Wednesday 4 November 2009

Down by the bus station

Whenever you monitor humans, you have to worry about The Hawthorn Effect; the fact that people behave differently when being watched. This is notorious for skewing the results of many experiments, and you should always ask experimenters how they compensated for it, to make sure they knew what they were doing.

We solve this problem by not telling the cyclists that it's a camera. They think its a light. Of course, having the bicycle with lights on would effect the experiment too, so to avoid that it doesn't actually work as a light.

By monitoring without them knowing, we get to see the world from their point of view, hear their complaints, then dismiss them.

Today's video: Dove Street Kingsdown to Broadmead, by way of the Marlborough Street Bus station.

  1. Notice that in Dove Street, those vans parking 3/4 on the pavement ensure that passing bicycles do not get hit by open doors, and make it easier for passing vehicles to get by them.
  2. The Honda LG57XPV that appears to pull out without indicating before veering across the road is not victimising the cyclist, it would behave the same regardless of whoever was behind it. While driving along, had its brake lights on, "tourist lights" as we call them, which warn the vehicles behind that it is planning something.
  3. Pulling in to Dighton Street at 1:00 we see a line of bicycles using this road to avoid the St James Barton Roundabout/Bearpit options, or to head over to Clifton without cycling over the big hills. [Incidentally, we hear a rumour that the Bristol Cycling Campaign, as well as promising free drinks at their EGM on Thursday, are planning a Bastard-Hills-of-North-Bristol ride that will not avoid those climbs].
  4. At 1:20 the instrumented cyclist and another cyclist both slide past a taxi to occupy the remaining half of the ASL. This does not leave room for the two other cyclists following. What will they do?
  5. At 1:28, the cycling-chic woman passed earlier appears to be having braking problems, as her bike only stops after she has shot halfway over the junction. Notice how she stops by putting both feet on the ground. That means fixed-speed or broken brakes. Given that cars are still heading across this road from the right hand side, only three sets of lights/two junctions from the M32, everyone anticipating a bit of speed, this is a brave things to do, she has earned her ghostrider label.
  6. At 1:35 we see that the vehicle waiting to turn right is in fact a police car. Presumably our little ghostrider was too busy looking for cars from the right to worry about what cars were waiting to turn.
  7. At 1:41, the police car pulls forward, and by 1:45 is parallel with the rider. Is she going to get told off?
  8. No, it turns right, as do the vehicles behind. Even the lorry at 1:57 doesn't clip her, despite her being positioned on the inside of the bend
  9. At 2:02 the high speed sprint of a van through the lights tells us that they have just gone red for that lane, and that the bicycles will now get a green light, which kicks in a couple of seconds later.
  10. At 2:06 our camera enhanced cyclist sets off and never sees the ghost rider again. She had not only tried to cycle across the red light and the lanes of traffic, she had positioned herself so she could not see the lights, and so missed them changing.
  11. Our cyclist uses the bike lane until it ends, and is then forced to turn off the road, to go down Whitson Street to the bus station. There then follows 30 seconds of dullness.
Where things get entertaining again is 2:44, where the bicycle is in the bus and bike only lane heading towards Broadmead. They have a red light. Will they wait? Or has the previous junction given them ideas?

They wait for three seconds, then veer over to what appears to be a pedestrian crossing -but actually has a bicycle on it. Therefore we must sadly conclude that this bit of crossing on bike is legal, and we can not report it to the police.

We are not so sure, however, about the pavement riding they do afterwards. They do not go straight on, where they would encounter the car, but instead veer left past some phone boxes, over the bus lane and then on some more pavement. We were beginning to get hopeful again, but then saw that they were actually riding up to some bicycle specific traffic lights -which were going green- and then they set off again, into Horsefair and hence Cabot Circus.

As you can imagine, we are unimpressed by the cyclist who ran the first red light. Not only was it dangerous, it didn't gain anything. At least when we speed in a car we get something in exchange -the feeling of speed, reduced journey time. She got nothing, and forgot to keep an eye out for police cars. The second junction though, leaves us confused. The bicycle clearly went up on the pavement, over a pedestrian crossing, on some more pavement and then up to some lights. We do not whether to be
  • Upset about the behaviour of the cyclist
  • Upset that an anti-car council added these features
  • Confused by the fact that these features seem to not be at all rational. Surely to make it easier to get from the bus station to broadmead, the crossing lights would be on the left of the junction, so the bicycle would not have to zig-zag everywhere? We suspect the lights were put in on a budget to help tax-dodgers head the other way.
We have decided to go for all three options. Bristol Traffic: confused and upset.

1 comment:

McD said...

Sounds like your bike could do with a service! Where do you have the cam mounted - it seems to work pretty well?
On a more serious point, when I overtake a cyclist I give them plenty of room but when I pass them in the opposite direction I don't see why I should - I trust other motorists are like minded - see 12 secs in!