Again, we send our undercover cyclist and pedestrians into the city streets. Unlike in the Panorama documentary, we aren't going to make them do some in-mirror filming where they cry about the hard time they got -that's because we don't care about their feelings. Instead we just watch with bemusement.
Here, then, is an evening crossing of Montpelier. The bike is apparently equipped with LED head lamps, though this doesn't show up well in the video. Fairfield Road, a zigzag on Richmond Road then a descent on York Road -with oncoming traffic- followed by a drop down Brook Hill and along Upper Cheltenham Place to join York Road again.
What does show up is that there isn't much through traffic, and what there is gives way to the bicycle. It's hard to say that Bristol persecutes cyclists when every one of the approaching vehicles comes to a halt. The photographer claims that this is due to the fact that "My LED helmet lights cause physical pain to drivers I look at", which is something we aren't sure about, though it is certainly possible that they may be stopping because they can't actually tell that it is an oncoming bicycle. We would have to do some A/B testing with different lighting options to reach a conclusion. For now we shall just assume that in this city everyone is gracious to bicycles, even though they are clearly inappropriate for these narrow city streets.
Note how at the end of the ride, the cyclist has the rudeness to tell off a car for driving round without lights. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander we say, and if bicycles are going to nip round our streets without lights, not stopping at traffic lights or zebra crossings, then we car drivers should have the same privileges -and that includes the option of driving without lights. Its more environmentally friendly, you know.
However, that's not what we really want to cover. What we do want to raise is that Montpelier is simply too narrow for cars to get past bicycles, and that Picton Street-York Road-Fairfield Road route is not some residential road, it is the primary rat-run of Montpelier, cutting out two sets of utterly needless traffic lights and two mini roundabouts. If you want to get from Stokes Croft to Ashley Down hill, you are in a hurry and you know the back roads, this is the secret route to take. Yet all it takes is one single bicycle and there's suddenly a tail back of traffic, and all that time advantage is lost. The cars parked on either side of the road are as far over as they can be, and now with the police sending them threatening letters, it's going to be hard for them to provide any passthrough space for bicycles.
We should ban bicycles from those roads! This is a key through route in the city for well-informed locals, not some back route for bicycles. They should be forced to use Cobourg Road and Upper Cheltenham Place or Shaftesbury Avenue, not this, the main road through Montpelier. Especially during morning and evening rush hours. Banning bikes here would make it much easier to get a car over to St Werburgh's and then onto the Mina Road. Here's our proposal -red is the red-marked car route, green for the tax dodgers:
View Priority Routes Through Montpelier in a larger map
Those drivers trying to use this route are important revenue earners for the city -pootling cyclists aren't. And independent of whether or not this area gets 20 mph zones, oncoming bicycles delay cars here, and that costs all those people money. Ban them from the main streets in Montpelier -give them the back roads- and all will be well.