Monday 24 June 2013

How an RPZ is good for retail businesses

Further up the A38 from Stokes Croft is Gloucester Road, where the local shopkeepers are up in arms about how an RPZ will hurt their business. We recognise the main issue with the RPZ -it removes the parking options for staff- but believe that actively campaigning against is a mistake

  1. Residents will be able to drive to the shops -without commuters and staff, and with reduced congestion, it will be easier to do so.
  2. Visitors from outside the area will get free short-stay and low cost long stay parking -parking spaces that were never available!
  3. It's only on a weekday, so will have no effect on the weekend revenue.
The only losers are commuters, and the staff themselves. While we understand why staff at the shops don't want to lose the right to drive to work, they have to recognise that every staff parking space has a lost opportunity cost of potential shopper. That was moot when the parking space would be taken up by commuters, but with an RPZ they will become available, so the opportunity to park suddenly becomes tangible.

The only isssue, then is the loss of commuter parking: would a reduction in commuter parking opportunities impact sales. We doubt it. 

In Stokes Croft the rollout of the RPZ, and the conversion of commuter parking to short-stay parking has tangible improvements on revenue.

Take this retail outlet, The Massage Club, here on a weekday afternoon

Previously, the two spaces would be taken by people parking here and then walking to the centre of town. Even if those two commuters did want to avail themselves of the offerings of the area -which, after a stressful commute down Gloucester Road isn't that common- once they've gone to work: no more customers.

Now the turnover of the parking spaces is frequent, you often get the 15 minute drop by "RPZ special", with hour long people paying for parking. With hour-long visits -a mere £1 in cost- we are looking at an increase in visitors/bay from 1/weekday -5/bay/week, to 8/weekday -40 a week. And those visitors have come to visit Stokes Croft, not driven round Dove Steet and Jamaica Street until eventually they find a slot.

Tangible revenue gains -even in a recession when there is less money to throw around.

Before anyone says "Stokes Croft is a special case" -look at Richer Sounds, where the Whiteladies road bus route has converted a commuter parking street -and side streets- into short stay parking. Richer Sounds benefit from this so much it's a key point on their home page.:
Parking Instructions:New improved parking!
Thanks to recently modified parking restrictions there is now a constant turnover of free spaces on Whiteladies Road right outside the shop, with plenty more close by on side roads.
No complaints from Whiteladies Road, either then.

This brings us back to "what does Gloucester Road have to fear?" Either its a belief that commuter parking brings in more revenue than day shoppers -or they are leading the campaign merely to ensure they have somewhere to park. The former belief must be mistaken -commuter parking finishes before 9, with the drivers returning to their cars after 17:45 -outside most shop opening hours. Which leaves staff parking. You have to be ruthless here and say what matters more: customer parking or staff parking. Your staff -they can walk, bus or even cycle if each free space brings in 8+ paying customers/day.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Is Rita's trying to go upmarket?

Rita's has some new paintwork -maybe it is trying to look more sophisticated and appeal to a broader audience than minicab drivers.

Perhaps it is trying to join the rest of stokes croft up market


A new mural has gone up alongside Mayor Ferguson's pub, -one which made the national press, while in the US ABC news claimed that this "breakdancing Jesus" mural was controversial.
There is nothing controversial about this, in Stokes Croft it barely merits a mention. More controversial is whether milk from "The best 24 hours" shop is actually safe to drink, or whether a cheeseburger from Ritas or Slix is least likely to give you food poisoning.

[photos are all from 08:15 on a Saturday morning. The city sleeps, the bike lane surfaces, the council staff turn up to start sweeping up the evenings debris and any bodies. This is a car-free early Saturday morning]

Saturday 22 June 2013

A Community RPZ? In Montpelier? As if.

In Montpelier today, Jon "ex-cllr" rogers is having some meetings proposing some community RPZ as opposed to an official one.

What does that mean ? Self enforced? Warning notes? Or something relying on guilt like the blinking 20 mph lights near schools?

It's not going to work -and if you want proof, take a trip round Montpelier

This is Richmond Road, one of the tightest streets in the area to drive along. Everybody walks in the pavement, because the pavement is the only way to fit two lanes worth of cars in.

Here we can see whether or not community-note-in-windscreen RPZs wil work.

Take this car, S589JDG. Purple note in its windscreen.

Anone thinking this note is complaining about a car on the pavement isn't from Montpelier.
It says
 While one of our reporters was taking the photo, a van had to get by, something that took about 5 minutes of some of the most careful driving you can do in a van, windows down, driver looking out, the Bristol Traffic consultant assisting.

It only worked because van mirrors are a different height to car ones -they managed to clear each other with 3-5 cm of gap, going through at crawling speed. The driver of this van deserves a lot of credit for how carefully they did this -though it did take about five minutes

If there had been contact, this wouldn't have been a wingmirror taxation -this would have been a bodywork tax. Which would have raised some interesting issues on responsibility.
If that had happened, the owner of S589JDG would have not seen any photographs from Bristol Traffic on the event -they'd have been destroyed.

Someone will no doubt comment and say "this is a one off", but our dataset says not: car parking in Montpelier makes it impossible to get any vehicle bigger than a van through without severe damage happening. We've also seen near fights developing in St Andrews Road -the wider road parallel to this one- over who reverses so as to let the oncoming traffic past a road narrowed by both-side parking.

We've stated before that it is business traffic where the cost of being held up can have a real cost attached to the time wasted. Commuting, school runs, shopping trips -fixable by setting off earlier. They aren't working hours and the cost is purely subjective.

Working in the city? Different. Delays increase journey times, reduce the number of journeys you can do a day, and place a limit on revenue.

This is why the Kingsdown RPZ has made driving through it easier. There's no need for anyone to write warning notes in purple ink to anyone inconsiderate enough to park so far out on the pavement that they block passing cars, there will be someone full time putting yellow stickers on the cars that hold up vehicles. These are a lot harder to ignore than purple notes, they stand out "pour encourager les autres".

Anyone who thinks a "community RPZ" is going to work is living in a world of unrealistic idealism -and missing the point that an RPZ would not only help residents get about their lives, it would help the business of the city work.

A roll out of RPZs around the inner city would make it a better city for business driving. No commuter-caused congestion; delivery options -and less roads blocked by overparking.

Richmond road is going to be the front line for a Montpelier RPZ -as it is clear that you can't paint parking bays on both sides of the road -and even if the council opens up the paveparking to make it official, there's still not enough room to get vehicles through.

The only viable outcome would be for one side to become no parking. Which would be controversial -and explain why some people are claiming that purple notepaper put in windscreens would work. A community with some wheel clamps and a tow truck might have more effect.

Thursday 20 June 2013

The Arley Hill Contraflow

In our coverage of Cotham Brow yesterday, one Colin Hounslow, ‏@crusherdrive, who appears to be an HGV driver
@bristoltraffic noticed the foul language and the cyclist riding the wrong way up a one way street #urbanterrorists
We did note the foul language, and did complain that it was needless of abuse of a car that left at least ten centimetres of gap between the cyclist and their car as they squeezed through the pinch point.

The thing we do want to pick up on is the claim that the #urbanterrorists were cycling the wrong way up the hill.

Arley Hill is a contraflow to bicycles. And we have a dataset going back years documenting this.

The entrance is behind the AA van blocking the hatched junction

it goes under where the Bristol Council traffic survey car WV09NYO is blocking it
 It goes under where Brittania Movers international WA58BVD are parked -,because coning off some of the parking bays with the dustbins that are on the street would have required forward planning

You can actually see the bicycle logo pointing up hill just before the Ford Ka Y873LCY blocks it.

And proceeds up the hill to where the the Peugeot P817OVV is blocking it.

The cyclists aren't, therefore, illegally contraflowing.

Where there is a contraflow opportunity, it is that the Nugent Hill to Arley Hill cut through is bicycles only, yet it provides such an invaluable rat run that it is popular with people who don't want to get stuck in the Arley Hill traffic jam, such as WN08EZX

And R968NKX

Yet again, we see abusive cyclists giving cars a hard time, such as here where one stops in the middle of the road and so block a car from using this secret route.

As proof that Bristol council is anti-car, they eventually added a traffic island to prevent a right turn here by cars

this now forcing drivers to swerve left -uphill, then swing round, such as the one in R214RVN.

this car was following the transit van YR51XJX, which must have an even harder time executing the contraflow.

Colin, we could carry on, but instead would point  you at our complete datasets on Nugent Hill and Arley Hil.

While you do that, consider that Bristol Traffic -while mistaken for some kind of subversive satire, is -as discussed in the context of Arley Hill itself, a collaborative project with our strategic partners google, facebook, and apparently the NSA, to build a crowd-sourced mass surveillance state for the City of Bristol.

Which brings us to the main reply to your tweet.
You can say what you want about #urbanterrorists, but as soon as you make a claim about a cyclist going the wrong way up a one-way street, provide the data to back up your claim -or shut the fuck up.

Bristol Traffic. Datamining you for your own good since 2008.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Cotham Brow Row XM08XMJ

The tax-dodger's rights group, Bristol Cycling Campaign, are campaigning against pinch points.

We actually agree with them. Yes, we do love to see new junction improvements adding gratuitous pinch points, such as on the top of Jacob's Wells Road -because that stops the cyclists sneaking up the inside and avoiding in queueing.

But at the same time, we suffer when we have to wait behind a cyclist that is blocking the way. Or, if we go past when there is plenty of room, we still have to deal with abuse.

Look at this video of Cotham Brow. It's a quieter Cotham Brow than normal -roadworks have isolated it from Gloucester Road at the bottom. Having less traffic, it should be better to drive up, as you don't have to negotiate a narrow route with oncoming vehicles. Yet all it takes is one selfish cyclist to get in the way and you are stuck going up a hill at under 10 mph.

Pinch points make this worse, by removing opportunities to pass.

Here in the video, one of the cyclists has dismounted and is pushing their bike up the 8-9% gradient hill, so allowing important people past. Yet the one with the camera does not -and they have the audacity to be abusive (swearing!) at the important people in the volvo XM08XMJ. Do you think the woman in the passenger seat wants to hear language like that? To see her face on you tube? We think not.

What is annoying is that the pinch point is entirely gratuitous. It's on a zebra crossing. They could take away the island and it would still be a zebra crossing. Even if in theory the island would let two-way traffic have to stop less often, it's too narrow a road for two-way traffic further down the hill, so entirely moot.

All this traffic island does is introduce conflict at a point where it is not needed. Removing it would not only benefit pedestrians and cyclists, it would help us driving by stopping us being held up by tax-dodging and abusive troublemakers.

In this video, the tax-dodging and abusive troublemaker actually adds insult to insult, by turning left down Freemantle Road, then left again to descent Nugent Hill at speed, then joining Arley Hill to get to Montpelier.

That means that they had no justification for going up the hill and getting in the way of the Volvo, they climbed up Cotham Brow at 8-9 mph purely to aggravate people in a hurry. Then, by bypassing the cars in the Arley Hill queue, they go on to aggravate people who have been waiting patiently.

Finally, they descended Nugent Hill at about 28 mph -even though you can clearly see lots of schoolchildren walking to school -families forced to walk as an anti-car council blocked up all the secret routes from Cheltenham Road to Kingsdown. The fact that they can get up to such dangerous speeds on a weekday morning shows how the removal of commuter parking actually endangers schoolchildren. Before the RPZ rollout, every road would have someone driving around looking for a space to park, every junction have someone pulling out as they went round the block again. These people performed the valuable role of traffic calming cyclists, who couldn't descend a hill like this without worrying about vehicles coming out of side roads. Now, with the exception of the one at the bottom, they don't have to do that.
Whereas before the cyclist was selfish by going up a hill at under 10 mph, now they are being selfish and dangerous by descending above 20 mph. There is no speed on our streets where they are safe -they are unwelcome at any speed!

Saturday 15 June 2013

Ant- RPZ myth: the paint makes a street look ugly

If there is one anti-RPZ story we want everyone to avoid, it is "they make the streets look ugly"

Look at this street in the Cotham RPZ on a weekday

Is it ugly? Yes, there are some white lines, but for us delivery van drivers, we see a beautiful place to park any size of vehicle -outside any of our destinations, no need to double park or even reverse in. If you look at the streetview view of its old weekday appearance you can see an ambulance having trouble negotiating it. Our van shares this problem.

Streets free of parked commuter cars look lovely to us.

Those "livable city" campaigners will be lighting up their eyes at what is a different sight to them: a street that has returned to what it was like when it was created 150+ years ago: a street without cars.

Because that is the problem: usually a road like this is full of red, black, silver, blue, yellow, green and white parked cars, often with brands like (in this part of town) BMW, Audi, VW, Volvo. As you can still see off Woodland road, just outside the KN RPZ:

You can't say "the paint makes a road look ugly" when the alternative is to fill with brightly coloured motor vehicles.

Which is why this myth must stop being repeated!

If it doesn't someone is going to see these scenes and say "we can have an empty street with no paintwork by banning cars!"

We don't want that -the anti-RPZ faction don't want that. Which is why they have to drop this claim before anyone notices!

Friday 14 June 2013

Anti-RPZ myth: an RPZ makes the school run harder

With years of data, Bristol Traffic can go back in time and look at problems before the RPZ was rolled out -and compare it with today. This is why when people say "RPZ makes school runs worse", we have to say "you are joking, right?"

The RPZ will make the school run easier, whether it is by car, foot or even bicycle.
Here are some reference points as to the existing problem.

Cotham Road, where the sole drop-off point free on a weekday was a bus-only area where you would sporadically get ticketed.

Parents who drove had no option to park anywhere else -as there wasn't anywhere else. Ticketing was
always a risk -and with only room for four cars, contention with other parents. When the buses turned up -they'd double park, selfishly, not only blocking you in, but creating traffic jams inconveniencing other school runners.

Colston Primary School, where the only parking spaces were on the corners -where your car could get scratched by push chairs.

There was that and the yellow "keep free" area. As everyone knows, the keep free area means "keep free for parents", but now the council has a CCTV car doing drivebys, you can't use them for that.

That was before. Now look at exactly the same corner, now that the RPZ has been rolled out

So much space for dropoff and pickup, that those parents who walk or cycle don't give you a hard time for driving to school.

In the mornings, the RPZ restrictions only kick in at 09:00. As residents leave, their spaces where historically taken up by commuters. As that no longer happens, that frees up spaces for parents to park.
When coupled with the fact that there is now parking near their houses, even people who live in the city without a driveway can take their kids to school and get home again. Nobody should have any excuse for not driving their children to school

In the afternoons, those spaces are still there for pickup. Yes, the zone is still live, but you get 15 minutes of free parking (soon to be 30). No doubt somebody will say "only 15 minutes of parking before you get a ticket" -but you never even used to get that 15 minutes, as there was never anywhere to park where you weren't at risk of ticketing. And look at how much space there is -you don't have to worry about not finding a space.

As well as the extra parking spaces, morning and night, here are some other benefits
  1. A reduction in commuter traffic will reduce congestion during peak am school run times.
  2. The bicyclists can keep out the way when you are in a rush.
  3. No double parked parents by other schools you need to get past en route to your children's.
Together, this should reduce journey times and parental stress, reducing redland-mum incidents,  where a "redland mum" is defined as: anyone who is prepared to kill or inure anyone else in the city if the alternative is to drop their kids off at school late.

Again, then, the fact that the RPZ will improve life for residents trying to drive round the city -here the essential school run- that it is leading us to suspect that the anti-RPZ campaigners are in fact cyclists who are trying to keep driving round the city so miserable that people will want to cycle instead.

We will resist the tyranny of the bike lobby! We need to embrace the Resident Parking Zones for what they really are: Resident Driving Zones.

Monday 10 June 2013

RPZ myth: the RPZ devalues your home

One of the funniest "residents parking ... " claims is that being in an RPZ devalues your house.

As noted before, the RPZ lets you buy the option to use your car on a weekday.

It's hard to say that this devalues a house.

After all, people will spend thousands of pounds putting in a driveway for having that option. That's if the council will let them -pesky "listed building" and "conservation area" rules stop you knocking down walls in the core of the city just to park a couple of vehicles.

Take, Clifton, for example. In one house they had to stick in the driveway, then apply for retrospective permission to widen the gates to fit a double push chair in, one that turns out to be smart-car shaped.

Why would anyone go to the effort of filing multiple (refused) planning requests to put in a driveway, then sneak one in -along with a dropped kerb- just to get a car in? It's because having that driveway lets you park a car near a house.

That's why having a driveway is considered so valuable that Estate Agents mention it in their listings of houses in Clifton.

An RPZ can deliver that guarantee of parking to an area -by removing weekday commuters, and by placing an upper limit on vehicle ownership per household.

Given that guaranteed parking increases the retail value of a house, it's hard to defend a claim that an RPZ will decrease the value of households.

Sunday 9 June 2013

anti-RPZ myth: "no guarantee of parking"

The other "say no to RPZ" myth is: there's no guarantee of parking even within an RPZ.

Maybe, but here is Nugent Hill, and there are plenty of guarantees here. And this is on a Saturday.

The main guarantee of "nowhere to park" is the decisions of your neighbours: how many vehicles they own, what type, and where they park them.

One of the most resented parking problems in Kingsdown and Cotham is actually student parking in the HMO-student houses. A house with 4+ students would often have 3-4 cars, cars which would sit there all week. Sometimes the students would even forget where they'd left them -you can see them wandering about on a weekend.

The RPZ has said "residents are buying the option of using their car on weekdays in exchange for limiting vehicles/household to two, maybe three". Well, that limiting of vehicle numbers is what keeps space around. You still see the student cars, with their Cotham RPZ sticker alongside their London one: richmond, highgate, whatever. But you don't see so many.

The result: more space.
There's another aspect to this. Whenever some land fill-in has some new flats built, the landowners always say this is a "sustainable development", putting in a bike rack and pretending the owners won't own a pair of cars. Now the council can say "if it really is sustainable, there'll be a one car limit". This forces the architects to come up with designs that admit there is a need for on-site parking -so not creating problems for the existing residents- or embracing that sustainability story by saying "it's designed for a one-car household" -and making it suitable.

So again, this shows that the RPZ isn't anti-car, especially anti-resident-car. It's anti many-student-cars-that-never-move, and its anti-fake-sustainable-development-proposals, but for anyone who lives in an area who likes somewhere to park evenings and weekend, the upper limit of vehicle ownership benefits them by restricting the amount of space their neighbours will occupy.

For anyone living in Clifton saying "no guarantee of parking", they have to ask themselves:
  1. Do they ever find that student parking is an issue, and during term time do they find they have no guarantees of being able to park on their own street?
  2. Do they ever  to oppose new planning proposals on the basis that it doesn't provide enough off-street parking to avoid reducing parking guarantees for existing residents?
If either of those two questions are answered with a yes -you have problems that an RPZ can address

Saturday 8 June 2013

RPZ: you aren't paying to park -you are buying the option to drive

One recurrent theme repeated by the anti-RPZ people is that you will be "paying to park".

These people are missing the point so badly that they must be cyclists -certainly they don't live in any of the current Bristol RPZ area.

The council is not forcing you to pay to park outside your house -they are saying that for £50 a year, you get the option of using your car on a weekday.

This is Cotham, the new 2013 RPZ. See the spaces?

Before, on any weekday, there would be no space. If your car was parked, it would have to stay there all day -because if you moved it before  1pm, there would be no room to put anywhere when you came back.

Which meant you could not use your car and go home again on a weekday. Parents were forced to walk their children to school, because there was no parking afterwards. It meant if you were at home during the day, you couldn't drive to the supermarket, because there would be nowhere near to unload or park. Instead residents would have to walk to the co-op by the Highbury, or down to Clifton Down. And, without a car load of food, do this two or three times a week. The main alternative: wait until peak evening and weekend hours.

Anyone who did have to drive somewhere, and then needed to come back, would end up having to park on a corner, on yellow lines, or  in front of someone else's garage.  Or just in the middle of the road:

The problem with this approach is that a couple of times a year you do end up with a parking ticket -and a single parking ticket costs a resident more than a year's RPZ permit.

The RPZ changes that: you can drive, you can park near your house, you can do the school run by car, you can shop at supermarkets on a weekday morning.

To say the RPZ proposal is some council anti-car policy is ridiculous. It may be anti-commuter-from-the Elf Kindom of Somerset, or the Dwarven Plains of S Gloucs, but for inner city residents who own a car it brings something you've never had: the ability to use your car on a weekday.

Friday 7 June 2013

We support the RPZ plans for our business driving.

A lot of claims are made about the "cost" of traffic jams, pricing driver's time above that of pedestrians and cyclists. While we certainly agree that our time should be valued above those people who can't afford to pay road tax, we dispute the naive application of "value of time".

The worth of time of people who are stuck in traffic jams as they drive to work is essentially zero.

Why do we we conclude this?
  • The commute marks a transition between work time (paid, valuable) and leisure time (no financial cost to society).
  • The commute time is not part of working hours -it happens after, so is part of the leisure time.
  • If the peak hour commute takes an extra 15 minutes, you can leave 15 minutes early and still arrive at work at the same time. And in the evening you get home 15 minutes later after leaving work at the scheduled time.
  • If you have chosen to move to Bradley Stoke or Portishead, your leisure time is an empty void and so worthless regardless of when you travel.
Because commute time is really leisure time, it isn't costing you anything. The people it is costing are google, because you could spend an extra 30-45 minutes online. This is why Google, strategic partners of both us and the NSA, are so fond of self-driving cars. They could get an extra 1h30 of adverts in front of your eyes.

So: commute time: you can get up earlier and leave earlier to compensate -it doesn't cost business or the country anything.

On the other hand:

the worth of time of businesses who need drivers traversing the city is tangible and negatively affected by commuters in two ways.
  1. The congestion they cause adds delays. This isn't just the jams on the A-roads, it is the cars driving round in circles looking for places to park.
  2. The parking spaces -legal and non-legal- that they use up, create problems for the city all day long.
Bristol traffic has a broad dataset of the what it is like as a white van driver, with numerous problems clearly shown. 

The lack of legal parking bays forces us to park where we can. This can result in parking tickets
This photo was taken on a weekday in Kingsdown -the commuter parking has filled up all the spaces made free by residents, so forcing us to park here. We've also had to waste time driving around until we could find an empty space like this.

The lack of free parking bays costs us time -and hence money

Then there's the double parking. We have to do it whenever we drop off one of our premium entertainment products -especially in Clifton, where there is never any space. We don't mind doing that, don't care about the abuse -but we do care about being held up by other double parking delivery vehicles.

Double parking of short-stay vehicles creates delays that costs us money.

An RPZ provides parking for delivery vehicles, so simplifies our life -and stops us being held up.

Commuter parking can even stop us reaching our destination. Look at this photo of Kingsdown Parade

It's a weekday morning in Kingsdown, and our van is held up by a scaffolding truck that can't get past the parked cars. The crew had to get out, bounce the car out the way. This cost them time, and it cost us time.

Commuter parking narrows roads and eliminates passing places -causing delays and costing us money.

Now look at kingsdown post-RPZ:

Can you see the difference: the road is nearly empty. No more struggles to get wider vehicles past too many parked cars. With the passing places, we don't even need to drive aggressively at oncoming cyclists. Which we actually care about -a schoolrunning parent on Cotham Hill this morning actually put their hand up by their head and damaged our wing-mirror this morning. And now that cyclists are starting to wear helmet-cams more, our driving becomes more visible to the police and employers.

This shows how resident parking zones directly save us money

  1. Providing long stay parking close to our destination, eliminating parking tickets and confrontation.
  2. Providing short-stay parking for deliveries, eliminating double parking -and stopping us being held up by other double parked vehicles.
  3. Effectively widening our roads in the narrow inner city.
The roads in our inner city are too valuable to be wasted on commuter parking.

This is why we strongly support the RPZ plans -it delivers direct business value to us.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Bristol doesn't have a congestion problem -it has a firstbus problem

In April Tom-tom published a report saying Bristol had the worst congestion in the UK mainland.

As Bristol's premiere traffic data collection and analysis organisation, we disagree.

It's bad data
Tomtom are using data from their customers who have their tomtom dashboard GPS units, their premium "linked with tomtom" service, and have them turned on.

Who still has one of those? We've moved on from dashboard GPS units unless you are minicab drivers trying to get to random destinations in a 10 year old nissan.

Modern cars have them built in -so all the premium vehicles in the city aren't providing data to tomtom. Everyone else: smartphones, giving us maps, the traffic while letting us complain about it on facebook (tip: don't do it on twitter as it's then public).

If you do have a tomtom unit, do you really turn it on in the morning? Where the jams are will be predictable: M4, M5, M32, A4 portway, A4 brislington, A370, A36, A38. See that? Roads beginning with an M or an A. There are some B-roads which are relevant too, Whiteladies road, for example.

Conclusion: only a subset of drivers provide data to tomtom -and because it is not a randomly sampled subset, can't be expanded to everyone else.

Locals know the rat-runs.

Again, we in the know use the rat-runs. A4 portway to clifton? Nope: Roman Way and up to the downs, then Pembroke Road as a 35 mph alternative to Whiteladies. M32 to cabot circus? Off at St Pauls and then -well, that's a secret, isn't it?.

We know the routes, we don't need any GPS units. Indeed, we turn them off precisely because we don't want Tomtom to sell the data on our driving speeds to the police.

This means that the people who get across the city fast aren't producing data.

It's giving rush hour numbers

London doesn't have a rush hour. It has "weekdays", where the jams begin everywhere within the M25 ring, and often on the approach. When we take the Range Rover to London, we always speed over Wiltshire, in the expectation that from Reading it will crawl. This is also why Reading residents take the Bristol trains to and from London, even standing near our seats in First Class.

In Bristol, the rush hour starts at about 08:15, and peters off by 9am, with the exception of those people on the M32 who don't know the alternatives.

This is why Tomtom complain that at peak hours journey times go up "by 31%". What they really mean is "journey times go down by 25% outside the rush hour". Which is something to be proud of.

It's missing the point that Bristol is a compact city.

It doesn't matter that the journey times -from their inadequate sample set, on the main roads only, at peak hours only, shows that the mph of cars is about 14 mph.

Yet Bristol is a fraction of the size of the city. 14 mph gets you from filton A38 to the city centre in half an hour. In comparison, 14 mph in London would get you from slough to somewhere between the A312 and Kew junctions of the M4, three roundabouts on the A312, or, if you are on the M25, nowhere at all.

Summary: it's quoting rush hour numbers collected from a bad sample-set of drivers, then exaggerating the problems by failing to take city size into account.

It's also not looking at why the big discrepancy between rush hour and rest-of-day times exists. It is due to people commuting in to the city from outside.

Why do they do that?

  • They've chosen to live a mock-rural-life in Somerset or South Gloucs, in the dorm towns of Portishead, Clevedon, Weston-s-m, Yate, Thornbury etc, and still want to get to work in the city. It was a bad decision, and if they are stuck in traffic every day, they should recognise that is the price they have to pay for moving out of the city. Rather than whine: shut up and move back.
  • There is no alternative. Portishead really needs the railway back -it would be profound, but for everyone else, especially those in Bristol and S Gloucs, the alternatives to driving are cycling and public transport. Anyone who has used FirstBus will realise that sitting in a traffic jam on the M32 can be a better alternative. The journey time is the same, the cost is less, especially if there is more than one of you in the car.
The cost of FirstBus is clear if you ever use the Severn Beach railway line. Not only is it always on time, it is fast across the city -and a fraction of the price. 

If we have a problem, then, it is the lack of a decent public transport infrastructure pushes people into driving, creating the congestion problems at peak hours -and parking problems all day long.

This is why Bristol Traffic supports the Resident Parking Zone proposals

More to follow