in the future or to drive back to the edge of the zone to check and once you have done that you might as well park for free and walk if you have the time.

Given a choice between a parking bay whose hours have finished and an unknown single yellow line you should use the bay.

Bus stops

What a beautiful bus stop in Friern Barnet. All it needs now is a bus. It doesn't need your car in it and your car should not be in it so stay out of it no matter how tempted you are; Mr Mustard only just managed to get a PCN cancelled for a lady picking up her injured son in a bus stop in order to take him to hospital - that is how difficult it is to get such a PCN cancelled.

A thick yellow line (8 or 12 inches wide) and the words bus stop in 1.6 metre high letters should be enough of a hint that a bus stop is not a place for you to stop your car not even for a minute to pop into the newsagent or to ask directions. Traffic wardens drop out of the sky when you least want them to.

Bus stops can still be enforced by cctv if they have that thick yellow line.

Special bays (taxis / motorcycles / disabled / doctors etc)

Unless you are a  taxi / motorcycle / blue badge holder / doctor etc stay out of the bay which is restricted to certain users. There will be a sign saying who can use the bay and words painted on the carriageway so do follow them. This sort of bay will usually be restricted 24 hours a day but there are some that aren't which you can park in outside of the restricted times. Mr Mustard started learning in depth about parking tickets when he parked, in November 2009, on a Mon-Fri disabled bay and it was a Saturday and he received a PCN. The council cancelled it but had to be pushed to admit they had made a mistake. Mr Mustard didn't know at that time what he knows now but council errors are very common.

Blue badges

It is a common error to put the photo side of your permit to the top. If you keep it in a holder with only one open face then you cannot make that mistake. Mr Mustard thinks that the best way of not forgetting your blue badge clock is to set it every time you park even if you don't need to. Be careful with the pointer and keep it well to the earlier part of the quarter hour in which you arrived, you are marking the quarter hour not the exact minute. Official advice from London Tribunals (formerly PATAS) is midway but that is dangerous in Barnet where a clock set to 2:07 will see a PCN issued between 2:00 and 2:06 on the spurious grounds that you advanced the clock to give yourself extra time.

The other problem is expired badges. They are renewed every 3 years and reminders are not sent. Badges issued 3 years ago had a hand written date which fades over time (you can get them changed for free). Go outside now and check your badge or that of your relative and apply for a new badge 6-8 weeks before the old one expires.

Resident permit expiry

This is another common problem. The council send reminders but say this is merely a courtesy so if you rely on them and they let you down (which happens a lot) they say it isn't their fault and the PCN stands. Mr Mustard's advice is the same. Go outside* now and check your permit and that of 2 or 3 neighbours and deal with it if the permit has expired. If it has then you can apply on line for a permit to be instantly issued as they are now electronic. Also make a note in your phone to remind you a month before the next renewal date or write a note and put it on a prominent notice board in your kitchen.

*After about October 16 all permits will be electronic so if you don't know when your's expires you will have to phone the council up on 020 8359 7446 to find out (Mr Mustard doesn't know if the little used MyAccount option tells you as he doesn't use it)

The bus lane

In Barnet there is only one bus lane. Mostly on the A5 southbound although there is also a very short northbound section where Barnet territory extends west over the A5 for some reason. Most of the northbound lane is in Brent. Southbound the times are (unless readers tell me otherwise) 7 - 10 am and 4 - 7pm i.e the morning and evening rush hour. Just stay out of the bus lane at those times. The only times you can use the bus lanes are when there is less traffic so that you probably don't need to. Some people never go in a bus lane ever and so never receive a bus lane PCN through the post. If you have lots of time you could treat bus lanes as forbidden territory. Note that motorcycles are not allowed in Barnet's bus lanes.

At the start of the bus lane there will be a sign 30m before it to tell you of the times and give you time to move across to lane 2 and a thick solid white line on the offside and the words Bus Lane in huge letters also tell you of the existence of a bus lane. If in doubt, stay out as the cameras are automatic and pick up 99% of contraventions, even in the dark.

Call a taxi to get me to the kerb

Parking a long way from the kerb is untidy, inconsiderate and possibly dangerous. It is also an offence if all of your car including the mirrors, not in a marked out parking space, is more than 50cm from the kerb when parked. This is to stop double parking but is rigorously enforced at all times even if you are just a sloppy parker, not double parked and doing no harm. Do please make sure that part of your car is within 50cm of the kerb, a wheel or a wing mirror will do but preferably all of one side of the car to be on the safe side, about 10cm from the kerb should be possible for most people. Park, get out, look and move if you haven't done well enough.

That's enough to keep you safe from 90% of the contraventions.

Good luck and all the best for 2016.

If you are a member of a group of any sort and would like a 20 minute presentation on parking tickets, then Mr Mustard is your man. No charge, just a nice cup of tea will do.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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