Thursday, January 27, 2011

We don't need no stinkin by-pass

I timed a drive the other night from the 30mph sign on Worcester Road to the island - a distance of 0.4 miles. I used the music tracks to do it accurately.

Somebody to Love (Salt Shaker Remix) by the Boogie Pimps - 2:58
Kung Fu Fighting (Featuring Carl Douglas & Daz Sampson) by Bus Stop - 3:30
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant  - 0:30 in

so 5 minutes and 58 seconds to travel 0.4 miles call it 6 minutes for ease and to allow for track gaps makes an average of 4 mph. I consider that to be a good time - it's normally much worse and I do that every week night.

Why the delay? Well consider there's also a queue entering the island from a direction that has priority over mine. This means my queue can only get out when there's either nothing coming from that direction (unlikely), some traffic has priority over the other queue and isn't doing a full circle (occasional), they're turning left and indicating that they are doing so (occasional or someone let's you out (the most likely of the four).

Now add to this that both queues are trying to enter the same exit which leads to the notorious GIlgal/Mitton Street merger that everyone from the island-side treats as a priority to the other lane and it becomes a case of combining one of the four outcomes above with actually having a space to drive into.

Many a time I've had a gap in the island but been unable to move because he queue from the merger reaches the island. By the time that queue leaves a gap the island traffic starts moving again.

I'm not moaning for the sake of moaning - this entire section is the main bottleneck in the rush-hour traffic in Stourport. In the morning the island causes a feedback delay up Gilgal and through the town. In the evening queues up Worcester Road and Hartlebury Road.

Our illustrious leaders response - wait for someone else to build a by-pass.


Dan H said...

Just to put this in perspective, how far is your journey in total, and how long does it take?

FlipC said...

Total journey 2.5 miles broken down in this instance as roughly:

0.9 miles - 2 minutes
0.4 miles - 6 minutes
1.2 miles - 3 minutes

Those first two are the real variables as the queue can start at any point along that 1.2 mile stretch.

Dan H said...

OK, thanks for saying. I always find this kind of complaint hard to relate to even though I see people experience it every day, because I've never commuted by car.

I don't understand why more motorists don't support a congestion charge. I'd certainly find it worth a few quid to avoid these slowdowns around busy areas, if I didn't already avoid them for free.

Unknown said...

a congestion charge is a further tax on the worker who must drive to work. i.e not fair as everybody does not need to pay. Ok some people, such as flipc could walk [2.5 miles = 40mins ish] unfortunately, thereis no joined up or even sensible public transport here and services are expected to be cut not improved.

This pinch point along with the top of vale road into gilgal needs better signage and the chevrons painting in such a way as to encourage the planned for merging of traffic. if only the dsa would actually teach people to drive instead of working out ways to charge more.

FlipC said...

Walking is an option and I have done it when unburdened. Doing so is fine during the day, during the night and especially at Winter around half my journey would be along unpleasant unlit streets.

If I chose public transport the timings would mean sharing such with all the school children (i.e. full) and still require an unlit night trip to reach a stop.

As an alternative even if I could ride a bike it would limit my carrying capacity to an impracticality.

Dan H said...

Neil: If your public transport is anything like ours you have my deepest sympathy. Growing up in a big city with extensive, convenient, and reliable public transport, I still haven't adjusted to Cambridge's rather provincial services.

I'm not suggesting a punitive tax on motorists. As you say, cycling isn't practical for everyone. It's a huge quality-of-life improvement, but only if you can choose to live within 20 miles of work, if you're physically able, and if you don't need to take more than 100kg of stuff with you. Walking and public transport have stiffer constraints. But that still leaves a lot of people it is practical for, people whose free choice determines how much congestion there is.

I've worked with lots of people who get up an hour earlier and leave work an hour later to avoid traffic. If I were one of those people, I'd be willing to pay a few quid to have a route free of school-run mums in people carriers. In fact, even though I'm not one of those people (traffic accounts for about 5 minutes of my 25 minute commute), I'd still be quite happy to pay a few quid if it'd have that effect - and I do, via my subscription to the local Cycle Campaign, and indirectly via the bike industry's voluntary levy fund.

FlipC said...

I've given this example before, but consider if I wanted to see the viewing of "Sanctum 3D" at the Vue Cinema in Worcester. It finishes around midnight.

To use public transport I'd then have to wait over five hours until the services start up again so as to get home.

Dan H said...

Great example. Cambridge's night buses are pretty shit too. I don't think it really matters what mode of transport you choose at midnight: what we're all complaining about is how much traffic there is at rush hour.

FlipC said...

To my mind the connection was that if you require a car because of the poor night services the inclination is to use even when they're running.

Universal free bus passes to under-16s in the same way OAPs have them; the logic behind the latter surely applies to the former too?

Dan H said...

Yes, I think the habit of "just getting into the car" is a very strong force. You start to just do it without thinking, even when it might be the least convenient mode of transport. This is encouraged by our subscription model of taxing cars, where you pay per year regardless of how much you use, and road-building is subsidised by all taxpayers. By specifically covering busy times and areas, a congestion charge would remind people to think about what's best for them, instead of just mindlessly doing the same thing.

Of course, this is only a problem because the habit is so strong now. In the Netherlands, the rate of car ownership is not much different to here, but they've been trying to change travel behaviour since the sixties, so the rate of travelling by car is much lower - the result being that they don't have to spend nearly as much on roads as we do, and their towns are a lot safer.

Your point about bus passes for under-16's is a good one. It's easy to forget that a large fraction of the population isn't allowed to drive. I wonder how many parents who complain at being "Mum & Dad's taxi service" also complain about investment in bus services or cycle facilities.

FlipC said...

The amusement is that a usage charge would be easy to implement without the need for the Big Brother tracking system that certain elements keep bringing up. Simply remove the exemption on new cars requiring an MOT and record everyone's mileage each year.

It's obviously not a time usage, as I've just posted it took me half-an-hour to drive a mile this morning, but it is simple.

The problem I have with a congestion charge is that it needs to be implemented in conjunction with other services. Imagine how London would have taken it if they didn't have the bus/train/cab infrastructure already in place.

One could argue that such zones would only cover certain times and areas; yet consider my alternative routes that have me driving both further and on occasion through areas not suited to certain levels of traffic. Rat-runs already exist - a congestion charge would almost give them formal status as alternative routes.

Dan H said...

Measuring annual mileage would be fine for a generic road pricing scheme, but it's no substitute for a congestion charge. One trip from London to Glasgow on the motorway would cost more than a whole year of pointless one-mile commutes, despite having nowhere near the same cost to society.

You talk about rat-runs, and I agree that it would be bad to do the government's usual "measure the wrong thing" trick and make the problem worse. A route that avoids a congested town by using the A-road network already has a formal status as an alternative route: it's called a bypass. A rat-run is when people avoid the main road by going through the town, which is exactly what congestion charges discourage. Perhaps I should have listed "you don't need stupid one-way systems to prevent rat-running" as one of the advantages of a congestion charge.

Enjoy your two-mile-per-hour drive this morning. I'll be getting to work by using my impractical bike to cross the whole town in twenty minutes at rush hour, and filling the impractical cargo capacity with a fortnight's groceries on the way back.

FlipC said...

Yet any congestion charge needs to be applied either during a time period or an area (or both). If it's time-based then it punishes those who have little choice in travelling at those times due to a poor or overcrowded public transport system. If an area based then you create runs around it.

In that regard these are not necessarily A-roads that are being used it depends on the area being covered - the entire town or just the central part.