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.

No comments: