Saturday, 10 October 2015

The spectator discovers sectarian Bristol

Once every 18 months, the Spectator magazine covers Bristol with an article. This is something we residents we have on our "things to look forward to" list somewhere between "Shopping in Asda Bemmy on a Saturday" and "getting stuck on the M4 because there's a rugby match scheduled to start in Cardiff soon".

This year we are blessed with many opportunities to get stuck on the M4. We are also graced with the latest spectator article, Bristol, the European capital of green nannying and bureaucracy.

Here are the opening three paragraphs:
I am stuck behind a big yellow recycling lorry in Bristol, which this year became the UK’s first European Green Capital. It is collecting food waste from the special brown bins we have to use, and the stench is horrendous. Behind me are about another dozen cars and, sad to say, I fear that not all of them have turned off their idling engines.  
Squadrons of recycling vehicles invade every day, blocking our narrow Victorian streets and causing misery and mayhem — starting with the school run: ‘Dad! I’m going to be marked down for a “late” again!’ ‘Sorry son, but these teabags mustn’t be allowed to rot in landfill. And besides, we have our city’s green status to consider!’ 
I am not against recycling — just the extreme methodology the city has adopted. Bristol is now so over-the-top with it all that bin day involves five or more different bins collected by three separate diesel–powered lorries. And I have a theory about why these mobile compost heaps insist on working through the morning rush hour: it is all about our city’s war on the car.
Mr Miserable then actually goes on to make the point that Bristol has gone from being the city of ganja and Trip-hop to one of painted road regulations, blaming "green city europe" for it. Well, he may have a point. Certainly there is a visible split between those people who were happy with "The way thing were" and the progressives,. The "way things were" brigade are still sulking over the (last) rework of The Centre, the loss of the rickety flyover, and probably even the loss of the road over College Green. Notice how roads are the key source of resentment. Similarly the progressives are full of hope that with an RPZ and 20 mph limit all those people sulking about stolen roundabouts will suddenly choose to cycle happily to work.  Well, the sulkers won't be doing that out of ideological reasons, even if their GP says they need to do it for their emergent Coronary Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes.

Ironically, both groups have lots in common: they all think Bristol being "european green city" is taking the piss, and that Metrobus is a disaster in the making. Nobody anywhere can be found to defend Metrobus except bus companies, and the engineers in WoEP who find designing continuous bike routes too boring to bother with.

Anyway, on a standard of the Spectator's usual coverage, no worse than usual, and it doesn't laugh at us rural folk who live outside the Home Counties.

What is irritating though, is the whole theme of those quoted paragraphs. He has spent a fifth of his article citing being stuck behind a bin van on the school run with the other parents as evidence for the council's "war on the car". That's it: stuck behind a bin van.

Now, nobody likes being stuck behind the rubbish or recycling lorries, but here is a key aspect of them:
they come on the same day every week
Admittedly, whether it's a brown and recycle week or a black-bins-too week is a mystery to all, but that is addressed, as everyone does, by sticking them all out on the street. Any that don't get collected can be left there for the following week. Because, as noted, they will be back exactly seven days later, except around Christmas and New Year -but there, as a gift to the parents, the council allows them to take off three weeks worth of school run, so the schedule is irrelevant.

Because bin day is so regular, you soon learn which days the lorries come out on the rat-runs between your home and school, which means remembering the 1-2 days a week when you have kick your child out of bed a bit earlier and say "we need to go to school now, get up you lazy bastard".

But no, clearly Anthony Whitehead never remembers to do this on the morning after he (hopefully) helped stick the bins out. Which implies its more a war on "lazy and forgetful parents".

Having failed to learn a useful strategy for avoiding being late one day a week "get out of the door 10 minutes early on bin day", he is instead stuck in a line of cars trying to compose his magazine article.

This is where he makes his second fatal mistake. At the moment he realised that he was blocked in, and that he wasn't going to get the child to school in time, instead of foaming off at the council or writing an article for the Spectator, he should have put the handbrake on, turned round to the child and said "get out of the car and walk from here".

Because that is the real split in the city; those who drive their kids to school and those who don't. For a parent driving their child in to suddenly say "get out and walk" is as unthinkable as anyone who works in Clifton using public transport to get there.

Yet still the council tries to force families to walk their kids to school. And it's a war that's been going on for decades

Here is a shocking video showing hordes of children forced to walk to school -even those whose parents are important and own more than one car.

Listen to their happy laughs over the birdsong! Look to how their irresponsible parents let them scoot ahead to the next junction, rather than holding them tightly by the hand on the dangerous journey from the front door to the back seat of their Euro-6 certified crossover SUV. Note the road closures from Ninetree Hill to Freemantle Square, and the later one just before Colston School -and see how they have killed off the traffic-flow-enhancing through traffic. Observe the near-complete lack of traffic apart from a white builder's van, en route to a wage-earning job, one car going up Cotham Brow and a bus.. Note specifically, the presence of RPZ paintwork in the Kingsdown and Cotham North zones are preventing any of the workers Bristol depends on from driving round in circles until they can see a free corner to park on.

All these children are being deprived of the opportunity to snapchat their friends from the back of Crossover SUVs stuck behind bin lorries! All their parents are deprived the opportunity to show off the size and ostentatiousness of their land-barges, hence provide any form of visible wealth to indicate the social status of their offspring! You can't see who is poor and who can afford a car! And long term -these children will grow up as yet unable to grasp the core tenant of Bristol: you need a car to get on.

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