Tuesday, 30 March 2010

“Catch up with the bicycle”

And once the marketing of cycling using sexy models has persuaded you to try out cycling, what next? A world of crap. Like here on the B159 approaching High Road Leyton, last Friday. A signed cycling route on that meaningless farce which goes by the name of the London Cycle Network. Here, the cyclist catches up with London’s ever-growing gridlock. And it’s simply not possible to get past, which is why so many cyclists take to the pavement. There’s a vision of more and more people cycling combined with an absolute refusal to provide the safe, convenient cycling infrastructure that would accommodate mass cycling. Cognitive dissonance, in other words.

What parent would want their child to cycle to school on cycling infrastructure like this? It’s no use Transport for London marvelling at the extraordinary levels of car dependency in outer London when that dependency is nurtured in every aspect of the transport network.

Here, money has been taken from the paltry cycling budget to fund road resurfacing which includes a widened cycle lane. A lane which is entirely meaningless because you are permitted to park your car in it, as all those cars on the left are. Because when there’s a conflict of interest between the lazy car driver and cycling, the lazy car driver is always put first. Which is why the vision of a significant growth of cycling in outer London is irrational and delusional.

Afghanistan war veteran killed cycling in Britain

A SOLDIER who survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan has been killed by a POTHOLE.

Captain Jonathan Allen, 29, was cycling home from his base when he swerved to avoid the 15ft-long 'crater' and collided with a lorry passing alongside him.

He suffered multiple injuries as he was crushed under the front wheels of the HGV and died at the scene on the A338 on Salisbury Plain, Wilts.

The gaping hole, a mile north of Tidworth, was filled in by Wiltshire County Council workmen on Friday — 36 hours AFTER the fatal accident.

It was three feet wide and ran in the direction of the road close to the verge — right in the path of a cyclist.

‘The first major new road in London for a century is set to be car-free.’

A “boulevard” through the heart of the King's Cross redevelopment will be lined with small shops, a “concept” Sainsbury's, department store and hotel.

But only buses, taxis and cyclists will be allowed to use the road, believed to be the first new major link since Kingsway opened in 1905. Planners want to create a “continental feel” and it is due to be finished by the end of next year.

A continental feel? It sounds to me like an Oxford Street feel, i.e. crap. Cycling among the buses and taxis which clog Oxford Street is no fun at all. A 'car free' centre crammed with buses and taxis is a joke.

The Age of Stupid

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

He thinks only a catastrophic event would now persuade humanity to take the threat of climate change seriously enough, such as the collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica, such as the Pine Island glacier, which would immediately push up sea level.

"That would be the sort of event that would change public opinion," he said. "Or a return of the dust bowl in the mid-west.
Another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report won't be enough. We'll just argue over it like now."

Monday, 29 March 2010

Is it a cycling emergency?

This cycle stand outside The Chequers pub in Walthamstow High Street must ONLY be used by cyclists for whom a few pints of beer or several gin and tonics after work is AN EMERGENCY.

Car sick, cycling-hostile, toxic London

London is the most polluted capital in Europe when it comes to nitrogen dioxide, which is increasingly believed to be a cause of the asthma epidemic which now affects one in seven children in Britain.

Ironically, the high pollution levels are largely due to a rapid rise in the number of diesel cars – they have increased from about 8 per cent of new ones two decades ago to around 30 per cent now – which have been heavily marketed as relatively clean.

The Mayor today unveiled a new Air Quality Strategy, which has gone out for public consultation, but is short on new measures and long on wishful thinking that pollution levels will come down. In fairness, there is not a great deal he can do. Most measures need to be taken nationally by ministers – and there is little sign that they are yet improving their lamentable act.

Mr Johnson said: "We are taking tough action to clean up London's air by targeting measures where they will have the most impact. These are creating a city where buses and taxis are becoming progressively less polluting, where cycling and transport choices such as electric vehicles will become more widespread."

Steven Birkett, from the Campaign for Clear Air in London, said:
"This is more a wish list than a strategy.

A bit like the Mayor’s policy on cycling, then, which consists of nothing more than crap cycle lanes painted Copenhagen blue, a bike hire scheme which even if 100 per cent successful would not significantly increase modal share (and which may simply result in a surge in injuries and fatalities as novice cyclists accept cycle-lane invitations to undertake vehicles at junctions), and £25,000 for car-insane Tory councils like Redbridge to waste on fatuous “research” into how to improve cycling.

Cycling is going absolutely nowhere in London and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. Incidentally, among the most polluted areas in London is Euston Road (above). Euston Road is a diseased, poisonous artery, where cyclists and pedestrians are treated like dirt, and the 4X4 is king. Just like everywhere else in Greater London.

Hit and run killer of cyclist breezes out of court

Apart from all the other aspects of this case, the thing that really disturbs me is that this criminally irresponsible woman gets away with being banned from driving for 18 months

Once again the British judiciary has sent out a signal that criminally reckless driving and killing a cyclist is okay by them.


Murderers who kill with a knife will face a minimum jail term of 25 years from today.

Road rage in Shenfield

A DRIVER went berserk and pushed a cyclist up against a hedge following a minor crash.

The cyclist, a 28-year-old Billericay woman, was in St Andrew’s Place, Shenfield, when her bike and a dark-coloured estate car crashed during the rush hour on Friday morning (March 19).

The woman was thrown to the ground in the crash, but instead of checking if she was OK the driver stood over her and started hurling abuse at the woman before driving off.

Shocked passers-by helped the woman up and she carried on her journey, but a few minutes later the same man stepped out in front of her bike in Priest’s Lane and forced her to stop.

He grabbed the bike and threw it to the ground while continuing his bad-mouthed abuse and forced her up against a hedge

Another unfit geriatric driver

The farce of geriatric drivers validating themselves as fit to drive continues, in a society where the right to drive is the most valued human right of them all:

POLICE have revealed details of an operation to catch a 95-year-old man who headed five miles the wrong way up the fast lane of the A12.

More than 20 emergency calls were received from members of the public who saw the man after he joined the road heading north on the southbound carriageway at the Brook Street interchange outside Brentwood.

While a steady stream of approaching vehicles flashed their lights the elderly driver continued at about 40mph in the fast lane.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Critical Mass, from Waterloo to Hackney by night

We're off! Leaving Waterloo. There were over 600 cyclists on the ride, which is good for a cold dark night in March. Among them I spotted Jenny Jones of the Greater London Assembly and Roger Geffen of the CTC. There are other reports of the ride which I don't need to duplicate, which you can read here.

Before the ride a woman of about thirty came up to me and asked what was going on. I told her about Critical Mass and explained the purpose of this particular ride. She said she had a close female friend who was a cyclist who would be interested in this kind of event. She said that she herself was too frightened to cycle in London, adding that she lived in Reading and was also too scared to cycle there. It's the traffic, you see...

(Below) Spot the penny farthing...

(Below) This is where Professor David Vilaseca died.

(Below) Magnificent recumbent. This is Des Kay, who made Critical Mass possible, and who I have encountered on a previous mass cycle ride.

(Below) On to the second fatality site, not far away. Hey, that's a pretty cool trike...

(Below) The crossroads where medical student Muhammad Ahmed met an 18 ton lorry from the Shard building site. It's utterly grotesque that lorries are allowed on streets as narrow as this, or that cyclists should be expected to share road space with them. En route to London Bridge we stopped off at the Shard site to make our presence known to the night shift.

(Below) London Bridge by night. That's Southwark Cathedral on the right.

(Below) Entering the City from London Bridge.

(Below) Gridlock at the interchange by The Monument. The woman in the foreground seems to be enjoying her Friday night out. Crikey, yes, Critical Mass is fun. Most of the time... Behind her is one of those "waving my bike in the air" types. I don't engage in this kind of wild behaviour myself, but I'm told it's very good for the arm muscles.

(Below) Oh dear. Trouble. This lorry driver turned into the A10 from a side street and was enraged to find the road filled with cyclists. He and his mate sprang out of the cab and became abusive and confrontational. They were so angry I thought someone was going to get punched. Apart from the driver's problems with anger management and his attitude to cyclists there's something else. If you look carefully you'll see that in turning the corner the driver has one wheel on the pavement. He's a very bad driver.

(Below) After a few minutes of aggressive behaviour by the driver and his mate, they climbed back into the lorry. This woman bravely tried to calm the driver down by explaining the purpose of the ride. I didn't stay to see the outcome of negotiations but continued with the front section of the ride. By the way it was a rental lorry, not one belonging to an identifiable commercial firm.

(Below) "Magic roundabout", coming up to Victoria Park in Hackney.

(Below) Passing Victoria Park.

(Below) Where the ride ended, at the Hackney roundabout where musician and charity worker Shivon Watson died.

Lewis Hamilton, road safety guru, in new spot of bother!

Lewis Hamilton, the former British Formula 1 world champion, was stopped by police on Friday for reckless driving

is how the Daily Telepgraph puts it

Spot the difference with the twisted world of BBC journalism. This is the BBC's digest of the Saturday national papers:

The BBC tamely recycles Hamilton's own choice of expression, which is entirely characteristic of this crap car supremacist news corporation.

Police said officers witnessed him “accelerating heavily” through the streets just on the outskirts of the Albert Park racing track just after 9pm local time. He was not arrested or taken to a police station.

Reports suggested that the driver was generating clouds of smoke by spinning the wheels of his high-powered car and slewing the back wheels across the tarmac, manoeuvres known as a "burnout" and "fishtailing".

It is expected that he will be charged by summons in relation to the improper use of a motor vehicle. The car has been impounded for 48 hours.”

Not the first time that Lewis has had his lethal toy taken away from him since

Less than three years ago, his Mercedes-Benz CLK sports car was impounded after he was caught speeding at 123mph on a French motorway.

And as this blog recently sarcastically pointed out, who better to promote that road-lobby-shaped blood-drenched victim-blaming ideology known as “road safety” than the boy racer himself.

Touchingly, Hamilton sez this:

Speaking about the police incident, he described it as "something you learn from

Exactly. Crap drivers learn from being caught and being punished. They learn nothing from “road safety” advice, which is designed to protect them and transfer the focus of blame to their victims. Which is why comments boxes after a cycling fatality always fill up with airheads demanding to know if the cyclist was wearing a helmet.

Naturally no one has anything to say about Hamilton’s lethal weapon, the 2010 Mercedes C63 with a ludicrous 6.2L V8 engine and a top speed of 155 mph. Real road safety would ban such killing machines from the road.

Chris Hutt

Another tribute here.

Amber Mattingley

She was 29 years old and she was killed by the driver of an articulated lorry:

Ms Mattingley was on a blue bike which was on Northam Road, heading towards the city centre, before the collision. The lorry was travelling in the same direction on Northam Road.

Criminal injustice in Belfast

The man who killed top Irish road racing cyclist David McCall by dangerous driving was caught speeding on another two occasions after he caused the fatal accident, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Businessman Michael Croome (27) had form before he killed the cyclist:

Before the 2008 crash Croome had been convicted twice for speeding and once for careless driving.

So how does the British judicial system regard this record of criminality? Well, obviously it allows this unrepentant highly dangerous reckless maniac to get back behind the wheel of a car. He was banned from driving for five years.

Going ever backwards in a car insane society

More than £60m has been awarded to upgrade a road junction in Essex which the county council said would help reduce congestion. Essex County Council said the development would include a bypass between the A13 and A130. It would also see the widening of the A13 to four lanes in each direction as far as the Pitsea flyover.

Councillor Norman Hume said: "We have reached another stage of this vital project and the provision of these central government funds means we are now able to proceed with getting this vital link built.

"I know the misery which the current junction causes thousands of motorists. It is holding back our economic potential and I now hope we are able to deliver a new, less congested Sadlers Farm to Essex residents."

Response to my complaint

On 8 March I emailed the British Heart Foundation about my bad experience with a van driver whose van bore the words BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION. I also emailed them later with a link to what I wrote on this blog.

I’ve now had an email reply (25 March):

Van drivers work for the British Heart Foundation on a self employed basis. They do, however, represent the Foundation and are expected to be polite, pleasant and courteous to members of the public at all times when on BHF business. Action would be taken against anyone found to be in breach of the high standards we demand. On receipt of your email we carried out a check of the registration numbers of vehicles used by the van drivers working from our stores in the E17 area. Not one of them remotely resembles the number you quote and, indeed, one drives a blue van. I do not believe, therefore, that the incident you experienced was perpetrated by anyone connected with BHF.

We are aware of collectors working for what we believe to be a bogus charity whose name and logo are very similar to BHF's. We have had numerous instances reported to us of activity by this 'charity' in the London area and the police and BHF legal department are involved with this.

If you have any further information relating to this incident, I would be happy to carry out further investigations but from the detailed enquiries that have been made, your most unpleasant encounter with this van driver cannot be attributed to anyone working for or on behalf of BHF. I am, therefore, unable to take any further action.

Fair enough, if they can’t identify the driver. However, I have little doubt that this was an authentic BHF vehicle. I also understand why the driver was angry at the time I encountered him. The Walthamstow High Street BHF shop is accessed from Cleveland Park Avenue, and on that particular morning the road was closed off by police after the murder. Having presumably been turned back at the police barrier, the driver then tried to access the High Street via Westbury Road. When he got to the end of Westbury Road he found himself faced with a right-turn only sign, as well as a sign banning drivers from entering the High Street after 10 am. This is where the driver had to turn round and head back along Westbury Road, by which time he was probably feeling very, very frustrated. Hence the way he drove.

If this driver regularly makes deliveries to Walthamstow there’s a chance I’ll encounter him again and I can check the registration plate (I tend to think I was at worst only one number or letter wrong.). We’ll see…

Vietnam crackdown on pedestrians

The Ministry of Transport has recommended to the Prime Minister that fines for pedestrians violating traffic laws in Ha Noi and HCM City should be raised as a measure to reduce traffic jams and accidents.

"Pedestrians still have a poor awareness of traffic rules. In many cases, pedestrians have caused fatal accidents," said Than Van Thanh, chief of the Secretariat of the National Committee of Road Safety's Office.

Many pedestrians argued that they had to walk on roads because the pavements were occupied by parked vehicles or businesses; and they did not cross the streets at pedestrian crossings or footbridges because there were too few of them and not ideally placed.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Biker vandalism?

My photograph shows the cyclists-and-pedestrians-only route which runs from Morland Road E17 to Essex Road, under the railway bridge. Someone has methodically used white paint to blot out all the signs on both sides of the bridge forbidding use of this route by cars and motorcyclists. Cars are physically prevented by bollards but motorcyclists can get through without any problems.

Whoever would want to do such a thing? Who could possibly benefit? Only a motorcyclist. Because a biker caught using this route could now claim that there was no valid signing, and on this basis any prosecution would fail. This is certainly not casual vandalism but a deliberate and comprehensive erasure of road signing.

Yesterday’s London Critical Mass

I went on last night's Critical Mass, visiting the three sites in London where cyclists have been hit and killed by lorries this year. A count was taken and 620 cyclists turned up. A full report tomorrow.

Parking offenders treated better than fatality victims’ families

The British establishment, in all its many aspects, bends over backwards to accommodate the sense of injustice felt by drivers who have received a parking ticket:

The Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, PATAS, provides a free independent adjudication service for deciding disputed parking and bus lane penalties issued by local authorities for parking or bus lane offences. PATAS aim to provide a fast, efficient service that gives fair and impartial decisions, is easy to understand and is as informal as possible. They have a team of Adjudicators who decide the appeals and can direct the local authority involved to cancel the penalty.

Consultants to the former Lord Chancellor's Department have described PATAS as 'the most user focused aspect of justice in the country'

There is much less ‘user focus’ when it comes to how families bereaved by killer drivers are treated:

A GRIEVING family were not told that a man was 12 months ago fined for his role in the fatal accident that took their son's life.

An inquest today heard that Amjid Malik, 23, of Netley Road, Walthamstow, suffered serious injuries after the Nissan car he was travelling in ploughed into a lamppost in Orient Way, Leyton, on June 17, 2007.

The driver and one other passenger escaped serious harm but Mr Malik was left in a permanently paralysed and vegetative state fed through a tube.

Steven Gilbert, a now retired police officer who investigated the fatal crash, told the family that the driver of the car, Mansoor Hussain, of Manor Road, Leyton, was last March found guilty of careless driving at Barking Magistrates Court. He was fined £300, ordered to pay £300 costs and given nine points on his license.

Friends and family of Mr Malik were shocked that nobody had told them of the conviction. The family are angry that Hussain was not jailed or disqualified from driving and are considering taking legal advice about the possibility of getting the police file re-opened.

Sabrina Durrani, a close friend of the family, said: "It is disgusting that he has got off so lightly, you can get £80 for a parking ticket, so £300 for a life is a joke, its a slap on the wrist."

Mr Gilbert said an analysis of the car damage suggests the vehicle was travelling at between 38 and 54 mph

Orient Way, where this fatal collision took place, is the hideous, supposedly 30 mph new road that for cosmetic reasons had a grisly cycle path tacked on, which was so badly designed it won a prize from the London Cycling Campaign! More on that another day.


Wiltshire councillor for Malmesbury Without, Bernard Ingham, said the road, which has a 60mph speed limit between Corston and Malmesbury, is treacherous.

He said: “It can be pretty dicey coming out of the Grange Lane junction because traffic comes up pretty fast from the south.

“The problem is the road isn’t wide enough.
If you have two lorries passing each other you can hardly slip a piece of paper between them. If that happens when a cyclist is there then they would be taken out.”


LB53 AXM white light goods vehicle, male driver steering with one hand while talking on mobile phone with the other, Leyton Green Road E10, 10.45 am, 27 March 2010.


EX55 LOA, dark pick-up truck, white male steering with one hand and chatting on a handheld mobile phone while driving down Lea Bridge Road and turning into Leyton Green Road E10, 10.47 am, 27 March.


LT07 NYY car, dark skinned woman with long black hair driving down Southgate Road, N1 (B102), round the roundabout at the junction with Northchurch Road, steering with one hand and chatting into a handheld mobile phone, 5.50pm, 26 March 2010.


P995 HMP, white van man, driving with one hand while holding a cup of coffee in the other, Brunswick Street E17, 11.08 am 26 March.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Walthamstow death crash driver was drunk, uninsured, disqualified and speeding

A year ago I asked:

Was drink involved? Across the road from the crash site is this advertising panel promoting the pleasures of a pint of Young's.

It turns out that the driver was drunk.

An inquest at Walthamstow Coroner's Court today heard how Mr Moisa, 29, had used his brother's car, despite having no insurance, following a heavy binge drinking session.

He was also on a driving ban following a drink-drive conviction when the fatal accident happened at around 4.30am.

The hearing heard how Mr Moisa was driving at around 60mph [this is a dense residential area with a 30 mph speed limit] when he clipped the pavement forcing the car onto the opposite side of the road. The vehicle spun out of control before mounting the curb on the opposite side of the road and careering backwards into the pub.

Giving evidence, witness, Kile Forbes, a student at Waltham Forest College, told the court he was walking home in the direction of Walthamstow Magistrates Court when he saw the BMW approaching at high speed. He recalled the car driving closely to the pavement before hitting the curb a metre from where he was walking.

The Metropolitan Police Service is complicit in this act of violence and bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the roads of London to be a haven for the uninsured driver, the disqualified driver, the drunk driver, the speeding driver, and the driver chatting on a mobile phone. Law and order has collapsed on London’s roads and criminal drivers know it. And it’s rooted in the continuing decline in the number of traffic police.

Speeding police car runs down cyclist in Islington

A CYCLIST is fighting for his life after coming off his bike in a crash involving a police car.

The 59-year-old was cycling in Northgate Road, Islington, at about 9pm yesterday (Wednesday) when the crash occurred.

Doncha just love the language some journalists use. The cyclist didn’t “come off his bike”, he was hurled off it by the impact of a car travelling at a phenomenal speed.

Witnesses told how the 59-year-old man was thrown through the air by the collision in Islington.

Witnesses at the Northgate pub nearby said the police car was travelling so fast it continued along the road for at least 100 metres after hitting the cyclist at the junction of Southgate Road and Northchurch Road.

Lisa Hutchings, a charity shop worker from Islington, said: “The sound of the police car hitting the bike was so loud I thought it was two cars crashing.
I looked up and there was a body flying through the air.

Naturally BBC London News chooses to shun all mention of this collision. It's just not important, in the way that a parking ticket story is.

Road rage against cyclists

Any attempt to develop mass cycling in Britain on anything other than the highly successful Dutch model of segregated infrastructure is going to fail, but it’s a lesson neither of Britain's two leading cycling organisations, the CTC and the LCC, shows any interest in learning, committed as they are to vehicular cycling and run by ideologues whose attitude is one of "if I can do it, anyone can."

But vehicular cycling (i.e. on road cycling with infrastructure shared with motor vehicles) is never going to be anything other than an activity engaged in by a tiny minority, because car-centric road design, the overwhelming physical presence of motor vehicles and the driving behaviour of many motorists all combine to make cycling an unpleasant experience.

Two examples of driver behaviour:

A CYCLIST was assaulted as he rode through Aston Fields in Bromsgrove on Monday (March 22). The incident happened just before 6.30pm on St Godwald’s Road when a van that was behind tried to overtake him. The van driver got frustrated at being unable to pass and sounded his horn.

Then, despite the cyclist moving as far over as he could so the van could pass, the driver took it upon himself to overtake and then brake hard in front of the bike.

An object was also thrown at the cyclist through the passenger window, striking him on the head.

And in this incident the police declined to take matters further against the driver (presumably not bothering to present a case to the Crown Prosecution Service) despite evidence of both a traffic offence and abusive and threatening behaviour.

Another lorry driver kills another cyclist

A grim footnote to my post yesterday about the road haulage industry:

A 29-year-old Marlborough man has been killed in a crash on the A338 near Tidworth.

The man, who has not been named, was cycling from Tidworth to Marlborough at around 7.15pm on Wednesday evening when he was overtaken by an articulated lorry driven by a 55-year-old man from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

Police are still investigating how the collision 200 metres north of the Leckford crossroads took place, but the pedal cyclist suffered serious head injuries and died at the scene.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lawless lorry drivers

Yesterday I saw this tipper truck driver belting along the A503 past Walthamstow Town Hall, the driver steering with one hand while chatting on a handheld mobile phone. Yes, a tipper truck – the kind of vehicle which is repeatedly involved in killing cyclists. It’s hard to believe that this lawless yob driver is likely to pay much attention to speed limits or Advanced Stop Lines or the safety of cyclists at road junctions.

And seven days ago I spotted this skip lorry driver cruise into an Advanced Stop Line at red on the A104 at the junction with Orient Way. Yes, just eight days after a driver from this same firm crushed to death a cyclist in Hackney its drivers are disregarding cycling safety. (Compare my photo with the one shown here.)

Of course nobody should be surprised that London’s roads are packed with criminal lorry drivers, because criminality is an institutionalised feature of the road haulage industry. Here are a few facts about lawless heavy goods vehicle drivers, given on the Department for Transport website, relating to the most recent year for which figures are currently available, i.e. 2008:

Over 85 per cent of them exceeded the 50 mph speed limit on dual carriageway non-built-up roads

Over three-quarters (77 per cent) exceeded the 40 mph limit on single carriageway non-built-up roads.

Between 43 and 52 per cent of HGVs exceeded the 30 mph speed limit.


The road haulage industry is out of control but nobody wants to talk about it, least of all politicians or senior police officers, with one honourable exception:

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "It seems the police and the Government are now prepared to accept lawbreaking on a massive scale.

The vast majority of lorry driver crime goes undetected and unpunished (and even when the consequences are appalling, the driver’s punishment is conventionally lax).

Ironically, because the Metropolitan Police has largely abandoned traffic policing, lorry drivers are only likely to be punished when they break parking regulations, which is enforced by local authorities. No surprise that we find the powerful and influential Freight Transport Association whining that

Operators are being unfairly inundated with Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for violation of parking and loading and unloading restrictions. Several FTA members have reported paying sums in excess of £1 million a year in London.

That is an index of lorry drivers' contempt for parking restrictions, which is on a scale that matches their flouting of road traffic law, not a sign of “unfairness”.

And let's not forget that as far as London is concerned

over 70% of ALL the lorries inspected by the Met Police Commercial Vehicles Inspection Unit since 2005 have been found to have some form of illegal defect; overloading, underinflated tyres, faulty tachographs, drivers exceeding their legal hour limit, drivers being illegal workers or unlicensed, doors held together with wire coat hangers as they speed down narrow residential streets; that sort of thing.

Leaving aside the industry's institutionalised contempt for road traffic law and public safety, the profits of the road haulage industry are lavishly subsidised out of the public purse, because the industry doesn’t pay for the damage it causes:

The external cost of a single heavy goods vehicle in terms of public health, noise, and wear and tear on the roads, can reach £28,000 a year.

(A figure worth bearing in mind the next time an uninformed petrolhead grumbles that cyclists "don't pay road tax".)

What is to be done? Protesting about the status quo is a start, and as you probably already know, tomorrow there’s a London cycling demo relating to HGV fatalities.


By the way, I emailed a complaint about the tipper truck driver. It carried no identification that I could see on the side but it did say MOTORWAY MAINTENANCE on the back, so I sent this to the Highways Agency:

Is a tipper truck bearing the words 'MOTORWAY MAINTENANCE' at the rear a vehicle for which the Highways Agency bears any responsibility?

I was disturbed to see the driver of a tipper truck reg. KE03 DPU using a handheld mobile phone and steering with one hand while driving at speed today at 11.04 am on Forest Road E17 (A503), passing the Town Hall, driving east. The driver was male, possibly in his late 20s or 30s. The vehicle was carrying a full load of what looked like earth. It had no company markings that I could see but at the rear it bore the words MOTORWAY MAINTENANCE.

Perhaps you could enlighten me as to what standards the Highways Agency requires of road haulage drivers who do work for the agency.

The Highways Agency replied the same day:

The presence of a sign on the vehicle stating Highways Maintenance is a legal requirement for all vehicles that can be used for highways work regardless of whether they are council or Agency managed but it does not mean that the vehicle in question is affiliated with ourselves.

[That wasn’t what I wrote, of course. I never said it bore the words ‘Highway Maintenance’ but rather 'Motorway Maintenance.]

Our vehicles are very clearly livered with markings stating they are part of the "Highways Agency" which clearly follow the design on our website at www.highways.gov.uk.

We are responsible for managing, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. The 503
[sic] does not fall under this category and there is no reason for any of our contractor's vehicles or workmen to be present or travelling along this road.

I would recommend reporting the actions of the driver the vehicle you saw to your local police station.

I’m prepared to believe it wasn’t an official Highways Agency vehicle, but a lorry bearing the words ‘Motorway Maintenance’ does sort of seem to suggest it might be involved in work on a motorway, and all motorways, as far as I’m aware, are the responsibility of the Highways Agency. Maybe the LCC's HGV expert Charlie Lloyd would know if the Highways Agency is evading the issue; I unfortunately don’t.

As for reporting the driver to my local police station. People drive past Walthamstow police station all day long chatting on handheld mobile phones.

And anyway the last time I reported a criminal lorry driver to a police officer, who also witnessed the criminality, no action whatsoever was taken. I still have a vivid memory of the smirk on the officer's face as he said "I'll look into it." I deduced from his barely-concealed amusement that he had no intention of doing anything - and sure enough, when I followed it up, he hadn't.


Advertising hoarding, Selborne Road, E17

Southampton cycling fatality: more details emerge

Police have renewed their appeal for witnesses after a woman cyclist died in Southampton when she was in a crash with an articulated lorry. The accident happened at about 11.35am Tuesday, at the junction of Northam Road and Prince’s Street.

The cyclist is believed to be a 29-year-old Southampton woman who died from her injuries at the scene. The white-cabbed Volkswagen lorry, with a silver grain carrier trailer, was driven by a 59-year-old Cumbria man who wasn’t hurt.

Police want to hear from anyone who saw the incident or either vehicle shortly before the collision. The cyclist was on a blue bike which was on Northam Road, heading towards the city centre, before the collision. The lorry was travelling in the same direction on Northam Road.

The motorbike lobby

I was intrigued to see on yesterday’s morning travel news:

Trafalgar Square Westminster » Severe delays due to earlier motorbike demonstration

I’ve no idea what it was about but what a difference to the feebleness of the cycling community, such as it is, which almost never protests about anything. Indeed, it’s obvious from Comments boxes that a lot of cyclists are terrified of holding up traffic. There’s a certain sort of cycling commentator whose obsession is complaining about the behaviour of fellow cyclists and sobbing about the need to win “respect” from drivers. Crap like this, for example:

Until cyclists are seen to obey the rules of the roads, and are punished for failing to do so, you will not gain support from motorists.

As far as I’m aware there has never been a single cycling protest about the massive daily abuse of Advanced Stop Lines by drivers, or the absolute refusal of the Metropolitan Police to enforce the law. Contrast that supine inertia with the motorcycle lobby, who even feel enough sense of solidarity to stage protests like this:

Motorcyclists are planning a protest ride through Hull in opposition to an undercover police operation against speeding bikers. It comes as traffic officers unveiled their latest weapon in the battle to cut motorcyclist deaths – a 186mph superbike.

The Suzuki GSX 1300R Hayabusa is fitted with a video camera and speed detection equipment.

However, members of a motorbike group have said they plan to stage a protest ride through Hull on May 1 to oppose what they believe are unnecessary undercover tactics.

And you can understand why bikers might be upset at undercover enforcement.

In his running commentary, the police biker describes seeing him flip up his number plate as he passes a speed camera to avoid identification.

After a backup officer on a marked police bike pulls over a group of the riders, the unmarked vehicle pursues the last two at speeds of up to 104mph before they pull over.

Three other bikers from the group were convicted at Crawley Magistrates Court of careless driving, dangerous driving and threatening behaviour.

And if you're a fact person, here's a fact about bikers:

Motorcycles (53 per cent), light vans (52 per cent) and four-axle rigid HGVs (52 per cent) were the vehicle types that most frequently exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph roads.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Cycling is getting worse, not better

The last cycle stand outside the Bhs store in the Town Square, Walthamstow, has now vanished. There used to be a row of five cycle stands by this window , and if you look at the ground you can still see the marks where they were rooted. One by one they have been removed, and now the last one has gone. I have no idea why this stand has gone, as it wasn't loose, like some of the unmaintained stands in the borough.

I used this stand when I went to buy a paper or a magazine from the nearby newsagents. Now I'll end up buying them from somewhere else. The newsagent has lost a customer but he won't understand why. Shopkeepers are usually the last people to grasp that cyclists spend money as well as motorists.

In all, EIGHT CYCLE STANDS HAVE NOW VANISHED FROM THE TOWN SQUARE (there was also a row of three stands near the Nat West bank, which have also gone). Even at the most rudimentary level, cycling is going backwards in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Meanwhile, the car-centric Council presses on with its programme of creating new parking bays on pavements and alongside cycle lanes.

Walthamstow student killed by bus

Walthamstow School for Girls

Another sad story of a young life prematurely ended by a motor vehicle.

Cyclist killed by lorry in Southampton

Some of the comments to this story suggest that the victim was a woman cyclist killed by a left-turning HGV. However, the details at present are very, very sketchy.

A CYCLIST has been killed following a collision with an articulated lorry close to St Mary's Stadium in Southampton.

A 59-year-old man was driving the silver Volvo heavy goods vehicle when the accident happened at the junction of Prince's Street and Northam Road at 11.35am this morning.

The cyclist was taken to Southampton General Hospital where they died at midday.

Boulevard of crap

New York's Fifth Avenue may be worlds away from London's East End, but work has begun on a £10 million scheme to turn Stratford High Street into a “Manhattan boulevard”.

The mile-long route is a key access point for the London Olympics and will form part of the 2012 marathon.

A facelift aiming to “breathe fresh life” into the high street will replace roads and pavements, remove railings and street clutter, improve lighting and plant 70 trees and 3,500 shrubs.
Authorities hope this will work in tandem with a series of major developments planned for the area.

A computer-generated image shows how Stratford High Street could look by the end of the decade once developments that already have planning approval are completed.

And it’s so realistic! A six lane superhighway with no bus lanes, no pedestrian crossings, and no cycle paths! A completely crap environment for everyone except Jack Slob in his turbo-charged Ford.

Pretty much like Stratford is now, in fact!

(If Waltham Forest supplies a basic unit of crap, Hackney is double crap, but Stratford is quadruple crap.)

Moron news

It seems Kerry Katona is finally on the road to happiness and what better way to travel that road than with a new car?

The BMW X5 is a top of the range people carrier and ranges in price from £41,715 to £78,315,
which may lead some people to question her financial situation after the reality TV star was declared bankrupt in 2008.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Chris Hutt is dead

Tributes are coming in for Chris Hutt, the Bristol-based cycling campaigner who was found dead at his home over the weekend.

I always found Christ Hutt’s blog inspirational, because he found little to celebrate in British cycling infrastructure: Describing himself as a "grumpy old man", Mr Hutt worked to find the greenest ways of getting around Bristol and said he was disillusioned with the relentless rise in car dependency.

He was always committed to Bristol and to making the traffic better. "I remember a few weeks ago, on his last blog, he unearthed the latest bus plan which is still showing buses going down the railway path. And I think we all hope that his memorial might be that the city will say 'we won't put buses on that route ever'.

A tribute (and more tributes in the Comments) on Bristol Traffic. More tributes from Stockwood Pete, Derek Wall and a satisfied client.

Chris’s blog lives on in the digital cosmos as an archive and a memorial.

Assisted suicide schemes for cyclists #52

This is the where the dedicated cycle path across the Green Man interchange in Leytonstone emerges on to the northbound A113. Two lanes of fast moving traffic, some of which has come screaming off the M11 Link Road. Drivers coming round the bend from the multi-lane interchange are given no warning that a cyclist might suddenly appear in the road, and cyclists joining the carriageway are given no protection from oncoming traffic.

This interchange formed part of the M11 Link Road construction project, which cost £900 million. And six pounds fifty pence was spent on white paint for cyclists.

The holiday destination of your dreams

Can’t think where to go this summer? Does that cycling holiday sound too tiring? Relax! There’s heaps of fun to be had here.

“It took the lorry driver nearly a minute to notice her”

Rona Williams, a 31-year-old vet from York, said she had joined the A1(M) near Leeds when her Renault Clio was clipped by the lorry and spun around, ending up lodged beneath the bumper.

The truck driver, oblivious to what had happened, continued to drive at around 60mph.

She said she attempted to alert the driver by sounding her horn and flashing her hazard lights, but he appeared not to notice.

The ordeal lasted almost a minute before the lorry driver realised what had happened and stopped on the hard shoulder.

[In other words the driver drove for almost one mile before he noticed he was shunting a car.]

"He didn't seem overly concerned," she said.

The deficiencies of British policing were once again revealed in the way this incident was handled:

West Yorkshire Police confirmed it had received a 999 call from Mrs Williams and had attended the scene of the crash on 13 January.

It added that a call from a witness had also been made.

A police spokesperson said an investigation into the incident had been re-opened
after it was initially dealt with as a damage only collision.

So even though the driver may have been texting at the time of this incident, the police officers involved didn't bother to investigate this very real possibility.

The driver worked for a firm which describes itself as The Uk’s leading road haulage and powder haulage company

Mark makes a very important point in connection with lorry drivers and cycling fatalities in London, when he refers to

the inherent criminality of many of the lorries on our roads. Skip lorries and tipper trucks are paid by the load; the faster they drive the more they get paid; their very corporate culture encourages the drivers of the most dangerous and largest vehicles to take unnecessary risks. Manufacturers of a new type of cement mixer lobbied to have their vehicles classified as ‘mobile plant’ so that they are exempt from all of the EU safety regulations that apply to HGVs, are frequently overloaded due to their extra-weight axle design, and can be driven by poorly trained, poorly paid drivers without any driving hour regulations, and don’t have to have an HGV-specific MOT: for all these reasons these vehicles are increasingly being used by the construction industry in London because they are seen as ‘value for money’. I presume that there is a dialogue that has to be maintained between cycle safety campaigners and haulage firms and that this is why few seem willing to point out that over 70% of ALL the lorries inspected by the Met Police Commercial Vehicles Inspection Unit since 2005 have been found to have some form of illegal defect

Woman cyclist crushed by lorry on Gracechurch Street

I was startled to read this account by Jack Thurston, since this was news to me, and this incident happened so soon after the previous week’s two cycling fatalities:

Last Thursday, on what felt like a warm, sunny first day of Spring, I was witness to the immediate aftermath of a collision involving a cyclist and a 32 tonne articulated lorry. It was a truly horrible, chilling sight. The lorry was stopped in the middle of the road and the crushed remains of a bicycle were clearly visible under its wheels. The cyclist, a woman in her twenties, was on a stretcher, receiving treatment from the fantastic and heroic paramedics of the London Ambulance Service. I gather the woman was taken to the Royal London Hospital with serious leg injuries. I don’t know the extent of her injuries and whether she’ll ever be able to make a full recovery, but while she was desperately unlucky to be hit, she was probably very lucky to have survived.

The collision happened on Gracechurch Street EC2, in the City. There’s a fuller podcast version of Jack's account which is well worth listening to, here.

Monday, 22 March 2010

The permanently obstructed cycle stand of Wood Street, Walthamstow

Cycle stand provision in Waltham Forest is grossly inadequate, yet even where it does exist, the stands are all too often obstructed. Like this one near The Flowerpot pub on Wood Street, E17. I've been banging on about this obstructed stand for a year now, and nothing has changed.

The three utterly useless Wood Street councillors responsible for this state of affairs are Cllr Peter Barnett, Cllr Angie Bean and Cllr Richard Sweden. It's blazingly obvious that cycling is of absolutely no importance whatsoever to them.

The pub has its advertising 'A' board permanently chained to the stand. And rubbish sacks are regularly dumped around it for collection by local traders. The green bag is marked with the logo of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. And that's about the only thing that is green about this crap council - the colour of its plastic bags. Photographs taken today.

Judge oozes sympathy for crap bus driver

A bus driver has been fined after pleading guilty to careless driving after hitting a woman as she stepped off the kerb.

But Raymond Taylor, who was driving a number 367 single decker earned some sympathy when sentenced at Croydon Crown Court.

The judge fined Taylor £300 with £200 costs, and imposed three penalty points, but did not disqualify him from driving.

Linda Shamel, prosecuting, said Metrobus driver Taylor was driving along Lansdowne Road, Croydon, on April 3 last year when three people began to cross.

She said: "The two in front crossed safely but the woman appeared to freeze on the road.

"The driver failed to brake at all.

The 18 year-old pedestrian was seriously injured as the front near-side of the bus caught her.

Car insane Florida

A dangerous place, Florida:

Florida has either been ranked #1 in the nation or in the top 3 states for both pedestrian and bicycle fatalities every year since 2001.

1 in every 10 US pedestrian fatalities is in Florida. 1 in every 6 US bicycle fatalities is in Florida

And now this:

A four-year-old girl from Nottingham has died after being hit by a car on a Florida beach.

Ellie Bland was on the sands at Daytona Beach in the south-eastern US state when the incident happened on Saturday.

She is believed to have been on holiday with her family. Her next of kin have been informed.

Florida Highway Patrol said it was investigating the incident but that no arrests had yet been made. Driving on Daytona Beach is not illegal.

Motorists are advised to watch for pedestrians, sunbathers and wildlife, however.

Lobotomized motorists

Sealed in their metal bubbles, many drivers become densensitised to the world around them and arrogantly think their perceived ‘needs’ should come before anything and everyone, including the safety of paramedics treating a pedestrian run down by a driver:

Drivers who tried to squeeze past paramedics who were treating an injured man have been criticised by the ambulance service.

Britain's filthy air kills 50,000 people a year

Britain's filthy air kills 50,000 people a year – more than obesity, passive smoking or traffic accidents, a damning report by MPs has said.

In towns and cities,
70 per cent of pollution was caused by transport, which linked to the most health problems.

Yob driver

Disabled Susan Simmons is still recovering after having her car door slammed into her shoulder when she confronted a driver for parking in a disabled bay without a permit.

Mrs Simmons, 50, who lives in Chippenham, was left shaken and unable to move her shoulder after the incident, which took place in the Sainsbury’s car park just before 10am on Friday.

She said: “A normal person would have just been a bit bruised, but because I have two frozen shoulders, the one that was hit went into spasm.

“This lady knew I was disabled, but when I said ‘do you know what you have done?’ she just laughed.”

The dispute began in the car park of the Hathaway chemist in Middlefield Road where Mrs Simmons was picking up a prescription.

She said: “I was parked in the disabled bay and there was a car next to me.

“When the man’s wife came out I wound my window down and told them they should not be parked there.

“She gave me a bit of abuse and she was quite nasty about it, which I was not expecting because she was a smart looking woman in her 60s.”

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Free bike wash

As we know 2010 will be London's 'Year of Cycling'. As part of this thrilling city-wide initiative all bikes parked at this cycle stand on Portland Place W1 get not just one free bike wash but repeated washes.

Sweaty armpits? Just stand here and in no time at all you’ll have freshened up and no longer be an embarrassment to your friends and family.

Sick London

What is 'Well London'? It seems to be one of those lavishly funded health initiatives which doesn't really add up to very much. I'm sick of wishy-washy health initiatives in a capital city which can't even provide basic bicycle parking and where primary healthcare trusts are run by drug addicts in thrall to fossil fuel car dependency.

I laughed derisively at the goal of Promoting access to open spaces and increasing physical activity, since this local 'Well London' initiative on The Drive, situated in the local primary school, has based itself in a car-sick landscape. The pavement outside St Mary Primary School has been turned into a car park. It's yet another of those streets where a segregated cycle path on the Dutch model would be perfecly possible, if the vision and political will was there, which of course it isn't.

(Below) It's just the same in the other direction. The car dominates and car dependency is promoted by the crap council, which can't think of any other use for a pavement except as a car park or for advertising.

(Below) More health advice on the side of this phone booth. How to recognise symptoms of a stroke.

(Below) This notice urges anyone encountering someone with slurred speech to dial 999. Yeah, right...

Clyde Loakes: cyclist

Who is Clyde Loakes?

According to his Wikipedia entry, he is someone

nationally notable for his work towards improving Waltham Forest and North-East London

Not just a respected hero of us local folk but someone whose fame and achievement echoes to the furthest perimeters of our glorious nation!

Mind you, after that remarkable statement it does have two little blue words which read: citation needed.

A brutal and jaded cynic might well conclude that the author of this Wiki entry is none other than Clyde himself.

Strangely, this glowing description of our esteemed former leader of the council doesn’t altogether gel with this local perspective

Of course, the Wiki entry might not be Clyde’s work, though it is hard to think of anyone else who would care enough to want to write one. And to be fair there is at the end a section headed Criticisms and controversies, which sheds a less than flattering light on the years of the Loakes administration. But here, strangely, references 33-38 have been deleted

Including two for this statement:

Further claims were that roads and street cleanliness was at a poor standard in Waltham Forest and this also claimed the blame was all Clyde Loakes's fault [37], although they offered little quantitative evidence to support that claim other than a string of photographs showing fly tipping, untidiness and poor road design in the Borough [38].

Who “they” were is not stated, although I could almost believe that whoever wrote this sentence may have had this blog in mind. It’s a mystery.

Apparently apart from his other luminous contributions to our local paradise, Clyde is also passionate about cycling. I must admit this came as a bit of a surprise.

Loakes was a keen cyclist and sought to encourage cycling in Waltham Forest

Indeed, he was so passionate about cycling that in all his years as council leader he never got round to installing a single cycle stand in Walthamstow village, or even at all the borough’s libraries, let alone numerous other council buildings used by members of the public!

I'm afraid I've never forgiven Clyde for eating my cycle lane.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Waltham Forest: a welcome in paradise

O welcome in paradise, it says beside the cycle path on that idyllic route between the Lea Valley, the railway bridge and The Black Path, which I blogged about yesterday in connection with cycle route signing.

But seriously folks, with all the litter and flytipping and dog crap, this borough is really going down the tube...

(Below) Which road is this crap on? Did you really need to ask? Today.

(Below) James Hilton, author of Lost Horizon, once lived on this street (there's a plaque). And with all the flytipping no wonder he retreated into a world of fantasy called Shangri-la! (College Road E17, today)