Tag Archives: Streets

Getting Lost

Cheap SatNav

I have had decent sat nav for 6 months now and today instead used a road atlas to enjoy a retro moment – finding my way around several bike dealers within 100 miles of my house. So what did we learn?

  • there are some interesting back roads in Buckinghamshire, some muddy and infested with tractors
  • with road atlas scales size does matter – no more than 3 miles to one inch
  • as does being up to date – if you buy a 2008 titled atlas it was issued in August 2007 and based only on the roads known to man (and the O/S) some months earlier – although with the lack of investment in new roads you shouldn’t get caught out too often…

As a geographer and a map anorak but also a gadget fan this fundamental dichotomy causes me sleepless nights 🙂 

And the holy grail was found north of Aylesbury:

Aprilia Tuono 2008

Brussels by bike

No, we used Eurostar to get there but a Saturday morning tour of the city’s cycle routes convinced me we still have a long way to go in the UK to match best pracice. We cycled through parks, the ring road and side streets, then on contra flow “on street” and “on pavement” routes (from the European Parliament to the centre) and everywhere drivers gave way to clearly inexperienced English cyclists.

We got our bikes from Provelo and were led by a really knowledgeable local guide. At one stage we crossed the equivalent of Marble Arch, the Arc de Triomphe and any junction in Rome combined, cutting acoss buses, cars, mopeds and trams with no more stress than cycling along the Ridgeway (actually probably not a good example).

BTW Eurostar from the new St. Pancras (ask me sometime about PBA’s role in making it work) was supremely efficient, departing and arriving on time there and back. The Circle Line and First Great Western on the way home as always failed to deliver on any element of customer satisfaction. Oh well…

How the rest of the world sees us

From XKCD

Camera fines not going back to the Treasury – shock!

From the cash generated from fines on bus lane enforcement cameras in Reading, up to £10,000 per month is going to be made available for new Readibus services. Good for once to see the linkages working, where transport money stays in transport.

The enforcement cameras came into play in September last year and apart from initial press excitement seem to be doing their job. Of course the fines income will probably reduce over time as people learn that they will get nicked, but as it helps the least mobile in the town its almost a charity – maybe I should run through the bus lanes a few times to aid this good cause!

Actually as a motorcyclist Reading has always been enlightened about powered two wheelers (as we now have to call them) using bus lanes and government is coming around to less antagonistic view – see the latest DfT guidance.

Disclosure: PBA works for Reading Borough Council

Private parking (again)

Logo

Another website offering private parking spaces , called Peasy.com? The key difference from the site I posted about before, Parkatmyhouse, is the use of google maps – hardly a mashup but makes it user friendly. Also if you don’t like the price you can click on the negotiate button – to establish the true economic value of parking spaces (hmm, a possible resource for transport planners). 

Not many spaces offered yet, this is either a dotboom fad or just possibly a niche business – big companies will soon exploit it if critical mass is reached (Ebaypark.com, anyone?).

Streetscape

ken-high-st1.jpg

Just read for the first time the Wired 2004 article on the “less is more” approach to traffic management, as interpreted for the US audience. The Dutch, as always, credited with innovation in this area.

Like a lot of transport people I went to look at the Kensington High Street scheme (above) when the Borough dramatically changed the streetscape and also removed a significant % of the street furniture. Not being an engineer I liked what I saw of the £5m project but could see how it would upset the highway standards based approach.  A recent LTT article reminded me to go back and see what it is like now, after a few years to bed in.  

Pedestrian behaviour was interesting, with people who I presumed to be visitors still not certain where their territory starts and the car rules. (I would have though the Italian tourists would have felt at home, having sampled their “freeform” approach to traffic management.)

Since 2003 a number of other UK cities have looked at similar treatments, although it has to be recognised it isn’t going to be deliverable everywhere. CABE and Transport  2000 are promoting such schemes to “reclaim main roads from traffic”, but plenty of engineers rightly question the safety impacts of removing all guardrails, for example. Others where I work can say whether or not I am taking a too simplistic view.