Thursday, 23 October 2008

Signs of the times

Bureaucrats like signs. Signs give them the illusion of doing something about a problem without actually having to go out and confront real people, sparing us the interference in our lives. Signs serve a further useful purpose in giving us some insight into how the bureaucratic mind works, as in this example in front of the new Museum of Bristol on Harbourside.

In the beginning the bureaucrats were well intentioned, with the recognition that this quayside is an important and popular cycle route, despite the obvious hazard of the railway lines. The quayside is normally much wider but work on the new Museum of Bristol has required about half the width to be fenced off , so taking away much of the space cyclists need to manoeuvre around pedestrians and across the rails, which have to be crossed at an angle approaching 90° to avoid the wheel slipping into the groove.

Just to compound the problem the Council have since placed a rubbish bin at a crucial pinch point where the railway points restrict the options for cyclists still further and they are allowing cars to be parked on the narrowed quayside. Not surprisingly all this is causing cyclists some difficulties, so what is the response of our Cycling City fathers? You guessed it, more signs!

The original sign sensibly dedicating the quayside as a shared path was first supplemented by the blue sign saying "cyclists are advised to dismount", but apparently this didn't protect the bureaucratic backsides adequately so we now have the yellow sign saying simply "cyclist (sic) dismount" (presumably to read through and interpret the plethora of conflicting signs).

So when the inevitable accidents happen the bureaucrats can blame the cyclist for being so foolish as to have cycled on a dedicated cycle route when clearly and unambiguously advised not to. Much simpler for them than actually doing something practical like finding a sensible location for the rubbish bin or banning car parking on the narrowed quayside, let alone temporarily filling in the grooves of the rails. It seems that "consider other path users" applies to us but not to them.

But the Council are learning from their past mistakes. The newest sections of Harbourside quayside to be opened to the public on the opposite side of the water have a simple and uncomplicated message for cyclists - NO CYCLING.


elizabeth said...

Could someone please tell me if there are any other "statutory" bike lanes than the one on College Green? Even that one gets parked in, including by the police, and is usually full of broken glass by the traffic lights. Recently the City of Bristol College students have taken to walking and sitting in it (further up, outside the Cathedral), so should we expect a "Cyclists Dismount" sign there too?

Anonymous said...

22 million pounds spent on 'cyclists dismount' signs.

THATS the real cycling city plan !!

Chris Hutt said...

"Cyclists dismount" signs are invariably a device to enable councils to renege on their duty to provide safe and convenient routes for cyclists.

At the time that the National Cycle Network was first promoted I remember Sustrans CEO John Grimshaw promising that there wouldn't be any 'cyclists dismount' signs on it, but that soon fell by the wayside.

David Hembrow said...

On a proper cycling network you really don't have "cyclists dismount" signs. I've yet to find a single one over here.

Also not seen "route ends" yet, either.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is all very well, but what else what I have to fall back on when [as has happened to me] a twat on a bike has raced by nearly knocking me over and come over all smug and sanctimonious about how I was in the way ?

These eejits regard children and parents with pushchairs as some kind of low-life who shouldn't be there limiting their right to bike at top speed through a working harbour area..

I want to be able to tell this wanker that 'pedestrians have right of way' and that he shouldn't be cycling in a way that is selfish and endangers people like me !!!