Thursday, 31 December 2009

Review of a really crap year


The new year had an exciting beginning when I was unlawfully detained by a PCSO for taking photographs. In 2009, harassment by PCSOs and police officers became a common experience for amateur photographers, bloggers, tourists and newspaper photographers.

In January it also emerged that Waltham Forest Council had broken the law – repeatedly. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 required all Councils to publish a Rights of Way Improvement Plan by November 2007. Waltham Forest Council didn't bother, even though this was a statutory legal requirement. Even today it's impossible to get hold of a map of the borough's public footpaths and rights of way.


The first Olympic facility for cyclists opened in the borough!


I came across the aftermath of a spectacular crash on Grove Road E17. There was nothing in the local paper and this episode remains a complete mystery. Just one small example of London's hidden street violence. In 2009 I stumbled upon other spectacular crashes, including a fatality on Forest Road and a destructive smash on Wood Street. For the second time in 12 months a car driver 'lost control' and careered on to a local off-road cycle lane at the same location.


The Metropolitan Police’s hostility to people taking photographs reached a new level of absurdity when an Austrian tourist and his son were stopped at Walthamstow bus station for photographing double-decker buses and made to delete all their holiday photographs. This became national news and provoked a local protest.


The Council’s failure to maintain its infrastructure was revealed by contrasting publicity from 2003 with the reality some six years later. There are 36 vehicle-activated advisory speed signs in the borough and most of them are broken. How many exactly? The Council neither knows nor cares, and is in no hurry at all to repair them. Many haven’t been working for years, several are twisted round and pointing in the wrong direction, and one has vanished, no one knows why or where to.


As cyclists continued to die with dreadful regularity under the wheels of left-turning lorries, this blog broke the news of the death of the latest young woman cyclist to be crushed to death -a death subsequently not reported by any newspaper or by the BBC. The relationship between cyclists and lorry drivers was once again under the spotlight. I discovered the purpose of lorry sidebars. And a police driver ran down and killed an elderly pedestrian in Chingford. Four police drivers crashed in the borough in just a few weeks. Protected and sponsored by the Met, G4S and other outfits, obstructed pavements with great regularity. Inconsiderate parking by police drivers remains commonplace.


The Waltham Forest Green(wash) Fair was subjected by this blog to its usual annual critique.


This blog turned its attention once again to the car-sick National Health Service, provoked by the cycling-unfriendly Leyton Polyclinic.


My disenchantment with on-road cycling grew. My local cycling experience is summed up by this scene


An acclaimed local through route for cyclists was subjected to analysis.


The Council announced five cycling and walking hostile "Neighbourhood Improvement Schemes", and this blog kicked off a critique of each one with this study of The Forest Road Corridor Scheme


More criticism of the crap London Cycle Network.

Grossly inadequate cycle parking remains one aspect of the crap Waltham Forest experience, highlighted by conditions in Leyton and at Blackhorse Road station. Cycle stands continued to disappear, never to be replaced, like this one which said goodbye in June. And this cycle stand in Hoe Street was removed in September 2008 and 15 months later has not been put back – the perfect symbol of this crap Council’s spectacular contempt for cycling.

This blog will be back on January 2nd.

Happy New Year! Onwards to twelve more months of complete crap!

Answers to the fun quiz

1. London's WHAT is among the worst in Europe?

Air quality (more on this topic here)

2. Who said "And actually, too often, people kind of say: 'Oh well, you know, what do you expect from somewhere like Walthamstow?' and I say: 'I expect everything.'

The New Labour parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy .

3. What is the significance of the number 32,298?

It’s the death toll on Britain’s roads over the past ten years.

4. Which cyclist piously signed up to I Stop At Red and was subsequently seen cycling past a NO ENTRY sign and going the wrong way down a one way street?

again, Stella Creasy.

5. “A grant of £296,000 towards a short film and allied promotional activity to inform cyclists about climate change was secured from DeFRA Climate Challenge Fund.”

Which organisation was proud to be given this staggering sum of money to waste on an inherently fatuous project?

The Cyclists’ Touring Club.

6. Who carried out a survey which discovered that “in most [local] authorities, cycling was not a visible issue at senior management level.”

The Department for Transport (details here)

7. How could the government save 1.4million tonnes of carbon emissions?

By enforcing speed limits.

(Obviously that’s out of the question. All three parties would rather see the extinction of humanity than risk upsetting the six million votes of Daily Mail readers.)

8. Who wrote “Unless something is done soon, I fear that the number of Londoners who regularly cycle, will plateau at present mediocre levels.”

The Velorution blogger.

9. What was Council leader Chris Robbins referring to when he said “This is without a doubt our most exciting and ambitious plan for the former Arcade site so far”?

A garden shed and a tiny rectangle of ice

10. What is “feisty but well-informed, partisan but capable of reason and very, very active indeed”?

Thanks, number one fan Dave! He was describing this blog. With a final celebration here.

11. Which social group in Britain flies more than four times a year?

The average person in the UK earning more than £60,000 a year flies more than four times a year.

12. As 2009 came to an end, what was “beyond bad”?

The Copenhagen Accord. This "deal" is beyond bad. It contains no legally binding targets and no indication of when or how they will come about.

4X4 pavement parker is shocked

Miss Hayes, 25, could barely believe it was Annie Draper who had gouged three deep Xs into the £20,000 car.

A note left on the windscreen read: ‘Pavement = people, cars = road’.

Why didn’t the Crown Prosecution Service decide that this prosecution was not in the public interest?

Because cars are sacred objects and deliberately damaging them is a very, very serious matter. A fine of £200 reflects the gravity of the offence – that’s £20 more than you get for running down and killing four cyclists.

York twinned with Waltham Forest

I was surprised to see that anyone was using the cycle paths in York as I noticed that none appeared to have been salted or gritted. On Water End cyclists were riding on the road yesterday and not the cycle path presumably because they were still so icy more than a week after the snow fell. Not a good effort by the Cycling City!

A revealing comment after a story about a mugging on a cycle path in York.

Teenage cyclist run down and killed

A cyclist has died after he was involved in a collision with a car on a rural Shropshire road.

The man, believed to be 18, was given emergency treatment at the scene of the collision, near Shrewsbury,
after he suffered multiple injuries in the incident.

Child cyclist run down

A 12-year-old cyclist has been taken to hospital after he came off his bike in an accident with a car.

The accident happened shortly before 2.30pm today outside Topps Tiles
in Pasteur Road, Yarmouth.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

End of the year fun quiz

1. London's WHAT is among the worst in Europe?

2. Who said "And actually, too often, people kind of say: 'Oh well, you know, what do you expect from somewhere like Walthamstow?' and I say: 'I expect everything.'

3. What is the significance of the number 32,298?

4. Which cyclist piously signed up to I Stop At Red and was subsequently seen cycling past a NO ENTRY sign and going the wrong way down a one way street?

5. “A grant of £296,000 towards a short film and allied promotional activity to inform cyclists about climate change was secured from DeFRA Climate Challenge Fund.”

Which organisation was proud to be given this staggering sum of money to waste on an inherently fatuous project?

6. Who carried out a survey which discovered that “in most [local] authorities, cycling was not a visible issue at senior management level”?

7. How could the government save 1.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions?

8. Who wrote “Unless something is done soon, I fear that the number of Londoners who regularly cycle, will plateau at present mediocre levels” ?

9. What was Waltham Forest Council leader Chris Robbins referring to when he said “This is without a doubt our most exciting and ambitious plan for the former Arcade site so far”?

10. What is “feisty but well-informed, partisan but capable of reason and very, very active indeed”?

11. Which social group in Britain flies more than four times a year?

12. As 2009 came to an end, what was “beyond bad”?


The bombing you didn’t hear about

Police were today hunting the person who blew up a yellow roadside camera, leaving parts strewn across a road in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Residents living along the Bishopstoke Road
were woken up by the sound of an explosion in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

Even though bombing and violence are major news stories, the activities of Captain Gatso and MAD (Motorists Against Detection) are marginalised by the mass media and treated with indulgence by the police and security services.

Captain Gatso boasts of having destroyed speed cameras but has never once been arrested, even though the security services know who he is. The MAD website celebrates the violent destruction of speed cameras and boasts of orchestrating attacks on them, yet those behind this organisation have never once had police come to their door, been arrested, or had their computers seized.

Funny, that.

Car dependency and the NHS

HOSPITAL car park charges are set to be scrapped for thousands of patients after the Government admitted they cause "great resentment". Health Secretary Andy Burnham yesterday began an eight-week consultation to decide who should be exempt from fees

He admitted the NHS had not given the issue "the attention it deserves".

On the contrary, the NHS has turned just about every hospital site in Britain into a vast car park, while at the same time blatantly neglecting walking and cycling. The NHS is a car-sick body run by fossil-fuel addicts.

Child cyclist killed

A teenager died in hospital after being hit by a car as he cycled to a friend's house.

It is thought Jake was turning on to a path off a fast stretch of road near Baldock, Herts,
when he collided with the Honda Civic at 8.20am on Sunday.

The long dying

A CYCLIST who was injured nearly a year ago in a traffic accident near West Haddon has died.

This will not be recorded as a cycling fatality, even though it is one, because only those who die within 30 days of a road crash are counted as official road casualties.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Crap cycle lane of 2009

And the Crap Cycle Lane of The Year award for 2009 in the London Borough of Waltham Forest goes to... High Road Leytonstone.

The judges were particularly impressed by the design, which forces cyclists between parking bays and overtaking traffic. The bays ensure that the lane is regularly obstructed, quite lawfully, by parked vehicles. This "advisory" lane, praised by Sustrans as "cycling friendly" and meeting the stunted requirements of the London Cycling Campaign's image of a cycle-friendly street, results in cycling on this road being a hazardous and stressful experience, with cyclists using this lane constantly threatened by "dooring" or forced out by parked vehicles into the path of overtaking buses, heavy goods vehicles and speeding cars. Cyclists who choose not to use the lane can expect to find themselves hooted at and abused by drivers. Significantly, no cycle counts are ever taken on High Road Leytonstone.

"A Dutch style segregated cycle lane would be perfectly possible on High Road Leytonstone," said the judges. "But the local Council is fully committed to car dependency, and regards car parking as a much greater priority than safe and convenient cycling. High Road Leytonstone is the perfect symbol of why London is never going to become a world-class cycling city and why anyone who thinks that cycling is going to massively expand in Outer London is utterly delusional. Few cyclists want to cycle in road conditions like these. This crap cycle lane might as well be erased for all the good it does. Indeed, cycling would undoubtedly be safer without this cosmetic feature."

Terry Wheeler’s pork pies

Cllr Terry Wheeler, cabinet member for enterprise, described the borough's record of protecting green space as “exemplary”

My photograph shows green space alongside Forest Road, once owned by the people of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The Council decided to give this land away to a housing association. That decision was made with the full approval of the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour councillors on the planning committee. The housing association involved subsequently decided not to build on the land but to sell it. The people of this borough have thus not only lost green space land, they have also gained absolutely nothing from its disposal. But then the dealings of this crap council and land disposal are very odd, are they not? (QV the notorious Arcade site).

Monday, 28 December 2009

Absurd Bob Belam

That's Bob with the beard in the middle, holding up a lovely Council 'DRIVE LESS!' bag. Which is a bit rich coming from a man who allowed pavement parking on Browns Road E17 which goes below national recommended minimum footway widths for footway users with a mobility handicap. You know, wheelchair users, people like that. People who the local Lib Dems have no interest in, preferring to suck up to car owners.

Bob is notorious for thinking the squalid streets of Waltham Forest are getting cleaner all the time, and he's also the man who thinks the Council's shambolic response to snow and and ice was a magnificent triumph. As usual, Bob is on a different planet to the rest of us.

Bob is also hopeless at preventing the regular obstruction of cycle stands by local traders and at replacing the disappearing cycle stands of Waltham Forest.

Here's a statistic for Bob and his acolytes. Try applying its logic to crap Waltham Forest, where cycle parking is laughably inadequate, and the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems are fixated only on meeting the perceived needs of motorists.

Amsterdam has 550,000 parking spots reserved for bikes and only 180,000 parking spots dedicated to cars.

716 cyclists killed

In the USA

Last year, 716 cyclists died in traffic accidents and 52,000 others were injured, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

More speed camera media froth

It is over a year since Swindon became the first town in the UK to scrap 'cash cow' speed cameras after claims that they are a 'blatant tax on the motorist.'

[In the same way that prosecuting shoplifters is a tax on shopping.]

It took the unprecedented decision to ditch fixed-point speed traps and end a constant flow of £60 speeding fines going to the Government.

And now it has emerged that since they were removed the number of motorists caught speeding in the Wiltshire borough has dropped by over 50 per cent.

Excitedly reports the Daily Mail. But when you think about, if there are no speed cameras, then you’d expect less drivers to be caught speeding.

The ones who are still caught are those nabbed by mobile cameras. Comparing the results of these two types of enforcement is meaningless, since no statistics are available for how much time is devoted to mobile enforcement.

The Mail’s insinuation that drivers are speeding less once speed cameras are removed is inherently absurd.

It also reports

Swindon’s Tory council scrapped all fixed speed cameras in October 2008

According to Swindon Borough Council, from August 1 2008 to 31 October 2008 there was one fatal and four 'slight injury' accidents on roads covered by the cameras.

From 1 August 2009 until 31 October 2009 there were six accidents - two described as 'serious' and four as 'slight'.

In other words, the crash rate increased - from five to six.

Lily Cole’s bicycle has been stolen!

I have no idea who Lily Cole is but she must be important because it is national news that her bicycle has been stolen

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Crap cycling and walking in Hackney

The London Borough of Hackney has one of the fastest growth rates of cycling anywhere in the UK, yet planners and transport professionals visiting this borough with a view to imitating its success on their own turf may be surprised to see little in the way of conspicuous cycle facilities. Danish-style cycle tracks are nowhere to be found and the 1,000-strong local cyclists group, the London Cycling Campaign in Hackney, actively lobbies against the installation of cycle lanes.

Of course it depends what you mean by a cycle lane. If you mean a 1.5 metre lane painted on a road, which drivers can enter at will, it’s fair enough to oppose them. But Danish cycle lanes are both unsegregated and segregated, so “Danish-style cycle tracks” is a fairly meaningless term.

Me, I think cycling in Hackney is as crap as anywhere else in London. I can’t see why any planner or transport professional would bother going to Hackney, or would learn anything about cycling if they did go there. Much better to go to the Netherlands, which offers the only really credible template of mass cycling in a first-world country.

And now here are some crap walking and cycling pics from Hackney. The off-road route which runs along the riverside between Lea Bridge Road and the Cow Bridge, right beside a Hackney council depot which is obviously managed and staffed by able-bodied car owners, not cyclists or pedestrians.

(Above) The "wheelchair friendly" pedestrian entrance to the Hackney Council depot on Millfields Street.

(Below) The unsigned entrance to "The Lea Valley Walk" at the junction of Millfields Road E5 and Mandeville Street. Where does it go? How many miles is it? These kind of trifles only matter if you are a motorist.

(Below) Lit at night! Do admire that lovely pink cycle lane.

(Below) And here's another lighting column.

(Below) Crap walking and crap cycling!

(Below) Cycle lanes receive no maintenance because cycling just isn't important to anyone in local government.

(Below) More total obstruction of the cycle lane. The copious crap dumped all over the footpath and the cycle lane appears to originate with the barges drawn up alongside.

And that’s why cycling is out of the question

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: "Parking restrictions may make it impossible sometimes to deliver secure or sensitive documents, or allow people with a high public profile to attend or leave buildings without putting themselves or secure documents at risk."

The Government Car and Despatch Agency keeps chauffeur-driven cars for senior ministers to ride into work, and a pool of vehicles for junior ministers and civil servants.
Its drivers also deliver important packages in London.

Walthamstow car crash man dies

A MAN who was left in a coma after suffering severe head injuries in a car accident two years ago has died. Amjid Malik, 24, of Nedley Road, Walthamstow, was a passenger in a car which crashed in June 2007.

He was a passenger in
a car which crashed in Argall Way, Leyton, and had been in hospital ever since.

This won’t count as a road casualty death. Only those who die within 30 days of a crash are counted as fatalities.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Greetings from Waltham Forest

The snow has gone and as you can see everything’s back to normal!

As usual the Council failed dismally to keep pavements gritted and only bothered with a few roads. As for off-road cycle lanes - they never get gritted, because cycling is of absolutely no importance to Waltham Forest council.

Amazingly, even the Town Square outside Walthamstow's main library and the post office wasn't gritted, leaving pedestrians to slither across a sheet of ice.

And now it's raining.

This blog will be having the next two days off, and will then be back with more seasonal scenes from the Greenest council in London.

Merry Christmas to all connoisseurs of crap cycling and walking.

María Emma García Fernández: ‘accidental death’

At approximately 1845 on Friday 12 June a dustcart travelling eastbound was in collision with a 24 year old female pedal cyclist in Charterhouse Street at the junction with Holborn Circus, EC1.

At the time I wrote:

On the face of it, this sounds very much like yet another left-turning heavy vehicle fatal collision.

My speculation was criticised on a comments thread by someone claiming to be a police officer at the scene.

It now transpires that my speculation was correct:

An inquest heard how Argentinian-born Miss Fernandez, a PR student at the London College of Communication who lived in Stepney Green, was cycling with Mr Rispoli when they rode up beside the lorry.

The vehicle, which was indicating left, had gone past the stop line and was waiting at the front of the five-metre bike box, so the driver's view of Miss Fernandez was obscured.

Mr Grant told the St Pancras coroner's court that he saw only Mr Rispoli as he turned into Charterhouse Street, and had no idea that Miss Fernandez was being dragged under his front wheels until he was alerted by other drivers 130 metres further on.

Deputy coroner Gail Elliman said: “The lorry wasn't stopped in the right place. If Miss Fernandez was five metres ahead in the cycling box Mr Grant would have seen her. But the [lorry's] indicator could have been seen by Miss Fernandez. Caution might have been exercised if she believed it was going to turn left.” She recorded a verdict of accidental death.

This newspaper account fails to resolve the issue of whether the refuse lorry driver deliberately drove into the Advanced Stop Line at red, or whether the driver claimed to be forced to stop there when the lights changed. The law currently provides an agreeable loophole for drivers who stop in the ASL, and the legislation ought to be changed to give ASLs the same status as cross-hatched yellow lines at junctions.

There’s also the ongoing scandal of the bigoted car supremacist Metropolitan Police’s refusal to enforce ASLs and the snail-like progress of the legislation transferring enforcement from the police to local authorities.

Finally, there's the hideous irony that this fatal collision occurred at the kind of site which the London Cycling Campaign regards as cycle-friendly and wants to see more of.

In reality cyclists and lorries don’t mix, and cycle lanes which encourage cyclists to undertake traffic are potentially lethal. What London needs is a segregated cycling infrastructure on the Dutch model. Simply tinkering with the existing on-road infrastructure is never going to result in safe cycling or mass cycling.

Dangerous Wirral


for cyclists the total rate is 15% above the UK average – and for child cyclists the Wirral rate is 48% higher.

The Green Party's Pat Cleary said: "In theory, Wirral is meant to be supporting sustainable travel modes such as walking and cycling. In reality, these figures show that Wirral is a very dangerous place to be a pedestrian or a cyclist. The figures for children are truly shocking and will be of real concern to every parent."

O’Rourke’s drift

Sensational news:

Cllr James O'Rourke spotted a tall, thin snowman in Station Road, Chingford.

Maybe if Councillor O’Rourke spent less time in Chingford and more time in Walthamstow High Street, which he represents, he’d notice all the street lights which continue to blaze merrily away in broad daylight.

British justice

Mohammed Ibrahim 30, an Iraqi Kurd, fought deportation while claiming his life would be in danger if he returned to his native Iraq. He was jailed for four months after fleeing from a crash in which Amy Houston, 12, was killed beneath the wheels of his Rover car in November 2003.

Weeks earlier he had been banned from driving for nine months for driving while disqualified, without a licence and having no insurance.

Three years later he was again convicted of driving while disqualified and 14 months ago was taken to a deportation centre with a view to removing him from the country.

Amy's family have reacted with “outrage” to the decision by a court in Manchester this week to allow Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, to remain in Britain permanently.

For killing Amy Houston he served two months of a four-month jail term.

'Five times he's been in court for driving while disqualified. Five times he's flouted the law - how many chances should he have?'

The answer to that is that the right to drive is the most cherished right in Britain today.

I’ve been unable to find out what driving ban was imposed after this killer’s fifth offence, which says a lot about the standards of the British media. But I’m quite sure it was at best a few years.

Cyclists = vermin

James Carmichael

We've spent years rationally asking cyclists to behave better, and to indicate they're not welcome on our roads, but like all vermin that are left unchecked they continue to multiply.

So, maybe now is the time to get a bit more 'direct' in our action. I am not condoning breaking the laws, or doing anything that endangers life. However, maybe a little more assertive driving around cyclists or some 'verbal feedback' is the only way to get the message through. I for one, will continue to make my point to the cyclists that get in my way.

From his attitudes, James surely lives in Waltham Forest. Oh no, my mistake. Bristol.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Hunter in the Snow

This legendary medieval painting shows a scene from the wonderland of 'Waltham Forest', an earthly paradise famous from a classic work of fantasy produced by 'the Council' entitled Waltham Forest News. This scene is believed to date from the reign of Chris Robbins The Useless.

Art experts are divided on whether it shows an elderly resident attempting to avoid the ice on an ungritted pavement, or is simply a traveller who has read the WELCOME TO WALTHAMSTOW sign outside Walthamstow Central, which directs visitors to various public lavatories which were long ago closed by the council, including this one on South Grove E17. Note the starving dove in the foreground, pecking for scraps, believed to symbolise the forlorn and desperate state of the people of this unhappy borough.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I'm not cycling today

I haven't been out on my bike since Thursday. I'm not prepared to cycle on roads in this condition. The main roads are clear but the side streets are like this, and I use a lot of side streets. I still remember my hospital experiences after my last black ice mishap, and I don't want to go through all that again. Exmouth Road E17, today.

(Below) The icy pavement in Walthamstow High Street this morning, junction with Cleveland Park Avenue. No gritting. And the main routes from the bus station and the train station to the shopping Mall hadn't been gritted either. Waltham Forest council just doesn't care about pedestrians.

Left-turning lorries

Helen Pidd:

I once had an illuminating cup of tea with a traffic officer from the Metropolitan police whose job it is to scoop cyclists from the road after accidents – and he had one key piece of advice.

Don't worry about wearing a helmet or a fluorescent sash, he said, just never, ever, go up on the left-hand side of lorries.

That, he explained, is how the majority of cyclists have been killed in London over the past few years.

That assumes, of course, that cyclists who are killed by left-turning lorry drivers are at fault. But that is only true if the cyclist has wilfully undertaken a stationary lorry which is indicating left.

Bill Chidley has also been chatting to a policeman:

I was talking to a senior collision investigator at the Met, and he said that the problem is that loads of people see the aftermath; but to determine whether the cyclist or the lorry driver were at fault (or both) one needs to know what happened before the collision. He said there are rarely credible witnesses to what happened before.

Exactly. If the cyclist was waiting at the junction and the lorry driver pulled alongside and then turned left, then the lorry driver was at fault. The problem is that in the absence of other witnesses, the only person to offer a witness statement is the killer driver. Because the road lobby has successfully resisted the introduction of black boxes, there is no record of how a lorry driver has been driving prior to a fatal collision. If there is no witness to say that a lorry driver came up from the rear of a cyclist, then pulled alongside or overtook and turned left, then the negligent killer driver is most unlikely to be charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.

And that seems to be the problem with a number of cases where an apparently experienced commuter cyclist – usually a woman - has ended up under the wheels of a lorry. No witnesses to the relative positions of the cyclist and lorry in those key sixty seconds prior to the collision.

British justice

Grieving Yvonne Adamson is facing her second Christmas without daughter Hayley, who was killed instantly last May when PC John Dougal hit her with his patrol car in Newcastle's West End. The officer had reached speeds of 94mph in a 30mph zone, without either his sirens or blue lights engaged to warn pedestrians and other drivers.

He will be given three-days' leave from his three-year jail sentence - of which he has served just eight months - between Christmas Day and New Year's Day to visit his family.
Mrs Adamson was outraged by the generous terms of his imprisonment.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Abandoned bikes

An independent report commissioned by TFL in April 2007 showed there was an estimated annual total number of 27,500 potential abandoned bikes in London. Since then, the number of bikes has increased, which leads to the presumption that the number of abandoned bikes has also grown.

Do people who abandon bikes give up cycling?

Sebastian Faulks dislikes cyclists

At several moments in the book, while they’re travelling around London on their various business, several characters come across a cyclist who swerves unexpectedly or aggressively, nearly causing an accident.

The cyclist – either the same fast-moving figure, or one of an interchangeable number – functions as a small device to tie together the multiple narratives of the book. But he also functions, more simply, as the representative of an urban scourge.

When you read all the novel’s minor incidents as features of its larger litany of complaints, the list of the really grave problems of the age includes laissez-faire capitalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and cyclists who ignore traffic signals.

Tony Blair: environmentalist

The former PM travelled to the summit last Sunday where he warned that a failure to change human behaviour was 'grossly irresponsible'.

he flew on a private jet, generating a carbon footprint at least six times larger than if he had taken a scheduled flight.

In that he wasn’t alone


In one in four accidents involving HGVs, coaches or buses that left a cyclist seriously injured, the cause was attributed to the vehicle being too close.

Crashes in Croydon

Safety measures on a busy stretch of road in Thornton Heath are set to be improved after it was revealed there have been 78 accidents there in just three years.

Transport bosses are set to carry out a full review of a stretch of London Road to try and find out why there have been so many collisions.

A dozen of the 78 accidents have involved people being seriously injured and this has led to concerns being raised about the safety of the road.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

‘Copenhagen Accord’ Souvenir Gift Set

Friends, why not enhance your home with this beautiful collection of framed photographs commemorating the historic 2009 Copenhagen Accord. In the years to come your family and friends will be impressed by your taste and good sense.

Free government £5,000 voucher towards a new Jeep Cherokee or Toyota Land Cruiser with every set sold.

Yours for just £110 billion, payable please by a Gordon Brown cheque.

And now a word from our sponsors:


Teenager charged over cyclist death

A teenager has been charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of a 42-year-old mum-of-three from Penrith. Cyclist Louise Stoddart suffered fatal injuries after being injured in an accident on Fair Hill Road near the Bleak House caravan park, Greengill, Penrith, on Wednesday, June 3.

Cumbria police have confirmed that 18-year-old Matthew Lowther, of McAllister Way, Dumfries, has been charged with causing her death by dangerous driving.

Mrs Stoddart, who was with two other cyclists at the time, died at the scene.

‘Guardian’ speed porn

Journalist and writer Andrew Anthony chuckles at his exploits on the M1 motorway:

I took the motorway speed limit (70mph) and the car's speed limit (201mph) and tried to steer a middle course between the two.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Copenhagen and the bench on Somerset Road

Copenhagen ended in abject failure:

The world's worst polluters – the people who are drastically altering the climate – gathered here in Copenhagen to announce they were going to carry on cooking, in defiance of all the scientific warnings. They didn't seal the deal; they sealed the coffin for the world's low-lying islands, its glaciers, its North Pole, and millions of lives.


As widely expected, all references to 1.5C in past drafts were removed at the last minute, but more surprisingly, the earlier 2050 goal of reducing global CO2 emissions by 80% was also dropped.

And the USA?

Obama did say America would follow through on his administration's clean energy agenda, and would live up to its pledges. But in the absence of any evidence of that commitment the words rang hollow

George Monbiot is in despair:

Even before the farce in Copenhagen began it was looking like it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992. We have now lost 17 precious years, possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, driven and promoted by the energy industries.

For example:

the Global Climate Coalition, representing ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute and several big motor manufacturers. In 1995 the coalition's own scientists reported that "the scientific basis for the greenhouse effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well-established and cannot be denied". The coalition hid this finding from the public, and spent millions of dollars seeking to persuade people that the opposite was true.

But the political failure of Copenhagen is reciprocated at a parochial level in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The Council is an anti-walking, anti-cycling council. Its transport policies prioritise driving and parking by the 17.0% of households which own two or more cars/vans (how many councillors belong in that affluent category, I wonder?). Creating on-street car parking bays is a very high priority for all three political parties in Waltham Forest, even when it involves stealing road space from cyclists and pavement space from pedestrians, and even though

over half of all car trips made in outer London are less than two miles in length (only 10 minutes on a bike). There is real potential to reduce car use and congestion by encouraging a shift to cycling.

The potential to reduce car use and promote cycling is suppressed by these individuals, none of whom has spoken out against the proposed five neighbourhood improvement schemes, which benefit drivers and degrade cycling and walking in order to benefit car parking. Councillor Marie Pye (a member of the council’s cabinet) is just one hypocrite among many:

CLIMATE change will have a disproportionate effect on the poorest people in society, a councillor has warned. Speaking at a meeting to discuss the impact of global warming on community relations, Cllr Pye said: “Its not enough to tackle climate change, we need to do it in a way that looks at the potential impact of what we’re doing to our communities.

What Cllr Pye and her associates are doing is make cycling and walking worse, and driving and parking better. The walking and cycling environments are spectacularly neglected in this borough, to the complete indifference of the borough’s complacent officers and apathetic councillors like Cllr Pye.

The council’s Climate Change Strategy is just one more assembly of empty words, every bit as worthless as all its other froth about the environment. Let me give just one example. In combating climate break-up the Council piously asserts it needs to

Ensure the adequate provision of pedestrian facilities such toilets [sic] and benches on pedestrian routes.

(quoted from Table 8, Cycling and Walking strategies)

The fact that no one can even be bothered to proofread the Climate Change Strategy document is itself revealing (it’s a policy of no real importance, you see). But more important is that the council has closed public toilets all over the borough, purely in order to save money. Likewise its provision of benches on local streets is incoherent and minimalist. The number of benches, like the number of cycle stands, continues to shrink. They disappear without comment. Like this one shown above on Somerset Road E17. It vanished years ago, leaving a relic of its frame.

Walking, like cycling and like climate break-up, just isn’t important to the officers of Waltham Forest or its councillors. Its cars and car parking that really matter.

North Pole cycling news

A North Pole cyclist sustained a head injury after being struck by a car.

Anatomy of a fatal crash

Every serious road crash has an investigating officer assigned to it, and this one was to be hers. After a quick brief from a colleague on the scene, she made "a bee-line" for the van driver.

Her memory of their first encounter is very clear. "He was with another officer sitting in a police car. I remember getting into the car
and immediately smelling alcohol.

The drunk killer driver was banned from the roads for just four years.

Kings Cross crap

It is an offence if owners do not clean up after their dog has fouled public land. The fine is usually a £50 fixed penalty notice.

Police also considered a public order offence of causing "harassment, alarm or distress". This criminal offence carries a maximum fine of £1,000.

But after a six-week investigation, in which senior officers were consulted, the decision was made to take no further action.

Cyclophobia in Los Angeles

The city has seen a greater number number of reported clashes between cyclists and drivers; cases include cyclists being driven off the road, screamed at by drivers and pelted with missiles. Occasionally, the altercations have resulted in physical assaults.

Several American cities and states are addressing the problem by implementing a local law
that makes harassing a cyclist a criminal offence.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Exclusive photo of Santa

Santa caught in the act of trying to get to the top of a house well above sea-level, in order to avoid the inevitable consequences of Waltham Forest Council's wasteful use of electricity through allowing street lights to burn brightly in the daytime, week after week, month after month, like this one in Walthamstow. Yesterday.

Everything you need for a green Christmas is the front page headline on the Council’s propaganda sheet Waltham Forest News.

The sub-heading is

Santa’s top tips for a greener Christmas

Among Santa’s tips are

Christmas lights

The longer you keep your lights on, the more C02 you’ll emit.


reduce your impact on the planet

by not wasting electricity!

Advice which the Council chooses not to apply to itself. Yesterday, the ninth day of the Copenhagen climate summit, I spotted two more street lights blazing away, under blue sky and sunshine. (Below) St John's Road E17. As well as the first one, above, on Orford Road E17.

Good news from Copenhagen and Waltham Forest

“The UN is admitting in private that the pledges made by world leaders would lead to a 3C rise in temperatures. The science shows that could lead to the collapse of the Amazon rainforest, crippling water shortages across South America and Australia and the near-extinction of tropical coral reefs”

So it won’t affect The London Borough of Waltham Forest at all. There are no coral reefs or rainforests in NE London. Also we have lots of reservoirs. This is obviously why our enlightened Council is pressing ahead with introducing on local streets where possible additional parking bays.

And in an exciting new development:

COUNCILLORS tonight unanimously agreed to call for a report on how parking charging schemes can be made “fairer” for residents.

A motion moved by Labour cabinet member Geraldine Reardon, and agreed by members from all political groupings, asks a report to be drawn up to consider reducing charges for first car permits. It will also look at scrapping charges for visitor permits.

The council has also asked Cllr Terry Wheeler, investment cabinet member, to investigate
how the authority can allow more casual customer parking to help small businesses.

It's obvious all that global warming stuff is rubbish. Tornadoes in Waltham Forest are about as likely as a tornado in Trafalgar Square.

Merry Christmas!

Kitchen involved in collision with car

A drunk driver who crashed his car through the wall of a house into the kitchen has been jailed for 12 months.

Michael O'Sullivan caused £70,000 worth of damage when his uninsured sports car hit Julie and Michael Miller's home in Resolven, near Neath, in July.

And the disqualification for

dangerous driving, drink-driving and having no insurance.

That’s right. A joke. No more than

an 18-month driving ban

In the courts

One witness said he was driving on Skene Road, near Aberdeen Crematorium, when he saw a cyclist knocked off his bike after allegedly being assaulted by someone in a passing van.

Giving evidence, Craig Chisolm, 36, said: “It was a blue Transit-style van which slowed right down. I saw the upper half of someone hang out of the passenger side window and swing at the cyclist. It looked like he had been punched.”

Mr Chisolm said he initially passed the spot where the alleged incident happened before returning to make sure the cyclist was not seriously injured.

Following an adjournment, Ms Dyckhoff said
the Crown would not be proceeding with the case.

New Bedford cycle lane protest

Yikes! Non-violent cyclists riding their bicycles!

Detectives took photos from unmarked vehicles and traffic cops sat at the ready in full riot gear

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Helpful cycle signing

This cycle sign on the off-road cycle lane on Marshall Road E10 helpfully warns cyclists using this two-way facility that they will shortly crash head-on into a mass of overgrown vegetation.

London welcomes reckless drivers

The chances of being fined for speeding or jumping a red light in London are among the lowest in the country - despite the capital having the highest number of "spy" cameras, research reveals.

London is seventh from the bottom of the magazine's league table of 42 counties,
which ranks speed and red light camera operations and action taken against motorists driving while uninsured or breaking mobile-phone laws.

And thanks to Mayor Boris Johnson and Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the outlook for reckless, lawless drivers will be even rosier in 2010.

Lorry knocks over bus

The crash happened as the low-loader turned out of a building yard into the side of the bus in Plough Road. Police said the driver of the lorry was arrested and was being questioned in custody in connection with dangerous driving.

The mathematics of reducing C02 emissions

Global average CO2 emissions are 4.48 tonnes per person per year. Cutting the world total by 85% means reducing this to 0.672t. Average per capita output in the 38 Annex 1 countries is 9.98 tonnes: to hit this target they must cut their emissions by 93.3% by 2050. If the rich persist in offsetting 50% of this cut, the poorer countries would have to reduce their emissions by 6989mt to absorb our offsets. To meet a global average of 0.672t, they would also need to chop their own output by a further 10838mt. This means a total cut of 17827mt, or 125% of their current emissions. I hope you have spotted the flaw.

Falmouth lorry collision cyclist dies

A CYCLIST died from a blood clot three weeks after being involved in a collision with a five-tonne lorry, an inquest has been told.

Mr Tilley had been taken to hospital with a severe laceration to his left leg
after the collision with a lorry as it was pulling out of a junction on to Bickland Water Road, Falmouth, during the morning rush-hour.

Worthing cyclist injured in hit and run

A WOMAN cyclist needed stitches in a head wound after a hit-and-run in Tarring.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Rubbish cycle parking

Rubbish and cycling - they're synonymous in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

First pic: Vernon Road E17, Monday

Second pic: Town Square E17, everyday

Waltham Forest council driver using a mobile phone

The driver of this Waltham Forest council van (Waltham Forest Libraries) drove up to the traffic lights at the junction of Willow Walk and High Street, steering with his left hand and chatting on a handheld mobile phone with his right hand. Yesterday, 1.20 pm. As the driver pulled off at green I took a couple of quick snaps, as he headed towards Selborne Road. A black male with a woolly hat. The above pic shows him steering with his left hand. His other arm is hidden, as it is holding a mobile phone to his right ear.

(Below) Possibly it was the same driver who was at the controls of this Waltham Forest Libraries van, which was driven into the Advanced Stop Line for cyclists at red on Wood Street E17 on November 13.