Month: September 2013

London has Space4Cycling, Bristol has CycleLanes4Cash

Bristol City Council have replaced a cycle lane with car parking, in order to earn the council £20,000

Colston Street, Bristol

Colston Street’s new car parking, wouldn’t Eric Pickles be proud?

Mr Terry Bullock, the Traffic Manager for Bristol City Council, admitted Thursday night at the Bristol Cycle Forum that a section of a cycle lane on Colston Street was removed in August so that five spaces for private car parking could earn the council £20,000 a year. Mr Bullock did not mention how much it had cost to remove the cycle lane or to create the parking spaces, or will cost to enforce and maintain the spaces.

Mr Bullock suggested that money raised in this manner could be good for cycling as it would pay for other schemes, while noting that the money could not be ring-fenced for cycling.

Colston Street, Bristol

Google Street View shows the old cycle lane

The five parking spaces that now replace the cycle lane, an official Sustrans route, are opposite a bus stop which has created a pinch-point for cyclists travelling uphill. This flies in the face of the council’s recently acknowledgement that cyclists are being overlooked in highway designs.

Colston Street, Bristol

A new pinch point at the base of the hill

In July Mr Alistair Cox, the City Transport Service Manager for Bristol City Council, responded to the Bristol Cycling Campaign’s successful ‘Stop Pinching Bikes!’ campaign, writing

“It is of course not council policy to narrow a road to the extent that it disadvantages cycling, neither to expect cycling to share roads with heavy and fast traffic nor to build facilities that are obstructed by parked vehicles.”

Colston Street is not the only example contradicting the words coming out from Bristol City Council. A a recent pedestrian crossing on Whiteladies Road has removed a cycle lane, meaning a new pinch point for an even steeper hill.

What makes these contradiction even more incredible are the planned schemes for Clarence Road and Baldwin Street, where parking for private vehicles is being removed to introduce a segregated cycle lanes. While short of meeting a proper Dutch standard, they could be the start of a new era of cycling provision in Bristol.

So why must such bold schemes fight against the tens of smaller junctions made worse by the council’s actions? Obviously some in the council are fighting the good fight, but it’s clear that the prevailing car-centric attitude has still not caught up with the Bristol’s supposed status as a cycling city.

Update 8/10/2013

Mark Bradshaw, the deputy mayor, has responded to this on Twitter.

“we got this wrong re Colston St & I’ve asked for the pay & display bays to be removed”

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Avon & Somerset Police promise a Section 59 warning and deliver… nothing

On the 22nd of July the driver of a car with registration LT51KME decided to overtake me with inches to spare. I recorded the incident on my helmet camera.

Warning: Video has loud swearing

This was beyond a mistake. The driver knew what she was doing and deliberately drove her car at speed towards me. If I had not evaded her car then the wing mirror would have clipped me. This is serious, and this driver should not be operating a vehicle under the impression that ‘might is right’.

Fortunately the Avon & Somerset police officer I spoke to three days later agreed. She decided to serve the driver with a warning, specifically Section 59 of the Police Reform Act. In essence this means if the driver causes “alarm, distress or annoyance” again in the next year then her car will be seized.

I was very pleased with the outcome of the meeting from the police. For once it seemed I had come across a sympathetic ear and had for the first time elicited a decent, but proportional, punishment towards a dangerous driver.

One month later, on the 22nd of August, I finally heard back from the officer I spoke to (after I chased it up). Below is the email I received.

Apologies that it has taken some time to resolve this matter.

This has been in part due to my working part-time hours and catching the other party at the right time to speak with them.

I can confirm that the female driver has now been spoken to and made aware of your complaint.

I did discuss with her the Highway Code and rules regarding how a cyclist should be treated when passing on the road.

At first she did not see any wrong doing on her part, but was quite receptive to what I had to say.

For this reason I felt that words of advice were suitable on this occasion and that no further action will be taken.

Her vehicle index and details are recorded with us should there be any further need for Police involvement due to manner of driving.

She did raise one concern of her own, in that she was aware you were recording the incident and she heard you mention YouTube during your exchange.

She would like reassurance that the footage would not be made publically available.  Her main worry being that she had her children in the car, and her number plate visible, and would not like this information on an open forum.

Has the footage been used online at all?

If so, out of courtesy for the children, and consideration of Data Protection and Human Rights, could I ask that the footage be removed from any public forum?

Kind regards

<name of officer removed>

In summary, not only has the officer gone back on their agreement to serve a section 59, but I am to remove the video of the incident from YouTube.

Since the police have failed to police the roads I refuse to remove the only practical consequence of driver’s behaviour. The message is clear: if you drive your car dangerously then expect to get away with it. And if you get caught? Don’t worry about that either, the police will help you to cover your tracks.