Thursday, 31 July 2008

New traffic-free route to Leytonstone

Matlock Road E10


(Above) Mission Grove close to the junction with High Street E17, yesterday. Not just blocking a cycle stand but also comprehensively obstructing a wide pavement. Why this crap council doesn't just send someone along with a truck and confiscate these trolleys which have been causing all kinds of obstruction here for months, I'll never understand. There are four trolleys here, tied together with rope.

(Below) Two connected Asda shopping carts block the pavement on Eldon Road E17. Also yesterday. Not a problem for the able bodied but a different story if you are blind or in a mobility scooter.

(Below) A dropped kerb on Queens Road E17, junction with Connaught Road: you wouldn't get through the gap with a mobility scooter or a double buggy. Yesterday.

Worth remembering that this is a council which boasts it is Positive about disabled people.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

For whom 'The Bell' tolls

The Bell corner, Walthamstow - a major junction where Forest Road (A503) crosses the A112.

What can you see in this photograph (above)? A lot of people would probably only see a black youth riding a bicycle on the pavement. Another shocking example of anti-social behaviour and
lawless cycling, eh?

What I notice is that the drivers of both the white truck and the dark estate car have illegally driven into the Advanced Stop Lane for cyclists. Worse, the truck is turning left. Behaviour which displays total indifference to cyclists and dedicated cycling facilities and which, at worst, puts the lives of cyclists at risk. It happens all day long at the Bell corner, with thousands upon thousands of offences being committed. But I expect if you were to ask the Metropolitan Police how many tickets they had issued at this location over the past twelve months, the answer would be: none at all. The Met doesn't regard motoring offences as real crime, and sociologists have exposed the deep-seated prejudice of the police generally that enforcing traffic law would alienate the public. There is no basis for this prejudice but the Met has never been required to address its car supremacist bigotry. I have never seen any policing activity at the Bell, not once, even though this site is a lethal one, with an atrocious record of crashes and fatalities, and where red light jumping is another regular day-long occurrence.

Three arms of The Bell junction have cycle lanes which link to Advanced Stop Lines, and the fourth (the Chingford Road arm) has an ASL with the cycle lane fizzling out some 15 metres or so before the junction. Because the abuse of these facilities by drivers contemptuous of both cyclists and road traffic law is at prodigious levels, cyclists like this youth on the mountain bike adapt accordingly. Me, I have nerves of steel and I assert my rights as a lawful road user, so instead of riding on the pavement I ride in the road. And from time to time I have some moron blasting his horn at me because as a cyclist I am slowing him or her down.

(Below) Judging by the sand, there's been another crash here at the Bell corner. Just over a year ago a motorist travelling at excessive speed lost control and crashed into the traffic lights at this exact spot, dying in the wreckage of his car. (Enlarge the photo and you'll see that the car in the background signalling the intention to turn left is waiting in the ASL.)

(Below) White van man. He didn't need to go in the cycle lane at all. I followed him along Forest Road on my bike as he drove another hundred metres before he turned left at the Bell corner, on to Hoe Street. Just another inconsiderate idiot for whom cycle lanes and cyclists have no existence.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Hit on Wood Street

This illuminated sign on the pavement build-out on Wood Street has been smashed over and uprooted by a vehicle. In fact all along Wood Street E17 there is evidence of the damage done to stationary objects by drivers.

(Below) This cycle stand near the junction with Havant Road has been hit by a vehicle and twisted out of shape.

This lighting column/pedestrian crossing beacon has been knocked sideways at the junction with Barrett Road.

Monday, 28 July 2008

That cycle lane again

The space between the parked coach and the 4X4 is for cyclists.

Ever since the council redesigned this section of Forest Road to accommodate parking at the expense of the safety of cyclists I've noticed that the new parking bays have become a magnet for large vehicles which park here.

Large vehicles are far too wide for the bays, leaving cyclists squeezed out.

A cycling fatality or serious injury here, I suspect, is only a matter of time.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

It's the Green Fair!

This afternoon I went to the Council's Green Fair in Lloyd Park, home of the William Morris Gallery. (Judging by the poster above the council seems to think its name is Aveling Park, which is weird. I've checked with my Atlas of London, which identifies the park as Lloyd Park, which is what I've always known it by.)

I was enormously impressed to see how the Mayor had arrived at this event (see below).

I picked up lots of leaflets, including a copy of the 'Transport Quiz'. Strangely the Quiz didn't ask how many cyclists had been run down and killed outside the venue in the past year (one), how many speed cameras there are at this point (none), how many libraries in the borough lack cycle parking (40 per cent), or how many cycle stands there are in Walthamstow Village, where all the good pubs and restaurants are (none).

And right next to the poster shown above are cycles locked to the railings (below), because Lloyd Park and the William Morris Gallery have car parking but not a single cycle stand. That's how 'green' this crap council is.

Ample car parking (below). Parked cars do so enhance the entrance to the William Morris Gallery, do they not?

No cycle parking inside the park. So everywhere people had to use railings to lock their bikes:

And this is how the Mayor got to the Green Fair (below). Which sums up the ethos of this event. She was too lazy even to park outside the William Morris Gallery and walk the rest of the way.

I picked up a copy of The Waltham Forest Road Safety Guide 2007/8, which "is proudly sponsored by Renault". Yes, Renault, the firm that sponsors the High Speed Renault Festival and manufactures killing machines like the Renault Laguna, which has a top speed of 145 mph and the Renault Megane RenaultSport 225, with a top speed a shade under 150mph. By any measure you care to apply, this is a very quick car.

Modesty: not a virtue of this crap council(below).

The Friends of the William Morris Gallery were refused a stall at the Green Fair because of their criticisms of this crap council. So this Friend was perambulating with campaign badges and other Morris goodies:

Hot from the press: a new, beautifully produced, illustrated paperback about Morris's politics, Crossing the ‘river of fire’.

This crap council may not understand the first thing about the environment or William Morris but the spirit of Morris was present. This head is made out newspaper. Cool

Was the Green Fair a success? There was music from numerous stages, lots of information tents, plenty of entertainment for children, food, a bar, and all kinds of stalls. It was a fun afternoon out and I don't doubt people had a good time. But what did it have to do with climate catastrophe or the kind of changes our society needs to make to break with car dependency?

Lots of nice people gave me leaflets about why I need to cycle and walk. I ended up with 54 (below). Is that good for the environment? Of course it is - I shall dump most of them in my crap council crap recycling bin which is too small and doesn't have a lid.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The news

The roadside shrine to Tyrese Hannah, a seven year old run down and killed while walking along a pavement in Swindon. Swindon Council, headed by a man who has been disqualified for speeding, is proposing to get rid of all speed cameras in the town. (More below)

What a surprise! Up to a fifth of the MPs who have been debating the UK's climate change bill do not understand, or choose to ignore, the science on which it is based.

The government has cancelled the proposed autumn fuel tax rise, even though perpetuating our society's addiction to oil can only lead to ever greater vulnerability and worse shocks in future.

Cycle stand provision in Britain is laughably inadequate, yet the government continues to promote car dependency, and is now lavishing £6 billion on the latest futile attempt to ‘cure congestion’. Further plans to allow drivers to use motorway hard shoulders and possible tolled lanes were announced by the Government today as part of a six-year, £6 billion jambuster package.

Car driver David Sexton discovers the joy of cycling: Once, getting a car felt like a massive surge in freedom, and mobility, too. Not any more, not in London. Only a bike gives that sensation now.

The Daily Mail discovers ‘ghost bikes’.

Paris's self-service bicycle scheme has been hailed a success, despite a third of the bikes being vandalised or stolen in their first year of service – and with several turning up in foreign countries. Two users of VĂ©lib' – which does not offer helmets – were crushed to death this year, both in collisions with lorries.

Also in France: A boy aged two-and-a-half died from dehydration after being left in a baking hot car after his parents went shopping and forgot about him.

A Tube station which has been closed since February while its escalators are replaced, could have remained open during the refit, it has been revealed. Local MP Andy Slaughter, who obtained documents under Freedom of Information Act, said people were "deliberately misled" over Shepherd's Bush closure. The documents show maintenance firm Metronet said the upgrade could proceed with the station still operating. The west London Central Line station, used by an estimated 20,000 people a day, was closed in February to replace its 80-year-old escalators and will remain shut until October. (If you want more detail, it can be found here.)

‘Car crime’ to the police is not deaths on the roads but damage to cars and theft of cars. A stolen 4X4 is a top priority, with the usual consequences.

In the West Country convicted drivers are being given the choice of a fine and penalty points or watching a 15 minute video. (That’s a difficult one, isn’t it?)

Drivers caught speeding in Cornwall are to be shown a hard hitting video of a fatal accident in a bid to save lives. Operation Slowdown is a joint initiative between the county council, Devon and Cornwall Police, and the Safety Camera Partnership. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 seriously injured in road accidents in the county last year. Those caught will be given the choice of a fine and penalty points, or a 15-minute educational session.

An off-duty police officer whose motorcycle killed a pedestrian as she walked home has been cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

Pc Damien Myerscough, 42, was instead found guilty by a jury of driving without due care and attention. He was fined £2,000, disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £1,000 costs at Bolton Crown Court. Lyndsay Oldham died instantly in the crash in Ainsworth, Bury, last year. Her family say justice was not done.

A bus driver who crushed a mother and daughter to death under the wheels of his single decker has been fined just £1,000.

Road safety campaigners have called for the charge of 'careless driving' to be scrapped after magistrates said they were powerless to give 53-year old John Scott a tougher punishment.
After the case, a spokesman for road safety charity Brake said: "The charge of careless driving should be scrapped. It is careless to spill a pint of milk, but driving in a way that is anything other than safe, and in line with the Highway Code, can only be described as dangerous or bad driving. If someone is seriously injured or killed by a bad driver, they should be charged with a charge that reflects the consequences of that bad driving and has a significant penalty.The charge of careless driving when a serious injury or death has occurred causes great offence to the injured victims and their families, who frequently view it as a trivial charge, adding extreme insult to injury."

Knife crime remains a hot media topic. Car-nage isn’t, even though So far this year, 58 people killed have been killed on Northern Ireland's roads. Nine of those deaths have been in the past 10 days.

Needless to say there is no moral panic in the mass media about deaths from head-on collisions:

Two "bright and beautiful" sisters and one of their boyfriends died in a head-on crash between a car and a van in Aberdeenshire. The victims were named locally as sisters Elena Putnam, 18, and Rachel Putnam, 20, and her boyfriend Mark Gardiner, 22, all from Cullen. The crash happened on the B9022 south of Portsoy on Monday night.The deaths take the total number of people killed on Grampian's roads to six in the last week.

A woman has died after a head-on collision involving two cars in the Highlands. Four other people were injured in the crash on the A82 at Onich, south of Fort William, on Saturday afternoon.

A student and his mother who died in a motorway crash hours after he graduated from university with first class honours. Ben Dalah, 21, from Edgware, his mother Nadia, 50, and father Freddy were travelling back from Birmingham University when their Saab was hit by a lorry and another car on the M6.

Inadequate traffic law enforcement and risible penalties for behaviour that threatens the lives of vulnerable road users have a predictable result:

Drivers appear to be shrugging off the threat of jail for causing fatal accidents while texting or talking on a mobile phone. Two Evening Standard photographers caught dozens of motorists using their phones while driving - despite a new crackdown which could mean up to 14 years in prison for offenders who kill. Among those pictured were cabbies, van drivers and commuters.

Tory run Swindon council wants to scrap all speed cameras in the town, to the delight of petrolheads everywhere.

Peter Greenhalgh, who is in charge of the council's transport policy, said that he would rather see the money spent on traffic calming and vehicle-activated speed signs, which cost as little as £5,000 to install.

It later emerged that the leader of Swindon council had a personal interest in the matter:

The leader of a council considering scrapping speed cameras was once banned from driving for speeding, it was revealed today. Swindon Borough Council is looking at proposals to get rid of cameras and find other ways to spend the £400,000 annual contribution it currently makes to the local safety camera partnership. Roderick Bluh, the leader of the Conservative-controlled council, was banned for three months after he collected 12 penalty points on his licence for speeding.

The blood-drenched farce of ‘road safety’ is rather underlined by this ‘complaint’: Drivers have complained about cameras being too hidden in the past, despite rules saying they must be clearly visible to oncoming drivers.

Swindon is where a speeding 19 year old driver careered on to a pavement and killed a child:

Tyrese, of Eastern Avenue, Walcot, had been out walking his dog Odi, with his mum, when a car lost control and hit him in Drove Road on Friday evening.Caroline was holding the dog as Lethbridge School pupil Tyrese walked ahead. He was instantly knocked unconscious. He died five and a half hours later at the Great Western Hospital.

It turned out that

The accident was the third serious incident of its kind in the last three months and residents have called for safety measures in Drove Road. Just last month a motorcyclist was involved in an accident in which his entire bike became wedged underneath a van. And at the end of last year a disabled man using the pedestrian crossing in Drove Road was hit by a car and needed emergency hospital treatment.Many people living in the neighbourhood say it was just a matter of time before there was a fatality.

Just three days after Tyrese was killed cars were still speeding past the spot where he was knocked down.

‘Losing control’ happens all the time. A teenager died and a man was seriously injured when the car they were travelling in overturned on a road in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire


A family had a remarkable escape when a car smashed through the wall of their bedroom as they slept with their five-month-old son. Joe Poulter, 40, and his partner Angela Foss, 38, were in bed when the Mercedes ploughed through the front of their cottage in Millfield, Sunderland, just after 2.30am. One neighbour said: "I heard cars driving along the street. They were racing each other. "It looked like one was trying to overtake the other when it went through the house.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Welcome to Walthamstow!

(Above) The moment you step off the bus at Walthamstow Central that much celebrated 'quality environment' is immediately evident.

(Below) Walthamstow makes a great movie location - if you're making a film about the end of the world or a society of cyberpunk squalor. Why bother going to the expense of constructing a landscape of ruin and waste when you can simply visit Buxton Road?

And just a few yards away, obstructing a cycle stand... If you ask me it's not Daleks we should be worried about. It's London Borough of Waltham Forest trade refuse containers which are taking over the world.

The Council claims it is Positive about disabled people. That's 'positive' as in 'positively indifferent'. No access for wheelchair users on Brandon Road (below)

More problems for wheelchair users, on Carisbrooke Road.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Whipps Cross University Hospital Trust: promoting car dependency

Whipps Cross Hospital. Spot the cycle parking.

I had an appointment at Whipps Cross Hospital as an outpatient. So I cycled. And when I got there:

There were numerous signs indicating car parking. There were no signs at all indicating cycle parking.

There was parking for hundreds of cars but no cycle stands located by the numerous buildings used by members of the public.

Eventually I found one cycle parking site, which I suspect is the only cycle parking provision in the extensive grounds of this very large, car-choked hospital. It has cycle parking for just 16 bicycles. Perhaps this is supposed to accommodate the needs of staff as well as visitors.

All 16 stands were in use. So, like other cyclists, I had to use railings to D-lock my bike.

Now I tend to think this is a scandal and a disgrace but I’m not exactly surprised. Some years ago I had the same problem at another local hospital run by the Trust. It had ample car parking but not a single cycle stand. I wrote to the Trust and politely asked it to tell me how many car parking spaces and how many cycle stands are provided, at each local hospital and health facility used by members of the public.

Back came the answer:

We don’t know. We don't care. We have no intention of finding out. Fuck off you pathetic cyclist and next time come by car.

(The wording may have been a little different, but that was the gist.)

Well, things haven’t changed a bit. Promoting car dependency - that's the culture of this crap Trust. And the grounds of this shambolic, badly managed car-cluttered hospital site are just as unfriendly to pedestrians as they are to cyclists.

The Trust prefers tokenism over substance. (Which moron at the Trust came up with the category “Main road unsuitable for bikes!”, I wonder?) There’s a map of the car parks here, with the revelation that We have 400 spaces for patients and visitors and 700 spaces for staff. That says it all, doesn’t it?

(Above and below) The 16 cycle stands. Inconveniently sited on a raised concrete platform. The stands also consist of a weird device evidently patented by the Spanish Inquisition, which you have to clamp around your bike. Several cyclists had given up trying to work out how to use these bizarre devices and just locked their bikes to the open frames. Unlike Sheffield stands, these Whipps Cross contraptions can only be used by a single bike.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

And another crash...

A motorist, presumably driving at a reckless, lawless speed and perhaps not paying attention, has 'lost control' and collided with the traffic island on Forest Road - yes! Forest Road yet again - by the junction with Ruby Road E17. The vehicle demolished both the yellow KEEP LEFT sign - look carefully and you'll just see the stump of the foundation - and the lighting column (which had a blue KEEP LEFT sign attached to it, at height). Had a pedestrian been waiting on the pedestrian refuge they might well have been killed. This is yet more evidence of the problem of reckless, high speed driving on Forest Road.

This crash site, opposite the William Morris Gallery, is situated on the Council’s new suicidal cycle lane and is a short distance from where Michael McLean was knocked down and killed by a speeding driver last year.

You can see the lighting column which was hit (with a blue KEEP LEFT sign attached) in the photograph below.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Another major smash on Forest Road

On Friday afternoon there was yet another major car smash on Forest Road. It occurred at the junction with Hale End Road. I cycled past about 90 minutes after it happened and took these pictures.

This is a location I have blogged about on a number of previous occasions. On this stretch of Forest Road thousands of drivers break the 30 mph speed limit continuously throughout the day, as I blogged about here.

Forest Road (aka the A503) is a major route which crosses the borough from the North Circular and M11 motorway in the east to Tottenham in the west. Most of it passes through a dense residential area, with schools, shops and homes. The A503 is a four lane highway at major junctions. It has an atrocious record of crashes and fatalities. The major problem is excessive speed, though there is also the problem of red light jumping. There are no cameras to catch red light jumpers at any of the junctions, and there are just two speed cameras, only one of which is in the built-up residential section of this very long road.

Hale End Road is another dangerous location, where almost all drivers, indifferent to the presence of a primary school and a school for children with special needs, break the 20 mph speed limit, as I blogged about here. I have also blogged about this particular junction, which is unacceptably dangerous for cyclists because it lacks an Advanced Stop Line, which means that cyclists continuing across the junction come into conflict with traffic turning left, as shown here. Finally, just beyond the site of this collision there used to a solar powered advisory speed sign, which the Council removed and did not replace. The pole which used to support the speed sign is still there, on the corner by Woodstock Road.

What caused this crash? The car shown above collided with the car shown below (which was moved to this location after the crash). The less badly damaged car was either turning into or out of Hale End Road when it was involved in a collision with the other car, which was evidently travelling east along Forest Road. There is a report on the crash here (although it is wrong in saying that the car landed in a front garden; the grass on the corner is public land).

Episodes like this once again underline the need for black boxes in vehicles, which would precisely identify the time of a collision and the speed at which the vehicle was travelling. Such devices could be cheaply installed in new cars but have always been fiercely resisted by the car manufacturing lobby. If we knew the exact time of this collision it would be possible to show if one or both of these drivers was jumping the lights. We would also know the speed at the time of impact. I find it very hard to believe that the driver of the car which either slewed through the gap in the railings or was catapulted over the railings, crashing into the brick wall on the corner, was driving at 30 mph or less.

This latest spectacular collision yet again reinforces the urgency of siting speed cameras along the entire length of Forest Road and putting cameras in at every major junction to catch those drivers who speed through at red. Imagine if a group of twenty primary school children had been waiting on the corner to cross here on their way back to their nearby school after a class trip; this would have been a massacre. Forest Road is a lethal location, where drivers contemptuously flout traffic law. This is the road where just under a year ago a cyclist was run down and killed by a speeding hit-and-run driver yet where this crap council puts parking before the safety of cyclists.

The other point worth noting is that the driver of the car which so spectacularly crashed seems to have escaped with relatively minor injuries. Twenty or thirty years ago the driver would probably have died. Nowadays reckless drivers are personally cushioned from the consequences of their lethal risk taking by rigid steel safety cages and air bags. Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists enjoy no such protection. Nor do those in cheaper cars. The second car in this crash evidently didn't have air bags; the car which so spectacularly crashed had at least two, which inflated and can be seen in the photographs.

Footnote. I went back yesterday and took some more photos of the site. In the first two pictures below you can see the approach to the Hale End Road junction going east along Forest Road. This is almost certainly the direction the driver of the spectacularly crashed car was heading. It is a lethal junction because it is just beyond the brow of a hill. For cyclists, the cycling lane fizzles out and there is no ASL to protect from left-turning lorries. Motorists tend to drive at speed towards these lights. They are also in a hurry because regulars know that beyond the junction the carriageway shrinks to one lane, so there is the classic jockeying for first place beyond the lights. If you look carefully in the first photo you can see in the distance the pole on the corner of Woodstock Road and Forest Road which used to support a solar powered 30 mph flashing speed sign. A question which should be addressed to the council is: why was this sign removed a long time ago and not put back, despite the problem with speeding at this site? The other question, which should be addressed to Commander Mark Benbow, the local area police commander, is: how many speeding tickets has your force handed out on Forest Road over the past 12 months?

(Below). The sand - probably used to mop up spilled oil rather than blood - may indicate the site of the collision. One car either careered through the gap between the railings and the traffic light column or was catapulted over the railings.

(Below) The control box operating the traffic lights was destroyed by being hit by one of the cars. Two days later the lights are still out, creating a fresh hazard for traffic entering or leaving Hale End Road, and pedestrians faced with the task of crossing four lanes of fast moving traffic. This crash will probably enter the statistics as a minor injury crash. Its true social impact and costs in terms of traffic disruption, added danger for cyclists and pedestrians, the costs of the involvement of three emergency services, and the repair bill for reinstating the damage to the traffic lights and the wall, will probably never be measured.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The news

The father of a 17-year-old girl who was fatally injured in a collision with a cyclist has said it is "laughable" the man has only been fined. Mick Bennett said Jason Howard should have faced manslaughter charges and been jailed for several years over Rhiannon Bennett's death in April 2007.

Howard was an "arrogant and vile little man", Mr Bennett said outside court. Howard, 36, of Buckingham, was fined £2,200 on Tuesday after being convicted of dangerous cycling in the town. During Howard's trial, Aylesbury magistrates heard Howard had shouted at Rhiannon to "move because I'm not stopping" before crashing into her.

Sgt Dominic Mahon, of Thames Valley Police, told the BBC Howard could have been travelling at about 17mph when he struck Rhiannon, "imparting a great deal of force" on her.

(And since a cyclist can impart a great deal of force and kill a pedestrian at 17 mph it does sort of make you wonder why no senior police officer has ever had a bad word to say about bull bars.)

Howard was riding a £4,750 custom-built bicycle. He had a previous conviction (but what it was for was not identified).

The penalty for killing a pedestrian as a result of reckless and dangerous cycling does seem extraordinarily lenient when compared to the sentence handed out to the cyclist who snapped after being abused and cut up by drivers and who maliciously damaged vehicles but hurt no one, for which he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for eight offences of criminal damage.

The case of Jason Howard generated a lot of commentary, much of it on traditional lines.

As greater numbers of cyclists take to the roads, are they becoming more irresponsible? plaintively asks the car supremacist BBC (Top Gear but not a single programme about urban walking or urban cycling).

Hugh Bladen, from the Association of British Drivers, certainly thinks so. "They are a rule unto themselves, to put it bluntly," he said.

(But then the laughably unrepresentative ABD is a tiny collection of petrolhead nutters and climate change deniers.)

Road safety officer Martin Cook, from West Sussex County Council, said growing numbers of bikes on the roads had sparked "very strong feelings" among people. "There are groups who feel there should be a lot more engineering to facilitate for cyclists and others who feel cyclists shouldn't be on the road," he said. "It's about trying to find the common ground with the two."

(No, it isn’t. Those are false alternatives.)

Richard Morrison:

Few motorists seem to understand, let alone sympathise with, the chief reason why cyclists appear to swerve erratically: the potentially life-threatening ruts and potholes on many roads. Why should they understand? In the cushioned safety pod that is the modern automobile, the driver doesn't even feel the bumps. In a country that gives such priority to motorists, is it desirable, even possible, to cycle “responsibly”? If I added ten miles to my journey each day, I could probably do the whole trip along quieter, meandering backstreets. But I haven't got all day. So I commute along the quickest route: the A-roads. Here, if I cycle “responsibly”, I will share the road with thundering juggernauts and white-van maniacs.

More crap walking:

The partial pedestrianisation of Parliament Square, designed to make London a glorious city for Olympic visitors has been axed.

The reason? Sources close to the £18 million project, originally given the go-ahead by Ken Livingstone, claimed it had been abandoned to avoid angering motorists.

Apparently other schemes are also due to be dumped, to ensure that London remains Europe’s most walking and cycling unfriendly city.

The decision has been greeted with enthusiasm by the Evening Standard:

The balance of power in our public spaces needs to shift more towards pedestrians. But it should not do so if the result is to create disproportionate disruption to traffic and chaos to the streets where it is displaced.

More Olympic news:

A MEMBER of the British bobsleigh team has been fined for speeding.

Crap cycling in London:

Lord Turner launched a stinging attack on the failure to make London more cycle-friendly and called for a dramatic increase in special bike ways "physically segregated" from cars. In what may be seen as criticism of former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, he said: "We still do not have cycle ways like Amsterdam and Berlin. "We have bits of paint on the ground with buses and taxis occupying it." The peer, who regularly cycles from his home in Kensington to his City or Westminster offices, added: "Given how little distance we have made in terms of cycle ways, the increase in cycling has been extraordinary and that suggests that it could go much, much further if we simply invest behind that."

A PLAN to allow bikers to use bus lanes is being fiercely opposed by Hackney cyclists.
Hundreds of people have signed a petition against London mayor Boris Johnson's proposal.

This week’s mobile phone killer:

A lap-dancer who was driving at 95mph while over the limit and using her mobile phone when she crashed into and killed a woman has been jailed for 6 years.

And now Scotland.

The Scotsman newspaper is proud of its campaign to save the planet:

THOUSANDS of Scots have stepped up to the challenge of fighting climate change and are helping our country set a shining example to the rest of the world. Environment secretary Richard Lochhead ate just Scottish food for one week in May.

And now why not watch The Scotsman’s promotional video of the gas guzzling Landrover defender. And there are also some great Scotsman cheap flight offers here.


ROBOT buses could be on the way to the streets of Stornoway at a cost of £700,000. Councillors on Lewis are looking at the futuristic scheme, which would be the first of its kind in Britain.

The driverless 10-seater buses would only travel at 7mph - about twice walking pace. But supporters of the plan insist it would provide "convenient and reasonably fast" public transport. They also claim the robots would improve the environment by taking buses and cars off the streets. The battery-powered robot buses are controlled by a central computer and use satellite navigation.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Hysteria and hypocrisy

Two days of bloody mayhem screams The Mirror.

Six people were killed with knives in a 24 hour period in what the Mail calls an appalling day of bloodshed.

Seven killed in a brutal 24 hours shrieks The Independent.

These deaths are “shocking and tragic”, and “We will continue to make absolutely clear that carrying a knife is unacceptable in our society,” thunders Gordon Brown, who promises to announce urgent new measures on Monday. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police issued a rare appeal for calm in the capital. "The dreadful loss of life in just 24 hours graphically illustrates the need for everybody to pull together to put an end to this unacceptable violence," solemnly intones Sir Ian Blair.

Oh really? Well in the space of around 24 hours we had at least twelve violent deaths in Britain, none of which produced a whisper of comment from newspapers, politicians or senior policemen.

Dental nurse Dana-Leigh Trigger, 22, died following a one-car accident on the Inchmarlo to Glassel road near Banchory in Aberdeenshire. And businessman and philanthropist Lynn Wilson, 68, of Northamptonshire, died after his car was in a three-vehicle crash on the A96 at Forres in Moray. A Grampian Police spokesman told the BBC Scotland news website there had now been 16 deaths from 12 accidents on the region's roads this year.

This was followed by a spectacular collision in which

Six young people died in a crash between a car and a lorry in the early hours of the morning in Leicestershire. which was followed by Two drivers were killed and two teenage passengers seriously injured in a crash in East Sussex and Two men died, and another was taken to hospital, after a three vehicle collision on the N2 in County Monaghan. The crash, which involved a lorry and two vans near Castleblayney and Carrickmacross, happened at about 1300 BST on Thursday.

In the case of the spectacular crash which killed six young people

Figures from Leicestershire County Council show there have been four other serious injury accidents and two fatal collisions on a 3km (1.9 mile) stretch of the A607 through Kirby Bellars since 2003.

The speed limit on the road, which dips and curves, is 50mph but locals said drivers regularly top speeds of 65mph. Villagers in nearby Asfordby claimed the road was sometimes needlessly "treated like a race-track" by drivers unfamiliar with its bends.

Violence on the roads ought to be as unacceptable as knife crime. And in the wider context:

According to the British Crime Survey (BCS), overall violent crime has across England and Wales decreased by 41% since a peak in 1995. Knives are used in about 8% of violent incidents, according to the BCS, a level that has largely remained the same during the past decade.

Yet the newspapers which foam at the mouth about knife crime conventionally marginalize road violence. They employ motoring correspondents who swoon about fast cars and illegal speeds. They carry adverts for devices to alert drivers to the presence of speed cameras. Politicians simply don’t talk about road violence. And senior policemen belong to a culture which does not regard driver crime as real crime, and where traffic policing has been significantly reduced over the past decade.

The case of television presenter Anne Robinson, banned from driving for six months after her latest speeding offence, is revelatory.

The 63-year-old admitted by post that she drove at 43mph (69km/h) in a 30mph (48km/h) zone in Anglesey Road, Portsmouth, on 8 August last year. She was fined £100 with £50 costs. She received four penalty points, which were added to the 9 on her licence. She was disqualified under totting up as she already had nine points for three previous speeding convictions.

And when were these?

They were in September 2005, March 2006 and June 2007.

A perfect illustration of the farce of the current system, where drivers have to be repeatedly caught breaking the law, before they receive the mildest of punishments.

Another case this week is equally illuminating:

A 17-year-old student who died after driving into trees had been texting her mother and her friend about university offers minutes before.

Her friend Holly, from Ferndown, said she never felt safe as a passenger. Joanne would hit kerbs and then drive "increasingly badly" in a state of panic, she drove too fast around roundabouts and would tailgate the car in front, she said. "I felt extremely scared of Joanne's driving. I remember saying to my mother I did not think she should have passed her test," said Holly. "She would eat while driving and often drive with one hand on the steering wheel."

The roads are full of reckless, narcissistic life-threatening idiots like that driver and no daily newspaper, no politician and almost no senior police officer, gives a toss. And it is cyclists, pedestrians and safe drivers who are at the sharp end of this culture of reckless driving. Which is, you could say, at epidemic levels, with every day of the week an appalling day of bloodshed.

And while Gordon Brown says “We will continue to make absolutely clear that carrying a knife is unacceptable in our society,” there are some violent accessories which can be very visibly carried, which will attract no attention from the police, and which all national newspapers are happy to advertise. These lethal and fatuous devices, for example, which kill child pedestrians and child cyclists: