Monday, 31 March 2008

Squalor, obstruction, Council inertia...




















Russell Road E10. It's hardly surprising you get squalor like this when the Council itelf is utterly indifferent to blatant obstruction of the footway. Look in the photo below and in the distance you can see overgrown vegetation which I blogged about as long ago as 8 September 2007.




















If you continue along Russell Road in the direction of Boundary Road it turns into Rosebank Road E17. I blogged about obstruction of the footway by diagonal scaffolding.

As you can see the scaffolding has gone, resulting in a huge improvement to the walking environment!
















Sunday, 30 March 2008

The never ending story




















Cycle stands on Erskine Road E17.

Take a trip on Melville Road




















Perfectly sited for a visually-impaired pedestrian to trip over and fall flat on their face. Melville Road E17 at the junction with Erskine Road.

This is one of those infamous blue wooden pallets beloved of shopkeepers and market traders. By an amazing coincidence just round the corner from this wall is a corner shop.

So they let her off with a fine

The estranged wife of TV star Chris Tarrant has escaped a driving ban.

Ingrid Tarrant, 53, told the court that banning her would cause "unfair problems" to her son Toby, 16, as he prepares for his GCSEs.
She held nine points on her licence when she was clocked speeding on the A3 in Hants last September, and was then spotted chatting on her mobile in two separate incidents.

Admitting the offences, Ingrid claimed a ban would prevent her driving Toby to school and would see her charity work suffer.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Traffic calming




















This traffic calming outside a school on Hainault Road E11 has two flaws, from a cyclist's point of view.

The cut-through for cyclists is not protected by 'no waiting' restrictions, which means that the entrance and exit will inevitably end up being quite lawfully obstructed by parked cars (as happens every day on Harrow Road).

Secondly, this road, like most others, is lined by parked cars. It would make more sense to have the cut-through in the middle of the chicane (about where the tree is), not by the kerb. Putting it by the kerb is the kind of fantasy planning which results from traffic schemes which bear no relation to the real world.

Drunken driving

Drink-driving accounted for about 19 per cent of road deaths in Britain, against 12 per cent in the Netherlands and 9 per cent in Sweden.

Yet only one in 26 of British motorists is breath-tested compared to one in four in the-Sweden and one in seven in the Netherlands.

And now

Ministers are said to be "minded" to cut the limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg - the legal maximum found in most of the rest of Europe - and such a move could come in within 18 months. Lowering the limit would be accompanied by increased enforcement with police likely to be given wider powers to introduce random breath-testing.

Ministers are considering three options for penalising drivers who are caught between the proposed 50mg limit and the existing 80mg. These are to: keep the existing penalty of a ban and a maximum six months imprisonment and £5,000 fine; introduce automatic participation in a drink-driver rehabilitation programme; or imposing SIX penalty points for a five-year period on first time offenders, followed by automatic disqualification for a second offence.

However:

There has been an 11 per cent fall in number road traffic police over the past six years and a 29 per cent fall in the number of breath tests between 1997 and 2004. Yet there was also a 6 per cent rise in the number of people killed in drink-drive accidents between 1997 and 2004.

The Department for Transport accepted the figures were still too high, but said deaths had fallen to 540 in 2006, compared to 550 in 2005 and 580 in 2003. It said more than 6,000 people were hurt in drink-drive related accidents at weekends last year, with more than a third of these injured between 10pm and 3am.

Cathy Keeler, of road safety charity Brake, said: "Current traffic policing levels are still disgracefully low. Improved enforcement can only be truly effective in tandem with a lower drink-drive limit."

Decapitation update

An update on yesterday's post.

The telephone wire evidently got snapped by a passing vehicle. A long length now dangles from the pole and along the roadside.

The last photo shows the property on Erskine Road it seems to have been connected to.














































Friday, 28 March 2008

Cutting corners, jumping lights

For a while, I stopped at every red light, but recently I've found myself creeping through them again. I specifically jump lights - when it's safe to do so - at junctions where it's terrifying to push off at the same time as the mass of vehicles behind you. Two such junctions are just ahead of right turns, and if I don't go early, I can't get into the middle of the road in time to turn. Drivers have become more aware of cyclists, but they don't willingly do you favours.

Most cyclists, myself included, will continue to cut corners while we move around London's streets. The alternative - sticking to the letter of the law - is often far more dangerous and a ridiculous waste of time.

Charlotte Ross defends David Cameron’s cycling.

Decapitation alert!

This blog nearly came to an abrupt end today. I just missed being garrotted on Hatherley Road E17. Some workmen on the roof of a house on Erskine Road (to the right of the photo below) have slackened the BT line, leaving it dangling across the road at throat-height for a cyclist. I dodged it just in time, then looked back and took this snap. You'll have to look carefully to see the phone line, or maybe enlarge the photo.

I rang the number in the BT telephone directory for "Reporting damage to telephone poles or wires". I got an automated message saying: "Please enter the full telephone number you want help with."

Well, I expect the men on the roof will tighten it up later and put it back to the right height. That's if a lorry doesn't catch it first and snap it in two.

Builders: not very bright, are they?

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Just fancy that!

From the website of the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign:

Speed Cushions
The council has said it will not use speed cushions in future traffic calming schemes. We have long campaigned against their use and are pleased that sustained pressure from us has resulted in this change of policy.

Just released by the Council:

Public Consultation 20 mph zone Church Hill Area
Speed cushions reduce vehicle speeds. Speed cushions are different from ‘road humps’ as they do not extend across the entire road width and for this reason are preferred by the emergency services, cyclists and bus operators.

This scheme proposes to install ten speed cushions between Hoe Street and Shernhall Street on Church Hill and Prospect Hill.

(LBWF consultation document March 2008)

Note. Church Hill and Prospect Hill are marked as a recommended cycling route on TfL's London Cycling Guide 4. They form part of the London Cycle Network 'quiet route' to Redbridge.

And now for something completely different:





















This is the London Cycle Network sign on Folkestone Road, telling cyclists to turn right on to Woodbury Road. Too bad that whoever designed the proposed Church Hill Area scheme forgot to take into account that this is a designated cycling route, as the proposal is to make this turn into Woodbury Road NO ENTRY. Oops!

And just for the record, 'Folkestone Road' is not spelt correctly in the consultation document. Oops!

Where the streets have no name





















Another exciting new economy measure from the most progressive council in London?

East Avenue E17.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Contempt for walking and cycling




















While politicians of all parties blather emptily about using the car less and cycling and walking more the actual environment for cycling and walking continues to be degraded.

This photo (taken at the Baker's Arms junction) perfectly sums up a culture of insolent indifference to cycling and walking. See if you can spot the cycle lane. As for that hideous new obstruction placed across the pavement on a very busy shopping street. Impudent contempt for pedestrians doesn't get much more overt than this.

The everlasting story




















824 High Road Leyton. Yesterday.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Bad practice, good practice




















This (above) is a complete shambles. Hawthorne Road E17. It has been like this for weeks, apparently with the full approval of the Council.

And this (below) is how it should be done. Richards Place E17. It's not perfect but it is probably the best that can be done in relation to the site.

The funny thing is that these two side streets off Hoe Street are very close. It's good to know that there are still a few reputable builders around, but a pity that this crap Council encourages the cowboys.

'wfm' watch

The latest issue of the Council's 'free' newspaper wfm (lavishly subsidised out of council tax) has a double page spread on 'National Year of Reading 2008'.

It includes a helpful map showing where local libraries are. But don't try getting there on a bicycle as libraries numbers 1, 3 and 7 on the map don't have even a single cycle stand. Yes, the Council which likes to boast that it is London's leading cycle-friendly local authority hasn't even got round to installing cycle stands outside all its public libraries, let alone all the other Council buildings used by the public. (And I've previously blogged about the stands outside 2 and 6; I've never been to libraries 9 and 10.)

Oh and don't rely on the map in wfm either. For example, the street in blue identified as Larkshall Road is actually Winchester Road. But then who could be at all surprised that this clueless Council can't even identify the names of its own streets correctly?

Take a trip in Walthamstow




















Tactile paving for blind pedestrians is an admirable idea. Except when it guides them to a kerb (as on Courtenay Place E17, above) or leads them straight into overgrown vegetation (Mission Grove E17, below).

Sunday, 23 March 2008

One way street

Watch the Mirror’s shock-horror David Cameron video [see previous post] and you’ll see that the one way street has ample room for a contraflow cycle lane. As there is clearly a cycling need, why isn’t it being met? Car parking on both sides of the road is given priority, which tells you everything.

The solution is easy enough. Allow cyclists to use ALL one-way streets in the 'wrong' direction. Here's an interesting example: Crowland Road in South Tottenham. Cyclists don't get a contraflow lane, simply intermittent markings.




















At the end of the road cyclists are physically separated from traffic entering the one-way system.

Unfortunately that's where it breaks down, because drivers have flouted the (faded) double-yellow lines and obstructed the contraflow lane. This is just another symptom of the widespread lawlessness of drivers and their contempt for cyclists, which is underpinned by the knowledge that even if they get a ticket it will just be a piddling fine. Drivers who park like this should get a £200 fine. Fat chance, as long as the Daily Mail dictates transport policy.

















David Cameron’s cycle ride




















The Mirror froths with indignation as it exposes David Cameron’s cycle shame.

The Mirror followed Mr Cameron on three Wednesdays as he cycled to the Houses of Parliament from his Notting Hill home. Friday's newspaper featured Mr Cameron cycling the wrong way up a one-way street in Dawson Place, breaking a red light in Great George Street, driving the wrong way around a bollard in the Mall and breaching a red light at the Houses of Parliament.

But the pictures merely highlighted the difficulties the average London cyclist faced, said cycling campaign group CTC. "It shows what an ass cycling regulation (and) traffic management is in this country at the moment ... we campaign in CTC for things like opening up one-way streets, which are allowed all over Europe," said director Kevin Mayne. "[Mr Cameron] is a yard in front of the white line in front of the Houses of Parliament - frankly, that's where I'd go to get away from the cars, he was hardly jumping the light," he said. He added that the story had also highlighted how difficult "signage for cyclists is in London".

However, Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), criticised Mr Cameron. "It is essential that all road users, including cyclists, obey traffic laws. The laws are there for everybody's safety and, as always, it is disappointing when someone in the public eye sets a bad example," he said.

The Mirror exclusive is desperately thin stuff, akin to Channel 4’s shock revelation that Ken Livingstone is partial to a wee dram. And RoSPA's comment is typical of that crappy organisation. Few people seem to know that historically RoSPA is the child of the road lobby and for decades has been promoting a victim-blaming agenda that sanitizes the deaths of thousands of pedestrians and cyclists. RoSPA has always supported voluntary as opposed to compulsory controls on drivers.

Go to its website: “working together for road safety” it twitters.

Poke around its website and you’ll find nuggets of wisdom like this: Pedestrians are recommended to wear something that will make them conspicuous, particularly in conditions of poor visibility. Fluorescent materials are most effective during the day, and reflective materials at night.

Well RoSPA can get stuffed. I am not walking around in daylight dressed up in fluorescent materials in the hope that that will make me more noticeable to a driver who is breaking the speed limit while chatting on a mobile phone. The source of the danger is the driver, not me and the clothes I’m wearing.

RoSPA’s agenda is to evade the true source of road danger – reckless driving, vehicles designed to speed, lax enforcement, grossly inadequate penalties for life-threatening criminality – and sugar over the reality with rubbish like ‘driver training’, ‘conspicuity’ for walkers and cyclists, and ‘pedestrian awareness’. RoSPA, typically, did not support a campaign for random breath testing. RoSPA is the enemy of cyclists and pedestrians, not their friend.

What is troubling is that the poisonous ‘conspicuity’ agenda of RoSPA has now been officially incorporated in transport ideology. The list of relevant factors on the form which the police have to fill in after an injury crash includes

507 Cyclist wearing dark clothing at night
508 Driver using mobile phone

Not really
equal, are they? Incredibly, the fact that a cyclist or a pedestrian is wearing dark clothing at night is now regarded as something which reduces the responsibility of a driver who hits them. This is a victory for the car lobby. It dissolves the responsibility of the driver to only drive with their full attention on the road ahead and fully prepared to brake if there is something there.

It is now commonplace to read of court cases where the driver escapes punishment because the pedestrian or cyclist they hit was ‘dressed in dark clothing’.

Meanwhile the Mirror milks the story for all its worth:

A Met insider said Mr Cameron would be given tips on safe riding for his own good, amid fears he is a menace to himself as well as other road users. The source went on: "Cycling the wrong way up a one-way street is very stupid and we get accidents every day in central London that happen just like that. He should be pleased we're taking an interest in his welfare. If he cycles like this, he's certain to be in an accident before very long. "We'll point out that cyclists are only about one per cent of traffic but make up 24 per cent of road casualties."

This slyly insinuates that cyclists are at fault for getting run down.

Contrast that with recent analysis from the London Borough of Ealing which shows that:

For accidents involving adult cyclists, motorists seem to be three times as likely to be at fault as cyclists

Motorists disobey traffic signals in accidents involving cyclists as much as do cyclists.

source.

The petrolhead’s copper























One troubling aspect of our society is the freedom given to chief police constables to pursue any agenda they feel like. Thus:

Paul Garvin, Durham’s Chief Constable, refuses to install a single fixed speed camera, arguing that they don’t target the real cause of accidents, while Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, enforces them rigorously.

And the result?

Road deaths in North Wales declined by 13 per cent last year. In Durham they rose by 56 per cent, to 42.

“Safety cameras are phenomenally successful,” says Brunstrom. “There is no question that they bring down speed. We have four times the number of people killed on the roads every year as get murdered. We must not lose sight of that . . . or the trauma to the families involved.”

Durham argues that alienating the public is counterproductive. A spokesman, Martin Wallwork, says that the force prefers an educational approach, telling motorists where they are going wrong.

‘Education’ as a cure for motoring carnage is utterly discredited and is the favourite tool of the road and car lobby:

The Global Road Safety Partnership emphasised better training for drivers and better safety education for children. These measures do not interfere with the commercial interests of the transport industry. Neither, according to peer-reviewed papers Professor Roberts cites, do they work.

The death of Mike Todd, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, generated acres of coverage. But it says a lot about the Green lobby that there was no critical discussion of his soft and prejudiced attitudes to motoring criminality. This had a long history:

THE METROPOLITAN Police is refusing to increase the number of speed cameras in line with national guidelines because it fears their proliferation will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens against the police. Scotland Yard's decision has put it at odds with rural constabularies which are supportive of the scheme to triple the number of roadside cameras.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Todd, in charge of territorial policing in London, said: "We do not believe in pursuing speed enforcement for the sake of it. I think it could alienate the public and potential witnesses to crimes. I am worried people will take the view that the police are doing this to make money.”

Todd was a prejudiced ignoramus. The idea that traffic policing alienates the public has long been discredited by sociological studies. In Todd’s warped vision of the world ‘the public’ equals ‘drivers with convictions for motoring offences’. And the notion that speed cameras are only there to make money is an urban myth promoted by the gutter press. Yet, revealingly, this not very bright cop went straight to the top:

In 2006 he became the vice-chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the politically powerful group of senior officers that help set policy across constabularies.

Todd was the darling of the petrolhead lobby:

One of his first moves after becoming chief constable of Greater Manchester Police in 2002 was to get 200 officers off traffic duties and into the battle against street crime.

This assumes that motoring offences are not crimes.

He criticised the trend towards fining motorists for marginal speeding offences, saying that if the police were "racing round" fining people for going three miles above the speed limit, "[the public] will think we are mad".

That's another urban myth.

His no-nonsense attitude earned him respect on all levels and he was a rarity among police chiefs, despairing at political correctness and passionate about pursuing criminals rather than motorists. His force became the only one in the country that made a loss from its speed cameras.

It’s interesting to look at the 2006 injury statistics for Todd’s patch:

Accident rates in Greater Manchester are slightly higher on motorways and considerably higher on A roads than the national average.

That, I suspect, is a consequence of Todd’s reluctance to enforce traffic law.

Luckily the Government has reduced the power of the police to determine if speed cameras should be introduced, transferring them to local authorities. How very interesting to discover that in Greater Manchester

All injury accidents fell by nearly a quarter at new camera sites compared to a fall of 17% in the rest of the county.

Those at the sharpest end of reduced traffic policing are the most vulernable. Thus in Greater Manchester

Pedal cycle casualties in Greater Manchester accounted for almost 7% of all casualties in 2006 and 30% of those were children. The number of pedal cyclists KSI is small in comparison to other groups, the number rose by 5% to 90 in 2006; the highest level since 2000, following a 10% rise in 2005. Adults make up the majority of cycle KSIs (69 of the 90 in 2006) and the increase in 2006 was wholly among adults, while for children the numbers fell (to 21 KSIs in 2006).

Pedestrian casualties in Greater Manchester accounted for 16% of all casualties in 2006 and almost 38% of those were children. Pedestrians accounted for about 46% of deaths and 39% of serious injuries in 2006.

Todd’s style of policing also discriminated against the poorest members of society:

In general, casualties involved in accidents in Greater Manchester are likely to live in the more deprived areas of the county. The Ordsall area in Salford has double the countywide average per population for all casualties. This rises to nearly three times the countywide average for child casualties. Other areas with high numbers of child casualties per child population are Harpurhey/Moston in Manchester, Denton in Tameside, Gorton/Ryder Brow in Manchester and Platt Bridge in Wigan.

Source ( PDF format )

Having for years blocked the introduction of speed cameras in Manchester and massively reduced traffic policing, how did Mike Todd choose to get around the city? You guessed – a 4X4. His dangerous and prejudiced style of policing put the most vulnerable – children, cyclists and pedestrians – at risk, but he was not prepared to share those risks himself. Instead he preferred the protection offered by a Range Rover.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

A few more bashes should do it...




















Another brilliantly sited cycle stand. Well done Waltham Forest!

(And note the attractive walking environment in the background.)

Wyatts Lane E17.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Don't worry, it's only a cycle lane




















Wood Street, E17. As you can see from the photo below, the pavement is very wide here and since it is already obstructed by a scaffolding tower it would have been perfectly feasible to put part of this storage container on the footway without additionally inconveniencing pedestrians, leaving the cycle lane clear. But that, of course, would have required someone to show a scrap of awareness of what it is like to ride a bicycle on a street like Wood Street.

So, instead, artificial road danger has been created by forcing cyclists out in front of drivers. Which, given the very large numbers of local drivers who still can be seen chatting on hand-held mobile phones, is not a good idea.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

It’s not rocket science





















It's a fact: bicycles are longer than cycle stands. That's why space is provided at both ends (below).





















That's why planners supply templates like this:

























Sheffield stands: it’s not rocket science.

Adequate space should be provided at either end of the stand to enable cycles to be easily removed. (Desirable minimum 500mm).

And here are the stands at Queens Road station, Walthamstow (below).

Another triumph for local planning!


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Truro Road: no change




















It's unbelievable, isn't it? The Council is planning to announce a grand climate change strategy, yet it won't act to prevent cycle stands being wilfully obstructed by shopkeepers. This photograph shows the cycle stand on Truro Road E17 yesterday - yet again blocked by the same shopkeeper who has obstructed it hundreds of times before. And this crappy, useless Council won't lift a finger to stop it.

Boris and London cyclists















But when Fellowes asks Johnson a question about London buses, he supplements it with a jarringly authoritarian demand that Johnson clamp down on bicyclists to ensure they obey the law. Johnson assures us that he will clamp down –a stance at odds with his own documented tendency to jump lights on his bicycle.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Intimidation and anti-social behaviour




















Forensics officer Mr Pugh, who speaks on DNA for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said that signs of future criminality could be found in children as young as five. He told the Observer newspaper: "If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long term, the benefits of targeting young people are extremely large. You could argue the younger the better."

He added: "Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime, others won't. We have to find out who are possibly going to be the biggest threats to society."

The biggest threats to society? How about motorists. Every day in Britain they kill ten people and injure hundreds more. No other form of violence matches that. But that's not the kind of offender Pugh has in mind. And ACPO have traditionally resisted enforcing traffic law. ACPO has never regarded driver lawlessness and criminality as 'real' crime. Reckless anti-social behaviour by drivers is widely condoned and its consequences are sanitised as 'accidents'.

This sort of thing, for example, which attracts no comment at all:

Tyrese Hannah was walking in Drove Road in Swindon when the accident happened during the rush-hour on Friday. A Wiltshire Police spokesman said the child was taken to hospital, but later died. "The driver of a grey Peugeot lost control while negotiating a right-hand bend and collided with a lamppost," said the spokesman. "The pedestrian was taken to hospital where they unfortunately died of their injuries."

And barely a week after a spectacular head-on crash which killed 7 people, this double killing attracted no interest at all: Two people have been killed on the A338 in Wiltshire after their car was involved in a head-on collision.

The media is full of stories about teenager who carry offensive weapons – but says nothing about drivers who attach killer bull bars to their vehicles. The newspapers rage about shops which sell alcohol to minors, but have nothing to say about car showrooms which sell vehicles designed to flout the maximum national speed limit by a massive amount.

The lawless behaviour of motorists on Forest Road, where every day thousands of drivers break the 30 mph speed limit, is a matter which simply isn’t discussed. And the police, who have traditionally resisted speed cameras, suddenly develop a rabid enthusiasm for crackpot technology designed to deal with teenagers:

A TOILET plagued by anti-social behaviour could be fitted with a controversial 'mosquito' device to drive troublesome teens away. Police want to install the gadget, marketed as a yob deterrent, outside the convenience in Woodbine Place, Wanstead, after residents complained that a recent make-over had failed to stop young people congregating around it.

A bench just outside the toilet has become a prime meeting place for local school children who are intimidating people." PC Hudson admitted the youths were not breaking the law by congregating at the bench, but asked the committee to consider funding the appliance, which would cost more than £500, to put residents' minds at rest.

Which brings me to the vehicle shown at the start of this post. I spotted it in Walthamstow the other day. A gas guzzling 4X4. The kind of vehicle which the Council is encouraging residents to buy by turning over more and more pavement space for car parking. If residents choose to buy bigger and bigger vehicles then pedestrians must pay the price.

What I particularly noticed was the name of this 4X4. Cyclists might not find it very amusing.

It's a Toyota Intimidator.

Monday, 17 March 2008

An outrage!

London is the dirtiest and most expensive European city according to a survey of well-travelled tourists.

This is a scandalous slur! Can there be no tourists who have used London's superbly reliable and inexpensive underground system to get to the London Borough of Waltham Forest? Arrive at Walthamstow, toil up 47 steps (because the likes of us ain't worth buying an escalator for) and stroll through these spotless streets to the William Morris Gallery.

And find it closed.

But not to worry. You can always go for a stroll in the adjacent park.






























Sunday, 16 March 2008

All the news that fits

Stick-on lenses which allow truck drivers to spot cyclists in their "blind spot" have been handed out. Transport for London (TfL) has handed out 10,000 stickers, called Fresnel Lens, to HGV drivers.

Every day about 480,000 cycle journeys are made in London, TfL said.

Truck driver Geoff Sales said: "What tends to happen is that they come on the inside of you and they get lost in the blind spot...Your side mirrors don't pick them up and your rear view mirrors don't pick them up."

In 2007, nine out of 16 cyclists who died in the city's roads were involved in a collision with a HGV. In 2006, the death toll stood at nine out of 19, TfL said.

Elsewhere:

Traffic calming measures in a village which led to an 80% reduction in accidents involving children and 100% reduction in accidents involving pedestrians upset some drivers who complained about the number of humps.

Now A total of 20 speed humps in a village are to be removed or modified after a six-year campaign.

Siรขn Berry, The Green Party candidate for Mayor, answers questions on transport (and other stuff) from ‘Independent’ readers here.

Meanwhile

A motorcyclist who stuck two fingers up at a camera as he raced by at up to three times the speed limit has not been banned from driving. Patrick Sheehan-Dinler, 29, from Hertfordshire, was captured 65 times by the same 30mph speed camera as he reached speeds of up to 88mph. He managed to evade capture through false names, Luton Crown Court heard.

And

A speeding driver caught doing more than 100mph while children without seatbelts dangled out of the car window has been banned from driving for just 28 days. Goodall was branded a "disgrace" by safety campaigners, as the 37-year-old was banned from the roads for just one month and fined £200.

On the other side of the pond, there is hostility to congestion charging in the Big Apple. Adam Federman lays into the anti- brigade:

Opponents of the plan, led by Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free, have seized on the argument that congestion pricing is a “tax” on the poor and therefore unfair and that Manhattan will become a playground for the rich, a golden ghetto (they forget that, in many ways, it already is). The automobile is for everyone, they say, and why should residents in the Bronx or Queens have to pay $8 to enter Manhattan. They neglect to mention, however, that most commuters do not drive (roughly 5 percent of the workforce) and that those who do drive earn considerably more on average than bus or subway riders.

A study by the city’s Independent Budget Office found that the median annual income of those who drive private cars to work exceeds the earnings of other commuters by 30 percent. According to the study, “these findings largely counter concerns that congestion pricing would disproportionately affect workers less able to afford additional commuting costs.”
Thus it would be more accurate to say that congestion pricing imposes a fee on upper middle class and wealthy drivers in an effort to improve public transit, especially buses.

Friday, 14 March 2008

A sign of priorities




















All over the Borough signs for cyclists have become overgrown by vegetation, defaced by graffiti, twisted round by vandals and knocked by vehicles. The Council knows of this state of affairs but is gripped by inertia.

It's heartening to discover that not all signing is neglected, however. The Council is making a real effort, in co-operation with the Met, sticking up these attractive three-sided yellow notices for motorists. Who could not but admire the way they add to the visual amenity of our splendidly clean and attractive residential streets? And what could be more important than alerting drivers to the possibility that someone might want to steal their Sat Nav. After all, without a Sat Nav how can a driver be expected to know there's a speed camera up ahead?

As for cyclists... Some wag has moved this sign (below) so that it points not in the direction of Hackney but Chingford. Hilarious! And there's more...




















Follow this sign (below) at the Crooked Billet and you'll find yourself cycling AWAY from Billet Road, not towards it.




















This one (below) is pointing in the right direction. Wth the usual local artwork. Waterworks roundabout.




















(Below) Subway ahead? I don't think so. The Crooked Billet. And notice those superbly maintained 'end of cycle lane' markings.




















(Below). The lighting is wrongly positioned. But given the state of the sign it hardly seems to matter. North Circular overpass, Winchester Road E4.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Spot the cycle stand

See if you can spot the cycle stand (shown here as it was yesterday afternoon). Truro Road E17, close to the junction with Walthamstow High Street.






'It’s the Big Conversation!'

The Council recently hosted ‘the Big Conversation on climate change’. Local people and environmental groups were invited to come along and offer their own ideas on combating the end of the world. And who can doubt that if anyone can single-handedly reverse global warming it’s cutting edge London Borough of Waltham Forest?

The Council's fab rag wfm is strangely reticent on how many people and organisations bothered to attend, and this exciting news story is illustrated by a photo of six people at a table and a globe. Bob Belam confides "We had an animated discussion about climate change...a number of excellent points were made by residents."

Animated? Does that mean there were people there who doubted the Council's commitment? Why, when it comes to Greenwash no one does it better than LBWF.

The Council published its Green Charter in 1989. Over the next 12 years did the percentage of local households owning three motor vehicles go up or down?

Correct! It went up. Did it rise to (i) 7 per cent (ii) 9 per cent (iii) 24 per cent?

Correct! It went up to almost a quarter of all households. This magnificent rise was achieved at the expense of the 39 per cent of local households which don't own a car.

This substantial rise in multiple car ownership was partly achieved by exempting hundreds of local roads from the pavement parking ban, including many pavements with trees. This resulted in trees being hit by vehicles, requiring their removal. How many trees have been lost as a result of turning pavements into car parks? Is it (i) 67 (ii) 2,307 (iii) the Council hasn’t got a clue.

Correct! The Council hasn’t got a clue.

And all over the Borough you can see little squares of earth or tarmac, where a street tree used to be.

It starts like this. Vehicles mount the pavement with the full approval of the Council, and then some drivers hit the trees, scraping off the bark (below) or hit them so hard the trees die. And then the trees are removed, the pavement is resurfaced, and there's more room for car parking. Marvellous!