Friday, 28 August 2009

Resisting change at Colston School

This is Cotham Park Grove from the South, some cars making it a bit tight to enter and exit the junction.

Here is the road during term time, some cars are quite clearly parked right over the corner. While this makes it tricky for parents with push chairs to pull out, it does at least ensure that on the road itself there are never two lanes of traffic at a time, a vehicle is either exiting or entering the system. The school-keep-clear zone provides a pull-over point, while the zebra zig zags are good for coaches.
So what? People ask. Ahh, this is where the power struggle between those in the council traffic planning department, where those few engineers who are still fighting against the anti-car elected councillors, are managing to represent the interests of us car drivers against those parents who dare to walk to school.

Those parents have been complaining that the council should act on this, and they are doing so, but managing to do this in a way that still retains benefits for parents coming in by car
  • The school will have their school-keep-clear zone made enforcable
  • There will be some disabled parking across from this
  • The corners will be double yellow lined to mean "no parking"
  • A bit of redland grove will have double yellow lines to mean "drop your kids off here"
Those last two points are the most interesting. A stretch of redland grove will be double yellow lined to say "no commuters, just parents". Which is handy, though of course if the railway line was less expensive to take an adult and a child up from Monty to Redland, perhaps less needed. But the corners will also be double-yellowed, to discourage commuters and parents from using it.

Here, from an attempt to provide a safe route to school, the plan fails. We have evidence from Clifton and Cotham that says "all double yellow lines do by schools is provide a guaranteed place for parents to park", while it doesn't encourage driving to school, it certainly doesn't discourage it. Any parent that turns up hoping to use the two car lengths of allocated space on Redland Grove is going to have a problem when they turn up and discover two other parents there. What are they going to do? That's right, they will use the other allocated spaces -the corners. These will have the same markings "yellow lines" on them, and so will be equally legitimate. Until those once-a-term days when Bristol Parking Services turn up, and you have to argue your case.

If, by some miracle of consideration these corners aren't occupied by parents, and are in fact kept free, the parents who walk are left with a problem. whereas historically the road was narrowed by parked cars, making it one lane wide, is entrance will be two vehicles wide, making it harder to cross safely. This will discourage them from walking, so stop them getting in the way of tax-paying parents.

We dropped a note to Cllr Neil Harrison, who is one of those safe-walk-to-school subversives we are keeping an eye on, to make sure he wasn't planning to surprise us.
Did the engineers look at having some build-outs on the corner instead, with enough bollards to keep cars off them? This would keep the road one vehicle wide at the junction, yet offer good visibillity to parents trying to get across.

With yellow lines, except on the two days a term when they are
enforced, they are going to be a parents-only parking area.
His reply was informative
We did talk about this, but his view was that it would create dangerous traffic tailbacks around the corner. 
You see that? The traffic engineer is doing his best for us, the car drivers. If they had added any form of build out, the effect would have been exactly the same as if there were parked cars on the corner, which is what you see every single weekday. Buildouts would not create any more tailbacks than normal, yet they would take away two or more parking spaces away from us commuters and parents.

We thank this anonymous engineer, and close the posting with a photo to show that we know he was making things up when he said that build-outs would create tailbacks, but that the councillors don't. 
Can we close by saying that given the parents are off school, we do have an opportunity to keep the plans as they are. Email alan.berridge at on the subject of the consultation 09TM013/ACB/WH, to make your views known (cc: Neil.Harrison at ). Remember, you have until September 8th, and some walking parents may discover the plans before then, so its important to push for parking spaces over build outs.

Update 15:30 august 28, Neil H now says
Consultation done now at request of parents Travel Action Group, all of whom are walkers and cyclists. They want to try to get works done by start of year. They devised the planned works thenselves. Build outs now planned too. Some reason why single yellows not suitable - can't remember.

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