For some months, the M32 between the St Pauls Roundabout and the other side of the Eastville exit has been restricted to an absurd speed limit of 40 MPH. The reason, we are told, is due to “defective barriers” and that we should slow down for safety reasons. I can understand that. If the barriers are defective, it would be a good idea to avoid ploughing into them, but, as I said at the start, it’s been like this for ages. Can’t “they”, the people who are responsible for the state of our roads, or rather to blame for the state of our roads, make them fective, if there is such a word, which there probably isn’t.
I suspect the real reason for the reduced speed limit is less to do with safety and more to do with Mayor George Ferguson’s war on the motorist, to make the M32 as depressing to drive down as everywhere else, under his absurd 20 MPH limit. Actually, it’s not just a war on the motorist, Ferguson is conducting an accidental war against business too. Not just any business, but the independent traders of, for example, the Gloucester Road. It is easy enough to park at the large stores like IKEA and Tesco, but the smaller traders have no such commercial advantage. And that’s always assuming you can put up with driving ridiculously slowly to get there in the first place.
I do understand that it would be better if more people used public transport. I am particularly keen that the man driving in front of me does the right thing for the environment and get the bus instead. Having recently had the misfortune to travel on one of First Bus’s services, I am not keen to repeat the act anytime soon. I’m not sure I could afford to anyway.
Ferguson’s anti-car agenda is his way of uninviting the wheel. He wants to make it difficult to go anywhere and then even more difficult to stop anywhere. Many of us prefer to get about by car because, crucially in Bristol, virtually all routes lead to the centre of town, so if I want to get to, say, Clifton, I have to get at least two buses at an exorbitant cost and interminable length.
I blame Margaret Thatcher. Many years ago, bus and rail services were owned by and run for the public. These days, this is clearly not the case. First Bus and all the rest of them are run for the benefit of their shareholders and what they provide is not a service at all. Like with any business, the product available will be the cheapest they can get away with, charging as much as they can get away with and paying drivers the minimum they can in order to ensure they make as much money as possible. This is why public transport is so crap and why many of us prefer, and need, to get to places by car.
On that basis, Mayor Ferguson needs to bang a few heads together, including his own, to make the roads better, to abandon his mad speed limits and parking schemes and, of course, make the M32 barriers fective. They’ve been to defective for too long, as he has.