Thursday 18 December 2014

Tablets in the car are the new status symbol

Anyone can text and drive; here on Arley Hill on a weekday you see about 1 car in 4 texting.

What do you do if you want to show that you are really important?

Step 1 is the expensive car, like the BMW

That's good, but it's not enough, now that phones have become the new status device. What else can you do?
That's right: a tablet, here put away when they noticed someone taking photos of them.

They shouldn't be self-conscious! They should be proud! Tablets are something to show off!

Monday 8 December 2014

Brunel 150

Sunday saw a fantastic display on the Downs.

And a confirmation that engineering really does work.

After 150 years the Downs were opened up to as many cars as possible for a firework display, which lasted 15 minutes.

Yesterday the roads around the Downs became a thing of the past, and parking prohibition became a mere memory of some ancient time when Engineers were lauded for their contribution to the 'Modern World'.

Luckily for drivers the 'No Cycling' signs did not apply to them, so they were able to park and drive right across the Downs to avoid the gridlock caused by the other traffic and escape into the night. Pedestrians were particularly helpful in getting out of the way if hooted at whilst they walked home. It was fantastic.

Unfortunately, the Downs have returned to normal today, and if you are driving a car you will need to use a road.

However, Bristol's biggest car park WILL be celebrated with fireworks every 150 years from now on.

On the Downs.

In cars.


Saturday 20 September 2014

Bristol: cycling discriminates against the obese and the unfit

There's a bit of an upset in Birmingham currently, where (conservative) councillor came out and accused cycling of being discriminatory on race and gender, and that the £23 M could be better spent on things like parking spaces. And that it is also biased against women who want to wear modest clothing.

Well, we agree, in Bristol it is a discriminatory form of transport too. But not on race or gender.

No, in Bristol, Cycling discriminates against obese people with no legs and a lifestyle focused on fry-ups rather than hill climbs. These are people who suffer in our city.

Take this scene here, a mature Bristolian rastafarian working his way up Bridge Valley road. He's very much not a young white man -but to get up the hill on a road bike he has to be fit. A large proportion of our population —especially the residents of the suburbs, are significantly overweight, smoke, and generally live an unhealthy lifestyle.

These are the people that our city cycling project discriminates against —and no amount of cash on cycling infrastructure will fix that, unless the infrastructure involves lifts and escalators.

These are also the people that the city's expanding RPZ project discriminates: people to unfit to walk more than 15 metres to their destination. Removing all the free parking penalises those people who are too unfit to walk or cycle anywhere, by forcing them to pay.

The only person who cares for those people's needs is Eric Pickles –because he is the only politician who understands what it is like to obese and unfit. This is why his "short stops on double yellow lines" proposal is targeted at them: now they will be able to stop outside the newsagent to buy a packet of fags, then drive on to the chip shop to buy the evening meal.

Segregated cycling facilities will make this worse by removing short-stay parking opportunities, discriminating against the obese and the unfit merely by their very presence.

Returning to Birmingham, gateway to the M6, the councillor's colleague, Councillor Hutchings came out with the other part of the story, when he said “he feared hoards” of cyclists would have “a severe impact on pedestrians and motorists”. That's the other way a cycling program penalises the obese and the unfit. If you aren't fit enough to cycle round the city, driving is all you can do. The more cyclists there are, the more you get held up.

This is why the very presence of cycling infrastructure and increased cycling is so discriminatory against overweight suburbanites who will be hit by the triple whammy of cycling infrastructure removing main-road short stay options, the RPZ removing back road long stay parking, and finally cyclists themselves being in the way. Oh, and of course there's the 20 mph zone slowing down the journeys from their houses to the chip shops.

This is why it is critical that the Birmingham councillors recognise that cycling doesn't discriminate against gender or ethnic groups —if that city doesn't get the funding then it could come Bristol's way, and things would only get worse!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Scotland: a nation once again

It's in the balance right now: which way will Scotland vote?

It's time we stopped being impartial and stated our preference: Yes

Why? One reason is that one of our reporters lived there in the 1980s and remembers how a London-based government killed its entire manufacturing base: the shipyards, Ravenscraig, the coal mines, all the time promising that new industries would take its place: the service industry, the financial sector.

Well the financial sector did go big, but mainly so that London grew so wealthy that nobody can afford to live there. Edinburgh gained too -but it turns out those bankers got so excited about short term bonuses they turned out be a con. Meanwhile, what was left of the scottish industry died. Now, an independent scotland isn't going to get the clyde busy again, but at least now it'll have a government that actually cares about Glasgow, unlike Westminster, which has only just discovered where Glasgow is.

The 1980s also came with the Poll Tax, showing how Westminster was happy to impose its daft ideas on scotland first, a country that could be "an experiment". Aye, we remember that.

An independent Scotland would have a a government that cared about Scotland. You don't get that today, and you have no guarantees it will happen in future.

What you do have today is all the legacy politicians going north of the Border and promising more devolved powers. Promising is the key word: no politician can make guarantees. That's particularly true in the Conservative party, who have to keep their backbenchers happy and try and stop voters defecting to the UKIP, which they can only do by having policies that keep Daily Mail commenters happy. They will try and weasel out of every promise they make to Scotland, and over the years, pull more of them back.

As an example: Eric Pickles. We have a government that claims that it is in favour of "localism", in which councils and people get more of a say in what they do. Yet the councils and people are only allowed to do what Eric Pickles wants them to. He's killing the ability of Bristol Council to drive round schools with a CCTV camera to catch parents endangering schoolkids by parking on double yellow lines and keep clear zones. He's killing the councils ability to use CCTV to enforce bus lane parking restrictions. Why? He'd rather appease daily mail readers who believe in "Common Sense" over having safe schools and a functional transport system. Do you really believe that any promises of devolved power to Scotland will be kept when you have ministers trying to restrict how councils enforce bus-lane blocking?

Scotland going independent will force the rest of the UK to think "how will we be governed". The north of England does have legitimate rights to say "we deserve to have devolved powers to ... there's enough of a cultural gulf between there and London, enough of diverged economies, that it makes sense".

The same goes for Bristol. We're the same size as Edinburgh, diverged from London -yet we don't effectively even have a say on whether or not parents  can park outside schools. Any rethinking of how the UK is governed needs to address that.

An independent Scotland has the potential to bring change that will benefit Bristol. It's not guaranteed -yet it delivers an opportunity which can exploit

A vote for no is a vote for the status quo: irrespective of what the promises are.

Monday 15 September 2014

At Last. Reclaim that Illegal Road Tax.

Yes. We're sick to death of the endless phone calls reminding us we can claim for mis-sold PPI we bought years ago*.

Yes. We're sick of the texts telling us we can claim for that accident that wasn't our fault.

Yes. We're sick of being promised a new kitten if we watch the internet for long enough.

But most of all we're sick of the WAR ON THE MOTORIST!

So thank goodness it's now possible to use a new website to reclaim overpaid taxes, entirely legitimately. All Road Tax ever paid since since 1937 can be reclaimed here:

and Road Tax Expert will help you through a full refund of any Road Tax paid since 1937.

You could be eligible for up to 77 years of repayments!!! That's probably thousands and thousands of pounds.**

*We didn't.

**non-hypothicated tax payers are ineligible. Apparently.

Friday 29 August 2014

Scandal: Britain's rulers, judiciary and media are a clique of art and law graduates

There's been lots of press this week, rightfully noting that Britain's rulers are an elite clique of a few schools and two universities.

What was not picked up on was

  1. All of them have arts and law degrees. Usually the arts degree is "PPE: politics, philosophy and economics", which is an oxbridge-only degree with no real-world relevance outside local and national government. 
  2. A whole six percent of the current MPs have science degrees.
  3. It applies to the media too, where again schooling, networking and the willingness to work £0 interns get you a job.
This utter ignorance of the scientific method "let the data guide you, not your ill-informed opinions" shows up throughout much of government policy.
  • Badger culling. The scientists said it wouldn't work. They were right
  • The East Coast Mainline returning more money to the treasury than any private rail company, yet the government opening up the franchise again. What is it about spreadsheets that they don't believe?
  • The price guaranteed per MWh for nuclear power generated at Hinkley Point C, despite the way the price curves for solar and other renewables saying "massively over the odds"
  • Global warming. It may be bad news, but that doesn't stop you pretending it doesn't exist.
  • etc. etc. We have politicians on all sides of the house who have agendas and beliefs and who are not prepared to consider how many of those beliefs are defensible
And as noted, the media are as bad. Which means when the politicians say things that are blatantly wrong, this doesn't get picked up on. The classic example is when politicians say that cycling in the UK is safer than the NL as annual fatalities/head of population are less. They can quote the numbers because they are dividing the death rate by the wrong value ... it is as defensible as saying "the uk is safer as annual cycling fatalities per sheep in the country" is less. It's completely bogus, either said knowingly to defend a position —confident that it won't be challenged by a media without the understanding— or uttered because they are clueless and don't recognise its flaws themselves.

This whole "25% of London Guide dog owners" story is the ignorant abuse of statistics:
"A survey by the charity found one in four blind and partially-sighted people were involved in a crash"
As has eventually reached the press, this came from 14 people who may or may not have had guide dogs, and therefore is pretty much meaningless

In contrast, we are data driven organisation.

Admittedly all our content is self-selected, hence utterly prone to selection bias and observer bias —but we are aware of this fact and happy to admit it.
  1. we back up our assertions with photos and videos, not anecdotes about cyclists hitting wing mirrors and cycling off. 
  2. by surveying the same streets repeatedly, we build up a defensible dataset. For example, we have no evidence that the fabled "stokes croft bike lane" actually exists other than as a short-stay parking area for the post-office and the mercedes owner who lives next door to it. 
  3. When our assumptions are proven incorrect, we are happy to admit it. For example, when we had evidence that the infamous YA55VDY delivery van could park legally when there was a space for it.
we also know what a survey is. 

For the reference of others
  1. Census: you measure the entire population (i.e. set of things you care about).
  2. Survey: you measure a proper subset of the entire population in the hope that this data can be used to reach conclusions about the entire population. 

The critical thing is that for a survey to substitute for a census, it needs to be a representative sample of the entire population.  If it is not, then it can only be expanded to the non-representative portion of the population.

In the case of the guide dogs, it could be expanded to say "25% of the kind of people who follow our twitter feed and can be bothered to fill in surveys claim to both have guide dogs and to have been hit by a cyclist"

That's a very different statement. But it is all that can be made.

Which brings us round to the point. It's bollocks, but it is a bollocks that will be repeated blindly by much of the press then believed by its readers —and it will also be believed by politicians who don't have a clue about how numbers work.

Maybe we should just make up random facts too.

Friday 1 August 2014

Clifton: riot of the self-entitled

The Economist has discovered the Clifton Popular Front in their article Four wheel Fever.

This shows what press a tank in a city can have.

The paper did fail to note what bad press a tank in a city can have, such as when the driver of the tank feels that a protest against an RPZ in Clifton is more important than a protest against bombing of UN refugee centres in Gaza

As the paper nodes, "CLIFTON, in Bristol, is an unlikely hotbed of political activism. ". It is however, a hotbed of self-entitlement, be it the right to park your 4x4 on a double-yellow-lined corner near your fee-paying school, the right to double-park near your house -and the right for commuters to park on pavements.

Which is the problem: a clash between a mayor trying address the traffic problems for the city with a part of the city that believes in the inalienable right to drive the kids to school even if there is no parking, to drive to the local shops even if there is no parking, and to drive to work even if there is no parking.

A lot of the city believes that, but Clifton is one part of the city that has come out in protest against it. There's also the Aberystwyth Faction of Gloucester Road, but they have gone quiet. And in Clifton, its the traders who believe in the right to drive to work that are being most vocal.

The article is interesting, we just have a few points to add

"Bristol is one of the most congested cities in Britain. Traffic during the evening rush hour moves more slowly than anywhere except Belfast, Edinburgh and London. "

That's something we've looked at before. "Congestion" is an odd concept; for Bristol it is often defined as "the city with the highest variance between peak hour and non-peak hour traffic". Bristol becomes easy to drive around between 09:10 and 16:30, whereas outer london is always near-stationary. Another metric "average traffic speed" fails to consider that journey time is defined as distance/velocity, so if the distances are short, so is the time. In London, people travel further to work.

"Locals will pay £48 ($81) for the first permit to park near their homes."

Locals in some of the city already do, Kingsdown (KN) and Cotham South (CM) being examples. Nobody protested there, showing that it's not the residents in the inner ring that have the issues. It's those people who have adopted a lifestyle that assumes that free parking will be available near their place of work, and consider congestion to be something imposed on them, rather than a consequence of their own decisions.

"In Clifton, a suspension bridge links Bristol with North Somerset. “Everybody and his daughter will park there and walk across,” predicts one resident. Rather than solving a city’s traffic problem, Mr Ferguson might just end up pushing it elsewhere."

If you ever visit Abbot's Leigh on a weekday you will see that it is already full of park+walk commuters. Why? You save on the £1 bridge toll, adding up to £10/week for commuters. There's also more chance of finding a parking space there. Claiming that the RPZ will force commuters to park elsewhere really means "the expanded RPZs will force commuters to walk further". Oh, and as the Downs is out of the zone, park+bus and park+pedal from there will continue to be as popular as it is today.

What the paper does pick up on is the fact that South Gloucestershire council has a big chunk of the Bristol metropole —and a very different transport policy. S Gloucs has the "Leeds Strategy": wider roads. They've had the space for this, but all it does is amplify congestion in the North Fringe. That conflict between strategies is going to place Bristol and South Gloucestershire in head-on conflict between long.

Thursday 10 July 2014

What are the cyclists building? Surveillance State 2.0

Out in Twitter Land, one of those paranoid characters accused the cyclists of "building a police state". They are, but not the toy one he imagines from helmet cameras and ANPR recognition. No, those are surface dressing, something to get irate about while the real mass surveillance state gets "deployed" -as the developers call it, "for the duration of the emergency"

Because this new police state is special.
  1. The cost of storing the data is offloaded to to private companies, its a privatised police state.
  2. It's designed to scale: it is now affordable to store a "record" about every SMS message, or HTTP connection opened up. 
  3. We, the population, are paying for the privilege of having the companies record everything we do, and the state being able to ask for it when we get it back.
  4. We've moved on from Irish nationalists and communists to "paedos" and "jihadists" as the enemies. There's something dubious about the paedo one, what with the BBC of the 1970s being worked out, and the attention moving towards the houses of parliament. As for the Jihadist rising, yes, we do have idiots who are getting politicised by watching online videos. But the number of people killed by these naive fools is still a fraction of those killed in the troubles: a we didn't have a mass surveillance state then.
So what's changed since the 1970s? The back infrastructure for mass surveillance states now has O(1) scalability; the front end consumer electronics

In computational complexity theory, there's a notation, Big O Notation, used to describe the scalability of system. It doesn't describe how hard things are, but how much harder things get as the problem gets bigger.

The Deutschland Demokratic Republik, the DDR, is notorious for having the worlds most comprehensive mass surveillance society. But they did it by hand. 

For every citizen to watch, they needed a watcher, so the scalability of their state was linear, written down as O(n) scalability. Double the population, double the watchers, double the costs. That's if you trust the watchers. If you want to keep an eye on them, well, if we assume one monitor per 8 stasi members -and that those monitors need watching too, the scale becomes O(n)+O(n/8)+O(n/64)+... You get the point: it doesn't scale. The DDR tried, but it placed too much overhead on their economy, and even being the most efficient of the communist states wasn't enough. Eventually the population chose they wanted those consumer toys rather than the police state, the army felt the same way, and because the russians chose not to send their tanks in, down came the wall.

Nowadays though, we can build a police state with O(1) scalability, where the 1 has a name: Google.

Yes, everyone views them as a search engine, or an email service, but behind the scenes they've been developing that infrastructure for storing a snapshot of the web, indexing it's cross page links ("metadata", as they call it). The Google File System, GFS, and its computation layers on top: MapReduce, Pregel and Caffeine,as well as most recently, Spanner. As the abstract there says, "it is the first system to distribute data at a global scale".

What else have google done? Android: a smart phone OS, that they give away, indeed, they even sell their nexus phones at a loss. Why? Because it is profitable for them to give away the OS and sell phones at a discount, in exchange for you to carry a little device wherever you go. One that checks in with Google regularly, giving Spanner data to replicate, Google FS something to store, Pregel something to join together.

We are all paying every month for the right to carry a bit of electronics that continually reports to your mobile phone company where you are, who you call, who you text, when you connect to facebook, twitter, whatever. Even everything you look up in the map. Google want that data because the more they record about you, the better they can get about predicting you (remember those Markov Chains?), the better they can target advertising at you.

And government? They want that same data. If they said "every adult has to carry a machine that tells us where you go, what you look up in maps and who you talk to", even the Daily Mail commenters would be up in arms, the UKIP protesting about it being european, and not even the Lib Dem apologists could think of any way to pretend it was good.

Yet we are already carrying those machines that tell google all this stuff -all the government want to do is get that same information. Which they do by pretending it's minor, "metadata", "call records", "web connection information", phrases that aren't obvious to people the same way "where you are", "who you speak to" and "what you do on your computer".

That's what they are after though -they are just hiding the fact so you don't wake up screaming, realising that you are already living in a mass surveillance state that even the DDR would be jealous of -jealous because of its scale, the information it collects, and best of all, the subtlety.

That's the police state the cyclists have built -those bay area pedal pushers- and anyone complaining about CCTV surveillance is simply so woefully innocent it's actually quaint.

Friday 4 July 2014

Is is a good text?

Now that summer is here, the car windows are down and people can engage in spontaneous conversation.

Here, we can see a tax dodger having the rudeness to walk over a zebra crossing and lights, then, as they set off, decide to talk to one of their superiors -here the driver of Audi WR11FGG.

It's always hard to think of an opening for an impromptu conversation, but here the driver has left a way open by virtue of the fact she appears to be reading email on her smart phone as she drives down the road.

Admittedly, she does seem a bit surprised by the way the cyclist tries to strike up a friendly banter -but then as she was looking at the phone while driving down Whiteladies Road, she was unaware that were any tax-dodgers in the area.

Monday 30 June 2014

Get your tanks off my lawn!

As d-day for the Clifton RPZ rollout approaches, already tempers are getting hot. What will happen? Will it be tanks up Whiteladies road a-la Soviet Liberation of Berlin, or will be house-to-house battling like Stalingrad?

We know this: it'll be noisy.

Clifton Resident James Gadd sends us this video of one of the pre-RPZ skirmishes -one where the Clifton Popular Front and their tank are nowhere to be seen. Here it's commuter vs resident, soon escalating to the police and then finally the builders. As anyone who has spent time in the city will know, builder's trucks are some of the most damaged out there, and so have little qualms about banging up against someone's car while they get their scaffolding out. Which is why that's the time even the police should consider their exit strategy.

Part one: opening skirmish

Part two: the residents come out with their pitchforks

Part 3: here come the Polis

Part 4: I see your police car and raise you a Builder's Lorry

Part 5: call it a draw

James -thank you for these, and we look forward to more as rollout day arrives!

Sunday 29 June 2014

First Self-Driving car seen in Bristol!

There's lots of hype about "Autonomous Cars", the UAVs of the tarmac, but who in the UK has seen one? Bristol-Resident RedVee has, here in Stokes Croft

As you can see, the driver of W845PDS can safely text on their commute, safe in the knowledge that the car itself will make decisions as to when it can and cannot go.

Sadly, a small firmware error in this model means that it is "red/green colour blind", so has been known to unintentionally drive through a red light.

Google have reassured us that this will be fixed in a later software update -all the owner will to do is hook up the car's USB port to a laptop, download the 17GB firmware patch, wait for the four hour update to take place and then accept the dialogs about changes in privacy policy for the car.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Questions for anyone claiming RPZs devalue houses

There's a 3500+ petition up on the council web site demanding a rethink to RPZs in Bristol. This shows how effective the Clifton people at organising defence of their rights. Or, as the late Glaswegian father of this team member said "The extension of the M1 to Swiss Cottage was stopped because it went through Hampstead. The inner glasgow motorways went through the Gorbals because it went through the Gorbals". Anyone who thinks this petition is about RPZs anywhere outside Clifton are wonderfully naive.

Again, this petition is repeating the claim that an RPZ is bad for your house price.

Some questions for anyone who repeats that claims?

-Why is nobody from Cotham or Kingsdown protesting about the RPZs, saying "the RPZ devalued our house prices"?

-Have house prices in Cotham South and Kingsdown either fallen since the RPZ -or even just increased at a lower rate than Cotham North?

-Why do estate agents in Clifton emphasise off-street parking as a feature when selling houses?

-If, as is claimed, an RPZ will eliminate shop staff and commuter parking on weekdays, is that £50/year going to buy you the ability to park near your home, without having to pay that off-street parking premium?

-When the asking price for a house in or near Clifton is £1.5M+, who is suffering here? Because the only people that can afford a house like that is going to be someone selling up a flat in London and moving west,  someone in Clifton earning large amounts of money and still overcommitting on the mortgage -or someone with money making an investment in buy-to-let and expecting prices to continue to rise.

-Why are the Clifton RPZ protesters so concerned about the limit of the number of cars/household, or the cost of registering an overweight car, when a large fraction of the inner city don't even own one car, let alone three?

As the Bristol Blogger observed the last time we covered this, the RPZ is potentially going to increase value of your house. "In the Clifton West RPZ" means that you are officially in Clifton, and will have the right to drive your SUV round the corner to Clifton village for a latte.

More interesting is not so much "what will it mean for Clifton houses costing £1.5M", as "what will it mean for St Pauls houses?" Or, phrased differently, "will all-day residential parking it St Pauls increase gentrification and so break up the community there?"

That's something to discuss, but it's hard for the Cliftonians to complain about a destruction of community, as there is none. Everyone hates their neighbours as they are competing for the same parking spaces. And that's speaking as a former resident who was taken aback when moving to Horfield that neighbours actually say hello to each other.

Saturday 17 May 2014

A&S Police: this is not a crime. Move along now

Some people ask if a 20 mph speed limit is bringing the city to its knees. The answer is no: all you have to do is overtake any car driving too slow for you

The driver of L861CDW demonstrates the correct way to do this, overtaking the Fiat 500 which had slowed down to let a school-running family, a family signalling to turn right.

We aren't going embed it as there is a lot of swearing at the point when the cyclist thinks they are about to get hit by the car. 

If you see the discussion afterwards, the driver runs over the cyclists foot (so they assert), and state this to the driver, who looks back and just swears.

After going to A&E that evening to make sure that their foot was not broken, the parent visited the police, who, after taking a statement and a copy of the video, went to the driver and got his statement

  1. The driver of L861CDW overtook the Fiat 500 because he felt it was going too slowly.
  2. At the time he started to overtake, he had not seen the cycling family.
  3. He did see the cyclists during the overtake, but chose to continue as they were not actually turning.
  4. He asserts that if they had been turning, he would have given way to them. This is not an assertion that can be tested, of course.
  5. Apparently the driver felt intimidated by the cyclist going "why are you trying to kill me and my family?"
  6. Apparently the cyclist damaged the wing mirror of the car as the driver drove off in terror. As he works in the motor industry -runs his own garage- he fixed this himself and is not going to bill the cyclist.
  7. The reason for the driver swearing at the cyclist is not because the cyclist just told them that they'd driven over their foot -it merely looks like that in the video. In fact the driver was unaware that he'd done such a thing, therefore "failure to stop and report an accident" does not arise.
As result of his statement, in combination with the hi-definition head-cam video, the police are not going to prosecute the driver for careless driving or any other offence. 

There is not, apparently sufficient evidence that he meets the legal standard of "driving without due care and attention"

If the family had actually been turning, and the driver had failed to give way to us -that is hit them- it would have constituted careless driving and he would have been prosecuted. But the driving seen on the video is not sufficient.

Furthermore, the cyclist swearing at the car as he thinks that he and his son is about to get run over does not put the cyclist in a good light. This means that any claim "they drove off as they felt intimidated" is defensible, even when that driving off includes over the feet of the cyclists.

Lessons for drivers
  1. If you are driving in a 20 mph zone, it is acceptable to overtake cars going at a speed you consider too slow.
  2. Even if you cannot see more than one vehicle in front of you, the overtake does not constitute "careless"
  3. And during the overtake, even if you see that you misjudged what was in front, you can continue with the manoeuvre -provided you don't actually hit anyone in front.
As for the cyclist
  1. Even if you are about to get run over, don't swear at the driver.
  2. If you follow up a near-hit with the driver, don 't ask intimidating questions like "why are you trying to kill me and my family". As something more subtle and polite.
  3. If someone drives over your foot, do make sure you get that on camera too.
It also has some interesting implications:
  1. It shows that either it is police policy or the legal system, but videos of driving like this are not considered sufficient for A&S  Police to prosecute the driver for careless driving or other offences. 
  2. Cyclists in Bristol may as well give up on the head cameras if they expect it to fulfil any role other than be entertainment for others, or use in an inquest.

Monday 28 April 2014

Yes but who will think of the children? (part 1)

Say what you like about Tank Commander "Wolfie" Miles and his right-to-commute-to-work campaigners, call them "lost in time" or "selfish and missing Clifton's underlying issues" -they are good at PR.

They've realise that demanding the right to park outside the estate agent where you work, where you can charge a premium of thousands of pounds for any form of guaranteed parking, makes you look hypocritical. So instead they've found a commuter group that they can call on: school teachers.

The best one yet is how the introduction of an RPZ will force a teacher in Colston Primary School to resign as she'll have nowhere near to park after 45 minutes driving from Bath.

We've covered Colston Primary before, showing our datasets go back years, and can so place things in a historical context. We also know that the school is already in the CM zone, so can do before and after footage. So over today past the traffic jam chaos that was the st michael's hill school run jam, and what do we see -and how does it compare with the equivalent photos from 2009.

Before: Parked cars provide exciting things for small children too look at

After: empty crossing with good visibility

Before: congested dropoff zone outside the school, with the only place for parents to pull over the keep clear zone


After: emptiness. Those parents do doing dropoff can do it without going on the yellow lines -and so risk earning a ticket.

This carries on up the hill -where you can see the small kid scootering up and down while waiting for a parent with a push chair to catch up.

Finally, rotate pi radians  from the first photo -that's 180 degrees to people that stopped doing maths at 16 and don't understand data science- and what do you see behind the pleasant park with a play area where the younger brothers and sister of the colston primary age kids are playing on their scooters?

A train station.

Colston's Primary is three minutes walk from the Severn Beach line, which has a regular service to and from Templemeads -it takes 12 minutes, costs 1 pound 60 or thereabouts return, and hooks in to the trains to bath. If you do make the choice to live in Bath and commute into Bristol, this school is one of the few places where you can actually do it by train conveniently.

Whereas the parents with they schoolkids? They get a no-worry area where they can walk their kids to school, without fearing for the kids running ahead, without having to cross roads with zero visibility -roads congested with cars driving round in circles waiting for a space freed up by a resident.

This gives them a low stress stretch of the journey, which lasts until they get to the No-RPZ areas, such as Montpelier

That's why we think this sob-story is just that: something dredged up by tank command to make a point, but which doesn't hold up to scrutiny
  1. Colston's primary is served by both a train system 3-5 minutes walk away
  2. It's 15 minutes walk from the central bus station, where buses go to bath
  3. The primary users of the school -the families nearby- benefit, where they are walking, driving or cycling their kids there.
  4. There's nowhere that says it is compulsory for schoolteachers to live in bath
Central Bath has been nothing but RPZ for ages -anyone who lives in Cotham and who works in Bath isn't going to find any free parking except out past Victoria Park or other places more than half an hour's walk from the centre.

If the teacher lives in central Bath, she's going to have an RPZ permit on her own car. If she lives out of the core, well, she'd be just as inconvenienced teaching at a school in Bath as she would be in Bristol, so doesn't make a defensible case for the Tooting Clifton Popular Front.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Press Complaints Commission: it's OK to propose assaulting cyclists in a newspaper

A few days ago, we covered how the Western Daily Press -the "provincial" sibling to the evening post, printed an article advocating knocking cyclists off their bicycles if they were in the way.

Well, being a media outlet ourselves, we are never afraid to pick on our competitors, and complained to the press complaints commission.

After a couple of followup emails, we are pleased to announce that it is OK to print such articles -because it doesn't violate the Editor's Code of Practice.
The PCC considers complaints about specific allegations of breaches of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In order for us to consider your complaint, we do need you to explain how you believe that the Code has been breached.

You are correct to say that the police would be the appropriate authority to raise concerns about the incitement of violence; this is not a matter covered by the Clauses of the Code. If this is your concern, I would advise that you seek to raise it with the police.
Which raises the question: what happened in the great Matthew Parris "string them up" incident? Nothing:

The PCC said:
584 people complained about a comment piece article in The Times by Matthew Parris, published on 27 December 2007, headlined “What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?”. The complainants were mostly cycling enthusiasts objecting to the suggestion that piano wire be strung acrosscountry lanes to decapitate cyclists, as a punishment for littering the countryside. The Commission said that the Code of Practice had not been breached, although it was pleased that Mr Parris had apologised for his comments.
This is interesting. There is a clause that says "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.". but: cyclists aren't any of that group unless you actually state that they are a bunch of madly evangelical troublemakers whose inability to adapt to modern society is a sign of psychological issues. Restrict your descriptions to "a menace" or "a nuisance" ant its OK.

It also means this: the Western Daily Press can say what it wants about cyclists, and only needs to apologise if it cares to.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Regional Press advocating violence against cyclists

We have mixed opinions of the Bristol Evening Post, and mourn the fact that whenever it tries to be more forward thinking -as in its coverage of gay marriage- the remaining readers find it offensive.

The Western Daily Press -the Somerset paper that seemingly never gets sold in the city- isn't trying to be so forward thinking, not with its Chris Rundle article "Cyclists are a nuisance on Somerset's roads and byways"

  1. Columnist complains about cyclsts being on on shared path while he is warning
  2. Same columnist expresses sympathy for people in the new forest who endangered cyclists and horses on roads by throwing tacks on the road -a crime for which the police are making enquiries
  3. Columnist then complains about cyclists not being on a shared path while he is driving
  4. Columnist expresses surprise that when he shouts "get off the road" to cyclists as he drives by that they are insulting back
  5. Columnist proposes assaulting cyclists with a billiard cue

The author here clearly has some hate issues, or he is trying to be witty in the style of Matthew "string them up" Parris  by advocating violence against residents and visitors to the area.

And the Western Daily Press encourages this? Actually prints articles advocating violence against cyclists? As that is what they are doing.

Matthew Paris eventually apologised -after hundreds of Press Complaints Council complaints. We wait to see what the Western Daily and Chris Rundle do.

Before anyone says "we are coming out as a cycling organisation"  Not so. We give cyclists exactly the same respect we give anyone else in this city: nothing whatsoever. But nor do we go out of our way to run them over, shout abuse or try to hit them. Violence tends not to make the original problem go away -it just escalates things.

Clifton : bring out your dead

After the Tank visit, we felt that a trip to Clifton was in order.

We took our stolen bicycle to the area. Just as there is no tank parking, there is no cycle parking in this part of the city -something they are proud of, rather than something they campaign about.

We ended up using the "no cycling" bit of tarmac where the tank had been.

Here's the video from a quick spin round the area

Key points

  1. There's nothing happening
  2. In the centre of the village, there is no legal area to park left.
  3. Even the parking for under 2 hours is full -showing that short-term parking restrictions do not stop shop customers coming.
  4. All four bicycle racks are full, and cyclists are inconveniencing pedestrians and endangering motorists by chaining their bicycles to railings and lamp posts -they do not take a hint, do they?
  5. at 1:18, outside the parking limited zone, the residents are double parking. This extra parking area is going to be lost come the RPZ.
  6. all vehicles bar the one a 3:49 have wing mirrors
  7. There's no decent graffiti -hence no motivation for modern tourists to visit it.
  8. Nothing is happening. There's a few people wandering around, but that's it
  9. Despite all the echelon parking on Sion Hill and York Crescent, there's only 3-4 parking spaces there. The residents have to be grateful that they are powerful enough to stop the council taking the echelon parking away and putting in something anti-Clifton like a safe cycle route to the bridge!
  10. Down in Hotwells, on Hope Chapel Hill, the RPZ is being painted in.
  11. Civilisation has not collapsed down there, there are not legions of zombies walking around chewing the limbs of people with resident parking permits.
No, Hotwells's RPZ is not zombie country. Clifton village is, sadly. For all those "Clifton Will Die" posters, clifton is already dead as far as the rest of the inner city is concerned -they just haven't noticed.

Which means that rather than worry about whether the removal of shopkeeper and local business staff parking will kill the village, the Clifton Popular Front needs to think about how to get customers who aren't local businesses in there, competing with other parts of the town that are getting a national reputation.

Stokes Croft: exciting.

Clifton: an afternoon with an elderly aunt who smells of cat wee.

Friday 11 April 2014

Clifton and 4X4s

After our post on the Clifton Popular Front, we got a complaint by way of Twitter from one LittleGibbo.

We were told not to be so rude:
@bristoltraffic don’t make assumptions. We don’t all have SUVs. Don’t be so rude.
and later, when we questioned her assumptions:
@bristoltraffic sorry if I am, but how? Was that tweet not suggesting that people of Clifton drive SUV’s? It’s how it read….

Notice how we said "Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country,".
We didn't say "Clifton is Bristol's 4x4 country" -only that it has a reputation. We were declaring a statement of fact -a reputation- without considering whether it was valid.

well we don't like assumptions, we're a data-driven organisation.

Time to take out a vehicle to see. We lack a tank and they aren't very fuel efficient, so stole a bicycle and visited the area. This was a mid-week, mid-afternoon visit, so is at risk of collecting statistics on the 4x4 ownership of shopkeepers in the core village, not residents -so we went over to a residential street nearby: Canynge Square

And yes, we did find some SUVs.

One photograph isn't a defensible dataset, so we did a complete circuit of the square

this shows some important facts
  1. Although it claims to be a square, it is in fact a triangle
  2. There's a lot of cars at home, even on a weekday. 
  3. Most of the cars are new, shiny and dent free
  4. All have their wing mirrors attached.
  5. Yes, there are a lot of 4x4s there, even if you discount the volvo XC70 estate car.
Anyway, we can look at the video and say "from our survey of clifton a lot of the locals have 4x4s".

Which means that the reputation of Clifton being Bristol's 4x4 country is clearly valid. We have nothing to apologise for -and expect an apology of our own.

No doubt some people will be pointing to the inadequate size of our sample set, and our failure to compare a control group of another part of Bristol, or indeed look at national statistics of the ratio of 4x4s to practical cars in the previous two to three years. But we must pre-emptive dismissly their arguments.

People are trying to shape the parking and driving policy of the area without any data at all -so our sample of a single residential triangle is in fact more valid. If we'd stopped at the photo we'd have been selective, but showing the entire circuit provides more defensible data than all content by other parties..

In comparison, the downs committee voted against a 20 mph based on a single experiment conducted by a single councillor - an experiment for which the councillor is failing to provide the data on.

Meanwhile The Clifton Popular Front are using results of their surveys to claim that 99% of businesses are against having their all-day staff parking converted to short-stay shopper parking. making exaggerated claims to residents about how that loss of staff parking will damage their life, and completely missing the point that Clifton already has a parking problem: nowhere legal for customers to park precisely due to all that staff parking.

To summarise: We have conducted a survey of Clifton village and observed a number of 4x4s in residential streets. Anyone attempting to dismiss our claims as inadequate will be required to provide defensible data for their own assertions about Clifton, parking, and how an end to free staff parking will bring about the downfall of the area. Otherwise: be quiet

Wednesday 9 April 2014

The Clifton Popular Front: parking or war!

Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country, indeed, one of our first ever photograph was someone being forced to park their 4x4 outside a fee paying ecole.

Well, the "clifton or death" campaigners, who are campaigning for "right to commute by car" have escalated beyond the mock tanks to the real thing,

If you look at the footage, they are saying "loss of parking will destroy clifton" -yet as you note in the video: there are are no free spaces. Which means that the combination of residents and staff parking has destroyed the parking opportunities for any paying shop customers. Which means that the number of customers that can drive to their shops is reduced.

More formally: if the number of free spaces is zero, the the number of hours of free parking you get is also zero.

You can see this at 1:10 where the tank is forced to park on Clifton Downs, just behind the "No Cycling sign".

Which is where the whole "RPZ kills the village" story falls apart. As it appears to be granting free parking where none exists today.

Ignoring the fact that they are really fighting for the right to drive to work, they threaten to take their battle all the way to David Cameron if they don't get their way.

Here then is the second video of their war against the RPZ, taking the battle to westminster itself!

Support the Clifton Popular Front in their campaign! Rise up and overthrow the oppressors that is Bristol Parking Services!

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Clifton Parking or Death

There's a web site, Tufton or Death, where campaigners are trying to save the lives of people that use a turn-off on the A34 "Chievley Services" Road.

This is relevant, as some Cliftonians are now campaigning about their RPZ plans, with signs round the area placed perfectly at eye-level for anyone driving a little urban 4x4 -meaning exactly the kind of people that Clifton depends on.

One thing to call out here, if you step back a bit, what it looks like

Clifton Will

Which can then be parsed as "Clifton Will Not Die"...

Anyway, interesting to see the signs. In today's BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earth program we got to hear a someone describe the residents of Clifton as "In the driving seat". That was not a metaphor: it is a statement of fact.

Imposing time limits on parking in Clifton is either going to force residents to walk a bit, or destroy the village the way it did to Southville. We shall have to see what the outcome is. Of course, Southville tried to address the problem by adding bike parking -something Clifton has strongly resist on the basis that it is out of keeping with the area. Is the RPZ plan a first step to forcing Clifton Village to actually have bike parking?

Meanwhile, keep an eye on what happens here. What's impressive is that someone had the money to print some nice posters. Elsewhere in the city the protests were limited to bits of paper run off home printers. This though -professional.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Actually, they are our photographs

A comment arrives on our Never park up the inside of an HGV post.


Well, where do we begin?
  1. You are correct, we have no idea what we are talking about.
  2. The right to talk complete nonsense is a fundamental aspect of press freedom.
  3. They are our photos.
One of our reporters pedalled past about 09:00 that morning, at which point the cardboard wasn't there, just a rear hatch that looked like it had be ripped off. Given the fairly distraught woman nearby, they chose to continue & not take pics. It was on the way back from work that this photo was taken.

Taken: 13/feb/2012 at 16:40, ISO 200 f/3.3, 1/30s, 25mm, Manual white balance: cloudy. The full resolution pics are 4000x3000 if you want them.

Now, we do have a reasonable amount of coverage of HGVs on our site. For example,
Now, we do recognise your complaint about narrow roads being unsuited to HGVs -but you have to recognise that in a modern society, HGVs need to be able to drive down every road in the city.

How else can they deliver pre-prepared salad to the Tesco corner shop of Clifton if they can't park on double yellow lines and zebra crossings?

How else can they deliver cheese to the Tesco "flammable" express of Cheltenham Road if they can't park in the bike lane?

How else can they park at an empty dual carriageway except on the shared use pavement?

We're afraid that you'll just have to accept that losing 1-2 cars a week to passing HGVs is the price of living near the Miner's Arms and Farm pubs. We'll take submissions of other incidents, and you get to retain copyright of your images.

In the mean time, please enjoy the rest of our site.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Southwell Street: new BRI signage

There’s some new signs up on Southwell Street, at St Michael’s Hospital

UH Bristol
Private Road
No parking
on double
yellow lines

No Parking at an any time
private property
(small print about how there’s a fine of £60 for doing so and if you don’t play up they will go to the DVLA for your details)
Any cycles chained or locked to these railings will be removed -contact security

There are some covered bike racks, about enough for ten bicycles. Why no more?
Even after taking away the pavements to provide parking, even after creating a parking basement for staff, there isn’t room for any bicycles.

As to the other signs -and interesting topic. It’s not clear that this is "a private road" -it is just a street in Kingsdown, albeit one whose pavement has been co-opted by the BRI.

Someone with a residents permit and time on their hands should test this

Friday 21 February 2014

Markov Chains: letting the evening post write for itself

A quick grep of the internet thows up a Markov Chain generator in the Python programming language.

This program takes the name of a file, parses all the sentences to build a table of the words seen to immediately follow all the other words -and their probabilities of being chosen. For example, "lycra" is followed by "lout" 80% of the time, "clad" 20% of the time.

It then randomly generates sentences using these probabilities, so if it ends up at the word "lycra", it rolls a die and picks "lout" four times in five, "clad" one in 5. Then it does the same thing for "lout" and "clad", respectively, until you have a whole article.

Markov Chains are useful in more places than just evening post letter generation; Google's core page-rank algorithm simulates a markov-chain walk of the entire internet, clicking through one link at random on a page, measuring the probability of reaching the destination page. Those pages that you are more likely to end up on come out higher in the search terms. Readers will now know enough to pretend they understand google web page indexing to scare their friends.

Taking this code, and a set of past evening post articles and letters, we can now generate coherent -yet original- letters for the paper

Example 1
by their arrogance." Mr Drummond, who was struggling to get the message. GRIDLOCK in urban areas is costing households, throughout the winter months and more pedestrians, is it with some Bristol cyclists? The other night I was met with typical cyclist arrogance. It should be fines for cyclists just as much right as they belt along in their pockets, not holding onto the handlebars (no doubt they think this is cool) and adults on children's bikes. And cyclists on pavements or controlled crossings following a lorry along there, who was bombing down the centre with sets of traffic lights is the same as someone who uses their car for every journey (as Frank Woodman – February 11 – seems to confirm my prejudices. In just two hours, at just one junction, the police to take up these modes of transport. "Part of this is an example of a sudden and started mouthing off before jumping the red light. Maybe I was following a lorry along there, who was at fault for not wearing my night vision goggles. One morning on the pavement and they fear the city's pavements. The idea for the accidents they cause. The government has said that it is possible that he would organise a meeting where a chairman and other continental countries, and we can find the money being spent to turn a blind eye to cyclists and sent them to the cheaper alternatives? Because most people of working age live busy, stressful lives, so choose convenient transport over cheap transport. SO Mayor Ferguson and, hopefully, encourage him to move on to households. Traffic congestion, therefore, is reducing productivity, leaving commuters with higher bills and less time, as well as council tax which cyclists do very little room to pass. Then, as I reached my destination cyclist
Run 2

dressed in black are the main cause of road congestion. I regularly cycle to work using use the pub's toilet. "I waited outside for her, but I could not get up on the busy road. Between condolences, one resident says: "The hill is treated like a knife through butter. It is encouraging to see," he tells me. "Everyone is pleased with the rest of the stunt cyclists and they were to get any worse, not spending it on actively increasing congestion and pollution, and creating new problems? Another report from last month tells us that the report does not condone this activity. "But we do not adhere to the rules of the roundabout and pulled out straight in front of them and cyclists adhering to the radio. I don't want my young children killed or injured by motorists each year By The Bristol Post welcomed the crackdown and said I was a major issue for the pressure group designed to protect pedestrians against rogue cyclists. He said: "I am all in favour of it. "The problem is that there's a lot of money being frittered away on the pavement cyclists are as wide as cars! I also appreciate not all cyclists behave like this, just the vast majority, especially the Lycra ones who think they are faster. 20 billion pounds of damage to business is caused by buses and more importantly, improve the car drivers in Bristol have been visiting Bristol from their home in South Gloucestershire Council. 
Run 3 -which actually seems more coherent than "Frank Woodman".

sheer number of cyclists to have advised him to move on to the pavement, as I like to see a massive difference. "I don't think there are many others all over the years? There are more motorists than cyclists, it makes perfect sense to just ban them! Why not a cycle-free day for Bristol drivers? I HAVE just read an opinion in this area, but dangerous cycling is. "Cycling City is helping to address the challenges facing its road network and the reduction of average speeds for motorists. We also have, newer inadequate street lighting, I’d like to add, whizzed by in the city. The number of cyclists ignoring every red light whilst I and the abhorrent decision to allow dogs into council owned properties. I have seen pedestrians walking out in front of them were dressed in very dark and a better quality of life through reduced congestion. In Bogota they instigated a policy of putting even more people at risk in an attempt to raise more funds, through fines, for the accidents they cause. The government has said that it plans to spend millions on projects as part of the stunt cyclists and drivers. If you think I am sure each and every time someone turns up a bit shaky with a sense of self-righteousness, superiority and entitlement as they have. Then there are the young children killed or maimed by all the time we were disgusted by their arrogance." Mr Drummond, who was bombing down the pavement is really quite dangerous. There were lights on my car just once a week ago today. Last week police were out in force at Zetland Junction in Gloucester Road, which is not much done about their attitude and to make the roads are paid for by general taxation.

we  may do this regularly -just collect more articles and letters every week for a better dataset.

Frank Woodman: bristol post's premier fake letter writer

People accuse us of being spoof, some kind of satire designed to wind people up.

Not us. No, the spoofs are people like Frank Woodman, letter writer to the Evening Post.

Fantastic coverage here, going back months. Yet clearly fictional.

How can we be so sure? Because of his wonderful inconsistencies.

December 30, It's easier to list what our city hasn't got

We lack [...] an efficient, cheap and reliable bus/ commuter system, which would encourage many more people to use it;
Of course, councillors, mayor and politicians will claim that the public funds are not in place to afford such facilities.
They would, of course, prefer to spend our money on more bus lanes, cycle lanes, 
See? he's actually contradicting himself in the same letter. "we don't have a cheap and reliable bus service because the council would rather spend money on bus lanes". That's like saying we don't have a motorway from Bristol to London because the DfT keeps putting money into the M4. Whoever made up this letter completely forgot to proof-read it before emailing it to their colleagues saying "stick this in where there's some space, we need some more online traffic"

Xmas must have been quiet altogether, forcing a new one to be knocked up the following day

December 31,  Bikes and buses must not delay city's traffic
Cyclists and buses must not be allowed to cause further delays to car commuters and vehicles, servicing businesses.
And again, two weeks later, the business model of advert-funded pages depending on high web traffic calls to the letter team

January 16, Convenience of cars outweighs the costs.
why do motorists absorb these costs rather than switch to the cheaper alternatives? Because most people of working age live busy, stressful lives, so choose convenient transport over cheap transport.
January 15,  Figures on congestion are a wake-up call
Cyclists and buses must not be allowed to cause further delays to car commuters and vehicles, servicing businesses.
See that? On Jan 16 "Mr Woodman" is arguing that people don't use things like buses and bicycles because they are less convenient than driving. And the day before, that congestion is making driving worse.

This is a bubble of inconsistency which we must admire and praise. You cannot complain on one day that congestion is making it impossible to drive round town, and then the next that people don't use alternatives because driving round town is easier.

Its as if someone says "we don't have any controversial cycling stories right now", and someone else goes "let's make up a letter -who is going to be Frank Woodman today?" -before agreeing on "let's print an old Frank Woodman letter, nobody will notice"

Say what you like about Bristol Traffic, but

  1. we are at least consistent!
  2. we print new content every time

Friday 14 February 2014

Evening Post Letters

A copy of a letter submitted to the evening post hits our inbox: we wonder if it will ever see the light of their letters page.

When the new Bristol Post was launched it was accompanied by bus adverts showing a smiling driver giving a surprised cyclist a bunch of flowers.

It has been some months and I'm yet to see any flowers.

What I have seen is Councillor Richard Eddy trying to shape the city's transport policy based on the secondhand anecdotes of a friend. Please could the councillor remind his friend that in Amsterdam, vehicles drive on the other side of the road --and he should look both ways when crossing the road and the adjacent cycle paths. Then try walking round Westminster and decide which city centre treats pedestrians worse.

I've now also seen a letter of complaint from Robert J Trott of Keynsham -a letter which includes the tired old anecdote that cyclists never pay for the roads. In fact Bristol's urban streets are funded by council tax -so I believe that the £2200 I pay annually on my band-F house I have the right to walk, cycle and drive around the city.

By his own reasoning, Robert,  a resident of South Gloucestershire, does not have such rights. However, I forgive him and will let him use our city streets. What I would like though is some respect for the policies which we, the people of the city have chosen.

Please can he recognise that we did not deliberately choose these policies to annoy him but as an attempt to make the city itself a better place to live, work and indeed, visit.
Still, awaiting my bunch of flowers,

Sunday 2 February 2014

Wingmirror Tax payment issues

One of our vast fleet of vehicles has become eligible for paying the wingmirror tax

Which raises a question: when?

Not having a wingmirror
  1. gives you a tactical advantage in negotations with oncoming traffic when that oncoming vehicle still retains theirs.
  2. lets you drive through monty at least 3 mph faster.
  3. stops you having to worry about cars driving past when you are parked in those same montpelier streets.
  4. ensures that you aren't elegible to pay the tax a second time.
Any disadvantages?
  1. unless the mirror is blatantly hanging off, held on only by duct tape, oncoming vehicles may not realise that you don't care about your wingmirrors; you really need to communicate your status and intent to achieve the best outcome in the negotiation over who goes first.
  2. being passenger side, you have to park your car on the wrong side of the road to gain immunity to the passing-car problem.
  3. Pulling out from parked is slightly harder. You may even now want to consider indicating.
  4. it's not great changing lanes on the M4
  5. Bicycles coming up the inside of you on a bus lane have to look out for you switching into their lane before a junction -but they had to do that anyway.
  6. Kills that conversation starter in the evening post "a cyclist smashed my wing mirror and cycled off -and do you think they were insured". 
Apart from the motorway lane changing problem, all of these are manageable, and the key advantage "you know you won't break it again" gives tangible tax-payment reductions.

The only time you need a functional wingmirror is the day of the MoT.

Which raises an interesting idea for a new business: wingmirrors to rent by the day.

  1. Survey the streets of monty and the taxis of the city, build up some stats of vehicle brands & types in the target market. (example above; VW)
  2. Identify those mirrors in the market where the cost of replacement is significant: (example above; VW). 
  3. Build up a stock of the main mirror types from some of the discount online wingmirror retailers (yes, they exist).
  4. Discreetly let it be known that you can rent mirrors at a rate of £5/mirror/day.
  5. Rent them
The need for building up the portfolio of mirrors could be avoided if you start by requiring a weeks notice "to put you in the calendar". You can then buy the mirrors on demand online, building up the set of mirrors you need driven directly by customer demand.

Yes: this could work.

The main competition is actually going to be mirror theft: you need to price your daily rate low enough that it's not worth stealing mirrors off other vehicles

Other than that though: "wingmirrors to rent" could be the new business to transform the city.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Colston Street: back to normal

People will be pleased to know that Colston Street’s bike path is now back to its original role: short stay parking for visitors
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