Sunday 31 August 2008

Waiting for a bus at Bristol Airport

A line of people waiting for a bus at Bristol Airport. Clearly the airport's funding of alternate transport arrangements are paying off and these people are taking a fast and easy journey back to Bristol, instead of creating more congestion on the A38 and more pressure for a South Bristol bypass.

And here come the bus - I wonder where it is going?

oops. Its going to the silver parking. These people are creating more congestion on the A38 and more pressure for a South Bristol bypass after all.

And why not? As the advert on the bus says, its 29 quid for a week's parking. The bus charges 6 or 7 pounds one way, 8 return. There is a family return for 20 quid, but that still leaves you with the problem of getting from the bus station to your house, and unless you live in walking-with-luggage distance of one of the halts, that's going to involve another bus or a taxi. Probably a taxi, as that will usually cost less than a bus for a family of four.

Of course people are going to use the airport car parks. And as the airport's business model is based on charging the airlines next to nothing and making money from the added value extras, the money they make from parking, from the bus or from the premium they charge the one permitted taxi company must be a significant profit source to the airline. They like you to drive, they want you to park. It's profitable.

UWE to St Werburghs - off road via Purdown Camp

Someone once mentioned to me that they need a car as they have to commute to UWE. Oh no, that's an awful place to drive to. It's just that until the U1, U2 and U3 buses came out, driving and cycling were the only viable options --unless you lived in places like Nailsea and could get the train straight to Abbey Wood. That said, cycling is not only reliable and efficient, it can be fun.

Here you can see a traffic free route from UWE to St Werburgh's, going over Purdown, past Purdown Camp and then down through the farm to Boiling Well's lane. Deliberately not edited out of the video are all the delays invoked by motorbike filters on the route. None of which will keep motorbikes out, as in every case there is an alternate option. They just get in the way. That one on the farm road, the steel z-bend, has a good bypass developing; a bypass that often has hoof marks on it. Clearly the horse riders find all these features inconvenient too.

The route is a bit damp right now, but not muddy; it will be interesting to see what happens over winter. If it is a dry winter -as last year- this is an excellent way home for anyone with good lights. All these eyes stare back at you from the undergrowth; they are probably just cats or foxes, but it is very disconcerting. Humanity has evolved a fear of eyes staring back at you from the undergrowth at night, as any early human who walked away from the fire to see what those lights out there were didn't come back...our ancestors are the ones who were scared of the dark.

The reality is cycling down through Shaldon Lane in Lockleaze can be more hazardous, primarily due to much of the road traffic being aggressive and fast, and sometimes deliberately cutting up bikes. Maybe after a few million years we will have evolved a fear of Maroon Rover 400s driven by teenagers, in which case the off-road alternative really will appear less scary.

Friday 29 August 2008

Scooter Management

There's always a problem with motorbikes on Purdown; here we see a car making an effort to block motorbike/scooter access from the lower entry point, (Park Hill/Frenchay Park Road/Broomhill road roundabout), by blocking all wheeled access entirely.

Unfortunately, as a study on motorbiking in Manchester reports, you can't actually lock out motorbikes. All you do is block off legitimate access, while forcing the motorbikers to bring a circular saw, torch any wooden barriers, and drive a stolen car into any gate. Certainly someone had cut the padlocks at the Lockleaze end last month. Still, a heroic effort by this car to block access from the east.

dangerously inconsiderate parking

Here is a car on the double yellow lines/keep clear bit of Kingsdown parade. Nothing unusual there, but its not parked on the pavement. As a result, this large lorry full of scaffolding can't get through.

Standing out of site of the photo (they didn't want to be photoed or videoed) are the four people from the lorry who are about to bounce the car onto the pavement so that they can get through. That's not good for the car, and its not good for the lorry crew. If the driver of this Peugeot had parked two wheels on the pavement -as everyone else did- then the lorry could have got past more easily.

Remember: if you are going to park on yellow lines, you may as well go for the pavement at the same time. After all, the lines are there for a reason.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Parking Services at work

It's a tough job for Bristol Council Parking Services. A losing battle. Resented by the people parking illegally for their enforcement of the rules, bemoaned by the cyclists for their unwillingness to enforce rules. Look at this as an example. A van on double yellow lines and a bike lane in Midland Road, St Philips. Should it be ticketed for half-blocking a bike lane?

What about having only two thirds of the vehicle length on the lines? Again, tough call.

This is a tough problem. These are the decisions that Bristol's Parking Services have to consider, day after day. Should they punish someone for parking illegally during an attempt to get their work done, or should they just say, "no, we understand what its like. Just park where you want, we won't ticket you"

Certainly for this vehicle, WDO4 RXP, propery of Bristol Parking Services, whoever was driving it on at 14:02 on 27 August 2008 managed to dodge the bullet -no ticket on their windscreen!

Ideas for Bristol: traffic calming on bike routes

As well as photos/videos of Bristol, we also welcome photos of ideas that could be adopted in our fair city. As it is the holiday season, there should be lots of improvements to pick up.

Here is a bit of Lôn Las Ogwen. This is a lovely route which takes you from sea level to 300+ metres, by LLyn Ogwen and below Tryfan, right in the heart of Snowdonia. The path may run up the same valley as the A5, but it does it along a river, through a slate quarry and with sheep on the road being the main traffic hazard. Apart from that 300m of ascent -mostly at a a steep bit- its a good family ride. Not very busy either, people could come out and enjoy it more.

Except not, of course, in bikes with trailers, tagalongs or any other child towing configuration. No recumbents either. Because there these little Z-bend entry points on the path that take about ten minutes worth of bike wiggling to get through, with the main bike being lifted up to the back wheel, the kid lifting his part through. Its enough to put you off cycling here with kids.

Which may actually be the intent, as the yellow sign says -in welsh and english- 'danger do not allow your children to play here'.

It's not clear who funded this junction and signage, sustrans don't go out of their way for such designs. Perhaps either the local slate quarry or council felt they needed to discourage cycling.

Traffic: a book. But will it have photos?

There's an article up on Salon about a new book, Traffic. It looks at the psychology behind driving, with some interesting quotes: signaling is revealing your intentions to the enemy.

Maybe, but that assumes you are signalling a wish to change lanes, rather than providing immediate warning of your intent to change lanes regardless of the presence of another vehicle, that being French-style signalling rules. In fact, despite all the claims that Boston is a hard place to drive, it isn't, not by European standards.

What is interesting in Boston is parking. There are parking lots to park in all day, but they are expensive. The alternative is to park where you aren't allowed to, and risk being ticketed. It all comes down to some simple equations. If P(ticketed) is the probability from 0 to 1 of being getting a parking ticket, and that happens one day in five then P(ticketed) = 0.2. If the cost of a ticket, is say , $50, then the daily parking costs are $50 x 0.2, or $10; less than a parking lots' cost of $20. It's cheaper to park illegally and get ticketed sometimes. So the drivers do.

In Bristol, the equation is even simpler. Outside the pay-to-park inner core, P(ticketed) is effectively zero, so the daily cost of parking where you want is 0. Whereas the cost of using a car park isn't, nor is the cost of using FirstBus. So what do people do? They drive close to the centre and park where they seem to be able to park without being ticketed. Because no other action would make sense.

Bristol Cyclist killed in North Somerset

The police are reporting that a cyclist was killed on Tuesday in a collision with something being pulled by an oncoming Landrover, in the village of Norton Malreward. This is pretty sad, and marks the second bike-related fatality this summer. Perhaps it is time that the Bristol Cyclists adopt a Ghostbikes style memorial process, though the fact that the bike would probably be stripped within a week kind of lessens the impact.

Meanwhile, Redland police promise to be tough on cycling, and tough on the causes of cycling. Or as they put it, The police will take a robust stance in relation to cycling offences whenever the opportunity arises. That's very reassuring, as it reassures the locals that their cars won't be scraped by bikes when parked on the pavement.

Effective Advertising

Anyone who works in advertising must dream of an advert so compelling that passers by stop and look at it, to give the advert undivided attention for long enough to read the text and take in the message. Here, Ed P. posts in a dockside advert by Linden Homes that did just that. Stopped him walking up the pavement to look at the ad.

Admittedly, the main reason he stopped going along Gasferry Road was that he was trying to push a small child along in a pushchair, and the Linden Homes house marketing signage prevented him from proceeding safely on the pavement. Stopping was the only option, followed only by pushing the pushchair out through parked cars and continuing along the road, the road that provides the sole pedestrian route through this part of the Bristol City Docks. But from an advertising perspective it worked! He read the sign. He took a photo. He emailed it to us and now we've stuck it online. That is success!

Monday 25 August 2008

Maybe it's broken down

This RAC van was up on the pavement by a corner off Fishpond's road all day, so presumably it broke down during some driving manoeuvre.

After all, such a widely-regarded motoring organisation wouldn't show such blatant disregard for the Highway Code unless something had gone wrong with their van .

Sunday 24 August 2008

It would be better with buses

Look at this. Someone is pushing a one year old down the railway path. She is out enjoying the first sunny day in August with a happy father helping her along.

But think how much better it would be for them if BRT ran down the path? The child would have something more interesting to look at than green stuff. When I towed my toddler to school in a US town full of oversized pickups, his eyes would light up when a vehicle with wheels twice the height of his trailer pulled up alongside. Yet this child won't know the excitement of that, not if this man keeps pushing the little one down green paths that are free of buses. As for the parent, he could have an easier journey home if there was a bus to take him back, and the child would experience the excitement of a bus journey!

Saturday 23 August 2008

Feeder road: what does this bike lane do

Looking at this view of a cyclist going along a bike lane in Feeder road, you'd think that the car was deliberately about to run over this bike

But they aren't -they are just driving along stuck behind a bike. Why go along halfway in the bike lane?

Well, lorries like this may have something to do with it.

The only safe place for a car is half in the bike lane. So of course they do it. They'd do it even if it had stricter markings than the dotted hint of a bike lane here.

It's not exactly clear what this bike lane does. It does hint to cars that they should expect bikes, but since motor traffic was moving up and down here fast, it's not clear that its a safe place to ride. What it does do is discourage bikes from pulling out just enough to completely block cars from behind getting past, and stop bikes from getting lined up to do a right turn into the (signed) route under the Saint Philip's causeway. So maybe it's there to keep bikes under control while adding to the quota of bike lanes in the city. A double benefit then, for Bristol.

Friday 22 August 2008

Saint Philips: not bike lanes- segregation

Here are a couple of snips from the St Philips Causeway area. This is very car friendly. It has dual carriageways with 50 mph limits, a bridge that bans pedestrians (who still walk along it) and the junctions are all roundabouts. Best of all, for a car, all the bikes are pushed out the way.

Here's one example, a bike junction that encourages bikes to turn off the approach lanes and go under an Heavy Goods Vehicle instead.

When the lorry clears, you can see that the 'approved' way to cross the road consists of trying to cross -with no right of way- the vehicles entering and exiting the roundabout. The best bit, a little green sign that says "cyclists please give way to pedestrians"

If you actually follow this signage, you switch from being a road vehicle with rights of way into not just a second class citizen -a pedestrian- but a third class one. Everybody cuts you up. Nice.

Furthermore, having explored all these back lanes, it slow and not that safe to zig-zag round behind the KFC drive-in restaurant, through the back of the showcase parking area and then up through Barton Hill. For an efficient commute, and indeed a good walk, the Saint Philips Causeway is more direct and faster. Possibly safer too, were it not for a 50mph speed limit, which creates two expectations from cars: (1) there are no bikes and (2) they can go at 50mph.

Perhaps dropping the speed to 40mph and making one lane each way walking/cycling would be a bike city improvement we could aspire to. Then again, probably not. With all the car showrooms round there, its our own little bit of Bristol - Car City.

Datamining the audience

For the past couple of weeks this site has been running Google Analytics, where we past and batch process this through their MapReduce infrastructure to analyse the traffic. Here are the search terms that brought people to the site so far this month, in order of popularity (and then alphabetical).

bristol parking blog
bicycle parking bristol
bristol traffic blog
reverse parking technique
bristol cars blog
bristol cotham brow
bristol rush hour traffic
cars blogspot
lower bristol road bus lanes
polo park disabled parking
17 freemantle square, cotham, bristol
2 cotham side bristol
9 trees hill bristol
annecy france pedestrian zone
art of reversing a car
back parking techniques
bedminster bus crash
bedminster bus to ny
bicycle bristol oxford
bristol cars blogsot
bristol gloucester road parking
bristol mixed race escort
bristol motorbike school
bristol motorcycle parking
bristol pa train traffic
bristol parking bri
bristol reversing police
bristol taxi school run
bristol traffic 19 august 2008
bristolcars blogspot
bus bristol bedminster
bus marketing
bus stop 9 bus cotham brow
buses from cotham bristol
buses from uwe to cotham
corner reversing parking technique
cotham brow bristol
free bristol sunday 17 august 2008
free bus to bri bristol
gloucester road parking bristol
how to do reverse corner parking
how to remove range rover bull bars
learning to park a car
like bristol traffic cameras
lower ashley road
montpelier residents,bristol
motorbike parking in vauxhall
oxford bikes
parked car is blocking pavement
parking for gloucester road bristol
parking on cotham street bristol
parking on crossing
parking on pavements taxis
parking on the pavement on narrow road in bristol
parking secrets at bristol
reverse around the corner technique
reverse corner park
reverse corner parking
reverse parking techniques
scooter parking bristol
the art of reversing a car
traffic bristol blog
traffic in bedminster
What's interesting is that many people seem to be searching for places to park in Bristol, or how to actually reverse park a car. The answer to the first question is: you park your car wherever there is room. Zebra crossings seem to work well.

To learn to reverse park a car, fit a tow bar so that you get warning of hitting another car before you do any damage to your own. Then reverse slowly but turning the wheel sharply. It's OK to end up on the pavement, better that than scratching your wheels on the kerb. Drive backwards until you touch the car behind, then straighten up, again going forward until you touch their tow bar. If you are too far away from the kerb, repeat. Be careful of parking into cars with alarms that go off when you bump them.

Finally, apologies to whoever was searching for a mixed-race escort in Bristol. No, that's not what gets covered here.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Waste of a good berm

The run up to the new Temple Quay bridge is a bit of a disappointment. There's a lovely left hand bend, with a steep bank that is dirt right now, but will probably be grassed over. That would be an excellent berm for any MTB or BMX rider to use as their line through the corner, get up to speed on the straight then drift over to the grass, banking through the bend and then dropping down, gaining extra speed to push through whatever traffic calming the bridge designers will try and sneak in.

But look at how it's been ruined. Someone has gone and stuck a light, just at the bend. What a waste. You are going to hit that lamppost with your full body if you try to work the berm. Wasted. Don't bike path designers recognise that the bits by the side of the path are there to make commuting interesting?
[Photo: TerryM]

exit strategy

TerryM, who has been documenting the issues with the new temple quay bike path is unhappy with this design, as the exit of the path is not very aligned with the bike/pedestrian crossing.

Well yes, if you want to provide a cyclist friendly safe commute route, that would be an issue. But from a mountain bike perspective, this bit of the route does retain some fun. Coming off the bike path into the road, you get to do some air. And on the way back you get to test your front wheel/back wheel lifting skills. Add some tree trunks to the main path and this would be a route to enjoy!

Wednesday 20 August 2008

A little bit of the Alps.

It's been wet out there on the bike, the trails are muddier than they were in January. The only bright spot it any videos still to watch from the Tour de France. No stage winner got expelled for failing a drug test, so you don't get to watch a race like the Landis Columbiere/Joux-Planes stage or Vinokourov in the Pyrenees...knowing that the winner of the stage is now serving a two year ban from pro-cycling for EPO, steroid or testeosterone abuse. We can look at the alps, and think, it would be great to go out there.

Of course, fitness aside, there is the small problem of surviving cycling round the French towns. Their priorite a droite rule that gives vehicles to the right priority isn't too hard to deal with, as we are used to cars ignoring UK right of way rules. The cyclist-driver communications may consist of French words they don't yet teach in school, but a bit of UK swearing seems to work, and if not the old nose-blow into the open window is still an option.
No, what's hard is learning how to cycle properly on the wrong side of the road, so when you jump off the pavement onto traffic, you do it into an empty lane, instead of going head on into a french bus. You need to develop the instinct to fall to the right instead of the left, and you need to look out for traffic off your left side. Skills that are hard to learn in Bristol.

Until today. Because, with the opening of the new Temple Meads/Eastside Bridge Crossing, there is a new bike path joining Temple Quay with the ibis hotel. A French hotel, by a French chain. And look what they have given us, a new french style bike path, with pretty little cobbles.

With pretty little logo cobbles to gently show cyclists which side of the path to cycle on.

Logos that are on the mainland europe side of the path. Yes, we now have, in Bristol, a bike path that is officially for cycling on in 'mainland' style. So even though the Alps are a distant dream, we can head down here and train for it. We can cycle along on the right-hand-side of the road, looking ahead for the next patisserie, dreaming of our next pain-au-chocolate or mille-feiulles. Yes, with this path, Bristol is slowly becoming a continental city. [Photos by TerryM and SteveL]


The evening post has an article on someone in Bedminster arrested for photographing the police reversing up a one way street.. Given that our data shows driving and parking the wrong way down a one way street is somewhat common in some parts of the city, at least the police were being subtle in their parking.

That does not give them any rights to take the camera, delete the photographs or arrest the photographer. You are free to take a photo of pretty much anything and anyone in a public area -a street- and if anyone has an issue with that, that is their problem not yours. Here are the rights of a photographer in the UK. At least in theory. In practise, waving a camera in the face of a policeman, car driving down the pavement outside your house or a group of road builders digging a hole in the ground can create an fairly confrontational response, especially with a bigger camera. Holding up phone is more subtle.

  1. Be careful. We welcome photos of traffic situations, but there's no need to start arguments in the street in the process.
  2. Be subtle. Take a photo from a distance, or hold a digital camera low when taking a picture. Wait until they have driven past before snap them, or act like you are photographing something nearby.
  3. If someone does start arguing with you, and your camera does video as well as stills, go into video mode and start recording the conversation while pointing the camera down (get their feet in or something). That gives you evidence (and a video for our site) without letting them know what is going on
Sometimes people do come over and ask what you are doing when you have just photographed their parking or driving. In this situation, the best way to defuse seems is to avoid being negative about what they've done, but instead be grateful for their contribution, explain that we run a site vaguely affiliated the Bristol Cycling Campaign and all that will happen is that it will be up online; no formal consequences. And we are grateful. Without all the entertaining pictures we get every week, this site would be dull.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Smart Cars

Smart Cars are portrayed as a solution to the traffic problems of Europe's cities. Rather than walk, cycle or use public transport, you can drive to your destination and park in a space just big enough for it -and nobody else. Which works, provided nobody else has a SmartCar. Because once the vehicles become popular: no more parking spaces.

There are some other limitations of the vehicle. They still create traffic jams, they still block junctions, their fuel economy is pretty mediocre, especially at speed, as the overreved 4-cylinder engine will sound like a mini metro running flat out at 73 mph. This is why Daimler-Benz would prefer you to own a C-Class mercedes for the out of town trips. The SmartCar is the town-toy.

What a SmartCar does do, and this is a feature, is park sideways. This has many benefits. As well as letting you sneak into the smallest places left in the city for parking, you get to inconvenience all bicycles trying to get down the road. So by parking your SmartCar you not only show to the world that you can park where you like, you get to get one up on all those bikes that cut you up by running red lights. Revenge is something to savour!

Monday 18 August 2008

two bike lanes with one van

It's not immediately obvious why there are two bike lanes here, at the Temple Circus Gyratory between Redcliffe Way and Temple Way heading towards the M32 Presumably the on-road one abandons you where it gets complex, while the on-pavement one gives people who write letters in to the evening post about bikes on pavements something to complain about. Given the amount of street furniture on that path, it gives the bikes some technical practise too.

Whatever the reason, the rule that "bike lanes are for parking on" applies to both lanes, an option which this van appears to be exercising.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Call for Participation

This blog is a collaborative exercise by some members of the Bristol Cycling Campaign  mailing list. Its a way of removing stress related to biking round the city -instead of getting angy, get a picture and make fun of the situation later. It also exists to show that the authorities have effectively abandoned anything resembling parking rules outside the pay-to-park zone, so making the streets more dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and schoolkids. Even car drivers get blocked in by the cars across corners, vans forcing buses out of their lanes, and taxis not being able to park in their waiting slots.

We allow all forms of humour: irony, sarcasm, satire and ridicule, provided the content is non-libellous. That's important. The site is meant to be a fun read, not somewhere to post abuse about someone or something. Rather than criticise people, we are trying to celebrate all forms of driving and parking that one sees in the city. Because you have to accept what goes on, or get out of the city. Maybe even move to Denmark. Or Geneva, where the armed MTB police keep the cars in check, but at the expense of a town where parties don't go on after midnight and the police raid you for using a washing machine out of hours.

Here's how you can help:
  • Take a camera when you walk, cycle or even drive round town.
  • Take photos of anything that is particularly funny or thought provoking.
  • Avoid confontrations. Taking photos is alternative to getting upset, to as a starting gambit in a fight. 
  • Post it to us with location (street, area), and any commentary that is funny enough. No commentary? Send us the slides and we'll make something up.
  • Videos are good too. Stick them on youtube and send us the URL
  • You'' get credit for your pics, unless you want to be anonymous.
  • Don't be disappointed if your pics don't pop up for a while -or ever-, or we change/replace the commentary.
Although most of our pics are of parking, that's because its easiest to film. Anything of moving cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians and trains are welcome. Even police horses and ice-cream vans.

Every so often, we plan to place longer and more complex articles on the transport issues in Bristol. These postings will still need shallow and entertaining photos to go with them.

We strongly encourage reuse and linking.
  • Link to the article, home page or tag topic of relevance. 
  • If you want to use one of our photos in print, such as a school leaflet, just ask.
Email? Try traffic at .

Bristol's secret free bus

Here, in templemeads, is a bus to relish. Yes its small, no, it doesnt run weekends, but its free. It can take you from the station to the BRI, the highbury vaults pub at the top of Saint Michael's Hill, and the General Hospital by the harbour and the Ostrich Pub. Which means you could use it during a weekday pub crawl, perhaps.

The bus can be used to get between Temple Meads and Cotham. We've no data on whether it is faster or more reliable than the #8 bus for this, but it does have a cost advantage. Students and patients only though. There are no obvious checks, but a family with holiday luggage may have to do some explaining.

The University has a map and timetable.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Places you can't park

The Highway Code has a special section on parking.

As well as the "shouldn't park facing traffic", one of those naive dreams from the times when there were only eight Austin Morris cars in the country, it lays down some places where you must not park

1. on double yellow lines.
2. a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines
3. opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction,
4. on the pavement
There's some other restrictions too: tramways, motorways, etc. It would be entertaining to run a competition in which you try try and break as many of these rules as possible in one go.

This car, P218WHW, was only parked here for less time than it took to get the post office across the road to issue some air mail stamps and write a receipt; 15 minutes or so. Perhaps this was the only short-stay parking in the area, with the normal short-stay options (pavement, double yellow lines) further up Cotham Hill being taken.

Monday 11 August 2008

A modern parent

The Bristol-Bath railway path is an ideal place for a parent to teach a small child to ride a quad-bike safely.

When they get bigger, they will need the technical skills to avoid the police over by lockleaze and other quad bike areas. By going along this flat path at speed they will learn their steering skills avoiding pedestrians, dogs and cyclists, ready to apply it to more technical situations. Bristol: a scooter city.
[Photo: Nigel]

Sunday 10 August 2008

Bristol-Bath scooter path

The recent price instability of petrol has made zipping up and down the railway path in a scooter more expensive than normal
To maximise the fuel economy of their rides, these riders are taking turns sharing a vehicle.

If the scooter were slightly bigger, it would support two riders, and so be more fuel efficient. [Photo: nigel].

Saturday 9 August 2008

Rational Thinking

Here we see three vehicles, all of which made rational decisions, and by doing so created a traffic jam in Kingsdown. Their mistake: trying to get a vehicle onto Somerset Street.

The far vehicle is loading scaffolding; Somerset Street is to narrow for it to park, even if there was room. The other two vehicles wanted to get through. The UPS delivery van has recognised this isn't going to work, and instead stuck his hazards on and walked out to do the delivery. The Golf in the middle is now boxed in. They're going to try the "pavement gambit", but there's a big drop here and the pavement lined with metal: theres a serious risk of tyre damage. Which means they are stuck until the UPS van driver comes and both vehicles can reverse out.

The kingsdown residents association are strongly pro-CPZ, so that they and their visitors can park near their houses. Here's an alternative idea: make somerset street pedestrians, cycles and horses only. With the cobbles, its a lovely street, and if it was blocked off to non-motorised traffic, it would make it unique in the city.

Congested Airspace

At least when the air is full of ballons, it isn't that noisy -though when one is right overhead with the burners on it can be a bit unexpected.

Alternative Transport

For some reason, walking and cycling is often categorised as "Alternative Transport". Historically speaking, walking is in fact the primary form of transport ever used, since mankind first used it to render the mammoths extinct; travelling by water probably comes second.

Sometimes, though, you encounter really alternative transport, such as that documented by these photos.

There is nothing more alternative than walking round Bristol dressed as a tree

Except maybe following the tree dressed as market garden vegetable and singing while waving a stick or a tambourine.

That's what Bristol has to offer over London. London: Transport for London, congestion charging, the tube and the soundtrack of whatever the other tube passengers want to play on their phones.

Bristol: painting yourself green and dancing from pub to pub to music only you hear in your head.

Friday 8 August 2008

End of bike lane

Literally. The bridge under Mina Road has a bike lane, but it isn't marked with double yellow lines, so there is no legal reason why a car shouldn't park on -or here at the end- of it.

Indeed, the little island actually provides a safe place to park, where the chance of your mirrors being clipped is lower than elsewhere.

As for bikes, well, there's a road next to it. A safe one.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Traffic Calming bicycles

Here are the two range rovers of Montpelier, using the other side of the only bit of Montpelier where there is room for them.

The black one is parked on a double yellow line and half way onto the pavement. Normally this would be considered somewhat naughty, but here they are forcing bikes to zig-zag across the bike only cross, and so approach Picton street at a safer speed and angle, as these bikes are doing.

That's why residents cars are such a valuable contribution to the city: our cars provide traffic calming that the city lacks. Who knows how fast these bikes would hit a busy street were it not for this selfless contribution?

Big Truck Small Street

It's always a bit disconcerting to see a large truck heading towards you, but at least on Picton Street you know it's going slower than a bike

Because it has to squeeze round all the cars on the 'no parking' side of the road.

Incidentally, truck drivers are better than anyone else at knowing the dimensions of their vehicles. Drivers of 4X4s generally get confused by the height of their vehicle and drive too far away from parked cars, inconveniencing oncoming traffic, apart from those who underestimate and end up clipping wing mirrors and bikes. But this truck, it is managing to get past the van up on the pavement/yellow lines without doing any damage to it. Nicely done.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Integrated Transport

Here are some shots from a train journey from Oxford to Bristol. Starting from Oxford, which has a rack of secure bike lockers for bikes that are valued.

Next to that, there is the covered parking. Enough room for a few hundred bikes. In Bristol, getting to Temple Meads is half the problem. The route from the railway path is down, the bypass had police "no cycling" signs up until the council told them to stop it, and the roads outside are some of the most dangerous in the city. And then there is the challenge of parking your bike or getting it onto a platform. Whereas in Oxford, the problem is remembering where you left your bike.


And what's that in the distance? A bus? Yes -a red bus. With all those London Transport connotations, of a bus/tube service that is designed to benefit the city, rather than some distant shareholders.
Whereas we in Bristol, we get FirstBus. And to get to Bristol, FirstGWR. Which turned out to be very nice, they even let me on an earlier train without any fuss.

I got to arrive in Bristol early, at 9 pm.

This was the London train; the premium train between Bristol and The Big City. Its a mid-evening train, so anyone who stopped off for a bit of food or drink after a day's work may be on it. The taxis know this, they all pile in waiting for customers. But me, I'm waiting for a bus. I could walk, but I have luggage and a note from my physiotherapist that says "don't". I'm waiting for the bus. Given that FirstBus and FirstGWR are part of the same company, we'd hope they know the train timetables too, and arrange for buses to integrate with the trains. And look, after only 15 minutes wait, a bus pulls in. And turns its lights off.

Those few of us who dont either walk off, get taxis, or get friends to pick them up by car are left waiting for another half an hour before eventually the bus turns its lights on and decides to go.

The lesson for this is simple: don't rely on FirstBus/FirstGWR to do any co-ordination. What's interesting is to think, why not? Why don't FirstBus not only schedule buses to be in the station for when the trains come in, but even have announcements on the train advertising this. It's almost like they don't want to make money. And clearly, compared to the London experience, they don't want to provide a service for the citizens of Bristol.

Pavements are for vans

This is the junction of Happy Lane and Ashley Down road. Happy Lane is a little bike - and foot-path that connects up to Sefton Park school; it is so busy with kids in the morning that you can't cycle down it between 8:30 and 9 am. To increase safety for pedestrians, at the end of the lane, the pavement has been widened.

This is to provide visibility for pedestrians crossing the road, and presumably make it easier for bikes and cars to avoid hitting each other when the bikes go onto the road.

As an additional benefit, it provides parking for two or more cars.

These vehicles can park on the pavement, knowing that no passing bus will clip their wing mirrors. It's like private parking for the residents. {van: G2UNT; car: P610SEU}