Press regulation: Or, why do we have double-yellow lines?

I work in the centre of Leeds, which means every lunchtime – pretty much – I leave my office and head out for some food. One of my lunch routes takes me across several busy roads, and I’m often struck – not literally – by the number of vehicles parked on double yellow lines.

Out of my office and turn left: double yellows and a contraflow cycle lane on Wellington Street. Most Thursdays there is a beer delivery truck parked on the roadside, but more usually partially over the cycle lane. There is a road between my office building and the pub, but the delivery truck uses the road. This narrows Wellington Street, so that if buses have called at the stops, only smaller vehicles (cars) can get past.

Left up this road and onto Quebec Street, part of the City Loop. Two lanes of traffic, double yellows on both sides. There’s usually a food or drink delivery truck parked up, which narrows the road down to one lane and makes it difficult to cross the road because the parked truck obscures the view (and Quebec Street can get busy).

Negotiate that, and your next road is Infirmary Street. This has seven bus stands and is in constant use; it also has a loading bay (which coaches sometimes park in) and double yellows (which are ignored by anyone delivering to any of the Toronto Square buildings, even though there is vehicular access for deliveries in there). The road way is just about wide enough for traffic to pass when a bus is at a stand, so a delivery truck will cause problems at busy times.

When I head home at night, if I catch my bus on Aire Street, my bus has to negotiate the odd-shaped roundabout and any cars parked on the double-yellows just outside the Rail Station. Cars will be waiting there to do pick-ups because the spots on the inbound part of the roundabout are full (not parking bays though as they, too, are marked with double-yellows). Then westbound traffic has to hope that there are no vans doing late deliveries or pick-ups at the end of Aire Street near the traffic lights, as the lights are staggered so that one lane (the lane with the inevitable van) clears before the other – so even though your way is clear you’re stuck behind turning traffic, which can’t always turn if inbound traffic is heavy – the junction can’t clear.

If Leeds City Council enforced these regulations they’d make a fortune, so one assumes they’re scared by the potential outcry (‘negative PR’, in the tabloid vernacular) rather than a lack of staff. Or incompetence.

de jure what these drivers do is against the law, and punishable; de facto nobody gives a stuff, it’s common practice, stop complaining.

Press regulation will only work if the laws we make are enforceable and enforced. Trouble is, most of the wrong-doing that Leveson’s report includes is covered by existing legislation; we just never enforce it, probably because everyone’s doing it and it only affects a few ‘celebrities’, etc…

So  what makes anyone think we’ll do so in the future? And who do we trust to do it?

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