Saturday 13 August 2011

Walthamising Hotwells

One of the Clifton Traffic Calming proposals -voted for, with support from the Waltham Forest Faction of the ruling LibDem party, was to remove some yellow lines from this road "to calm traffic", with a key justification being this is near a school and it would improve safety. This perfect Walthamisation: to improve the facilities for us, the motorists, using the walking and cycling part of the council budget, and claiming it is for "their own good". Waltham Forest excels in this, such as in the downgrading of a route to the Olympics, though we are surprised at how much it cost to make it so easy to PavePark. We in Bristol don't need such help.

This is the road covered. There are some buildouts already, one positioned to protect the wingmirrors of cars, and room on the other side of the road to park. The target area must be further down the hill.

Ah yes, here it is. A narrow stretch, two chicanes and then a wide space -wide enough to get two small cars into.

But here's a question: is this worth spending political capital on? Barbara Janke, Cllr for Clifton (Waltham Forest Ward), is in charge of a minority council that often cites its green foundations as a way of differentiating it. To remove some double yellow lines "to calm traffic" is going to get bad press in the green-troublemaker news outlets (fortunately, not the BBC or Evening Post), and embarrass others in the council. For what? Two parking spaces.

It may seem odd, but we in the Bristol Traffic project are against the proposal for two reasons. One is this: there are more important places to add parking areas that a back road near Hotwells

The other --and this is key-- is this: double yellow lines provide Clifton parents with designated dropoff areas on the school run. Those two parking spaces would be wasted on residents or commuters, as only two people a day will benefit from each new space; four people per day on a weekday, dropping down to one person/day on a weekend. Twelve vehicles a week. Whereas as a short-stay parking area, you could have ten parents a morning queuing up to do dropoffs, push the kids out and carry straight on into the city, without having to get out the car.

It is far more valuable for parental dropoff than for resident and commuter parking, and if the councillors don't realise this, they are talking to the residents and not the school parents. If we sent our kids to this school, we'd be in touch with Barbara Janke and others defending our right to park here, instead of saying "yes, we think two more residents should park here." Who cares about the residents? That's four voters, compared to the possibly twenty that ten families could offer.

The other thing is that traffic calming claim looks, well, weak. You could push it for Pembroke Road -you can get up to speed. But here? Even with a buildout dropped enough to let vans go over it, you can't keep your speed up, you have to give way at the bottom anyway.

For the sake of twelve extra vehicle parking opportunities a week, Barbara and Terry are going to make enemies of everyone in the school, as well as devalue the entire "LibDem are green" brand. Admittedly, their Westminster School and Parliament compatriots are doing the same thing, but if you look at the recent election results, not only did the Green party take a LibDem seat, they came second in a few other wards. The cost of adding two parking spaces here -both financial and political - doesn't justify it. Two happy residents, some commuters who aren't even in the same ward as the councillors, and 40-50 annoyed parents plus the local green troublemakers blogging about it -and maybe even letting the evening post in on the joke, so that Barbara gets laughed at as much as Gary "bus stop" Hopkins did.

This is just political ineptitude.

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