Sunday, 27 February 2011

Counter Revolutionaries!

The complaint that we have made slanderous claims about the forthcoming new cycle path that almost-but-not-quite joins up with the UWE-Lockeaze path have led to a new web site being created: The South Gloucestershire Cycling Front . That's good, though not quite in keeping with the Monty Python Theme. Please, go watch the Life of Brian again and add popular or people's to the title somewhere.

It appears that this site was put up by the person David/Frank who was upset about our coverage of the new cycle path. In the identity "Frank Spencer" - a tribute to the 1970s comedian who was not involved with the Monty Python group (again, pity: Brian would have been a funnier fake name. Or Bwian :), we are denounced by these people who do not want our vision "Bike Paths the Dutch don't laugh at" realised

Here are some answers to their questions

Is the South Gloucestershire Cycling Front run by a failed engineer?

-No, we are a group of users who are fed up with the mediocre routes we have. They are there, they could work, but not the way they are going. You get something without lights, bollards and pillars are being added and every that path abandons you at roundabouts. And there are so many roundabouts here.

Why does this idiot think he can do better than everyone else.

We have been abroad, we know what can be done, we recognise failures. Anywhere you have to get off and walk is a failure. Anywhere you can't have kids ride around on their own is a failure. Anywhere that poeple don't feel is safe to walk or cycle at night is a failure. Any path that can have vans belonging to S Gloucs council parked in all day with nobody capable of dealing with the complaint about the path being blocked is a failure. Therefore we find the accusation that we are failed engineers from someone who appears to be partly involved in the process very amusing.

Why will South Gloucestershire Council not employ this idiot.

We do not seek employment, the team are all in paid employment in or residents of the area. We merely demand that the council delivers on their half of the cycling city promise. A city safe and pleasant to cycle around in. Bristol is improving. Filton, Patchway, Frenchay, well, try it and see what you think.

They have let us down. This is a shame as they have the space to do wide cycle paths, they have the congestion at peak hours to justify it, and they have the city of Bristol nearby for people to commute to and from, as well as the suburbs of Bradley Stoke and Emerson's Green.

Why are they failing us? Three options spring to mind, "the three I's"
  • Ignorance
  • Incompetence
  • Indifference

Ignorance: they don't ride bicycles themselves, they don't understand our needs. They think that large dropoffs are viable, street lights are a luxury.

Incompetence: they mean well, but something goes wrong. For example, someone could not have done a proper site survey above, included the area out the site, and nobody thought while the lovely tarmac was being laid perfectly smooth that the underlying goal was being missed. Or they think that signs will help, missing the detail that one in the middle of a path on the apex of a turn would be near-lethal. We suspect "Frank" is upset about our hints about this and is taking it personally.

Indifference: they don't really care. They assume the people on bicycles are either law-breaking criminals who don't pay road tax or stop at lights, or student underpeople from outside. Not proper revenue-earning citizens of S Gloucs. They expect us to be grateful for whatever they throw in our direction. Whereas in fact many of us work at the big technology and finance companies along here and are fed up of the treatment we receive.

Indifference is probably is the underlying root cause -except it does not (just) lie in the people doing the paths. The blame lies with the councillors. Sometimes the people on the ground are just following the orders from above, and either they aren't in a position to say "this doesn't make sense" or if they do say it, they get overruled.

We shall cover the councillor problem when we focus on Old Filton Road. We know who to blame there as they appear in the local papers, proud of what they have achieved.

It has been quite amusing reading all the comments. Now we understand why Freewheeler of Waltham Forest fame disables comments on that site -it'd be full of hate mail from every single member of the Waltham Forest council whose nominal job description involved cycle paths, transport, cycle parking, street cleaning or improving the shopping areas.

PS, Frank. The photo at the top of this page is the first one in our sequence, dated 17:06 on Feb 16. The barrier is shown as it was discovered. That was the same day that some people dug a trench in the path by the UWE entrance and then filled it in with loose gravel but didn't add tarmac. Like we say: the paths are getting worse.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Demand #1, repeated: Cycle Paths the Dutch won't laugh at

The A4174 ring road path. You can get from here to the Bristol-Bath railway path and hence into the city centre of either city without a single road or even vehicle turning over you. Lovely.

So, the Cycling Team thought "let's put a sign in at this three way junction to help people find the way". All well and good. But the plan, as Blackadder would say, had one small flaw. The team are incompetent idiots.

But why oh why did these idiots think that the middle of the path was the right place to put it. You do not get street signs in the middle of roads for an obvious reason: people would run into them and sue the council. So what was going on in anyone's head when they came up with this plan?

Presumably they expect everyone to cycle in one lane or other. but there's a flaw here.

Its on a corner. And bicycles, when they corner, tilt. So now you have a sign right on the apex of the corner where you are going to smack straight into it. if you get injured, you can be sure that in the coverage of the miserable bog roll that pretends to be the local press but is really a mouthpiece of the daily mail, the usual idiot commenters will say "did they have a helmet", missing the fact you don't need a helmet on what could be a traffic free route from S Gloucs to the two closest cities if it was not for the cycle path planners putting up fucking signposts in the middle of blind corners.

Also: notice how there's no hi viz or reflective markings at the height that bike lights will catch

What can we do about this?

We'd like the entire traffic planning team fired, as we've stated before, the cycle forums replaced by something where the new cycle team will actually come out on rides with the local cyclists. We'd also like whichever councillor claims to be the voice of cycling in the council to spend some time trying to get round their area by bicycle.  Which raises another point: why don't any councillors have to act as special representatives of motorists? Because everyone drives up and down the A4174 ring road, the road underneath this bridge -there's no need for a special representative, all the councillors will complain about the High Occupancy lane being under used, of the ratruns being closed off. So every councillor in the council is really a special representative of the motorists.

AReturning to the ring-road, nobody stuck in its morning or evening traffic jam is going to see this sign. They won't think "oh look a cycle path, I'd be better off there". So it's not going to encourage anyone at all to cycle. For that you'd need to stop spending millions of pounds widening the road and instead put some signs up saying "If you were on a bicycle, you'd be there by now". Cheaper, more useful.

If you wanted to show people already on the path how to get to Filton, Emerson's green or the railway path, why not just paint it on the pavement? Really? It's not hard, not expensive. If you use the right paint, not even slippery. Instead we get this piece of shite civil engineering going up in winter -you know, when it's dark during commuting hours- for what. Not the commuters, it must be the leisure cyclists. But nobody cycles alongside the ring for fun. Because it's got signs in the middle of and you could get hurt.

This is why we are not some spoof organisation, despite rumours. Someone needs to make it clear to the council that they are making a mess of things.

Some feedback

Our claim that the new cycle paths going up between Lockleaze and UWE are something that The Dutch would laugh at are disputed by "david", who says that we have made untrue accusations about an unfinished path, and that we should take our posting down.

To the author of this blog page you have made accusations and assumptions which are incorrect.

Please remove this item or forward your name and address to my email 
Well, reviewing the statements we made, the one that is probably wrong is that this is the work of the S Gloucs cycling team. Having visited the site in the week, this is still Redrow's area, and hence their problems. Please can the S Gloucs team accept our apology for this, which may reduce their reaction to next week's coverage on signs in the middle of other paths.

What cannot be untrue is
  • The current height gap between the two paths. This is demonstrably true by examining the photograph below.There is 50cm of vertical with under 2 metres of horizontal space for correcting it.
  • The fact that the Dutch people who viewed our posting found it funny. This is demonstrably true by reading their comments.

Now, it is still a building site, and it may be that there is a plan to connect the two paths together. But the fact they are on different levels means that whatever junction is done here is fundamentally broken. You will have people descending at speed down to the path where they are meant to give way, and people who are trying to get up from the UWE/Lockleaze path who won't be able to do it as the gradient to climb 50cm vertical in 1.5m horizontal is 1 in 3.

David, if you are involved in this project and have plans to fix this situation, please place them up online, point to them in a comment and we will link to them.

In particular, we would value an explanation of how you intend to address the 50cm height difference between the two paths in a way that results in a junction which is actually usable. We shall be testing whether or not the design is something Dutch people would laugh at by asking them, as well as organising a mountain bike only competition to see who can get up and down here once you consider it "open" to the public.

We can be contacted via twitter, @cyclingfront. All communications may be republished and must not be considered confidential or in any way private.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Cycle paths that don't end in the middle of nowhere

One thing the Netherlands has is bike paths that go all the way to the city centre, and which start in the suburbs, so you can get all the way in to town and back again safely. In Bristol, the Railway Path fulfils this for one part of the city, even though it abandons you in the centre, and getting to it can be hazardous.

In South Gloucestershire, the A38 and the A4174 are the key non-motorway routes, and the A4174 does have a segregated path.

Is it so much to ask for this path to get to anywhere useful, rather than just have it stop when it gets complicated?

This "End" sign is so woefully bleak. It says "you are on your own from here". The idea of having anywhere to cycle other than alongside the A4174 ring-road doesn't seem to have occurred to these cycle path designers.

What can we do here? It's not obvious. Painting cycle paths on the quiet suburban roads would be a start, even better: putting in cycle paths when such suburban sprawl goes in. Though as we've seen, they are making such a mess of that in their latest project we don't believe the existing cycling team or Redrow should be permitted to do so.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Cycle paths the Dutch won't laugh at

One of our requirements of what pretends to be part of the cycling is "cycle paths the Dutch won't laugh at."

Unlike inner Bristol, there is the space. We know that, because they keep putting up new dual carriageways, new buildings with lots of parking.
If there is room to add a dual carriageway and lots of parking, there is room to add a quality cycle path
If there is not, then the blame has to go on competence or a complete lack of willingness to care.

Such incompetence is unacceptable to the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire, even if the Popular Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire think differently and are happy to accept the shite the council gives us.

We want, as stated before "cycle paths the Dutch won't laugh at."

That means
1. Cycle paths that require cars to give way. Interestingly, this exactly what is going up in the housing estate behind the MoD Abbey Wood site.

2. Cycle paths that connect up to create a network of traffic free routes. Again, the new development paths do this, as here they connect with the existing UWE-Lockleaze route
It also means no fucking drops the height of a wheel between the two paths, ones that do require you be sporting an MTB with 100-120mm worth of travel on the bike along with hydraulic disk brakes because otherwise you aren't going to do the dropoff and reduce speed and turn left or right fast enough not to clip one of the students.
What kind of idiot would do this? Not just design it, but notice, while they were perfectly levelling the new tarmac, that there was 50cm worth of difference between this new tarmac and the existing path? 

At some point in the future, David Hembrow is going to see this. And he'll laugh. At some point Amsterdamize will see this, and they will say "one of those English jokes". Eventually Mikhael from Copenhagenize will see it and say "That monty python humour, I almost get it"

Because whoever did this is one or more of:
  • Utterly incompetent and in need of having their right to design any kind of road or path removed, banned from ever calling themselves a civil engineer again, until they spend a year's apprenticeship in Haarlem or Den Haag.
  • Utterly ignorant of the needs of people trying to get round the city alive by bicycle.
  • Utterly indifferent of whether or not the cycle paths they design and get built can actually be ridden by someone who isn't a mountain biker that thinks 50cm dropoffs are fun.

This is the problem S Gloucs suffers from. It is a problem that means the Cycling Embassy of GB is only going to make progress here if the entire S Gloucs traffic design team die in a bizarre accident involving a white minibus and a snow plow  -and they replace it with one person who has been to mainland Europe at least once since 1972 instead of some apprentice who learned about road design from the old team and A-Z maps of glasgow and leeds.

But before Carlton Reid and Vehicular Cyclists say "Told you so", these are the same fucking idiots who are trying to accomodate bicycles on the roads. You cannot expect the incompetent and indifferent idiots who do things like this to look at the new dual carriageway they are planning and think "how will a family of four on their own bicycles get over this alive". No, they will produce something that will end up with that family of four getting mentioned in a footnote on the evening news, "family of four died", then some fat git will appear on TV and patronise everyone and say "did they have helmets on?".

For everyone who thinks we are some kind of joke. No, the council cycling team are. Which is why anyone who tries to use these paths will be joining the campaign. Contact us via twitter, @cyclingfront. And together, the council will come to fear us or at least feel vaguely self concious about their imcompetence, and note that whenever the say "We are the South Gloucestershire cycle planning team" everyone from Europe will snicker. 

This is why we have to overthrow the council, or at least embarrass them so much they will hire a new traffic planning team.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire is online!

The People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire, henceforth known as The Cycling Front, is now online.

We shall fight the council for bike paths and lanes that are usable, that do not have bollards and pillars in the middle of them.

Bike paths that do not have South Gloucestershire council vans in the middle of them.

Bike paths that do not abandon you at roundabout junctions when it gets too hard for whatever idiot designs bicycle routes in the council, they throw their hands in the air and say "somehow they will get across alive (probably)."

We are a group of people who work in secret, who do not waste our time being patronised by the council at their so-called cycle forum meetings.

We will act on the streets, to achieve our dream "bicycle paths that people from the netherlands won't laugh at"

What will we do? We shall embarrass the council into action, by showing the world what pretends to be a cycle city infrastructure, and taking into our own hands to fix what they are clearly incapable of caring about or fixing.

We shall overthrow the council, if that is what it takes!

To South Gloucestershire Council we say this: fear us