Saturday 14 August 2010

London’s secret vehicle violence

Everywhere I pedal in London I notice evidence of drivers who have collided with stationary objects. There is no object in a street which a driver won’t crash into – traffic signs, fences, walls, cycle stands, bollards, trees, you name it. Unless the occupant(s) of the vehicle or a passing cyclist or pedestrian are injured or killed, these crashes go unrecorded, even though they form part of the exposure to risk which anyone walking or cycling faces.

When no injury is involved, this barrage of motorized violence is recorded by no one, other than fiscally by councils who are left to repair the damage, at the expense of the council tax payer when (as often seems to be the case) the culprit can’t be identified.

The most serious damage to street infrastructure is caused by drivers who have ‘lost control’, most probably as a result of excessive speed or impairment by alcohol or drugs.

My photographs show the remains of a lamp post (or what highway engineers call ‘a lighting column’) on Grove Road E17. This is a traffic-calmed street where the calming is ineffectual and perfunctory, including some thoroughly useless rubber speed cushions nearby. The damage was obviously caused by a motor vehicle and since this lamp post is on a bend my guess is that a driver heading east at excessive speed couldn’t manage the bend and ‘lost control’.