Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Cars have their uses

Recent weather events remind us that cars have their uses in helping to keep highways clear of obstructions and debris of one sort or another. In freezing weather conditions cyclists are best advised to stick to the roads and give cycling facilities a miss because the roads will generally be salted and kept clear of snow and ice. But this is not entirely the consequence of the Council's road maintenance priorities being focused on motor traffic. The traffic itself helps to keep the roads clear by displacing snow, slush and water from the road surface.

Thanks to the Council's misguided attempts to encourage cycling we have a neat illustration of this at Prince Street Bridge (which some of you will have noticed is a bit of a cause célèbre on this blog) as pictured above and below. In the first we see how snow and slush collect on the motor traffic free side (left) compared to the side still used by cars (right) where even the footway is clearer. In the second we see that heavy rain leads to the creation of large areas of standing water on the motor traffic free side (left) but none on the side used by cars (right). In either case it would only require freezing temperatures overnight to turn the standing water or slush to ice to make the surface deadly dangerous.

Standing water on the streets seems to have become a prominent feature of Bristol from about the time that Avon County Council was abolished 13 years ago. I guess a generation of old style highway engineers, who foolishly thought their main responsibility was maintaining the highway infrastructure, disappeared along with Avon and were replaced with aspiring social engineers more interested in how they can bamboozle us into changing our individual behaviour to fit in with their targets for modal shift. Anyway, here's a long standing (well over 10 years!) seasonal body of water, Lake Pembroke (area 21 square metres), to be found at the junction of Pembroke Road and Queen's Road in Clifton.

Picturesque though Lake Pembroke is, passing traffic causes waves to wash across the western shore, totally inundating what vestiges of the footway remain above high water level, so soaking any pedestrians unfortunate enough to be passing. The remedy is of course to unblock the drainage gully located at this point, but that would involve someone from the Council having to leave the comfort of their nice warm dry offices to have a look and actually risk getting wet, which would really be asking to much of the poor dears.

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