Wednesday 28 January 2009

Driver reporting

Someone asks on the Bristol Cycling Campaign mailing list, "can I report bad drivers"?
it was a maroon hyundai accent reg# T352VOA. I was cycling along Downend Road from Ashley Down Road at a fair clip when I heard a car coming up fast behind me. it's pretty tight there with cars parked on both sides. I turned around and the car was right by my back wheel. i shouted back my annoyance and rode defensively, not wanting to be in the path of an opening door with this aggressive driver right behind me. A couple of cars came towards us which allowed me to progress while she was held up. but as soon as they were clear she zoomed right up and didn't stop - basically pushed herself through forcing me towards the parked cars. All of which happened within 100 metres of the traffic lights. of course i was fuming and told her so, through her wound up window before she drove off.
RAC car check confirms there is a Hyndai of that number, ASKMID confirms it is insured. So if they had knocked you off, you may have got some money. This web site isn't really the place to complain about specific drivers, for which BetterDriving is a recommended location -Though we do like to know where in the city trouble lies. And on that note, we can re-assure you that the entertainment you get on your morning commute isn't likely to change in the near future, because Ashley Down Road remains a 30mph road on the 20mph-zone map; as will Muller Road: if a 20 mph zone ever went as far as Horfield, well, Downend road would run the risk of being one of those busy-back-roads-leave-it-fast routes, even though its part of the quiet road route from Filton, being between Dovercourt road and the one-way roads parallel to Gloucester Road).

A lot of those back roads have two roles. A quiet option for cyclist commuters who can't handle the A38 any more, and a fast option for car drivers in a hurry who can't handle the jams on the A38. That creates, well, tension. There's nothing like ambling down North road or suffering up Belmont Road to hear the sound of an over-revved clio 1.2 coming up fast behind you. What to do? Well, St Andrew's won't be 20mph either, so make the best of the bus lane on the A38.

The other email, "I was cycling on Cotham Brow when some car turned right in front of me, even though I had my lights on and shouted at them. Got a photo of the Peugeot N314MAF with my phone"

We like photos, and while we have low standards, this one is fairly close to not making the cut. Were you by any chance drinking before hand? And what is that strange light in the sky? All we can do is confirm this car exists, and show that clearly their actions didn't get them very far. We do hope that you did not shout anything that would give cyclists a bad name, and allow the E.P. to start complaining about cyclists swearing at passing traffic.

These alleged incidents show a problem with focusing on 20 mph back roads. They don't go anywhere. And the through roads, the 30mph roads, are things that you either have to cross -somehow- or actually use to get to places you need to. Keeping all the through roads 30 mph contains an implicit assumption that cyclists and pedestrians don't actually get out of their own street, or when they do, it's by car.

The other issue with a 30 mph road is that it makes people believe that the road is its fast. It creates unrealistic expectations. More honest would be for every road in the city to have a speed limit of 15 mph for cars, 18 mph for bicycles on the flat dropping to 8 mph for them uphill, and 47 mph for taxis.

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