We don’t want you.

It is, perhaps, a moment of transition. The inevitable pain that accompanies the birth of a new thing, a better thing. But today we were faced with the uncontendable truth. Bristol is shut.

Didn’t we have a lovely day, the day we went to Bristol
Drove around, not a space to be found
Couldn’t even use the car parks
Need a new plan
Use the bike not the ‘van
It’s cheaper in the long run
Nearly ran out of fuel, gave up being the fool
Turned around, came home.

We watched on the local TV as they announced the installation of the final resident’s parking zone in Bristol. It wasn’t until we tried to visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the M-Shed that we realised the effects of Bristol Green Capital

The exhibition is free today (and on 3rd February…) and so we thought we’d drive in and have a peruse. Driving in is the generally our most feasible option. There are public transport possibilities (I see Google Maps will now plot you a public transport route and there may be a two bus link from Charfield to Bristol that takes only one hour twenty minutes…), but we chose the camper van. (I’ve looked into the cost of bussing in and it would be £12.50 each, so twenty-five quid for the two of us, which is prohibitively expensive when even the old camper would use only a gallon of fuel.)

Driving the twenty miles into Bristol takes about half an hour. Arriving, we found plenty of empty spaces… more than I’ve ever soon before I think. But of course they’re all marked RPZ – resident’s parking zone. And because all the empty parking spaces are unavailable for commuters to park in while all the residents were at work, all the normal car parks in the centre were packed full… so tight I had to reverse out of two of them. And finally, where they never were before, the multi-story car parks were all fitted with 2.05m barriers over the entrances, and the camper is 2.10m.

It’s a learning thing, and in the end Bristol will probably, eventually, be a better city for it. But for now, until the Metrobus project comes to fruition (rather than closing part of the main motorway into the city), Bristol is a bit inaccessible.

In fairness, it was a nice day and we could have taken the bike. Motorcycles are allowed to park in the RPZs at no charge. That’s probably the main way I’ll be entering Bristol henceforth. We have a wedding in the city centre later in the year, and where we’re booked in for the night we now probably have no parking… I wonder…

Greening the city is not an easy thing, and there are inevitable downsides and obstacles. In a way I applaud the city for being so green-thinking, and I hope the plan works. If it doesn’t there’s likely to be a massive fall-out in terms of failed businesses, and the depleted shopping centre – already plundered by out-of-town Mall at Cribbs Causeway and online shopping – will dwindle further. But if it works, Bristol will become a brighter, cleaner, more accessible city. For visitors on motorcycles. 😉


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