Thursday, 7 February 2008

A descent into the underworld

The Council’s figures show a gradual decline in the number of cyclists using the Crooked Billet underpass. Is it a result of the suicidal exit lanes? Or is it because of the conditions shown in the photographs below? Whatever it is the good news is that when funding is found for improvements to cycling routes in the Lea Valley, the intention is to “provide subways under main roads”. Marvellous!

Let's begin with the entrance on Chingford Road (below). There are no signs to guide cyclists into it or to tell them where it leads. The first sign you come to (above) has been vandalised. The first few times I ever cycled into this underpass system I was hopelessly confused as to which cycle lane led where. The signing is less than comprehensive.

And as you can see the cycle lane is superbly maintained. Incidentally, the cycle logo on the right is the wrong way round - any cyclist inadvertently cycling towards the camera would find themselves emerging on the wrong side of the road, head on into traffic. Naturally no one has ever noticed or corrected this error.

There are a variety of underpasses in the complex. This one (below) was designed in tribute to the classic British movie A Clockwork Orange.

Broken glass covers the complete width of the cycle lane (next two pics below). Nine days after I took these photographs it was still there, which raises the question of how often the cycle lanes and footways get swept. Once a fortnight? Once a month? If you really expect cyclists to use these lanes they need to be checked for broken glass on a daily basis.

You never know what is waiting for you round the corner... Not recommended for those of a nervous disposition.

Sometimes what you find down there is the cycle lane blocked by vehicles...

The movie that most comes to mind here is 28 Days Later. This abandoned Sainsbury's trolley (below) poignantly symbolizes the complete collapse of civilisation. Can YOU cycle through this complicated underpass system before flesh-eating zombies catch you?