Friday, 16 October 2009

Going Down

While public lifts perform a valuable role in the wider world, acting not only as an encouragement to pedestrians and cyclists but also as major tourist attractions, as we see in pictures here from Lisbon (45 metres high) and Oregon (40 metres), here in Bristol, with its proud tradition of technical innovation and now Cycling City, even a modest suggestion for a 30 metre high public lift for cyclists and pedestrians to be built on the side of the unprepossessing Trenchard Street multi-storey car park is met with contempt.

However to his credit the City Council's Executive Member for Transport, Cllr Jon Rogers, has not joined in the popular derision but is, he says, keeping an open mind about the possibility. In fact he made some enquiries about the status quo with the existing Trenchard Street lifts which have been used by cyclists for decades as a way of avoiding slogging up the Park Street escarpment. He helpfully posted the reply he had from officers as a comment on yesterday's Evening Post Traffic Lights piece (in response to an earlier enquiry about why the "NCP car park on Park Row now prevented people - primarily the elderly and disabled from using their lifts") and it's worth a read -
"Trenchard Street Multi-Storey Car Park is serviced by three lifts. The original lift cars were constructed with the car park and are approximately 40 years old. We commenced a major refurbishment programme of the lifts in April 2009. Two of the lifts have now been fully refurbished and the third one should be completed by the end of November 2009. The cost of the refurbishment project is £340,000.

"The refurbishment of the lifts has been undertaken for the following reasons:

"There were health & safety concerns regarding the reliability of the lifts. The age, general wear and tear and vandalism of the lifts had resulted in a significant number of lift failures resulting in poor customer service, and unfortunately, an increasing number of more serious incidents of customers being trapped within the lifts causing distress and inconvenience.

"The increasing difficulty in maintaining the lifts and sourcing spares because of the age of the installation.

"The lifts failed to comply with the DDA 1995.

"It has been found that approximately 60% of the users of the old lifts in the car park were not people who were parking there. Instead they were pedestrians and cyclists who were using the lifts as a short cut between Trenchard St and Park Row. This practice had resulted in fee-paying customers either being delayed or, in some cases, being excluded from the lifts because of the space taken up by the bikes and other users. There were also incidents of customers having their clothes marked by oil and dirt from bikes. Usage of the lifts by non-customers has added significantly to running costs (maintenance and energy), as well as reducing the life of the lifts.

"In view of the above, it was decided that when the lifts were replaced the car park tickets would operate them, as this would improve the environment and service to our customers by reducing waiting times. Limiting their use to fee-paying car park users will also reduce future wear and tear to the lifts, and hopefully also reduce the amount of vandalism occurring. We should also benefit from reduced energy and maintenance costs.

"If we were to allow non-customers to use the lifts again this would counter the above benefits of the refurbishment project for the management of this car park.

"Arguably if we were to introduce a charge for using the lifts the associated additional maintenance and energy costs could be recovered but customer wait time would increase making it a less attractive car park for users. It would also be difficult and expensive to introduce a charging regime for non-car users. If a scheme of charging none car-park users were to be introduced we would once again encounter problems of lift overcrowding and the potential for customers to damage their clothing. On balance therefore it is believed that the current limitation on lift usage is appropriate.

Jon Rogers goes on to note in the comment that "The interesting thing about this response is that it does show a demand for the lift in Trenchard Street by cyclists, pedestrians, parents with buggies and disabled people who don't have a car parked there. This was part of the suggestion from Chris Hutt for a bicycle lift up the outside of the car park."

Indeed the officer reply informs us that the majority use of the lifts was by pedestrians and cyclists rather than motorists! Clearly such an intolerable situation could not be allowed to continue in Cycling City and they have now spent a substantial sum on a mechanism (above) specifically to deny the opportunity of using the lifts to mere cyclists and pedestrians. Need I say more?


SteveL said...

If you are looking at Oregon for ideas, look at the Portland Aerial Tram. That's what we need.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Rather than wanting to use something for free, that others have to pay for why not just pay for a 1hour parking ticket (cost £0.60) and then use the lift? Saves you £0.40 on your suggested £1.00 fee for a lift built specifically for cyclists.

Saves spending all that valuable 'cycling city' money!

P.S. Still can't bring myself to actually call Bristol a cycling city. Make it a cycling city, then publish the name. Don't publicise you have xxx million pounds to spend and therefore it’s a ‘cycling city’... just gets peoples hopes up!

The Bristol Blogger said...

"our customers"


As council taxpayers aren't we all customers? Or do we only become customers if we pay extra fees to BCC?

In which case what do they consider a council taxpayer who isn't a feepayer?

Elizabeth said...

Here we have another example of how not having anyone around to look after public places is a false economy. No bus conductors, no park keepers, no lavatory attendants, no police on the beat, and now no lift attendants. And all those people (7 million now and rising?) on benefits of some kind. Where there is minimal employment of manpower, it is dominated by the use of noisy and polluting machinery.

This is not the way things are done in more civilized countries. Will we ever change to a safer, more tranquil, and more satisfying way of doing things? Will we ever get back the skills we once had?

Andy in Germany said...

Is the car park privately owned? I can understand them not wanting people using their shiny new and expensive lift, if so.

What I don't follow, is why cyclists can't pay a small fee and get a season ticket to use it. WOuldn't that make everyone happier?

Jon Rogers said...

Hi Chris

I see that the Trenchard Street lift again features in the Post!

Unfortunately they incorrectly ascribe to me the officer statement. Ho hum.


Chris Hutt said...

Hi Jon, it was probably my fault that the EP thought the quote was from you directly. Re-reading my blog post I see that I didn't make it absolutely, unmistakably crystal clear that it was an officer response that you posted and not your own views.

I think the few EP reporters left are under increasing pressure to churn out stories and lifting off blogs is now commonplace. I guess we bloggers will just have to be that much more careful with our copy.

The Bristol Blogger said...

Or not. (If we want to plant nonsense in the local press)

Anonymous said...

How about providing working lifts for tower block residents first?

Anonymous said...

Probably got a lot to do with the 'Con'sultant running the lift refurbishment job.

Bodge-it and Scarper of Bristol.

Anonymous said...

The Lisbon one looks nice but not that practical..the queues are very long and not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Is there any update on the suggestion of just paying for a one hour parking ticket (cost £0.60) and using the lift, rather than building a brand new cycling lift with tax payers money and then charging the suggested £1.00 fee?


Chris Hutt said...

Anon, that was a very interesting idea, so I went down and checked out the logistics of it.

Tickets are issued by a machine when a driver enters the car park at level 1 or level 5(?). This records the time of entry which enables the amount due on departure to be calculated when payment is made at the pay station immediately prior to departure.

However the machine at the entry barrier will only issue a ticket if a motor vehicle is present in front of the barrier (there's an induction loop in the floor), so a pedestrian or cyclist is not able to procure an entry ticket and cannot therefore use the lifts.

The presence of a car is obviously necessary to prevent motorists who have already parked for many hours issuing themselves with a new entry ticket immediately before paying in order to pay for the shortest stay.

Anonymous said...

Bike's are metal, therefore they should be detected by the induction loop. Couldn't you also carry a roll of tin foil to pull out or just arrange a group of cyclists to turn up at the same time?