Tuesday 8 March 2011

Better by bike?

The city's better by bike site has a video from the Bollards of Death route to the B&Q bridge.

We see they chose a sunny off peak period. This is it at its best. Try doing it at 17:15 after the MoD knock off, in winter conditions. the MoD lighting is for their IR cameras, the rubgy grounds completely unlit with large potholes that fill up with water. Add some pedestrians trying to get home in darkness and a couple of teenagers on trials bikes.

A quick post mortem of the video

1:14 Swerve into "the forbidden side" to pass pedestrians. This shows a fundamental problem here that bollards don't fix. People walk side by side, the bike paths are two way, the path isn't wide enough to segregate either traffic option. All the bollards do is increase the likelihood of collision, as segregation isn't possible.

2:06. This is three way junction with restricted visibility -something the video doesn't warn you about. Anyone coming from the route that joins on the left has to be in the pedestrian side to avoid colliding with people coming from the direction shown in the video.

2:21. Note the large water filled potholes. Then consider what the path is like in darkness.

2:48. Note how conflict is reduced at this point because the road is wide enough. But on winter nights when the rubgy match lights aren't on, pedestrians are invisible -nobody likes it.

3:57 (now in Bristol) observe the large oncoming bus. With vehicles half parked on the pavement on both sides of the road, oncoming traffic will swerve into your lane, and as few people give way to bicycles, the advice to keep your speed down would be correct -though of course having the cars do the same would be better. That is, after all, why people park on the pavement -to protect their own vehicle's bodywork.

Those vans on the left are a fixture by the way. We are promised some signs -let's see if that makes any difference in behaviour. Making one side of the road no parking, and making pavement parking illegal, might, because then everyone would park on the same side of the road -and less swerving.

4:27 You need some acceleration to cross here, cars are in a hurry to get in or out of Lockleaze.

4:59 locals tend to drive to these shops (no bike parking), look out for double parked vehicles, cars stopping, pulling out and U-turning without warning.

The shopping stretch is interesting. It is hazardous, because so many people drive there. Why? No reason not to other than fuel costs. There's little congestion, no parking problems (just double park), and you know there'll be somewhere to park when you get home. Unlike the inner city, the local shops are further away but easy to drive to. Downtown, the combination of congestion, one-way streets, road closures and traffic lights means you are best off walking round the corner. Here driving still works. It may cost, but as that weekly cost is decoupled from the drive to the shops, it's not immediately obvious.

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