Tuesday 26 November 2013

Bristol Parking on C4

Channel 4 did a documentary about Bristol's driving and parking issues -you can watch it until early december.

Being Bristol's premier "rational" commentary on parking -and the one with the best historical datset, it's a shame to see us being excluded from the program in exchange for a little old biddy who walks up and down Gloucester Road telling people to move if they don't want a ticket.

Some initial observations
  • That TomTom claim that Bristol is "the most congested city" is bogus -it is based on the definition of congestion as "the most significant difference between peak hour journey time and off-peak journey time". We've discredited this before. By their reasoning Bristol is "more congested" than London because driving round London takes forever at any time day or night.
  • The focus was on Gloucester Road, with some coverage of the M32 from cameras, and somebody "bold" trying to cross the end of it at Newfoundland Way.
  • Stokes Croft coverage was limited to making the assertion that the riot was about a supermarket, not about drunk people being help up by the police.
  • They treated one person on the streets of the croft shouting at a traffic warden as unusual, which shows the under-researched program didn't spend more than half an hour in the area -otherwise they'd know that shouting at complete strangers there is a common activity.
  • Anchor Road popped up with a mini blocking the bus lane -if the council had done the right thing in the 1970s and turned the harbour into a motorway exchange, there wouldn't be such a narrow approach to an unwidened Jacob's Wells Road. Nor did the closure of the A4 outside college green get covered -let alone queen's square. The way the council has systematically resisted road widening and even converted roads into parkland was not covered as a cause of congestion and parking problems
  • George Ferguson appeared to be cycling over the Cumberland Basin bridges, that mess of entrances and exits where nobody ever knows which is the right one to exit on, a road where the on-ramps heading north are angled perfectly to keep the small amount of visible tarmac hidden in your blind spot. Cycling there showed he is in fact a very "bold" mayor.
A key theme was that the council need to tow cars parked in bus lanes because at peak hours the road traffic collapses when this happens. Yet nobody considered it is only buses, cyclists, motorcyclists and taxis that are held up when someone pops into a fish and chip shop for a couple of minutes -AND THEY SHOULDN'T BE THERE!

By eliminating the bus lanes, gloucester road could have more parking for staff and customers to the shops. We'd have to eliminate the buses too, as it would otherwise be like before the clearway went in -when your lane would be held up by a bus that was hanging back to let an oncoming bus get past a minivan with the lights flashing.

You see -there was one key point missed: it is buses that cause congestion. Bus lanes simply eliminate essential parking spaces. And as you can see from elsewhere in the city, every busy high street needs its delivery vans.

One confusing aspect of the C4 programme is that the residents and shopkeepers of Gloucester Road seemed to be complaining the urban clearway preventing parking from 07:30-09:30 and 16:30-18:00,  one and half hours of an 09:00-17:30 shop's opening hours.

Yet they were generally protesting about the RPZ plans.

Which are completely independent of the showcase bus clearway restrictions

And which, by eliminating commuter parking, should actually increase side-street short stay parking

Yet they were protesting. Which makes no sense whatsoever, except that the word "parking enforcement" appears in both contexts. But the urban clearway zones are for traffic flow, so coming to the council house to complain that an RPZ will destroy Gloucester Road is utterly incoherent. They could complain that the showcase bus route is destroying it today, but that is a separate issue.

Why complain then?

  1. They have conflated the loss of commuter parking with the fall of civilisation.
  2. They are dependent on commuter drive-by customers who will not pop in to the shops if they have to drive round the corner to park.
  3. They fear that a reduction in commuter car traffic will impact revenue
  4. They will not be able to drive to work themselves.
  5. They believed what that Evening Post told them.
Other Gloucester Road issues which surface in the video
  • That chip-lady walking up the road telling people to move or they get a ticket? If the council's goal is traffic flow over revenue, then the fact that she is doing this without being paid is not some act of civil disobedience, it is being an unpaid traffic enforcement officer. Also: that chip shop is just up the road from her house. While we don't normally encourage walking. looking at her trying to 3-point turn, walking would actually be faster here -and she should warn people about the council while doing it.
  • The Prince of Wales pub did not get any coverage, even though it is a core institution -nor did Grecian Kebabs or Rocco's Pizzeria. None of the long-standing institutions got the coverage and respect they deserve.
  • If you want to get your hair cut on Gloucester Road, go to Franco's. Everybody knows that. If another hairdresser on the stretch is complaining they are losing customers who aren't stopping on the drive home -there may be other factors at play.
The RPZ issues for residents are independent of Gloucester Road -but something for coverage another time.

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