Sunday, 19 December 2010

Feedback and the implications for SITA S788NNK

Our coverage of one truck driver giving the pedestrians the abuse they deserve has proved very poplar. We know this as Youtube sent us an email saying "your video might be eligible for the YouTube Partnership Programme, which allows you to make money from playbacks of your video.", which implies more than eight people saw it.

We also got many comments on the video, some of which were sadly negative towards us. luckyeightball said
the only crime here is decent hard working blokes trying to earn a honest living, get pin pointed by some p**ck who walks around filming people, i bet he takes the videos home and masterbates in his garden shed to the thought of knowing he's caused someone grievance, probably lives with his mum too, gimp
Bristol Traffic is a team project, everyone in the city participates. Those of us who work in the Bristol sex industry supply chain don't need to sneak off to the garden shed as we have discounted "access" to the professionals who provide their services down in Stokes Croft. As we are regulars we even get rebates when things don't work as expected. Plus the wifi doesn't get to the shed.

Humpski2817 said
If I was this driver I would go to you tube and quote their Privacy Complaint Guidelines as I am quite sure you do not have permission to use his image and as the say in the account policies "let us know if videos or comments on the site violate your privacy or sense of safety."
We've discussed this before. You have to give up some expectations of privacy on the streets. Public Place = public. Private place = private. It's an interesting issue though, with Google Streetview being the cutting edge. To launch that service in Germany, they've had to remove the houses and gardens from the view, which means that street views have entire houses missing, so limiting their value. We are glad therefore for your awareness of these issues, though feel you have some more learning on this topic before your statements come off as well-informed. But it's a start.

The most insightful comment came from SuperJonah2010
"i personely believe as a hgv driver that bristol is a hard town to be in.and that the actions of the guy with the cammera are intimidating and the driver would of seen him as a threat!as he said he chased him down the road in his own posting!i would of thought about my load and is that guy pulling a knife or a gun out of his rucksack!it happend to be a camera!my actions would have been the same if not alot worse!what planet is the idiot who posted this video on!"

That really explains some of the issues HGV drivers have in the city. Our taxi driver acquaintances fear late night customers to the edges of the city, bus drivers are scared to stop on Crow Lane (update: plans to sell of the greenery may make it safer). What we hadn't realised up until now was that HGV drivers are scared of pedestrians.

Up until now we viewed them as a hazard. Admittedly, mostly to cyclists, but such incidents close off busy roads for hours, even to vans, - and parked cars. And, because they have better negotiating power in narrow roads, we aren't that fond of HGVs . But we hadn't realised that they were scared of pedestrians! That changes the whole view of things. They must be terrified of doing any of the "shared space" roads like Cotham Hill or Picton Street. Anyone walking down the middle of the road may suddenly get out a firearm or knife and hijack your load! This continuous fear of pedestrians must make the entire city a stressful place to do deliveries -far better to stay in Avonmouth where you don't see people walking around, and if you do, you can call the police and report them.

This fear of highway robbery must also trigger the use of classic military tactics, the key ones being: keep moving and take the high ground.

We can see an example of this at the bottom of Cotham Brow, looking towards the Arches. Our white van is stuck at the lights. We aren't worried about anyone stealing our load as we'll just report to the police that someone else has stolen a "Edmond and Cheggers Inflatable Doll Party Pack" and they'll drive up the A38 following the laughter on the pedestrians until they find the culprits. The Nisa Today lorry was facing the same direction when it swung left into Kingsley Road and got into that debate with the pedestrian about whether they should have indicated before the turn. The answer from a game theory perspective is of course: no, don't signal your intent -it makes it harder for them to plan their attack.

Today we are held up by some lights, cars coming from Cromwell Road are heading up from the Arches to Cotham Brow. This is a narrow road with parking spaces on either side of the road almost deliberately laid out to create conflict -conflict the parking review will leave in. For example, those cars on the left? Short stay parking, with only 40cm of pavement alongside there's no room to get wheels on the pavement, so it creates a choke point -a bit of traffic calming. And a place where a malicious pedestrian could attack a lorry driver and make off with their payload.

The small cars, like the council car, don't have a problem, they pootle up the road. But what of the SITA van S788NNK? The choke point here exposes them to attack -anyone could pop out from the side road hold a knife, a gun, a rolled up newspaper (we've all seen that Bourne Identity film -we know newspapers are weapons), and take their valuable payload of ready-for-recycling cardboard.

How will the SITA drivers handle it? With Military precision.

They seize the enemy territory by going straight onto the pavement. Notice how they do it. No halfhearted "protect the wheels" actions, but a full "take the high ground" operation to get along the pavement and then drop down once they get past the narrowness.

By keeping the forward momentum, the oppo team is left on the defensive, and without the pavement they can't hang back and hope to jump up into the cab as it goes past.

Together, this ensures that the SITA cardboard will reach its destination securely.

This whole notion that lorry and HGV drivers fear pedestrians is going change some of our thinking. In fact it's profound. It explains a lot of city design -like the pedestrian underpasses of the Bearpit, St Paul's and Lawrence Hill roundabouts. They must have gone in not just to keep motor traffic speeds up, but to reduce the risk of pedestrians attacking trucks. It also explains why money needs to be invested in making pedestrians and cyclists feel unwelcome in those parts of the city popular with HGVs -because the drivers don't want them there.

The implications of this discovery are still trickling through our brains, so expect more coverage of the topic in the new year. Until then, all those pedestrians whom we now suspect read this blog -remember, the HGV driver is more scared of you!

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