Friday, 11 April 2014

Clifton and 4X4s

After our post on the Clifton Popular Front, we got a complaint by way of Twitter from one LittleGibbo.

We were told not to be so rude:
@bristoltraffic don’t make assumptions. We don’t all have SUVs. Don’t be so rude.
and later, when we questioned her assumptions:
@bristoltraffic sorry if I am, but how? Was that tweet not suggesting that people of Clifton drive SUV’s? It’s how it read….

Notice how we said "Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country,".
We didn't say "Clifton is Bristol's 4x4 country" -only that it has a reputation. We were declaring a statement of fact -a reputation- without considering whether it was valid.

well we don't like assumptions, we're a data-driven organisation.

Time to take out a vehicle to see. We lack a tank and they aren't very fuel efficient, so stole a bicycle and visited the area. This was a mid-week, mid-afternoon visit, so is at risk of collecting statistics on the 4x4 ownership of shopkeepers in the core village, not residents -so we went over to a residential street nearby: Canynge Square

And yes, we did find some SUVs.

One photograph isn't a defensible dataset, so we did a complete circuit of the square

this shows some important facts
  1. Although it claims to be a square, it is in fact a triangle
  2. There's a lot of cars at home, even on a weekday. 
  3. Most of the cars are new, shiny and dent free
  4. All have their wing mirrors attached.
  5. Yes, there are a lot of 4x4s there, even if you discount the volvo XC70 estate car.
Anyway, we can look at the video and say "from our survey of clifton a lot of the locals have 4x4s".

Which means that the reputation of Clifton being Bristol's 4x4 country is clearly valid. We have nothing to apologise for -and expect an apology of our own.

No doubt some people will be pointing to the inadequate size of our sample set, and our failure to compare a control group of another part of Bristol, or indeed look at national statistics of the ratio of 4x4s to practical cars in the previous two to three years. But we must pre-emptive dismissly their arguments.

People are trying to shape the parking and driving policy of the area without any data at all -so our sample of a single residential triangle is in fact more valid. If we'd stopped at the photo we'd have been selective, but showing the entire circuit provides more defensible data than all content by other parties..

In comparison, the downs committee voted against a 20 mph based on a single experiment conducted by a single councillor - an experiment for which the councillor is failing to provide the data on.

Meanwhile The Clifton Popular Front are using results of their surveys to claim that 99% of businesses are against having their all-day staff parking converted to short-stay shopper parking. making exaggerated claims to residents about how that loss of staff parking will damage their life, and completely missing the point that Clifton already has a parking problem: nowhere legal for customers to park precisely due to all that staff parking.

To summarise: We have conducted a survey of Clifton village and observed a number of 4x4s in residential streets. Anyone attempting to dismiss our claims as inadequate will be required to provide defensible data for their own assertions about Clifton, parking, and how an end to free staff parking will bring about the downfall of the area. Otherwise: be quiet

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Clifton Popular Front: parking or war!

Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country, indeed, one of our first ever photograph was someone being forced to park their 4x4 outside a fee paying ecole.

Well, the "clifton or death" campaigners, who are campaigning for "right to commute by car" have escalated beyond the mock tanks to the real thing,

If you look at the footage, they are saying "loss of parking will destroy clifton" -yet as you note in the video: there are are no free spaces. Which means that the combination of residents and staff parking has destroyed the parking opportunities for any paying shop customers. Which means that the number of customers that can drive to their shops is reduced.

More formally: if the number of free spaces is zero, the the number of hours of free parking you get is also zero.

You can see this at 1:10 where the tank is forced to park on Clifton Downs, just behind the "No Cycling sign".

Which is where the whole "RPZ kills the village" story falls apart. As it appears to be granting free parking where none exists today.

Ignoring the fact that they are really fighting for the right to drive to work, they threaten to take their battle all the way to David Cameron if they don't get their way.

Here then is the second video of their war against the RPZ, taking the battle to westminster itself!

Support the Clifton Popular Front in their campaign! Rise up and overthrow the oppressors that is Bristol Parking Services!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Clifton Parking or Death

There's a web site, Tufton or Death, where campaigners are trying to save the lives of people that use a turn-off on the A34 "Chievley Services" Road.

This is relevant, as some Cliftonians are now campaigning about their RPZ plans, with signs round the area placed perfectly at eye-level for anyone driving a little urban 4x4 -meaning exactly the kind of people that Clifton depends on.

One thing to call out here, if you step back a bit, what it looks like

Clifton Will

Which can then be parsed as "Clifton Will Not Die"...

Anyway, interesting to see the signs. In today's BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth program we got to hear a someone describe the residents of Clifton as "In the driving seat". That was not a metaphor: it is a statement of fact.

Imposing time limits on parking in Clifton is either going to force residents to walk a bit, or destroy the village the way it did to Southville. We shall have to see what the outcome is. Of course, Southville tried to address the problem by adding bike parking -something Clifton has strongly resist on the basis that it is out of keeping with the area. Is the RPZ plan a first step to forcing Clifton Village to actually have bike parking?

Meanwhile, keep an eye on what happens here. What's impressive is that someone had the money to print some nice posters. Elsewhere in the city the protests were limited to bits of paper run off home printers. This though -professional.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Actually, they are our photographs

A comment arrives on our Never park up the inside of an HGV post.


Well, where do we begin?
  1. You are correct, we have no idea what we are talking about.
  2. The right to talk complete nonsense is a fundamental aspect of press freedom.
  3. They are our photos.
One of our reporters pedalled past about 09:00 that morning, at which point the cardboard wasn't there, just a rear hatch that looked like it had be ripped off. Given the fairly distraught woman nearby, they chose to continue & not take pics. It was on the way back from work that this photo was taken.

Taken: 13/feb/2012 at 16:40, ISO 200 f/3.3, 1/30s, 25mm, Manual white balance: cloudy. The full resolution pics are 4000x3000 if you want them.

Now, we do have a reasonable amount of coverage of HGVs on our site. For example,
Now, we do recognise your complaint about narrow roads being unsuited to HGVs -but you have to recognise that in a modern society, HGVs need to be able to drive down every road in the city.

How else can they deliver pre-prepared salad to the Tesco corner shop of Clifton if they can't park on double yellow lines and zebra crossings?

How else can they deliver cheese to the Tesco "flammable" express of Cheltenham Road if they can't park in the bike lane?

How else can they park at an empty dual carriageway except on the shared use pavement?

We're afraid that you'll just have to accept that losing 1-2 cars a week to passing HGVs is the price of living near the Miner's Arms and Farm pubs. We'll take submissions of other incidents, and you get to retain copyright of your images.

In the mean time, please enjoy the rest of our site.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Southwell Street: new BRI signage

There’s some new signs up on Southwell Street, at St Michael’s Hospital

UH Bristol
Private Road
No parking
on double
yellow lines

No Parking at an any time
private property
(small print about how there’s a fine of £60 for doing so and if you don’t play up they will go to the DVLA for your details)
Any cycles chained or locked to these railings will be removed -contact security

There are some covered bike racks, about enough for ten bicycles. Why no more?
Even after taking away the pavements to provide parking, even after creating a parking basement for staff, there isn’t room for any bicycles.

As to the other signs -and interesting topic. It’s not clear that this is "a private road" -it is just a street in Kingsdown, albeit one whose pavement has been co-opted by the BRI.

Someone with a residents permit and time on their hands should test this

Friday, 21 February 2014

Markov Chains: letting the evening post write for itself

A quick grep of the internet thows up a Markov Chain generator in the Python programming language.

This program takes the name of a file, parses all the sentences to build a table of the words seen to immediately follow all the other words -and their probabilities of being chosen. For example, "lycra" is followed by "lout" 80% of the time, "clad" 20% of the time.

It then randomly generates sentences using these probabilities, so if it ends up at the word "lycra", it rolls a die and picks "lout" four times in five, "clad" one in 5. Then it does the same thing for "lout" and "clad", respectively, until you have a whole article.

Markov Chains are useful in more places than just evening post letter generation; Google's core page-rank algorithm simulates a markov-chain walk of the entire internet, clicking through one link at random on a page, measuring the probability of reaching the destination page. Those pages that you are more likely to end up on come out higher in the search terms. Readers will now know enough to pretend they understand google web page indexing to scare their friends.

Taking this code, and a set of past evening post articles and letters, we can now generate coherent -yet original- letters for the paper

Example 1
by their arrogance." Mr Drummond, who was struggling to get the message. GRIDLOCK in urban areas is costing households, throughout the winter months and more pedestrians, is it with some Bristol cyclists? The other night I was met with typical cyclist arrogance. It should be fines for cyclists just as much right as they belt along in their pockets, not holding onto the handlebars (no doubt they think this is cool) and adults on children's bikes. And cyclists on pavements or controlled crossings following a lorry along there, who was bombing down the centre with sets of traffic lights is the same as someone who uses their car for every journey (as Frank Woodman – February 11 – seems to confirm my prejudices. In just two hours, at just one junction, the police to take up these modes of transport. "Part of this is an example of a sudden and started mouthing off before jumping the red light. Maybe I was following a lorry along there, who was at fault for not wearing my night vision goggles. One morning on the pavement and they fear the city's pavements. The idea for the accidents they cause. The government has said that it is possible that he would organise a meeting where a chairman and other continental countries, and we can find the money being spent to turn a blind eye to cyclists and sent them to the cheaper alternatives? Because most people of working age live busy, stressful lives, so choose convenient transport over cheap transport. SO Mayor Ferguson and, hopefully, encourage him to move on to households. Traffic congestion, therefore, is reducing productivity, leaving commuters with higher bills and less time, as well as council tax which cyclists do very little room to pass. Then, as I reached my destination cyclist
Run 2

dressed in black are the main cause of road congestion. I regularly cycle to work using use the pub's toilet. "I waited outside for her, but I could not get up on the busy road. Between condolences, one resident says: "The hill is treated like a knife through butter. It is encouraging to see," he tells me. "Everyone is pleased with the rest of the stunt cyclists and they were to get any worse, not spending it on actively increasing congestion and pollution, and creating new problems? Another report from last month tells us that the report does not condone this activity. "But we do not adhere to the rules of the roundabout and pulled out straight in front of them and cyclists adhering to the radio. I don't want my young children killed or injured by motorists each year By The Bristol Post welcomed the crackdown and said I was a major issue for the pressure group designed to protect pedestrians against rogue cyclists. He said: "I am all in favour of it. "The problem is that there's a lot of money being frittered away on the pavement cyclists are as wide as cars! I also appreciate not all cyclists behave like this, just the vast majority, especially the Lycra ones who think they are faster. 20 billion pounds of damage to business is caused by buses and more importantly, improve the car drivers in Bristol have been visiting Bristol from their home in South Gloucestershire Council. 
Run 3 -which actually seems more coherent than "Frank Woodman".

sheer number of cyclists to have advised him to move on to the pavement, as I like to see a massive difference. "I don't think there are many others all over the years? There are more motorists than cyclists, it makes perfect sense to just ban them! Why not a cycle-free day for Bristol drivers? I HAVE just read an opinion in this area, but dangerous cycling is. "Cycling City is helping to address the challenges facing its road network and the reduction of average speeds for motorists. We also have, newer inadequate street lighting, I’d like to add, whizzed by in the city. The number of cyclists ignoring every red light whilst I and the abhorrent decision to allow dogs into council owned properties. I have seen pedestrians walking out in front of them were dressed in very dark and a better quality of life through reduced congestion. In Bogota they instigated a policy of putting even more people at risk in an attempt to raise more funds, through fines, for the accidents they cause. The government has said that it plans to spend millions on projects as part of the stunt cyclists and drivers. If you think I am sure each and every time someone turns up a bit shaky with a sense of self-righteousness, superiority and entitlement as they have. Then there are the young children killed or maimed by all the time we were disgusted by their arrogance." Mr Drummond, who was bombing down the pavement is really quite dangerous. There were lights on my car just once a week ago today. Last week police were out in force at Zetland Junction in Gloucester Road, which is not much done about their attitude and to make the roads are paid for by general taxation.

we  may do this regularly -just collect more articles and letters every week for a better dataset.

Frank Woodman: bristol post's premier fake letter writer

People accuse us of being spoof, some kind of satire designed to wind people up.

Not us. No, the spoofs are people like Frank Woodman, letter writer to the Evening Post.

Fantastic coverage here, going back months. Yet clearly fictional.

How can we be so sure? Because of his wonderful inconsistencies.

December 30, It's easier to list what our city hasn't got

We lack [...] an efficient, cheap and reliable bus/ commuter system, which would encourage many more people to use it;
Of course, councillors, mayor and politicians will claim that the public funds are not in place to afford such facilities.
They would, of course, prefer to spend our money on more bus lanes, cycle lanes, 
See? he's actually contradicting himself in the same letter. "we don't have a cheap and reliable bus service because the council would rather spend money on bus lanes". That's like saying we don't have a motorway from Bristol to London because the DfT keeps putting money into the M4. Whoever made up this letter completely forgot to proof-read it before emailing it to their colleagues saying "stick this in where there's some space, we need some more online traffic"

Xmas must have been quiet altogether, forcing a new one to be knocked up the following day

December 31,  Bikes and buses must not delay city's traffic
Cyclists and buses must not be allowed to cause further delays to car commuters and vehicles, servicing businesses.
And again, two weeks later, the business model of advert-funded pages depending on high web traffic calls to the letter team

January 16, Convenience of cars outweighs the costs.
why do motorists absorb these costs rather than switch to the cheaper alternatives? Because most people of working age live busy, stressful lives, so choose convenient transport over cheap transport.
January 15,  Figures on congestion are a wake-up call
Cyclists and buses must not be allowed to cause further delays to car commuters and vehicles, servicing businesses.
See that? On Jan 16 "Mr Woodman" is arguing that people don't use things like buses and bicycles because they are less convenient than driving. And the day before, that congestion is making driving worse.

This is a bubble of inconsistency which we must admire and praise. You cannot complain on one day that congestion is making it impossible to drive round town, and then the next that people don't use alternatives because driving round town is easier.

Its as if someone says "we don't have any controversial cycling stories right now", and someone else goes "let's make up a letter -who is going to be Frank Woodman today?" -before agreeing on "let's print an old Frank Woodman letter, nobody will notice"

Say what you like about Bristol Traffic, but

  1. we are at least consistent!
  2. we print new content every time

Friday, 14 February 2014

Evening Post Letters

A copy of a letter submitted to the evening post hits our inbox: we wonder if it will ever see the light of their letters page.

When the new Bristol Post was launched it was accompanied by bus adverts showing a smiling driver giving a surprised cyclist a bunch of flowers.

It has been some months and I'm yet to see any flowers.

What I have seen is Councillor Richard Eddy trying to shape the city's transport policy based on the secondhand anecdotes of a friend. Please could the councillor remind his friend that in Amsterdam, vehicles drive on the other side of the road --and he should look both ways when crossing the road and the adjacent cycle paths. Then try walking round Westminster and decide which city centre treats pedestrians worse.

I've now also seen a letter of complaint from Robert J Trott of Keynsham -a letter which includes the tired old anecdote that cyclists never pay for the roads. In fact Bristol's urban streets are funded by council tax -so I believe that the £2200 I pay annually on my band-F house I have the right to walk, cycle and drive around the city.

By his own reasoning, Robert,  a resident of South Gloucestershire, does not have such rights. However, I forgive him and will let him use our city streets. What I would like though is some respect for the policies which we, the people of the city have chosen.

Please can he recognise that we did not deliberately choose these policies to annoy him but as an attempt to make the city itself a better place to live, work and indeed, visit.
Still, awaiting my bunch of flowers,