Mow Cop

(Fri 30-Sep-2022)

Digital sketch of Mow Cop Castle, a folly on the Staffordshire – Cheshire border.

Available as magnets and other printed products on Redbubble




(Sat 30-Apr-2022)
abstract artwork, paint on canvas. The left two-thirds are yellow with patches of sand, the right third blue with flecks of white and patches that look green.

I poured paint directly onto the canvas and spread it with small pieces of wood, and mixed sand into parts of the paint to create the texture and affect the colour.

Original available on Etsy

Postcard and other print items available on RedBubble



Bending the rules cost lives

(Sun 7-Feb-2021)



Resigning IAM Roadsmart membership.

(Tue 12-Jan-2021)

I have recently resigned my membership to IAM Roadsmart (Insistute of Advanced Motorists), as I believe it is failing to live up to its claim to be a road safety charity. I have reproduced below the email conversation I have had with them to do so.

Initial email to IAM

In light of IAM Roadsmart’s decision to condone driving on pavements, I am resigning my membership. No organisation can credibly claim to care about road safety and endorse the dangerous behaviour of mounting a footway in order to park. Furthermore, the “local approach” touted by IAM Roadsmart requires an increase in sign clutter, creating even more distractions for drivers and taking up space in the very places identified as having a shortage of space. To support the banning of headphones for cyclists while failing to support a ban on pavement parking further undermines IAM Roadsmart’s credibility. Wearing headphones while cycling is bad idea, but deaths caused by cyclists are incredibly rare, while deaths caused by motorists are a daily occurrence – surely a focus on the greater harm should come first?

(Links: Condones driving on pavements; and calls for ban on cyclists wearing headphones in Highway Code)

IAM response:

Good Afternoon Nicoli, (sic)
Thank you for your email and I’m sorry you feel this way. I have actually got a statement from one of our policy makers regarding this so I am sending it to you to see if that might help. Please reply if you still wish to resign.
I regret that our comments on two recent issues have led you to feel the need to contact us. In all our policy work we seek to adopt a road safety position based on good research and in depth knowledge.
The story on headphones and cycling was based on research we had picked up from European sources and which we felt would be of interest to our members. It is an issue which can be divisive but one we felt, in this case, was worthy of repeating as it showed a consistent level of interest across the world. The story as submitted to the media includes a clear mention of the ESRA survey on which it is based and the size of the sample. It may be that the version you read in the media omitted this information but we have no control over that.
You can read more about the source here – and the survey here – (Although the survey we used was titled 2018 it was only published in October 2020).
In relation to pavement parking our position is well known and has been highlighted in several previous press releases ( and in our submissions on the legislation in England and in Scotland. I gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on our views and also served on a Transport Scotland Working party to discuss the implementation of the new blanket ban in Scotland. It was during this process that I heard many examples from Scottish local authorities of the sort of problems they anticipated in terms of displaced parking. Transport Scotland continue to work of the detail of the regulations in partnership with a variety of interested organisations.
We have also supported proposals in Wales which stopped short of a blanket ban, but at all times have made it clear that we do not condone illegal parking on the pavement but wish to implement a system that is most likely to deal with the problem as it occurs. We are fully aware of the impact pavement blocking can have on pedestrians but firmly believe that a blanket ban does not target the selfish and persistent minority of drivers who cause the most problems.
If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kind Regards,
Jeannette Crowe



The headphones and cycling story, I read on your website, not in the media, and my reaction to it is based largely on Neil Greig’s words as in the press release.

My main concern, though, is the implicit condoning of pavement parking. The only problem enabling enforcement of pavement parking is that it would be inconvenient for too many motorists. I work for a council’s parking team and we could take on enforcement of pavement parking the day the regulation enabling it came into effect. Introducing local restrictions in all the places we have problems would take significantly longer and cost much more. Saying “we do not condone illegal parking on the pavement” is meaningless when you are advocating against enabling enforcement.

Kind regards,

Neil Greig, IAM:

Good afternoon Nickoli
I understand that one of my colleagues has sent you some further information on our pavement parking position. I am afraid I don’t quite understand you argument as we have supported the creation of clear offences and powers for local enforcement authorities to deal with obstructive pavement parking. We do not condone or support it in any way. It is illegal, but the current legal definitions and chances of being caught have allowed it to flourish in many areas.
As we see it these powers would enable you to target the most persistent offenders causing the greatest problems for pedestrians. They would also avoid any unintended consequences from dispersing parking caused by a blanket ban. Cars and vans will not simply disappear just because they can no longer park right outside their owners homes. It is the broad brush approach we have a problem with not the prosecution of drivers who choose to block a pavement. We would have no problem supporting increased funding from the Dft to assist local councils in actually using any new powers.



I similarly do not understand your argument – you acknowledge that driving on the pavement is illegal and has become widespread due to lack of enforcement, yet you oppose bringing in a change of law that would make it much easier to carry out enforcement and would, in effect, legalise this dangerous practice. This isn’t just about obstruction, but that you cannot park on the pavement without driving on it, and vehicles should not be driven on pavements. Roadpeace research shows that about 42 pedestrians a year are killed on pavements (Roadpeace – pedestrian-pavement-deaths), and highlighted examples including a delivery driver killing a child on the pavement he mounted to park (Liverpool Echo).

Enabling widespread enforcement against pavement parking can be part of a culture change: making the space that is nominally provided as safe space for pedestrians actually be that safe space. It will inconvenience a large number of drivers who will need to find other places to park, but inconveniencing drivers is not a harm that matches the deaths of vulnerable pedestrians, and a reduction in the number of cars on the roads would benefit the environment reducing air pollution and congestion for those journeys that do need to be driven.

None of the options presented by the government are ideal, but you are backing the one that makes the least improvement on the current situation. We are capable of targeting enforcement in the areas with problems without the additional hurdles of having to wait for new restrictions and signage to be implemented – we already prioritise based on demand. We also would not need further funding from the DfT – we can implement enforcement with staff we currently have and if we need more, the enforcement will bring in sufficient revenue to cover the costs. This won’t be the case with more sign clutter.

Kind regards,



Space for distancing - the response

(Sun 7-Jun-2020)

I wrote in May asking the council to introduce Space for distancing in line with the government guidance.

I received a response from the leader of the council, Cllr Abi Brown, which was impressive in promptness (the response came the next day), but deeply unimpressive in content and tone.

The need to ensure the safety of the city’s residents has of course never been more important and it was therefore interesting to read the measures adopted by some major cities around the world in terms of enabling social distancing to be observed when people are out and about.
As well as working with the voluntary sector and other partners to directly support the most vulnerable residents, as a Highway Authority we have also been ensuring that our roads remain safe. Our key focus is on reinforcing the government’s message that people should only be travelling when essential to do so. We are providing social distance reminders on electronic signs on our roads, at our bus station and in our parks, which remain open. Our partners Staffordshire Police are responding to any social distancing concerns that occur on our pavements and elsewhere.

The police don’t have any powers to enforce social distancing on pavements, and even if they did, the issue I was raising was that all too often the pavements don’t actually have enough space to enable this. This is just passing the buck.

In terms of the opportunities for reallocating road space for pedestrians, whilst traffic levels are clearly much reduced, I would dispute whether there is substantial “unused road space” as you suggest. Many of our roads are narrow and could not provide for any extended footway. Many other roads have cycle lanes or residential parking and are being utilised far more regularly now than usual, due to more people being at home and more people cycling as part of their daily exercise or to commute to essential work. Thus, the opportunities to reduce road width or close roads appear to be very limited.

I provided a short list of examples where there is enough space, though. I wasn’t asking for every street. There are no actual statutory cycle lanes in the city, only a handful of discretionary “murder strip” lanes.

As you mention, unfortunately there have been some examples of speed limits being broken more regularly, slightly reducing the benefits of lower traffic levels. Thus, we would be wary of encouraging pedestrians to use the carriageway even with cones or planters being used as a means of segregation, and of suspending push button crossings, which are vital for those who are visually and hearing impaired.

Narrowing a carriageway with segregation is a way of reducing speeding. PDF from TRL. I never mentioned suspending push button crossings; I assume this means someone else has written with similar suggestions including this.

Closing residential streets to traffic would be extremely contentious and in our view unlikely to be supported by the local community. Such measures would require engagement and even consultation with the local community, which itself under the current restrictions would not really be feasible.

I have received a consultation document about a nearby road widening scheme during the current restrictions, and my wife has received one about gated alleyways. I specifically suggested using experimental orders (where the consultation starts once the works go in) or temporary orders which require just a seven-day notice period before the works are installed. It seems highly presumptuous to say “we’d have to ask people, and we don’t think they’d like it, so we won’t bother asking them”, and even if there is some resistance at first, similar schemes such as those in Waltham Forest have generally proved popular once the residents have got used to the reduced traffic levels.

What is agreed is that the current situation has given us a glimpse of life with lower traffic levels and with residents undertaking far more walking and cycling trips than previously, as part of their daily exercise or commute, and this is something we are keen to capture as part of the ‘new normal’.
With that in mind, we will be promoting our walking and cycling network as we hopefully near towards some relaxation of the current ‘lockdown’ rules, tapping into the benefits that hopefully many people have seen from getting daily exercise. We will also be looking to continue to look at opportunities to extend and improve our walking and cycling network, and in the very near future start construction on such schemes already in our programme for delivery.

This is the only action promised – to promote the existing poor facilities, and continue with planned work she didn’t provide any details or examples of.

I very much appreciate you sending me your suggestions, the principles behind which we would agree, in terms of making best use of this time to promote and increase walking and cycling as a healthy and sustainable means of transport.

Ultimately, this response reads to me very much like an excuse for inaction, rather than any agreement to do the work.

Fortunately, the government’s view was closer to mine and when money was made available to councils, it was on the condition that they implement the exact measures I was asking for. After some dithering, Cllr Brown is now promising to take action. No specific plans have been published as far as I can tell, though – despite the deadline for applying for the funds having passed.



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