Tuesday, 14 August 2018

20mph: get your opinions in or lose to FirstBus

Bristol Council has a ongoing consultation on 20 mph limits.

We are happy supporters for the 20 mph limit in Bristol, for various reasons including:

  • We live in the city and want one which is good to live in.
  • Our children walk and cycle round the city, and we like them to come home alive.
  • A defensible study on the 20mph zone concludes that it directly saves lives.
  • If you live in the Red Zone, you want the council to do things to get people using cleaner transport options than driving, and this and RPZs, along with more aggressive actions, are needed here.
  • In the Important Car for Important People, driving at 20mph is no harder than driving at 30 mph; fuel consumption (in a vehicle which turns off its engine at lights and in traffic jams), the same. 
Now, regarding the consultation, there's a large list of roads where raising the limit is being considered

This proposal is fundamentally wrong.
  1. The roads they propose are the roads people cycle on. 
  2. They are the roads children walk to school on.
  3. They are the roads which anyone walking round the city has to walk on and/or cross.
  4. Some of them actually have schools on.
  5. Many of them are shopping streets, where encouraging people to visit and walk to shops, even across the road, is much more important than a nominal peak speed of 30 mph.
Everyone who lives in that inner city, and wants their streets to be more than rat-runs for the suburban visitors, should get their opinion in, support the proposals as is *and argue against changing the limit on any road in the zone.

Changing the limits will massively increase the costs, as now every 20mph-30mph turnoff/junction will need speed-limit-changed signs (go to portsmouth to see this). And at peak hours it will do nothing for journey times.

Why then the proposal? And why the choice of roads? Presumably Marvin Rees & team are trying to keep some groups of people happy. But whom? Well, one little reference is to "stakeholders". And what do the majority of those listed roads appear to have in common? FirstBus buses run on them.

Has FirstBus just given the mayor a list of roads in the 20mph zone where their buses go round and said to him "if you make these 30 mph all our scheduling problems will go away, FirstBus will be wonderful and Metrobus a success?" Because if they did, it's a lie

Looking at that list of roads, comparing it to a bus map, and its hard to conclude that the names aren't from firstbus, and are driven more by their belief it will help scheduling than any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the inhabitants of Bristol's 20 mph zones.

If you don't want FirstBus to be setting speed limits in Bristol, make your opinions known ASAP.

Photo: the 30mph/20mph boundary on Bridge Road approaching the suspension bridge from As, someone clearly didn't see the speed limit sign and decided to go straight into it. That road isn't on the review list, while nearby roads (Pembroke Road, Clifton Down) are. But then, FirstBus buses aren't allowed over the bridge, are they?

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

As the outreach on an eight-storey car park over staff parking, adjacent to the sole child's playground near Stokes Croft takes place while everyone is out of town, we send a note to the PR team doing their utmost to make this consultation achieve the outcome the hospital wants: support, or at least acquiescence.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bristol.traffic@gmail.com
Date: 7 August 2018 at 10:53
Subject: Re: hospital parking feedback
To: uhbt@jbp.co.uk
The Bristol Traffic Project
The Bearpit, Bristol BS2

Thank you for your letter to residents proposing replacing the multi-storey car park comprising primarily of staff parking with a new, larger car park composing primarily of staff parking.

There appear to be a few other omissions from your letter
  1. The claim "it will be a transport hub" fails to consider the existing multi-storey staff car park has staff bicycle parking, as does the Southwell Street facility. If adding secure bike parking to a car park makes it a "Transport Hub", then the existing car park must also qualify for this term.
  2. The fact that existing Eugene Street car park is primarily staff parking. We estimate of your quoted 192 spaces, 165 are exclusively for staff.
  3. The fact that total parking capacity across the BRI and St Michael's hill area comes to 1.9 miles —and that's without including the three floors of staff-only parking in the existing car park
  4. The fact that air quality in inner Bristol is a significant health hazard, and that if that 800 space car park were used for higher turnover visitor parking, there would be many more than the baseline 1600 journeys/day one would expect. This will generate significant congestion in the area, along with the pollution.
  5. The "it is set back in the hill" claim misses to note that it will in fact tower over the Dove St children's park behind it —the sole childrens play area within a part of the city whose demographics markers indicate "somewhat deprived".
We like to consider ourselves the purveyors of an ironic perspective of Bristol's many traffic issues, so are tempted to cherish the delicious irony of your proposal, "increase hospital staff and visitor parking at the expense of the health of staff, visitors and residents", along with "improve staff parking by removing staff housing".

However, we've decided instead to stare in disbelief at the disingenuous hypocrisy of claiming to be doing this for the health of patients where it appears to be more of a reaction to the residents parking zone changes, combined with an excel spreadsheet showing the revenue opportunities of high-turnover visitor parking.

We shall cover this topic over the summer. Expect forthcoming FoI requests to explore both the number and purpose of parking spaces across the entire Kingsdown Estate, your modelling of the congestion and health impact of adding six hundred more spaces, any artists impressions you have made of the "View from the Dove Street playground", as well as on your business model —including who is funding the project and whether you've included in your business plans the risk that a labour government will mandate that England follow Scotland and Wales in offering free hospital parking.

Current and future coverage will be appear under the URL http://bristolcars.blogspot.com/search/label/BRI


The Bristol Traffic Team

"Weakly-defensible data-driven traffic analysis since 2008"

bristol.traffic@gmail.com   @bristoltraffic

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

How much parking does the BRI have? 1.9 miles

One aspect of the greenwash letter on the new BRI multi-storey car park was its claim that the current multi-storey transport hub only had 200 spaces. That was a surprise, as if you ever spend any time in that part of the city you will know that UBHT property can be recognised by the way all garden areas have been converted into some form of parking.

Have the PR consultants forgotten to mention that detail? Hope that locals wouldn't pick up on that any more than they'd be expected to notice that you can't set an 8 floor car park into a hill when there's a child's play area right behind it? Whatever the reason, that failure to list all the parking spaces seems designed to make you feel sorrier for those who can't park -and again, by emphasising patients over staff, going for the maximum sympathy

Sadly, we are a data driven organisation, so set out to count up the spaces ourselves. Attempt 1 was on a Sunday afternoon, it took about an hour to get round and is too boring to share. What's surprising is how many little blocks and crannies they've managed to fit a car into. We estimate that in the combin f BRI and St Michaels hill hospital "campus", there are 400+ spaces, outside the existing multi-storey transport hub. That's not obvious to patients for the following reason: a lot of these spaces are dedicated to staff. As for the disabled? You get into double digits, but really -the majority of dedicated disabled parking is the double-yellow line areas on the council roads.

Here is our second attempt at a tour of the parking areas, starting in Dove St at the children's playground the BRI pretends doesn't exist, finishing off directly above it in Marlborough Hill place. This complete loop of the many transport hubs belonging to UBHT here takes 15 minutes, and covers 1.9 miles. That is not a typo. If you cycle round each bay in the car parks, one by one, the total amount of space comes in at just under two miles. There's a small amount of public road to connect all this together, but there's parking there -free form disabled, paid for visitors. How can the hospital PR team say with a straight face that it doesn't have enough parking when it has 1.9 miles worth?

What they should be doing is looking at the allocation of it: how much to staff parking, does facilities have theirs in the right places, how many people with disabled parking needs come a day -and are they satisfied. Instead, we get a grand plan to poison central Bristol, one which simply puts off addressing the big issue: why does everyone seem to expect unlimited staff and visitor parking at a hospital in the centre of a city?

Anyway, here's the video showing exactly how much parking there is for the UBHT to choose how to allocate. It's taken about 5pm on the first day any light drizzle had fallen from the sky, making the roads a bit skittery; you can hear the back wheel slide out at one point.

(Literal) High point: our (expendable) reporter discovers the base of the St Michael's Chimney. It just comes up out the ground, behind the asbestos waste skip and near the toddlers house. Maybe in future it will get the recognition it deserves as central Bristol's highest structure. We'll need a Banksy or two on it first though.

For those who hate our cyclists (expendable), skip to the end of the video and you can see them getting a "snakebite" puncture just trying to ride down one of the many potholed roads in the city. This is Bristol cycling. You can't even complete a two mile loop of the BRI car parks without getting a puncture on the small amount of council road covered on the ride. Interesting question though: given this is clearly filmed as happening on a council road, are the council billable for the replacement inner tube?

Finally, purists may fault us for not actually covering three of the for floors of the existing multi-storey transport hub. Can't get in there see: staff only. The secret that UBHT press releases dare not mention.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

BRI: Staff parking matters more than the health of the children in its shadow

A letter reaches in the Bearpit, which is not just the HQ of the Bristol Traffic, it is one of the few Bristol Parks and services managed greenery-spots in the city centre.

It comes from the BRI, and tells us residents of the hardships the hospital is facing regarding transport.

  1. 32% of the visitors drive for medical necessity.
  2. Visitors complain when they drive here and they are forced to drive round "as they search for a small number of hospital car park spaces", or, even worse "park on-street".
The good news, the hospital has come upe with a great idea to fix it: A giant multistorey car park
  1. This will add 800 spaces over the 200 which exist today.
  2. It will the same height as the existing BRI main building.
  3. You won't notice it as it will be set back into the hill.
  4. They will have to knock down a terrace of staff housing.
  5. And there's a small public road through the middle which they are ignoring.

Sounds good right?

Well, there's one little aspect of which the letter omits. It might not be obvious to people outside the area, but you can't "set a heliport-height car park into the hill", as the BRI doesn't own the entire hill. The area they are talking about is at the bottom of Kingsdown hill. And what is behind it? The Dove Street estate; social housing close to the city centre. A couple of tower blocks with a fair few families. One thing it actually does quite well is although it doesn't have much greenery, it makes the most of it for those families. There's a central area where small kids can play, separate from a dog-walk area, and on the western site of the estate, a larger play area for ~primary school age kids.
This play area, one of the two shared gardens of the estate, is exactly above where the BRI want's its 800 place multi-storey car park.

This means that "set into the hill" is actually true. Saying "Set into the Hill" creates an image of a car park somehow dug into the hill, a small thing you'd hardly notice, the Bag of Hobbiton, the underground house of Bilbo Baggins.

This utter fucking bollocks, to use a technical term.

It will be an eight storey car park set directly in front of the childrens play area of the Dove Hill estate. This will create a valley in the area, where the children, be it in the playground or in their houses, will get to breath in the car pollution of the thousands of car journeys which this will create. And of course, the principle of Demand Creation means that more people will drive there confident there will now be somewhere to park: it won't even address any parking problem.

800 spaces is more than 50% of the capacity of the 1700-space Cabot Circus multi-storey car park, the one which has created so much traffic that the M32 inbound on a weekend now has a traffic jam as people queue to get in to find a space.

800 spaces is 150% of the proposed 500 bay multi-storey car park in the Broadmead development, the one which was shrunk to 380 spaces, as the council felt 500 spaces were too many.

It's going to be the same height as the BRI heliport. This is one we showed a helicopter taking off from last month, ironically, filmed from that Dove Street play area. If you want to get a preview of how the car park will look to primary school age children playing in what is effectively their garden, imagine that same building, pulled up right in front of the play area, fill it with cars. That's what their life will be like

If this was some private developer that was proposing this —as with the Broadmead plans— there'd be outcry against this. Yet so far, we've heard nothing. Why? This is coming from the hospital, so of course it must be good.

Except: what's this in the news today? Another study showing how traffic pollution causes Asthma —and there's been a rise in 25% of cases in the last decade.

If the BRI actually cared about the welfare of children living in their literal, as well as figurative shadow, they'd be pushing the council to do more about an inner city ULEZ, collaborating on making that road in front of the hospital somewhere pleasant to cycle, rather than somewhere so scary adults try to avoid it, let alone families.

But no: they are proposing an 800 space multi-storey car park.

Even they must realise what utterly amoral this is. So rather than call it that, their letter talks about how it will have a secure employee cycle park, and so call it a "Transport Hub".

That sounds really good, but for a small detail. Their existing multi-storey car park already has a secure employee cycle park, but nobody bothers to call it that. Instead they call it "The BRI Staff car park".

For that is what it is.

Of that existing car park, of the 192 places which the BRI letter implies exists, only 20 are for visitors. The remaining 165 -the entire top three floors of the four floors, are staff parking.

For some reason, we get tales of woe of visitors with burns and neurological industries, but no mention of the fact that of that existing park, three quarters are for staff.

And similarly, we don't get any coverage whatsoever of how much of the new multi-storey car park (we can't call it a Transport Hub with a straight face), is going to be to staff parking —but we are confident of one thing: it'll be a fuck of a lot more than 165 places.

More to follow, showing how everything the BRI say in that letter is lie.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Friday Quiz: turning or parking?

Is this car GK06AUN, pictured one morning in Clifton
(1) turning on the wrong side of the road
(2) parked?

The correct answer is: it makes no difference. Oncoming traffic has to assume they are are turning vehicle, so slow down for a junction in a way that the painted give-way signs would never achieve.

This shows how Bristol's drivers do think of the safety of others, not just when driving, but when parking.

(this was published in 2009; updating the tags has had it relabelled as new. There's probably some yellow lines here now, forever deriving somebody important from parking on the closest corner to their home)

Thursday, 17 May 2018

fuckwit RLJ at race speed

People ask us: why no coverage of RLJ-ing cyclists? Well, we generally leave that to grumpy Havana Coffe Hamid, on account of his soundtrack choices and spelling skills. But when the opportunity arises, well, we do

Today then, this fuckwit

This is filmed from St Pauls Road, leading from the dull part of town, Clifton, to the more interesting bits, albeit after a final bit of climbing and a university area inevitably full of texting students.

Approaching the lights, they're red, time to hang around for a while waiting for green. And then slowly off, in case the BMW driver is in an hurry. No problems there, except carving out from the left is someone on a road bike, looking like they are near that 20 mph limit, blowing straight through the red light to make a high speed turn into St Pauls Road.

On the shout of "fuckwit" you can see some surprise and a bit of a wobble, though delayed. Leaning into the corner like that, he was fully committed to the bend: the only two options were: carry on or come off sliding sideways exploring the concept "road rash" more fully. It'd have been interesting to see if a scream of "no brakes" would make him choose the latter,

What were the risks this fuckwit exposed themselves to?

  • If the car he had cut up on the inside had gone through the light themselves: crash
  • If the BMW turning right from Tyndall's Park Road had been in a hurry: crash
  • If a vehicle coming out of St Pauls road had been in a hurry, he'd have cycled into it.

And of course, if our tax-dodging reporter hadn't been so slow setting off: they'd have been in the crash too. Which is why we think this fuckwit deserves coverage.

Monday, 23 April 2018

BRI Helicopter Takeoff

This happens fairly regularly these days: a helicopter landing and then taking off from the BRI helipad. This is just the first time we've got a video of it from nearby Dove Street

It's never a good sign, but apparently it doesn't always mean that its a critical emergency: apparently the helicopter works well as a way of getting patients from places like Plymouth or Taunton to the BRI without having to worry about an ambulance getting stuck on the M5.

This though, April 21 2018, the Great Wiltshire Air Ambulance bringing someone in from Pewsey, Wilts, "Medical emergency, helicopter conveyed to hospital". Hope they are well and enjoying the quality rice pudding which the BRI serves up.

The next day the team was involved in "Diving incident, helicopter conveyed to Decompression Chamber", taking someone from Chepstow to Plymouth. Busy weekend.

It's good to be in a country which has free, functional health care and a helicopter to take people which need that care to a hospital which doesn't ask for money. And, hopefully, doesn't ask for your immigration status to see if you are on Theresa May's "approved list".