Sunday 31 January 2016

Bristol's Parking Problem: 2016 style

There's an article up on the evening post saying for the first time in a generation, a majority of people are using either buses, bikes or walking to work instead.

This is fascinating. Too bad there is no coverage of the methodology of the survey other than it's "a survey of the commuting habits of thousands of city residents". How did they conduct this survey? A random call of Bristol numbers? Did it include s survey of the rural backwaters of S Gloucs and N Somerset? Did they look at the distances travelled to measure commute-miles, rather than just journeys? Did they ask firstbus and wessex bus lines for data, along with ANPR logs and phone company travel datasets? These are the things we need to know.

Anyway, in the list of people the paper called for an opinion, they reached for their Fax Machine contact list and got in touch with Hugh Bladon, Bristol's member of Association of British Drivers, who is always woken up from his sleep for a quote. Hugh Bladon actually lives in Weston Super Mare, a town which is still looking forward to 1974, so it's always surprising that they can contact Hugh for a quote. That's 20 miles away, a distance quoted by Google maps as 38 minutes drive from Stokes Croft on a Sunday evening. If Mr Bladon really does commute into Bristol every day, he'll be spending an hour each way, first on the A370, A38 or M5+ portway, then in stop-go mode through town to finally reach his destination. And for what? To live in Weston? That's the place where Banksy hosted his Dismaland Exhibition —and that's not a coincidence. Probably the main problem they had there was people walking round town laughing at stuff and taking selfies in front of the sea front, not realising they weren't actually at the exhibition yet. Why would anyone voluntary live there? If you have children, think of what it does to their minds? And, think what it does to your life, with 2+h a day sitting in a car.

Essentially, you can't trust the judgment of anyone who lives in WsM of their own volition. So the fact he is called on to be the ABD spokesman is a bit worrying for them: can't they find anyone else?

And what did he have to say? Rather than go for the survey methodology —always the first line of attack—, he accepted the findings and then blamed the council
I suppose people are getting fed up with travelling into the city. here is not enough provision for people to park, and I suppose more people are using the park and rides. I would also think George Ferguson and his 20mph scheme are frightening people who think they might get a ticket for doing maybe 23, or 24mph Those are the sort of things that drive away people.With the expanding economy, I would have thought more people would be in cars. It might also be there is not enough parking. Cycle lanes now take up a lot of tarmac where road parking used to be.
This is hilarious. We have never heard of anyone too scared to drive into the city in case they get a ticket(*).

Blaming the RPZ for removing a large amount of free-at-point-of-use commuter parking is something he should have gone for, but instead he imagines that people are scared of getting a ticket for driving at 24 mph. That's like saying people are scared of using the M4 in case they get a ticket for driving at 74 mph. They aren't, you don't.

As for the "Cycle lanes now take up a lot of tarmac where road parking used to be.". He must have a different cycle map than everyone else. The purpose of cycle lanes is to provide short stay parking. Even bus lanes are only closed to parking for 3 hours a day, 21 h a week.

But he does have a bit of a point: there isn't enough parking. Only what you want to park has changed.

Look at this video of a Bristol (not a WsM) resident cycling to the shops on a weekend.
  1. There are no cycle lanes.
  2. There are still people driving, not scared of getting a ticket for driving at 23 mph.
  3. A lot of the people driving don't seem to looking where they are going.
  4. None of the car parking space has been re-allocated to cycle lanes.
  5. There are lots of bike racks,  about 8 opposite where Havana Coffee used to be, two over the road by that, then more by costa coffee and sainsbury's.
  6. All of these bike racks are full.
There is nowhere to park a bicycle

Our reporter cycles down hill, avoids getting hit by the 4x4 turning from Aberdeen Road without looking, and the hatchback pulling out from the other side of the road without looking, carries on a bit, having to wait with a car in front for a driver taking their time to reverse park, then pulls over themselves to find somewhere to park. First rack: 12 bikes; no room for more. Visible across the road: two racks, four bikes, no space. They continue down to Whiteladies Road. On the far side of the road, there's space for about 30 bikes, looking fairly full. On this side of the road, 6 more racks, space for 12. Except, again, full.

One of the bikes there half of an abandoned frame, lying on its side. So the the tax dodger gets to do something nobody who drives in from WsM can get away with; they stick their own bike on top of it, lock up, and go to the shops. So we see approximately six cars worth of space allocated -all from the pavement, we note- for bicycles, which is a fraction of the space allocated to car parking. What we see in this video is, on Cotham Hill alone, 32 cars, two spaces free. For bikes, 48 spaces: all taken, albeit some with dissolving relics.

Is this an unusual event? Not really; the same situation was encountered on Gloucester road an hour earlier: one space outside Maplins, someone else queueing for it before the tax dodger had even unlocked. Because on that side of the road, there are about eight bike stands, from Zetland Road up. In contrast, if you wanted to drive there, there's more space.

Essentially, we are seeing a shift to cycling as a transport option in some parts of the city —and we aren't seeing the city adapting to that.  Hugh can complain about removal of parking, but there is significantly more space allocated to parking here than any other other form of transport.

This little stretch of Whiteladies Road is interesting, as it is what the ABD use in the videos calling the council "bonkers", showing how shops have suffered from a lack of parking and have had to shut down.

Well, our anecdata beats theirs, at least in terms of being up to date, and what it says is "Bristol does have a parking problem, but it's not just for cars".

(*) If you have —or know someone who has— stopped driving around out of fear of getting ticketed at 23 mph, please get in touch.


brooksby1971 said...

The lack of cycle parking in Broadmead (sorry, in "Bristol's Shopping Quarter") is a scandal. Thousands of car parking spaces and about fifty bike parking spaces. I complained to the Broadmead powers-that-be and they told me that they couldn't put more cycle parking in as it would be an unacceptable level of street clutter.

Bristol Traffic said...

"street clutter"? There's irony there given how most of the nominal ped/cycle area is now full of middle-of-path shops trying to sell phone covers and other tat.

What they really mean is: bike racks don't earn money

Unknown said...

I find your blog very amusing and only wish that I had thought of it first

Bristol Traffic said...

Had. We are not satire: we consider ourselves the best traffic related journalism source in the city. Note how we back up all our claims with photographs and videos? No third-hand anecdotes for us.

We are also a crowdsourced project: email your photos and text to bristol.traffic @ gmail dot com, with appropriately on-message text. We want upbeat articles to show that congestion in our city is a conspiracy of tax-dodging cyclists and a war-on-motorists council!