Monday, 31 December 2007

Would you like ice with your contraflow, madam?

The contraflow lane for cyclists on Queen Elizabeth Road, E17. At one end the markings have been obscured by resurfacing and not replaced. But then that kind of neglect is ubiquitous in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. And there's a protective bollard which has been lying there for weeks, presumably demolished by a heavy goods vehicle mounting the protective kerb for cyclists. These are symbolic of the Council's widespread neglect of the cycling infrastructure, but not in themselves a deterrent. The real problem lies at the other end - see below.

Water pours down the hill on Higham Hill Road, on that section between Forest Road and Winns Avenue. It does so on a permanent basis. Presumably a pipe has cracked beneath the carriageway. Instead of spending money on repairing the pipe, Thames Water just turns up the water pressure and forgets about it. Scenes like this are duplicated all over the Borough and the Council shows no inclination to get tough with Thames Water.

The result is that water flows down across the entrance to the contraflow cycle lane. It brings with it all kinds of rubbish and deposits it here. The entrance to the cycle lane is permanently coated in water, which is an obvious hazard if the temperature drops below freezing. Many cyclists using this facility will be coming down a hill and then turning sharp left into the lane. Even without the potential for ice the entrance is clogged with slimy, slippery leaves. And the drain is beginning to clog up, too, which will make this location even more waterlogged.

Happy cycling! And if you come off your bike here and break a leg I think you'll have a good case for compensation on the grounds of gross negligence by the highway authority.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Enduring obstruction

More quality environment for cyclists and pedestrians... Today.

Does this crap Council have an environmental services inspectorate, or does it not? I only ask because obstruction of cycle stands and the footway alongside the Percy Ingles bakery in High Street, Walthamstow (the branch by Woolworths) is a regular affair. And my impression is that that the business responsible for this obstruction is none other than Percy Ingles, judging by the nature of the trolleys and their freight of bakery trays.

Is Percy giving free jam doughnuts to the Cabinet? Why is it that blatant obstruction of cycle stands and the footway is occurring week after week, with no action? This crap Council's indifference to regular obstruction of cycle stands and the needs of wheelchair users and those with a visual impairment is on an epic scale.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Inadequate cycle stand provision

Two cycle stands, with three bikes locked to them. Three other cyclists have resorted to using street furniture and railings because this crap Council doesn't provide enough cycle stands to meet demand. Walthamstow High Street today, at the St James Street end.

A green Christmas

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas! chuckles Councillor Bob Belam in the Christmas issue of the Council's lavishly funded fortnightly propaganda sheet wfm. I want us all to do our bit for the environment, he implores.

Well, Bob, you don't have to dream. Just get out on a bike or do some walking in the London Borough of Waltham Forest and you won't have a problem encountering all kinds of neglect, including green vegetation obstructing pavements and cycle lanes. You know this blog exists and you could try scrolling back to look at all the examples of such obstruction, about which nothing whatsoever has been done. I think it's a bit much of the Cabinet member for Environment to lecture residents when he himself sets such a dismal example.

Today's green pics show the current state of the cycle lane on Orient Way and the Black Path cycle lane and walkway. Ironically, the first one (with razor sharp briars protruding across one lane and into the second) shows the scene portrayed in the Council's cycle leaflet. See if you can spot the difference.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Snow white

When it comes to cycle stands in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, it’s not just that provision is inadequate, with some cycle stands even being removed, or even that numerous stands are regularly obstructed, it’s that the people who design the provision seem to be idiots.

Are there no national guidelines, for God’s sake? The planners seem to like putting cycle stands as close as possible to street furniture and rubbish bins, which encourages obstruction via the dumping of refuse by traders. They also love locating cycle stands where they will get shat on by pigeons.

You’d think someone with an ounce of sense would realise that sticking a cycle stand under a tree is A BAD IDEA. But then no one involved in cycle provision in this Borough seems to have anywhere near as much as an ounce of sense. This is the recently installed cycle stand outside the HSBC bank in Hoe Street. I’ve never seen a cyclist use it. I wonder why? Could it have something to do with the daily blizzard of pigeon shit?

Thursday, 27 December 2007

It's a winter wonderland

Cleveland Park Crescent E17, today.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Today's obstructed cycle stand

In my experience, almost all the problems to do with obstruction of cycle stands relate to local businesses and this crap Council's refusal to get tough with them by prosecuting them for obstruction. Today's example shows a stand obstucted by a sign which cannot be moved because it is padlocked to the stand at the base.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Questions of enforcement

Rosebank Villas is the short passageway between Walthamstow High Street and the bus station. It is, in its entirety, a pedestrian zone. Loading is only permitted outside the hours of 10 am - 4 pm. And most days at least one vehicle can be seen flagrantly flouting the parking restriction on a regular day-long basis. It has no disabled badge or any other feature which might exempt it. It is often accompanied by others, and on Saturday afternoons there can be as many as six vehicles double-parked here, with hundreds of bus station users having to squeeze between to get past.

What is remarkable, of course, is that this is one of the most highly patrolled areas of the Borough when it comes to parking enforcement. And yet every day parking attendants walk by taking no action. This is quite clearly instititutionalised. No vehicle which parks here will ever get a ticket, And I cannot understand why. Not that this is the only kind of turning-a-blind-eye which occurs in the London Borough of Waltham Forest...

The sign on Rosebank Villas (below) is quite unambiguous.

Another example. Motorbikes are not permitted to be parked on the pavement, and when the licence plate is obscured parking attendants are empowered to remove any covering. Yet all over the Borough motor bikes can be seen illegally parked on the footway at the same location on a regular daily basis (like the one below, on Gaywood Road) and the attendants walk by, making no effort to issue a ticket. Somebody should be asking why.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Richards Place and Council hypocrisy

The Council has always spoken with a forked tongue when it comes to transport. It claims to want to promote walking and cycling, while it simultaneously pursues policies which promote increased car ownership and use. These are contradictory goals and the second is all too often achieved at the expense of the first.

A particularly glaring and tangible symbol of Council hypocrisy can be found on Richards Place, by the Rose and Crown pub on Hoe Street.

The Green Charter proudly proclaims

We will make the street environment more accessible to all, in particular by providing dropped kerbs to meet the special needs of people with disabilities.

And the Council’s Transport and Pollution Focus Group’s Action Plan asserts a bullet point commitment

To encourage and facilitate walking; to improve facilities and provide safe environments for pedestrians

To reclaim the streets for people

On Richards Place the Council installed a dropped kerb for the benefit of wheelchair users. Excellent! And a useful facility, thoughtfully located alongside the side gate to sheltered accommodation containing elderly people. It put a yellow line there to deter motorists from obstructing it.

It has now moved the ‘no waiting at any time’ lining closer to Hoe Street and extended the footway parking exemption to include the dropped kerb. In other words, it puts accommodating the parking of cars before accommodating the needs of wheelchair users and others with a mobility disability.

(Almost all the parked cars on Richards Place are not residential but associated with a local business which uses this street as a longterm overflow facility for storing vehicles which it has no space for on its premises. If this Council was remotely serious about putting pedestrians first it would get rid of the pavement parking and extend the 'no waiting' restriction. But of course converting pavements into a permanent car park for unused vehicles is entirely consistent with this Council's transport strategy.)

Thursday, 13 December 2007

obstruction on Whipps Cross Road

We will make the street environment more accessible by providing dropped kerbs to meet the special needs of people with disabilities. (LBWF Green Charter)

"And then we will obstruct such facilities by placing a litter bin there and by having our staff dump LBWF 'street sweepings' grey sacks there."

The dropped kerb at the end of Whipps Cross Road, E11, today. And only someone who has experience of pushing an adult in a wheelchair will understand the difficulty this kind of thoughtless action creates.

Cycle stands are rubbish

As every shopkeeper on High Road Leytonstone understands, a cycle stand is a place where you leave your rubbish to be collected by the Council. And the Council seems to think this is a marvellous arrangement, as if it is plainly doing nothing to stop it.

Examples vary from day to day. Today's examples are (i) the cycle stand outside the shops across the road from the fire station (ii) the cycle stand outside number 737.

Traders' boards

There are literally hundreds of traders' boards illegally positioned across the public highway in this Borough. Most of the time they only affect pedestrians but occasionally they are hazardous or obstrucive to cyclists. Of course this crap Council couldn't give a damn (and still hasn't done a thing about this).

Today's instance shows one such board, quite a big one, which protrudes into the cycle lane on High Road Leytonstone outside the garage opposite Homebase. Look carefully and you'll see that the trader has a board on the pavement in the background as well. That's two offences.

Green Charter Crap #10

We will make the street environment more accessible to all, in particular by providing tactile paving to meet the special needs of people with disabilities. (Ye LBWF Green Charter)

Blind people, of course, have a special need to be led into a patch of weeds. Well done Waltham Forest! (Mission Grove, E17)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Today's obstructed cycle stand

No surprise at all to see that the trader who was blocking the pavement and a cycle stand back on 17 September is still doing the same thing in December. (You can't push the trolley away as there are four more enormous trolleys beyond it. You could pull it sideways but if you did you'd block the footway. And in any case why should it be necessary to have to move trolleys and/or garbage in order to use a cycle stand?)

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Green Charter Crap #9

We will make the street environment more accessible to all, in particular by providing facilities to meet the special needs of people with disabilities.

One facility that some less able pedestrians need is somewhere to sit down and rest. But such facilities are rare in the London Borough of Waltam Forest, and where benches do exist they are all too often in a shabby and sometimes broken condition or located in a scruffy patch of neglected waste land. This photograph shows where there was once such a facility on Somerset Road E17, close to the junction with Queens Road. It is long vanished. What you might call a benchmark of this crap Council's complacency and indifference to the special needs of people with disabilities.

Monday, 10 December 2007


Contractors never think cyclist and they never think pedestrian with a mobility handicap. And when they blatantly obstruct the pavement for no valid reason the local authority should be cracking down. But LBWF always gives the impression of being an authority completely out of touch with the reality out on its streets.

Both pics from Grove Road E17, at the junction with Pembroke Road.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Yet more quality environment (again & again & again)

Zoom in...

and zoom out!

(Above) Grove Road E17, at the junction with St Stephen's Close. (The overflowing bin nearby on St Stephen's Road has still not been emptied but it seems pointless to go on photographing it.)

Below: Cleveland Park Crescent and Ruby Road (both probably flytipping), followed by commercial refuse obstructing a cycle stand on Hoe Street at the junction with Gaywood Road, and more commercial refuse blocking the footway on Gaywood Road. My guess is that this commercial refuse comes from one particular premises, which obstructs the cycle stand on a regular basis. If LBWF bothered to investigate the refuse I think they could easily work out the guilty culprit.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Church Lane: a hazardous obstruction

These kerbstones have been dumped on the pavement on Church Lane E17, close to the junction with Shernhall Street. Pale in colour, they are lethal for someone with a visual impairment. You could probably get by them with a pram or a wheelchair but someone in a motorized wheelchair might not.

Friday, 7 December 2007

A hazard for cyclists and pedestrians

This utility plate should be flush with the road surface. Instead it protrudes several inches. An unwary pedestrian could easily trip over it (especially at night) and fall flat on their face. An unwary cyclist who cycles into it can expect at worst to be brought off their bike, at best a sudden juddering, shuddering shock rippling through their bike frame and body. Any pedestrian or cyclist who does suffer physical injury or damage to clothing or personal property, would, I believe, be entitled to compensation on the grounds of negligence. The negligence being half that of the utility company which failed to ensure this cover was correctly installed in the carriageway, the other half being that of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which has a legal duty to maintain the highway in a safe condition.

Cleveland Park Avenue E17, close to the junction with Hatherley Road.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Squalor on St Stephen's Road

St Stephen's Road is a cul-de-sac off Grove Road E17, by the junction with Copeland Road. The footway provides a useful short cut through to Wingfield Park and Wingfield Road. The road leads to some garages. And St Stephen's Road is in a squalid state.

On Monday morning I took the photographs above and below.

Today, Thursday, this overflowing bin ("Improving Your Community") had still not been emptied. This was the scene today (below). By the way, note the flooding by the dropped kerb on the corner, which, because of the poorly surfaced carriageway and inadequate drainage, renders it regularly unusable in wet weather.

A bit further along the footway is totally obstructed by a flytipped fridge, which has been there for a long time (see below). And beyond the fridge the footway is further obstructed by overgrown vegetation from the adjacent property.

Lastly (below) there is this squalid heap of rubbish which has been here for months. 'Why not leave the car at home and walk?' is the regular message from the Council's wfm propaganda rag. It's a pious and empty aspiration from a Council which so spectacularly neglects the walking environment and which can't even be bothered to empty its litter bins on a regular basis.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Carry on at your convenience

The Waltham Forest Design Awards are a way of celebrating good quality urban design in the borough, and recognising the positive contributions these developments make to our built environment.

And hats off to this exciting late entry to the 2007 awards – a brand new installation in High Street, Walthamstow.

When the public convenience on South Grove was closed down by the Council to save money, there was widespread criticism that this removed a facility invaluable to High Street shoppers with bloated bladders. So well done Waltham Forest for this admirable substitute, which meets every possible target for economy, sustainability, regeneration and bio-degradability.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Vehicles in the Town Square

The only vehicles that should be in the pedestrianised Town Square are those involved in officially-sanctioned events. But increasingly a large variety of unauthorised vehicles intrude. There are three kinds.

Firstly, there are those drivers who prefer to ignore the official delivery route to the Selborne Walk shopping centre (which involves using a dedicated side entrance on Selborne Road). The driver in the photo below preferred to drive up to one of the two Town Square pedestrian entrances to make a delivery (photo taken today).

Secondly, there are all those market traders who use the Town Square as a short-cut route to Selborne Road when market days end at 4 pm. They load up and roar past the children's play area at 25 mph.

Thirdly, there are those private motorists who realise they can get away with parking in the area to the left of the photograph.

On Sundays some drivers even use the Town Square as a short-cut route between Selborne Road and the High Street. There is nothing to stop them - the bollards designed to prevent this have long since vanished at both ends of the square, leaving wide gaps.

I wonder how long it will be before a pedestrian is run over in what is supposed to be a pedestrianised square?

Yet more quality environment

That 'quality environment' for pedestrians - there's no escaping it.

Belgrave Road, E17.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Today's quality environment

Carisbrooke Road, E17, this morning.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The lost footway of Vallentin Road

Vallentin Road, E17, at the Wood Street end. There used to be a perfectly adequate footway along this street on the railway line side. But over the years the embankment has gradually bulged out and collapsed, completely obstructing the pavement. It is the responsibility of the London Borough of Waltham Forest to pursue this obstruction with Network Rail and get them to properly buttress the embankment and restore the footway.

Fat chance. None of the transport planners in this Borough walks anywhere, and no one in authority cares about either obstruction of the fooway or obstruction of a cycle lane.

Below: a close up of the problem.