Filton Road: a shopping area reduced to a mini roundabout, some pig-pen barriers to keep pedestrians from crossing the road, and a row of run down shops -despite the free parking outside and in the car park.
Bedminster: a pedestrian precinct with nothing but a closed down booze express, check cashers, a low grade bakery and a motaman car parts shop.
Bleak. Yet what else does the A38 have to offer?
The best high street in Bristol.
One the BBC Today program visited when they wanted to see what a thriving high street still looked like in the UK
A street with trees, cafes outdoors, bike parking that has bikes in, rather than two bent racks that look unwelcome by the shop forced to to put them in. The breadstore, below, always has a queue of people waiting to buy bread on a saturday
A street with five star reviews on Yelp. A street recommended as a place to visit in Bristol tourist guides.
See that? Not "a place to drive through on your way to an out of town supermarket". Not "somewhere to take out a payday loan" (there is one of those shops, and a booze express, but they are discreet, not shops that are struggling to survive themselves)
Look at the difference with the other two. Independent shops. That's key. Less of the same chainstores you get that make every street in Britain the same. They are there: a sainsbury's lite, a boots, but they are only one or two of many.
What you do see is people walking around. Again, this looks like a Sunday, but some of the shops are open -and people are walking, or pushing a bicycle from shop to shop.
The road here is no parking at any time on one side, showcase bus and bike route on weekdays.
Between 8 am and 9:30 am, and from 4:30 PM to 5pm, any parking in the bus lane gets a ticket issued by way of the CCTV cameras mounted on lampposts.
No doubt those are exactly the tickets that Pickles was ranting about, the ones destroying the high street,the ones Mary Portas was implying are killing high street.
Well, here's some evidence neither of them know what they are talking about.
THE SOLE HIGH STREET OF BRISTOL'S A38 THAT IS CLEARLY THRIVING IS THE ONE WITH THE MOST PARKING RESTRICTIONS
Instead of vans outside shops, you see people sitting outside having coffee. Next to them a traditional greengrocers. Go there on a Saturday and the butchers will be selling hamburgers, or whatever else they are cooking on the street, the fishmongers the same with fresh fish.
The independent retailers have made this a destination, the people come.
It's not about car parking. Saying "we need car car parking" is a mistake. It is looking at out of town malls, saying "they have car parking and are successful -if we add car parking, we will be successful".
OUT OF TOWN SHOPPING MALLS ARE NOT WHAT HIGH STREETS NEED TO MODEL THEMSELVES ON.
They need to copy the high streets that are doing well. In Bristol, that is
- Gloucester Road
- St Mark's Road, Easton
- Southville (adjacent to Bedminster)
- Interesting shops, making walking along the streets something to do for pleasure, to make the extra time doing that versus pushing a trolley round a supermarket a pleasant time.
- Cafes if you want to have some food or coffee. Not just chain coffee shops, but a variety of options.
- Useful shops: greengrocers, ironmongers, butchers, fishmongers. A post-office.
- Small supermarkets, not an ASDA "street-killer" class facility
- A pavement that is pleasant to walk on, not somewhere for cars to park.
The very features that encourage driving: wide roads, roundabouts and parking lots, make walking so uninspiring and cycling so dangerous, that people don't walk there. They don't walk around. All you get are fat lazy bastards like Pickles himself, nipping in for a packet of cigarettes and some cheap beer.
If you hear anyone saying "parking is needed", or "10 minute parking outside shops should be encouraged", point them at Filton Road, Gloucester Road and Bedminster North street (they are all on Street view) and say "which of these streets would you like to shop at". Then say "which of these streets has the least parking facilities. Then ask them whether they realise they don't have a fucking clue and should shut up until they have something fucking sensible to say.