Monday, 21 September 2009

Laying the foundations for more motorist-shafting

As the Evening Post reports:

Bristol's long-term recovery from the recession will be hampered by the city's clogged streets and poor public transport system, business leaders claim.

Sounds like a chance to hammer the bus companies? No, a chance to hammer drivers, of course!

"But in order for the economy not just to pick up but to see sustained long-term growth, changes must be made now in time for the renewal of increased demands on our road and rail network.

"These changes will be expensive and unpopular in some quarters, but politicians need to go ahead and make them and stop putting them off until after the forthcoming election."

So no prizes for guessing who they're planning on hitting.

Mr Sturge said: "We are hearing, from all quarters the idea of making Bristol entirely car-free on a Sunday. That would be a big change for Bristol and not one which would be acceptable, in the short term, to all parties, including many employers. But positive change for the long term inevitably will need investment and pain in the short term which may be unpalatable. Bristol is in a great position to pioneer radical change – but does it have to be so radical as reclaiming our streets for pedestrians?

Making Bristol entirely car-free? What fucking planet are these people living on? Clearly not this one, if they're claiming they're hearing it "from all quarters" which is just plainly a lie. They're hearing it from the hand-wringing vegan Bishopston cyclist contingent I expect. But all quarters? I think not.

The IoD's Question Time debate will take place at law firm Smith and Williamson's offices in Portwall Place at 6.30pm.

Bristol City Council, the West of England Partnership, transport planning expert Leo Eyles from Steer Davies Gleave, sustainable transport group Sustrans, and Justin Davies, managing director of bus group, First Bristol will take part.

So, the motorist nice and fairly represented then?

Maybe I should turn up.


Chris Hutt said...

Funny that your interpretation is to see this as anti-car. I read the same piece and saw it as anti-pedestrian.

If you read what Mr Sturge is quoted as saying, he appears to be against making Bristol 'entirely car-free on Sundays' and against 'reclaiming the streets for pedestrians'.

My take on this is that the business lobby are organising to dampen down some of the more ambitious (as I would see them) ideas and push the agenda back towards BRT and public transport. They want to keep the streets for motor traffic (private and public) and are worried about people wanting them as social spaces.

Bristol Dave said...

How is it anti-pedestrian? He's not proposing any restrictions on them.

Bristol Traffic said...

That AA report that said 30% drop in congestion, "due to the recession". bollocks. It's a 30% drop in traffic as measured on their trafficmaster sensors, which only look at the Mways and the A-roads; no data on Bristol.

Furthermore, looking at the reasons for that drop, included the fact that fuel costs were a big factor and that when surveyed some people were -wait for it- walking their kids to school. Others were -even more subversively- working from home one or two days a week.

That fraction of the traffic job is not "due to recession" it is due to petrol being expensive compared to income. There is no guarantee that the situation will ever improve there, not if you consider that a key reason oil prices dropped last year was because of the recession. If the economies of the world recover, and demand picks up, so might fuel costs.

What the AA/travelmaster people are maybe saying is that a lot of people do take the cost of driving into account, and drive less. And the actions of those people reduce congestion. Which is wonderful. Everyone who walks the sprogs to school, who does their emails from home, is one less person creating congestion or even taking up space on a bike.

Bristol Traffic said...

I should add that what both groups appear to be saying to me is "the sudden fall in traffic is no excuse not to build new motorway lanes or BRT routes". Rather than celebrate the improvements, they have to portray them as transient and defend their planned projects before the forthcoming cuts.

bristolmoose said...

Am I missing a point here?
How will making Bristol car free on a Sunday improve congestion on the other six days when most people work?
Surely this is simply a publicity stunt they can flog to the BBC et al about how "seriously Bristol takes it commitment to reducing congestion, pollution and climate change"

AngryDave said...

Making Bristol 'car free' on sundays would be 'big change', but not a good one. Is everyone who lives in Bristol going to get one seventh of their road tax refunded? Not likely!
'Bristol is in a great position to pioneer radical change', but what they are proposing is stupidity.
If they really wanted to cut congestion, instead of creating it to justify future congestion charging, then a good start would be to remove all the excessive and out of sync traffic lights in Bristol.

Bristol Dave said...

AngryDave: But then how would they create the congestion which justifies the need to charge motorists for it?

AngryDave said...

With the excessive amounts traffic lights that are going up everywhere. If they can slow the traffic going out down, then as more traffic comes in it will create congestion.
You only have to look at the new road layout around cabot circus, and remember the problems caused when the city centre went from a large one-way circuit to 2 way traffic and loads of traffic lights.

The problems are not just caused by the presence of these lights either. Too many of these new lights that are springing up are not set up for the road conditions they are supposed to manage. They give priority to minor roads and cause the major routes to back up. An example of this are the lights on the mini-roundabout by lidl in brislington. The roundabout was needed for the traffic coming out of lidl as it cannot turn right out of the car park and gives access to the main 'A' roads from the store. The problem is that the lights give priority to traffic comming out of the housing estate. I have lost count of the amount of times i have had to sit at a red light waiting for the non-existant traffic comming out of the state, while traffic stacks back down the hill to tesco.

I work just outside of Bristol, work shifts, and i ride a motorbike so i rarely travel at peek traffic times. But even on the ring road (the A4174 for those who are not familiar with it), is now being slowed down by using lights to decrease traffic flow. This is how the councils intend to create congestion where there is simply a lot of traffic. It only becomes congestion when it gets slowed or stopped and begins to build and bottleneck.