Tuesday 24 July 2018

How much parking does the BRI have? 1.9 miles

One aspect of the greenwash letter on the new BRI multi-storey car park was its claim that the current multi-storey transport hub only had 200 spaces. That was a surprise, as if you ever spend any time in that part of the city you will know that UBHT property can be recognised by the way all garden areas have been converted into some form of parking.

Have the PR consultants forgotten to mention that detail? Hope that locals wouldn't pick up on that any more than they'd be expected to notice that you can't set an 8 floor car park into a hill when there's a child's play area right behind it? Whatever the reason, that failure to list all the parking spaces seems designed to make you feel sorrier for those who can't park -and again, by emphasising patients over staff, going for the maximum sympathy

Sadly, we are a data driven organisation, so set out to count up the spaces ourselves. Attempt 1 was on a Sunday afternoon, it took about an hour to get round and is too boring to share. What's surprising is how many little blocks and crannies they've managed to fit a car into. We estimate that in the combin f BRI and St Michaels hill hospital "campus", there are 400+ spaces, outside the existing multi-storey transport hub. That's not obvious to patients for the following reason: a lot of these spaces are dedicated to staff. As for the disabled? You get into double digits, but really -the majority of dedicated disabled parking is the double-yellow line areas on the council roads.

Here is our second attempt at a tour of the parking areas, starting in Dove St at the children's playground the BRI pretends doesn't exist, finishing off directly above it in Marlborough Hill place. This complete loop of the many transport hubs belonging to UBHT here takes 15 minutes, and covers 1.9 miles. That is not a typo. If you cycle round each bay in the car parks, one by one, the total amount of space comes in at just under two miles. There's a small amount of public road to connect all this together, but there's parking there -free form disabled, paid for visitors. How can the hospital PR team say with a straight face that it doesn't have enough parking when it has 1.9 miles worth?

What they should be doing is looking at the allocation of it: how much to staff parking, does facilities have theirs in the right places, how many people with disabled parking needs come a day -and are they satisfied. Instead, we get a grand plan to poison central Bristol, one which simply puts off addressing the big issue: why does everyone seem to expect unlimited staff and visitor parking at a hospital in the centre of a city?

Anyway, here's the video showing exactly how much parking there is for the UBHT to choose how to allocate. It's taken about 5pm on the first day any light drizzle had fallen from the sky, making the roads a bit skittery; you can hear the back wheel slide out at one point.

(Literal) High point: our (expendable) reporter discovers the base of the St Michael's Chimney. It just comes up out the ground, behind the asbestos waste skip and near the toddlers house. Maybe in future it will get the recognition it deserves as central Bristol's highest structure. We'll need a Banksy or two on it first though.

For those who hate our cyclists (expendable), skip to the end of the video and you can see them getting a "snakebite" puncture just trying to ride down one of the many potholed roads in the city. This is Bristol cycling. You can't even complete a two mile loop of the BRI car parks without getting a puncture on the small amount of council road covered on the ride. Interesting question though: given this is clearly filmed as happening on a council road, are the council billable for the replacement inner tube?

Finally, purists may fault us for not actually covering three of the for floors of the existing multi-storey transport hub. Can't get in there see: staff only. The secret that UBHT press releases dare not mention.

Thursday 19 July 2018

BRI: Staff parking matters more than the health of the children in its shadow

A letter reaches in the Bearpit, which is not just the HQ of the Bristol Traffic, it is one of the few Bristol Parks and services managed greenery-spots in the city centre.

It comes from the BRI, and tells us residents of the hardships the hospital is facing regarding transport.

  1. 32% of the visitors drive for medical necessity.
  2. Visitors complain when they drive here and they are forced to drive round "as they search for a small number of hospital car park spaces", or, even worse "park on-street".
The good news, the hospital has come upe with a great idea to fix it: A giant multistorey car park
  1. This will add 800 spaces over the 200 which exist today.
  2. It will the same height as the existing BRI main building.
  3. You won't notice it as it will be set back into the hill.
  4. They will have to knock down a terrace of staff housing.
  5. And there's a small public road through the middle which they are ignoring.

Sounds good right?

Well, there's one little aspect of which the letter omits. It might not be obvious to people outside the area, but you can't "set a heliport-height car park into the hill", as the BRI doesn't own the entire hill. The area they are talking about is at the bottom of Kingsdown hill. And what is behind it? The Dove Street estate; social housing close to the city centre. A couple of tower blocks with a fair few families. One thing it actually does quite well is although it doesn't have much greenery, it makes the most of it for those families. There's a central area where small kids can play, separate from a dog-walk area, and on the western site of the estate, a larger play area for ~primary school age kids.
This play area, one of the two shared gardens of the estate, is exactly above where the BRI want's its 800 place multi-storey car park.

This means that "set into the hill" is actually true. Saying "Set into the Hill" creates an image of a car park somehow dug into the hill, a small thing you'd hardly notice, the Bag of Hobbiton, the underground house of Bilbo Baggins.

This utter fucking bollocks, to use a technical term.

It will be an eight storey car park set directly in front of the childrens play area of the Dove Hill estate. This will create a valley in the area, where the children, be it in the playground or in their houses, will get to breath in the car pollution of the thousands of car journeys which this will create. And of course, the principle of Demand Creation means that more people will drive there confident there will now be somewhere to park: it won't even address any parking problem.

800 spaces is more than 50% of the capacity of the 1700-space Cabot Circus multi-storey car park, the one which has created so much traffic that the M32 inbound on a weekend now has a traffic jam as people queue to get in to find a space.

800 spaces is 150% of the proposed 500 bay multi-storey car park in the Broadmead development, the one which was shrunk to 380 spaces, as the council felt 500 spaces were too many.

It's going to be the same height as the BRI heliport. This is one we showed a helicopter taking off from last month, ironically, filmed from that Dove Street play area. If you want to get a preview of how the car park will look to primary school age children playing in what is effectively their garden, imagine that same building, pulled up right in front of the play area, fill it with cars. That's what their life will be like

If this was some private developer that was proposing this —as with the Broadmead plans— there'd be outcry against this. Yet so far, we've heard nothing. Why? This is coming from the hospital, so of course it must be good.

Except: what's this in the news today? Another study showing how traffic pollution causes Asthma —and there's been a rise in 25% of cases in the last decade.

If the BRI actually cared about the welfare of children living in their literal, as well as figurative shadow, they'd be pushing the council to do more about an inner city ULEZ, collaborating on making that road in front of the hospital somewhere pleasant to cycle, rather than somewhere so scary adults try to avoid it, let alone families.

But no: they are proposing an 800 space multi-storey car park.

Even they must realise what utterly amoral this is. So rather than call it that, their letter talks about how it will have a secure employee cycle park, and so call it a "Transport Hub".

That sounds really good, but for a small detail. Their existing multi-storey car park already has a secure employee cycle park, but nobody bothers to call it that. Instead they call it "The BRI Staff car park".

For that is what it is.

Of that existing car park, of the 192 places which the BRI letter implies exists, only 20 are for visitors. The remaining 165 -the entire top three floors of the four floors, are staff parking.

For some reason, we get tales of woe of visitors with burns and neurological industries, but no mention of the fact that of that existing park, three quarters are for staff.

And similarly, we don't get any coverage whatsoever of how much of the new multi-storey car park (we can't call it a Transport Hub with a straight face), is going to be to staff parking —but we are confident of one thing: it'll be a fuck of a lot more than 165 places.

More to follow, showing how everything the BRI say in that letter is lie.