Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Aberystwyth Road, Bishopston

Time to catch up with the Aberystwyth Faction's proposals for an improved Gloucester Road -one that makes the bus lane tidal and so adds short-stay parking in the opposite direction.

We have now heard from the councillor behind the petition:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Willingham <>
Date: 17 December 2013 13:48
Subject: RE: Gloucester Road Parking Changes

  The petition neither mentions nor proposes making any changes to bus or cycle lanes as that is not what it is asking the council to change. 

  If you visit Gloucester Road, then you will find that there are various parking bays that could be brought into use to allow the traders to benefit from more passing trade during the peaks, without having a detrimental effect on cyclist safety.

  As a local cyclist who uses the Gloucester Road, I have no intention of trying to make it more dangerous for cyclists, and if done carefully and in the right locations, I believe the proposed change would make it possible to share the limited road space a little more efficiently.

  If the council do decide to act on this petition, then they would be required to perform a highways safety audit of any locations they intend to change, as well as statutory consultation on any changes, so all road users, local residents or traders could have their say.


Cllr Dr David Willingham
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Bishopston ward

So there you go: it's about sharing the limited road space a little more efficiently.

If you look at the petition, it does call out the recessed parking bays outside  288 Gloucester Road -the original Maplins site -these changes are non-controversial and likely to be unopposed, except perhaps matched by some demands for bike parking alongside.

What is a flash point is going to be the sentence "Furthermore we call upon Bristol City Council to implement "tidal" parking on Gloucester Road,". Because its goals, "Parking on the inbound carriageway during the evening peak" means "no bus or bike lane inbound in the evening rush hour", while "Parking on the outbound carriageway during the morning peak." means the same in opposite direction.

This is where the controversy lies. What is being proposed here implies no bus lane to-and-from the North Fringe commute, which means
  1. No bike lane for anyone heading to the north fringe
  2. No bus lane for anyone trying to get the Wessex red busses. These are the ones used to get to and from UWE -and if the students can't go by bus or bike, that leaves car. We don't want that. They don't pay enough taxes to deserve any tarmac.
  3. Anyone commuting by car up the north fringe is now going to get held up by congestion on the A38. As that's something that wasn't covered in the C4 documentary: what it was like to drive down Gloucester Road before the showcase routes were launched. It was much, much, worse. The buses would have to stop in your lane to let passengers on and off, and if there was a bus heading north stuck behind a minicab with its hazards  on near the minicab office, your road would block as the two buses would never be able to pass each other. Gloucester Road was only viable as a driving commute option on those days that the council was actually enforcing parking. Which is something you wouldn't know on the commute until you were committed. 
See that? No matter how you get to the North Fringe, car, bus or even bicycle, the showcase bus route benefits. We don't expect the motoring advocate groups to realise that, as Bob Bull of portishead, official spokesman of the ABD in the evening post, is too busy complaining about his journey along the portway to appreciate how the bus lane helps commuting by car.

We do fear that the bus companies will pick up on this -as will UWE. And the cyclists, well they are the all-powerful-cycle-lobby.

Gloucester Road is going to be flash point there.
  • Statistics imply that Gloucester Road has the highest number of reporting cycling incidents. -if you add Cheltenham Road to the figures, the A38 stands out as either the busiest cycling route in the city, or one of the more hazardous. Notable is that the Railway Path, which has the highest use, doesn't appear on the list at all.
  • Bristol Cycling Campaign's followups on police involvement in any of these incidents imply the outcome is "not interested". This has the potential to be an issue in its own right.
  • Even the mountain bikers are getting involved in this. Because while they are happy doing things like the red bits on the Super Nova trail, they at least know if they do get it wrong, they won't have somebody on the phone drive straight over them.
  • A lot of the North Fringe employers have Bicycle User Groups with group mailing lists -easily organised, and capable of co-opting driving colleagues into the battle.
  • The cyclists have more influence in the national press.
Putting it together, the shops may think that a review of the bus lane and a tidal system may get wide support -after their success in ensuring they retain their commuter parking in the RPZ-, but they are potentially getting into trouble. How are they going to react if cycling campaigners start handing out leaflets saying "email your councillor" to cyclists waiting at junctions on gloucester road? Can they take the trade of cyclists for granted -or are they going to have to deal with people coming into the shops, creating queues at peak hours, then when they get to the counter announcing they won't shop there as the shopkeepers are endangering their lives.

This is going to one to watch.

As for now, at the time of writing (16:02, Wednesday December 18), the petitions stand at

That's gone in a week from about 62-63 each -the cycling petition doubling, the shopkeeper's going by ten. This should be a warning sign to the councillors: they run a risk of making more enemies than friends here.

1 comment:

bsk said...

Thanks for the heads up on the petition. It's now at 140.