Sunday 31 October 2010

Whiteladies Road: a weekday dataset

Our last trip down Whiteladies road shows that on a weekend, yes, pedestrian shoppers did hold up through traffic. This implied that yes, the FirstBus/Showcase bus route plans to reduce pedestrian crossing options may benefit their schedules, but we were worried about the impact on us cars getting out from side roads.

This video is different as it's a visit by our expendable cyclist on a weekday morning, down the bus lane from Oakfield Road, and through the Triangle as far as University Road, where they head off. Commentary first, analysis later.

At 0:24 FH56CVV switches lanes early, but as everyone else in the RH lane who isn't turning right also goes left, they are forced to give way to the vehicles in front of them anyway.

From 0:29 to 0:40, a bike lane that even waltham forest would be proud of. Its worn-out nature hints that it's popular with larger vehicles, while the trees keep it bumpy.

At 04:40 A9VNG is in the ASL, but we suspect that it was in there when the lights change. Why the suspicion? One car in the pedestrian area and one in front in the yellow hatched "only enter when clear to exit" area stopping cross traffic from St Pauls Road and Tyndall's Park Road getting across. Incidentally, Tyndall's Park road (on the left) here is no left turn, St Paul's (on the right, into Clifton) is no right turn, so all congestion coming up from the Triangle is Whiteladies Road traffic. Note also this junction provides no time for pedestrians to cross when the traffic isn't actually allowed to drive -if only all major junctions in the city were like this, congestion would be much improved. The BBC offices are on the left, incidentally.

Following the cyclist who is commuting without helmet, body-armour or hi-viz clothing, we eventually discover what is holding up WL-road traffic, it's the "triangle" gyratory system, which our tax-dodger hits at 1:43. The underlying problem is that Whiteladies Road traffic is forced to give way to traffic coming from the right, which initially means traffic from Clifton. Further on, at 2:17 we get held up by traffic all coming into the city from the A4 or the Hotwells's Bridges and then up Jacob's Wells road.

There are four lanes here, one for parking, one turning right at the next junction, and two straight on, but that leftmost one is lost even to vans ignoring bus-lane signs, not just by the police car at 2:41 but by the taxi-rank at 2:53.

WN59UDP is held up by these taxis forcing them to wait with all the in-town traffic, so as soon as they can they cut left in front of the bicycle, through the pedestrians and up University Road -only to find that the Biffa refuse collection lorry is in the way and ignoring the important traffic being held up. Finally passing that, they can sprint up to Woodland Road, where as you recall the Evening Post was campaigning against two paid parking spaces going away, which we felt was overreacting as nobody parks their except arts students, and their tuition fee increases will eliminate that luxury.

However, today we can see that the paid parking area is also popular for parental dropoff outside Bristol Grammar School -and it actually makes for a nice, low-chaos dropoff area. Admittedly, there isn't enough of this short-stay parking right in front of the school, forcing some parents to stop in the double yellow lined areas, but the alternative would be parking on the other side of this (one-way) street, forcing the children to cross the road. Would you want your children to cross a busy road like this? Exactly. Parking on the double yellow lines outside the school entrance is the only safe place to drop your kids off and be sure they get to school alive.

Now, returning to the Whiteladies Road issue, what does the bus plan proposal change on this stretch? The Oakfield Road crossing will be moved further away from the road, so making it less useful to pedestrians trying to walk from Cotham to Clifton or bag. Plus one point. But, this makes it harder for cars to get out or over from these roads, so minus one point.

Heading in to town, the right hand turn to Clifton will be removed for all but buses. This will turn Oakfield road into the primary rat-run option, but as we've seen, the moving of the zebra crossing makes it trickier. What they aren't doing is extending the bus lane any further south, and they are leaving that toy bike lane in there. We say toy as its so half hearted that no rational cyclist will think they are welcome -what with the faded paint and tree roots, but its very presence implies that some people in the city do welcome cyclists. No, better to remove it and put a cyclists dismount sign up.

Entering the triangle is more informative. Congestion is caused here by traffic joining the road from other places (Clifton, Jacob's Wells Road), and whatever is slowing them down on their final journey. There are no pedestrian-only lights or zebra crossings to play with, so there's little that can be done to make pedestrians feel less welcome, no tricks to make the schedule more accurate.

And that's the key problem. The goals of the showcase route are faster bus journey times and a more predictable schedule. Removing and moving zebra crossings will only help with this out of hours, on weekends and midday, because on a weekday morning the problem is more fundamental: Erlang's Laws. Congestion is a result of the ingress rate of a queue being higher than the egress rate. The reason vehicles can't leave whiteladies road isn't that there are vast numbers of people struggling to turn up Cotham Hill (more on that another day), or any of the side roads, it is because the merging of multiple queues at the triangle creates a bottleneck which having one lane dedicated to bus stops and a taxi rank doesn't do much to help.

And do we care about mid-day firstbus schedules? No -and neither should anyone else. People using the bus at weekend and mid-day weekdays are either people who can't afford a car, people with bus passes, or people who have made some ideological decision to take a bus: passengers FirstBus can take for granted. If they want to make money, they need to get the commuter traffic, and quite frankly, changes to pedestrian crossings aren't going to do it. They may help us car commuters by reducing the number of pedestrians and cyclists, but given our dataset implies that the Whiteladies Road congestion is due to problems in the city centre, those crossing changes aren't going to help buses or our cars on whiteladies road at peak hours, which is when it matters to us as well as FirstBus.

Sorry FirstBus, but whatever datasets you have on congestion problems on Whiteladies Road, they were clearly collected by FirstBus or Council staff during their working hours, rather than during am or pm rush hours. This is the only explanation why your proposals don't just do nothing for us drivers while making pedestrians and cyclists suffer, they don't appear to help buses either.

That's the irony there. This proposal has already got the cycling campaign saying "oppose this it's anti-pedestrian and anti-cyclist", it's also anti-car, but we think it manages to be bus-neutral at the same time. That takes skill, that does.

Delivery Vans

A lot of people complain about delivery vans, but consider this: they are the price of internet shopping. You cannot buy things online and expect them to be delivered by bicycles, so vans it is.

Here we see a royal mail van, an ikea van, and a sainsbury's van edging through Meridian Road, Redland.

These people know the width of their vehicles. Even so, we suspect the IKEA van fears addresses in Montpelier.

This shows an interesting consequence of those people who say "I don't need a car", because they buy their IKEA "malmo" sofas online and have them delivered along with the supermarket supplies and some books from amazon. You may have avoided your own car, but this is the congestion you are creating instead.

Not that we wish to denounce on-line shopping and local delivery. Indeed, we will draw our readers' attention to Bath Ales, who, if you sign up for their email letter, will sell you 12x500ml of their Dark Hare beer for 12 pounds -very good value, with free delivery in the BS postal district, as well as bits of the BA area. One warning though, the van that does the delivery does say "Bath Ales" all over it. This means you had better be in when they deliver, otherwise your neighbours will note a Bath Ales van arriving, someone taking a crate of beer out and hiding it behind a dustbin, and before you get home they will be the ones enjoying a fine stout. A detail to be aware of.

Saturday 30 October 2010

UWE to the Farm pub, by way of Purdown Camp

Someone posts us this (long and dull) video, with commentary.

They say:
You are always whining about bicycles in your way and how your road tax is wasted on bike lanes, but look at this. At 5pm I can get all the way from UWE to the Farm Pub, St Werburgh's, by bicycle, through fields, without using any tax-funded bike lane, public road or blocking any vans, fifteen minutes door to door. You try doing that in your white van. Apart from the 30s waiting for the lights to change on Muller Road so I can cross it, it's lovely and traffic free. So please, stop complaining so much.
Some of our team members also enjoy the fine beverages served by the farm pub; indeed, one of those white vans may be ours. We also agree, that at 17:00, to drive from UWE Frenchay to the Farm pub will take 30 minutes minimum, by either route:
  1. A4174 to M32, round St Pauls Roundabout to Mina Road and then that new 20 mph zone to the pub.
  2. Down to Stapleton Road then traffic lights and traffic jams to Mina Road.
Does this want to make us get out or van and start cycling? No. What it does is reinforce our demand for a new road from UWE to Lockleaze, and a re-opening of Boiling Wells Lane from Muller Road to St Werburgh's. This will stop both Lockleaze and Ashley Vale from being forgotten parts of the city.

Friday 29 October 2010

Whiteladies Road : offpeak issues

We sent our expendable cyclist on downhill run of Whiteladies Road on a Saturday afternoon. Note people with the orange bags. That means small-revenue-sainsburys shoppers, either locals or students. The supermarket relies on a high turnover of these poor pedestrian people to compensate for a lack of parking. However, these people then get in way of us who are driving to or from proper supermarkets.

Put differently: the pedestrians who walk and shop locally not only take up space in the supermarkets they go to, they slow down shoppers who shop elsewhere.

What this video does shows is that at off peak weekend times the congestion is caused by people walking around. Therefore, the GBBN proposal to remove the zebra crossing seen at 1:32 (and implicitly, crank back the crossing time allocated on the lights at 1:28, because now there will be a full sequence scheduling right and left turns as well as straight on) may benefit at this time of the week: the off peak times.

But rewind a bit. Note how all the cars pulling out from any side road rely on the goodwill of cars on Whiteladies Road to get out. Because you may as well while you are waiting -you would hope someone else was as generous back- and because it costs you nothing. If the pedestrian crossing options were cranked back, then not only does it make it harder for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road -which clearly we are happy with- then it will also be harder for cars to cross the road, unless someone added more traffic lights at these side roads. And we don't want that, do we?

This makes us think that part of the FirstBus GBBN schedule is not just to improve scheduling by removing pedestrian/cyclists holding up cars and buses, its secretly trying to stop cars getting across the road too, because we take advantage of the stopped traffic. There's a price see. And, because the parked cars will be removed, it's harder for you to edge out when making a turn. Instead of being safely protected from bicycles by the first row of parked cars, now you either need to hang back in the side road (as if) or pull out in front of the bus/bike lane and have people whine at you for being in their way.

Returning to the video, note at 1:40 the car double parked on Cotham Hill forcing the other cars past it. Sometimes you need to do that, park next to your destination, nothing wrong there. But if the proposal to remove the zebra crossing goes away, vehicles turning into Cotham Hill from Whiteladies Road, especially those coming down the hill, would pull in faster. The zebra crossing is a form of traffic calming. Without it, it would become more dangerous to double park your car in a popular shopping street, or to overtake such double parked cars.

Again, this is why we are in a moral dilemma regarding the Proposed Bus Route. The key benefit for us would be if it reduced the number of pedestrians in our way, but even we recognise that a limited number of pedestrians actually helps cross traffic.

Thursday 28 October 2010

M5 work

"Paul N" sends us this video of what the M5 was like on October 26 between Bristol and Cirencester.

As people say, where were the police? Yes, there was an accident up the road, but surely one or two could have been diverted to direct people to drive up the hard shoulder and then U-turn up the slip road? Without that, vehicles doing that -such as the skip lorry- are taking their lives into their own hands. We pay our taxes so that we can drive the wrong way up a motorway slip road safely!

Wednesday 27 October 2010

New link: road justice

We've added a link to a new site today, Road Justice.

This is a Canadian site which puts up photographs of the terrible thing cyclists to Vancouver, such as cycle around without helmets. They also have that hard taxpayer/cyclist split that we use, though they don't yet call them Tax Dodgers!

Road Justice! Welcome to the debate about the future of transport in the cities of the world! We have one concern though: are they some kind of spoof? I mean, to criticise a cyclist just for standing on the pavement, or not having a helmet? Yes, we hate them too, but there aren't actually laws against owning a bicycle -yet.

They also ask for money, which makes us wonder if they are trying to trick us out of the money we have left after income and petrol tax takes away most of our earnings for bike lanes and buses. We have had enough money stolen without them asking for more.

Anyway, the link is up there, we are keeping an eye on them to see if they stay consistent and aren't some kind of trick site put together by tax-dodging cyclists to discredit us, Bristol's premier traffic news outlet. The fancy web site design and the demands for money are warning signs. If we think they are spoof, we'll delete the cross-link before long. Credit for the Copenhagenize blog for bringing this site of fellow-travellers to our attention.

Southwell Street: the ongoing crisis

Our secret instrumentation of cyclists, with some followup chat, shows us how these people endanger pedestrians and patients on Southwell Street.

Look how they
  1. Cycle along the "pedestrianized" bit of road on Southwell Street, so endangering anyone forced to walk along this bit of road by the no-pedestrian barriers around the car-park entrance.
  2. Pop up on the real pavement to get around the gate completely blocking the road.
  3. Stay on the pavement to get past the van V722LAE parked in the no parking area by the gate.
  4. Leap onto the road and endanger pedestrians crossing the road, the delivery vans, and the cars dropping staff off.
  5. Swerves into the oncoming lane to get past the Ginsters cornish pastry lorry.
In the past, someone suggested to us that we should make Southwell Street the official logo of Bristol traffic, as a combination of a gate to block bicycles and a pavement closed to pedestrians represented our city. Well, it does -these cyclists ignoring the hints that the NHS gives them -that cycling to school, work or the nearby university is wrong- show us the problems we face in our city. What else can we do to ban them?

Tuesday 26 October 2010


Our complainer from the past, "Slug" says they went to the PACT meeting to complain about some car on the pavement. Apparently the Police actually need to see someone obstructed before the vehicle is causing an obstruction.

This is a useful fact to know. From now on, whenever we park our car on the pavement -such as here BS51VDX does on a build-out by Cotham Brow, we shall wait for some family to get a push-chair past, and get a photograph of them as they pass.

With such a photograph, we can demonstrate that our parking did not cause any obstruction, hence is ineligible for any penalty.

Monday 25 October 2010

The cult of YA55VDY and the impact of the Whiteladies Showcase Bus Route

Mid life crises. What do do? Sports cars? Mamils? Fixies. No: stalking. It's under-respected, and what the Internet, from Google to Facebook was made for.

We in the B.T. Project have taken up stalking one vehicle, and are pursuing it round the city. YA55VDY: the van that we are proud to have never ever seen parked even vaguely legally.

It's more than just a protest against anti-car, anti-van features, this takes dedication. Here, for example, you could park parallel to the double yellow lines, unload safely and pull out without having to back up blind into Picton Street first. But no, the driver has chosen to park 1m away from the kerb, echelon style, to make a statement. Deliveries matter.

We also have some footage from one of our secretly-instrumented cyclists going down Cotham Hill -you can see the distinctive shape of the van enables our tax-dodger to recognise the vehicle from a distance. This van is now famous!

Now, what's inside the van? We couldn't be bothered to drive over and look, but one of the cycle activists we were haranging here in Monty did -Captain Bikebeard says "yoghurt". Now we know.

In fact, this van is now so famous it deserves its own Facebook fan page. One van, one driver, prepared to stand up against an oppressive state by refusing to park where they make him, instead always -even if it means going out of his way- parking "illegally", as if the state gets to decide where is and isn't legal to park your van.

A few days later, we see it now on the double yellows on Whiteladies Road. 

The showcase bus route proposes changes here, so where the van is parked to unload will become a dedicated left turn into Cotham Hill, with its own light sequence. The Cotham Hill zebra crossing will go away, be replaced by some lights which will allow us to drive through while pedestrians wait to cross (as if we didn't do that already), while the addition of a new lane and pedestrian refuge will make walking across the road harder -and well-nigh impossible for any parent with bike plus child trailer or tagalong, which our secretly instrumented report appears to be doing.

This is why we have mixed feelings about the showcase bus route proposal.

  • Removes commuter parking from Whiteladies Road.
  • Encourages bicyclists to cycle up and down the road
  • Increases short stay parking on Whiteladies Road.
  • Removes a zebra crossing used during the rush hour by slow-moving children and students.
  • Adds a dedicated feed-in lane to Cotham Hill.
  • The feed in lane will suddenly abandon the cyclists from the safety of a dedicated lane to a situation where they have to merge right into the Whiteladies Road lane just at the same time that all the Redland Mum traffic turning left is trying to swerve left to get into this lane, so putting off the cyclists from every trying to commute by bicycle ever again.

One of our concerns here is that, in the age of austerity, we don't see why any money needs to be spent so that cars can cut in from Whiteladies Road to Cotham Hill. We force our way through the zebra crossing anyway, so all it does is actually increase the likelihood that we get held up by a red light; removes the option of turning right from Cotham Hill to Whiteladies Road, and makes it harder to get a lorry through the corner.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Whiteladies Showcase bus route: the implications

Up the top of the hill, we will lose all day parking, so the commuters suffer.

But in exchange, short-stay parking, so it's a trade off.

Where there may be a clear benefit for us drivers is at Whiteladies Gate, where we have common interest with FirstBus: not being held up pedestrians. Today, inbound traffic gets held up not just by cyclists and traffic, but by one or two cars turning left into Cotham Hill having their turn blocked by pedestrians on the zebra crossing.
Even on a quiet sunday afternoon, hordes of people just walking are stopping drivers getting to important places. Similarly, cars trying to head into town are held back from making progress to the next traffic jam by the pelican crossing, which schedules lots of time for schoolkids and other low-priority pedestrians to cross Whiteladies Road at a crossing we have covered previously.

This is unacceptable -so we are glad to see that the traffic planning department has recognised that the war on the motorist means putting the pedestrian in their place.

More subtly, given that our vehicles too have been known to hold up bus traffic, we are smugly pleased that these proposals seem more focused on pushing the tax-dodgers out of the way of buses than doing anything to make driving into the city by car hard. A lot of important people live up this hill, and they have to get in somehow.

The proposed Whiteladies Road Showcase Route

There's been lots of coverage of Whiteladies Road on this site recently. Why? Bristol Traffic is not a news outlet: it is a documentary, and we were collecting defensible "before" data. The "before" being "Before the Whiteladies Road Greater Bristol Bus Network proposals go through". There is a consultation in progress, they even have a shop for it, here, the one marked "To let" with the shutters up.

What is proposed?
  1. Bus lanes on the inbound direction in the mornings, (the far side in the photo below), and on the outbound direction of an evening.
  2. Restricted parking.
  3. Changes to the pelican and zebra crossings at Whiteladies Gate
  4. Removal of the Right turn from Whiteladies Road to St Pauls Road -except for buses.
  5. Lots of other changes up by the downs.

Currently the parking areas provide excellent commuter parking, but they force shoppers to park on double yellow-lined traffic island areas, as that is the only area left for important people to park like the sports car T4LLO.

The traffic islands make it safer to cross the road once you've just parked your car V259MOV alongside one of them.

All will change. More details to follow.

We are not yet ready to denounce this as another war-on-motorist development, as our research hints to us that pedestrians will suffer the most and cyclists will find what is given with the bus lane is taken with changes to crossings. For some reason the council hasn't come out and spelt all this out, though as it is something that would get us motorists behind the plan, they are missing an opportunity there.

Incidentally, these pictures were taken out of peak hours, hence the lack of vehicles. One point we would like to emphasise is that if you are going to make decisions on how to improve bus schedules and rush hour traffic, then you should collect data at that time of day, go to the site between 08:00-09:00 or 17:00-18:00, otherwise you will be lulled into a naive state of optimism where you think that shoppers and motorists all happily dance around the city waving flowers and being nice to each other.

This is why we are delighted to see that the cycle campaigners are being invited to visit the site between 11:00 and 16:00 on a weekday, when, apart from the school/student traffic after 15:30, there is limited conflict. It gives us hope that the war on motorists really is over, and the council is on our side by giving the cycle campaigners an unrealistic world view.

-----Original Message-----
From: Francis Mann
Sent: 19 October 2010 15:28
Subject: Greater Bristol Bus Network: Whiteladies Rd (Have your say in the cycle infrastructure review)

Dear All,

Bristol City Council would like to invite you to take part in the 'cycle
infrastructure review' of the above proposals. As you may be aware Bristol City Council's Public Transport team have recently started the informal consultation process for the proposed Greater Bristol Bus Network on Whiteladies Road.

The Cycling City team have recently appointed an independent consultant to
  facilitate the cycle infrastructure review of the route and we're pleased to welcome Camden Consultancy on board for the process. Camden Consultancy started off the first cycle infrastructure reviews in the country and have since then conducted hundreds of these reviews for cycle stakeholders and local authorities both in London and elsewhere.

This is a great opportunity to have you say and obtain improvements for 
cyclists along the corridor, as well as having unrestricted access to the project team for these proposals. We are proposing a site meeting with stakeholders at the start of November likely dates are Thursday 4th or 11th November to coincide with the informal public consultation process. Our preference is for 11th as all officers can currently make this date, we would look to have the inception meeting from 11am onwards, followed by a site visit after lunch, before finishing at 4pm when it starts to get dark.

Please could we have expressions of interest and availability by next
Tuesday 26th November. As the GBBN project team unfortunately missed the last Bike Forum, everyone who attends the forum is welcome to come along and view detailed plans of the proposals before the inception meeting and site visit, we will let you know the final date for this as soon as we have confirmed it.

Any queries please let us know.

Kind regards

Saturday 23 October 2010

HSS Hire Bristol: Traffic Calming the cyclists

Sainsbury's Local is now open in Gloucester Road, so you can "shop locally" without having to go into local shops. Of course, any one who does this will miss out on the pain-au-chocolat which the Bread Store has raised to an art, but sometimes you're in too much of a hurry to queue for them or talk to the staff.

What the new shop does have, and presumably will have the cyclists and students of Bishopston happy, is a contraflow bike lane just next to the shop, here on Elton Road. You can just see it under the HSS Hire van NA09EZJ.

Presumably the driver was worried about cyclists in a hurry endangering these new shoppers, who would be unused to such things, so he has positioned himself for the safety of these pedestrians. The fact that he is wearing hi-viz shows he recognises how cyclists on a the pavement can endanger pedestrians, and how it is important to be visible to them.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Kingsdown update

Shocking footage in Kingsdown, where we can see the paint lines for the resident parking zone going up, even though the zone isn't going live until 2011.

We even have video coverage of a drive-by review of Freemantle Square, showing two things
1. They've even yellow-lined the corners
2. The parking area is to narrow for a premium SUV -it's almost as if they want us van drivers to feel unwelcome.

That's OK, we are used to be hated. And we aren't scared of yellow lines on corners. Indeed, this fellow driver has managed to park on two corners at once
This is something to be impressed by.
If the council had not selfishly put bollards up by the double yellow lines , it would have been able to park on the pavements instead.

While admiring our own upload, youtube recommended this related video, which is quite entertaining, by one bristolcyclista, who is getting pretty irate at WR54HRW for turning over them.

Bristolcyclista -if you had not been on a bicycle, you would not have been nearly hit. Therefore, you are the cause of the situation. You may think "but what would she have done if I was in a car", but the answer there is simple: it depends on the car. Everyone gives way to a battered white van or a 1970s volvo.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

What cost for others paying the ultimate price?

Not a lot, fellow motorists will be pleased to hear.

Kill a cyclist as a professional driver (despite previous convictions for speeding and driving whilst using a mobile phone) and just 200 hours of community service is required thanks to Bristol's finest Judge Neil Ford (I am sure the motoring surname is a coincidence!)

That is just double the sentence for beating a cyclist unconcious if they should clip your wing mirror.

If you kill a colleague by running over him in a lorry that you should not be driving because you are blind in one eye and cheated on your eyesight test to get your licence then that is 150 hours of community service. At least you do not lose your driving licence though! Just 9 points and a restriction to cars rather than HGVs - Thanks again by the way Judge Ford for that one too.

Mind you a word of warning. Make sure you stop if you kill someone because you are too blind to drive. A poor motorist who has glaucoma and cateracts will have to serve 4 months in jail of an 8 month sentence for killing a cyclist, obviously not for taking a life but presumably for failing to stop and only being caught as he returned home having attended the meeting he was driving to in the first place.

But despite the minor risk of a slap on the wrists you still need to be careful. Remember there is a fellow motorist with one eye about in Bristol.

Traffic Calming the corners

Here we see the junction of Aberdeen Road and Whiteladies Road, with the car VA08SVZ forced to park sideways on to the pavement up by the corner.

Despite the double yellow lines, they aren't blocking the dropped corner.
What they are doing is forcing turning traffic to slow down, and by narrowing the road they are providing a "build-out" like feature for passing pedestrians, even those pushing bicycles.

As such, we think even the pedestrians-rights groups should be supporting the driver for parking in a way that not only conveniences them, it helps improve pedestrian safety!

Tuesday 19 October 2010

A polite refusal


Sadly, we must decline your offer to write articles on our site in exchange for links back to some paying customer of yours for the following reasons
  1. You have not spent enough time reading the articles, merely searched for driving school on blogspot, observed our pagerank and thought that you'd like some of it. If you had spent more time on our site, you would have realised that your underpaid copy-editors will not be up to the high standards maintained by our volunteers.
  2. We have quite enough high quality content of our own, and more in the pipeline. The problem we have is not in getting photographs or videos, it is in coming up with prose that is entertaining enough to accompany it.
  3. On our comments page, we explicitly say "No adverts, no spam, no requests for cross linking. We will only be rude." You have fallen foul of this clause, hence this online feedback session.
  4. We like to consider Google and MSFT/Bing strategic partners, while also maintaining a good working relationship with Yahoo! and Facebook, with whom we share a common codebase for our data mining activities. Linking to tier-three Australian driving school web sites would damage these relationships.
  5. Your SEO customer's web site -to which we graciously link to for free- appears to be smug bollocks. This gives us the impression that your driving instructors are the kind who witter on about he correct colour of driving gloves to wear, not today's problems of how to post a positive comment on Facebook from your phone about the woman on the crossing you nearly hit without crashing into the car in front of you in the traffic jam.
Rest assured, there is a special place for driving instructors on our site, and we look forward to the opportunity to cover your customers there at some point in the future. Perhaps one of our Australian readers can provide some photographs for the coverage.


The Bristol Traffic Project

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sachin

Date: 19 October 2010 08:33
Subject: We would like to write an article for your site
To: bristol.traffic at gmail dot com

Hey there,

We have been reading the articles on your website and are very impressed with the quality of your information.

We have a team of copywriters who specialize in writing articles on various topics and would like to write an original article for you to use on your website – this article will not be used anywhere else on the Internet.

In exchange all we ask is that we can have one or two links within the body of the article back to one of our sites. You can view a sample of the quality of our articles at

If you are interested in having us write an article for your website please just let me know and we would be more than happy to have one written for you within two weeks.

Kind regards,


Mamils: Think Again

Men: you may think spending lots of money on a road bike will make you fit and sexy again, it won't. Nor will it get you out of the childcare regime.

All that money spent on a road bike is wasted once the child seat goes on. At least sports cars are designed to take small children in the back -just.

Monday 18 October 2010

More Whiteladies: The Oakfield Road crossing

Continuing our Whiteladies Road coverage, here is Oakfield Road, the zebra crossing by it, then the bus/bike lane leading up to the double parking area by the BBC. Note that when the Kingsdown RPZ is rolled out, the council will steal the double parking opportunities here, which will reduce the parking capacity of the street by about a third.

We've covered this crossing before, and yes, cars do often drive through without stopping. But today, its an inbound bike that goes through the crossing ignoring that outdated bit of the highway code that says you should stop for pedestrians. We don't agree with that law ourselves, so aren't going to criticise a bicycle for doing what we'd do, if only the van parked in the bus lane wasn't stopping us getting into that lane and doing the same trick.

Sunday 17 October 2010

A new parking spot on The Triangle!

Here's a good example of how useless public space can be used to ease the problems of the hard-pressed motorist.

Here, outside the Wills Memorial Building, a lovely bit of paving has been fenced off - after all, we wouldn't want any students to touch our car NU52FOA with their kebab-grease smeared fingers.
(photos and text by "Mike". Thank you!)

Saturday 16 October 2010

WX02UNH and critical sections

In computing a critical section is defined as something in which only one entity can have exclusive use of at at time, such as, say, a stretch of road or a single-lane railway track. The different bits of the system need to cooperate to gain access to these areas. One way of co-ordinating this access is the semaphore, a concept from the Dutch Computer scientist, Djikstra, based on the old railway notion of flag waving.

Of course, if a French or Italian person had come up with the idea, they'd have used a different name, like "l'indicateur", the car indicator. Because in these countries, to gain exclusive use of an overtaking area, you put your indicator on -way before you are ready to pull out. In the Alps, to put your indicator on before the turn has finished, before you can see if it is safe to pull out, tells everyone else that you intend to, that you have acquired exclusive use of the oncoming traffic lane.

This is why we have one little criticism of the Corsa WX02UNH on Pembroke Road.

We aren't going to criticise it for overtaking the bus on the wrong side of a traffic island. Yes, you aren't meant to do that, but if the anti-car council is going to conspire with Firstbus to put a bus stop in a traffic island, how else are you going to pass it.

Yes, it may be between 8 and 9 am, peak school run hours, but it is also peak commute hours, so the driver may be in a hurry.

No, what we are going to criticise them for is failing to indicate when they pulled out. They just assumed that nobody else was going to be aggressive and take the overtaking opportunity, when in fact any driver in front or behind could have -and because WX02UNH didn't indicate, they would have no warning that the other car was about to pull out. If two cars had collided while trying to drive the wrong side of a traffic island to overtake a bus -now that would be a complex one for the insurance company.

This is why our driving strategy is "Signal then commit". Your signalling is not a hint "I'd like to pull out", but a warning "Here I come", something people should see. But if you don't do such a signal, you don't help others to get out of your way.

Friday 15 October 2010

The Wye Valley Sustrans Path Proposal

Now that even the cycling world has picked up on the Wye Valley Sustrans Path proposal, and Tidenham Parish's opposition, we have to own up to something. We drove our white van over the sea to Wales to lend our support for the "Say Yes" photoshoot. Not because it will increase Tidenham Parish council tax rates by 40% -apparently- or because it will encourage cycling, but for some other reasons.

  1. There are many fine pubs along this path, including the Bridge Inn, Chepstow at the rear of the photograph below. Fine pubs, with proper English beer on one side of the river (Stella Artois and Kronenbourg), and strange Welsh beers (Brains SA) on the other.
  2. Having a bike path that goes all the way up the valley will offer us excellent pub crawl opportunities - a trip from Chepstow to Symond's Yat and back would earn about nine pints.
  3. The path will go all the way to Chepstow, and, through Bulwark, over the Severn Bridge to Aust.
  4. If you park and pedal from Aust, you don't have to pay the bridge tax, which costs you about two pints.
Therefore, we support it not for those cycle commuters or family rides, but for lowering the costs of pub crawls up the Wye valley. The fact that it will be funded from Lottery money, charity donations and Tidenham Parish makes it even better.

Therefore we encourage everyone who fancies a pub crawl across two countries to lend their support to these plans.

Note also that the supporters all came out with their helmets on, heartwarming. The joyful sight of a small child scootering along at walking pace in full body armour gives us hope for the future.

Returning to Tidenham Parish Council, note their web site encourages visitors,  advocates visiting nature and promises the cycle path will improve the area:
"Nature reserves, walking routes, cliffs for climbing, caves for exploring are only a few of the attractions available to both residents and visitors and there are plans for more such as the Wye Valley Cycle Path Scheme."
It is interesting, then, that the parish council is against the proposal. -and their key complaint is the increase in parking. Well, its our inalienable right to park the Bristol Traffic White Van wherever we want, be it the city or the countryside, so that offends us -that's war on motorist speak there. Furthermore, as we note, the pub crawl will start in Aust, because that saves car drivers 6 quid, and us van people £10.90. 

Why then, are they really anti cyclist? Well, the obvious reason is that cyclists are strange people with funny clothes, helmets and personal hygiene who don't pay their own way. Which is something we know already. But why is Tidenham Parish Council scared to come out and say the truth, why is still living in a war-on-motorist, political correctness era where it shuffles politely and complains about parking, instead of saying what they really think, which is they don't want people on bicycles through their parish?

Thursday 14 October 2010

A touch of rouge

We're gathering data on Whiteladies Road, especially the various pedestrian and zebra crossings. Obviously, we don't walk or cycle ourselves, but we are paying a student to be a cycle courier for us. They think they are carrying blood plasma which has to be rushed across the city -in reality it's just water which we fill up their panniers before sending them to sprint up the hills. We are buying their suffering, while they film for us.

This morning, here is the Whiteladies Gate pelican crossing, on a weekday.

Notice how at 08:15 the pedestrian traffic includes schoolkids getting off the buses (or the train which arrives in a few minutes) who then walk up the infamous Cotham Hill to school. Note also the bicycle which slows down a bit and then rides straight through the pedestrian crossing.

Clearly this cyclist is exceedingly fit, as he does not even need to stop for a rest when presented with an opportunity.

Note also, before the lights change, the vehicles heading down the hill. Less than 25% of the inbound vehicles are turning left into Cotham Hill, and bicycles can travel down the wide road alongside the cars.

We hear of some plans to redesign this junction, along with others, which is why we are collecting our own data on how this junction gets used.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

The Park selloff -creating a new batch of troublemakers

We drove over to the Council House on the day the parkland selloff was discussed, as part of our campaign for a dual carriageway from Lockleaze to the M32. Nobody else, no other  Evening Post commenters were there to support us and our van with it's "Make Muller Road an M-Way" sign on the side, and we didn't get into the local paper either.

There was someone with a horse who did, which gives us ideas for the future.
Nor were there any police FIT teams out recording these subversives, so we did their work. Welcome to the Big Society, where we are forced to spy on subversives without even the allowances the DDR used to give their reporters.

And who are these people we we were taking note of? Well on the right of the photos there some green party people already in the database for being potentially socialist ,but in the foreground, we were horrified to see the stockwood conservative councillor
These people should be on our side in the war of the motorists, yet they won't help us with our Lockleaze dual carriageway plans -no cash, they say- and are even starting to worry about parkland.

Looking at the video, it had a real 1980s feel to it. There's some union people up by the building entrance opposing cuts, people in the foreground shouting out against selloffs of council-owned assets. Ah, the old days are back again!

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Breaking News: Abbey Wood goes to the Dark Side

As Bristol's Premier road traffic news outlet, we are saddened to bring some terrible news from the North Fringe, from MoD Abbey Wood. They are going to forbid anyone who lives within three miles of the site from driving in to work, by removing their right to park. They say it is due to excess parking pressure, but if you look at the parking area furthest from the entrance (i.e. the bit close to Lockleaze that requires you to walk afterwards), it's clear this isn't the case.

Therefore this entire plan is purely an anti-motorist conspiracy.

We received this memorandum by the "abbey wood motorists collective", who are trying to stand up for the British way of life, here in a government facility.
MoD staff demand car park action.

Following last year's car park overload fiasco when the nearly 8,000 MoD staff at Abbeywood where forced to park on the access road to nearby Hewlett Packard, the site management team have announced that from January 2011 they plan to tackle the shortage of car park spaces. 

You'd have thought that the MoD plan to do the sensible thing - use their diminishing Defence budget wisely - and build new multi-storey car parks over the entire (currently open site) single storey car park hence doubling the available spaces... But no! 

Apparently the MoD has instead decided to revoke the car passes of those who live within 3 miles of the site! 

This has understandably caused outrage amongst staff. How on earth do the management think people are going to get to work? One member of staff said "Someone dared suggest I could walk to work, I mean WALK, 3 miles. The furthest I've ever walked is 300 yards. It would take me hours". It has been suggested that the idea might encourage staff to think about using other means of getting to work other than their cars. Someone even suggested that there is a perfectly good bus service in the local area, or that they could ride a bike. "What on earth where they thinking, buses are meant for common people. Ride a bike? You must be joking" said one MoD mandarin climbing into his chauffeur driven staff car. 
If it is true, then it means that the MoD has joined the war against the motorist, just as the Department of Transport comes back onto our side.

We await further news.

missing volvo XC90 MW07JHJ

One of our readers reports that they got burgled in Long Ashton last night, and are now down one dark grey volvo XC90, reg# MW07JHJ. Presumably this one will be driven worse than a normal school-run parent, and once stolen it's uninsured, so be careful of it.

Secret Mina Road Parking

Another contributor emails bristol.traffic at with a photo and text:

Here in St Werburghs, ex Royal Mail van W794KDA is demonstrating the use of a convenient telegraph pole to completely block the pavement, without the need to put all 4 wheels on the pavement.

Such was the driver's selfless dedication to the cause that he ignored the empty parking bays opposite! He did let the side down a bit when seeing the photo being taken, he said he would "only be 5 minutes", but still, it is a start

Monday 11 October 2010

Cr*p parking

We don't normally resort to foul language here in the traffic blog, but this literally is cra*p parking. Here we can see the driver has thought about non-car owning pedestrians and left just enough space for them to squeeze past on a sliver of asphalt or face the doggy-do gravel run. Interesting fun for blind and partially sighted people heading to the RNIB office just a bit further along the lane. Thank goodness there aren't any tax-dodging pavement cyclists around to cause even more trouble!.

Dear Evening Post Editorial Staff....

We've been reading about your obsession with tax-dodging cyclists riding on pavements for a while now. Okay, so we know it's illegal. So is driving and parking on the pavement. Take a look at the picture above - you may be familiar with the building in shot. We have a very simple question for you:

Is driving and parking on the pavement more or less risky than riding a bicycle on it?.

If you think it's a greater risk (heaven forbid that a pedestrian might get knocked over by one of those cars perpetually tucked into the side of your building), then why not write a series of articles about the dangers of 'paveparking' in your publication?.

Zen & the art of motorcycle parking

Use the pavement. Easy, really. It makes for some interesting street art that blind,partially sighted and mothers with pushchairs can appreciate as they squeeze past.

Snuff Mills: benchmarking Bristol Traffic

Our coverage of cycling families endangering car paintwork created some feedback from one Tony John Cooke, who expressed some concern that some of our claims (helmetless cyclists are uninsured troublemakers) lacked proof. Tony, the fact that cyclists are threats to our city and its motors are Axioms; we don't need to prove it, it is self-evident. We -and the rest of the media- work forward on that axiom, just like most of mathematics works on Euclids set without worrying about whether or not parallel lines ever meet.

Our goal when we set up this project was simple:
  1. Timely coverage of the city's real transport issues.
  2. Project the motorist's point of view, not the watered down stuff that the Evening Post and Daily Mail pushes out.
To check we are meeting these goals we benchmark ourselves against the competitors and the cycling press. Tony -your very complaint re-inforces our conclusions that we are being strongly consistent with our  messaging, so it cheers us up no end.

But is a complaint from one person enough? No, of course not. Which is where benchmarking ourselves against the mainstream press comes in:
  1. We check that we are ahead of AA and RAC foundation thinking by looking for their press-releases reprinted unquestioningly by the BBC and other outlets. 
  2. We verify that we are consistent with the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.
  3. We verify that we are ahead of the local newspaper by reading it sometimes.
  4. We compare our coverage with comments in the on-line press, to make sure we represent the real opinions of readers.
In particular, we keep an eye on our competitor, the Bristol Evening Post. For those readers out of the city, know that it is the city's premier daily newspaper, although we find that the South West Big Issue does tend to have more in depth coverage of economic and political issues. What the B.E.P. does have is a local news remit, though the reduction in staffing means that it is generally reduced to reprinting press announcements or criticising the council. Those press releases from Tesco, Bristol City Football Club and other major revenue sources are always welcome, but they do support some local pressure groups where their campaigns don't conflict with the needs of the supermarkets or BCFC.

On Thursday Sept 9, the coverage was on Snuff Mills and the proposals to replace the dirt track with a cycle path. This would be the continuation of the one which runs through Eastville Park, one we are aware of but haven't bothered to denounce.

Here a path runs along that bit of the Frome river which is not under the M32 flyover, providing somewhere for pedestrians and cyclists.

It looks like it might be a nice place to walk or cycle. But it doesn't really go anywhere right now, not until a link to UWE has been sorted out.

Which is where the Snuff Mills connection comes into play. Now, as metric of how up to date we are - success metric #1 -, we covered this issue on 8 july 2009, when we expressed our concerned that the improvements may degrade from the wilderness experience of the park. That is a whole fourteen months before the Evening Post heard of it. This shows the advantage of our reporting tactic: getting out and about in the city, versus theirs: waiting for press releases from organisations like the Snuff Mills Action Group.

Now, this is where things get complicated. According to the Snuff Mills people:

we reached a compromise with Cycling City following a meeting on site a few weeks ago. They agreed a narrower path and other changes to the scheme, but then emailed us the following week to say this was no longer acceptable because of the needs of the 'disabled community'.
We don't know anything about that, but we do encourage readers to go to the Snuff Mills Group, look at the proposals, come to their own conclusion and contact the council. We suspect that even the cyclists may be despairing about the effort being put into creating bike/pedestrian conflict here, while inner city troublespots -like Stokes Croft- have been abandoned. There's an obvious reason for that, nobody wants to take on the motorist.

Anyway, returning to our benchmarking theme, we checked out the comments. Remember how we are campaining for a new dual carriageway to be built across purdown to provide a fast route from an expanded Lockleaze to the M32? Some of the green party people in the city think this is some kind of joke. Sorry, but if you look at the comments of the Snuff Mills article, you can see that we are merely slightly ahead of the mainstream press.

In particular, look at this comment from our favourite E.P, commenter, James Carmichael of Highridge, whom we have covered before, and who has even achieved national fame:

"I used to live in this part of town, and what that area really needs is a link road connecting Fishponds Road to Broom Hill, through Wickham Glen and Eastville Park. This would relieve the traffic around Blackberry Hill.

But will we, the law abiding, tax paying motorist get this perfectly reasonable request granted? No, of course not. We're not blathering cyclists.
James Carmichael, Highridge"
We see his point. The council is spending our tax money on paths, but no new roads have been added to our city for some time -despite the parkland being up for sale. We propose the DfT should buy the parkland and add the roads or city needs.

We have been saying this for some time -that the city needs a new route to Abbey Wood, a new road between Dovercourt and Muller Road, and Muller Road should get uprated to a motorway or a new Lockleaze junction added to the M32.

The fact that we came up with our vision, some weeks before the most vociferous of the Evening Post commentators proposed a new road through Eastville Park, shows that we really are setting the agenda in this city. We aren't just reporting on news months old, we aren't even following press releases or comments in news articles. No: we are laying out a vision for a new city, one with the ring-roads back.
There you have it. Our web site is upsetting cyclists and pedestrians enough for them to complain to us, we are years ahead of the B.E.P. in covering developments, and months ahead of their readers. The AA and RAC "think tanks" aren't even beginning to think at our rate, let alone on our agenda. We are in charge.
We close, then, with a video of what the completed bit of the Eastville Bike and pedestrian path is like. Look at it, and think how much lovelier it would be if you could use this as a ratrun alternative to Stapleton or Fishponds Roads?
Bristol Traffic: more than just a news site -creating the new city.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Proof that parking restrictions create traffic problems

We recently nipped over to Cotham Hill was to see if another rumour -parking restrictions removed- was true.

And yes, you can see, while they are resurfacing this road there are no limited waiting markings on the right-hand side of the photo, no double yellows on the other, even the zebra-crossing zig zags are gone.

And look! No vans forced to park on either pavement, leaving the approaching pedestrian to walk down the pavement without getting in our way on the road (merely the pavement, of course), no congestion caused by delivery vans forced to park half on the road, half on the pavement, no meandering cyclists in our way.

This provides clear proof that the cause of congestion is not traffic lights, the way our fellow travellers, the Drivers Alliance, or bus lanes, the way our-man-in-whitehall so believes. No, it is the restrictions on drivers parking where they need to that causes traffic problems in British cities!

Saturday 9 October 2010

Cotham Hill bike parking update

Last month we were pleased to see some bike parking points being removed from this area, so we nipped down to make sure there was somewhere for our van. Sadly, no.

Two new bike stands have appeared across the junction, which, along with the three street signs make it impossible to park on this build-out.

Looking at the original site of the bike racks -two bike stands have gone away, but two were replaced, and a van-unfriendly bollard inserted. All the bollards are now in use as sign-mounts
We also found out why the bike stands were moved. The cafe needed some space for tables. That's the green shop all whitewashed windows, which hasn't re-opened since its extended summer break.

Friday 8 October 2010

Insensitive Parking on Cotham Hill

It's not often that we criticise vehicles for parking badly on the pavement, especially white vans, but today we must mention the PN58PPO Nationwide Van Hire van whose rear-end is poking out the back of the former-petrol-station-now-car-park on Cotham Hill, our very own "front-line" in the war on motorists.

It has forced KU59DLJ to swerve into the road while driving up the pavement to its parking space.

The fact that KU59DLJ's indicators do not appear to be working made this a dangerous manoeuvre.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Muller Road update

One of our cities unicyclists was complaining last month about some barriers up on the approach to the Muller road bicycle buildout
What about the blockage at the lower end? The side of the lane is marked out with concrete blocks, and there's a bloody great "bear right" sign across the entrance. It's hard to tell whether this is just to prevent cars from parking/driving in the cycle lane, or if the whole thing is supposed to be closed. However, the effect is to make it quite dangerous to enter the lane at that end, even at the relatively low speed and high manoeuvrability of a unicycle. I can't imagine trying to use the lane on two wheels.
Well, we are pleased to note that the works are removed, there is a keep right arrow for cars and an arrow on the ground for bicycles

This provides them with a safe approach once they get past the car transporter parked in the bus stop
Something that appears to be a semi-permanent fixture of the road.
We hope the unicyclists are now happy!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Police don't have a problem with pavement parking

A heartwarming letter from someone on the opposing team reaches our inbox, with photos.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Slug
Date: Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 4:26 PM
Subject: Police don't have a problem with pavement parking
To: bristol.traffic

I hope you are pleased that you now have the police on your side with regards to pavement parking.

I reported this car V298FAN at 9 am this morning, and to my surprise found it was still in the same place with no sign of a ticket on 7 hours later, so I phoned up the police and found out they had been to Tilling Road and looked at the car during the day and decided that it wasn't blocking the road and that there was enough room for pedestrians to get by. 

I have re-reported it as several parents found it difficult getting their children past this obstruction right on the inside of quite a blind bend. The policeman is obviously narrower than me (must find out what diet he is on), and because he has been provided with special work clothes he doesn't mind brushing up against the prickly beriberis plant (whereas I don't want to spoil my cashmere cycling jacket). The lady on a disabled scooter/wheelchair couldn't fit through either (maybe she could also go on the policeman's diet).


As usual, complaints from alternative transport enthusiast are a metric by both we and HMG's Minister for Cars, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond are measured: the more the better.

We must remind our supporters that this is why they must attend their local PACT meetings, here the one on October 11, to make our priorities known, and not those of people like this "slug" person, who is clearly wasting police time just when the country can afford it least.

Tilford road is handy for Southmead Hospital, incidentally.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Trouble in the Centre

Proof, if needed, that pavement parking can be risky.

Luckily, the emergency services were on hand to rescue the police.

Monday 4 October 2010

Pizza Gogo: Walthamizing Dighton Street, Bristol

We are pleased to introduce a new verb, "to Walthamize". This means to turn any european city into a little piece of Waltham Forest -that part of London that is forever immortalised in Crap Walking and Cycling in Waltham Forest. One day we'd like to visit there, and we would welcome the elusive author of that site contacting us so we could arrange this tour. He would cycle round while we drove behind, honking at him for being in our way.

Today though, we are celebrating the Walthamizing of Dighton Street -simply by adding a new takeaway pizza outlet next to a bike lane.

This is lovely. The pizza chain had realised that the provisioning of a white-lined, double-yellow-lined stretch of road meant there would be somewhere for short-stay customers to park to wait 10-15 minutes for a pizza, and here at 17:00 on a Sunday evening, you can already see it is bringing in the trade.
Note also, behind the customers BS06OUC and YU53NUY, the line of other cars. These appear to be student families unloading, but what is notable is that the building works have been taken down -finally we can park in this bike lane again. And with Pizza Go-Go, we have a reason!

Walthamization: it's the right thing to do.