Thursday, 4 October 2018

20 mph sabotage at Leigh Woods

Our mid-august coverage of the 20 mph "firstbus" review, was illustrated with a photograph of a 20 mph sign nonchalantly keeling over.


That photo was taken on Bridge Road, the approach to the Clifton Suspension Bridge from North Somerset. If you are driving from Portishead down the 40 mph-limited A369, or sprinted down Beggar Bush Lane from Failand (60 mph), this is the first sign you are entering the Big City where you have to temper your expectations of speed with the need to share the road with people on foot and bike and keep your speed at around 20 mph.

Here's the sign today.

More specifically: it's where the sign was. Rather than repair the sign, someone in the "hypothesised" North Somerset Highways Maintenance Department has decided that rather than repair the sign, they'll just take it down and fill in the hole.

Which means, for anyone approaching Clifton on this road, there is no large roundel here warning of the speed change. There's one on the other side of the road, but it can be hidden by parked vehicles.
As a result: no major cues that you are in a 20 zone.

Does it change people's behaviour? Hard to tell.

Here's a rear-view clip from earlier in the week of one of tax-dodgers (expendable) approaching the bridge and going past where the sign used to be. They're doing 20-25 mph in the 30 mph zone.

If you look at the speed of the car WR07YFL coming up behind, it's probably doing 35-40. And, as they both cross where the sign used to be, the driver decides she doesn't want to slow down for a bike only doing 25 mph, and instead swing past. Which, given our tax dodger is positioned in the middle of the lane, and there's a lane separator fast approaching, isn't going to work. She eventually slows down and tucks in behind, only getting an option to go forwards when the cyclist pulls over on the "they don't have to pay any-more!" cyclist bypass of the toll gate. And then, the same cyclist pulls out in front and speeds up to 20 mph again, enough to stop the car from overtaking. We've documented dangerous passing on this bridge before; at least here the driver was sensible enough to not attempt it —but we wonder, if it had been an oncoming bike, not a car, would she have done any differently?

In town, she drives less aggressively; the cyclist is now "only" doing 20 mph, but so are the cars in front. Seemingly having the reason for the speed constraint being a car, not a bike winds up the driver less. Again though, we have to ask: if it hadn't been for that, would she have made another attempt?

Who knows? And one recorded incident doth not a defensible dataset make.

For now: if caught driving above the 20 mph limit, anywhere in the inner zone, just say "I came in over the Suspension Bridge and didn't see any signs!" Which, if it works, shows that all it takes is some laziness from an adjacent council for the whole 20 mph project to slowly fail.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

BRI parking: still waiting for a response from the PR team

After the BRI notified us residents of the Bearpit that we were to be graced with a new 8 storey car park above the only children's playground in the Stokes Croft area, we dropped their PR team a note On Aug 7 saying, essentially, how can you defend this?

We followed this up on Aug 21, saying "hoping for a response here", and got something back saying "we will be answering this".

It's now September, and as they say, "silence is usually a sign of inability to come up with a good excuse".

So again, out with another email. For the curious, here is the view of the staff housing they plan to demolish to make way for 800 parking spaces —the view as seen from the Dove Street flats' kids playground. That's a three storey tenement: imagine that with 5 more storeys above, brought almost up to the railings, and full of cars driving around all day. That's what the BRI wants to do.



One little thing we've come across in our research is the UBHT 2020 Green vision document, which sets out their vision of a sustainable future, especially in light of the NHS to step up to its duty of reducing national CO2 emissions by 80%. Being the largest single employer in the UK, and seeing millions of patients every day, the NHS is a critical part of meeting that goal -so it's good to see Bristol's hospitals leading the way.


The existing document is worth a read though, especially page 8, which estimates 1 vehicle in 20 (where?) is on NHS business -which implies they are a significant factor in our pollution and congestion issues.
Travel by staff and patients is another area we currently do not account for in our carbon footprint.
However, we recognise the significant environmental impact that our staff and patient travel has. It is estimated that one in twenty vehicles on our streets are on NHS business as staff patients or visitors. As such we have developed a green travel plan to reduce the impacts of travel.
There's a followup point on P13,
 supporting a shift away from car travel to more sustainable and healthy transport alternatives.
Sadly, the author of that paper, "Deborah Lee, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Green Champion", appears to have moved up to gloucestershire; we'll have to do some research on who is their replacement at that level, and whether the 2020 green vision has been superceded by one which discusses driving to work as a core aspect of the future.

For now, though, another email to the press team, this time highlighting the fact we know that they're also the PR team for MetroBus, so are actually part of a story of their own: does the PR team for MetroBus believe that MetroBus is going to transform Bristol's transport or not?

From: Bristol Traffic <bristol.traffic@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2018 at 13:59
Subject: Re: hospital parking feedback
To: <James.Hinchcliffe@jbp.co.uk>

Still waiting

It comes across that as the communications partner for the UBHT multistorey car park, you just weren't prepared for any form of detailed analysis. Its was predictable that someone was going to say "how much will be staff?", "don't you have 800+ spaces already when you count up all the parking across the UBHT campus?", and "how can you say it is set back on the hill when there's a childrens playground behind?"

Yet these are exactly the kind of questions you should expect after sending out a letter to those local residents whose children play in the car park, who live in the central bristol "red" pollution zone,

Here's a new question then: how does the UBHT reconcile this with their 2020 green vision, which also covers the NHS's requirement to participate in CO2 reductions, and explicitly says  on page 8 "It is estimated that one in twenty vehicles on our streets are on NHS business as staff patients or visitors. As such we have developed a green travel plan to reduce the impacts of travel."

We are struggling to find any way to make the proposed parking defensible other than an outright admission "FirstBus/Metrobus is a failure and we've given up trying to reduce staff driving numbers". Which, given your position as the communications partner for FirstBus, puts in a somewhat sticky situation.

Please can you at least supply an approximate deadline for your responses.

On Tue, 21 Aug 2018 at 08:51, James Hinchcliffe <James.Hinchcliffe@jbp.co.uk> wrote:
Dear Bristol Traffic.

We’re very sorry for the delay in coming back to you and still intend to answer your original query, but suggest we also wrap that response up with the issue you raise below.

We’ll be in touch as soon as possible with a substantive reply.

Many thanks

On behalf of:
http://www.uhbristol.nhs.uk/images/logo.jpg
Tel: 0800 130 3270
Email: UHBT@jbp.co.uk
Website: www.uhbristol.nhs.uk/transporthub





Wednesday, 22 August 2018

20 mph: it's OK to support it if you have a fast car

There are a few days left to tell BCC you support 20 mph and don't want the zones to be crippled for the benefit of firstbus and few angry drivers from the suburbs. It'll be interesting to see the outcome. If Marvin Rees does roll it back, he will have to justify spending the money to do so, and the potential cost in lives.

We've sent in our feedback "happy with 20 mph", which raises a question with some of our acquaintances, the question being "but you have a fast car"

For the record: in the Important Car for Important People, it is no harder to drive at 20 mph than 30. Petrol consumption is the same at ~20 mpg; as the engine switches off when idle the stationary bits are free.

We've repeatedly claimed that we are important, yet people have accused us of being arrogant self-entitled car hating-wanker cyclists. Not so: the Important Car for Important People is not fictional, it's a BMW 3-series estate with a 2L twin-turbo engine hooked up to the rear wheels via an 8 speed automatic gearbox.



That said, the difference between the two is quite subtle:
CyclistBMW Driver
ArrogantYY
self-entitledYY
WankerYY
Think they own the roadsYY
Park where they wantYY
Ignore Highway codeYY

The Important Car for Important People is actually speed limited to 250 km/h; 156 mph. That's a mostly abstract value, visible only in the cost of manufacturer approved W-rated homogulated run-flat tyres you need to buy on the off-chance you take a wrong turn from Cribbs Causeway, get on the M5, and, after a few missed turns, end up on the A8 autobahn between M√ľnchen and Stuttgart. But it is there: the speed you could drive at if you weren't held back by speed limits and slow-moving cars.

Look at the difference between that theoretical maximum speed and those of Bristol urban roads
Max SpeedLimitDifference
156 mph30126
156 mph20136

See that? Noise.

It may matter to Ford Fiesta drivers who get upset being stuck behind someone cycling 20 mph in the 20 mph zone, but from the perspective of a BMW owner, you are crawling along at either speed. And so: you may as well embrace that crawling along, in order to have a city better to live, walk and cycle in.

Having fiesta drivers tailgate you flashing their lights for you driving at 20 mph is then quaintly amusing, given that it's Fiesta drivers who can't go above 85 mph which hold you back on the M4. For that is where trying to stay close to the limit is hard. Not enough cues around you, you need to keep an eye on the speedo, tell the car itself to beep above 85, waze to chime at 80, and, with attention, you can drive vaguely close to the limit when heading up and down the motorways.

In town: much, much easier
  1. Get in car
  2. Turn Waze on to beep at speed + 5.
  3. Set off, gently tapping the accelerator.
  4. Look at speed of car, compare with speedo, get to 20 mph, or, if too high, coast down.
  5. Carry on at this speed so you get familiar with how it feels.
  6. Keep driving round town, do whatever you intended to do.
  7. If waze beeps, it means you are going too fast, or you think you are driving in a 30 zone where it is really 20. Most useful when coming off a faster road (M32) into town.
You don't need to look at the speedo all the time as it doesn't take long to calibrate your driving at the start of the journey. With the whole inner city at 20 mph, it is easy to get used to it, and straightforward to know what the limit on every road is.

Make the bus routes 30 mph, and all that calibration goes away. You'll end up driving at 35 in a 20 zone, and that's how you earn speeding points. And let's be honest: there's nothing impressive about those kind of speeding tickets. Try showing off to other BMW drivers about getting a ticket at 33 mph —you'll only get laughed at.

Twenty mph works great in Bristol, because it is everywhere. You can calibrate driving at that speed with ease, and you don't have to worry about whether you are on a 20 road while doing 30.

Save your speeding for the M4! Get your response in today!

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

UBHT: our next email to the BRI PR team

Two weeks, and silence from the PR company tasked with selling an eight storey car park in the central bristol "red zone" as a benefit, here is our followup to our initial email.

Hello.

Sadly, we don't seem to have had a reply to our previous email..

Never mind —a polite response would have been nice.

We have a few of questions for our ongoing coverage. While you can opt out of answering them, it will save time compared to filing FOI requests, and give you an opportunity for you to present your arguments.

Terminology

  1. What is a transport hub and how is it different from a normal car park?
  2. If it is because it has secure staff cycle parking, do the existing BRI and St Michael's hill staff car parks qualify for the title "transport hub"?
  3. If not: why not?

Current/Planned capacity

  1. Across the entire UBHT Kingsdown Campus of BRI and St Michael's Hill hospitals, what is the total number of parking spaces?
  2. What is their breakdown into: facilities, staff, disabled and visitor
  3. How was the number of new spaces to build chosen? Was it demand driven, or simply "number of floors times spaces per floor?"
  4. With the proposed multistorey-transport-hub, what will be the new breakdown of facilities, staff, disabled and visitor?
  5. Why was this specific balance chosen?

Demand Modelling

  1. Which tool did you use for modelling demand?
  2. Did you model the pollution impact, and if so on the "we trust the manufacturers" EURO5/6 numbers, or the real world datasets?
  3. Did your model consider that Metrobus promises a step change in Bristol transport? If so, what impact will it be considered to have? If not, why not?
  4. Did any model you explored actually reduce pollution within the central bristol "Red Zone"?
  5. Did you explore different mixes of staff/visitor allocation —and what impact did it have?
  6. Did you explore different sizes of car park —and what impact did it have?

Finally, can we have the model you've built up? We can sort out the software.


Thanks,

The Bristol Traffic Team (data and traffic analysis department)

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
Hello,

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

Thanks.

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.