Wednesday 28 February 2018

Dear Redland-based driver of Audi YS12ZPX

We've discussed before the concept of a "Redland Mum": a parent who is prepared to injure other road users in order to make sure that they get to school at pickup and dropoff time. It's why the ten minutes before the school gate close and open events are one of the hazardous times.

This video of a driver endangering a cyclist was taken at 15:00, in Redland, so meets many of the checklist items. You'd have to know their final destination to know if this was a genuine "Redland Mum school run", or just a "Redland Audi Driver in a hurry". We've included the letter the owner shall receive.

Dear Redland-based driver of Audi YS12ZPX

As promised, here's the video of you going by at a distance I didn't consider acceptable. And, as there was nobody oncoming to squeeze past, no justification at all other than selfish indifference.

Just because you are in a hurry does not justify endangering other Bristolians.
  • All it would have taken would have been a small wobble on the bike for a collision. Which if it had occurred would have had adequate video recordings for any prosecution.
  • The police are now cycling round the city, enforcing the 1.5m distance from the cyclist which they consider safe. "Careless Driving" is what they prosecute on, ~3 points and its impact on insurance premiums.
  • Your actions reinforce the reputation that Audi drivers have for being selfish and dangerous.
You didn't even get anywhere, did you? You ended up at the traffic queue at the top of Redland hill. That's the one which is there every afternoon, so you should have been able to predict it.
Not only was I able to catch up, I had to wait at the zebra crossing for you to pull out.

Which comes round to the final point. Your actions were actually counterproductive, weren't they? An extra 50cm of clearance and you wouldn't have been held up at the crossing. Instead you were delayed when you clearly didn't want to be, and now have the video of your driving up online for all to see.

Please, give a little bit more clearance when you pass, maybe even be a bit more patient when trying to drive across the city. Dangerously passing someone just to get to the next traffic queue achieves nothing.

Friday 23 February 2018

School runs, UK vs US

This is a 2003 photo of a 14 month child about to be towed four miles to kindergarten.

This is Corvallis, Oregon, a small US town where apart from a university there is ~fuck all. As a way of getting the child to school, the roads are quiet enough that it's much less stressful than in Bristol. Herel, you can never be sure someone has seen that trailer before they cut you up at a roundabout. Corvallis? It only has one roundabout and you can avoid it with ease.

You do not need to worry about the safety of your child when getting them to school by bike in a town like this.

Indeed, once they are a teenager you don't need to worry much about them on the back roads, unlike near Bristol, where outside town, "quiet" roads like Beggar's Bush Lane are viewed as opportunities of drivers to sprint. In Oregon, you can send your child ahead and not worry.

In contrast, in Bristol, you do worry about that school run.

You want to be in front of the child, to get the cars to stop at the roundabout. But also at the back, in case the threat comes from that direction. It's worse when they decide to cycle to school on their own, as worry about their journeys. It's a relief when they decide to start walking with their mates instead.

But journey to school and back is the only bit of their day you need to worry about.

In contrast, in the US, you worry about the safety of your child in the school. That town where nothing happened was 50 miles from Springfield, OR, where in 1998 one of the high school shootings now considered "small" took place. And its 110 miles north of Umpqua Community College where in 2015 someone killed ten staff and students.

In those sleepy middle-class US surburbs and towns, you cannot trust your children to be safe, because all it takes is one unstable person and a gun and their school ends up in the list of "US school killings"

Britain: we've had that tragedy in Dunblane: fix: no more handguns. Indeed, we have even allowed automatic rifles until an afternoon in Hungerford, thirty-one years ago.

Yet too many people in the US are unable to accept that such solutions "no guns" work, and all they are left with is trying to escalate it. Would you feel safer at school knowing all the teachers were armed? Not really.

Maybe, just maybe, this time, with the anger and voice of the children themselves, things may change.


Monday 12 February 2018

I say we dust off and nuke them from orbit

The Alien series have gone from groundbreaking space-horror to a repetitive collection of cliches. They always start with the protagonist, Ripley —or a Ripley-substitute actress— innocently asleep in cryosleep, dreaming while the ships cross between the stars. A small blinking light by the frosted face is the sole sign of life.

And then something changes. A computer starts beeping. the light blinks a bit more, shadows cross the peaceful face of Ripley as she and her colleagues are awoken, once again, to defeat the Alien.

And it will be defeated: that much is a given.

The real variables are: what form does the final battle take? Whether technology, as represented by the android, is on the side of good or bad? Whether they've finally got around to redesigning space craft so as to have air vents too small for aliens to fit? And who will be the idiot who takes too close a look at "that funny egg thing".

With such a limited set of variables, the last few films in the series have been really, undeniably, repetitive. Everyone must wish that they put the series to bed, put Ripley in the cryochamber, shut down the android and walk away —because everyone is getting bored of it.

Which brings us to the council's latest plans for a metro line on the Bristol to Bath railway path.

Some people may be shocked by this, but others, we go "Again?" "Not again!". Not in fear, but in the tired despair of people who went through all of this a decade ago. Last time: thousands of people out celebrating victory over a council that had concluded that it was a stupid idea. This time, again, the council pays some consultants for some ideas on transport, and again, they say "oh look, there's a former railway line here", pointing to the BBRP, and again, it all kicks off.

Well, so be it. Right now the has been in its cryosleep, costing $13/year to keep alive —much less than a sustrans membership.

And now, the console is beeping, the light flashing a little faster, and it's time to turn things on again.

What next? The monster will die, that much is a given. What is unknown is what order do the victims die —which councillor ends with the facehugger and who goes looking for the missing cat and ends up never being seen again?

We shall see. For now, we are just at the opening scene

beep. beep. beep. beep.

tip for the wise: motion detectors need a warning sticker "aliens may be in the air-vents"