Friday, August 29, 2014

Why no bikes on Ceredigion buses.

With no intentioned or otherwise critisisum, I fear Alun Williams has a few more questions to ask in his very good blog on the lack of Bike rack facilities on Ceredigion busses.

He may well of asked them inside his head, but any conclusions are probably not blog material for Cabinate level local politicians, so I can't fault him at all.

So why are the places Alun has visited like Toronto and L.A. more Bike transport on bus friendly. I have seen the same in S.F., Boston and New York which it is

  • Easy to hire bikes
  • Easy to move them around on public transport (not sure about NYC).
  • Safer to cycle
As my good friend and keen cyclist Mr Gerhard points out that some members of the population of London think it sport to dismount cyclists, but the major US cities I have visited in the last few years are really getting with the plot in this respect, abit from a very low starting point and far from Universal. Cycling in somewhere like Stockton would be a nightmare and probably very short lived.

So lets get back to the why? I suspect the following are at play to greater or lesser extents

  • Competition. I don't mean competion between rival bus providers.  In rural Wales you are greatful that there is a bus at all. But compeition at the level of management. Firms is either family owned and run or like Arriva in decline from the business so what bright spark is going to choose running a bus company as a careeer, unless it is one of those very well run local firms (me thinks of Mid Wales Travel for example which is expanded exponetially in the last few years) and its in the family already ?
  • Competition. People live in mid-Wales because they either want to or because they don't know anything else and this results in inertia, you have what you have got and there is little culture of pressing for better services. Cities like Boston can mandate the form of the service and companies or there own departments have to comply.
  • Inovation happens elsewhere (which I think was a Bill Joy-ism). It is probably a bit much to expect quite small rural bus companies, in an area which is greatful to have any bus service, to be UK leaders in their cycle transport provision.
  • Ceredigion is rural. Bus speeds are probably higher and distance between stops is greater than in the cities cited.
  • The insurance and H & S situation may contain a non-zero  amount of FUD which is hard to hack and costly through.
  • There maybe a serious cost implication for the company. The racks my require bus modiciation which may be a factory job (it not like strapping a bike onto your car) and so may need to be ordered with such facilities. I would suspect the US example has the racks factory fitted, but that is conjecture.
some of the above may be wrong and there may be addtaional factors at play, but we need to starting thinking deeply about the positive and negative consequences short and long term for the companies to "do the right thing" if we want the behaviours(such has having bike racks on buses) to change.

Maybe the bus companies are acting very rationally to the environment in which they operate. We want change, we need to think about the above and more.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nun's in Combat Boots are common place

Year 12 for me and the festival, very good. No rain apart from a little drizzle on Sunday. A cracking good time, some great bands. Only complaint is that a few very good bands played on the Bandstand, loads of people turned up and few could hear or see them (Mad Dog Macrea and Seize the Day for example, both should have been main stage).  Missed Sea Sick Steve as M. went to see Belowhead and I stayed behind to look after sleeping kids (no complaint). Steve Earle was OK, Jimmy Cliff was excellent and Levellers as good as always. Next year again then maybe ....

The world would be a better place with more nun's like this
Public Service Broadcasting : excellent

Bless you sister's

Drumming with scrap - very good

His and her's

Rev. and the Makers

The Ruts DC

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Depopulation of rural Ceredigion - unconconcious social engineering

Imagine you were a local council member for a rural area, like say Powys or Ceredigion. Your budget has seen a substantial cut, you are having to make unpopular cuts to important services like health, refuse collection, social services, schools, etc. If someone came up with a novel solution that impacted few people, would you not consider it ?

Well I have it. A plan with no downsides. Here is an approach to a bit of social engineering inspired by the Highland Clearances but without boats or brutality. Reduce the number of people in the most rural parts of the county, I said it was simple.

All the council has to do for its part is put more and more services online and not pay any attention to getting the last few % decent internet connectivity and the rest will work itself out.

Younger people will move out of these areas as their friends are online and they are not, they are unconnected in a connected world. Anyone with kids will need to move as school work is increasingly online. Those wanting to work from home will have to move. Only older people are left and they will either die or won't be able to cope in the unbalanced communities composed only of the elderly and also have to move leaving the properties empty - result.

The blame can be placed at the door of a 3rd party, the incumbent telco provider who says it is uneconomic and they are not being funded to provide universal service. They can be vague about future plans, promising that technology will reach more and more remote areas which just need to wait, and wait until there are such a small subset they don't matter and their voice is dispersed that they carry no weight that when nothing is provided it does not matter.

Now the downside of all this is it would take years for the social movement to happen and houses to be devalued to the extent there would be abandoned, but social engineering always has been the long game, the highland clearance took over 100 years.

This satire shows how easy it is to sleep walk into this type of social engineering by accident by inaction and a lack of forward vision in just depending on the market to deliver.

I don't think it could happen, could it?