Saturday 31 March 2012

Fuel panic? Not us.

Many people are queueing up to buy petrol and diesel in the fear that it will run out.

We are not joining in because we know that everyone filling up their car means their fuel tanks are more likely to be filled up. This will make it easier and cheaper to fill our van up by cutting someone else's fuel line and stealing it. Some car manufacturers make it extra easy to do by running the plastic tubing close to the wheel arches -all you need is stanley knife and a "jerry can"", which is apparently a posh word for plastic petrol bottle. So thank you to Ford and Vauxhaull for your contributions there.

The best bit: everyone else is out and about filling up their own "jerry-cans" (we have to quote it, it's hard to take serious, like calling a radio a "wireless" or cinema "the moving pictures"). What does that mean? It means walking round the city at 1 am carrying a petrol can and stanley knife doesn't look out of place any more.

This is good, as it saves having to dive head first in a pile of horse dung to look like a local, which is what you have to do in Wiltshire.

Friday 30 March 2012

Let's go MAD in Manchester!

Introducing in the links section, a great blog from Manchester:

MAD: Manchester's Advanced Drivers

It has some great examples of en masse paveparking and pavedriving that put Bristol to shame. Come on Bristol drivers, try harder!.

Introducing : Evening Post Bingo!

We are excited to announce -in collaboration with our partners the Bristol Evening Post, a new form of entertainment: Evening Post Bingo!

The basic concept is simple, here is the outline
  1. Every few days the Evening Post will print a fictional letter or article pretending to be an ill-informed rant against bicycles. They are clearly spoofs, but some people, motorists and tax-dodgers alike, fall for them and try to argue the details with each other in the comments.
  2. This week, for example, we have made one up called "they should pay road tax!"
  3. Evening Post Bingo! players look in the article for the key phrases on their bingo sheets, then the comments
  4. If all of them are found -either in the article or comments, enter your own comment, "Bingo!", and the list of phrases you were looking for.
  5. Do not attempt to engage in any form of debate in the comments itself, as this is like trying to explain Quantitive Easing to a chimpanzee -or what a Pasty is to a member of the cabinet.
  6. In our weekly round-up of the evening post articles, we will credit the first Bingo winner of every article.
Bingo card generation will be fully automated; the code will be open sourced on Github shortly.Participants will be able to generate their own bingo cards at home, and other regions will be able to provide their own keyword lists that don't refer to Gloucester, Stapleton, or Coronation Roads

For now, here are some example cards, each of which can be used by anyone. These have all been machine generated, and are free from any human bias.

mandatory insurance

against the law
council conspiracy
pavement cyclist
injure pedestrians

cause congestion
persecuted motorists
spoiled by the council

government money wasted
mandatory insurance

gloucester road
these cyclists
cause congestion

stay in the cycle lane
danger to others
persecuted motorists
time someone stood up to them
some of my best friends are cyclists

We'll be publishing the source and keyword list later -the keyword list is where we'd like some extra contributions.

We are also considering fully automating our Evening Post article writing process. This would be based on that work by our strategic partner, Google, as discussed in The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data [Norvig 2009]. The idea is that with enough of a collection of evening post, daily mail and other articles on cycling, it will be possible to generate valid sentences based purely on statistical knowledge of past sentences. The bingo cards are merely a first step in this process.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

EU funding of the war on motorists

The EU is taking our money to keep other countries afloat, when we can barely afford to keep our own country above water. Do you think Berlusconi needed to accept "party funding" from other countries? Do you think Putin does? No. These people have enough local sources of revenue.

Yet the EU takes the money away from us, the tax payer, forcing us to pay more for our pasties -and pieminster pies, while our politicians are reduced to begging for handouts.

Sometimes that money comes back. Usually it is in useful forms, such as EU agricultural subsidy, which helps protect the Bristol Traffic country estate without having to let people visit it. Yet today we are shocked to discover that the EU has been funding tourist development.

Tourist Development? So what, people say? More caravan stops would not be amiss, more echelon-style seafront parking at Weston super Mare? No, none of these.

The EU have taken our money, and used it to fund the building of cycle tracks in ashton court, and are calling it a "tourist destination", a mountain bike hub for north somerset.

This is so wrong. Not only is it a waste of money, it will encourage cyclists to visit the area and take all the parking spaces. What is worse, it will encourage the residents of bristol to cycle there direct from their homes, so increasing the cost of congestion by many billions.

We sent an expendable mountain biker to inspect the route.

As you can see, the route is smoothly graded and weaves around the trees. This adds another complaint -it will give the cyclists unrealistic expectations of what a cycle lane can be. The in-town routes have bigger potholes, trees, road-signs, parked vans and bus stations in the middle of them. Yet here: no vehicles, not even a mini-cab right behind the cyclist. Nor are there any pedestrians diving out the way and complaining about unlicensed tax dodgers lacking registration numbers. The worst bit -look how long that route is without a single give way, "cyclists dismount" or other anti-cycle feature. Not even a single bollard or unlit set of chicanes.

Yes, this will raise expectations of what bike routes could be like across the entire city -it must be stopped at once.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Correct Parking Alignment

One of the ongoing debates in the country is "how far from the kerb can you park". Indeed, there is a (very abusive) web site dedicated to criticising drivers.

We are different, and strive to praise everyone for their efforts.

Here, for example we can clearly see that BX54FVC has managed to get their kerb-side wheels as close to the kerb as is possible without damaging them,  and both wheels are perfectly aligned.

This is skilled parking here on Brighton Mews, Clifton. Residents of Montpelier should consider themselves show up by such skill -except they have to fit into narrow gaps on the pavement, whereas this car probably didn't even need to reverse, just drive up on the dropped pavement.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Tax cuts for the wealthy? We can't even afford a second range-rover

One of the cycling troublemakers -a northerner too, we should add, is running a weekly caption competition -last week's was won by one of the team members, Rhode Long.

This week Karl has a photo of Samantha Cameron, descendant of King Charles II of England and wife of David Cameron (bastard descendent of King William IV) in search of a caption.

Here is our submission:
 "Tax cuts for the wealthy? We can't even afford a second range-rover"'
The cyclists probably think it is something witty, but no, it is the truth.

For someone earning a modest £250K a year, say someone who writes a weekly article for a murdoch newspaper,  a cut in the top rate of tax from 50% to 45% will only generate another $17K a year of income. That's not enough for a second Range-Rover, so we'll have to make do with something smaller.

This completely misses the point is that the tax cuts are to let us trickle-down some of our wealth. If we can't afford to buy high end British-made cars, Range-Rovers, Jaguars, etc, then who will?

A second Range-Rover would have been an investment in the country to bring much-needed wealth to the midlands. Now it is not going to happen. We are not getting much of a tax break, and shall certainly be cancelling our premier-league relationship with David Cameron. David: consider yourself relegated to the scottish premier league; you can be rangers.

On the topic of tax, can we discuss fuel prices. The AA have been saying in interviews that fuel prices were "forcing more and more people who need their cars off the road."

Sorry, this just shows the AA are making things up again. If fuel prices are forcing people off the road -well, they clearly didn't need them, did they? It would have been better to say "forcing people who cannot conceive of a life that doesn't involve driving everywhere to discover what it is like"

This is better, because then the AA spokesman can go about how miserable it is. No more AA membership. No more AA insurance. No more need for the younger generation to take lessons from the AA driving school. Such a nightmare scenario threatens the entire leveraged purchase of the AA, so we wish they'd come out and say it. Something like "fuel prices may impact AA revenue to the extent that we cannot sustain our highly leveraged debt and we will collapse as dramatically as a US bank, only with less people caring".

That  would be a statement worth making.

Monday 19 March 2012


Showing we are more timely than the Evening Post with a publishing process that involves shipping paper in from outside Bristol -and so getting stuck on the M4- here are some pics of a collision between a BMW and a Toyota (Auris?) on Whiteladies Road from 08:10; twenty minutes ago.
The front of the Toyota looks toast, the airbags haven't deployed so it looks like a low-kinetic energy event.

The BMW bodywork has come out a lot more unscathed, though we suspect that if the driver took it to the BMW dealer in St Philips it would be the one coming out costing the most. The driver (belt and white shirt) was holding something up to the top of his head, implying he'd bashed it on the wheel or windscreen. That reg of BMW may not have airbags, and the driver may not have had a seatbelt or helmet. Yet as this is clearly a below-12mph crash, a cycling helmet would have reduce injuries.

The two people with rucksacks are a cyclist on the left and possibly a pedestrian on the right. It'd be tempting to blame the cyclist, but that's not the case, he pulled over after the event and was either being a witness or offering medical support.

What happened? The BMW RJ52AEM was crossing Whiteladies from Oakfield Road. At this point you need to pull across the road to get to West Park if you are heading across Bristol; this is a nice little west-east rat-run option from Clifton to Cotham that avoids the St Pauls Road/Tyndall's Park Road junction, where the traffic lights manufacture congestion.

You do need to pull out fairly aggressively as the gaps are quite tight. The main provider of gaps is actually the zebra crossing -whenever a pedestrian uses it the outbound traffic halts in a queue and there's an empty space on the other side of the road; once you get over that outbound lane you can go quite fast over the road, down west park and you are in Cotham Hill in a flash.
Today it went wrong. Looks like either the BMW pulled out expecting the Toyota to give way, and it didn't. Perhaps one or other weren't looking, perhaps the right-of-way negotiation process failed.

Either way, hope all is uninjured and that both are insured. Photos available to either party on request.

Friday 16 March 2012

Evening Post; Why not a cycle free day?

In the Evening Post' singlehanded counterattack to the "cities fit for cycling" campaign coming out of London, another "Trusted Source", Roy, the disgruntled motorist!, who again wants bicycles banned from our streets, at least for a day a week.

Roy starts off with,
All too often Bristol boasts how cycle friendly it is. Is this really a good thing? Myself, and many colleagues and friends disagree strongly.
We often whine about them in the pubs too. Don't forget that drink-driving laws discriminate against us on the way home from those same pubs.
Now before I go any further, I must point out that I am a part-time cyclist, and when cycling I aim to stay out of the way of proper road users by sticking to cycle paths and lanes wherever possible
The classic "I used to cycle" opener is right up there with the "some of my best friends are cyclists" phrase, which the EP is normally most happy with. We don't say either as they are not true, and the phrases come over like the head of the UK catholic church saying "some my best friends are gay" before denouncing the right of two men to hold hands in public. We do say "some of our best customers come from the catholic clergy", but that's another topic.
Everyday I experience horrendous behaviour from cyclists. Considering they are vulnerable, they often risk their lives jumping red lights, undertaking at junctions, hopping on and off of pavements at their convenience and generally getting in the way of the legitimate road user. I realise not all cyclists behave like this, just the vast majority, especially the Lycra ones who think they are as wide as cars!
Red lights, Lycra, pavements, in the way. Check.  We are going to write some Evening Post bingo cards for these letters -or perhaps an automated evening post letter generator.
I also appreciate not all us car drivers are saints as the odd couple let us down.
Don't forget us van drivers here!
I lay part of the blame with Bristol City Council for trying too hard to please cyclists and look trendy. All these advanced starting grids at traffic lights is the dumbest idea yet. Encouraging the roads slowest users to blatantly sit right in the way of the cars before the lights change, then get in the way of our desire to get somewhere quick. That is, when the cyclist obeys the lights!!!
Now we are confused. Either the cyclists sit in your way in the ASL or they run the lights. You can't complain about both at the same time. It's like saying "50% tax rate for me is too high" and "HRMC keep trying to make us pay tax"
Another gripe is the fact that despite all the cycle lanes on pavements, cyclists still use our road.
Pavements. In or out?
Coronation Road is a prime example. A few months back I was following a lorry along there, who was struggling to get past a dad and two young boys cycling along the road. The lorry eventually passed, narrowly missing the boys. I tried to tell the father this fact, but was met with typical cyclist arrogance.
Ah, Coronation Road. We've covered that before, especially how the mature trees do not make this a cycle path. Because of those trees, it's hard to to say "They should cycle on the pavement there", especially when you shout out the window. Just sound your horn a bit instead.
It should be law to stick to a cycle lane where provided, to protect the cyclist, and more importantly, improve the car drivers progress.
Exactly. There are more people on cycles than ever before -and have you noticed congestion gets worse? Congestion costs our country twenty billion pounds a year -and it's all the cyclists fault.
I feel there needs to be more legislation to protect the proper road user from the menace cyclist. To start with, cyclists should have insurance. Can you imagine the damage they could do to a cars paintwork if they were to get in the way?
Don't use the "get in the way" phrase, as it's one of those "I may need to run them over" claims that the police get back to later. We prefer "crash into our parked car". Actually, this gives an idea. Why not advocate strict liability -whenever a cyclist hits a car, it's their fault!
Bodywork repair costs a lot these days. I find it harder by the day to avoid cyclists who flout the highway code. They should also be made to pay a small tax, and have a registration plate of some description. This would help to hold them accountable for the accidents they cause. The tax could pay for cycle wardens to fine them every time they break the law.
Registration, license, tax. Three more bingo items ticked off. And a new one; cycle wardens. Nice idea. But how to stop them ticketing cars for things too?
I would also like to add, cyclists are also a menace on the pavement.
Again, inconsistent arguments. Either they are on the road when you are driving or they are on the pavement when you are walking. You have to pick your point of view and argue with it: speeding on-road criminals, slow moving families, pavement cyclists or lycra louts. Pick one, not criticise them for: stopping at ASLs, running red lights, being on the road, not being on the road, wearing lycra, not wearing hi-viz. Right now the letter just comes over as an ill-informed rant, not an attempt to communicate your issues to people outside your two mates in a pub.
I'm sure many readers would agree. Trying to walk near Temple Meads station is a gamble. If you think I am anti-cyclist you would be right.
An anti-cyclist part-time cyclist. Now this does make our brain explode. This we would like to see. Someone cycling on the pavement shouting "get off the pavement" at himself, going onto the road and then shouting "get on the pavement!". Please send videos of Roy to the usual address.
Years of trying to avoid their antics have made me this way. I am all for saving the environment, but please do it in a lawful, polite manner, and stay off the road where possible. Do not undertake where its dangerous, obey road signs and traffic lights and respect the car driver who funds the cycle lanes you fail to use!!! Do all this and we can all be friends!
Roy, the disgruntled motorist!
We're not actually sure that people cycle to save the environment, though it makes a nice outgroup to explain why they cycle and we, the important people, don't. We prefer to say "we are not against unimportant people, but why do they have to hold us up"

Summary: badly argued, not that entertaining. The Evening Post is losing its edge. Must try harder.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Disabled Thinking

Historic landscapes and conservation areas are important across the globe. UNESCO knows this, and justly identifies the historic core of Amsterdam as of world importance. Which is why we enjoy going there, taking photos and enjoying the views and the general aesthetic of the place. Even though it's overrun with cars and bicycles.

Clifton Village is not a UNESCO world heritage site, but it is of a similar era, and is also overrun by cars and bicycles.

Which is why Boyce's Avenue has had both banned for much of the day in order to make shopping and walking through there a more pleasant experience.  

Oh? They don't quite look the same? 

That'll be the UK's obsession with paint. These fantastic new yellow daubings on the kerbs of Boyce's Avenue are there for a reason. Which is really important in historic settings.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Let's have a vote to outlaw them

There's a letter in the BEP today, that warmed our hearts. While the city-folk in London are trying to organise a "save the cyclists" campaign, we in Bristol are doing what everyone really wants -trying to make cycling a crime.
I THOUGHT we were living in a democracy? A place where majority decision rules? So let us consider cyclists. I have yet to hear of a cyclist that rides according to the law. Every single one I see cuts through red lights like a knife through butter. It is almost as if they do this to target pedestrians deliberately, as they then switch straight on to the pavement, and then back and forth to the road.
Let's consider the law? It's illegal to ride without lights. It's illegal to ride without a helmet and high visibility clothes. It's illegal to ride more than 30cm from the kerb. It's illegal to ride the wrong way down one-way streets, to squeeze past standing traffic, pavement ride and run the lights. Rule 169 of the Highway Code also insists that cyclists must give way to motorists as they are faster. £20 billion of damage to business is caused by traffic jams and cyclists are the main cause.
The government has said that it plans to throw a whopping £26 million at these rogues "to make them safer." How about spending some money on the poor down-trodden motorist?
I propose a vote, since we're living in a democracy. I propose we have a referendum on cycling (even if it is just a local one that results in a by-law) and we vote to outlaw bicycles for good. No good can come of them. Why bother to complain about road tax and insurance? They won't pay it even if it gets made into law. Who knows how many pedestrians they have killed and injured over the years? There are more motorists than cyclists, it makes perfect sense to just ban them!
TPR Henry
This is heartwarming. Ignoring the fact that he is completely ignorant of what is the law (distance from kerb, helmets, hi-viz filtering), what is he is saying is what should be the law.

To us, TPR Henry's rant about legality only slightly touches the real issue: bicycles hold up cars. Cyclists are the main cause of traffic jams -that and the lights which are there fo those other tax-dodgers, the pedestrians.

We celebrate TPR Henry for daring to speak the truth. And Evening Post for having the strength to resist the populist campaigns in the Times, even the BBC is starting to join in. Only the BEP is strong enough to resist these criminals!

Thursday 1 March 2012

Look at all the lonely cars....

Where do they all come from?. Look at all the lonely cars:
Where do they all belong? (with apologies to Lennon & McCartney).

Well, most likely not on a cycling city - funded cyclepath like this. With no hazard lights, note in the windscreen,warning triangle or RAC/AA in attendance, breakdown looks unlikely. It may have been dumped, a victim of the new austerity thrust upon us by greed and incompetence in the global financial markets thus forcing abandonment expensive of driving lifestyles. However, this is the UK, so it's probably just convenient to leave it here and wander off to do some shopping at the nearby Imperial Park which has some excellent paveparking facilities. The owner is also in the running for our considerate parking awards as they left a gap for some pedestrians. And if the local media are to be believed, it's good to see that the money wasted on pesky cyclists and their failed cycling city project, is being put to good use.