Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stoke's Croft back to normal

We are pleased to announce that after the intervention of the new city regime, parking on Stokes croft is back to normal -only the bike lane is occupied, here by a 4x4 K215SHR, and a shopping trolley. When will something be done about the shopping trollies?

Meanwhile, over in our local legacy printed press, Bristol is now the worst city (ignoring London) for traffic, according to a new survey.

This survey " examined demand measures – the population density, wealth of the population and the office stock – and supply measures – road density, the transport budget and rail provision.". The result is a list of cities, Cardiff at #1, Glasgow at #3, Edinburgh at #5 and Bristol at the bottom.

Road density = road area divided by the population. Is that really a good metric for good city transport? The amount of space dedicated to gettting between places? No wonder in this list Glagsow comes in at #3 -their M77 motorway to Kilmarnock cuts straight through PollokEstate, the city's park; the M74 tore up the countryside near Uddingston, the M8 cuts the city apart and allows you to get from your Loch-Lomond holiday cottage back to London without any risk of encountering the locals in the much-feared Gorbals. More strategically, the M8 lets you get your non-conventional armaments to the Faslane submarine base from your factory in the South East, without getting lost the Gorbals.

Public transport is more interesting. Edinburgh, in at #5, is a lovely city to cycle round. But you aren't going to drive round as it's had residents parking for 25+ years, making up for it with a council-run bus service -Lothian Buses- that works. Low cost; day buses; night buses. You name it. And there's good mountain biking. It even gets its tram service, even though they voted against congestion, as the Scottish parliament is funding it -no need to go through the TIF bidding process.

The key local comparison has to be with Cardiff, as that is the closest city; apparently it is "better". Whoever did that survey has clearly not included the welsh valleys, with a mixture of rural deprivation since the end of the coal mines is mixed with commuter jams as people drive into Cardiff from ex-coal-towns like Merthyr Tydfil. Cardiff has its problems too, and to pretend that all is well there but not in Bristol is to miss the point, a point that Virgin's survey in 2007

So why is the survey so wrong? Well, who did it? Property developers. Bristol has a very high population density. Saying Bristol is at fault for not having enough km of road per resident is wrong -a better measure would be square metres of road per square kilometre of city, measuring the percentage of the city's area that was dedicated to traffic -and adding the area (including pavements) dedicated to parking. Once you do that, given our city's population density, the figures won't look so bad.

But if you are a property developer trying to sell middle-of-nowhere city suburbs (e.g. the Tailspin estate by the MOD), you don't want to push inner city car-free living. You know that the locals aren't going to walk to Sainsbury's then push a trolley full of shopping back, let alone walk to Filton Avenue and wait 45 minutes for a 73 bus to the centre. No, for suburbs to work, you need cars or some functional public transport alternatives, which is exactly what this report is criticising the city for lacking. This feeds well into the EP's the-city-is-at-war-with-cars theme we know and celebrate ourselves. Equally importantly for the developers, you want to get your name in the papers -and you don't do that by some press release that the local papers don't agree with -which again means complaints about traffic are pretty much mandatory.
  1. Leicester declared third worst city.
  2. Birmingham named worst city for commuters in 2008
  3. Cardiff named worst city to drive in by Virgin Insurance.
We should make up some of these ourselves.

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