Sunday, 30 November 2008

Eco-terrorism shock horror!

Earlier this month, The Observer smeared climate activists by highlighting police warnings of a “growing threat of eco-terrorism”. The alleged threat is presented by a group called Earth First!, which the paper claimed “has supporters who believe that reducing the Earth's population by four-fifths will help to protect the planet”. (Mark Townsend and Nick Denning, ‘Police warn of growing threat from eco-terrorists: Fear of deadly attack by lone maverick as officers alert major firms to danger of green extremism,’ The Observer, November 9, 2008)

The Observer implied no less than three times that Earth First! activists would not only like to see the Earth’s human population drastically reduced, but might be willing to take action to make that happen. The impression given was of a group bent on the mass murder of billions!

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit was concerned that a lone maverick might attempt a terrorist attack. It had also warned several companies they were being targeted as major polluters by the group and had offered them advice on how to withstand attack.

It's perfectly legitimate to report police security concerns, but none of the statements were substantiated. No website links were offered, no names were mentioned, no companies identified and no police source would go on the record.

The article linked Earth First! to climate camps established last summer, including one at Kingsnorth power station, Kent, and at Heathrow.

Curiously, it turns out that this crock of garbage was co-authored with the help of an army officer.

A devastating analysis of the whole affair has now appeared on the MediaLens site:

Almost comically, the article focused on police concerns that “a ‘lone maverick’ eco-extremist may attempt a terrorist attack aimed at killing large numbers of Britons”.

If an entire group really is advocating mass murder, then presumably the concern is not for “a lone maverick”. And some kind of evidence - weaponry, plans, perhaps a declaration of intent - should be available to justify these extreme allegations.

But none was provided by the Observer. No climate camp has ever resulted in a conviction for a violent offence. Given the reality of impending climate catastrophe, the Observer’s demonisation of peaceable direct action is deeply irresponsible.

Goodbye, world

Global warming is for ever, some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded. Their research shows that carbon dioxide emitted from today's homes, cars and factories will continue to heat up the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.

Their findings – which contradict a widespread belief that the atmosphere would recover quickly once humanity stopped polluting it – come at the beginning of the most crucial week for the climate this year.

(Don't hold your breath. The expansion of Heathrow, subsidised cheap air travel, more roadbuilding, increased car dependency, the marginalising of walking and cycling - hey, the mass extinction of our species is good for the economy!)

Yet more Londoners die under HGV wheels

While BBC London news continues to regard knife killings as newsworthy, it continues to blank out the regular killing of cyclists and pedestrians by Heavy Goods Vehicles. The latest two HGV fatalities, which occurred in the past nine days, involved pedestrians:

A PEDESTRIAN from Catford died following a collision with an HGV in Plumstead. The incident happened near the traffic light junction of Plumstead High Street, White Hart Road and Lakedale Road, at about 12.30pm on Friday (November 21).


A shopper died under the wheels of a lorry – yards away from one of the most dangerous crossings in London. The woman, aged about 60, was carrying bags of shopping when she stepped out on a pedestrian crossing in Upper Street, Angel, opposite the Mall, at midday on Tuesday. She was hit by a north-bound 16-tonne lorry and ended up trapped under its front wheels.

Another account describes how

She was in collision with a six-wheeled Iveco Eurocargo - ending up under its front wheels. (It’s funny how journalists always describe pedestrians and cyclists “colliding” with motor vehicles, isn’t it? Never the other way round.)

This fatality occurred just a short distance from another nightmare crossing, where “The wait between crossing times is too long, the pedestrian island is too small, the railings are dangerous for cyclists, and vehicles are still passing when the green man comes on.”


PEDESTRIANS were forced to walk in the road by signs telling drivers to watch out for... pedestrians. Sarah Williams, 29, who walks along Turnmill Street every day to the production company where she works, said: "It's ludicrous! The signs take up half the pavement. It gets so busy here, and it's even worse at night. People have to walk in the road and the traffic won't slow down for them."

Funny, all this. According to the road lobby, pedestrians in London are inhabiting a veritable paradise.

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Yesh, it's environmentally reshponshible lager!

I enjoy hatchet jobs. And I enjoyed reading this hatchet job on Green tokenism by this Australian blogger, who not only discovered this 'Green' lager but also puts the boot into lots of things, including WWF:

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) began as a group backed by a Public Policy think tank in Switzerland. However in its 47-year existence it has promoted a model of environmentalism through working with big business, accepting funding from oil companies such as Chevron and ExxonMobil, as well as the logging industry. Today it is the world’s largest environmental lobby group, operating in 46 countries. The WWF have been found to organize hunting trips for their members and recently, they’ve even come out in support of Uranium mining in Australia!

Angry driver runs down 13 cyclists

This is an amazing story and I am astonished only one newspaper seems to have covered it. A driver who was obliged to slow down because of a group of cyclists lost his temper and deliberately ran them down, then drove off.

A TOTAL of 15 witnesses are assisting gardai in their investigation into a hit-and-run incident that left 13 cyclists injured. The probe into the incident, which occurred in Garristown in north Dublin earlier this month, is continuing and no arrests have been made yet.

Wesley Murphy, a member of the Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club, initially feared he had been left with a broken back following the incident, which happened on Saturday, November 1. "We went down like skittles," he said. "He drove at us as if he was overtaking but drove into the line. One guy was dragged along with the car. He had all his clothes ripped but his injuries are superficial." Speaking about his own more serious injuries, he said: "I went flying off and got belted pretty hard. At first they thought my back might be broken, but it was just that my chest had frozen up."

Mr Murphy said that incidents of drivers getting frustrated at cyclists were not uncommon, but
this was a really extreme case.

Another Tory council considers implementing BNP policy

Mobile speed cameras may be scrapped from roadsides in Northamptonshire next year.

Northamptonshire County Council leader Jim Harker would not confirm any decision had been made. "I know there have been concerns from the public and the RAC about them. There is evidence that people tend to react quickly to cameras and slow down sharply, creating hazards and possibly accidents."

(By ‘the public’ Harker means a vociferous minority of petrolheads. Every opinion poll ever taken on speed cameras has shown a clear majority of drivers in favour of them. As for the RAC. It has millions of members who join for its breakdown service. It never consults its membership on any issue and has no authority whatsoever to speak on behalf of drivers.)

A group set up in 2007 to monitor the effectivness of speed cameras in Northamptonshire reported its findings to the county council earlier this year. The study suggested the use of mobile speed cameras should continue.

By the sound of it Tory Northamptonshire will be following Tory Swindon. And as the Swindon BNP website says: “At last a council implementing BNP policy!”

Friday, 28 November 2008

Cyclist goes under a bus

THERE have been fresh calls to upgrade a "horrific" busy roundabout after a cyclist was left seriously injured in a crash with a bus. The 35-year-old Chinese woman had to be freed from underneath the double-decker by firefighters using airbags and specialist stabilising equipment following the accident yesterday morning at Crewe Toll. Locals have told how the roundabout is so busy at peak times, it has become an accident waiting to happen. Inverleith councillor Lesley Hinds said: "The first time I moved to Edinburgh 30 years ago, I had an accident there in my car. It's such a dangerous roundabout.”

Another dead cyclist

Also on the lamp-post, behind the wheel, is a poignant note left by someone thought to be a cycling campaigner. Neatly typed but unsigned, it reads: "This is because I do not want to die in a traffic accident."

Three men arrested on suspicion of failing to stop at the scene of a collision have been bailed by police until January 20.


"The man said that he was a very safe driver and felt he was as good as anyone else on the road, despite his disability. He had an automatic so did not need to worry about changing gears and said he had put a lot of practice into learning to control the steering wheel with his legs. He said he was actually even more careful now with driving than he had been before he lost his arms. He was surprised when we arrested him."


Genevieve Kyle, 33, was found to be more than four times over the legal drink drive limit. She had also been driving with just a provisional licence. She walked free from Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court yesterday after being given an eight-week suspended sentence. A spokeswoman from road safety charity Brake hit out at the lenient sentence and demanded tougher punishments for drink-driving. Jane Whitham said: 'Judges are going soft on offenders and people are getting killed as a result. This case begs the question what do you actually have to do to get sent to prison.'This is happening up and down the country and it's typical of the sentences we see handed out.’

Someone else who walked free was

The drunkest driver police had ever seen, a court heard. Jane Hofmann was five times over the legal driving limit when officers pulled her over. The 39 year old was spotted driving her Mercedes 4x4 with personalised number plates at 9.45pm without her lights on.Hofmann was repeatedly speeding up and slowing down and weaving into the path of oncoming traffic.

Government gives way to car lobby yet again

Following lobbying by the car industry across Europe, the government yesterday watered down a recommended new car emissions target for 2012, saying it would phase in a target by 2020

The approach of all politicians to impending climate catastrophe is indistinguishable from that of an alcoholic who promises to give up drinking – but not until next month.

The Met

Reading about the controversial Damian Green arrest I was intrigued by this remark:

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: 'The fundamental duty of the Metropolitan Police is to protect Londoners from harm, not the Government from political embarrassment.'

Well I’d say if that is the Met’s fundamental duty it’s signally failing. The greatest form of violence, injury and anti-social behaviour in London occurs on the roads, and the Met is ostentatiously indifferent to it. It’s institutionally car supremacist and contemptuous of, and hostile to, cycling and walking. Proof of this can be seen in everything from its virulent obsession with persecuting Critical Mass to its refusal to enforce Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists. And its massive reduction in traffic police numbers.

Australian road rage

FOOTY broadcaster Rex Hunt will fight assault charges after allegations he attacked a cyclist in a road-rage incident. Among the charges revealed today include: recklessly causing serious injury on July 26, intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault.

“I couldn't care less what people say or think about me,'' he said

New community language

No longer will inebriated Scotsmen be discriminated against by Anglophone street signing in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. (Brettenham Road E17 - outside the Alcohol Exclusion Zone!)

It WAS a drunk driver

That road smash I stumbled upon last week. There was nothing in the local paper this week and there's been nothing on its website.

After making enquiries among my various contacts I was finally able to locate an informed source who tells me that a male driver in his twenties was charged with drunk driving.

(Below) The driver went straight ahead, down Melville Road, seen here at the junction with Greenleaf Road. Note the yellow school sign on the corner.

(Below) The driver lost control on this bend and veered across to the far side of the road. The first parked car he hit was where that black car is parked in the middle of the photo.

(Below) Aftermath of the damage caused when the Renault driver smashed into a parked 4X4, sending it spinning across the pavement and into this brick wall.

London: getting worse for cycling and walking, not better

In a choice between the environment and the car, the car wins. If the people of Kensington want the freedom to guzzle gas, pollute the air and clog up the streets, they get it. If the people of Peckham want better public transport connections, they can get stuffed.

And now Boris Johnson is reducing London's congestion zone by half:

The move was condemned by a spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign. "This move will increase London's contribution to climate change, and exacerbate London's health and obesity crisis. It has been terrible failure of leadership." Said Koy Thomson, the organisation's chief executive. "November has seen a triple whammy for cyclists: first, motorbikes in bus lanes; second, slashing the borough cycle route budgets; finally, scrapping the cycle-promoting western congestion charge."

Interestingly, there are signs of a middle class exodus from Britain’s major cities: Nearly a quarter of a million London residents quit the city last year.

This is part of a national trend involving middle-class families of all ethnic backgrounds who are thought to be turning their backs on poor schools, poor transport, and high crime rates in major cities.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A.A. blames pedestrians for getting run down

More road lobby propaganda on BBC and ITN today (and doubtless in lots of other media outlets). It’s a classic example of flat earth news, as a corporate handout is lapped up and recycled by lazy journalists who don’t ask questions.

It’s a poorly translated pseudo-scientific “report” into “pedestrian crossings”, produced by a motor lobby group, with the involvement of the A.A. You can read it (in PDF format) here. The author of the report seems to think that the term “pedestrian crossings” means zebra crossings, which it doesn’t. It briefly acknowledges “a high level of fatalities on pedestrian crossings” but naturally doesn’t want to investigate why this might be. The report seeks “To force national and regional authorities in Europe to establish relevant guidelines and tools for road designers aiming to secure and build safe pedestrian crossings.”

It’s the usual road lobby argument that carnage on the roads is to do with road design rather than the behaviour of the perpetrators of the carnage. No road lobby hand-out has ever called for changes to car design (such as manufacturing them to go no faster than the maximum national speed limit or the inclusion of an aircraft-style 'black box' which would register speed at the moment of a collision).

In its usual sycophantic fashion BBC News has turned to an impartial third party to assess the report – yes, the A.A., which in fact is involved with it. Even though the report evades the question of responsibility for pedestrian crossing casualties, that odious smoothie A.A. president Edmund King asserts that since U.K. crossings are the finest in Europe,

“This strongly suggests that any problem with London's pedestrian crossings has to lie with their users rather than their design."

In other words, it’s all the fault of pedestrians if they get run down on zebra crossings. King should try telling that to the families of Julie Bishton and David Evans

The design of crossings is largely a red herring. The four key issues are driver behaviour, the risible penalties given to drivers found to be at fault when they hit pedestrians on crossings (all too often they are charged with "driving without due care and attention"), the obsession with prioritising motor traffic flow going at unsuitable speeds for dense residential urban environments, and the obstacles put in the way of local residents who want pedestrian crossings. As in the comment here:

This issue makes me so furious. I am a mother with two young children and feel like I risk my life several times a day to cross at this crossing. I really think it is an absolute scandal. I was only musing to myself earlier today that if anyone with any influence in tfl lived near this junction it would have been dealt with years ago. We've lived here for 8 years and our neighbours who had young children then were campaigning 8 years ago for a pedestrian crossing and were told then that it was going to be dealt with. I was in touch with tfl several times two years ago about this and was told that it was going to be sorted out at the same time as the roundabout. I am ready to take my children and go and sit in the tfl offices until someone promises to do something about it. Does anyone fancy joining me? We don't need any consultation, we just need a pedestrian crossing at a dangerous junction. Is it really that difficult?

New ghost bike in Islington

A SECOND "ghost bike" memorial has appeared in Islington - marking the spot where a 26-year-old cyclist was killed at a King's Cross danger junction.

Research assistant Rosie Wright, of Mildmay Road, Newington Green, was crushed to death by a lorry in March 2007 at the junction of Pentonville Road and Penton Rise, King's Cross, two days after buying a new bike.

Another obstructed cycle lane

(Above and below) The entrance/exit to the off-road cycle lane which runs alongside the North Circular between Roberts Road and Beresford Road E17. It was completely obstructed yesterday by contractors who had blocked it with buckets, a giant gas cyclinder and a small tanker trailer. They had put no signs up and they didn't seem to be roads contractors and they weren't doing work on the cycle lane. In fact they weren't doing any work at all when I came along.

The council actively encourages this sort of thoughtless obstruction by not putting down double-yellow lines at this point. Anyone who chooses to block the cycle lane with their vehicle is free to do so.

Shocking violence in India

India, where an estimated 270 people die each day from road accidents, and specialists predict that will increase by roughly 5 percent a year…less than 5 percent of road travelers are riding in cars -- most are on foot, motorbikes, or carts.

Funnily enough Analysis carried on the basis of all India road accidents data shows that drivers’ fault accounts for 83.5 per cent of accidents.

Yet more Crooked Billet crap

(Above and below) This crap council is too bone idle even to send someone down to the Crooked Billet Underpass to reposition all the signs which are pointing in the wrong direction. To get to Chingford Road (South) or Walthamstow you need to turn left here, not right. That sign is pointing to Chingford, in entirely the wrong direction. These misdirections have gone on for months. I keep pointing this out but nobody gives a toss.

(Below) As usual there is broken glass all over the cycle lane.

The leaves that were here the last time I came this way are still there, except now they have turned to a greasy sludge. Conclusive proof that the cycle lanes have not been swept once over the past 14 days at probably the best single cycling facility in Waltham Forest!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Critical Mass appeal upheld

Hundreds of cyclists who descend on central London for impromptu mass rides do not have to give advance notice to the police, Law Lords have ruled.

You can read the full legal judgement here. The next Critical Mass is in two days time. Details here.

Now let’s think. How many hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money did the car supremacist Metropolitan Police waste pursuing its futile vendetta against Critical Mass, inspired by its obsession with motor traffic flow? This is the same force which has massively reduced its numbers of traffic police, which regards drivers using mobile phones as a very low priority, and which refuses to enforce Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists.

You're nicked!

Walthamstow police station has parking round the back, and there are also spaces on Greenleaf Road. But why bother when you can park on the pavement while simultaneously blocking the cycle lane? (Yesterday morning, Forest Road E17)

"Working together for a safer London"? It seems walking and cycling are excluded from the Met’s concept of Safer Neighbourhoods!

Barrier to cycling

I waited at the lights on Selborne Road by Walthamstow Central station yesterday, crossed Hoe Street at green, and headed for the twin cycle lanes which cut through the closed-to-motor-traffic end of St Mary Road. And it was blocked off with fencing. (Coming from left to right in the photo above)

One of the lanes of this two-way system has been closed off for months by contractors (as we all know, when you are inconveniencing cyclists there is absolutely no hurry at all). But now both lanes are blocked off. There was absolutely no advance warning, which provides another interesting contrast with motor traffic. Drivers are given repeated advance warnings of the bleedin' obvious, usually in the forms of signs placed obstructively in cycle lanes. But cyclists approaching this popular facility and commuter route from either direction are given no warning at all. As for pedestrians, the contractors have also blocked off the footway, so walkers have to step into an A road to get past. And if you are in a wheelchair, well, that's tough.

Goodbye, world

There's a storm coming...

Cycle route funding for London boroughs has been slashed in half.

And the government’s new economic policy means cheaper driving, and more cars on the roads. Better widen the motorways even further. Don't worry, they've thought of that: £700bn of road-building cash is being brought forward..


Rising carbon dioxide levels are increasing acidity in the oceans 10 times faster than scientists thought, posing a greater threat to shell-forming creatures such as coral and mussels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted last year that most coral reefs would disappear by the century's end because of rising temperatures and ocean acidity.Scientists found that acidity levels increased at more than 10 times the rate predicted by computer models designed to study the link between atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and ocean acidity.

The NeverEnding Story

Market traders are STILL locking carts to cycle stands on Mission Grove E17. Week after week after week it goes on. And this crap council, which isn't lifting a finger to stop it, has the impudence to pretend it is keen to promote cycling and wants to be the greenest borough in London. (Pic taken yesterday)

Blue pallet blues

When this shop on the corner of Storey Road E17 and the High Street was a greengrocer's, the cycle stand was never obstructed. Since the shop changed hands and started selling shoes the cycle stand is regularly blocked. Yesterday.

Meanwhile on Westbury Road E17 (below), market traders - who are responsible for these pallets - display their characteristic awareness of the needs of blind pedestrians.

Dangerous van driver

The driver of this white van RY06 BKU was talking on a hand-held mobile phone as he came down Eldon Road E17 yesterday at 11 a.m. A stocky white man in his twenties. He parked and I took this quick snap while he was round the back opening his doors.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

People who attack cyclists

BBC Radio presenter JoAnne Good loathes cyclists and the BBC gives her a daily radio slot to pour out her venom. Jeremy Clarkson has warned cyclists in a column: "Do not cruise through red lights. Because if I'm coming the other way, I will run you down, for fun.". Times journalist Matthew Parris chuckled that "A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists".

So I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that some people attack cyclists:

Police are appealing for witnesses after a cyclist was hit in the face by a tangerine thrown from a passing car in Oxford. At 4.40pm yesterday, the man was cycling along the cycle track next to the Northern Bypass towards Marston, just past the Cherwell Bridge when he was hit by a tangerine. He was taken to hospital where he has been kept in for treatment to serious bruising to his left eye, swelling and bleeding from the iris.

PC Chris Reilly, of Cowley police station, said: “This may not seem too serious an incident, but the piece of fruit was travelling at high speed and it has left the cyclist in a lot of pain. "It hurt him so much he first thought he had been hit by a brick. “This may have been unintentional, but I am concerned it was not: the rider was wearing a reflective jacket and lights and would have been easy to see.


A male cyclist had a bottle thrown at him by a passing car, at around 11.30am.


A BLACK man cycling on a road in Taunton was subjected to a volley of racist remarks and then attacked by a gang of young people, Taunton Crown Court heard.

A cyclist and black. Well that's just provoking people, innit? (Nobby Petrolhead, member of the Association of British Drivers and supporter of Safe Speed)

How to complain about bus drivers

Double decker bus in Advanced Stop Line for cyclists, Hoe Street

Complaints about London buses have risen by 12,000 over the past year, Transport for London (TfL) said. A total of 124,410 complaints were made in the year to March 2008, compared with 112,185 the previous year. They included complaints about bus driver behaviour from passengers, from cyclists and drivers of other vehicles. TfL said the figures reflected its improved complaints procedure, and that the "vast majority" of bus journeys were completed without incident.

Cyclist Joe Heaven complained after a bus driver not only cut him up on the road, but then jumped off his bus for a face-to-face confrontation. Mr Heaven said: "He jumped out and ran around the front of the bus to catch me as I came past and he started yelling at me. "I stopped and said 'where did you learn to drive?' and he spat at me."

I’ve never had a confrontation with a bus driver but I am fed up with the atrocious driving standards of many London bus drivers. In the past I’ve just shrugged off all my bad experiences but in future I’m going to make the effort to complain about bus drivers who deliberately go into ASLs at red.

Four ways to complain:

On-Line: complaints form
Phone: 0845 300 7000 (08:00 – 20:00 Mon - Fri)
Write to: 84 Eccleston Square,London SW1V 1PX

When sending a complaint record:

• the bus registration number
• the route number
• the location
• the date and time

The TfL complaints policy regarding buses is set out (in PDF format) here

Woman on a handheld mobile phone

High Road Leytonstone, 1 pm, 21 November. The woman driving this silver Ford Y165 KJN is chatting on a handheld mobile phone. (You can just make out her right hand which is holding the phone, pressed against her ear.)

The great flaw in all cycling campaign organisations is that they pursue improvements for cyclists in a bubble, divorced from the reality of Britain's roads. Unless you begin from the foundation that drivers as a social group are the most reckless, violent, anti-social, lawless and dangerous people in our society, that the media plays a key role in muffling this reality, that 'road safety' is an organised fraud, and that all police forces are car supremacist institutions which collude with road danger and work against the interests of vulnerable road users, you aren't going to help cyclists or improve conditions for cycling. Cyclists deserve safe cycling conditions in traffic, which they don't get on roads which are full of risk-taking criminal yobs. (Mark Lynas supplies some essential context.)

The woman driver shown above knows perfectly well that the chances of her being caught by the Metropolitan police are negligible and that even if she is caught the penalties are risible. Her selfish and criminally reckless behaviour is implicitly condoned by both the government and the police, and she knows it.

Sooner or later the law will be changed and driving with a handheld mobile phone will result in immediate disqualification. But thousands more road users will have to die before any government grudgingly accepts this. Many of them will be children. When you hear politicians emote about Baby P it's worth bearing that in mind.

Here's my latest list of prospective killers on the road. A small fraction of the drivers I see using mobiles. Just the ones where I was able to spot the number plate and it was convenient to stop and jot it down. The most dangerous of all these maniacs in this list was, I suppose, the driver of the HGV I saw on Forest Road, heading into London.

LT06 (or possiblyL206) USM, ‘medical services’ van, male driver, 11.24 am, West Avenue Road E17, 31 October 2008
Silver 4X4, EJ55 SXB, male driver, Hoe Street E17, 9.25 am, 1 November 2008
Van LV07 JZX, male driver, Hoe Street, 10 am, 3 November 08
Articulated HGV, male driver, SA52 FMM, 9.50 am, Forest Rd E17, 6 November
Car FN51 FDX, male driver, 3.30 pm Hoe Street, 7 November
Car GV51 DVU male driver 10.20 am Lea Bridge Road, 11 November
Black car LS05 CVD, male driver, High Street Walthamstow, 1.58 pm 12 November
Red car WP08 VTF, male driver, Erskine Road E17, 10.40 am 15 November
White car, female driver, R156 REO, Mission Grove, noon, 15 November
R986 SOY, male taxi driver, Spratt Hall Lane, Wanstead 2.32 pm 15 November
Female driver, blue car LT04 FFC, Addison Road E17, 3pm 15 November
Light lorry NU57 RUA Cecil Rd Leyton 1.05 pm 21 November
Y119 CLC woman in car, turned out of Peterborough Rd into James Lane 1.54 pm 21 November

Monday, 24 November 2008

RAC driver using a hand-held mobile phone

The driver of this RAC van was talking into a hand-held mobile phone as he entered this roundabout on Shernhall Street E17 (junction with Barclay Road/Raglan Road) and drove on towards the junction with Lea Bridge Road, last Friday, 2 p.m.

He was an Asian male, perhaps in his thirties. He may well be the same driver I encountered about a year ago. I was cycling up Livingstone Road E17 when an RAC van came round the corner from Copeland Road. The driver was talking on a hand-held mobile and he was also an Asian male. Funnily enough that day was a Friday too.

The new regulations are simple and unambiguous - from December 1 2003 it will be a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone at any time while driving.

Kevin Delaney, Traffic and Road Safety Manager for the RAC Foundation said: "The new regulations introduce a welcome note of clarity and send a clear message to drivers and their employers about the hazards associated with the use of hand held mobile phones.

Why not let the RAC’s press office know about their lawless driver? You can choose from any of the press people here.

If you are an RAC member you can pass this information on here.

How it could be done

Today’s news:

UK transport emissions could be cut by a quarter by 2020 if the government shifted its policies, a report claims.

I’ve looked at the Campaign for Better Transport report (they used to be called Transport 2000) and it contains a package of sensible proposals and some interesting material. For example

91% of car commuting and 87% of business car trips are single occupancy journeys.

The environmental impact of moving goods by road is huge: Freight transport accounts for over one-third of UK transport CO2 emissions: some 23% for lorries and 12% for vans (rail freight is 1%). This is an area where the Government can make some big reductions in CO2 emissions. These emissions are also growing faster than for cars, even though the number of vehicles involved is tiny by comparison. The efficiency of lorries (in terms of how full they are) has been static or falling, despite a series of increases in maximum permitted size and weight designed to improve it.

Introduce road charging for lorries, with incentives for greater efficiency and reductions in vehicle duty. A previous scheme was dropped as too complex; introduce a simpler system as used in Switzerland and New Zealand, charging by weight and distance and based on “odometers” installed in lorry wheel hubs, which could be used to level the playing field for UK operators against foreign lorries.

One main reason transport emissions are growing is because we’re travelling longer distances. For example, between 1985 and 2005 average annual mileage per head (excluding foreign travel) increased by 35%, though the number of trips was broadly unchanged.

Car journeys under five miles account for 20% of passenger transport CO2 – shifting some of these to walking and cycling will help cut congestion and obesity and improve health too. It can be done: Many European cities have low levels of car use: in Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich and Brussels, cars account for 40% or less of journeys, due to planning and transport policies and support for cycling and walking.

You can download the full report and find out more here.

Naturally the government won’t take the slightest bit of notice of this report, and will continue on its way to climate catastrophe. What reports like this always ignore are the politics of transport: the influence of the road and aviation lobby, the influence of the corporate media, and the timidity and backwardness of all the three main political parties.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

David Beckham Exclusive!

Waltham Forest is home to the awesomely boring Beckham trail. (Caution: this trail is unsuitable for cyclists, as the route involves the Crooked Billet roundabout)

The London Bicycle Activist has been exploring that grim area of Leytonstone between the High Road and the M11 Link Road and has spotted by David Beckham's childhood home the council sign NO BALL GAMES PERMITTED. Another triumph for the London Borough of Waltham Forest!

Crap cycling and walking in Bristol

Bristol council runs this special "assisted suicide" scheme for depressed cyclists.

Yes, it's thrilling that Bristol has become England's first "cycling city" in a £100m government scheme aimed at encouraging cycling.

Sadly, Bristol has some bloggers who are seriously discontented about conditions for cyclists and walkers in this progressive 'Green' city and who show a quite different reality.

All the pics here come from the blog Bristol Traffic. (I also recommend Green Bristol)

(Below) One of Bristol's high quality cycle lane links. And notice that traffic jam in the distance. The 'one man and his car' culture is king in Bristol as it is in every other city in Britain.

(Below) This white van belongs to Bristol city council.

(Below) Like all local authorities, Bristol council is passionate about high quality maintenance of its cycle lanes:

Saturday, 22 November 2008

School bans cycling

A 10-year-old boy has been told he can cycle to school - but only if his mother drives behind him and takes his bicycle home with her. Keen cyclist Sam O'Shea delighted his mother Angela when he told her he wanted to take the 'green' option and ride the two miles to school.His primary school imposed the bizarre restriction saying it had nowhere to store bicycles.

The wit and wisdom of a 'Times' journalist

Like all drivers, I have no problem whatsoever with cyclists as long as they stay in their place – the pavement.

This journalist believes that drivers respect traffic law whereas cyclists don’t. TfL did some research at London junctions and found that

On average just under 18% of cyclists ran red lights, whereas over a third of motorists encroached into cyclists’ “Advance Stop Lines”

But as everybody knows, cyclists kill 3,000 people a year on Britain’s streets, whereas year after year drivers are only responsible for a single death!

Classic A.A. whinges #730,231

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, raised concerns about defining 45mph in a 30mph zone as "excessive" speeding. "It could cause confusion among motorists or make them feel they are hard done by," he said.

Public transport gets more expensive

Some rail season tickets will rise by more than 10 per cent in January as train companies take advantage of loopholes in the system of fares regulation.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said that ministers should have frozen fares in the same way that fuel duty increases had been deferred to help motorists.

Death of a cyclist

THE distraught partner of the Dunfermline cyclist killed on the notorious Grange Road between the city and Rosyth has called for it to be closed down. Luisa Palminha (33), of Buchanan Street, said it was “not fair” that another life had been lost on the road after the death of policewoman Kirsty Allan last year. “Something needs to be done about this road. It’s not fair that the man I love has died because of this. It should be closed forever.”

Brian Taylor (29) was heading to work at Stephen’s bakery in Primrose Lane, Rosyth, when he was involved in a collision with a car travelling in the opposite direction, at around 1am on Saturday. The driver of the silver Rover escaped with minor injuries but Mr Taylor was pronounced dead at the scene.

Grange Road has become notorious as an accident blackspot for both pedestrians and drivers, with around 40 accidents, including two fatalities, since 2002. A council poll of more than 3000 residents in 2002 showed 58 per cent were in support of a traffic ban. However, the proposal attracted more than 60 individual objections and more than 1000 people, mainly from Rosyth, signed a petition against it.

[ So the council sided with the vociferous minority rather than the safety-seeking majority. ]

André Sarafilovic, managing director of Stephen’s, told the Press his staff were in “absolute shock” at the sudden death of their colleague.“When he cycled to work he took all necessary precautions for a cyclist and wore a high-visibility vest.”

The great tradition of road carnage

A businesswoman who killed a young couple by driving a Jaguar into them at 111mph was jailed for nine years today. Mary Butres, 47, was driving John Nichols' Jaguar XJ8 when it hit surface water, skidded and hit Mark Crompton, 20, and his 19-year-old girlfriend Jodie Brown, Nottingham Crown Court heard.Butres today admitted another charge of drink-driving. She was banned from driving for seven years.

But why should Mary Butres ever drive again?

Why are the directors of Jaguar not in the dock for producing the killing machine that wiped out the young couple?

And why is it that senior police officers make public speeches articulating their sense of anxiety about speed cameras but never have a bad word to say about cars designed for high speed lawless driving?

In the past few days…

A cyclist has been killed after being struck by a lorry in Northern Ireland


A MIDDLE-AGED cyclist was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries following a collision with a white van in Walton.


A CYCLIST has died after being struck by a car on the A5199 Welford Road near Shearsby yesterday (Wednesday). The accident happened at about 9am when the cyclist was struck by a grey-green Vauxhall Astra estate.


A 43-year-old cyclist was recovering from face and chest injuries today after colliding with a car in Ipswich. The man swerved to avoid a reversing Vauxhall Corsa and crashed into a Ford Focus, causing damage to the windscreen.


A GREENLAW man lost his life following a road traffic accident in the Borders on Sunday. Murray Fleming, a 25-year-old IT worker, was injured when at around 6.40pm a Volkswagen Passat collided with his bicycle on the A698 Hawick to Denholm road at Ashybank.


A FORMER firefighter has spoken this week of her desperate struggle to save the life of a cyclist. She added: "It was horrendous the amount of cars that went past and didn't stop. I was trying to flag people down but they were just flying by.

‘Shocked and dazed’

Going down Cheapside this afternoon in the cycle lane and an articulated lorry is coming up behind me, I've been about 40/50 metres ahead of him for about 30 seconds when he starts to speed up and eventually catches up to me. I'm now riding level with the front of his cab and can't see his indicator and I'm thinking 'surely he's not about to turn left, he's seen me ahead and saw how fast I was going so he must know I'm still down the side of him. But no, as I always tell everyone who asks me advice on riding around London, always assume that the nearest person to you is about to pull a fucking stupid move and anticipate for it. He swings left, smacks into me and sees or hears me fall and stops with me and my bike under the lorry at which point I seriously thought it was over. I realise I'm not actually dead, get up from under the cab and pull my bike out, the driver gets out and starts trying to have a go at me at which point 2 white van men (of all people) who have stopped come over and give him a savage verbal blasting and basically lay it down how they saw events unfold and thankfully put my point across as I was still in major shocked and dazed mode.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Boris not such a friend of cycling after all…

Cycling campaigners in London said money given to boroughs for cycle safety improvements is to be cut. The London Cycling Campaign claimed funding had been slashed in half, from £20m to £10m in 2008/9. The Green Party said the cut would represent a complete turn around of the Mayor's pledge to improve cycle lanes. The London Cycling Campaign said hundreds of planned cycle safety improvements to junctions and local streets were now under threat.

Bob and Clyde's new triumph!

Legendary local avant-garde pranksters Clyde and Bob said yesterday they were "over the moon" that ideas first tested in the London Borough of Waltham Forest were now being imitated as far afield as Berlin (above). Their jokes include signs to public toilets which don’t exist and (below) this pioneering "open toilet" on Walthamstow High Street. Hey, everybody, this council is really on a roll!

HGV drives at me on one way street

A short section of Milton Road E17 (between Hoe Street and the junction with Browns Road) is one-way only. I was cycling up it in the lawful direction on Tuesday when this lorry driver decided to take a short cut and came at me in the unlawful direction. He didn't stop when he saw me but just kept coming. Luckily there was space for me to pass. I managed to get off a couple of quick shots after he'd passed, as he turned off into Hoe Street.

It looked to me like the type of lorry that is implicated in quite a few London cycling fatalities. (I was interested to read on the Moving Target website that when City of London police did a spot check on a random sample of lorries they found every single one was breaking the law in one way or another.)


THE row over the state of the borough's streets under street service provider Kier is still raging - nearly six months after they took the contract. As complaints continue to come in over uncleared fly-tipping and leaves left piled up on pavements, local politicians are beginning to weigh in.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Major smash outside primary school - driver drunk?

(Above) Melville Road E17 at mid-day yesterday, outside Greenleaf Primary School. Almost two months to the day after baby Finlay Woods was crushed to death in his pram by a drunk driver who careered on to the pavement, that tragedy came close to repeating itself. If it had done so this would have been a major national news story. Luckily on this occasion it was mid-morning, so all the children were in school and parents were not coming and going, and the driver hit a parked car, which acted as a barrier. Astonishingly, no one was apparently injured.

I came across the aftermath of the crash some time after it happened - perhaps an hour. There was quite a crowd, the road was blocked, and parents were coming and going with small children to the adjacent primary school (the nursery, I would guess).

What precisely happened? Apparently the male driver of a Renault Megane came tearing down Melville Road at high speed, going in the direction of Forest Road. He must have had his foot pressed hard down on the accelerator pedal as Melville Road has big old-fashioned solid road humps. I overheard local residents talking about the crash, who were saying that the driver was drunk.

The driver lost control after coming round a bend and collided with a parked 4X4, hitting it with such force that the vehicle was spun across the pavement. The Megane then continued on, heading straight for Greenleaf Primary School. (See first photo below) It was only prevented from mounting the pavement and smashing into the school railings by a parked car, which it hit and became embedded in.

(Below) The Renault was heading straight for the railings on the pavement outside the primary school when it smashed into the side of a parked blue Skoda.

(Below) The force of the impact knocked this parked 4X4 across the pavement and into a brick wall. Luckily no one was walking past at the time.

(Below) The offending driver was at the wheels of this dark Renault. Note the start of the school markings on the road surface in the bottom right hand corner.

A few words about the car which caused this spectacular damage. According to Top Speed, the Megane is a socially responsible vehicle. What’s more every Megane model is built to exceed the maximum speed limit, and no Megane incorporates a black box which would accurately record speed at the time of a collision.

The manufacturers sponsor a High Speed Renault Festival: For Renault Mégane drivers, this meeting will be their first opportunity to see the most extreme version of Europe’s best-selling car racing door-to-door.

One other thing. The council’s Waltham Forest Road Safety Guide 2007/8 "is proudly sponsored by Renault".

As a non-injury crash this won't enter the 2008 road casualty statistics, by which "road safety" is falsely measured. We will no doubt be told next year that 2008 was a good year with casualties continuing to fall and Britain's roads getting safer and safer.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


An 11-year-old girl who was mowed down by a car had her life saved - by her school bag, it emerged Wednesday. Lucky Ayse Kinsman was walking home from school with her twin sister when she was struck by a blue Peugeot 206 estate which jumped a red light.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said a female driver of the Peugeot stopped at the scene of the accident. She was questioned on suspicion of driving without due care

Jumping a red light is NOT ‘driving without due care’, it is a deliberate action and is dangerous driving. And knocking down a school child in these circumstances is not an accident but a predictable consequence.

Worcester ‘Incident’

THE DRIVER of a car involved in an incident which led to a cyclist falling off his bike shouted at the rider before driving off.

This driver hit me

(Above) This driver hit me. No, not road rage. His car hit my bicycle. It was the lowest of low speed collisions but if left me shocked and angry. I was sufficiently angry to take photographs of the driver and car, which I don't normally do. If the pics on this blog normally have an unpeopled atmosphere it's because I usually wait to let pedestrians pass before I take photographs, and I avoid taking pics of lawless drivers because I prefer to avoid abusive or violent confrontation.

It happened last Saturday at about 1 p.m. I thought I'd wait a bit before I blogged about it. To give me time to reflect on the circumstances and return to the location to look at it more closely.

I'd been in Tottenham and I was returning to Walthamstow. I cycled across the Lea Valley, up Coppermill Lane, along St James's Street, and up Courtenay Mews and Cranbrook Mews (part of the London Cycle Network). It was a Saturday and there was heavy congestion everywhere. When I reached the junction with Willow Walk I encountered the traffic backed up along South Grove. No problem for a cyclist, as there is a cycle lane at this junction, which feeds an ASL at the Willow Walk/Selborne Road/South Grove junction. Except that on this occasion there was a car and also a motorcyclist in the ASL.

Both the car driver and the motorcyclist were breaking the law, since The legal status of ASLs has now been clarified and they are now fully enforceable following Parliamentary legislation which came into force on 31st January 2003: Anyone driving a motor vehicle which stops in an ASL when the light is red will be committing an offence contrary to section 38 of the Road Traffic Act of not obeying a traffic signal.

But there was lots of space to the left of the car, and so I pedalled on. Indeed, Where there are cycle lanes and / or ASL’s the cyclist is encouraged to cycle along the inside of traffic queues.

The car was not signalling left. Nor was it turning left. But as I entered the ASL the lights changed. As my momentum took me past the car, the driver moved forwards and he hit me. There was a loud crunch as the car hit my bike. The driver braked and I braked. Shocked, I pointed at the ASL and screamed at the driver "YOU SHOULD NOT BE THERE!"

The driver raised his arm in apology. He knew perfectly well he should not have been in the ASL and that he was at fault. He did not get out of the car. He was plainly embarrassed.

By this time the lights had changed to red again. I dragged my bike to the side of the road to see if it was damaged. As far as I could tell it wasn't. The car had hit the rear frame at low speed. It hadn't touched my leg and it hadn't knocked me off my bike. Maybe the crunching sound was the car panel caving in. Looking at the pics I can see a black smear on the car which I think was the point of impact. I can't tell if the car is dented or if it's just reflections.

I was in a state of mild shock. In the past I've twice clipped the wing mirrors of slow-moving cars which lurched unexpectedly into the cycle lane while I was undertaking them, but apart from those inconsequential events I have never been in a traffic collision before. I was sufficiently angry to take photographs of the driver and his car. The driver was embarrassed and looked away - he had two young teenage girls in the back, who seemed quite startled by the turn of events - while the gormless lawbreaking motorcyclist stared at me.

(Below) The aftermath of the collision, with the lights at red again. And make a note of that white van on the extreme right of the photo. It will be putting in another appearance later in this post.

(Below) The scene of the crime. An ASL with a feeder lane. I'm starting to see why some cycling campaigners refer to these so-called cycling facilities as "sucker-traps". As you might expect from the crap London Borough of Waltham Forest the ASL markings are seriously faded. Even so, there's no real question that this box is for cyclists. And I think the design is deadly, since a cyclist heading straight on up Selborne Road has to swing out right to do so, which means instant conflict with a vehicle in the ASL, even if that vehicle is also going straight on. What caught me out was that the lights changed at precisely the wrong moment.

I thought I'd return to Cranbrook Mews and re-examine the circumstances of my little collision. It was an illuminating experience. In the time I surveyed the ASL, non-compliance by ALL drivers was one-hundred per cent.

I'd just arrived yesterday (at noon) when a cyclist and a car approached the ASL together, at a red light. I managed to take a quick snap (below) before I switched to zoom. The car drove into the ASL, so the cyclist compensated by going beyond the lights and waiting there, a perfectly sensible reaction but one which is technically illegal and can lead to police harassment.

(Below) This more or less duplicates the circumstances of my collision. Except that I was probably about a metre nearer to the car in the ASL. The cyclist swings in front of the car to to go up Selborne Road. Here, the driver who was unlawfully in the ASL can see the cyclist and waits. Whereas the driver who hit me wasn't expecting me to appear on his left.

(Below) The next red phase, the next offender...

Note the angle at which the offending car is positioned. This ASL design is deadly for cyclists who are going straight on.

(Below) The next red phase, the next offender...

I went closer to take more pics, and a bus driver came along at the next red phase and drove into the ASL (below).

I see that Westminster Cycling Campaign took up the issue of bus drivers who abuse ASLs with Ken Livingstone:

The Mayor's response in (2002):

"TfL has pioneered the introduction of a BTEC qualification for bus drivers in London. As part of the qualification drivers will be reminded of accurate stopping distances from junctions. This new qualification will be applied to all new drivers from September of this year [2002], and bus operators are also being encouraged to train [existing] staff to the same level.”

To which my response is: ha bloody ha. Bus drivers generally in Waltham Forest are a lawless, dangerous risk-taking menace (I realise there are exceptions to every generalisation). They jump red lights on a staggering scale, they repeatedly cut me up on my bike, they deliberately and wilfully obstruct ASLs.

Remember that white van on Cranbrook Mews, I mentioned earlier? After I'd cycled on after my little collision, it overtook me on Selborne Road. The driver had witnessed the collision between the driver in the ASL and me. So what did white van man do when he reached the next ASL, just before the bus station. That's right: he drove right into it. (Below)

On another day recently I cycled towards a red light at The Bell corner. I cycled into the ASL. I had it all to myself. But then after about fifteen seconds I had company. (Below) You can see see why increasing numbers of cycling campaigners refer to cycling facilities as cycling "farcilities". You can also see why so many cyclists either position themselves beyond the final white line, or simply cycle across at red.

I would never undertake a heavy goods vehicle or a bus in an ASL. But usually it's safe to do so when it's only a car. On this occasion I failed to take into account the fact that this ASL is situated on a bend. I was lucky: the car which hit me was a tiny, tiny one, the speeds were slow, and the driver braked. It could have been much worse than it was.

The lessons I draw from this are various.

(1) In future I shall never enter an ASL which has vehicles in it.

(2) The Metropolitan Police is institutionally car-supremacist, colludes with lawless drivers and promotes cycling deaths and injuries by refusing to enforce ASLs:

As things stand, the City of London police is the only police force that is actually enforcing the law on ASLs (no explanation was given for why the Metropolitan Police was not). Rose Ades from Transport for London said that in many cases it was difficult to enforce ASLs because there is nowhere for police to pull over vehicles that have broken the law - stopping them in the ASL itself would cause congestion and unacceptable delays to other road users, she explained.

In other words, maintaining motor vehicle traffic flow is more important than the safety of cyclists. Which explains why the Met has such an animus towards Critical Mass.

(3) The sooner enforcement of ASLs is transferred to local authorites the better. If Gordon Brown was seriously concerned about public safety he would rush through legislation at once. I feel far more threatened by London drivers than I do by terrorists.

(4) Many so-called cycling facilities are indeed sucker-traps, which promote the potential injury or even death of cyclists. Undertaking can be potentially lethal, yet the so-called London Cycle Network encourages it across the capital.

(5) As there was no physical injury and no obvious damage to property my collision does not count as a road traffic "accident". I've seen some cycling activists argue that since road casualty figures are going down and the number of cyclists on London's roads is increasing, London's roads are getting safer. This is false logic. To get a true picture of how dangerous the roads are you need to count in figures for non-injury crashes recorded by insurance companies. The number of drivers who crash their cars, or who are crashed into, without any injury, and who claim on their insurance, is vastly greater than the number of drivers involved in recorded road traffic "accidents". You also need to factor in events like the one I've just described, which will never be recorded as a statistic, and will allow someone to claim that this junction is very safe.

(6)A study in 2001 found No significant overall collision saving to cyclists after the provision of ASLs at about 50 sites in London.

Interesting, that.