Tuesday 24 April 2012

Selfish, ignorant, dangerous

Taking a quick break from slagging off S Gloucs, let's look at Bath.

The A4 sucks. It sucks for cars, as you have to drive down it to get from the A46 Batheaston bypass to the A36 or use that cars-only back route. All the HGVs and heavy traffic go down the A4. Eastbound, enough space for a segregated route, only there are enough parked cars to stop it being a good unsegregated route, let alone something safe. As cars approach the roundabout to get to the A46 & Motorway, they pick up speed and things get worse

Eastbound, equally shit, except the traffic jam makes it slightly easier.

And look, just near the Bathwick Street Bridge -a proper off road bike lane!

Except without some way to keep lazy selfish wankers out of it

Wankers, plural
Why park here? Its where they can park without "inconveniencing" anyone, the bollards keep the cyclists away from the pedestrians, but to fuck all to stop cars. And the council doesn't give a toss either

Addison Lee declares war

There's a theory in some cycling circles that the more people who cycle, the better it will be as everyone else will expect cyclists and be nice to them. Bollocks.

You don't get cut up by a minicab driver on a phone in NL because its not "enough people cycle", it's because everyone cycles, so they all know what it is like. And because the roads are set up to keep minicab drivers away from the schoolkids.

London -like the rest of the country- isn't set up this way.

There's another theory: that as fuel costs and congestion gets worse, more people will cycle.

Maybe. But maybe not.

Many of those people who try cycling will have such a bad experience that they will change their mind. It may be "they aren't properly trained", but you can't take the lane in a city unless you are fit enough to do 20mph, and ruthless enough to smack on the side of any vehicle trying to take that lane from you. Schoolkids don't get a look it.

Some of the people who try cycling will stick to it, learn the back routes round cities -and the Roads of Death that are almost impossible to avoid, even if it is just crossing them. If there's good parking at their destination, somewhere at home to keep a bike, they may stick to it and be happy -possibly even start campaigning for cities and suburbs to support their needs.

Will everyone else be greatful? Bollocks.

That same fuel costs and congestion is going to make everyone who drives even more angry and resentful.

You can see that from the hate comments in papers, in radio. "pay fuel tax", "pay up", "we pay", "fair costs". The more you pay to drive, the more you resent freeloaders, and the more you feel that you have the right to be there, and cyclists don't. There's also "Cognitive Dissonance": the more you spend, the less willing you are to recognise you made a mistake. People who drive feel they have paid enough to be there, and we haven't.

There's also the feeling of injustice that bicycles aren't stuck in traffic jams. Again, the comments complain about that "undertaking", "not staying in lanes". And of course "use bus lanes".

Addison Lee's actions fit entirely into this model

  1. The drivers have had enough of congestion, so want to use the bus lanes. Griffin thins he has the political clout to get the rules changed, win new accounts, and have his drivers get more customers/day.
  2. Griffin is also fed up with the amount of money he feels that his company pays to be on that road, and that we, the cyclists, don't deserve any space.

That's why he wants the bus lanes: money.

The rant about cyclists being untrained and diving under his cars? That's just resentment about the growing number of bicycles. View that as a measure of success.

After all, he's done more to give Addison Lee Cabs a bad reputuation than any number of youtube videos has done. He's got the cyclists and black cabs allied. And he's even got the Daily Mail on our side.

That means he's done more for cycling in a week than Boris Johnson has in four years.

Monday 9 April 2012

Filton Shubbery battle -have the pavement instead

Remember how the traffic creators (calling them "Traffic planners" would imply planning skills and ignore demand creation) wanted to turn part of a park into an extra roundabout lane?

Well, the Filton Town Council response is "have the pavement instead"

FILTON councillors have rejected a request from South Gloucestershire Council to hand over a piece of parkland to make way for a road widening scheme.
South Gloucestershire's Mark Shearman, principal engineer for transport services, wrote to the town council. He asked for councillors to decide whether the town council could "contribute" a small corner of Elm Park to the scheme, originally asking for 317 metres squared.
In his letter he said that the extra land would provide an opportunity to address congestion on the approach to the roundabout, upgrade the traffic signals to a more efficient system and improve facilities for cyclists.
He explained that the scheme would be funded with section 106 money from the new Southmead Hospital development.
That is this would be the NHS funding the removal of parkland to make it easier for fat people to drive to the hospital for their Diabetes checkups. Does nobody in the council or traffic creation department think about the hypocrisy there? In Bristol, S106 money goes to encouraging cycling. In S Gloucs: extra lanes at junctions.

As for the claim this would help cyclists, that's clearly bollocks. How would encouraging more cars to drive down Filton Road and make it harder to get across the BAe Roundabout help cycling.


Resident Brian Smith, 75, who lives in Third Avenue, attended the last council meeting.
"I don't think the scheme is necessary," he said.
"The width of the footpath could be reduced to make way for a third lane of traffic before we start giving away our green land.
The locals like their greenery, but don't give a fuck about the pavement either. Well, nobody wants to use that pavement, though it is the only way to get to the shopping centre set up for people to drive in to, and it is part of the official ring road cycle route. Not caring about it reflects the views of the residents, rather than the council. At least they want the park to stay green.


A South Gloucestershire Council spokesman said: "The council is currently working with Filton Town Council on plans to improve the ring road junction with the A38 at Filton roundabout. 
"These improvements are a response to the Southmead hospital redevelopment and address the expected increase in traffic flows in the area as patients, employees and visitors travel to the hospital.
"The proposals involve widening the carriageway to provide an extra lane on the westbound approach to the roundabout and will use a narrow strip of land from the adjacent Elm Park, which is owned by Filton Town Council. 
"In order to minimise the amount of land needed for the improvements, options considered include placing the shared use footway/cycleway path running alongside the road within the Elm Park boundary. 
"An area of redundant highway land near Shellard Road is also being investigated for use as a replacement for the Elm Park land."
Let's think this through. There's no free parking being added at Southmead, the area nearby is going to have its parking rules enforced. While it makes sense for out-of-shift staff to drive in and out, if the council had actual support for cycling or public transport in the area then they'd be doing something to aid that, rather than push bicycles away and do nothing for buses.

Regarding Shellard Road -its on the east side of the fields. They may find something there, but given the council's habit of turning traffic free routes into rat-runs, don't expect it to stay parkland. Five years from now, they will want to widen the route further back from the roundabout, and at that point the small print in any land swap will surface to show the council can have it back for free.

For anyone who says the council can be engaged with, politely, this shows the traffic creation department's world view. Their hierarchy of Provision is

  1. HGVs (only S Gloucs has a bus/bike/HGV lane)
  2. Cars
  3. Parking for Cars
  4. Extra rat-runs to take the pressure off the A4174
  5. Extra routes to the M4
  6. Extending the A4174 around the South of Bristol to create the demand for even more lanes
  7. Grandiose Bus Rapid Transit schemes down the Bristol-Bath Railway Path.
  8. Trains
  9. Pedestrians
  10. Bicycles
  11. Greenery
Why put pedestrians above bicycles? Because every shared use path -the only bike paths in the area- have lots of signs up telling bicycles to slow down for pedestrians. But there is no single "shared road", open to both bicycles and cars, where there are signs up telling the cars to slow down for bicycles. If anyone on a bicycle gets hit by a car, it's their own fault for being there.

BBC, getting "road tax" wrong again

Another complaint, this time to the BBC

Complaint about the Radio 4 programme, You and Yours, broadcast at 12:30 on Monday April 9, regarding the repeated use of the phrase "Road Tax".

The you and yours programme on small cars has both the presenter and the interviewee repeatedly using the phrase "road tax" as a misnomer for Vehicle Excise Duty. Such an erroneous uce reinforces the mistaken belief that cyclists do not pay for the road and therefore have no right to use them, which increases conflict between drivers who believe bicycles should be off the roads, and those of us who are trying to use a low-pollution,  low congestion solution to our cities' transport problems.

This use of the phrase "Road Tax" is a recurrent problem with BBC reporting. While it may  be considered acceptable in a slightly-comedic series such as Top Gear, to use it in a consumer journalism series implies inadequate factual review prior to broadcast.

In the past, BBC news programmes have published corrections to such errors

Could you consider the you-and-yours reporters to do the same -after they have been correctly briefed on the funding model of roads and motor vehicles contributions thereof?