Wednesday, 5 December 2018

December 5th: today is the day to object to the BRI's multi-storey car park

Today is December 5th. If you have any concerns about the BRI's proposed 820+ space car park adjacent to the Dove Street Flats and the hospital itself, then go to the council planning portal and make a comment

Here is our objection: Bristol Traffic's Objection to Planning Proposal 

Key points
  • The idea that adding a vast car park will not increase traffic is bollocks. It assumes transport choices of staff and visitors are inelastic, and also that freeing up capacity in the streets and car parks nearby will not encourage others to drive into the city.
  • Even based on the naive assumption that Induced Demand doesn't apply to the BRI, the air quality assessment included in the proposal admits that air quality will get worse in and near the hospital
  • It completely ignores, in both planning, discussion and air quality assessments the Dove Street Flats and play area directly above where the car park is planned. Unlike the hospital itself, the families living don't have filtered air conditioned houses: they will have windows open on the hot high pollution summer days, their kids will be spending evenings and weekends playing in the playground which will be directly overshadowed by the car park.
The best bit: it's going to to make air quality in the hospital worse too, to the detriment of staff and patients.

In our research, we came across some slides from October by Dr Estafandiar Burman of UCL, who provides real measurements of the air quality inside the new heart and lung clinic, or as we call it "the BRI Scottish Hospital"

This new part of the hospital has air conditioning, sealed wards and filters on the aircon to reduce air pollution.

The filters are great at reducing PMx pollution compared to that experienced by the Dove St Flat families



But, NOx air pollution levels are dangerously high all the time, especially given the patients, by the very nature of their conditions, will have reduced capacity to breathe oxygen and pass it round their bloodstream

Given that even with the utterly indefensible traffic model, the plan acknowledges that external air quality directly level with these wards is going to worsen, we can conclude that air quality within the wards is going to worsen —so endangering the health of the patients.

If this was proposed by someone on the medical staff of the hospital, it would go against the GMC's ethical code of conduct, "do not harm your patient"

Have a look at the BRI proposal, add your comments. If you want a copy-and-pasteable version of our objection, here it is.

To close then, here is the conclusion of our objection.

Conclusion

We could go on more detail —such as dissecting the traffic analysis and covering all its flaws. But that is moot. Even based on the assumption of the analysts: "demand for parking is inelastic", the air quality assessment shows that the car park endangers the health of the patients, the staff, its neighbours and the broader citizens of the city.

We will note that The Bristol Traffic Project is a decade-long project to document the city, to build up a defensible dataset on how people get around Bristol. We also like our satire,

Yet for all our attempts at ironic humour, even we could not imagine Bristol's showcase hospital proposing adding an 800+ car parking spaces within the Bristol Air Quality "red zone". We look forward your application for a licensed fried chicken takeaway with outdoor smoking in the Heart and Lung clinic, along with a trampoline in the children's A&E waiting area.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

fraternal greetings between arrogant and self-entitled road users

We've observed before that there's no real difference between cyclists and the owners of fast german cars: Arrogant and Self-entitled wankers: the only variable being how much kinetic energy they bring to a collision.

You can see that some of the individuals are in fact self-aware of this little detail. And rather than treat "the opposing team" as unworthy, instead welcome their presence and greet each other as they pass.

Here we can see exactly this at work, with our tax dodging adult and teenage child heading towards the Clifton "dead zone" from the more exciting parts of the city, on a weekend afternoon where almost nobody is around. This St Pauls Road, incidentally, because its the way from Clifton to those more exciting parts of the city. It continues as "Tyndall's Park Road", because the Bearpit roundabout wasn't considered in the victorian era destination, so "Bearpit Avenue" is eternally denied our city.

You can see, as they head down St Pauls Road, a Porsche turning in from Whiteladies Road, cutting the corner as it revs up to the 20 mph speed limit Marvin Rees is yet to publicly abrogate —though his state of the nation "we can't punish driving" hints that it will come soon.

It comes up behind the two cyclists; the father riding alongside the child to stop both of them getting close-passed.

Rather than get upset, the Porsche driver pauses for a moment, assesses the situation, and recognises a fellow arrogant and self-entitled wanker. They pass, but close enough they can see each other clearly, and sound a friendly on their horn as they pass.

Our cyclist, also recognises a fellow arrogant and self-entitled wanker waves a friendly hello back. After all —why else would someone beep their horn in a quiet Bristol road except to say hello?

Thursday, 4 October 2018

20 mph sabotage at Leigh Woods

Our mid-august coverage of the 20 mph "firstbus" review, was illustrated with a photograph of a 20 mph sign nonchalantly keeling over.


That photo was taken on Bridge Road, the approach to the Clifton Suspension Bridge from North Somerset. If you are driving from Portishead down the 40 mph-limited A369, or sprinted down Beggar Bush Lane from Failand (60 mph), this is the first sign you are entering the Big City where you have to temper your expectations of speed with the need to share the road with people on foot and bike and keep your speed at around 20 mph.

Here's the sign today.

More specifically: it's where the sign was. Rather than repair the sign, someone in the "hypothesised" North Somerset Highways Maintenance Department has decided that rather than repair the sign, they'll just take it down and fill in the hole.

Which means, for anyone approaching Clifton on this road, there is no large roundel here warning of the speed change. There's one on the other side of the road, but it can be hidden by parked vehicles.
As a result: no major cues that you are in a 20 zone.

Does it change people's behaviour? Hard to tell.

Here's a rear-view clip from earlier in the week of one of tax-dodgers (expendable) approaching the bridge and going past where the sign used to be. They're doing 20-25 mph in the 30 mph zone.

If you look at the speed of the car WR07YFL coming up behind, it's probably doing 35-40. And, as they both cross where the sign used to be, the driver decides she doesn't want to slow down for a bike only doing 25 mph, and instead swing past. Which, given our tax dodger is positioned in the middle of the lane, and there's a lane separator fast approaching, isn't going to work. She eventually slows down and tucks in behind, only getting an option to go forwards when the cyclist pulls over on the "they don't have to pay any-more!" cyclist bypass of the toll gate. And then, the same cyclist pulls out in front and speeds up to 20 mph again, enough to stop the car from overtaking. We've documented dangerous passing on this bridge before; at least here the driver was sensible enough to not attempt it —but we wonder, if it had been an oncoming bike, not a car, would she have done any differently?

In town, she drives less aggressively; the cyclist is now "only" doing 20 mph, but so are the cars in front. Seemingly having the reason for the speed constraint being a car, not a bike winds up the driver less. Again though, we have to ask: if it hadn't been for that, would she have made another attempt?

Who knows? And one recorded incident doth not a defensible dataset make.

For now: if caught driving above the 20 mph limit, anywhere in the inner zone, just say "I came in over the Suspension Bridge and didn't see any signs!" Which, if it works, shows that all it takes is some laziness from an adjacent council for the whole 20 mph project to slowly fail.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

BRI parking: still waiting for a response from the PR team

After the BRI notified us residents of the Bearpit that we were to be graced with a new 8 storey car park above the only children's playground in the Stokes Croft area, we dropped their PR team a note On Aug 7 saying, essentially, how can you defend this?

We followed this up on Aug 21, saying "hoping for a response here", and got something back saying "we will be answering this".

It's now September, and as they say, "silence is usually a sign of inability to come up with a good excuse".

So again, out with another email. For the curious, here is the view of the staff housing they plan to demolish to make way for 800 parking spaces —the view as seen from the Dove Street flats' kids playground. That's a three storey tenement: imagine that with 5 more storeys above, brought almost up to the railings, and full of cars driving around all day. That's what the BRI wants to do.



One little thing we've come across in our research is the UBHT 2020 Green vision document, which sets out their vision of a sustainable future, especially in light of the NHS to step up to its duty of reducing national CO2 emissions by 80%. Being the largest single employer in the UK, and seeing millions of patients every day, the NHS is a critical part of meeting that goal -so it's good to see Bristol's hospitals leading the way.


The existing document is worth a read though, especially page 8, which estimates 1 vehicle in 20 (where?) is on NHS business -which implies they are a significant factor in our pollution and congestion issues.
Travel by staff and patients is another area we currently do not account for in our carbon footprint.
However, we recognise the significant environmental impact that our staff and patient travel has. It is estimated that one in twenty vehicles on our streets are on NHS business as staff patients or visitors. As such we have developed a green travel plan to reduce the impacts of travel.
There's a followup point on P13,
 supporting a shift away from car travel to more sustainable and healthy transport alternatives.
Sadly, the author of that paper, "Deborah Lee, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Green Champion", appears to have moved up to gloucestershire; we'll have to do some research on who is their replacement at that level, and whether the 2020 green vision has been superceded by one which discusses driving to work as a core aspect of the future.

For now, though, another email to the press team, this time highlighting the fact we know that they're also the PR team for MetroBus, so are actually part of a story of their own: does the PR team for MetroBus believe that MetroBus is going to transform Bristol's transport or not?

From: Bristol Traffic <bristol.traffic@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2018 at 13:59
Subject: Re: hospital parking feedback
To: <James.Hinchcliffe@jbp.co.uk>

Still waiting

It comes across that as the communications partner for the UBHT multistorey car park, you just weren't prepared for any form of detailed analysis. Its was predictable that someone was going to say "how much will be staff?", "don't you have 800+ spaces already when you count up all the parking across the UBHT campus?", and "how can you say it is set back on the hill when there's a childrens playground behind?"

Yet these are exactly the kind of questions you should expect after sending out a letter to those local residents whose children play in the car park, who live in the central bristol "red" pollution zone,

Here's a new question then: how does the UBHT reconcile this with their 2020 green vision, which also covers the NHS's requirement to participate in CO2 reductions, and explicitly says  on page 8 "It is estimated that one in twenty vehicles on our streets are on NHS business as staff patients or visitors. As such we have developed a green travel plan to reduce the impacts of travel."

We are struggling to find any way to make the proposed parking defensible other than an outright admission "FirstBus/Metrobus is a failure and we've given up trying to reduce staff driving numbers". Which, given your position as the communications partner for FirstBus, puts in a somewhat sticky situation.

Please can you at least supply an approximate deadline for your responses.

On Tue, 21 Aug 2018 at 08:51, James Hinchcliffe <James.Hinchcliffe@jbp.co.uk> wrote:
Dear Bristol Traffic.

We’re very sorry for the delay in coming back to you and still intend to answer your original query, but suggest we also wrap that response up with the issue you raise below.

We’ll be in touch as soon as possible with a substantive reply.

Many thanks

On behalf of:
http://www.uhbristol.nhs.uk/images/logo.jpg
Tel: 0800 130 3270
Email: UHBT@jbp.co.uk
Website: www.uhbristol.nhs.uk/transporthub





Wednesday, 22 August 2018

20 mph: it's OK to support it if you have a fast car

There are a few days left to tell BCC you support 20 mph and don't want the zones to be crippled for the benefit of firstbus and few angry drivers from the suburbs. It'll be interesting to see the outcome. If Marvin Rees does roll it back, he will have to justify spending the money to do so, and the potential cost in lives.

We've sent in our feedback "happy with 20 mph", which raises a question with some of our acquaintances, the question being "but you have a fast car"

For the record: in the Important Car for Important People, it is no harder to drive at 20 mph than 30. Petrol consumption is the same at ~20 mpg; as the engine switches off when idle the stationary bits are free.

We've repeatedly claimed that we are important, yet people have accused us of being arrogant self-entitled car hating-wanker cyclists. Not so: the Important Car for Important People is not fictional, it's a BMW 3-series estate with a 2L twin-turbo engine hooked up to the rear wheels via an 8 speed automatic gearbox.



That said, the difference between the two is quite subtle:
CyclistBMW Driver
ArrogantYY
self-entitledYY
WankerYY
Think they own the roadsYY
Park where they wantYY
Ignore Highway codeYY

The Important Car for Important People is actually speed limited to 250 km/h; 156 mph. That's a mostly abstract value, visible only in the cost of manufacturer approved W-rated homogulated run-flat tyres you need to buy on the off-chance you take a wrong turn from Cribbs Causeway, get on the M5, and, after a few missed turns, end up on the A8 autobahn between M√ľnchen and Stuttgart. But it is there: the speed you could drive at if you weren't held back by speed limits and slow-moving cars.

Look at the difference between that theoretical maximum speed and those of Bristol urban roads
Max SpeedLimitDifference
156 mph30126
156 mph20136

See that? Noise.

It may matter to Ford Fiesta drivers who get upset being stuck behind someone cycling 20 mph in the 20 mph zone, but from the perspective of a BMW owner, you are crawling along at either speed. And so: you may as well embrace that crawling along, in order to have a city better to live, walk and cycle in.

Having fiesta drivers tailgate you flashing their lights for you driving at 20 mph is then quaintly amusing, given that it's Fiesta drivers who can't go above 85 mph which hold you back on the M4. For that is where trying to stay close to the limit is hard. Not enough cues around you, you need to keep an eye on the speedo, tell the car itself to beep above 85, waze to chime at 80, and, with attention, you can drive vaguely close to the limit when heading up and down the motorways.

In town: much, much easier
  1. Get in car
  2. Turn Waze on to beep at speed + 5.
  3. Set off, gently tapping the accelerator.
  4. Look at speed of car, compare with speedo, get to 20 mph, or, if too high, coast down.
  5. Carry on at this speed so you get familiar with how it feels.
  6. Keep driving round town, do whatever you intended to do.
  7. If waze beeps, it means you are going too fast, or you think you are driving in a 30 zone where it is really 20. Most useful when coming off a faster road (M32) into town.
You don't need to look at the speedo all the time as it doesn't take long to calibrate your driving at the start of the journey. With the whole inner city at 20 mph, it is easy to get used to it, and straightforward to know what the limit on every road is.

Make the bus routes 30 mph, and all that calibration goes away. You'll end up driving at 35 in a 20 zone, and that's how you earn speeding points. And let's be honest: there's nothing impressive about those kind of speeding tickets. Try showing off to other BMW drivers about getting a ticket at 33 mph —you'll only get laughed at.

Twenty mph works great in Bristol, because it is everywhere. You can calibrate driving at that speed with ease, and you don't have to worry about whether you are on a 20 road while doing 30.

Save your speeding for the M4! Get your response in today!

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

UBHT: our next email to the BRI PR team

Two weeks, and silence from the PR company tasked with selling an eight storey car park in the central bristol "red zone" as a benefit, here is our followup to our initial email.

Hello.

Sadly, we don't seem to have had a reply to our previous email..

Never mind —a polite response would have been nice.

We have a few of questions for our ongoing coverage. While you can opt out of answering them, it will save time compared to filing FOI requests, and give you an opportunity for you to present your arguments.

Terminology

  1. What is a transport hub and how is it different from a normal car park?
  2. If it is because it has secure staff cycle parking, do the existing BRI and St Michael's hill staff car parks qualify for the title "transport hub"?
  3. If not: why not?

Current/Planned capacity

  1. Across the entire UBHT Kingsdown Campus of BRI and St Michael's Hill hospitals, what is the total number of parking spaces?
  2. What is their breakdown into: facilities, staff, disabled and visitor
  3. How was the number of new spaces to build chosen? Was it demand driven, or simply "number of floors times spaces per floor?"
  4. With the proposed multistorey-transport-hub, what will be the new breakdown of facilities, staff, disabled and visitor?
  5. Why was this specific balance chosen?

Demand Modelling

  1. Which tool did you use for modelling demand?
  2. Did you model the pollution impact, and if so on the "we trust the manufacturers" EURO5/6 numbers, or the real world datasets?
  3. Did your model consider that Metrobus promises a step change in Bristol transport? If so, what impact will it be considered to have? If not, why not?
  4. Did any model you explored actually reduce pollution within the central bristol "Red Zone"?
  5. Did you explore different mixes of staff/visitor allocation —and what impact did it have?
  6. Did you explore different sizes of car park —and what impact did it have?

Finally, can we have the model you've built up? We can sort out the software.


Thanks,

The Bristol Traffic Team (data and traffic analysis department)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

20mph: get your opinions in or lose to FirstBus

Bristol Council has a ongoing consultation on 20 mph limits.


We are happy supporters for the 20 mph limit in Bristol, for various reasons including:

  • We live in the city and want one which is good to live in.
  • Our children walk and cycle round the city, and we like them to come home alive.
  • A defensible study on the 20mph zone concludes that it directly saves lives.
  • If you live in the Red Zone, you want the council to do things to get people using cleaner transport options than driving, and this and RPZs, along with more aggressive actions, are needed here.
  • In the Important Car for Important People, driving at 20mph is no harder than driving at 30 mph; fuel consumption (in a vehicle which turns off its engine at lights and in traffic jams), the same. 
Now, regarding the consultation, there's a large list of roads where raising the limit is being considered

This proposal is fundamentally wrong.
  1. The roads they propose are the roads people cycle on. 
  2. They are the roads children walk to school on.
  3. They are the roads which anyone walking round the city has to walk on and/or cross.
  4. Some of them actually have schools on.
  5. Many of them are shopping streets, where encouraging people to visit and walk to shops, even across the road, is much more important than a nominal peak speed of 30 mph.
Everyone who lives in that inner city, and wants their streets to be more than rat-runs for the suburban visitors, should get their opinion in, support the proposals as is *and argue against changing the limit on any road in the zone.

Changing the limits will massively increase the costs, as now every 20mph-30mph turnoff/junction will need speed-limit-changed signs (go to portsmouth to see this). And at peak hours it will do nothing for journey times.

Why then the proposal? And why the choice of roads? Presumably Marvin Rees & team are trying to keep some groups of people happy. But whom? Well, one little reference is to "stakeholders". And what do the majority of those listed roads appear to have in common? FirstBus buses run on them.

Has FirstBus just given the mayor a list of roads in the 20mph zone where their buses go round and said to him "if you make these 30 mph all our scheduling problems will go away, FirstBus will be wonderful and Metrobus a success?" Because if they did, it's a lie

Looking at that list of roads, comparing it to a bus map, and its hard to conclude that the names aren't from firstbus, and are driven more by their belief it will help scheduling than any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the inhabitants of Bristol's 20 mph zones.

If you don't want FirstBus to be setting speed limits in Bristol, make your opinions known ASAP.


Photo: the 30mph/20mph boundary on Bridge Road approaching the suspension bridge from As, someone clearly didn't see the speed limit sign and decided to go straight into it. That road isn't on the review list, while nearby roads (Pembroke Road, Clifton Down) are. But then, FirstBus buses aren't allowed over the bridge, are they?

Tuesday, 7 August 2018


As the outreach on an eight-storey car park over staff parking, adjacent to the sole child's playground near Stokes Croft takes place while everyone is out of town, we send a note to the PR team doing their utmost to make this consultation achieve the outcome the hospital wants: support, or at least acquiescence.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bristol.traffic@gmail.com
Date: 7 August 2018 at 10:53
Subject: Re: hospital parking feedback
To: uhbt@jbp.co.uk
The Bristol Traffic Project
The Bearpit, Bristol BS2
Hello,

Thank you for your letter to residents proposing replacing the multi-storey car park comprising primarily of staff parking with a new, larger car park composing primarily of staff parking.

There appear to be a few other omissions from your letter
  1. The claim "it will be a transport hub" fails to consider the existing multi-storey staff car park has staff bicycle parking, as does the Southwell Street facility. If adding secure bike parking to a car park makes it a "Transport Hub", then the existing car park must also qualify for this term.
  2. The fact that existing Eugene Street car park is primarily staff parking. We estimate of your quoted 192 spaces, 165 are exclusively for staff.
  3. The fact that total parking capacity across the BRI and St Michael's hill area comes to 1.9 miles —and that's without including the three floors of staff-only parking in the existing car park
  4. The fact that air quality in inner Bristol is a significant health hazard, and that if that 800 space car park were used for higher turnover visitor parking, there would be many more than the baseline 1600 journeys/day one would expect. This will generate significant congestion in the area, along with the pollution.
  5. The "it is set back in the hill" claim misses to note that it will in fact tower over the Dove St children's park behind it —the sole childrens play area within a part of the city whose demographics markers indicate "somewhat deprived".
We like to consider ourselves the purveyors of an ironic perspective of Bristol's many traffic issues, so are tempted to cherish the delicious irony of your proposal, "increase hospital staff and visitor parking at the expense of the health of staff, visitors and residents", along with "improve staff parking by removing staff housing".

However, we've decided instead to stare in disbelief at the disingenuous hypocrisy of claiming to be doing this for the health of patients where it appears to be more of a reaction to the residents parking zone changes, combined with an excel spreadsheet showing the revenue opportunities of high-turnover visitor parking.

We shall cover this topic over the summer. Expect forthcoming FoI requests to explore both the number and purpose of parking spaces across the entire Kingsdown Estate, your modelling of the congestion and health impact of adding six hundred more spaces, any artists impressions you have made of the "View from the Dove Street playground", as well as on your business model —including who is funding the project and whether you've included in your business plans the risk that a labour government will mandate that England follow Scotland and Wales in offering free hospital parking.

Current and future coverage will be appear under the URL http://bristolcars.blogspot.com/search/label/BRI

Thanks.

The Bristol Traffic Team

"Weakly-defensible data-driven traffic analysis since 2008"

bristol.traffic@gmail.com   @bristoltraffic

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

How much parking does the BRI have? 1.9 miles

One aspect of the greenwash letter on the new BRI multi-storey car park was its claim that the current multi-storey transport hub only had 200 spaces. That was a surprise, as if you ever spend any time in that part of the city you will know that UBHT property can be recognised by the way all garden areas have been converted into some form of parking.

Have the PR consultants forgotten to mention that detail? Hope that locals wouldn't pick up on that any more than they'd be expected to notice that you can't set an 8 floor car park into a hill when there's a child's play area right behind it? Whatever the reason, that failure to list all the parking spaces seems designed to make you feel sorrier for those who can't park -and again, by emphasising patients over staff, going for the maximum sympathy

Sadly, we are a data driven organisation, so set out to count up the spaces ourselves. Attempt 1 was on a Sunday afternoon, it took about an hour to get round and is too boring to share. What's surprising is how many little blocks and crannies they've managed to fit a car into. We estimate that in the combin f BRI and St Michaels hill hospital "campus", there are 400+ spaces, outside the existing multi-storey transport hub. That's not obvious to patients for the following reason: a lot of these spaces are dedicated to staff. As for the disabled? You get into double digits, but really -the majority of dedicated disabled parking is the double-yellow line areas on the council roads.

Here is our second attempt at a tour of the parking areas, starting in Dove St at the children's playground the BRI pretends doesn't exist, finishing off directly above it in Marlborough Hill place. This complete loop of the many transport hubs belonging to UBHT here takes 15 minutes, and covers 1.9 miles. That is not a typo. If you cycle round each bay in the car parks, one by one, the total amount of space comes in at just under two miles. There's a small amount of public road to connect all this together, but there's parking there -free form disabled, paid for visitors. How can the hospital PR team say with a straight face that it doesn't have enough parking when it has 1.9 miles worth?


What they should be doing is looking at the allocation of it: how much to staff parking, does facilities have theirs in the right places, how many people with disabled parking needs come a day -and are they satisfied. Instead, we get a grand plan to poison central Bristol, one which simply puts off addressing the big issue: why does everyone seem to expect unlimited staff and visitor parking at a hospital in the centre of a city?

Anyway, here's the video showing exactly how much parking there is for the UBHT to choose how to allocate. It's taken about 5pm on the first day any light drizzle had fallen from the sky, making the roads a bit skittery; you can hear the back wheel slide out at one point.


(Literal) High point: our (expendable) reporter discovers the base of the St Michael's Chimney. It just comes up out the ground, behind the asbestos waste skip and near the toddlers house. Maybe in future it will get the recognition it deserves as central Bristol's highest structure. We'll need a Banksy or two on it first though.

For those who hate our cyclists (expendable), skip to the end of the video and you can see them getting a "snakebite" puncture just trying to ride down one of the many potholed roads in the city. This is Bristol cycling. You can't even complete a two mile loop of the BRI car parks without getting a puncture on the small amount of council road covered on the ride. Interesting question though: given this is clearly filmed as happening on a council road, are the council billable for the replacement inner tube?

Finally, purists may fault us for not actually covering three of the for floors of the existing multi-storey transport hub. Can't get in there see: staff only. The secret that UBHT press releases dare not mention.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

BRI: Staff parking matters more than the health of the children in its shadow

A letter reaches in the Bearpit, which is not just the HQ of the Bristol Traffic, it is one of the few Bristol Parks and services managed greenery-spots in the city centre.

It comes from the BRI, and tells us residents of the hardships the hospital is facing regarding transport.


Specifically
  1. 32% of the visitors drive for medical necessity.
  2. Visitors complain when they drive here and they are forced to drive round "as they search for a small number of hospital car park spaces", or, even worse "park on-street".
The good news, the hospital has come upe with a great idea to fix it: A giant multistorey car park
  1. This will add 800 spaces over the 200 which exist today.
  2. It will the same height as the existing BRI main building.
  3. You won't notice it as it will be set back into the hill.
  4. They will have to knock down a terrace of staff housing.
  5. And there's a small public road through the middle which they are ignoring.

Sounds good right?

Well, there's one little aspect of which the letter omits. It might not be obvious to people outside the area, but you can't "set a heliport-height car park into the hill", as the BRI doesn't own the entire hill. The area they are talking about is at the bottom of Kingsdown hill. And what is behind it? The Dove Street estate; social housing close to the city centre. A couple of tower blocks with a fair few families. One thing it actually does quite well is although it doesn't have much greenery, it makes the most of it for those families. There's a central area where small kids can play, separate from a dog-walk area, and on the western site of the estate, a larger play area for ~primary school age kids.
This play area, one of the two shared gardens of the estate, is exactly above where the BRI want's its 800 place multi-storey car park.

This means that "set into the hill" is actually true. Saying "Set into the Hill" creates an image of a car park somehow dug into the hill, a small thing you'd hardly notice, the Bag of Hobbiton, the underground house of Bilbo Baggins.

This utter fucking bollocks, to use a technical term.

It will be an eight storey car park set directly in front of the childrens play area of the Dove Hill estate. This will create a valley in the area, where the children, be it in the playground or in their houses, will get to breath in the car pollution of the thousands of car journeys which this will create. And of course, the principle of Demand Creation means that more people will drive there confident there will now be somewhere to park: it won't even address any parking problem.

800 spaces is more than 50% of the capacity of the 1700-space Cabot Circus multi-storey car park, the one which has created so much traffic that the M32 inbound on a weekend now has a traffic jam as people queue to get in to find a space.

800 spaces is 150% of the proposed 500 bay multi-storey car park in the Broadmead development, the one which was shrunk to 380 spaces, as the council felt 500 spaces were too many.

It's going to be the same height as the BRI heliport. This is one we showed a helicopter taking off from last month, ironically, filmed from that Dove Street play area. If you want to get a preview of how the car park will look to primary school age children playing in what is effectively their garden, imagine that same building, pulled up right in front of the play area, fill it with cars. That's what their life will be like

If this was some private developer that was proposing this —as with the Broadmead plans— there'd be outcry against this. Yet so far, we've heard nothing. Why? This is coming from the hospital, so of course it must be good.

Except: what's this in the news today? Another study showing how traffic pollution causes Asthma —and there's been a rise in 25% of cases in the last decade.

If the BRI actually cared about the welfare of children living in their literal, as well as figurative shadow, they'd be pushing the council to do more about an inner city ULEZ, collaborating on making that road in front of the hospital somewhere pleasant to cycle, rather than somewhere so scary adults try to avoid it, let alone families.

But no: they are proposing an 800 space multi-storey car park.

Even they must realise what utterly amoral this is. So rather than call it that, their letter talks about how it will have a secure employee cycle park, and so call it a "Transport Hub".

That sounds really good, but for a small detail. Their existing multi-storey car park already has a secure employee cycle park, but nobody bothers to call it that. Instead they call it "The BRI Staff car park".

For that is what it is.

Of that existing car park, of the 192 places which the BRI letter implies exists, only 20 are for visitors. The remaining 165 -the entire top three floors of the four floors, are staff parking.

For some reason, we get tales of woe of visitors with burns and neurological industries, but no mention of the fact that of that existing park, three quarters are for staff.

And similarly, we don't get any coverage whatsoever of how much of the new multi-storey car park (we can't call it a Transport Hub with a straight face), is going to be to staff parking —but we are confident of one thing: it'll be a fuck of a lot more than 165 places.

More to follow, showing how everything the BRI say in that letter is lie.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Friday Quiz: turning or parking?

Is this car GK06AUN, pictured one morning in Clifton
(1) turning on the wrong side of the road
(2) parked?

The correct answer is: it makes no difference. Oncoming traffic has to assume they are are turning vehicle, so slow down for a junction in a way that the painted give-way signs would never achieve.

This shows how Bristol's drivers do think of the safety of others, not just when driving, but when parking.

(this was published in 2009; updating the tags has had it relabelled as new. There's probably some yellow lines here now, forever deriving somebody important from parking on the closest corner to their home)

Thursday, 17 May 2018

fuckwit RLJ at race speed

People ask us: why no coverage of RLJ-ing cyclists? Well, we generally leave that to grumpy Havana Coffe Hamid, on account of his soundtrack choices and spelling skills. But when the opportunity arises, well, we do

Today then, this fuckwit


This is filmed from St Pauls Road, leading from the dull part of town, Clifton, to the more interesting bits, albeit after a final bit of climbing and a university area inevitably full of texting students.

Approaching the lights, they're red, time to hang around for a while waiting for green. And then slowly off, in case the BMW driver is in an hurry. No problems there, except carving out from the left is someone on a road bike, looking like they are near that 20 mph limit, blowing straight through the red light to make a high speed turn into St Pauls Road.



On the shout of "fuckwit" you can see some surprise and a bit of a wobble, though delayed. Leaning into the corner like that, he was fully committed to the bend: the only two options were: carry on or come off sliding sideways exploring the concept "road rash" more fully. It'd have been interesting to see if a scream of "no brakes" would make him choose the latter,

What were the risks this fuckwit exposed themselves to?

  • If the car he had cut up on the inside had gone through the light themselves: crash
  • If the BMW turning right from Tyndall's Park Road had been in a hurry: crash
  • If a vehicle coming out of St Pauls road had been in a hurry, he'd have cycled into it.

And of course, if our tax-dodging reporter hadn't been so slow setting off: they'd have been in the crash too. Which is why we think this fuckwit deserves coverage.

Monday, 23 April 2018

BRI Helicopter Takeoff

This happens fairly regularly these days: a helicopter landing and then taking off from the BRI helipad. This is just the first time we've got a video of it from nearby Dove Street



It's never a good sign, but apparently it doesn't always mean that its a critical emergency: apparently the helicopter works well as a way of getting patients from places like Plymouth or Taunton to the BRI without having to worry about an ambulance getting stuck on the M5.


This though, April 21 2018, the Great Wiltshire Air Ambulance bringing someone in from Pewsey, Wilts, "Medical emergency, helicopter conveyed to hospital". Hope they are well and enjoying the quality rice pudding which the BRI serves up.

The next day the team was involved in "Diving incident, helicopter conveyed to Decompression Chamber", taking someone from Chepstow to Plymouth. Busy weekend.

It's good to be in a country which has free, functional health care and a helicopter to take people which need that care to a hospital which doesn't ask for money. And, hopefully, doesn't ask for your immigration status to see if you are on Theresa May's "approved list".

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Uber Dev Team just Killed Someone

A software development team at Uber just killed someone.

The Uber AV killing is going to go down in software development as one of the "things you must never do" examples up there with Therac-25 and various Flight Control System failures. The datasets and traces of the collision, will, along with all analysis, be reviewed, torn apart and rebuilt into some fairly brutal dissection of the entire software development process by the Association of Computing Machinery Risks Group, which is basically a documentation of fuckups of one form or another.


Without waiting for any analysis, police and others are already saying "it wasn't uber's fault". That's the wrong way to view it.

Better to try and categorise it

  1. Uber's system made a mistake —one that can be fixed and so never repeated. Other AV manufacturers can also use the data from the collision to avoid it in their systems too. 
  2. The collision was unavoidable given the action of the user and the general category of LIDAR-enabled Autonomous Vehicle.
Option 2 means we would now have make a choice. Do we consider the death-rate of AVs "Acceptable", or push for more to separate vulnerable road users from AVs. That could be banning AVs from cities "it's just too hard right now", or trying to do something banning pedestrians from walking around, requiring cyclists to have some beacon implanted in the bike and charged up on a regular basis to announce its presence, etc. That's the category of "admitting your tech can't do what was originally promised"

It is a lot better politically if it does turn out to be the uber team at fault. Or a least blame the driver for inadequate supervision.


How society and industry reacts to this, the first fully self-driving car killing will reflect on the decisions and priorities which society makes. It should be the duty of the software developers to be honest about the incident and open about whether it and similar events can be prevented in future.

Unlike all "human at the wheel" collisions, the actions of the uber car can be fully replicated: with the recorded sensor data from the car and the same version of the software, exactly the same set of actions can be expected. Therefore we can see where it failed.

Here is the list of places

  1. Sensing: failure to detect the victim with the sensors available.
  2. Interpretation: failure to recognise the victim
  3. Anticipation: failure to anticipate their movements (and/or the vehicle's) and/or failure to conclude from the anticipated trajectories of pedestrian & vehicle that a collision is likely
  4. Planning: failure to come up with a plan to avoid a collision
  5. Execution: failure to execute a valid plan.
What do we think?

Sensing: Uber, like the Google/Waymo vehicle has LIDAR: light-frequency radar Works perfectly well at night, wider angle of view than a set of headlamps. Range? Unknown. These are the state-of-the-art in sensing, very expensive, and why Tesla are claiming "you can get by without them". LIDAR is what engineers believe is needed. Yet here it has failed. Does it have known failure conditions? Rain, snow, hail, probably fog and smoke too. Doesn't recognise glass. Presumably doesn't work into low-sun either. "It was dark and they had dark clothes on" is not an excuse. 

Intepretation: First realistic way things could have failed. 

Anticipation: Not a fast moving vehicle, a person crossing the road. No obvious unexpected movements. This should not have been hard. If it is: give up AVs now.

Planning: Fun one. After concluding that a collision is likely, the car has to come up with a set of actions (brake, swerve, brake+swerve, accelerate, sound horn, ...). None of these actions seem to have been attempted.

Execution: Car skids on rain/snow/oil; swerving to avoid one crash triggers a second, etc. No actions appear to have been executed, so unless the car computer couldn't communicate with the steering/engine/brakes. not a failure point.

We suspect then: interpretation and anticipation. Or the sensors got an echo but discarded it amongst all the other inputs it had to deal with in a limited time. That is "prioritisation". 

We humans make exactly the same mistakes all the time. mostly you get away with it. When you don't, well, it could be skid and a dent, or you can be sliding down the crash barrier in a motorway, passenger and driver both trying to keep that steering wheel straight, everyone in the car screaming thinking  they are all going to die. Such events happen with all too much regularity across the country. and generally, unless fatal, nobody gives a fuck. Now its done by software, it gets a lot of press. We shall have to see what the outcome is.

If it was a software/system error, then it can be fixed. Uber can add a new scenario to test their software on, even before running it in a real car, and the limited set of AV manufacturers (Waymo, GM, Ford, ...) can use the same data in qualifying their software. Everyone can learn from it and repeats can be avoided. 

That's if we want that, and it is avoidable. The alternative is blame the victim, exonerate the software, carry on promising a safe utopia, now qualified with "some people may still die". 

That's a major change, as it is accepting that death is inevitable in driving the way we don't accept it for trains and planes. We do make that distinction in cars today, but that's because we all believe that "we" don't make mistakes, or that personal freedom "right to drive across town" is better than safety for all.

This death is going to have to make us spell out our priorities.

For now though, let's add Elaine Herzberg to the list of people killed by cars. She is one of the few to get a mention beyond the local press. That doesn't make her death any better.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Bristol: Snow Day == Smug Day

It was pretty chaotic night out there. On the one hand: almost no traffic. On the other, an Audi A3  trying to get up a slight gradient and stuck wheelspinning. After about 15 minutes people start looking out the window thinking "maybe should help", after another five minutes they open their doors, get out and start pushing. Who says there is no camaraderie between passengers in Audi and the driver?

As the residents are all staring out the window "will they fucking get a move on", the passengers help turn the car round so its weights on the front axle, and it manages to get another 15 metres up the hill before being abandoned. Hopefully BCC have suspended overflights of RPZ enforcement drones for the next few days.

One of the wierdest things was the fact that everyone was driving well below the 20 mph limit. This completely throws off your decision making as you think "I'll wait until they get past before pulling out", and yet they take so long you think "I'll just pull out in front of them". It's the Audi/BMW driving experience on a push-bike.


All mini-roundabouts, give way signs and zebra crossings are suspended, and you can stop in the middle of the road to talk to people. Not different from normal, except now you have a better excuse when challenged than "fuck off"

We considered setting out to a nearby pub on the off-chance of getting snowed in and trapped for 2-3 days. But which one?
  1. Duke of York: good pub, risk of being stuck with David Wilcox. Which is fine, except after 24h of cider drinking he becomes a barge evangelist. We don't care for barges and think the remaining waterways of the city would be best built over the way they did with the River Frome to give us the M32. Sooner they do this for the harbour, the better. In fact, we are surprised the WoEP haven't suggested that to Marvin, as it'll be more popular and easier to deliver than a metro.
  2. Miners Arms: Thursday is Pub Night. Risk of a three day lock-in with pub quiz enthusiasts keeping on with the quizzes as something to do. Challenge of explaining to A&S Police how aforementioned pub quiz enthusiasts all ended up being killed messily with the kind of small nail clippers airport security love to confiscate.
  3. Farm Pub: highest chance of becoming stranded, Doom Bar on draft, easiest to acquire locally curated ganja (we are told). 
Tough choice

Anyway, that was friday, what about today?

Rejoice! Today is a day is a great to be smug!

Because yes, those of us who have the equipment to get round can go round, offering smug advice to everyone trapped.

Drivers of 4x4s and SUVs

Landrover Defender drivers have it easy today: that rickety thing they've kept alive through trading bits on ebay can now be used to cruise round the city. Wearing wooly hats, fingerless gloves and warm clothes obviously, given that class of vehicles' heating system.

Urban SUV drivers have a similar option, but need to be careful. Today may be the day that you can finally justifying spending £15K on top of a practical car..

Do: drive round, nodding knowingly at other SUV drivers.

Don't: discover when you get to a hill that you only paid a £12K premium and so have the 2WD model.

Do: use engine braking on the descents. If your car is an automatic, time to work out how to put it into manual mode, or try the cruise control.

Don't: discover while driving down one of the steep hills in Totterdown or Cliftonwood that it doesn't make a difference between 2WD and 4WD when it comes to using the brakes. No winter tyres, sliding into parked cars screaming.

Owners of cars parked on hills

It's too late to move them unless you pay your neighbour with a landrover to tow them somewhere.

Do: sit by the window, looking at your car, camera in hand, ready to jump out and take pics of whichever 2WD SUV drives into the side.

Don't: own a car of any net value.

Mountain Bikers: 

Do: cycle round offering smug advice to people trying to drive up and down hills.

Don't: get off and help, admit that it doesn't work and then, while pedalling of shamefully, wipe out on a patch of ice.

Pedestrians:

Do: walk down the middle of the road. Its the only bit which will get gritted after all.

Don't: look at your phone while walking round. Not today.

Don't: walk round with your hands in your pockets, in case you need to put them down when you slide out.



Skiers
Do: get out the skis you've kept under the bed for a decade, carry them to some hill and ski down.
Don't: go on about it for years in any of the pubs our team members frequent We don't care, really.

Mid-life crisis mountaineers

We want to have a special call-out to mid-life-crisis mountaineers, the ones you see out in Gloucester Road or Southville of a weekend, wearing a down jacket branded with North Face, Patagonia or Mountain Equipment,

This is your chance to get out all the stuff you've bought from Taunton Leisure of Bedminster over the years and stomp round the city

Do: get out the most excessive bits of equipment you have in an arms race with all the other mid-life crisis mountaineers.

Do: walk around being smug, especially on the deepest snow parts of the pavement, rather than the middle of the road where it's clear.

Do: remember that if you wear crampons, walk with  your legs wide apart so you don't step on your own toes.

Do: talk to random strangers, casually dropping phrases like "hut-to-hut through the Haute Savoie Alps" and "New Zealand South Island trekking", or even better, "Everest Base Camp"

Don't: get out your stuff to discover that since you last went near any of those places the plastic boots have gone brittle and failed.

Us?

Well, with an equipment failure like that, its trapped in the Farm Pub. We just wish that skier would STFU or we'll have to start looking for those nail clippers

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Dear Redland-based driver of Audi YS12ZPX

We've discussed before the concept of a "Redland Mum": a parent who is prepared to injure other road users in order to make sure that they get to school at pickup and dropoff time. It's why the ten minutes before the school gate close and open events are one of the hazardous times.

This video of a driver endangering a cyclist was taken at 15:00, in Redland, so meets many of the checklist items. You'd have to know their final destination to know if this was a genuine "Redland Mum school run", or just a "Redland Audi Driver in a hurry". We've included the letter the owner shall receive.


Dear Redland-based driver of Audi YS12ZPX

As promised, here's the video of you going by at a distance I didn't consider acceptable. And, as there was nobody oncoming to squeeze past, no justification at all other than selfish indifference.

Just because you are in a hurry does not justify endangering other Bristolians.
  • All it would have taken would have been a small wobble on the bike for a collision. Which if it had occurred would have had adequate video recordings for any prosecution.
  • The police are now cycling round the city, enforcing the 1.5m distance from the cyclist which they consider safe. "Careless Driving" is what they prosecute on, ~3 points and its impact on insurance premiums.
  • Your actions reinforce the reputation that Audi drivers have for being selfish and dangerous.
You didn't even get anywhere, did you? You ended up at the traffic queue at the top of Redland hill. That's the one which is there every afternoon, so you should have been able to predict it.
Not only was I able to catch up, I had to wait at the zebra crossing for you to pull out.

Which comes round to the final point. Your actions were actually counterproductive, weren't they? An extra 50cm of clearance and you wouldn't have been held up at the crossing. Instead you were delayed when you clearly didn't want to be, and now have the video of your driving up online for all to see.

Please, give a little bit more clearance when you pass, maybe even be a bit more patient when trying to drive across the city. Dangerously passing someone just to get to the next traffic queue achieves nothing.

Friday, 23 February 2018

School runs, UK vs US

This is a 2003 photo of a 14 month child about to be towed four miles to kindergarten.

This is Corvallis, Oregon, a small US town where apart from a university there is ~fuck all. As a way of getting the child to school, the roads are quiet enough that it's much less stressful than in Bristol. Herel, you can never be sure someone has seen that trailer before they cut you up at a roundabout. Corvallis? It only has one roundabout and you can avoid it with ease.

You do not need to worry about the safety of your child when getting them to school by bike in a town like this.

Indeed, once they are a teenager you don't need to worry much about them on the back roads, unlike near Bristol, where outside town, "quiet" roads like Beggar's Bush Lane are viewed as opportunities of drivers to sprint. In Oregon, you can send your child ahead and not worry.

In contrast, in Bristol, you do worry about that school run.

You want to be in front of the child, to get the cars to stop at the roundabout. But also at the back, in case the threat comes from that direction. It's worse when they decide to cycle to school on their own, as worry about their journeys. It's a relief when they decide to start walking with their mates instead.

But journey to school and back is the only bit of their day you need to worry about.

In contrast, in the US, you worry about the safety of your child in the school. That town where nothing happened was 50 miles from Springfield, OR, where in 1998 one of the high school shootings now considered "small" took place. And its 110 miles north of Umpqua Community College where in 2015 someone killed ten staff and students.

In those sleepy middle-class US surburbs and towns, you cannot trust your children to be safe, because all it takes is one unstable person and a gun and their school ends up in the list of "US school killings"

Britain: we've had that tragedy in Dunblane: fix: no more handguns. Indeed, we have even allowed automatic rifles until an afternoon in Hungerford, thirty-one years ago.

Yet too many people in the US are unable to accept that such solutions "no guns" work, and all they are left with is trying to escalate it. Would you feel safer at school knowing all the teachers were armed? Not really.

Maybe, just maybe, this time, with the anger and voice of the children themselves, things may change.

#NeverAgain

Monday, 12 February 2018

I say we dust off and nuke them from orbit

The Alien series have gone from groundbreaking space-horror to a repetitive collection of cliches. They always start with the protagonist, Ripley —or a Ripley-substitute actress— innocently asleep in cryosleep, dreaming while the ships cross between the stars. A small blinking light by the frosted face is the sole sign of life.

And then something changes. A computer starts beeping. the light blinks a bit more, shadows cross the peaceful face of Ripley as she and her colleagues are awoken, once again, to defeat the Alien.

And it will be defeated: that much is a given.

The real variables are: what form does the final battle take? Whether technology, as represented by the android, is on the side of good or bad? Whether they've finally got around to redesigning space craft so as to have air vents too small for aliens to fit? And who will be the idiot who takes too close a look at "that funny egg thing".

With such a limited set of variables, the last few films in the series have been really, undeniably, repetitive. Everyone must wish that they put the series to bed, put Ripley in the cryochamber, shut down the android and walk away —because everyone is getting bored of it.

Which brings us to the council's latest plans for a metro line on the Bristol to Bath railway path.

Some people may be shocked by this, but others, we go "Again?" "Not again!". Not in fear, but in the tired despair of people who went through all of this a decade ago. Last time: thousands of people out celebrating victory over a council that had concluded that it was a stupid idea. This time, again, the council pays some consultants for some ideas on transport, and again, they say "oh look, there's a former railway line here", pointing to the BBRP, and again, it all kicks off.

Well, so be it. Right now the railwaypath.org has been in its cryosleep, costing $13/year to keep alive —much less than a sustrans membership.

And now, the console is beeping, the light flashing a little faster, and it's time to turn things on again.


What next? The monster will die, that much is a given. What is unknown is what order do the victims die —which councillor ends with the facehugger and who goes looking for the missing cat and ends up never being seen again?

We shall see. For now, we are just at the opening scene

beep. beep. beep. beep.

tip for the wise: motion detectors need a warning sticker "aliens may be in the air-vents"

Friday, 19 January 2018

Fixie Riders: don't Slipstream Mountain Bikes

It's January, and you can see who is out and about on their new fixie bike. This rear view video show our (expendable, tax-dodging) reporter turning off St Pauls Road, Clifton, onto Pembroke Road,
at a double-mini-roundabout put in to break Satnav. And coming up from the triangle, along Queen's Road, here comes someone in a shiny clean fixie, who decides to slipstream our reporter (expendable, tax-dodging).



This is where they a number of mistakes
  1. Cycling behind someone on a bike without letting them know you are there. Risk: the rider in front might perform some manoeuvre without warning.
  2. Cycling directly behind the bike, rather than off to one side, generally further from the pavement. Risk: you have to be able to stop as fast as the bike in front.
  3. Cycling behind a mountain bike while you have a fixed wheel bike,
    albeit with a front brake.
We'll assume they were a bit drubbed from the climb and so didn't feel like passing, but they should have hung off to one side. At the very least, when they got behind our reporter (tax-dodging, expendable) they should have looked at the bike, and realised that it was a mountain bike.

In the video, you can see that the fixie rider (tax dodging, expendable, not so good at braking fast), gets to cycle behind the mountain bike until 00:30, when, in front of our reporter, someone on a phone steps out onto the zebra crossing. This puts our reporter into an aggressive-but-non-emergency brake. All well, until someone one a bike shoots up their left, almost into the aforementioned pedestrian. Which was a bit of a surprise.

It was only later, when the question "where did that rider come from", went through our reporters idle mind, that they went for the rear camera and had a look to see what happened. As you can see, they had their hands on the bars, drifted in right behind our camera, and, when the bike in front has to do that stop, nearly ride straight into the back of them, only avoiding it by swerving to the side.

Mountain bikers don't do chain gangs. They don't go along taking turns at the front, slipstreaming each other for performance, before hanging at the back to cycle no handed while you rummage in your back pocket for a gel with the same texture and flavour as baby food. Nor do they try and communicate with each other with little twitches of the hand, or pointing down and waving to say "there's something on the tarmac to avoid".

Instead they cycle along with enough of a gap between the rider in front so that they can see, enjoy and then learn from the mistakes the rider in front makes, rather than join in the crash. Food? Maybe, but they'll stop for that as they are generally lazy and view "cycling no hands" is one of the precursors to a trip to A&E. As for pointing out gravel, potholes or other surface hazards, those are not things to swerve around, they are there to jump over.

And, unlike fixie bikes with one front caliper brake, a modern MTB has hydraulic disk brakes, which, if the bubbles have been squeezed out of the cables, lets the rider bring the bike sliding to a halt with only the light touch of one finger on the brakes.

Because of that one-finger braking, mountain bikers are generally split into the "index finger faction": cycle with their index fingers on the brakes and the "middle finger faction", who use their middle finger. Whatever the choice, except on uphills, they're going to be cycling with their chosen finger on the brakes at all times. And when needed, they'll know to put that on, push their butt backwards to keep maximum weight on that rear wheel, with its 2.2+ inch surface on the ground, and so rather than skid, bring their bike to a halt faster than you could stop a British Leyland era Austin Mini (*).

When you come up behind a bike, see that its got wide tyres and disk brakes on the back, instead of cycling close enough to see whether the brakes are Shimano, SRAM or Hope, you need to think "this is a bike which can stop fast ridden by someone who may know how to use them", and not cycle right up their arse without even saying hello.



Do you know this rider? Are you that rider? Whoever it is: either hang off the side or stay back, especially to mountain bikes. Thanks

(*) MkI Minis had non-servo assisted drum brakes and to stop rear-wheel skid depended on that battery in the boot along with the WD-40, the hammer and the tow rope. As a safety feature, it was designed not to go very fast.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

A Death on Brook Road

There's almost no coverage of Brook Road on this site, not because its out of our normal coverage area, but because nothing ever happens there. Apart from one incident where a manic van driver on a phone forced our reporter to jump off their bike and onto the pavement, nothing.

Which is why its so awful to hear that someone died here: Nick Graydon, age 27, died December 9 2017, after injuries sustained from a collision with a cyclist on Brook Rood who had apparently turned into Brook Road from Lower Cheltenham Road.

It happened at 8pm, which is of course dark.

Articles say "he stepped out from behind a van". Which is something we want to highlight, "stepping out from behind a van" is not exactly uncommon in Montpelier: it is also known as "walking around Montpelier". Because key feaatures of the area are vans, people walking, and pavements narrow to nonexistent. As an example, here's a continuation of the previous video, crossing Monty during the primary school run: count how many times somebody steps out from behind a van.

Like we said, we don't know the details. but "stepped out from behind a van" is one of those statements which pushes the blame onto the deceased, like "the cyclist swerved to avoid..."

Anyway, let's see what happens next after this, a tragic death which shocked everyone nearby.