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.

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