Tuesday 16 July 2013

Selfishly holding up a Mercedes

Shocking Footage of a Cyclist holding up an Important Person(tm) in a Mercedes not once, but twice.

This is in Oakfield Road, Clifton, where, despite the ongoing efforts by the council and the Neighbourhood partnership, cyclist are still seen. In the opening sequence we see two of them not looking at all intimidated and almost acting as if they belong in Clifton.

At 18s in, after letting an Important Person(tm) in a Range Rover past, the cyclist flips back their head to see what the vehicle sound is -where they spot a recent Mercedes. Rather than immediately get out of the way of what at this point is a narrowing road, the subsersive carries on, -again, acting as if they have a right to be there.

Once they turn off, however, they sprint ahead -why? to get in front of the Mercedes at the zebra crossing. If the car is turning left, it will be held up directly -and if it is going straight on the tax dodger can use the zebra crossing to clear the main road first, and then cycle in their way again.

Today the car is turning left, the cyclist dismounts and walks slowly enough in front of the car that the pedestrians coming the other way can get far enough over to again hold up the car. As the tax dodger dismounts and proceeds down Whiteladies Road, they glance back at the Important Car(tm) to see the Important Person(tm) looking unhappy at the audacity of a tax-dodger to hold them up not once, but twice.

Saturday 13 July 2013

BBC: welcome to the goldfish bowl

A message hits the rarely-checked Bristol Traffic youtube inbox
Can you get in touch?
Hi there,

I'm a journalist at the BBC, we're running an item on cycling on tomorrow's breakfast programme on Radio Bristol and I'm keen to speak to someone who uses a little camera on top of their helmets to capture various goings on during their commutes.

Can you get in touch with me as soon as possible please?



This falls foul our "do not engage with the audience of bristol media channels" policy, so gets rejected
We only just saw the message, but we wouldn't be willing to take part anyway.

What we can do is point you at this video made while walking a bicycle over a zebra crossing on whiteladies road, where a car goes straight over the zebra crossing in front of the pedestrian and then they proceed into the BBC car park.


We saw the driver a few days later in the BBC radio van. If you recognise your colleague you may want to point them at the video and pass on the following message

"the western governments may be collaborating with google, yahoo, facebook &c to watch all our online activities & to record all that we do, but the monitoring infrastructure -phones and helmet cameras- is near ubiquitous, and google are happy to offer us use of their storage and computing services for nothing. The era of "getting away with something" is over.  Please consider that the next time you choose to drive over a zebra crossing while someone is walking over it.


Friday 12 July 2013

This is a dead cycle lane. No its not, its a norwegian blue.

One aspect of the Cycling City program was the way they used Showcase Bus Routes as part of the plan

as you can see, it means that on a friday evening people have a cycle lane to follow on whiteladies road

It's not a particularly great cycle lane, but with the bus lane downhill and road widening out further up, this metre or so of paint does say "bicycles can go here". For anyone thinking "why not take the lane", on a friday evening that lane is stationary traffic. On a day when there is moving traffic, most people aren't going to be fit enough to keep with the flow all the way up the hill.

this bike lane, is important.

But not, apparently, as important as a buildout "for pedestrian safety"

This little build-out popped up without any warning, no consultation on the council web site, apparently no discussion in the bike forums, nothing.

Why has it gone up? Part of the "safe routes to school" work to the new St Johns school campus; This is the one where last year Skanska proposed making lower redland road a one-way route and stopping cyclists from contraflowing as their safe-school-run plan.

That plan got killed, but whoever wanted to do it must have been bearing a grudge, as they have effectively managed to knife the Whiteladies road cycle route instead, giving you a whole 50cm of rough tarmac and slippery paint between the pavement and the large buses.

This is not a cycle lane! It is dead!

No doubt the council will argue it is "resting", that it is a "norwegian blue" cycle lane. We know different -this buildout has killed it. The cycle team needs to admit this, and on next year's cycle maps remove the "dedicated cycle lane" from this stretch of whiteladies road. To pretend it is still there is to be the pet-shop owner in the dead parrot sketch.

There's just one little thing we have to ask of whoever designed this. Not: did you know that there was a cycle lane there before you came up with your plan? Not: how did you manage to get this in without the cycle team noticing? Not even "how do manage to bypass the entire council consultation process"?

No its: how does slightly widening the pavement make crossing an A-Road at peak hours a safe route to school?

Uphill and downhill there are pelican crossings, the whiteladies gate one being very popular on the school run. Here, for example, is a video of people waiting to cross it when, as it goes red, a volvo school-running parent goes through it uphill (note the pedestrian to the left of the camera shaking her head in disbelief -she mustn't get out much), while the driver of the car coming downhill is too busy on the phone to do the same.

This shows that you can't safely cross whiteladies road on a weekday morning on a light-controlled or zebra crossing without expecting vehicles to cut you up. That doesn't even include the (sadly not on video) incident involving a school running Volvo dad driving over the wrong side of the oakfield road crossing traffic island. These crossings, despite their white lines and red lights are not safe to cross.

Which is why we stare at these roadworks in disbelief. Not because we care about the cyclists -they are clearly unimportant. But in complete disbelief that whoever built this thought it would make trying to walk two kids across two lanes of rush hour traffic is a safe route to school.

Because all the pinch point is doing is stopping bicycles coming up the hill at 4 mph from hitting the push chair -it does nothing for the cars and buses that are likely to cause more damage to the children.

Which means that it is utterly useless. It is not just a a dead cycle lane, it is a dead pedestrian crossing too

They have Roll to the Soul -and all we get is A34 Chievely Services

Tax dodgers always complain that Britain has a car culture. Maybe -certainly it has dedicate "car roads", motorways and all the dualled A-roads. And off these roads they have cafes open only to people who have driven there -they must be the centrepiece of a car culture.

As such, the A34 Chievely Services, at the junction of the M4 and the de-facto M34 between the M3 and Oxford with its myriad of lanes and junctions, should be the centre of this culture, a place where people heading east to west on the M4, north and south from Oxford to Portsmouth can all get together, relax, celebrate their position in the Big Car Society.

And yet, the A34 Chievely Services is quite possibly the one place you would not want to go unless you'd forgotten to fill up your car, you'd forgotten to eat before leaving, or one of the passengers suffers from incontinence or bowel problems, be they a small child or elderly relative. Food: worse than ritas. Alcohol: not an option. Entertainment: some fruit machines.

In contrast, the underpeople, the cyclists, now have another bike cafe, to follow on from the mud-dock, which is now more cafe than bike.

  Roll to the soul is a community cafe and bike workshop on Nelson Street. Upstairs: a workshop and cushioned seats, all set up to let people watch the evening TdF playbacks.
Downstairs: cafe from breakfast to evening, with an interesting menu. And a bar, serving real alcohol.

If Britain has a car culture, why does much of that culture suck? Why do the cyclists get places you'd want to go, while we -the important people- get A34 Chievely Services?

ps: Friday competition: what was the original medieval name for Nelson Street?

Friday 5 July 2013

Love bristol go brent -issue 2

More coverage of Brent, looking at anything we can learn from here

First, look at how the council has taken a lane away from the road -they could have turned it into a bike lane, but chose to add extra pavement, in the hope of adding extra walking area will increase footfall.

It doesn't, but it does provide some staff parking

Here and across the road

Where the bollards prevent staff parking, the shops are for sale. There are some conclusions to be drawn here.

More tangible is the effort gone to stop shoppers parking on the nearby pavements, with bollards backing up the yellow lines

bollards on bollards
It's the removal of the paveparking opportunities, along with the sainsbury's round the corner that killed this high street. Widening the pavement has done nothing for anyone: on foot, on car, or even pedalling along on two wheels

Thursday 4 July 2013

H610GDY -not that discreetly texting

Being a data driven organisation, we should set out collect some numbers on the percentage of drivers texting a lights -it seems high in the morning and evening peak hours, but that could just because there are more cars stopped by lights, and because they wait longer.

What we do know is this: when there are four or more vehicles stopped at a light, you can be confident that one of them will be texting. Our "expendable" cyclist demonstrates this.

After sending their school-running child onto the pavement to inflict terror on pedestrians, the tax dodger proceeds up the road, looking into every car; it turns out to be vehicle 2, the old British Leyland era mini H610GDY.

What is interesting is this: within six seconds of the lights going red she is two hands on the phone, texting. Presumably to say "help I am trapped in a mini -bring WD40 to spray on the spark plugs in case it starts to rain"(*)

Is it (a) she's got great reflexes, can come to a stop, put the handbrake on, grab the phone and be texting within six seconds, or (b) she already had the phone in her hands, and is on the foot brakes?

Mk I mini brakes are drum brakes without servo-assist; the disk brakes on the cyclist's wheels are more powerful and work better in the wet. This means the mini owner is at severe risk of driving into the van in front.

She just has to be lucky that there isn't an Avon and Somerset version of the Met's Roadsafe, else someone may forward this video to them to say "that texting thing -don't"

Keep the children out of our way: save felix road playground, Easton!

In the posh parts of the city, the parents keep their children safe in the backgardens, with only trampoline-related injuries to fear (there's lots of posters about this in Bristol Kid's hospital, which is a bit late by then).

In the bits of the city where people are too poor to afford gardens, there are two places that kids can go outdoors
  1. Parks
  2. Roads
We obviously prefer them in parks, not just for their own safety but to avoid holding us up -every child that walks over a zebra crossing holds up traffic in each direction for 15 seconds; every child that presses the button on a pedestrian crossing adds 30s of delay.
One child out in the streets can cross 8-10 roads an hour.

Across the city, that adds up. And as the holidays approach, we fear for the impact all of these children have on our schedule

Which is why everyone should sign the petition to save Felix Road Playground!

Every child who spends the day in this playground is a child who isn't holding up important people!