Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tesco Stokes Croft: A consultation

We're reproducing a message sent out today, in order to prevent any misunderstandings if our email became public through other channels, just like that recent incident involving "Quercus", twitter and a naked man on a unicycle. First, we need to make clear that we do not in any way support the use of bicycles or public transport in the city. We are, however, concerned that the delivery and shopping processes of the Cheltenham Road Tesco Mini-mart are making it impossible for us to drive down the bus lane then swing left into Ashley Road, so avoiding the bearpit roundabout while heading out of town on the M32. Furthermore, the congestion caused by buses trying to swing back into the single-lane traffic is creating tailbacks as far as the Gloucester Road/Zetland Road junction, which makes nipping into Booze express harder. We couldn't come out and say this as it would make us appear shallow and self centred, so instead we pretended to have unified interests with the people that Jeremy Clarkson only this week denounced as anti-capitalist subversives.

Here is the letter

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bristol Traffic
Date: 21 June 2011 15:17
Subject: Express Cheltenham Road, Bristol

It appears that you are looking for feedback w.r.t the Tesco Express, Cheltenham Road, Bristol, the one that recently became nationally famous due its unfortunate history of catching fire late at night.

The Bristol Traffic Project wishes to provide some feedback about the newly re-opened mini-mart.

In case you are unaware, we are a web-based community project to build a defensible dataset on who drives, parks, cycles and walks badly round Bristol. Our stokes croft coverage dates back to 2008, and so forms one of the largest dataset on road usage in the area. As a result, the search terms "Tesco Stokes Croft" invariably lists one of our articles in the first page of responses, despite the recent national and international media coverage.

One conclusion of our three year dataset is that the number of people cycling along Cheltenham Road is increasing. This is something which the council believes is a good thing, which is why the Cycling City program deliberately set out to encourage people in Bishopston, further up the A38, to cycle to work -down Cheltenham Road. For this reason, the Greater Bristol Bus Network offers a mandatory bus lane during some parts of the day; this ends outside Tesco Cheltenham Road, where a non-mandatory cycle path begins. While historically the bus lane only ever existed on those rare days that Bristol Parking Services enforced the rule, the roll-out of in-bus camera and CCTV enforcement of lane-blocking legislation means that compliance is now higher, except amongst those entities that are prepared to view the penalty as an operational expense.

Within the last ten weekdays of the supermarket being "live", community contributions show that
Accordingly we can conclude that:
  1. The official Tesco deliveries, while scheduled for 10:00-10:30, render the bike lane inoperable for a minimum of 30 minutes out of every working day. This bike lane being, as mentioned, the primary cycle route into the city from north Bristol.
  2. This official blocking of the bus lane impacts bus schedules, inconveniences passengers across the city, and may even lead to financial penalties to FirstBus.
  3. Other organisations with an apparent relationship with Tesco (e.g. G4S) are prepared to block the bus lane during its operational hours, and therefore presumably view parking tickets as an OPEX. This reduces the availability of the bus and bike lane even further.
  4. Customers engaged in a park-and-shop process are prepared to short-stay park in the bus/bike lane through out the day, so rendering it unusable to buses, cyclists, and anyone coming down of Arley Hill who wants to nip down the bus lane before turning left on Ashley Road towards the M32.
  5. Customers engaged in a park-and-shop process are prepared to short-stay park outside the shop during the evening bus-lane hour, so creating congestion that runs as far back as Zetland Road and so has a negative impact on all road journeys.
Overall, then, the combination of scheduled Tesco deliveries, possibly scheduled visits by partner organisations, and short-stay parking by customers has effectively rendered this bus and bike lane unusable to anyone in a bus, bicycle, motorcycle or taxi, or anyone simply prepared to nip up the left lane to get to St Pauls, an action to which a blind eye has historically been turned.

Given the role of the road and the fact that the loss of this lane is leading to congestion morning and evening, we consider this outcome unacceptable.

We would recommend some actions to mitigate this. Sadly very few actions spring to mind other than the closure of the mini-mart.
  • Your cost model is built around an optimised supply chain that uses the same vehicles for delivering to Tesco Express outlets as other Tesco sites, so the HGVs could only be eliminated by the adoption of a new city-friendly supply chain.
  • Your cost model does not include the external costs of the impact on the journey times of non-customers, or other externalies such as the increases in their fuel use and pollution.
  • Passing motorists popping in to shop may have been explicitly or implicitly included in the business model of the shop. It may be possible to enforce a "do not sell to people who park in the bus/bike lane" policy by refusing them entry, however this will not help customer loyalty.
  • It is hard for you to enforce policy on how your strategic partners such as G4S arrive and park outside your premises.
What is possible is for the local council to act in such a way as to mitigate such issues, independent of any of your actions:
  1. Use the CCTV camera at the junction of Cheltenham Road and Arley Hill to enforce the existing bus lane parking rules. This does not require any legal process and could be rolled out almost immediately.
  2. Use existing the CCTV camera to enforce the 15 minute loading/unload time limit. Again, no legislation necessary.
  3. Uprate the cycle lane from "optional" to mandatory, so earning all vehicles which park there a £120 fine.
  4. Enforce the then-extended cycle lane driving/parking rules using the same CCTV camera
  5. Increase the physical presence of Bristol Parking Services staff, so offering more of a visual deterrent before 10:00 and after 16:30.
Being a data-gathering exercise we shall be using the FoI process to track the number of parking tickets issued in this area, so see if it correlates with the increase of delivery and customer parking which our data implies is happening. We shall also encouraging our existing community base to collect more photographs of the situation, which we shall then place online along with the vehicle registration numbers, and so help build up a better dataset of who chooses to block this invaluable facility, and when.

Please thank your staff, partners and customers for their participation in our experiment.

The Bristol Traffic Team.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

As stated, do not interpret this as some form of subversive activity. It is just that the tailbacks prevent us getting down and parking on the pavement outside Ritas or sprinting over to the M32. We are, as people should recall, a data gathering and analysis project, so we welcome documentary evidence from everyone on this issue, even people engaged in un-British activities like walking, cycling, and getting on a bus as opposed to standing there hoping that one will turn up. The threat of using FoI information to collect ticketing statistics is real, and we enjoy the irony of having the CCTV camera put in "for the mini-mart's own protection" being used to ticket people parking in the bus lane during its hours of liveness. Expect updates in future


Spannered said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spannered said...

We wish your comments section had a 'heart' emoticon, because we *love* this post. We shall contribute in any way we can to this promising dataset.