| ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ 2·1m ▼ 6' 10" ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼
Height Barriers are often installed by councils or companies to prevent access to car parks or laybys by ‘travellers’ who can take up parking space and leave rubbish for councils to clear up; and also to prevent access by HGVs.
This mock up of a height barrier on the ABD's stand at the Motorhome & US RV Show at the Royal Bath & West Showground in September 2009, attracted much interest from motorcaravaners:
A 6ft height barrier at Sainsburys in Becton, East London (no metric height stated). Obviously they don't want motorcaravanners stocking up at their store:
A 2m height barrier at Becton Retail Park, Newham, London:
Another 2m height barrier at Becton Retail Park, indicating the congestion caused when a motorcaravan comes across a height barrier that has no advance warning:
A 2m height Barrier at a Forestry Commission car park at Thames Chase, Havering, London. Ironically they talk about 'accessibility' but disabled people with high top converted vehicles can't even get into this car park, nor can motorcaravans, nor cyclists who convey their bikes on their car roofs:
Unfortunately, these devices also discriminate against many vehicles that have a perfect right to park:
In many cases the affected vehicles are likely to be tourists or people trying to enjoy their leisure time, and it is an absurdity that whilst one council department may be spending public money trying to encourage tourists to visit their area, another council department is spending public money preventing them from parking!
For some motorcaravan owners, their motorcaravan is their only vehicle — they don't have the option of using a car that can get under the barrier.
- Vehicles specifically converted for disabled people
Vehicles specifically converted for disabled people can also have problems. The Department for Transport and BS8300:2001 recommends that a minimum height of 2·6m is required to allow access to high-top conversion vehicles [DfT], yet this is contradicted by the typical height of around 2·1m. If a barrier lower than 2·6m is installed, the DoT say that some ‘alternative means of access’ be provided. Yet in many locations there is no such alternative means.
- Cars with roof mounted luggage boxes
Invariably people on holiday who probably don't know the area. Welcome. Not.
- Cars with roof mounted bicycles
On one hand the government encourages cycling, but apparently you have to cycle all the way there, you can't take your bike on your car roof to where you want to start cycling.
- Cars towing caravans
- Coaches & Minibuses
- Some 4x4s/MPVs
Height Barriers are also used in other locations, such as preventing access to council rubbish tips by commercial vehicles. Tough luck if you've put your rubbish on your roof rack — just park round the corner and carry the rubbish like the commercial vehicle drivers do :-o
We've even seen height barriers on laybys, for example on the A822 near Muthill in Perthshire. This is remarkably dangerous if you are looking for somewhere to stop and don't notice the barrier, not only may your vehicle collide with the barrier, anyone following you into the layby could run into the back of you, conceivably blocking the main road and causing further collisions.
Amazingly, some caravan sites have height barriers. These are closed at night to allow people to enter and leave by car — no thought whatsoever is given to motorcaravanners.
In November 2004, Vinci Park Services UK Ltd were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £18,042, after the driver of a road sweeper was killed when using a car park in Chislehurst High Street to turn his vehicle. On leaving the car park, an unsecured height restriction barrier went through the windscreen and impaled the driver, killing him. Vinci Park, who operated the car park on behalf of Bromley council, were found guilty of failure to inspect and maintain the barrier which constituted a breach of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, Section 3, Sub Section 1.
Health & Safety Executive Case 2013873
The Traveller Problem
Installing height barriers to ‘solve’ with problems caused by travellers is the old ‘sledge hammer to crack a nut’ attitude. Councils totally fail to consider the implications of their actions, just so long as they can be seen to be doing something.
What is needed is adequate laws to allow councils to deal with selfish behaviour by travellers. The government could introduce such legislation as easily as they introduced legislation allowing the police to tow away illegally parked vehicles. Yet they choose not to.
Another solution is for councils to provide somewhere for travellers to stay. However, proposals for such sites can meet with local opposition if the location is carelessly chosen. One day it will occur to some council to place a traveller site next to a council rubbish site and solve three problems at once.
Councils, unwilling to find a simple solution to deal with the problem of travellers illegally setting up on public car parks, decide to impose restrictions that affect other people, with total disregard for their rights.
The ABD considers this ‘solution’ to be totally unacceptable and urges all councils to seek alternative solutions.
If you find yourself unable to get into a council or publicly accessible car park because of one of these obstructions, don't just moan about it, take action:—
- If there is an attendant make a polite verbal complaint to them.
They might actually be able to open the barrier for you (though make sure they'll be there to let you out!)
- Get the address of the car park owner (if there is no attendant it may be on a notice).
- Email or write to the council or car park owner and complain.
- Copy your email/letter to the local newspaper.
- Copy your email/letter to any local tourist board if appropriate.
- Take a photo if you can, preferably of you and your van blocked by the barrier.
Attach it to the emails — local newspapers are often short of stories and love a story prepared for them.
- Contact us via our dedicated email address for height barriers.
Sign our petition against height barriers, on the Prime Minister's website:
Do you know exactly how tall your vehicle is?
It will be stated in the handbook. Make a label with the height on it and stick it in your windscreen so you can quickly refer to it. There is often a black-backed space above the mirror suitable for such a label. If vehicle manufacturers had any gumption they'd do this for you.
If you sometimes mount something on your roof such as a roofbox or bicycle, measure the height with that and add that to the label too. You may as well add width while you are at it.
Take extra care if the barrier height is said to be close to your car's height. Things as tyre pressure variations, the load being carried, the road having been resurfaced since the barrier was installed, and the measurement not being accurate in the first place, can affect the actual gap you can get thru. If you have a passenger ask them to get out and check the clearance as you drive under slowly.
If you are not sure you are going to be able to get under a barrier at a single track entrance, ask a passenger to get out and stop traffic behind you to prevent yourself being stuck and unable to reverse out.
In multi-storey car parks some clueless operators install lights on the ceiling that reduce the clearance height! Also beware of clearance being reduced at the bottom of ramps because of the angle. Whilst car radio aerials can bend when passing under a height barrier slowly, they can quite successfully smash ceiling mounted lights.
If you get stuck under a barrier, try releasing some air pressure from the tyres, or increasing the load in the vehicle (for example by asking bystanders to sit in the vehicle).
Once free, don't forget to reinflate the tyres to their normal pressure as soon as possible. Be sure to report any damage to the height barrier to the local authority, otherwise it could fall and injure someone (though you might want to consider doing that anonymously lest they decide to try and sue you for damaging their obstruction).