Saturday 31 July 2010

Memory Lane

When the M32 was built it was known as the Parkway.

Probably because the authorities of the time thought it would be nice to call a four-lane highway after the type of land it was built through.

Remnants of this era linger on despite the upgrading to "M32", and downgrading to 30mph in part, and the installation of a central bus lane.

What concerns us though, is the sign "Parkway Subways", here in City Road.

The Parkway has been known as the M32 for over twenty years, and Subways has only been selling sandwiches in this country for about 10 years, so who put this sign up?

We have a sneaking suspicion that  Bristol Cycling City was planned when the Parkway was built, and has been waiting, like a Cold War mole, for the time to strike. Further proof is here in the Old Market sign which is for pedestrians and cyclists. Although if you do go there these days, you'll need to watch out for the busses.

It's either that, or Subways have had a secret presence here on UK soil since the 1960s.

Friday 30 July 2010

Unter den Linden: the Telegraph goes soft

Every time someone accuses us of being some kind of spoof, we point to the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail and say "if we are a spoof, then these two papers must also be". They aren't -we view them as fellow-travellers.

That's why we are pretty shocked to see that the Daily Telegraph has published an article praising cycling.

Their points
  1. It's cheaper than driving or public transport
  2. It's the only way to avoid the repressive "film all the cars" state we are still in, despite the coalition taking over from NuLabour.
  3. Berlin managed to transform their city to make it nice to cycle round
    Obviously, we object to all of these. As, fortunately, did enough people in the article's comments, that perhaps now the Telegraph will know their place better. If we wanted to read articles praising cycling, we'd read the Guardian or other socialist rags.
    1. Cycling is only cheaper as they don't pay their dues, because the cost of congestion caused by bicycles, the danger they pose to children walking from the 4x4 to the school gate isn't taken into account.

    2. Yes, Cycling may avoid the repressive state we read about in the Telegraph and the Mail, but we want that corrected by having every cyclist, every pedestrian registered, number plated, third-party insured and billed. And the speed cameras removed. Because we drivers are not the criminals, the cyclists are. Look at this man: threatening pedestrians on Karl Marx Allee, Berlin.
    And Berlin? Well, whoever wrote that article missed their history. The liberation of Berlin in May 1945 left vast quantities of open space due to the actions of allied forces, and even today the population of the city is way below that which it was designed for.

    Then the partition of E and W, on the photographer's side of the Brandenburg Tor, took away the German's rights to drive their cars through this, the centre piece of Deutschland. When the wall came down they kept it closed to traffic, and now, with the US and UK embassies behind, it, it's going to stay that way. This is wrong.
    We should be able to drive our cars through the Brandenburg Tor then park them here, on Unter den Linden, the most famous street in Berlin. This is the road where the Nazi government cut down the trees for their marches and rallys. And what did the communists put back: the trees.

    The fact that central Berlin is a nice place to walk and cycle is not due to to planning or well-meaning government, it is due to WWII and the repressive, communist, socialist state that followed, and a failure of the FDR to push through the changes this city needs to be a modern European city. After the war, we rebuilt our centre, to give us Broadmead, Lewin's Mead and the Queen's Square dual carriageway. What did Berlin do? Let the pedestrians and cyclists go back to the 19th century on their pre-motor toys.

    This may be Europe, but it is not Britain, and any attempt to encourage walking or cycling in our streets must be opposed by the coalition as the EU trying to control our lives.

    Thursday 29 July 2010

    Police Harass taxis in Broadmead

    Following our posting on taxis in Union Street/Nelson Street, in which we showed that the sign allowing bicycles and taxis only was outdated, we have some sad news from the local police.

    Someone took our photographs, and notified the bit of the council that licenses taxis, who then acted on the complaints. According to a letter which was forwarded to us:
    Police and PCSO's monitored the road yesterday afternoon and fixed penalty notices were issued to City Council licensed drivers and to other motorists.

    Further operations of this nature are envisaged, as these vehicles are in violation of the Driving Order.
    The web site goes into more detail, saying that people got ticketed simply for driving down a road somewhere where they shouldn't.

    This is mindless anticar persecution. Yes, if you look at the video one or two taxis appear to ignore the restriction on taxis, but as they are allowed on most other bus lanes, why not this one?

    Wednesday 28 July 2010

    Shared Space at work

    Lovely photo of how the Shared Space idea, where the lines between pavement and road are blurred to produce a safer environment, helps on Dovercourt road between Horfield and Lockleaze -this road is also going to be part of the North Fringe cycle route, if funding for the bridge at the bottom doesn't get taken away and used for something useful like parking by a school.

    Look how this stretch of pavement not only provides somewhere safe for children to play, but parking for a van, the minivan K648EJH -and a bus stop!

    If you look at the full size image, you can see the woman in the photo is happy, she really must appreciate this shared-space infrastructure, giving her somewhere pleasant to stand while waiting for a FirstBus bus to turn up.

    Tuesday 27 July 2010

    Breaking news: lockleaze to be less forgotten

    There are signs up hinting that Lockleaze is to be less of a forgotten quarter, primarily by adding more houses. A forgotten half, then.

    The locals are upset about this, in the form of the lockleaze voice, and are organising a meeting with the council today, July 27, at 7pm in the Cameron House.

    Some people no doubt expect us to be in favour of turning the green fields of Lockers into housing, but oddly enough, we aren't.
    • Without adding a new dual carriageway up to the North Fringe, it will only make congestion on Muller Road worse.
    • We are worried that it will force the teenagers on their motorbikes elsewhere, such as in our way on the road.
    • There a no plans for a heliport. Helicopter parking is a popular need, yet there is nowhere safe to do it.
    • We quite like looking at greenery when stuck on the M32.
    • Important celebrities undergoing coke and alcohol dependency treatments at the discreet clinic nearby do not want look at the little people.
    Consider attending if you too find your concerns coincide with ours or those of the residents themselves.


    With the advent of new convenience stores about to open in Cheltenham Road (Tescos) and Gloucester Road (Sainsbury's), we're impressed to see Bristol City Council's Traffic Wardens at the forefront of a new trend in convenience parking ticketing.

    Here's CE02PVT, an early beneficiary of the new regime. Look - double yellow lines, so you'd expect a ticket.

    And yes, it's there. But conveniently it's been delivered right to the driver's door.


    Monday 26 July 2010

    Bristol zebra crossing chic

    Now that the weather is warm, you can wear summer dresses to park on the zig-zags by zebra crossings, as modelled here on Cotham Road South by the driver of VN59GCH.

    This photo also emphasises why we think the council plans to put bike parking on the paid parking by the university is better than the alternatives. Imagine how much worse it would be if they'd replaced the zig-zags where build-outs bike parking on them? Zebra crossing zig-zags are the only short stay parking areas left in the city centre where you don't have to pay anything.

    Sunday 25 July 2010

    Sita: proud sponsors of cycle city

    Every friday, to celebrate their continued sponsorship of the key North Fringe to City Centre route, Sita Van WX51HBF are again proud to park across the bike path where it goes through the St Werburgh's tunnel.

    We congratulate this council-funded service for embracing the Cycling City program! And for not parking in a way which interferes with us drivers!

    Saturday 24 July 2010


    Contrary to public opinion and the comments pages of the Bristol Evening Post, it appears we are not a tolerant society.

    Here we see a poor motorist occupying the cycle lane on College Green. With a flat tyre.

    Notice how both he and the car V638HAA are effectively blocking the entire cycle lane, in both directions whilst the driver texts someone important. It seems he's not about to move out of the way for an intolerant cyclist that happens to be remonstrating with him for parking here.

    This is obviously an inconsiderate cyclist. After all, he could easily have dismounted and walked his bike around the obstruction instead of making a fuss.

    Luckily the cyclist eventually manages to squeeze past and calm returns. But only for so long.

    In the half an hour that it takes to buy and learn to ride a fixed wheel bike on the pavement, the RAC van VN09GNN turned up to the rescue. Parked half on the cycle lane, and half on the zig-zags the driver is being very considerate to the drivers about to power up Park Street. But ignore that, cycling on pavements is wrong.

    We don't approve of cycling on pavements, because we're not very tolerant. Yes cyclists may be able repair a flat tyre on the go, but changing a wheel on a car is a difficult and challenging process for a driver and requires the use of an Emergency Service.

    So we had a word with all the cyclists trying get around the obstruction by cycling on the pavement.

    We made them walk and be tolerant of pedestrians. We're drivers, and we have clout.

    Friday 23 July 2010

    Corner Work on Aberdeen Road

    The RAC says white vans are up 40% in the last 10 years. We agree. We also think that their role in society needs to be recognised, and just like police and taxis get special parking options, so should us van drivers.

    Take corners, for example. There's no room for a normal car here between Aberdeen Road and Cotham Gardens, in Cotham

    But the white van YK54TGV shows that not only can they fit a van into the narrow gap, they don't need to block the dropped kerb.
    This is as pedestrian friendly as a buildout -somewhere where the narrowing of the road makes it safer to cross. Yet nobody will recognise this value or the contribution our vans make to the city.  Only the RAC are on our side, and even they bill us for it.

    Thursday 22 July 2010

    We care, we really do

    Some web sites have been a bit critical of us, arguing that we should obscure the number plates of photographs of vehicles in our coverage area, rather what we normally do -type in the registration number without spacing for easier indexing, then tag the entry with the road and district within the city or "abroad" for anywhere out of town.

    Sadly for those privacy activists, registration numbers doesn't constitute private personal data, and EU/UK data protection legislation doesn't kick in. And as it's a public street, privacy rules and human rights stuff doesn't either. Were, say the son of Oswald Mosley to pay prostitutes to dress up in army uniforms and beat him while speaking in German on a street in Bristol, he wouldn't be able to argue that it was an invasion of his privacy to put the pics up online. So there you go. You want privacy, do things like that at home, with the shutters closed.

    Our biggest issue is not just that cyclists don't have number plates, but that pedestrians don't either. Take this small child enjoying the swings in lower Kingsdown -an area to be covered in the RPZ. There are two cameras covering this play area to make sure that no children misbehave by doing something hazardous like using a swing without a helmet.

    Yet how can you enforce non-misbehaving legislation without every child, every adult, having a machine readable registration number? How else can you see if they are paying their fare share of road and council tax, that they don't have a track record of hit-and-walk scrapes against parked cars on the pavement, and other crimes which pedestrians are capable of?

    We are with Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest here: not only should every pedestrian have a registration number (apart from those walking directly between their car and destination), but that the council and schools should run special Walkability courses teaching schoolkids how to safely walk round our city -and that they should only be allowed to walk round if they and their parents have their licenses. And they have third-party insurance for any damage they cause!

    Wednesday 21 July 2010

    Problems in Stokes Croft 2

    Yesterday we covered the lack of Cycle Lane sponsorship in Stokes Croft.

    Today we can report it is almost as bad just up the road in Cheltenham Road, outside the proposed Tescos.

    Normally both the cycle lane, and the pavement would be full of cars at this time of day, but only pavement hugging cyclists can be seen.

    Hopefully this is not an indication of a double dip recession. No, hopefully this is just a hiatus before Tescos opens and reinvigorates the proper use of the cycle lane and pavement for our cars and vans.

    After all, with a Tescos comes a "hole in the wall", which will be really useful when the Stokes Croft Post Office is not open.

    Tuesday 20 July 2010

    Bristol ASL Chic

    With summer, the women in their summer dresses come out, in the bike paths, bike lanes and the Advanced Stop Lanes, which you are only meant to enter on a red light if you are a bicycle.

    Trouble is, here on Bath Buildings, that bike-only ASL is exactly the size for a vehicle. So of course you drive in, the better to see what is going on on Cheltenham Road. And so the people on Cheltenham Road can see you.

    Here on this weekday evening, the driver and passenger of H163TEP have not only driven into the ASL on the red light to enjoy the summer, they've driven past it, to participate in the Cheltenham Road "scene" even better. It also helps discourage cyclists from trying to get past, who will only hold you up when the lights turn.

    Monday 19 July 2010

    Monty Bike Parking

    The Radford Mill Farm Shop of Picton Street provides a bike park for customers

    We don't know whether to denounce it for taking a bit of the pavement away from us motorists, or praise it as a place for bicycles to get stripped, and then discarded.

    Sunday 18 July 2010

    Secret Colston Street/Colston Hall Parking

    People always come to our site searching for secret parking tips, ignoring the fact that any secret that is indexed by google and Yahoo! is no longer technically secret.

    Colston Street; Christmas steps is behind to the left. Where to park? Asda van YD57HPC has gone for the pavement by the zig zags where it is reversing up with minimal visbility.. Seems to work, and by being so far up the pavement, no danger for the one pedestrian we see.

    Later on the day, we see the same spot is now in use by abbeyfieldlandscapes with their van SB57EWT
    It's secret places like this that give the locals an edge over visitors, which is why we have to keep them secret.

    Saturday 17 July 2010

    Problems in Stokes Croft

    Can anyone see what is wrong with this photograph of Stoke's Croft on a weekday morning?

    Exactly. Nobody is parked on the bike lane. Despite the post office advertising zero commission currency exchange in big signs right by the road- and the pound to euro rate being so excellent, nobody is shopping there. The furniture shop's van is round the corner, and all is quiet, all the way back to Jamaica street. Two cyclists are actually using the path.

    We think this is dangerous as it will lull them into an unrealistic complacency. It is like doing your driving test in Stoke Bishop on a Sunday afternoon, rather than, say, along Gloucester road at 8:30 on a weekday morning. It also hints of problems with the local economy.

    We need sponsors for this stretch of bike lane!

    Friday 16 July 2010

    Friday Brain Teaser (5)

    Spot anything wrong?

    Only one clue this week...

    The railings on the left, the blue ones, are blue for a reason. It's Redland Police Station.

    Wednesday 14 July 2010

    School run: stapleton

    Footage reaches us of what it is like at 08:30 on a weekday in Stapleton. There is a nice dropoff area on the left hand side, "pavement" as it was originally called in the days when even wealthy people walked.

    Only a couple of vehicles are making use of this otherwise wasted space, BG02OHO, and the little mercedes behind it.Why so few, in a low-stress dropoff area.

    We suspect the coach parked opposite has something to do with it, it's bringing kids in and dropping them off. This actually makes it harder for proper volvo-driving parents to get between the coach and the traffic island safely, so endangering their children.

    Tuesday 13 July 2010

    Kingsdown: stranger than you think

    We often discuss our suspicion that Kingsdown is the home to various pagan rituals, traditions that have gone on in the Avon and Somerset area since before the Romans arrived. The Mayday Tree festival, the darker, midwinter tree. Some people think we jest. But know, there are strange goings on here.

    This week, a two-headed goose is on top of one of the buildings. Evil, that is what this creature is -pure evil.

    We hear a rumour that one of the houses here has a tunnel going down to the centre, to the original harbour. Smuggling, some people think. We suspect something worse. How else do you get human and non-human sacrifices straight from your boat that has been to strange countries into your part of the city without outsiders seeing, and trying to stop you? How do you retain your close links with Bristol outposts in New England, towns like Innsmouth and Arkham, when your in-laws from abroad don't look fully human any more.

    Things have gone on in Kingsdown over the centuries, things only whispered about, but even those whispers gives us nightmares. The fact that the residents feel able to put a two-headed goose up on the corner of one of houses shows they feel stronger now, less need to hide, proud of their heritage.

    Is it a co-incidence that this happens within a few weeks of a new leadership for the country, one with two people, both of whom share the same physical features -no neck, shiny foreheads, webbed feet they can't show in public? People who had to be hidden in childhood in special educational establishments, places where their defects wouldn't be so obvious? Places where both sides of the family being related to each other, boarding schools where the odd burning alive of the outsider wouldn't get a mention?

    We think not.

    Monday 12 July 2010

    Evening Post! This is not the war on motorists!

    The EP is upset that the council wants to turn 12 paid parking spaces into 72 on-road bicycle parking spaces. The title of their article "IF drivers think it's hard to find a parking space in the city centre at the moment, it's about to get worse.".

    We love this. Some people are probably expecting Bristol Traffic to be up in arms on the same topic, but we are too busy laughing at the naivety of the E.P. to bother. Here is why we aren't complaining.

    1. We have had a copy of the plans for about a year. If the E.P. is surprised, it means they are out-loop.
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: "Nick Pates"
    To: "Alex Woodman" , "Mark Wright"
    Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 12:25:43 +0100
    Subject: Pay and Display cycle parking proposals - Cabot
    Dear Councillors,

    As part of the Cycling City project we are proposing to remove
    10metres of pay and display parking at seven locations to replace with
    cycle parking. I have attached a plan of all the proposed locations
    as well as a draft letter that I intend to consult with.

    I would appreciate any comments you may have.

    Yours sincerely

    Nick Pates

    Cycling and Walking
    Bristol City Council
    Twelve months ago these plans came out. Where have the E.P. reporting team been? Probably hanging around with Bristol City people getting wined and dined to believe that after England win the 2010 World Cup then its a cert for England hosting the cup in 2018, for which we need a giant supermarket in Southville. Got some bad news there, folks.

     2. We were consulted on the plans. We are Bristol's premier web site collecting data and reporting on traffic issues in the city. Unlike the rest of the motor lobby -the RAC, the ABD, the AA, we are rational. We don't just deny bad news or the entire process of science just because we don't like the answers. We collect data, and reach conclusions.

    3. We support it! Really! This does not mean we have changed sides!

    Why do we support it? Because they are taking away pay-to-park spaces, and nobody uses them as you have to pay. We much prefer zebra crossings, double yellow lines, traffic islands to a slot that demands money and which offers time limits on the parking.

    3. The only people that park in most of the areas are students. Not tax payers. Students. We can see that by doing a drive by last week, out of term time.

    Tyndall's Avenue: empty parking spaces. The university staff either have access to the car parks, they get the bus in, or they park+walk. 

    Round the corner, Woodland Road. Utterly empty. We, the tax payers, have paid road tax already, so we refuse to pay extra to park. We'd rather drive around for half an hour to find an empty corner in Cotham then walk in.
    The only people who use this are not only students, they are the students with enough money to pay for parking, which is a small subset of students: the ones with lots of money. We feel no guilt about having their parking options removed, so they can't drive over the downs for one lecture, half an hour in the gym and then home again.

    The argument here is therefore not "bike parking vs car parking", it is: how do you want students to get to university?
    1. By car. Only parking in the paid bits if they can't get a free space nearby -our spaces.
    2. By bus. Not ideal, but you can get a lot more students to one bus than 40 cars, and they don't take away our parking spaces, as we have been known to park in bus stops too.
    3. Walking. FirstBus hates this at the zebra crossings, we don't like it on Cotham Hill, but you can usually swerve round them while making a phone call, though you have to shout out the window rather than use your hand on the horn.
    4. By bicycle. Yes, we despise them, but if they are going to cycle in, they won't try parking on our secret places like Highbury Villas. They may even decide its not worth walking or cycling down to the uni for half an hour in the gym, so not even get in our way on a bicycle.
    The best bit: if there is no option to drive in, some of these tax-dodging students may not bring their cars at all, which will free up more street space in Clifton and Redland.

    Now, can the E.P. stop being 12 months behind what's being planned and help join the coalition to fight US proposals to stop you doing things like downloading porn onto your laptop while driving.This is the real war, not some argument about how twelve students a day will get to the cafe for lunch.

    Sunday 11 July 2010

    The St Michaels Hill Zebra Crossing

    After the RAC coverage of our city in their road pricing waste of paper, we felt we ought to nip out St Michael's Hill and document the zebra crossing at work at 09:25 one weekday morning.

    After parking our Bristol Traffic van on the zig-zags, we waited for some pedestrian and who should come along but this gentleman. Damian, he said his name was. We immediately stopped him and demanded that he pay a road use tax which he refused on the basis that if he was going to pay to use the pedestrian facilities he'd like the BRI to re-open the pavement on soundwell street. Apparently he felt that turning one pavement into parking and then closing off the other to reduce the risk to turning cars was somehow wrong, had complained to the council and got fobbed off on the basis that it is hospital grounds.

    Hmmm. Troublemaker there -worth keeping an eye on. But he does raise a point. If we do start billing the pedestrians and cyclists, they may want value for money.

    Next, some tax-dodging pedestrian crosses below the zebra crossing. Visibility for cars descending at speed here is pretty bad, so this person is selfishly risking some vehicle's bodywork.
    Shortly thereafter, someone walks their bike over. keep an eye on  the two pedestrians on the right by the cars.
    This really annoys us, cyclists who on a whim just jump off their bicycle and wheel it along, as if rules like stopping for pedestrians apply to cyclists pushing a bike. They don't. The car WP03LHW breaks the bad news, as it goes straight over the crossing without waiting for the cyclist to finish crossing.
    The car does have to put its brakes on for those two pedestrians who have now slipped out. You see that? Even if the car doesn't have to stop for the cyclist on the zebra crossing, it it is forced to by the suicidal pedestrians who would otherwise damage its paintwork. Lucky there's a hospital nearby.

    Saturday 10 July 2010

    The RAC: missing the elephant on the room

    The RAC. The fourth emergency service. Or is that the AA? Either way, they come out for us, and will park on zig-zags by a pedestrian crossing -below on Muller Road- to handle our breakdowns. But expensive. RAC roadside assistance for two drivers with at home support, recovery and euro-breakdown comes to £283.50. That's a lot. If you are one of those wimps who don't drive a group G road-tax car, it's way more than your road tax. So you need to make a choice, don't you: Tax and MoT or breakdown cover? One you need, one you may be able to get away without, providing the DVLA don't catch you.

    Fortunately, the RAC have seen a solution: abolish road tax.

    The RAC has put up a paper on Road Charging, that encourages replacing road tax and fuel tax with pay to use fees.  We initially thought that the BBC had accidentally used the phrase "road tax" to cover vehicle excise duty, and completely ignore the fact that group A vehicles pay nothing, so if you drive a small hybrid car you pay no VED and discounted fuel duty due to its increased economy. But no the RAC, they don't represent the little people. They represent us: the big cars, the white vans, the V8 range rovers coming in to london from oxfordshire. So the RAC used the term "road tax" in their key points, and the BBC radio and web site naively believed the report was somehow independent, rather than a plan to free up money for RAC breakdown cover. 

    Now, what about the actual report? We like the idea of abolishing fuel duty and road tax, but we think the idea of making people pay-per-mile-driven misses the elephant in the room: pedestrians and cyclists. How can we make them pay-per-mile walked or cycled -and without that, how can they be made to bear a realistic proportion of the congestion they cause? Every pedestrian who uses a zebra crossing or pelican crossing may hold up traffic, and should be charged at least for the lost time of every driver. Similarly, a bicycle pootling along at 15 mph shouldn't just be billed for using the road, they should pay a congestion charges of the row of cars behind which have been forced to also drive at 15 mph.

    We don't understand why the article missed this -it's so obvious. They even showed the problem at work in bristol. Go to page 47, look at the photo on the top. That's the zebra crossing on St Michael's Hill, looking down to town. And there are some happy students gaily prancing over the crossing -probably holding up the photography team.

    We don't currently have the photo from that exact same location, though we have one from slightly further back on some winter day when drivers were forced to swerve round road closed signs.

    Slightly further down the hill, almost aligned with the zebra crossing, you can see the view of the city that the RAC use in their paper. Yet despite the photo, the RAC miss the elephant in the room, or more precisely, pedestrians in the road. In our way. In the way of the road-taxy payers, or, in the future, road-use-tax payers.

    Unless a pay-to-use road system also bills all pedestrians and cyclists for the congestion and pollution they cause, even indirectly, it will be anti-motorist.

    There's only one thing about the RAC using photo of our St Michaels Hill in their otherwise missing-the-point article that cheers us up. Every person walking over the zebra crossing from left to right in these photos has had to come from Southwell Street. And what's so special about that? It's the one where the hospital blocked off the pavement to force the pedestrians into the road. But even there, do the pedestrians get billed for holding up BRI hospital cars? We doubt it.

    Friday 9 July 2010

    Pull up! Pull up!

    What should we see this morning but a hot air balloon apparently doing an unscheduled landing somewhere in Horfield, just by the gas towers. There is some parkland there, we think.

    We hope they landed safely. We'd also like some pics that anyone has of that time one had to land on the railway line at the Arches -something straight of Thomas the Tank Engine there.

    Friday Brain Teaser (4)

    Cycling City is an expensive con. Official.

    Look at the photo below and see if you can find any fault.

    Honestly, this must be the most expensive bicycle stand in Broadmead.

    It may be disguised as a signpost, but it's clearly not as there is a perfectly good lamppost next to it for any necessary signs. As the "Don't Feed the Seagull" and "No Lorry Parking" signs indicate.

    Taxpayers money is obviously being squandered providing inappropriate facilities for cyclists (and headless Seagulls).

    Thursday 8 July 2010

    Breaking news: Mobility Vehicles pay no tax either!

    We are pleased to see the Evening Post commentator team have turned their attention from one enemy of our city -the cyclists - to another: the elderly and their transport options.

    Here on Cotham Brow we see one out on the road, swerving past the van WV55UED parked on zebra crossing zig-zags  -a van which, were it to say Siemens Traffic Control- would be allowed to park there unharassed by the parking police.

    The disabled person in a mobility scooter is not paying any road tax, and as it is an electric vehicle, no fuel tax.
    Yet it holds up white vans, the lifeblood of the city

    Wednesday 7 July 2010

    Police target 'selfish' cyclists in Bath

    According the BBC, the police in Bath are to warn and even fine cyclists who ride on the pavement.

    A force spokesman said: "Riding on the pavement is antisocial, selfish and potentially dangerous. We're determined to do something to stop it."
    He added: "[Cyclists] riding on the pavement is one of the most common complaints we receive from the public.

    Yes, we complain. Look at this pavement in Lockleaze. There is no way that any pavement cyclist could get past this lovely van WV57VBZ without damaging its paintwork.

    And here, on Cheltenham Road, any cyclist who rides on the pavement swerving past the door of the van 996901 could hit the pedestrian or the paintwork on the car KP59NHG.
    The tax-dodgers have bike lanes? Why are they so selfish that they don't use them?

    As the article says
    "The issue is consistently a top priority raised at the regular police Partners and Communities Together (Pact) meetings.
    "Officers in the city centre will be concentrating on illegal bike riding for the foreseeable future."
    They must read our web site. Or the Evening Post.

    Tuesday 6 July 2010

    Siemens Highway Maintenance: Exempt

    Who should we see on Fishponds Road one sunny weekday morning but the Siemens traffic light team, working on the pedestrian crossing, having moved on from Muller Road.

    While taking this photo of the van BN59YEC, someone up a ladder on the other side of this street started shouting "I'm exempt! I'm exempt!". We don't care! We are here to document the possible, not criticise!

    However, his claim raises an interesting thought. As we discussed, it is legal for police to park on zig-zags when on call, but not legal for us to paint "Police" on the front, sides and back of our white van, so that fact is of little use.

    However it is not illegal to paint "Siemens" and "Highway Maintenance" on your van. We checked. No laws.

    Therefore, anyone with a white van who wants to park where they like should nip out to get their vehicle painted up like this, and then get out their and reclaim the zig-zags! And the pavements!

    Monday 5 July 2010

    Eagle Coaches at Bristol Zoo

    Attn: driver safety section. Eagle Coaches, Bristol


    We we have been forwarded a video and an email to pass on to you, Eagle Coaches. Although Bristol Traffic is primarily a web site which which tries to copy the Daily Mail and be chirpy and upbeat about everything which happens to cyclists daft enough to cycle around the city, we don't believe that it is currently legal to attempt to run them or their children off the road. We are also concerned that such incidents will encourage more council/police action against motorists, such as banning cars and coaches from Guthrie Road completely. This is a shame as the road in front of the school will be a useful rat-run once Bridge Valley Road is open again.

    This email and video will go online at

    The point the letter author makes is an interesting one: we may appear before your own site in web searches. In a world with ubiquitous cameras and google indexing popular sites, you have to remind your drivers that it is not only the police they have to worry about, but the cyclists sticking their videos up online, so damaging your brand image. The cyclists could even contact your insurers via the askmid site and making the underwriters fully aware of the risks which they are undertaking, so increasing your insurance premium.


    The Bristol Traffic Team


    Can you request that your coach drivers give cyclists, especially those with small children, more than one or two centimetres clearance when passing.

    While I was dropping my son off near Bristol Zoo, we both nearly got squashed between some parked cars and the Y-reg coach of yours driven by someone in a moustache on Guthrie Road at 10:10 on Monday July 5, 2010. As he approached me from the zoo direction and I approached from Pembroke Road, he seemed in a bit of a hurry and reluctant to stop: I had to stop far enough out in the road opposite a space that it was clearly impossible for him to get past me on this one lane road -but even then he was unwilling to pull over to actually make it safe for me to get past. After thanking him for stopping -and receiving a frown in return- I set off reluctantly down the narrow gap. At which point the driver set off again -with about two centimetres of clearance between my handlebars and his vehicle. I had to thump the bus repeatedly before he pulled slightly to one side.

    I must apologise in for any damage I may have done to your vehicle by banging against it, however I find that I feel no guilt. If your coach is going to drive so close to me that I have to hit it repeatedly with my fist for it to not hit me, then it was clearly too close. If you feel the need to claim damages off me I shall report your driver to the police for dangerous driving.

    I have a legitimate right to use a road -one which was recently traffic calmed to make it safer for school children to walk on-, yet your driver seemed both reluctant to slow down for the traffic calming (I'd check the state of the underside) and reluctant to acknowledge the existence of anyone on a bicycle or their right to use the road. Sadly for your driver, we not only have a right to be there, we are moving to using cameras to film our daily commutes, and forward any near-death incidents to the police.

    On that topic I must apologise for not having a film of the incident, I do not have a head camera. I have a phone camera and am sending this letter and my post-incident recording to the Bristol Traffic web site, for them to process. As a result of their high popularity, searches for "Eagle Coaches" and "Eagle Coaches Bristol" for the next few months will probably bring up the page covering this near collision ahead of your own corporate web site.


    A cyclist.

    Protection Racket

    Dead trees are dangerous. They can kill people if they fall over.

    But worse still, they can damage our cars.

    So it's nice to see that Bristol City Council has carefully coned-off this dangerous part of Perry Road to prevent any cars being damaged in the event of a tree falling.

    Yes, we've lost a parking space near Bristol BRI, but if it saves paintwork, it's worth it.

    Sunday 4 July 2010

    Trouble at Hampton House

    We like Hampton House. A physiotherapy hospital where even the staff drive to work and park on the pavement. Those are people who know most about the dangers of physical exercise, who know walking is dangerous. That is not only why they don't walk much themselves, they try to discourage others. Presumably inside there are posters encouraging people to take up watching TV instead of playing football or walking.

    Today, T508BGD has a note in its window.

    Not a ticket, not some printed junk, something handwritten.
    Please Mate!
    This car is
    parked illegally your
    car is on the
    (obscured) not on
    Hampton (obscured)
    you are liable
    to be fined by the
    police or Traffic Wardens
    1st Floor reception
    P.S. We have had complaints about

    This is interesting.To be honest, we are surprised by this. We would have thought if the local troublemakers were to be whining, it would be about an NHS van driving down a bikes only contraflow then stopping half on the pavement, half blocking the path. That one even we in B.T. think is just pushing the envelope of defensibility. But why was the van forced to do what it did? Because of the commuters parked on the pavement. If the Hampton House staff didn't block the pavement, there would be a way for vans to legally drive and park that wouldn't even upset the tax-dodgers who pootle round here.

    Saturday 3 July 2010

    Adam Eff pays the wingmirror tax

    There's a fancy new bicycle magazine out, Boneshaker, full of lovely photographs, very well printed, by some people affiliated with the Bristol Bike Project.

    Those things show something worrying: we are losing the battle of hearts and minds. It's all very well getting AA and RAC press releases into the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph papers, it's all very well having Jeremy Clarkson on TV, but people are starting to suspect that Top Gear is made up, and it's all a bit 1980s in the not-very-cool-1980s way. Not so much Audi Quattro as Bryan Adams. What do we get as car books and magazines for example? Hayes manuals. Not very compelling.

    No, we need a  way to win. But it shouldn't need violence: that rarely solves problems, just makes viewpoints less flexible. Which is why we are sad to hear that someone in a van clipped one of the Boneshaker Magazine's photographers, Adam Eff, while cycling along the St Marks contraflow.

    In his own words:
    From: Adam
    Date: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 10:40 PM
    Subject: Van caused me pain on St Marks contra-flow

    I am in pain. Apologies if this message is overly long.

    A few hours ago I was heading to Sweet Mart on St Marks road in Easton using the contra-flow down St Marks road when a large van came towards me at considerable speed (too fast in my opinion but maybe 20mph or under... either way too fast for this narrow stretch of road being crossed by pedestrians shopping etc). He didn't slow, continued to accelerate towards me to the point where I braked hard (actually only going slow as I was already slowing to stop outside Sweet Mart) and had no choice but to pull in hard to the edge of the road or go under him. I tried to hold my position out from the kerb (as taught during the level 3 lesson last year) but had to make to choice to try and stay alive at the last second. He must have assumed he was allowing me a foot or two to get around the edge of him, but his large wing mirror that adds an extra foot or two onto the width of his van clipped me, and this combined with the swerve caused me to end up upside down in a heap on the pavement. I have a very sore swollen and cut knee (gradually getting worse as the evening goes on). Also have bruises and scrapes to elbows and arms and inner thigh and back of left knee. The adrenalin has now truly worn off and I feel knackered, sick, shaky and slightly pissed off to put it mildly.

    His first comment on getting out of his van was that I was "going the wrong way down a one way road". I pointed out that it is a contra-flow and not the wrong way for cyclists and then went to point out the bicycle markings and lines on the road at the point where it happened. This is where it all started to turn into a bit of a farce as of course the markings have all but worn away, and I have to say I could understand why he wasn't expecting anyone to come the other way. I can imagine anyone would find it hard to understand what the last few remaining blotches of surviving white paint mean. He also said if it was a cycle lane it should be painted a different colour. Interesting to think that is what people expect to see. He also expressed his opinion that the road is not wide enough for bicycles to be coming through the other way (maybe more true for large vans than for general car traffic).

    Looking at Googlemaps street view it's clear to see that the white blotches on the floor were once an arrow and a bicycle symbol and that the arrow for the traffic traveling the opposite way seems to indicate that they should be traveling under the parked cars.

    At this moment in time the bicycle symbol currently looks like this ...

    or a wider view with what is left of the arrow....

    We both exchanged details and debated it in a friendly enough manner for as long as we could before traffic behind him started beeping him to move. We didn't involve the Police.

    A friend of mine also recently had someone in a van drive aggressively towards her on this stretch and then shout that she was "going the wrong way"

    It appears that the signs slightly before this point for motorised traffic coming the other way do not get any message across to anyone and do not get noticed. They are there though...

    I've noticed the markings here have been unclear for some time now.

    I come across similar conflict regularly on Cobden Street coming up from Church Road as the markings are also worn enough to no longer really exist there either (also been unclear for considerable time too). Also on Victoria Avenue vehicles still do not seem to expect bicycles to be coming from the Contra-Flow direction, even though cars can and do travel in that direction too here as it's actually a two way road with a plug point with no entry for motorised traffic. Both are assumed to be one way by drivers. I've been shouted at in both places that I'm going the wrong way, had people speed up towards me, or just be caught out by surprise and brake suddenly at the last minute. People are obviously not expecting bicycles to be coming the other way and are not seeing the signs or markings ( if they are there). Often there is no way to go to get out of their way if I wanted to. in the case of St Marks road today my only option (if it hadn't happened so quickly and there had been time to think it through) would have been to get up onto the pavement. Not much chance of that in the space of one second on road tyres, although I guess that's actually what happened in the end, but not out of my choice or within my control.

    Often the problem is with vans and commercial vehicles. This is becoming more obvious on Cobden Street as the larger commercial traffic is increasingly coming from Feeder road using Barton Hill as a cut through.

    I still feel that there needs to be a better way to mark contra-flows with more definite and on-road markings to properly inform people to expect bicycles.

    This is the third time that I've been hit by a large vehicle this year. It's now beyond a joke and I've had enough. My partner is also reaching the point where she no longer wants me on a bike on the roads as it is causing her a lot of worry.

    What can be done? Who should I be talking to about this? If the markings are eroded or unclear who is responsible for that situation still being the case and currently partially for my pain, injuries and damages to my bike (ripped bar tape, buckled front wheel etc)? The driver felt that the road markings were impossible to recognise and I have to agree with him.

    I have photos of his vehicle in position, of the worn away road markings and of the general scene. Also a few to show cars coming through and the position they use.

    This has happened on the day that I tried to persuade my neighbour to not drive from Redfield to his work next to Temple Meades every day (a journey of less than one mile) and to cycle instead. His answer was that it's too dangerous and he'd have to cycle on the pavement, so won't do it. I'm trying to work out the irony of me reassuring him that it's not dangerous, before setting out and getting knocked off, yet again.

    Thanks if you've taken the time to read all of this. Any replies, thoughts and possible solutions appreciated. I'm off now to soak my cuts and bruises before my knee seizes up completely.

    Obviously, we do extend our sympathies, and not just in "look what you did to my wing mirror" kind of way. Adam may be working for "the other side", but -and this is a secret- we have used some of his videos. Also, it's good to see that at least one person never seems to be enjoying cycling in Bristol, as when he was caught suffering up Bridge Valley Road

    One thing to consider here is why did the markings on St Marks Road get worn away? It can't be from bicycles, far more likely to be cars and vans. Which shows that there isn't really room to have a bike contraflow here. We don't actually propose banning bicycles from one single street (it's not our grand vision which covers a wider area of the city and a bigger ban), but why not open it up to two-traffic entirely. One way streets just create unrealistic expectations of speed in a city, whereas the two-way streets of Montpelier are self-traffic-calming, usually.  The alternative: remove the parking outside the (excellent) supermarket, Bristol Sweet-Mart simply wouldn't work as everyone is used to short stay parking there.

    Friday 2 July 2010

    The Polis come to Bemmy

    We welcome a new contributor, "B", who snapped them at the Asda end of Bedminster, and says "Probably parked there because of a terrorist shoplifter scare..."

    That's certainly conceivable. We suspect the Basics Campaigners, who are #1 of about 47,100 results in Google's index of the phrase "campaign against sainsbury's". However, we don't think they plan to escalate their protest to Asda, architectural merits notwithstanding.

    One thing all readers should remember is that the police can park where they want when on call, and they aren't people to upset. It is their right to park here. What is more frustrating to us is that we can't copy them. And why's that? Because it is illegal to impersonate a police officer, and that includes putting "POLICE" and "HEDDLU" on your white van and then expecting to park wherever you need to unload in Bristol, the South West, and Wales. Some people notice the ladder on top of the van and get suspicious, call the police, and then its serious problems. This is utterly unfair.

    However, we have some news, something we will follow up next week: something you can legally put on your van so you can park on zig-zags by zebra and pedestrian crossings. Wait and see.