Monday, 14 December 2009

G827YLA: redland mum

Hello, this is a note to the man driving the car G827YLA down Cotham Road at 08:48 on Monday December 14.

I don't think you read this blog. In fact, I don't think you pay any attention to anything other than the little bluetooth headset you had in your ear as you sat at the zebra crossing at the bottom, trying hard not to to make contact with a cyclist. Me.

However, at some point in the future, unless they destroy that car under the scrappage scheme, you are going to try selling that vehicle, and when it happens, whoever is thinking of buying it is going to type in the registration number into google, possibly with spaces, "G827 YLA" . And you know what's going to turn up? This article. The one that accuses you of being a redland mum.

As background, here is our definition of a redland mum: a parent who is in such a hurry to get their children to school that the lives of of any person on the road are unimportant. If there is a choice between the death of a pedestrian or a cyclist and pulling up on the "school no parking" area after 09:00, then somebody has to die.

I know this, because I am the cyclist you nearly ran over, the one who had stopped to let a mother and two children cross the road. I'm sorry I had to slow you down to let a family get to school, but since they were walking, they rely on generosity to get to school on time, and I was feeling generous. This area, outside Cotham Grammar, is a marked "please drive at 20" area, and those buildouts are to make it slightly easier to cross, to avoid having to run through parked cars. But the pedestrians still have to rely on vehicles stopping to let them across. Back when the build-outs were put in some people did ask for a zebra crossing, but it was turned down "nobody has died here yet". Well, you almost managed to get the criteria met today, didn't you, my little redland mum, the man driving the 1989 Toyota G827YLA.

I guess you were a bit surprised that after swerving round to overtake all us (without signalling, we note) and sprinting off down the hill, I did actually catch up with you. For some reason you didn't want to wind down the window, you just sat their looking surprised, muttering something into your phone, and unhappy at having to stop for all the students. No need to fear - we Bristol Cyclists don't believe in violence. It doesn't fix problems, it only creates more animosity. And we come out worse. I was just planning to get a video of you to stick up on the web site for what we do instead: public humiliation. But you got away, even as you went down Cotham Brow, trying to work out where you could go that the cyclist wouldn't catch up with you. To let you into a secret, I'd memorised your number at that point, there was nothing else to do. I let you go down Arley Hill. There you are, thinking "Oooh I got away from the angry cyclist", when in fact my goal had been achieved: you were now heading away from whichever school you were trying to get to, you would be stuck in the 9am Arley Hill traffic queue, and your children would be late. Your initial goal: get to school on time at the expense of a family and a cyclist would not be met.

Oh, and you are in the database. Forever. That's Google's BigTable, which, as they say themselves "is a distributed storage system for managing structured data that is designed to scale to a very large size: petabytes of data across thousands of commodity servers." By replicating facts "G827YLA is driven by a redland mum" across multiple datacentres, each with thousands of "commodity" x86 servers with IDE or SATA hard drives, BigTable's storage capacity is bigger than any database ever built before. By distributing those datacentres round the world: Mountain View, California, The Dalles, Oregon, Dublin, Singapore, BigTable won't just cope with an earthquake scale disaster, they'd even cope with something more dramatic, like a small Tunguska-class asteroid. It would take something big like another K/T Boundary Event or an accidental or intentional exchange of strategic armaments to take your registration number offline.

Which means when someone looks up the car registration, this article pops up. It could be you, it could be a friend, it could even be one of the kids you had in the back of the car who will then start snickering and call you a "redland mum" behind your back. It could maybe be the police if you try something like this again and it goes wrong, someone does end up injured, and they decide to do a checkup to see what anyone knows about the vehicle. Which means that this posting, accusing you of dangerous driving -not just to cyclists, but to pedestrians- will show up. You now, as they say "have a history."

Goodbye, or is it just au-revoir?


Bob said...

Perfect !!

Quercus said...


Bristol Traffic said...

On a more positive note, I was going up Shaldon Road, Lockleaze, and on the steep bit there was a white builder's lorry coming up behind me, and I was thinking "here we go again". But the driver slackened off, waited for me as I swing past some vehicles, swung in again, and carried on. It was considerate and really unexpected. I was very grateful - I look at the driver as he went past, nodded thank you and he nodded back. It was lovely, and shows that things can be better

John R said...

A few months ago, I was cycling south down Henbury Road, with the intention of turning left into Crow Lane. There was a lorry waiting to turn right out of Crow Lane, and other than that, no traffic. I signalled quite early to turn left, the lorry driver realised he could therefore safely turned right, and gave me a thank you nod for signalling my intentions, allowing him to carry on with his journey. Roads work quite well when people are kind and considerate. I do all my site visits by bike, so clock up a lot of miles round the city, and on the whole, I find 'professional' van and lorry drivers to actually be more understanding of cyclists vulnerability than cars drivers are.