Monday, 28 April 2014

Yes but who will think of the children? (part 1)

Say what you like about Tank Commander "Wolfie" Miles and his right-to-commute-to-work campaigners, call them "lost in time" or "selfish and missing Clifton's underlying issues" -they are good at PR.

They've realise that demanding the right to park outside the estate agent where you work, where you can charge a premium of thousands of pounds for any form of guaranteed parking, makes you look hypocritical. So instead they've found a commuter group that they can call on: school teachers.

The best one yet is how the introduction of an RPZ will force a teacher in Colston Primary School to resign as she'll have nowhere near to park after 45 minutes driving from Bath.

We've covered Colston Primary before, showing our datasets go back years, and can so place things in a historical context. We also know that the school is already in the CM zone, so can do before and after footage. So over today past the traffic jam chaos that was the st michael's hill school run jam, and what do we see -and how does it compare with the equivalent photos from 2009.

Before: Parked cars provide exciting things for small children too look at

After: empty crossing with good visibility

Before: congested dropoff zone outside the school, with the only place for parents to pull over the keep clear zone


After: emptiness. Those parents do doing dropoff can do it without going on the yellow lines -and so risk earning a ticket.

This carries on up the hill -where you can see the small kid scootering up and down while waiting for a parent with a push chair to catch up.

Finally, rotate pi radians  from the first photo -that's 180 degrees to people that stopped doing maths at 16 and don't understand data science- and what do you see behind the pleasant park with a play area where the younger brothers and sister of the colston primary age kids are playing on their scooters?

A train station.

Colston's Primary is three minutes walk from the Severn Beach line, which has a regular service to and from Templemeads -it takes 12 minutes, costs 1 pound 60 or thereabouts return, and hooks in to the trains to bath. If you do make the choice to live in Bath and commute into Bristol, this school is one of the few places where you can actually do it by train conveniently.

Whereas the parents with they schoolkids? They get a no-worry area where they can walk their kids to school, without fearing for the kids running ahead, without having to cross roads with zero visibility -roads congested with cars driving round in circles waiting for a space freed up by a resident.

This gives them a low stress stretch of the journey, which lasts until they get to the No-RPZ areas, such as Montpelier

That's why we think this sob-story is just that: something dredged up by tank command to make a point, but which doesn't hold up to scrutiny
  1. Colston's primary is served by both a train system 3-5 minutes walk away
  2. It's 15 minutes walk from the central bus station, where buses go to bath
  3. The primary users of the school -the families nearby- benefit, where they are walking, driving or cycling their kids there.
  4. There's nowhere that says it is compulsory for schoolteachers to live in bath
Central Bath has been nothing but RPZ for ages -anyone who lives in Cotham and who works in Bath isn't going to find any free parking except out past Victoria Park or other places more than half an hour's walk from the centre.

If the teacher lives in central Bath, she's going to have an RPZ permit on her own car. If she lives out of the core, well, she'd be just as inconvenienced teaching at a school in Bath as she would be in Bristol, so doesn't make a defensible case for the Tooting Clifton Popular Front.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Press Complaints Commission: it's OK to propose assaulting cyclists in a newspaper

A few days ago, we covered how the Western Daily Press -the "provincial" sibling to the evening post, printed an article advocating knocking cyclists off their bicycles if they were in the way.

Well, being a media outlet ourselves, we are never afraid to pick on our competitors, and complained to the press complaints commission.

After a couple of followup emails, we are pleased to announce that it is OK to print such articles -because it doesn't violate the Editor's Code of Practice.
The PCC considers complaints about specific allegations of breaches of the Editors’ Code of Practice. In order for us to consider your complaint, we do need you to explain how you believe that the Code has been breached.

You are correct to say that the police would be the appropriate authority to raise concerns about the incitement of violence; this is not a matter covered by the Clauses of the Code. If this is your concern, I would advise that you seek to raise it with the police.
Which raises the question: what happened in the great Matthew Parris "string them up" incident? Nothing:

The PCC said:
584 people complained about a comment piece article in The Times by Matthew Parris, published on 27 December 2007, headlined “What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?”. The complainants were mostly cycling enthusiasts objecting to the suggestion that piano wire be strung acrosscountry lanes to decapitate cyclists, as a punishment for littering the countryside. The Commission said that the Code of Practice had not been breached, although it was pleased that Mr Parris had apologised for his comments.
This is interesting. There is a clause that says "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.". but: cyclists aren't any of that group unless you actually state that they are a bunch of madly evangelical troublemakers whose inability to adapt to modern society is a sign of psychological issues. Restrict your descriptions to "a menace" or "a nuisance" ant its OK.

It also means this: the Western Daily Press can say what it wants about cyclists, and only needs to apologise if it cares to.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Regional Press advocating violence against cyclists

We have mixed opinions of the Bristol Evening Post, and mourn the fact that whenever it tries to be more forward thinking -as in its coverage of gay marriage- the remaining readers find it offensive.

The Western Daily Press -the Somerset paper that seemingly never gets sold in the city- isn't trying to be so forward thinking, not with its Chris Rundle article "Cyclists are a nuisance on Somerset's roads and byways"

  1. Columnist complains about cyclsts being on on shared path while he is warning
  2. Same columnist expresses sympathy for people in the new forest who endangered cyclists and horses on roads by throwing tacks on the road -a crime for which the police are making enquiries
  3. Columnist then complains about cyclists not being on a shared path while he is driving
  4. Columnist expresses surprise that when he shouts "get off the road" to cyclists as he drives by that they are insulting back
  5. Columnist proposes assaulting cyclists with a billiard cue

The author here clearly has some hate issues, or he is trying to be witty in the style of Matthew "string them up" Parris  by advocating violence against residents and visitors to the area.

And the Western Daily Press encourages this? Actually prints articles advocating violence against cyclists? As that is what they are doing.

Matthew Paris eventually apologised -after hundreds of Press Complaints Council complaints. We wait to see what the Western Daily and Chris Rundle do.

Before anyone says "we are coming out as a cycling organisation"  Not so. We give cyclists exactly the same respect we give anyone else in this city: nothing whatsoever. But nor do we go out of our way to run them over, shout abuse or try to hit them. Violence tends not to make the original problem go away -it just escalates things.

Clifton : bring out your dead

After the Tank visit, we felt that a trip to Clifton was in order.

We took our stolen bicycle to the area. Just as there is no tank parking, there is no cycle parking in this part of the city -something they are proud of, rather than something they campaign about.

We ended up using the "no cycling" bit of tarmac where the tank had been.

Here's the video from a quick spin round the area

Key points

  1. There's nothing happening
  2. In the centre of the village, there is no legal area to park left.
  3. Even the parking for under 2 hours is full -showing that short-term parking restrictions do not stop shop customers coming.
  4. All four bicycle racks are full, and cyclists are inconveniencing pedestrians and endangering motorists by chaining their bicycles to railings and lamp posts -they do not take a hint, do they?
  5. at 1:18, outside the parking limited zone, the residents are double parking. This extra parking area is going to be lost come the RPZ.
  6. all vehicles bar the one a 3:49 have wing mirrors
  7. There's no decent graffiti -hence no motivation for modern tourists to visit it.
  8. Nothing is happening. There's a few people wandering around, but that's it
  9. Despite all the echelon parking on Sion Hill and York Crescent, there's only 3-4 parking spaces there. The residents have to be grateful that they are powerful enough to stop the council taking the echelon parking away and putting in something anti-Clifton like a safe cycle route to the bridge!
  10. Down in Hotwells, on Hope Chapel Hill, the RPZ is being painted in.
  11. Civilisation has not collapsed down there, there are not legions of zombies walking around chewing the limbs of people with resident parking permits.
No, Hotwells's RPZ is not zombie country. Clifton village is, sadly. For all those "Clifton Will Die" posters, clifton is already dead as far as the rest of the inner city is concerned -they just haven't noticed.

Which means that rather than worry about whether the removal of shopkeeper and local business staff parking will kill the village, the Clifton Popular Front needs to think about how to get customers who aren't local businesses in there, competing with other parts of the town that are getting a national reputation.

Stokes Croft: exciting.

Clifton: an afternoon with an elderly aunt who smells of cat wee.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Clifton and 4X4s

After our post on the Clifton Popular Front, we got a complaint by way of Twitter from one LittleGibbo.

We were told not to be so rude:
@bristoltraffic don’t make assumptions. We don’t all have SUVs. Don’t be so rude.
and later, when we questioned her assumptions:
@bristoltraffic sorry if I am, but how? Was that tweet not suggesting that people of Clifton drive SUV’s? It’s how it read….

Notice how we said "Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country,".
We didn't say "Clifton is Bristol's 4x4 country" -only that it has a reputation. We were declaring a statement of fact -a reputation- without considering whether it was valid.

well we don't like assumptions, we're a data-driven organisation.

Time to take out a vehicle to see. We lack a tank and they aren't very fuel efficient, so stole a bicycle and visited the area. This was a mid-week, mid-afternoon visit, so is at risk of collecting statistics on the 4x4 ownership of shopkeepers in the core village, not residents -so we went over to a residential street nearby: Canynge Square

And yes, we did find some SUVs.

One photograph isn't a defensible dataset, so we did a complete circuit of the square

this shows some important facts
  1. Although it claims to be a square, it is in fact a triangle
  2. There's a lot of cars at home, even on a weekday. 
  3. Most of the cars are new, shiny and dent free
  4. All have their wing mirrors attached.
  5. Yes, there are a lot of 4x4s there, even if you discount the volvo XC70 estate car.
Anyway, we can look at the video and say "from our survey of clifton a lot of the locals have 4x4s".

Which means that the reputation of Clifton being Bristol's 4x4 country is clearly valid. We have nothing to apologise for -and expect an apology of our own.

No doubt some people will be pointing to the inadequate size of our sample set, and our failure to compare a control group of another part of Bristol, or indeed look at national statistics of the ratio of 4x4s to practical cars in the previous two to three years. But we must pre-emptive dismissly their arguments.

People are trying to shape the parking and driving policy of the area without any data at all -so our sample of a single residential triangle is in fact more valid. If we'd stopped at the photo we'd have been selective, but showing the entire circuit provides more defensible data than all content by other parties..

In comparison, the downs committee voted against a 20 mph based on a single experiment conducted by a single councillor - an experiment for which the councillor is failing to provide the data on.

Meanwhile The Clifton Popular Front are using results of their surveys to claim that 99% of businesses are against having their all-day staff parking converted to short-stay shopper parking. making exaggerated claims to residents about how that loss of staff parking will damage their life, and completely missing the point that Clifton already has a parking problem: nowhere legal for customers to park precisely due to all that staff parking.

To summarise: We have conducted a survey of Clifton village and observed a number of 4x4s in residential streets. Anyone attempting to dismiss our claims as inadequate will be required to provide defensible data for their own assertions about Clifton, parking, and how an end to free staff parking will bring about the downfall of the area. Otherwise: be quiet

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Clifton Popular Front: parking or war!

Clifton has always had a reputation for being Bristol's 4x4 country, indeed, one of our first ever photograph was someone being forced to park their 4x4 outside a fee paying ecole.

Well, the "clifton or death" campaigners, who are campaigning for "right to commute by car" have escalated beyond the mock tanks to the real thing,

If you look at the footage, they are saying "loss of parking will destroy clifton" -yet as you note in the video: there are are no free spaces. Which means that the combination of residents and staff parking has destroyed the parking opportunities for any paying shop customers. Which means that the number of customers that can drive to their shops is reduced.

More formally: if the number of free spaces is zero, the the number of hours of free parking you get is also zero.

You can see this at 1:10 where the tank is forced to park on Clifton Downs, just behind the "No Cycling sign".

Which is where the whole "RPZ kills the village" story falls apart. As it appears to be granting free parking where none exists today.

Ignoring the fact that they are really fighting for the right to drive to work, they threaten to take their battle all the way to David Cameron if they don't get their way.

Here then is the second video of their war against the RPZ, taking the battle to westminster itself!

Support the Clifton Popular Front in their campaign! Rise up and overthrow the oppressors that is Bristol Parking Services!