Saturday 22 November 2008

A reader writes in

A message appears in the inbox
"Hi, do you like to talk about driving as well as parking"
Yes, it's just harder to photo.
"I was cycling back from UWE today [ed: Nov 20] the car P9 CAT cut me up on Shaldon Road and was abusive at the lights"
It's hard for us to judge who was right and wrong. All we can say is that 'A car that may have had the number plate P9CAT seemed to have a difference of opinions about the rights of bicycles to Shaldon Road.' If we had a photo of the car we could less ambiguous about the car registration number.
"The car was a silver Renault Scenic and the driver was wearing a Bristol Council jumper".
How about: 'the car appeared to be a silver Renault Scenic and the driver appeared to be wearing Bristol Council-branded clothing'. Which implies the driver may have been part of our Cycling City council, or may have have just had some of their clothes.
"He got very upset when I tried to take a photo with my phone".
You do have legal rights here, but you have to be discreet about them. One trick that may work is to switch the camera/phone into video mode and record the conversation without pointing the camera at the driver, make it look like you are fiddling with the camera, but not actually taking pics. You could even point the camera towards the car without holding it up and looking like you are filming.

People have an optimistic expectation of privacy on the public road, especially of them, their house, their car, their family. Whereas in fact, as the recently Moseley trial shows, you only have a right to privacy if when, as the son of Britain's most well known fascist politician, a politician married in Joseph' Goebbel's house in Berlin, you engage in sex acts with prostitutes and speak in mock German accents while dressed in army uniforms in a private house. The streets are public and anything you do there can go into print, on TV or up on the web. We take pics and put them in our files. The government builds up a multi-petabyte filesystem logging everyone's mobile phone location and ANPR number plate information. Both activities are currently legal. Indeed, there is nothing but engineering issues stopping us building our own numberplate and telephone tracking infrastructure -though we have plans there.

The other thing to think about is: do you really want a confrontation? Does it help? Isn't it a bit dangerous? Why not take a pic of the back of the vehicle and the option to talk about it. without getting into an argument with the driver? That gives us the photo and you avoid getting in to an altercation. There is also the risk the driver is left in an even more unstable anti-bike state than before.

To conclude then: if you come across any member of the Moseley family having paid sex on a Bristol street: take the pic and sell it to the papers. If a car leaves you feeling unhappy on your walk, cycle or drive round town, photo the car discreetly, with plate and location, send it in.
On that topic, there's a new address for photos: bristol.traffic at . Videos are welcome along with stills. What is important is entertainment value. Fights no, funny yes.

We've also heard that since the parking zone proposals came out we've drifted away from shallow entertainment to dull road theory things. Sorry. Shallow and entertaining will be resumed shortly.

1 comment:

SteveL said...

Update: it is possible to do a number plate lookup on

the RAC web site
; this does confirm that P9CAT is the registration number of a
RENAULT SCENIC PRIVILEGE DCI 120. This does not confirm the rest of the email, but it does imply that the author is consistent with the reg# and vehicle type.