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Parking prohibition goes bananas

They're enough to drive you bananas.

At least, that's what some affronted residents of St Andrews said when they saw the new double yellow lines around the foot of the priory wall of the historic town's 12th-century Cathedral.

The thing is, the lines on the road are only straight until they reach the twin curves of the old stone walls. Rather than paint squared-off angles to match the concrete plinths the ancient walls sit on, someone on Fife council has come over all psychedelic and tried to copy the softer lines above them. The result? Erm, let's say dizzying. A bit like the artwork for the 1966 Beatles' song Yellow Submarine. And certainly not appetising for those drivers trying to negotiate the busy town centre approach road, even if they do resemble the aforementioned fruit.

The bright yellow parallel lines we're talking about here are not those artistic post-ironic fibreglass statements that the Boyle family might have put together for show in some art gallery. These are real-life warning signs, designed to avoid any misunderstanding. According to the Waiting and Parking rules on pages 238 to 252 of the Highway Code, double yellow lines indicate "a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs". Given their mind-boggling curves, I doubt anyone would feel like waiting around these.

Even at the best of times, double yellow lines tend to provoke a negative reaction from drivers and pedestrians alike. I reckon this is because despite their optimistic hue (yellow is supposed to be a happy colour because it resembles the sun), they represent authority. And banishment. Just look at Paisley: virtually the entire town centre is out of bounds to drivers because it's been encircled by those irritating lines. Thus it's done for the retail trade; pedestrians find it difficult to carry heavy loads back to their too-distant bus stop or car. A plan to de-pedestrianise the High Street and to allow traffic to enter from Gauze Street and St Mirren Brae still means drivers can't park to nip in to a shop, or even to drop people off, because the lines haven't been removed.

It reminds me of the conversation overheard between two old bodachs chatting in a Stornoway pub. One asks the other: "What does a single yellow line mean?" His friend replies: "No parking at all." So what did double yellow lines mean? "No parking at all, at all."

I think the residents of St Andrews have more than got the message.

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