Friday, 30 April 2010

Why Tom Bogdanovicz should move to Waltham Forest

Another cracker from a leading light in the London Cycling Campaign!

It's virtually impossible to find an empty bike-parking space in London at the moment…Mr Bogdanowicz said.

Oh I dunno. I took this photo today on Chelmsford Road E17. The most bikes I’ve ever seen locked up here amounts to, er, one. There are eleven stands.

These stands are outside a mosque, where as far as I can tell everyone who worships either walks or comes by car. You can’t blame them, with the local conditions for cycling being so unpleasant. Adjacent Queens Road is one I prefer to avoid because of the speed, volume and proximity of the motor vehicles which use it, and the surrounding so-called ‘quiet routes’ involve pedalling down a strip of one-way road between parked cars on both sides, and an impatient driver behind you who can’t bear to be behind a cyclist even for ninety seconds.

If you look in the background you can see car-sick Walthamstow. That street in the distance is Edinburgh Road, where cars are allowed to park on the pavement, and a one-way system has been introduced, even though there's a road closure with cycle access at the end of it. The creation of on-pavement/on-road car parking and the management of motor vehicle flow has been put before the safety and convenience of cycling.

No one else apart from those attending the mosque would use these bike stands because they aren’t close to anything, apart from the mosque itself. That’s why they mostly stand empty seven days a week. They are an unintended symbol of the very limited appeal of cycling in Waltham Forest, where cycling's modal share is stuck on one per cent.

As I once cruelly observed, Waltham Forest, among with other barbarian regions of London, was once identified by Tom Bogdanovicz as “out there” - places where the complacent and insular LCC leadership evidently never ventures.

Bogdanovicz is of course basically right that cycle parking across London is lamentably inadequate. But that reflects on the dismal failure of the LCC as a campaigning organisation. Cycle stands are cheap and don’t upset drivers, yet after 30 years the LCC has shown itself to be an insignificant organisation wholly lacking in influence. In the same breath the LCC puffs out its chest and asserts that it has the power to determine the next government.

I shall have more to say on this delusional vanity next week, and also why cycling in Britain faces a very bleak future.

‘Notoriously thick’

The mud, apparently.

Pest Control to Major Tom

‘I have now arrived at The Mall shopping centre and I am parked by the Town Square entrance.’

‘You did remember to use the unmarked vehicle, didn’t you? People might not like knowing there’s a vermin problem.’

‘Crikey, I forgot! Anway, who cares? Everybody knows there are rats everywhere round here!’

(The Town Square. Today.)

Driver accused of deliberately killing cyclist who brushed against his wing mirror

A motorist knocked over and killed a cyclist in a revenge attack after the man accidentally clipped his wing mirror, a court has heard.

“Mr Fitzgerald pursued Mr Webb and there was a collision, Mr Burbidge said. “We say that was a deliberate act by Mr Fitzgerald. In effect Mr Fitzgerald pursued Mr Webb using his car as a weapon. Mr Webb was catapulted back into the windscreen before being catapulted again into a set of wheelie bins and then a garden wall.”

He told the court that residents watched in horror as the force of the impact was so great Mr Webb’s yellow and gold Muddy Fox mountain bike landed 25 yards away.

Mr Webb died of massive internal injuries at the scene despite attempts to resuscitate him, including CPR from an air ambulance doctor.

If found guilty, you can be quite sure that the defendant will, after a few years, be allowed to drive again. The right to drive is a human right which the British judicial system regards as superceding the deliberate use of a motor vehicle to kill.

You can be equally certain that no cycle campaign group will organise cyclists to be present at the court for the verdict, with a view to voicing their feelings to the waiting media.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The legendary Fietsfabriek comes to Walthamstow!

And receives a traditional London welcome…

I guess that was somebody’s pride and joy. A gorgeous, sturdy bike, not like the £75 crap mountain bikes you can buy in Halfords. And now the owner has quite possibly given up cycling, because it’s just not worth the hassle.

Locally, I see more and more bikes with their back wheels missing. Is this theft or is someone going round deliberately vandalising bikes?

This wreck can be found outside the public library on Coppermill Lane E17. You know, the one which never had any cycle parking and which is now derelict after the council closed it down against the wishes of local residents.

And in case you didn’t know, The Fietsfabriek is a family business in the centre of Amsterdam.

The killing of Zoe Sheldrake

Last year 13 cyclists were killed in London. After just four months, seven have died this year.

Zoe Sheldrake died in a collision with a black Audi on the northbound stretch of the A41 Edgware Way, close to junction 4 of the M1, at about 7.30am on Monday.

Ms Sheldrake, of Borehamwood, was a massage therapist and training to become a personal fitness instructor.

Boris Johnson has called on the Government to change driving tests so motorists are forced to pay greater attention to cyclists

A classically fatuous cosmetic response from a Mayor who is a much bigger friend to drivers than he is to pedestrians or cyclists.

The basic problem is that we live in a society where the criminally negligent operation of dangerous machinery, i.e. a motor vehicle, is treated as a minor peccadillo by the law and by the judicial system. All branches of the state are complicit in this, from the police to the Crown Prosecution Service. None of the three main parties are interested in changing this, and the mass media plays an important role in marginalising road violence.

“My sister never hurt a fly. She was just out cycling on an early morning health ride. We can't believe this has happened. It has blown my whole family apart.”

Who will be Walthamstow's next MP?

Idol-Worship, or The Way to Preferment. (A comment on the British system of government, c. 1740.)

Who will be MP for Walthamstow on May 7th? I shall be very surprised if it isn’t the Labour Party's Dr Creasy. I might believe otherwise if the windows of Walthamstow were full of yellow posters pledging allegiance to the Liberal Democrat candidate, but they aren’t. I imagine Stella will scrape home with a much reduced majority, and I suspect more people will vote against her than for her, but the anti-Labour vote will be fragmented among the other candidates, enabling her to take the seat. A bit like Chingford, where Iain Duncan Smith will undoubtedly be re-elected on a minority vote, with most of those who turn out voting for the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates. As for the third parliamentary seat in the London Borough of Waltham Forest: will John Cryer hang on to Leyton & Wanstead for Labour? I suppose that depends on the Harry Cohen factor and whether the electorate is prepared to vote tactically to keep Labour out. The pundits of the national media don't seem to think Leyton & Wanstead is a marginal seat.

Judging by the presence (or rather the absence) of window posters, the local electorate is deeply unenthusiastic about any of the available political choices. There are very, very few posters. One or two houses have giant yellow or red posters, but they obviously belong to candidates. There’s a tiny, tiny scattering of red, yellow and green posters. I have yet to see a blue poster, but perhaps I don’t cycle in the right areas. It's much the same situation where the Archipelago roams. Of course it's always possible that the electorate's sullen disinclination to express overt allegiance may result in some spectacular and unexpected results.

A few leaflets drop through the letterbox. As the various candidates are fond of proclaiming their enthusiasm and support for local business, let’s see where they were printed!

Dr Creasy’s latest leaflet (“fighting for our Cinema and Dog Track”) is printed by the Anton Group of Laindon, Essex SS15 6TR.

Dr Creasy is strangely modest about her doctorate and is equally silent about her cycling. But perhaps years spent on a campus and association with lycra louts might put some voters off. Dr Creasy also appears to be avoiding any repugnant association with socialists by not participating in the May Day Celebration at Ye Olde Rose & Crown on Saturday ("Special guest speaker Neil Gerrard MP") or the following day's "Special Community and Trade Union Fun Day" at the same venue, involving the Socialist Party's Nancy Taaffe and Leyton & Wanstead Labour candidate John Cryer. On the other hand the latest Stella communication shows her side by side with Neil Gerrard (currently a better vote-winning local photographic choice than the leader of her party, who is wisely airbrushed from her campaign).

The UKIP candidate, Judith Chisholm Benli, says she is passionate about “local issues”. Her leaflet is printed by Bishops Printers of Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 1RU.

UKIP are, of course, unlikely to get the cycling vote, since one of their many deranged policies is requiring cyclists to dismount at roundabouts, so as not to inconvenience motorists. UKIP appears to be entirely comprised of people who regard the Conservative Party as a dangerously pro-European left-wing organisation.

Nancy Taaffe, leading member of the Socialist Party (they used to be called the Militant Tendency) and candidate of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing “for the millions, not the millionaires”. Me, I am not convinced that the Walthamstow electorate runs into the millions. Her leaflet was printed by Brylan Print Solutions Ltd of London N7 8XH. To be fair, the fortunes of local printing businesses probably don't come very high on Nancy's tough socialist agenda. If you want a hard left candidate, Nancy's your only choice.

Farid Ahmed, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, is standing to “Protect Whipps Cross”. That's the local hospital which is seriously car sick

His leaflet is done by the same firm in Hampshire as that of the UKIP candidate, i.e. Bishops Printers of Portsmouth. Did I mention that his name was Farid Ahmed? Every sentence in the Lib Dem leaflet reminds you that Farid Ahmed is the candidate. Yes, that’s Farid Ahmed. Have you got that? Farid Ahmed. Let me remind you in case it’s slipped your mind: Farid Ahmed. Farid is disappointingly reticent about his banking and business background.

Andy Hemsted (“I have lived in Waltham Forest all my life and come from an ordinary working-class family”) is the Conservative candidate. I assume from his vagueness he lives in Chingford, not the constituency he hopes to represent in parliament. His leaflet is cheapskate monochrome, but times are hard and I suppose blue is an expensive additional printing extra. Among his many pledges, “We will allow parents and charities to open new schools”. The same kind of crap as New Labour’s “academies” then, whereby crackpot Christian groups are allowed to impose creationism on the curriculum. Andy’s leaflet was printed by Metloc Printers of Loughton, Essex, 1G10 4PE.

Daniel Perrett is standing for the Green Party. “Daniel’s particular passions are to fight for a fair, stable, sustainable economy and a healthier society”. No detail is supplied as to what these rather broad ambitions might entail in terms of policy implementation. His leaflet was printed by Abbey Lithographic Co, 39 Orford Road, Walthamstow, E17 9NL.

At last! A local printer! Another reason for voting Green, I suppose.

My own particular passions are violent revenge movies, violent horror movies, and blood-drenched vampire movies. If elected (which I won't be as I'm not a candidate) I would like to see all 4X4 drivers chained to their vehicles and publicly burned in the Town Square, with DVDs of The Wicker Man and copious quantities of drugs and alcohol distributed gratis to onlookers. The 'No Alcohol' zone would be abolished. Participation in the annual Naked Bike Ride would be made compulsory for all Londoners under 75. I am on the side of justice, goodness, niceness and more kindness to kittens. And I would like to see less police on the streets, as they all seem to drive like lunatics.

By the way, in case you don’t know, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow is Farid Ahmed.

Yes, Farid Ahmed.

I've so far received nothing from the Christian candidate and nothing from the bloke who's standing on withdrawal from Afghanistan.

(Below) A stained newscutting in the window of the Labour Party office on Orford Road, Walthamstow, proudly announces the candidature of "Dr Creasy", displayed alongside a photo of the dangerous criminal motorist, Ed Balls.

The silence of Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron

The major form of violence in British society will not be discussed by any of the three main parties, which are all complicit in it.

A man died, a woman was left fighting for her life and six others were taken to hospital in a series of accidents on roads across the West Midlands.

Meanwhile locally

AN ELDERLY man has been killed after being hit by a motorcycle at a notorious accident blackspot. Police confirm the 83-year-old man was hit by a motorcyclist on Woodford Green High Road, near the junction with Bunces Lane, shortly before 11pm last night (April 29).

In January, 29-year-old jogger Fiona Daniels was killed
when she was hit by a car at almost the same spot.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Cycling the plank

Why are fewer and fewer London schoolchildren cycling to school?

It can’t be because the roads are perceived as dangerous because as we know London is 2.9 times as safe to cycle in as it used to be (it’s a Scientific Fact Proved by Experts). What’s more London is full of fabulous cycle-friendly infrastructure, like the cycle lane shown above on the A112 in Walthamstow. Not only is the cycle lane clearly marked out and the lane generously wide, it is also protected by a continuous and well-maintained white line which forbids motor vehicles to intrude.

The answer, surely, is that ancient skills of cycle-training have been lost in the modern world. David Hembrow nostalgically recalls the old days:

The photos show my sister (and a friend) having school cycle training in New Zealand in the 1970s. The training took place in a tennis court, not the road, and included such useful activities as cycling on a narrow plank.

It's a fair test of skill, but
I'm not sure it translates usefully to an ability to survive on roads which don't take cyclists' needs into account.

On the contrary, if London’s schoolchildren were trained to cycle on a plank they would be properly equipped to undertake slow-moving heavy goods vehicles on lanes such as the one shown above.

A steady nerve and the ability to cycle along a very narrow surface are key skills required for cycling in London today. Britain neglects cycle plank training at its peril, and there can be little doubt that this is why cycling among schoolchildren has slumped in modern London.

Oh to be in Waltham Forest, now that April's here

These residents take pride in their gardens. So it’s pity about the crap, boastful ("we're wiping out enviro-crime") Labour-Lib Dem council and its filthy streets and neglected, vandalised street signs.


Who comes out in support of a speed maniac?

Spot the odd one out:

A soldier clocked driving at twice the speed limit on the M40 has been spared a driving ban so he can serve in Afghanistan.

Drivers caught travelling at speeds in excess of 100mph normally receive a ban, but it is at the judge's discretion.

Ellen Booth, from Brake, said: 'It is a dangerous level of speed and shows a lack of responsibility and consideration for other people's lives.'

Paul English, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Blackburn, said: 'His actions were as lethal as a speeding bullet. The law of the land should be equal to all, full stop. There should be no exceptions, it doesn't matter if he is a soldier, if you break the law, you should suffer the consequences.'

Michael Law-Riding, Conservative parliamentary candidate, added: 'If you are driving at 143mph, then you should be banned - it's the law of the land, and everyone should obey.'

But Justice Secretary Jack Straw said that the judge showed 'appropriate mercy for someone risking his life for the rest of us'.

The resentment lingers

In among the election chatter and froth, with transport more or less excluded from discussion by the three main parties, there’s the occasional flash of revelation. I was struck by this passing reference in a report from Stourbridge.

At a time when Britain could have embraced mass cycling like the Dutch, a sophisticated railway network was cynically destroyed by a Conservative government with vested interests in cars and tarmac, and car dependency was enthusiastically promoted, smashing through local communities. Naturally the Labour government that followed was every bit as enthusiastic about the car as its Tory predecessors.

The Stourbridge seat is half an hour west of Birmingham. As Bramall tells me, a long-lost Liberal tradition is frozen in local streets named after Gladstone, Richard Cobden and John Bright, but all that seems as lost as the genteel ambience that, according to locals, was killed by the hulking ring road that cuts central Stourbridge in two (it arrived in the 1960s, but the resentment lingers).

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Waltham Forest's cycling officer misinforms members of the Greater London Assembly

A year ago on 31 March 2009 two members of the Greater London Assembly visited the London Borough of Waltham Forest to look at cycle parking, paying a site visit to Walthamstow Central. They were Andrew Boff and Joanne McCartney. The local GLA member Jennette Arnold was not present, but sent someone along to represent her.

According to the minutes, the borough’s cycling officer, Gina Harkell, claimed that Waltham Forest had erected cycle stands on the cycle routes which covered most of the main roads in the borough. There were stands outside every four to five shops.

Which simply isn’t true. The GLA members were given a wholly false impression of the true state of cycle parking provision in the borough, which in reality is patchy, incoherent and totally inadequate.

Ms. Harkell’s preposterous claims are easy enough to measure. On Hoe Street, between Church Hill and St Mary Road, at the heart of Walthamstow, on a section of street lined with shops, independent supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and a bank, there is not a single cycle stand and cyclists are reduced to using any available street furniture or railings (like the three cyclists in the photo above).

On Forest Road, aka the A503, which runs from one side of the borough to the other, cycle stands are practically non-existent. I can think of one outside The Bell pub. I struggle to think of any others, despite the clusters of shops all along this very lengthy road with cycle lanes. For example, on the A503 there are no cycle stands between Spruce Hills Road and Fulbourne Road, even though there are many shops on this stretch of road, as well as a pub. Naturally there aren’t any outside Wood Street library, because even where something as basic as libraries are concerned the crap Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition council has dismally failed to deliver.

Even where cycling provision is at its most extensive it nowhere matches up to the figures which Gina Harkell gave the GLA representatives. I took the trouble to count the number of shops and the number of cycle stands on Hoe Street between Hatherley Road E17 and The Bell corner. There are 59 shops here, with cycle lanes on both sides, so according to Harkell there should be between 11-15 bike stands. In fact there are just seven. And by the crap standards of Waltham Forest provision that is generous indeed, even though grossly inadequate.

A few years back there was an interesting letter in the local paper from someone writing in to say that, when challenged, Ms Harkell had admitted to them that she didn’t cycle to work. There was no follow-up letter of denial. Now I don’t know if that allegation was true then, or is true now, but nothing could surprise me less than that Waltham Forest employs a cycling officer who doesn’t ride a bicycle to work every day. Not that I would blame anyone for not wanting to use the crap infrastructure which she has been responsible for in her long tenure in this borough.

This site visit for Assembly members apparently contained no input from any cyclists or cycling organisations. But then as we know the last people to be consulted on cycle design, provision and installation are cyclists.

(Below) A cyclist uses the railings by the junction with Pembar Avenue E17, because there is very little cycle parking provision by any of the shops along the entire length of the A503.

(Below) Every picture tells a story.

The Labour Party: economical with the digital truth

Here’s another aspect of Waltham Forest Labour Party nicking one of this blog’s photos and using it out of context, quite unfairly, to slag off the local Lib Dems.

Martin Belam notes that the Labour Party

is the party that just forced through legislation in the shape of the Digital Economy Bill. That enshrined in law the principle that even being accused of using the Internet to facilitate copyright infringement can see you being cut off from the web.

And that is what makes the response of the party in Walthamstow so galling.
"It appears in this instance that one of our design team has made an innocent error"

Whilst digital copyright theft would be a crime for you and me, it is merely "an innocent error" when perpetrated by my local Labour party.

Hit and run bus driver

The collision occurred at 4pm on Friday 16 April 2010 at the junction of Bristol Bridge and Baldwin Street in Bristol. A cyclist and a single-decker white coach or bus were stationary at the traffic lights. When the lights changed the bus moved forward and knocked the cyclist to the floor causing quite serious injuries. The bus driver, a woman, stopped and briefly spoke with the cyclist before driving off into Baldwin Street.

An investigation has begun to identify the coach and driver as well as any witnesses to the collision.


A CYCLIST was hospitalised with facial and head injuries after colliding with a bus in Weston.

The crash happened in Shrubbery Road on Friday at about 3.30pm.

The cyclist is a male in his 30s
and he struck the windscreen of the bus.

Or just possibly the front of the bus struck him…

Monday, 26 April 2010

Another London woman cyclist is run down and killed today

As far as I can tell, the number of cyclists killed so far this year in London has now reached a total of seven.

Which makes it a very bad year. If things go on like this it would mean a death total of 21 by the end of 2010. Of course, fatalities don’t happen with that kind of logic. It’s just a question of the cyclist being in the wrong place at the wrong time. London’s roads are crammed with drivers who are potential killers, but nobody is very interested in restraining them – certainly not the Mayor, nor the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who, like the rest of the sleazy command structure of the Met, is every inch a complacent car supremacist, who enjoys personal protection in the shape of a large chauffeur-driven limo from the danger his prejudice makes him happy to inflict on London’s cyclists and pedestrians.

But the rot spreads everywhere. The Cyclists Touring Club –a major obstacle to the development of safe mass cycling in Britain – remains in the hands of ideologues who continue to peddle crap like this:

London has seen a 91% increase in cycling since 2000 and a 33% fall in cycle casualties since 1994-98. This means that cycling in the city is 2.9 times safer than it was previously.

Complete pseudo-scientific garbage, of course. The casualty statistics are cherrypicked and the first statistic, as I never tire of pointing out, is blatantly untrue. London is a city more dangerous for cycling in than it has ever been, because its roads are filled with drivers (including numerous lorry drivers) who are using mobile phones, or who are staring at their SatNavs or who are in vehicles with tinted windows. Speeding, red light jumping and hit and runs are at epidemic levels, traffic policing continues to be reduced, and a cyclist’s exposure to risk has never been greater, and continues to get worse, not least in the London Borough of Waltham Forest where transport planners are planning to increase the speed limit on a major cycle route from 30 mph to 40 mph, and make cycling more dangerous by forcing cyclists to use a cycle lane between parking bays and overtaking heavy goods vehicles. Naturally the supine local branch of the so-called London Cycling Campaign accepts this unacceptable situation.

All the fatalities in London this year are victims of vehicular cycling (i.e. cyclists sharing the roads with motorists), which is precisely what the Netherlands, the most successful cycling nation in Europe, has rejected. Vehicular cycling in Britain has failed, is dangerous and is a major deterrent to mass cycling, but neither of Britain's two main cycling organisations want to face up to this reality.

That said, here’s the latest bad news. Details so far are sketchy:

Edgware Way has been closed since around 7.30am after a woman was knocked off her bike on the northbound carriageway. She was pronounced dead at the scene and an investigation has been ongoing all morning into the cause of the crash.

A MAN has been arrested following the death of a woman on the A41 in Edgware this morning. The 49-year-old was arrested at the scene and is being questioned at Colindale Police Station. A woman cyclist died when her bike collided with a black Audi on the northbound stretch of the Edgware Way close to the M1 junction 4 just after 7.30am. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Railing against collaborationist campaigning and bad cycling infrastructure

'Early consultation between Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign and LBWF council officers could avoid expensive “fixes” later on in large developments and lead to better design for cycling"

This photograph, taken at the junction of Argall Way, Orient Way and Lea Bridge Road (A104) can be found on page 15 of the local cycle group’s Movers and Shakers report. This junction forms one of the various obstacles to the free flow of cycling along this prize-winning route

The green tick indicates that this location is proudly regarded as an example of good design and a splendid instance of fruitful dialogue between cycling campaigners and council officers. So here are a couple of examples of the infrastructure, the first being the scene behind the people in the photograph. Here are two views of the point where the cycle lane on Argall Way joins the A104:

Meanwhile on the other side of the junction is this magnificently designed piece of cycling infrastructure (below). And if you can't see what's wrong with this crap, you're probably the type of British cycling campaigner who is ignorant of, or indifferent to, the kind of infrastructure that actually works to get people on their bikes in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Road safety? It’s Balls!

By now you won’t need me to tell you who said:

'I one hundred per cent support the law on mobile phones - it's there to protect the safety of all drivers, passengers and pedestrians.'

A politician, obviously.

Helen Mervill, of road safety group Brake, condemned his actions and the level of penalty imposed. She said: 'By picking up his mobile phone, Ed Balls put his own, his children's and other road users' lives as risk.

'The penalty of a £60 fine and three points on his licence is little more than a slap on the wrist.'

Why the BBC despises cycling and cyclists

It’s quite easy, really. Who’d want to cycle on roads jammed with motor vehicles, in a society where cycle parking provision is laughable, including at major railway stations – not when you can get a taxi to the nearest airport at public expense!

The BBC has spent nearly £5million on tens of thousands of short-haul flights across Britain for its executives, staff and guests. At a time when programmes regularly highlight the environmental impact of air travel, licence-fee payers have funded more than 68,000 internal trips over the past two years – an average of nearly 100 flights a day. The BBC’s daily carbon footprint generated by the UK air trips is the equivalent of that produced by the average person in a year, say environmental experts.

Among the users of domestic flights was the BBC’s Deputy Director-General Mark Byford, who flew from Southampton to Edinburgh to watch an England-Scotland rugby match.

Mr Byford, who earns £471,000 a year, also took a flight from London to Manchester to attend the Open golf championship. The same journey would have taken three hours by train.

In March 2008, Mr Byford flew from Southampton – the airport closest to his Winchester home – to Edinburgh to watch a Scotland-England rugby match.

On the same trip he also incurred £26 worth of taxi fares to get to and from the airport, a bill picked up by the licence-fee payer.

In July that year he flew from London to Manchester to attend the Open golf championship at Royal Birkdale.

The total cost to licence-fee payers of the 68,063 flights amounted to £4,686,850 between 2007 and 2009. Those who took the flights included BBC staff, freelance workers and guests.

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth said: ‘There’s no excuse for flying across the UK when there are greener alternatives such as travelling by train.

The great tinted window farce

There’s no reason why anybody should be allowed to have tinted windows in their motor vehicle. There’s something very creepy about cars with tinted windows. And in sun-soaked Abu Dhabi a three-year traffic safety study revealed that over-tinted windows were the fourth-largest cause of accidents.

In British Columbia they are used to evade detection for driving while using a mobile phone:

White Rock RCMP Const. Janelle Shoihet said Friday that police have noticed an increase in tinted front side vehicle windows, which are illegal, since the cell phone driving ban was announced last year. Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, introduced by government last fall, took effect Jan. 1, allowing drivers to only use hands-free cell phones and devices that require one touch to activate.

Starting Feb. 1, a driver caught talking on a hand-held phone or electronic device will be subject to a fine of $167. Drivers caught texting or emailing, while the car is moving, also will be subject to three penalty points. Shoihet said that police now are noticing more drivers have their front windows tinted, which can result in a $109 fine.

Successive British governments have had a sycophantic relationship with the car lobby, so naturally tinted windows aren’t banned. Instead tinting is supposed to be limited to allow 70-75 per cent of light through, though in practice few police officers carry the specialist equipment required to check this limitation. On the very rare occasions that police bother to check, they soon catch offenders:

Five Manchester City stars have been fined by police who spotted their vehicles' tinted windows were too dark as they arrived at training. Shay Given, Kolo Toure, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Patrick Vieira and Stephen Ireland were all given £30 fixed penalty notices on Wednesday.

[A £30 fine to a Manchester City player is, of course, equivalent to a fine of a fraction of one penny to the likes of thee and me.]

An officer from GMP's Road Policing Unit, working with representatives from VOSA, stopped a number of cars on Carrington Lane, Trafford," a spokesman said. "The cars were stopped and found to have illegally tinted windows.

"The drivers were issued with fixed penalty notices and prohibition notices."

A variety of companies can tint windows of vehicles to add privacy for the owner.
Front driver and passenger windows must allow 70% of light through and the windscreen 75%.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

How goes the war on enviro-crime?

Need you really ask? All photos taken in the last 36 hours.

(Above) Belmont Park Road E10.

(Below) Atkins Road E10.

When the “enviro-crime” focus has finished, what difference will there be?

Er, not a lot, Flash!

(Below) William Street E10

(Below) Beulah Path welcomes pedestrians, at the Grove Road E17 end.

(Below) Eden Road E17, a spotless paradise indeed, with tactile paving that helpfully guides the blind pedestrian towards a 'quality environment' litter bin.

Congested London

London is Europe's fourth most congested city for drivers, it was revealed today. Brussels topped the list, followed by Polish cities Warsaw and Wroclaw.

Cyclists charged with ‘impeding traffic’

Five members of the University of South Florida racing team ticketed in January by the Pasco County Sheriffs Office have pleaded not guilty. Instead of paying the $67.50 fine, they hired attorney Declan Mansfield, who filed a motion to dismiss the case.

It's legal for bicyclists to ride two abreast as long as they're not impeding the flow of traffic. Mansfield said the USF cyclists were not breaking the law. "We're not contesting that they were riding two abreast," he said. "But they were traveling at or near the speed limit, which is an exception to the law. They weren't impeding traffic. These guys are racers – they know how to ride in a group."

Pasco Cpl. Chad Tadlock, who wrote the tickets, said
the department started cracking down after hearing numerous complaints from area drivers about the cyclists who take part in the weekend morning group rides.

Cycle funding in Windsor cut by half

The fund for Capital Works for the Cycle Network has been cut by 50% from £100,000 to £50,000.

Dangerous cycling, walking and driving in Milton Keynes

The fourth incident also occurred in April that year when Mr Child was cycling past a T-junction and a bus pulled out and hit him. He sustained severe whiplash and bruising.

After a lull of almost three years, the first of three hit-and-run incidents occurred in January 2005 when he was knocked off his bicycle by a Mercedes. Mr Child said he did not report the male driver, who was talking on a mobile phone, because he suffered only minor bruising and did not manage to get any details of the car.

Just a week later he was knocked over in another hit-and-run incident during a bike ride. This time he tore a ligament in his shoulder. Police suspected a drink-driver who was spotted in the area was responsible but could not catch him.

In September 2006, Mr Child was out for a walk when he was knocked down at a zebra crossing, suffering further bruising. He said the female driver of the Range Rover claimed she didn't see him because he walked on to the road 'too quickly'.

Six months later, he was in another hit-and-run when he was knocked down in a Tesco car park by a driver who drove off.

In July 2007 a young man pulled out of a side road and crashed into the left side of Mr Child's Honda Civic.

Finally, on 31 March last year he was involved in another collision while in the car in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire -
where all the accidents occurred.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Cycle stand obstruction in Waltham Forest

Market traders are STILL using the remaining cycle stands in the Town Square as a storage facility for their stands. No one from the council cares and not a single councillor cares. The situation regarding the repeated obstruction of cycle stands is the same across the borough. And needless to say no one from the ruling Labour or Liberal Democrat coalition displays any interest in seeing that the eight cycle stands removed from the Town Square are replaced.

American pedestrians

A classic photograph by Helen Levitt

Hove cyclist sues council

Paul Kitson, head of personal injury at Russell Jones and Walker, the solicitors representing Ms Vanni, said: “There are a number of reasons why the splitter island installed by the council is poorly conceived and ultimately caused Ms Vanni to be seriously injured.

“The position is dangerous as it is just before a junction, the kerb is low and hard to see on the road and it is not marked in any way, either with signage, bollards or reflective strips. This is contrary to design recommendations.

Pedestrian run down by bus in Islington

A pedestrian in his twenties was seriously hurt when a bus hit him in Angel, Islington, in last night's rush hour.

Pedestrian run down in Leyton

A PEDESTRIAN may not make a full recovery after being hit by a car.

The 34-year-old suffered a serious head injury after being hit by a car in Belmont Park Road, at the junction with Leyton High Road.

Police described her injury as “potentially life changing”.

0V07RZU lorry driver on a mobile phone

0V07 RZU male lorry driver driving with his left hand while using a handheld mobile phone in his right hand, Somers Road E17, 11.10 am, 23 April.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Cycle lights still hooded after 8 months

It really is astonishing that the dedicated cycle lights on the special crossing facility for cyclists which runs from St Mary Road E17 across Hoe Street to Selborne Road are STILL HOODED AFTER EIGHT MONTHS. These orange hoods over the cycle lights went up in September 2009.

The responsibility for this apparently lies with Transport for London. TfL’s contempt for cycling could hardly be more evident. But this ongoing saga also underlines the inertia of the local cycling group, the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign. It claims to have 200 members, so why isn’t it organising a protest?

Cyclists are left to guess when the lights are at red for drivers and then have to pedal across a junction, watching out for three lanes of traffic approaching from the right, another lane approaching head-on from Selborne Road, another lane approaching from the left along Hoe Street, and another lane which turns into Selborne Road.

On the plus side, this helps to give cyclists experience in crossing a major junction with no green light, helping to build up the daredevil confidence required to jump red lights. Thanks for that, Transport for London!

Waltham Forest Labour Party regrets…

"It appears in this instance that one of our design team has made an innocent error which we regret."

Not exactly what you'd call a wholehearted apology, eh? For ripping off one of this blog’s pics and then taking it out of context to slag off the Liberal Democrats for a street scene which has nothing to do with them.

Leaving aside the cynical misuse of my photo in Labour Party propaganda, what is just as objectionable is the Labour Party trying to position itself as the car-friendliest local party. So much for its Green credentials.

But what is also striking is that this car supremacist electioneering is taking place in a ward where the council’s own website states that 49% of households have no car or van. This is much higher than the Borough average of 39%. The clueless local Labour Party doesn’t even understand the nature of the ward in which it is canvassing. It has nothing at all to say about walking and cycling, underlining the Labour Party’s total indifference to those two ways of getting around the borough.

The statistics show that most people in Hoe Street ward go to work on the tube, i.e. they have to negotiate the abominable Hoe Street/Selborne Road junction beside Walthamstow Central, where both pedestrians and cyclists are treated as subservient to drivers. A significant portion of the hordes of people who come down St Mary Road in the morning prefer to sprint across to the traffic islands rather than wait ages to cross one half of Hoe Street to a cattle pen, then the other half, then wait at more lights to cross Selborne Road. For those who play by the rules, when the green light comes on they have to scamper across before it swiftly goes back to red. The phasing is rigged to prioritise drivers, not pedestrians.

Other residents may cross lower down by the bus station, where some drivers jump the lights and go through when the light is green for pedestrians. Many impatient bus drivers also jump the red lights when they emerge from the bus station.

As for cyclists, the dedicated cycling lights have now been out for EIGHT MONTHS (see above). And cycle stand provision at Walthamstow Central station is grossly inadequate. On such transport matters the local Labour Party is silent.

Incidentally, although supposedly passionate about supporting local business, the Labour Party’s Hoe Street ward campaign leaflet states in miniature print that it was ‘Printed by Karian and Box Ltd, 8 The Broadway, London W6 7AL.’ Not a local firm, then.

Oxford Street death crash cyclist named

Jayne Helliwell, 25, was knocked down in Oxford Street. Friends told how she loved her bike and travelled on it everywhere

Yet again Transport for London peddles the usual crap, which I’ve already criticised

Since 2000, TfL say there has been a 21 per cent fall in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on London's roads, compared with the mid to late Nineties. At the same time, there has been a 107 per cent increase in the number of cycle journeys made on London's roads in the past decade.

Should wild animals wear high viz gear and helmets?

These urgent road safety measures are surely necessary to combat

the growing number of accidents involving wild animals on Germany's roads. A total of 27 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured last year, not counting the tens of thousands of animals killed.

German autobahns, of course, have no upper speed limit, making Germany the ideal holiday destination for members of the Association of British Drivers and those who can't afford an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.

A life changed forever after being hit by a lorry

A former champion triathlete who faced having her leg amputated after being hit by a lorry while cycling in north London told how her life has been "changed forever" and called on the Government to protect cyclists.

Doris Barrera-Torrico, a student from Gipsy Hill, suffered horrific leg injuries when she was knocked off her bike and crushed by a lorry in Holloway Road in 2007.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Waltham Forest Labour Party has the cheek to steal one of this blog’s photos!

Of all the bloody nerve. Waltham Forest Labour Party has borrowed one of my photographs from this blog and used it in their election literature, without my permission and, in a gross breach of copyright, printed it to attack the local Liberal Democrats.


For a start I’m planning to vote for the Green Party, and as a Green Party supporter I bitterly resent photos on this blog being pilfered by the local Labour Party and (mis)used to attack the Lib Dems.

I also wish that the local Labour Party would pay as much attention to the content of this blog as to its photographs.

Take a look at this:

And now take a look at the second photograph here.

Waltham Forest Labour Party, in a Hoe Street ward campaign leaflet, have trimmed my photograph of Westward Road in Chingford in order to attack what they call ‘the Lib Dem failure on parking’, adding ‘Labour councillors have said they are committed to reviewing controlled parking in areas where residents aren’t happy.’

But Westward Road E4 is not in a controlled parking zone. My photograph was designed to show how the policy of allowing cars to park on narrow pavements degrades the walking environment and can result in obstruction. It has nothing whatever to do with the Liberal Democrats or their policy on Controlled Parking Zones. It was the Labour Party which created these street conditions, long before the party ever formed a coalition with the Lib Dems.

I demand an apology from the local Labour Party for their blatant infringement of my copyright and for their cynical misuse of one of my photos to attack the Lib Dems.

As I say on my blog

Campaigners for cyclists and pedestrians, the press, and all extra-terrestrials are welcome to reproduce any of these these photographs, but please include a link or reference to this blog.

As Waltham Forest Labour Party can by no stretch of the imagination be regarded as a pedestrian and cycling campaign group, and as it isn’t the press, this only leaves one possibility. But even alien life forms, no matter how primitive, should have the decency to acknowledge copyright.

Repeat: I demand an apology and a promise that this will not happen again.

The lethal consequences of a negligent van driver

The inquest yesterday heard a police investigation discovered the tailgate came from a Ford Transit van and the hinge had not been securely fastened. The 29-year-old driver of the van is facing legal proceedings, the inquest heard.

Coroner Caroline Beasley Murray recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision

Crap bus drivers in Manchester

The Love Your Bike campaign has released the results of a survey in which they asked Greater Manchester cyclists to rank the types of bus driver behaviour that makes them feel unsafe on the roads.

Over 700 people responded to the survey and the top three bus driver behaviours that cause concerns for all cyclists, whether they cycle occasionally or everyday, were (figures expressed as percentages of respondents that selected the behaviour):

1. ‘Passing too close to you’ (76%)
2. ‘Pulling out from bus stops without looking and signalling’ (60%)
3. ‘Overtaking when not necessary (in busy traffic or approaching a bus stop)’ (43%)

In Greater Manchester there are very few cyclist fatalities or serious injuries from incidents between buses and bicycles. However, poor or thoughtless bus driver behaviours can deter people from cycling. Love Your Bike campaigners often talk to people about cycling, and buses are a common cause of concern for those considering cycling more often.


A YOUNG cyclist is fighting for his life after a crash with a bus in Coventry city centre.

The casualty, who was said to be in his late teens, suffered serious head injuries and was last night in a ‘critical’ condition at University Hospital.

The accident happened yesterday afternoon at the busy junction of Hales Street, Corporation Street, Bishop Street and the Burges.

I’m with the U.S. marine

Foster took the witness stand in his own defense. He said he and a group of about 20 cyclists met in Rye for a coastal ride when he heard a car horn and a revving V8 engine, just before the Corvette swerved toward the cyclists, forcing some off the road and others "to fan around the car." The driver then applied the brakes "hard enough for the anti-skid to cycle," yelled and displayed his middle finger, Foster said.

"He was a danger to people on the road," he testified. "I knew what I had to do. He needed to be educated about safety."

Needless to say the judge didn’t agree.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A cycle stand and the local elections

After sarcastically pointing out the council’s failure to install cycle stands at numerous buildings which it is responsible for and which are used by the public, I can report that a single cycle stand has finally been put up at the Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow.

That’s right, one poxy stand, for a building which attracts twenty or more cyclists when it hosts nutritious environmental events like apple day. And note how the museum’s staff are treating this brand new stand, which has been thoughtfully sited beside a waste container. Yes, it makes a useful support for gardening materials.

But, wait, what’s this?

An election leaflet from the Liberal Democrats, which touchingly explains how the Lib Dems are demanding two or three one hour parking bays to ‘allow more people to enjoy this hidden gem’.

Now this is a Hoe Street ward leaflet. And almost everybody in Hoe Street ward lives within three quarters of a mile of the museum. What’s more in Hoe Street ward 49% of households have no car or van. This is much higher than the Borough average of 39%.

Which tells you all you need to know about the car supremacist prejudices of the local Lib Dems and their cosmic indifference to cycling and walking.

Stella Creasy and the environment

Here’s Stella Creasy, the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow, posing in the Town Square. Stella is passionate about the environment, which makes it odd that she’s never noticed the street light which burns brightly in the daytime just a few yards from where her photo was taken (below). Or for that matter the seven other street lights which can be seen blazing away in the High Street all day long, wasting electricity and underlining the hollowness of the council’s climate change policy and the hypocrisy of its advice to local residents to ‘switch it off’.

Stella hangs out in the Village, so she should also have noticed the street light which blazes away all day long on Orford Road, just yards from the mock-Tudor ancient house opposite the church, or this lighting column (below) at the St Mary Road end of the alleyway that leads alongside the Vestry House Museum and garden to Church End.

The Archipelago has noted that the bookies aren’t quite as certain of a Stella victory as they once were. I find it hard to believe that Stella could really lose this seat, since Neil Gerrard has bequeathed her a thumping majority and Stella has been assiduously networking and cultivating local interest groups since she won the candidacy. Her only serious opponent is the Liberal Democrat candidate, Farid Ahmed, whose election literature is raining down on residents with a density far greater than ash from an erupting volcano. The problem is that the election literature from both these candidates consists of platitudes about fairness and generalities about a better deal for Walthamstow. Neither tells us where each candidate stands on an issue like Afghanistan (which has been airbrushed out of the election campaign and where none of the the three main parties represents the anti-war views of the majority of the electorate) or what the issues are on which they might rebel against their own party’s line.

I might be being unfair but my impression is that both Stella Creasy and Farid Ahmed lack the calibre of the man they aim to replace, Neil Gerrard MP, who built up a sizeable majority by living locally, by living modestly and not going on an expenses binge, by displaying a feisty independence towards the official party line and by being a straight-talking MP who was always happy to tell you exactly where he stood on policy issues.

Creasy and Ahmed both strike me as being candidates who will toe the party line, whatever that line may be. That said, forced to choose between the two of them, I’d opt for Stella. She does at least ride a bicycle. She has also made a lot of effort to connect with the local community (albeit that she didn’t turn up for the recent hustings, for reasons unknown). Farid Ahmed is an unknown quantity, who has never manifested any kind of visibility that this blog is aware of. And the commentary in the local paper and on the Archipelago site regarding the recent murky goings-on inside the local Liberal Democrats, doesn’t make me warm to him one little bit.

What we need is more light and illumination – but not this sort.

Taxi dependency at the BBC

I suppose it’s hardly surprising that the BBC is either indifferent or hostile to cycling, bearing in mind that it is run by executives on bloated salaries who claim that luxury air travel and taxis are essential for the important jobs they do. You know, like being ‘director of vision’.

A trio of BBC executives ran up more than £12,000 in taxi claims on expenses between them in a three-month period, new figures showed.

They include a total of £4,862 in fares by BBC director of vision Jana Bennett.

Ms Bennett, who is paid a salary of £412,000, claimed £675 in a two-day period in November for journeys within the UK.

Hazardous cycling in York

A CYCLIST was taken to hospital with head injuries after a collision with a car in York.

The crash happened at the junction of Cemetery Road with Fulford Road at 3.30pm yesterday.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The curious case of the speed reduction scheme which increased speeding

Last November, Guardian journalist Dave Hill mentioned my criticisms of Waltham Forest Council on his blog (the lighting columns shown burning brightly in the photos in the link are still burning all day long five months later, incidentally - so much for the ‘switch it off’ council’s climate change commitment).

It was followed some days later by this update:

Waltham Forest Council's Cabinet Member for Environment Cllr Bob Belam has provided the following response to Freewheeler:

"We are committed to improving the safety of all road users in our borough. The highway improvement scheme in Forest Road will make transport safer and reduce the number of injuries to all road users as it is designed to reduce vehicle speeds between Hale End Road and Woodford New Road.

Councillor Belam was alluding to The Forest Road E17 Corridor Scheme. Forest Road is otherwise known as the A503, a major route in and out of London, with high vehicle flows and large numbers of lorries.

Now my argument was basically that the council was creating parking bays where none currently existed, some of them on the pavement, thereby simultaneously encouraging car dependency and degrading the walking environment. It was also creating them to the left of the cycle lanes on Forest Road, forcing cyclists to cycle between parked cars (with all the attendant dangers of ‘dooring’) and overtaking traffic, including buses and lorries. Indeed, by reducing the carriageway width and moving the cycle lane out, cyclists will be forced much closer to motor vehicles than they are at present.

In brief, road space where no parking currently exists, which could have been used to construct high quality segregated cycle paths on the Dutch model, is instead being reallocated for car parking, while making cycling more dangerous and unattractive than it already is. The photograph shown above (Lea Bridge Road) illustrates what this section of Forest Road will be like once this scheme has been implemented.

Cllr Belam unequivocally asserted to Dave Hill that the scheme was

designed to reduce vehicle speeds between Hale End Road and Woodford New Road.

This section of Forest Road, like all the rest of it, is a 30 mph zone. Yesterday the latest issue of the Council’s heavily-subsidised propaganda rag Waltham Forest News was published. When I turned to the Traffic Orders at the back, guess what I found on p. 14.

So it now turns out that far from aiming to reduce vehicle speeds, this so-called ‘improvement scheme’ is actually going to involve raising the speed limit from 30 mph to 40 mph on a section of the A503 between Hale End Road and Woodford New Road where Cllr Belam insisted the intention was ‘designed to reduce vehicle speeds’.

There’s no wriggle room here: Bob Belam has lied to a journalist on a national newspaper. He's a disgrace and should be sacked from a portfolio he has never been fit to hold.

What also stinks is that the proposal to increase the speed limit from 30 mph to 40 mph was nowhere in the original consultation document. It has been slipped into the Traffic Order at the last minute with no prior discussion or consultation. This is the perfect example of how the Blair local government reforms have hollowed out and corrupted local democracy by transferring power from the old public committee structure to a tiny clique known as ‘the cabinet’, where decision-making occurs behind closed doors and involves senior officers persuading individual cabinet members to agree to proposals which receive no valid public scrutiny.

Raising the speed limit at this location is completely insane, as it will simply encourage eastbound drivers to accelerate just as they approach a major junction with traffic lights. Speeding drivers will be tempted to jump the lights, with predictable consequences. And drivers heading west will now be encouraged to accelerate just at the point that they approach what will now become a 30 mph zone sited outside a school. And everybody knows that a 40 mph sign will be interpreted by many drivers as an invitation to drive at 45-50 mph.

With the Traffic Order published, there is now no possibility of appeal against this insane traffic scheme, which promotes car dependency and speeding at the expense of the safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists. It is worth remembering that Transport for London is a co-partner in this car-centric scheme, which will actively discourage and suppress cycling on this major route. Cycling's modal share in Waltham Forest is currently one per cent; come back in ten years and you can be absolutely certain that it will still be utterly risible. The Mayor's vision of a massive expansion of cycling in outer London is a self-indulgent fantasy which bears no relation to the continuing and very active promotion of car dependency over walking and cycling.

Even a hardcore cyclist like myself has a threshold and personally I am not prepared to cycle on an ‘A’ road in a narrow cycle lane located between parked cars and overtaking lorries, where the speed limit has been raised from 30 mph to 40 mph. In future I won’t be cycling along Forest Road, I’ll be driving. I’ve always had the option of driving a large car with airbags (it belongs to my non-cycling Very Special Person and my VSP has never been very keen on me travelling by bicycle) and in future, much as I dislike driving in London, that’s what I’ll be doing when I have to head east on the A503.

So, Waltham Forest Council and Transport for London, you win. You don’t want me to cycle and I won’t. On the A503, for my own personal protection, I'll be driving a car.

Reckless lorry driver allowed to continue driving

Ignoring a level crossing's flashing red warning lights, this is the shocking moment a lorry driver ploughs his long vehicle into the closing barriers.

John McDonald, 38, accelerated his 44-tonne sewage lorry in an attempt to cross the King's Cross to Cambridge main-line at Foxton, Cambridgeshire.

Faced with the footage of the December 12 incident during a hearing at Cambridge Magistrates' Court, McDonald admitted driving through the red light but escaped a driving ban.

Remember the recent case of the cyclist who went through a red light and ended up being fined over £900 for what was quite probably a victimless offence? The courts are far more relaxed about a tanker driver who jumps a red light and risks causing a train crash with his 44 tonne vehicle:

McDonald, of Denton Burn, Newcastle, was fined £170 and ordered to pay £45 costs. He also had three penalty points added to his licence.

Does global warming trigger volcanoes and earthquakes?

Melting glaciers and rising sea levels shift the distribution of huge amounts of water, which release and increase pressures through the ground. These pressure changes could make ruptures and seismic shifts more likely.

Bill McGuire, head of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College London, says: "In relation to anthropogenic climate change, modelling studies and projection of current trends point towards increased risk in relation to a spectrum of geological and geomorphological hazards in a warmer world, while observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere."


"No increase in the global incidence of either volcanic activity or seismicity has been identified to date ... It may be the case that modulation of potentially hazardous geological processes due to anthropogenic climate change proves too small a signal to extract from the background noise of normal geophysical activity, at least in the short to medium term."

Monday, 19 April 2010

How Tesco Express suppresses cycling

You introduce a cycle lane. And then a few years later you allow a branch of Tesco Express to open next to it. And hey presto! All day long vans and lorries make deliveries and obstruct the cycle lane. Brilliant.

Why planning permission was ever granted for the Tesco Express on Selborne Road E17 is a mystery. It certainly wasn’t needed. It takes trade away from the independent supermarket round the corner on Hoe Street and the 24 hour supermarket a bit further along. All three of the main parties claim to be friends of local business, yet when it comes to handing over more lucrative trade to a hugely profitable multinational they duly approve it.

Tesco made record profits equivalent to about £150 for every family in Britain despite falling living standards in the recession, figures next week will show. The supermarket giant is expected to reveal to the City that its total pre-tax profits grew to around £3.2 billion in the year to the end of February. Of that, about £2.5 billion was made in Britain, according to City analysts, £147 for each of the country's 17 million families.

Tesco lobbied hard against the proposed tax on supermarket car parking spaces and naturally Gordon Brown quickly scrapped it to please his City buddies. Not that Cameron or Clegg would have done any different.

When the cycle lane is blocked by a Tesco delivery vehicle on Selborne Road, all you have to do is overtake. Who can doubt that cycling is going to expand in conditions like these, in a cycle-friendly borough like Waltham Forest?

Charlie Brown’s hell and Transport for London

The Charlie Brown’s roundabout in South Woodford is a classic example of London’s suburban motoring hell. The car comes first and pedestrians have no crossing facilities at all. Further up the road there’s an underpass under the North Circular which regularly floods in winter, and a few years ago a schoolgirl who couldn’t use the underpass was run down and killed while attempting to cross the North Circular.

Drivers approach the roundabout like lunatics, pedestrians have to wait forever to cross each arm of the approach roads, and cyclists are rarely seen, mainly because Redbridge is a cycling hell, as you’d expect from a Conservative administration. No matter how bad Labour or Liberal Democrat councils are, the car-insane pedestrian-hostile, public transport-hating Conservatives are always much, much worse.

PEOPLE living next to one of Redbridge's busiest road junctions have demanded an end to their long wait for safety improvements.

Residents in South Woodford have fought to get extra pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures installed at Charlie Brown's roundabout for more than a decade and have now called on Transport for London (TfL) to set a date for the work to be carried out.

Naturally that toxic anti-walking anti-cycling outfit known as Transport for London has given residents the brush-off:

A TfL spokesman said: "There were no accidents involving pedestrians at Charlie Brown's roundabout in Redbridge in the past three years

[a classically fatuous and meaningless piece of reasoning because few pedestrians or cyclists would ever want to go near this terrifying and lethal roundabout except out of extreme necessity]

but in October 2007 preliminary investigations took place to establish whether signalised crossings should be installed to improve pedestrian access.

"It was calculated that the total cost of the works would have exceeded £3m and unfortunately funding is not available to proceed.

[That’s right. Billions of pounds are available for ‘improvements’ for drivers but pedestrians and cyclists are denied even crumbs.]

"However, we continue to ensure the roundabout and the roads leading into it are fully maintained.

[Exactly. Maintenance of the car supremacist infrastructure is a top priority for car-centric Transport for London.]

Inadequate pedestrian crossing time

New research has found that for many elderly people, pedestrian crossings do not give them enough them to make it safely to the other side.

You hardly need to be an octogenarian to find it difficult to get across a signalled crossing before the green woman sign goes back to red. Even an olympic athlete wouldn’t manage the Oxford Circus ‘scramble’ at green. Lighting phase time allocation is just one small aspect of the way in which transport planning systematically discriminates against pedestrians and favours motorists. It’s the kind of thing few drivers are even aware of, in a car-centric society.

Adding just an extra second or two to the overall crossing time could make all the difference, they claim.

Nearly 200 pedestrians over the age of 70 were killed on Britain’s roads in 2008, according to official figures.

But there’s an obvious solution. Get all these doddery old folk driving. Have you had a mild cardiac arrest or a few strokes, or perhaps have difficulty in seeing? Not to worry. The only person who has to verify fitness to drive after the age of 75 is the driver. And to help matters still further

The RAC Foundation called for road signs to carry larger lettering to help Britain's ageing motorists.

Only the most fanatical kind of environmentalist would argue that if you can’t read road signs, you obviously shouldn’t be driving.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Volcanic ash in Waltham Forest questionnaire

At severe risk to my health I was out on my bicycle today under a deceptively sunny blue cloudless sky which as we know is full of vicious Icelandic particles (FOREIGN DEATH CLOUD SWEEPS BRITAIN was the headline in yesterday’s Express, or something like it). I could hardly sleep last night, with the eerie silence and the strange absence of a jumbo screaming into Heathrow at 4 am, thanks to that nice Mr Brown increasing the number of night flights over London. (That’s another topic which that nice Mr Cameron and that nice Mr Clegg will have absolutely no comment on.)

Anyway, I came across this glorious testament to four years of the ‘war on enviro-crime’ fought by our glorious Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition council (and since ‘war on enviro-crime pics feature both Clyde Loakes and Bob Belam it’s no use the two parties blaming each other). Belgrave Road E17.

Seating for pedestrians is more or less non-existent across the London Borough of Waltham Forest, as you would expect from a car-centric Council which despises walking and cycling, but here is a rare exception. Isn’t it lovely? And it made me think: if volcanic ash was to shower down across the borough, would it (i) make things look worse (ii) make things look better (iii) make no difference at all to crap Waltham Forest. Please write down your answer and keep it until May 6th, after which you can chuck it away, as your opinions will then become worthless and all those people stuffing leaflets through your door or soliciting your vote will vanish, never to be seen again until 2014.

Greenwash crap

Yesterday’s Independent boasted The Green Awards

Including Greenwash like this:

The old internal combustion engine gets an unsympathetic press, but in the right hands it can be green.

Best car: BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics

If you want or need to drive your BMW hard it will take you to 60mph in around 8 seconds and on to a top speed of 137mph

Yeah, very environmental.

And doncha just hate being lectured on sustainability by multi-millionaire jet-setting celebrities (who are currently enduring unimaginable suffering thanks to an Icelandic volcano). It’s bad enough being lectured on diet by eight-homes long-haul Sir Paul McCartney. And now we have

Best celebrity: Natalie Portman

As part of Greening the planet

In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda

Something tells me she didn’t cycle there.

More misleading analysis from Transport for London

The spokesperson concludes, "Since 2000, there has been a 21% fall in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on London’s roads, compared to the mid to late 1990s. At the same time, there has been a 107% increase in the number of cycle journeys made on London’s roads in the past decade.

In the first place, anybody can cherrypick road casualty statistics to come up with the conclusion that suits them. The only valid comparison for the period 2000-2009 would be the stats for the period 1990-1999. The fact that TfL isn’t using them indicates a desire to massage the results.

Secondly, TfL prefers to leave out less serious injuries from its analysis, again from a desire to present a rosy picture of cycling in London. And once you go down the scale of injury, it’s known that the official stats are a serious underestimate compared with hospital admissions figures.

Thirdly, as this blog never tires of pointing out, casualty figures bear no relation to exposure to risk. In a capital city where huge numbers of drivers are steering with one hand while talking into handheld mobile phones – car drivers, van drivers and lorry drivers – the risks to cyclists have massively increased since the 1990s. On the other hand figures for fatalities and serious injuries may fall not because the roads are safer but because traffic jams, congestion and low vehicle speeds result in less serious consequences from a collision.

Fourthly, it’s garbage to say that “there has been a 107% increase in the number of cycle journeys made on London’s roads in the past decade” because TfL has never measured cycling on all London’s roads, only on a tiny fraction of one per cent of London’s roads.

Spin like this evades the reality that cycling to school continues to plummet in London because parents correctly perceive the roads as far too dangerous for their children to use.

As for the claim that The safety of London’s cyclists is a huge priority for both the Mayor and TfL and we are committed to making cycling in London as safe as possible.

That’s tosh because Boris stopped the funding for the Met’s lorry enforcement unit. TfL is a toxic car-centric organisation and absolutely no friend of the pedestrian or the cyclist. Even something as rudimentary as Advanced Stop Lines continue not to be enforced, and no one from TfL or the Mayor’s office has a word to say.

‘Proof speed cameras exist to rake in money as receipts finally fall’

You don’t need to be Ben Goldacre to doubt the science behind the Daily Mail’s latest hysterical headline.

Or the crackpot political slant:

Motorists have been hit with speeding tickets worth almost £1billion under Labour, a report shows.

No, not ‘motorists’ but ‘criminal motorists’. The corporate media endlessly represents speeding tickets and parking tickets as if they were an inescapable tax imposed on all drivers, rather than an entirely voluntary matter which the affected individual has chosen consciously to risk.

Critics said it was proof motorists had been treated as a cash cow. Claire Armstrong, cofounder of the Safe Speed campaign group, said: 'You should never measure safe driving by miles per hour.

‘Safe Speed’ is not a group but consists solely of Ms Armstrong who is, of course, fervently committed to speed-camera-free driving, i.e. even more carnage than currently exists.