Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stokes Croft "gate" -back to normal

A few minutes at the Stokes Croft/Ashley Road junction shows it is quiet there.

A van sits half over the ASL, waiting for the lights to change
Two cyclists wait to turn right, above them the "Think Local" graffiti
When the lights change, someone drives into that ASL
The only hint of recent troubles is this sign on the pedestrian crossing.

Incidentally, some press coverage likened the area to "Camden". This is ridiculous: Camden is about the same size as NW Bristol, includes Hampstead and its Heath (local version: Clifton and the Downs), as well as places like Camden High Street, Gospel Oak, Kentish Town, even the University of London area.

A more accurate description of the area would be a main road that has some areas that went upmarket so long ago that most people have forgotten when they weren't (Kingsdown, Cotham), some areas that are undergoing more recent change (Montpelier) and some areas that have a long cultural identity based on ethnic diversity -but a culture that is itself at risk from ongoing gentrification. The street itself is a mix of classic local venues (Slix and Ritas) as well as new places (the Canteen), leading to diverse options of an evening. Even we, the 'traffic van drivers, like to walk around there, eating our cheese chips while skimpily-dressed working ladies ask us if we have a light.

For London-based reporters, an equivalent in Camden would be something like Edgware Road, with St Pauls being replaced by Notting Hill & Portobello Road; Kingsdown and Cotham by the Abbey Road area. Kilburn and Cricklewood would represent the areas further up the A38 -Gloucester Road and Horfield respectively, though these areas lack the ethnic diversity of NW London, where the older Irish and Caribbean areas have merged with the new immigrants to produce a dialect and culture all of their own.

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