Wednesday, 30 April 2008

New parking bay opens

Shrewdly anticipating the next generation of ultra-slim Smart Cars, the Council’s top planners have cleverly created this new parking bay for the smaller vehicle, on the pavement by the bus stop on The Avenue, Chingford.

The election for Mayor

Bill of Moving Target presents an analysis of Ken, Boris and London transport issues

Monday, 28 April 2008

Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction

Truro Road E17. This time the cycle stand has been obstructed by a market trader's cart, part of which has been jammed behind the stand. A cyclist has managed to park here, but has been forced to lock their bike by the front wheel - not a satisfactory option as a professional bike thief can just undo the wheelnuts and make off with the rest of the bike. The yellow grit bin is courtesy of the Council, which doesn't fill these bins with grit and never uses them when it snows. Yesterday. (The cycle stand opposite was also obstructed, by the same greengrocer who regularly obstructs it, evidently with the full approval of the Council which hasn't lifted a finger to stop it.)

The Orient Way cycle lane (below). This disfunctional sign for passing motorists has been here for weeks. It used to have a companion, but someone has chucked it into the bushes.

More rubbish facilities for cyclists. Vernon Road, Saturday. If you enlarge the photo and scrutinise the trash, it's very obvious which nearby commercial premises is responsible for it.

As you can see, since I last blogged about this at 674 High Road Leyton, where the footway is obstructed by a metal cabinet which is kept chained to a cycle stand, the Council has done... nothing whatsover. Yesterday.

Remember the Council's anti-street clutter campaign? That was another of those worthless cosmetic initiatives worth a photo opportunity in WFM, then quickly abandoned once the Greenwash had been applied. You could hardly hope for a more cluttered or stupid place to site a cycle stand than this, at the junction of High Road Leyton and Hainault Road.

And spot the nail (below):

The Council has done absolutely nothing about this obstruction, either (below). 450 High Road Leyton, and previous blogged about. No change.

Martin Esom, Executive Director of Environment and Regeneration, is so useless he can't even get his work force not to continually dump street sweepings sacks in inappropriate locations. Like this one:

(Above) 297 High Road Leyton. Lots of empty space on a very wide pavement, but Esom's agents can never resist dumping sacks by a cycle stand.

By the way, cyclists unable to use the Vernon Road cycle stand on Saturday because of its obstruction, had this user-friendly alternative opposite:

Clyde Loakes ate my cycle lane

What's going on here? This is the cycle lane on High Road Leytonstone, heading north. And as you can see, the pavement has been built out, gobbling up most of the cycle lane. Another of Councillor Loakes's "improvements"?

Now I can see that this is work in progress. But I am not happy that the cycle lane has been eaten up before some alternative has been put in place. Forcing cyclists out into the carriageway at this point is not a good idea - not on a long straight road where some drivers break the limit. And how many dozy, mobile-phone-chattering drivers will notice that cyclists are going to enter "their" part of the road?

What's more, the contractors have left a depression in the cycle lane alongside the kerb (deep enough to bring you off your bike if you inadvertently drifted into it), as well as covering the lane in scatterings of aggregate. (Below)

There's also a new, cycle-unfriendly drain (look at those vertical slits):

Take care, now...

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s inadequate cycle parking provision

The LVRPA is a quango controlled by Tories and run by sleek corporate types, though if you want the official version of its identity you can read it here. A chunk of your council tax goes towards funding its multi-million pound activities. You have a local person representing you on its governing panel (but I bet you didn't know it).

Among the jewels in its crown is The WaterWorks centre in Leyton, which includes sporting facilities, a golf course and a nature reserve. It has been open to the public for five years.

What’s more The WaterWorks is a Quest accredited centre, an award within the Leisure Industry that recognises best practice.

Best practice? Don’t make me laugh. This is a Centre which illegally blocked the public footpath which runs beside it with a padlocked metal fence and which still refuses to sign it. This is a Centre where the public footpath is full of pools of water because of it’s been churned up by LVRPA vehicles, making it inaccessible to people with a mobility handicap. I’m referring to Public Footpath F130.

When the plans for the WaterWorks were first put forward they showed 8 cycle stands. Planning permission was granted. When the building opened it turned out only 5 had been installed. It’s an old trick but it usually works - especially when the planning authority is the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

That’s right. A major leisure centre in the Lea Valley has just five cycle stands. This is grossly inadequate as my photos show.

(Above) Five cycle stands, with rather more than ten bikes attached to them. (The motor scooter is not using a stand.)

There is, naturally, extensive free car parking. As for cyclists. Because cycle stand provision at this centre is grossly inadequate, once the stands are full other cyclists just have to search for some fencing or a sign, or something suitable. (Below)

If this situation bothers you, why not select someone from this list and pass on your concerns. Or go direct to the governing board.

The board member representing the London Borough of Waltham Forest is Cllr Bob Sullivan.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Smash on Gainsborough Road

Cycling along Gainsborough Road today I came across the aftermath of a crash. A vehicle (perhaps a rather large vehicle) travelling at some speed has ploughed into the railings at the four-way junction with Lemna Road E11 and the road to the Tesco car park. Two large sections of twisted railing have been thrown into the bushes outside Tesco. There is extensive damage to the footway where the railings have been ripped out.

There is no report of a crash on the website of the local paper. Judging by the damage to the railings this was an injury crash. If it wasn't, then this will never appear in the 2008 list of official road crashes. To get a true picture of the mayhem on our roads you need to look at insurance company statistics for crashes, which include non-injury crashes.

This junction has traffic lights. Perhaps someone was jumping the lights. Judging by the damage, excessive speed was a factor. If any other information emerges I'll update this post.

The news

Britain's most persistent motoring offender was jailed for eight months today after his 51st conviction for driving while disqualified. Jamie Manderson, 35, was also given another driving ban, this time for five years, after he pleaded guilty before magistrates in his home town of Swindon.


The son of a multi-millionaire who caused a toddler permanent brain damage in a 70mph horror crash has escaped the maximum jail term for dangerous driving.

Antonio Singh Boparan, 21, was jailed for 21 months after causing a crash while speeding at 72mph in a 30mph zone in November 2006, which left one-year-old Cerys Edwards fighting for her life with horrific injuries. The toddler, now two, has been left paralysed, permanently brain damaged and needing a ventilator just to stay alive.

Mr Boparan had pleaded not guilty to one count of dangerous driving but was found unanimously guilty by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month. He will serve less than 11 months of his 21-month sentence in jail before being released on license. Boparan was also disqualified from driving for five years.

Traffic police numbers have been drastically cut over the past decade, bad driving is at epidemic levels, and the cops are fretting about…

A website which publishes registration plates of "bad drivers" could lead to vigilantism, police have said. The site's founder Andrew McGavin, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, said more than 11,000 reports of alleged road offences have been logged.

He claimed the problem of bad drivers was not being taken seriously by the government. He added drivers appearing on the site can contest any complaint. But police said people should report road offences to local officers.

On the drunken driver front:

Drink drivers would no longer automatically lose their licences under government plans to lower the alcohol limit for motorists to the equivalent of less than a pint of beer or glass of wine. Those caught driving over the new limit would be subject to a “two strikes and you’re out” rule under which they would receive six penalty points for the first offence and only be disqualified from driving if they reoffended within five years.

Road safety groups fear that abolishing the automatic ban will send a confusing message to motorists and encourage some to risk drinking and driving because the consequences of being caught would be less serious than they are now.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, is worried about

a draconian shake-up of road safety laws.

Motorists caught going well over the limit would receive six points - double the current penalty - and a £100 fine. It would mean that under the totting-up scheme, they would lose their licences by reaching the 12-point maximum after just two convictions.

Novelist Nicholas Blincoe lays into the Green mayoral candidate for being too soft:

Just because you are called Green, does not make you Green, as Sian Berry proved at the mayoral hustings on Thursday. Unprompted, she declared herself in favour of Ken Livingstone's plan to remove the congestion charge from 68 brands of car. Every other party has denounced the scheme as a blatant election bribe. As they should: though it is dressed-up as an emissions tax, it is actually a giant emissions permit.

According to the Evening Standard, there are an estimated 80,000 cars in the south-east of England. Now the mayor is encouraging everyone of them to buzz up to capital and fart in our faces. A Carnival of Emissions - and the Green party thinks this is a good idea (as a "temporary measure", Berry added, to bewilder us further. Just until the brine has worked, perhaps?)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

A recommended 'quiet route'

This is another top quality London cycling route. Langthorne Road E11 and Thorne Close run between the A11 (High Road Leytonstone) and Grove Green/Ruckholt Road (a major cycling commuter route into the City). This route is marked in yellow on TfL's free LOCAL CYCLING GUIDE 4 map. The road closure shown above blocks it as a through route for motor vehicles. However, no cycle access has been provided at the road closure, in either direction. You have to get off your bike, lift it up the kerb and walk round the street furniture.

It's been like this for years. Which raises the question: does anyone involved in producing cycling maps, recommended cycling routes, and cycling facilities at a London-wide and local level ever actually cycle?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

It's St George's Day!

A traditional custom on this day is to display something that evokes our sense of community and identity.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Lorries and cycling fatalities

This report of a cyclist killed in Hackney came up on Moving Target yesterday, although so far I can’t find any confirmation from any news agency.

Update 1 p.m. There’s a report in today’s Standard, which unequivocally blames the cyclist.

Already this month a cyclist has died in a collision with a skip lorry on the A12 in Suffolk


Yes, that's a grand total of six cycle stands obstructed by market traders using the ones in the Town Square by the library as a convenient storage place for the frames for their market stalls. I've blogged about it before - and this thoroughly useless Council shows no inclination to put a stop to this regular practice. Yesterday.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Slippery when wet

James Daley:

Almost all of the segregated cycle paths (in London, at least) seem to be littered with metal manhole covers, and their shiny surfaces become lethal as soon as it starts to rain. Try turning a corner or using your brakes as you ride across them, and it's all but impossible to avoid ending up on the ground. It's not only those of us on road bikes who are at danger, either. The last time my wheels slipped away from under me was when I was riding my mountain bike to work just over a year ago. The fall left me with a sprained wrist, which still niggles from time to time.

The photo above shows the cycle lane on Markhouse Road E17, which manages to combine a metal cover with a large pothole.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The walking and cycling environment

Marvellous! The pavement on St James Street E17 has just been enhanced with this new obstruction. And if you look in the background you'll see that faced with the choice between putting in a full-size cycle lane or creating parking spaces for lazy shoppers, the Council naturally went for the second option. Cyclists are now forced out towards the middle of the carriageway and have the extra hazard of 'dooring'. A classic example of how conditions for walkers and cyclists are actually getting worse, not better.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Free eye test!

Free eye test!

Can YOU read the name on this street sign in Leyton? It has been cleverly concealed by the Council behind a low fence. If are unable to read what it says you may require spectacles – or a new Executive Director of Environment and Degeneration.

Note. This eye test is a FREE service and is unconnected to the Council’s legendary health consultancy Dr Foster Intelligence.

If you were unable to read the sign above, the answer is given below.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest - where the quality of the environment shines out on every street

The week’s news

The number of uninsured drivers on our roads has rocketed.

If emissions from aviation and shipping are included, Britain's carbon dioxide emissions are higher now than in 1990.

Motorists drove around a cyclist as he lay dying in the road rather than stopping to help. One car may have run over him, breaking his legs. Stephen Wills, 55, suffered fatal head injuries when he was knocked off his bike by suspected joyriders in a stolen car in Moss Side, Greater Manchester early on Saturday. But in the aftermath of the incident, drivers simply swerved around his body and police believe one may have driven over him.

The AA, which is never short of an excuse to promote car dependency and reckless driving, is now blaming traffic calming for global warming:

Badly phased traffic lights and unco-ordinated roadworks are trapping thousands of vehicles in tailbacks, increasing the amount of pollution generated by their engines, said the AA report. Pavement build-outs, bus stops that project into the road and road humps add to the problem, it added.

Every day the Evening Standard carries a new hatchet job on Ken. Some of them are bonkers but some, alas, contain more than a few grains of truth. For example, back in 2002

Livingstone promised 100 new or transformed public spaces across London and a million new trees. The growth area of the Thames Gateway would be developed according to the well-considered master-plans of the mayor's Architecture and Urbanism Unit. The London Plan would direct the city's boroughs to achieve the "beautiful city" through the planning permissions they gave or withheld. Six years after his draft London Plan, and eight years after he first took office, cranes have been whirring on the skyline as the city has been through one of the greatest construction booms in its history. Developers and architects have been busy as never before.

But if any visitor came to London asking to see what made it the new Barcelona, there would not be very many places to send them.
The one million new trees never arrived, and to date only five of the 100 public spaces, although a total of 42 are at some stage of development. Developers in the Thames Gateway built their uninspired standard product, with only gestures towards the master-plans they were supposed to follow. The streets of London have become more populous, more active, more frenetic, but few people-walking them would say they have become more civilised and humane.

Argues Rowan Moore ‘Architecture Critic’

The physical legacy of Livingstone's first two terms is a series of massive commercial developments, within which there are high-quality, well-maintained and privately controlled open spaces, and outside which there is a sea of public grot, little changed in eight years. It is also a city of crude new apartment blocks, with tiny flats stacked up simply to maximise the numbers, and with little regard to any idea of creating good places to live. The beautiful, open and socially responsible city promised in the London Plan hasn't yet arrived.

Not that Boris would be better. He plainly wouldn’t be. His agenda is anti-pedestrian, with a plan to

rephase traffic lights to unclog jams

Making pedestrians wait even longer to cross roads is blatantly at odds with his pious claim that he is interested in

encouraging alternatives to car travel.

Meanwhile in case you missed it, the car lobby has won in New York and the proposed congestion charge has been scrapped.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The bike trap

This simple but effective concrete and iron trap can be used to bring cyclists off their bikes. As recommended by BBC TV's Top Gear. 'Every cycle lane should have one' - Jeremy Clarkson.

High Road Leyton, near the junction with Midland Road.

Ostructed cycle stands in Leyton

The Sheffield stand at 450 High Road Leyton. Yesterday.

(Below) 674 High Road Leyton. The cycle stand has been sited far too close to a lighting column. To make matters worse a shopkeeper has chained a large metal cabinet to the stand. Yesterday.

No wheelchair users, thank you

Council street sweepings sacks thoughtlessly piled by two traffic signs, ensuring that the footway is blocked for people in wheelchairs and other footway users with a mobility handicap. King Edward Road E10, junction with Hainault Road. Yesterday.

And if you look closely at the base of the nearest traffic sign you'll see that contractors never bothered to finish the job of resurfacing the footway to make it level.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Council caught short

There's an amusing story on page 20 of the current issue of the Waltham Forest Guardian (April 10). Someone has spotted that a Council information board in Courtenay Mews E17 directs members of the public to two public lavatories which were shut down ages ago - one on South Grove and one on St James Street.

After being contacted by the Guardian, the sign was removed. A Council spokeswoman said: "The sign in Courtenay Mews is not new, and would appear it has been left erected in error."

I think the sign in question is this one (below). Despite what the paper says, the Council hasn't removed it since the Guardian story appeared. And it was recently sited here when the bus depot was renovated. Look at those sparkling clean new flagstones. So I'm afraid once again the Council is telling porkies.

There is a second, identical sign (below), which also directs members of the public to toilets which are closed. This sign is by St James Street station. Situated by a heap of rubbish and spattered with graffiti, it aptly reads WELCOME TO WALTHAMSTOW. How many of these inaccurate information boards are there? I haven't a clue - and plainly neither has the Council, which is responsible for them. And that's not all...

The Courtenay Mews bus depot redevelopment was presumably one of those joint ventures by Transport for London and the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It was completed several months back. The contractors never bothered to finish the job, and naturally nobody bothered to check up on them. Just yards from the Council's notorious mis-information sign you'll encounter unfinished flagstones as well as this weird vaccuum cleaner attachment, which mysteriously erupts out of the ground and travels a couple of metres in the direction of the High Steet. Let's hope it is not an alien probe. The thought of a slithery elongated alien crawling through Walthamstow to the Town Hall and running amok in the Members Room is just too awful to contemplate...