Saturday, 7 February 2009

Bristol: not car friendly

The BBC has an article saying Bristol is one of the UK's least car-friendly city, with Edinburgh and London being worse.

London is obviously car unfriendly, as there is the C-zone and money and space wasted on Transport for London's offerings. Edinburgh has a vast resident parking zone and no motorways into the centre. Compare it with Glasgow, where most open space has been turned into motorway,and wherever you live you hear that soothing background hum of speeding cars. In Bristol, you have to live near the M32 or the portway to get that reassuring sound.

There article also picked up on how excessive car parking is in the centre. Yes, it is outrageous. People should boycott these garages, see how long they will charge excessive fees if everyone refuses to park there!

Of course, you do need somewhere else to park, which brings us back to the Prince Street Traffic island.

This place -a traffic island which has a designated, free, parking space is the symbol of a city's lost freedom. It's the one place in the centre where you are utterly free to park on the pavement, in the way of whiny pedestrians, stopping those criminal cyclists. One square of car friendliness in the middle of an anti-car city.

Which is where the bad news is. Today, while looking for somewhere to park our new 4X4 (bought on the scrappage scheme, lovely), we came across some officials standing over a car that had got here before us, holding open a printed map.

Apparently, this parking space should never have gone up here -it was put in by some consultant, and people are complaining. Not those whinging cyclists, always unhappy. No, it's BT, complaining that the parking space blocks access to their manhole cover, and hence telecoms operations in the the city. This is wrong. If they need to get there, they should just turn up early and occupy the space.

If the council do take this parking space away, it will symbolise the end of all chances of car-friendliness returning to the city. Still, unless they block it off with bollards, we will be able to retain our historic right to park there. Furthermore, the idea of unofficially painting up new parking spaces on roundabouts, traffic islands and pavement extensions is appealing. We can think of many places in the city where cars park entirely on the pavement often enough that they deserve legitimate parking bays to be painted there. And if the council won't recognise this, we will have to paint them ourselves!

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