Saturday, 31 July 2010

London’s roads are too narrow for Dutch-style cycle paths

As any London Cycling Campaign Trustee and Vice Chair will tell you

segregation would be great but in London at least there's no room

(see the Comments box here)

Yes, it’s such a shame that there just isn’t the space for Dutch-style segregated cycle paths on London’s narrow roads. Here’s another example of this sad state of affairs. The Ridgeway, London E4.

Because there just isn’t the space for segregated cycling in car sick Chingford, this road has been designated part of the ‘London Cycle Network’. See if you can spot the lovely little blue sign showing a bicycle. Seeing that sign makes that tiny fraction of the local population which cycles feel so much better inside.

Blue – it’s the colour of the London cycling revolution!

And blue is how I feel (when I’m not feeling cheap).

A bike lane in York

York - the city which is a legendary British cycling and walking paradise.

Foss Islands Road.

The Met loses another photography case

Alex Clay, Jeff Parks and Barney Laurance celebrated a landmark legal victory that saw their convictions overturned after a judge ruled their human rights had been breached.

Speaking for the first time since the appeal verdict on Friday, Mr Clay, 23, said: "People who are going about totally legitimate, lawful forms of protest and activity are being made to feel like criminals and recorded and monitored by the state for no reason.

The men were arrested and convicted in June 2008 of obstructing police officers or police photographers, and ordered to pay nearly £2,000 in fines.

At Inner London crown court, the prosecution claimed police feared people at the meeting were planning a violent protest against US president George W Bush, who was visiting London. But defence lawyers argued the police had no supporting evidence and were harassing the activists.

Judge Robert Fraser said: "We emphasise we do not say the police did not have a legitimate aim, but the Crown failed to satisfy us to the relevant standard."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Fit teams are something that have been around for a long while and are
an overt tactic at high-profile demonstrations and events. They are there so that if people get out of hand then the evidence has already been gathered."

Bristol cops in crackdown

Bristol police:

"Quite often we stop people who aren't cycling on the road because they don't feel safe.

So, create safe and convenient conditions for cycling, like the Dutch and Danish do? Er, no. ‘Educate’ naughty cyclists to obey the rules of a car-centric world.

Bristol, of course, is a city where spectacular obstruction of the pavement and of cycle lanes takes place every day on an epidemic scale to the virtual indifference of the local council and cops.

Local cycling representatives pile in to support this new Bristol scheme. Instead of explaining that perceived bad behaviour by cyclists is a response to car-centric streets and instead of demanding segregated Dutch-style cycling infrastructure which would make cycling safe, convenient and fast, we get stuff like this.

Martin McDonnell, chairman for the Bristol Cycle Campaign, said: "We welcome these plans because we do not condone anti-social or law-breaking cycling behaviour.

Not that he’s alone:

Allan Williams, Sustrans' policy advisor, said: "It's a mistake to look at people as either drivers, pedestrians or cyclists. Many of us are all three and as the number of people cycling in Bristol increases, creating space that all road users can share is vital.

No it isn’t a mistake. Creating space that only cyclists can use is vital. Everything else is hogwash, drivel and the kind of fatuous car-centric irrelevance that self-styled representatives of cycling embrace with the usual muddle-headed enthusiasm.

And in Waltham Forest, one of the very few dedicated cycle crossings with lights has been out of action for ten months, because neither the Council nor Transport for London regards cycling as important. Can you imagine traffic lights for motor vehicles on a major A route being left out of action for ten months? Hoe Street E17/St Mary Road.

Response to my complaint

The Council has responded reasonably promptly to my complaint about the refuse truck driver who forced the child cyclist off the road, which I posted about yesterday. Apparently some refuse collection is no longer in-house but has been contracted out to Verdant. I knew they did the recycling and garden waste collections but I was unaware they also did standard refuse collection. The vehicle concerned had no Verdant markings.

The important bit of the Council’s response runs as follows:

We take complaints of this nature very seriously whether it is by Council employees or our contractors. In this case it was our waste contractor Verdant and I have contacted their senior manager to investigate and report back.

Verdant have confirmed that they will investigate the driver of the truck highlighted and he will be disciplined if possible. Disciplinary action will depend on the evidence collected and what the driver and crew states.

As an absolute minimum Verdant will conduct a driver assessment immediately and if needed we will continue to assess for a period.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Council lorry driver forces child cyclist off the road

Yesterday I really wished I’d been wearing a helmet cam. It was one of those classic instances which every cyclist knows well. You are cycling along a street and have the right of way when a vehicle suddenly appears at a side junction and pulls out in front of you, forcing you to brake.

Except that this time I wasn’t the victim but the witness. I was cycling east on Milton Road E17. Some 15 metres ahead of me was a boy on his bicycle. As he approached the junction with Tower Hamlets Road, a Waltham Forest council refuse lorry appeared. The driver then pulled right out in front of the child cyclist, even though the cyclist had absolute right of way. The child was forced off the road and on to the pavement (above). By this time I’d whipped out my camera and started taking photographs.

As the driver passed me (below) you can see the child nervously looking to his left to make sure there are no other motorized bullies as he cycles back into the road.

(Don’t be misled by that NO ENTRY sign, by the way – it is telling road users not to turn left into Tower Hamlets Road, which has been made one-way and does not refer to Milton Road, which is two-way at this location.)

If you look at the enlargement of the driver’s cab when the lorry passes me, you can see the driver, who is wearing a green T-shirt, appears to be steering with his left hand while resting his right arm on his seat.

A detailed complaint has gone off to the council. I would urge any other local cyclist who experiences or witnesses bad driving from someone driving a council vehicle to lodge a complaint.

The Met increases enforcement against cyclists and reduces it against drivers

These figures represent only a tiny fraction of offences which have been committed by both road user groups. What they reveal is that the Metropolitan Police is increasing enforcement against cyclists, while reducing it for motorists, dramatically so for the period April 2009 – March 2010.

This is bad policing because it targets offenders who are not implicated in extreme violence, while reducing enforcement against a user group who are.

How many penalties have been issued against cyclists for running red lights?

1/4/2007 - 31/3/2008 536

1/4/2008 - 31/3/2009 1085

1/4/2009 - 31/3/2010 1872

How many penalties have been issued to motorists for running red lights?

4. 1/4/2007 - 31/3/2008 89, 833

1/4/2008 - 31/3/2009 89,495

1/4/2009 - 31/3/2010 79,851


House collides with driver

An officer from the Cleveland Police Crash Investigations Unit, said: 'Luckily the house, which has a "to let" sign, was empty at the time.'

‘'To go through a wall and then go through a wall into a house, he's very lucky.

'For reasons still to be determined he hasn't taken the bend.'

He was asked if speed was a key factor in the crash,
but declined to comment.

One tiny example of everyday road violence in Britain

Photo: Joanna Hinton

A COLLISION between a bus and a hatchback car closed a Suffolk road for more than three hours this morning.

Paramedics were called just before 7.30am to the scene of the crash on the B1508 Bures Road, Little Cornard, minutes after a single-decker Chambers bus and a Renault Clio collided on a narrow bend close to a row of houses

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Design Guide for the Suppression of Cargo Bikes

Cargo bikes are a nasty foreign invention designed to make people think they can carry bulky items without the use of a car. The Dutch have some particularly shocking examples.

When designing cycle access at road closures every effort should be made to narrow the route in order to obstruct passage for cargo bikes. Cargo bikes can be over one metre wide and pose a serious threat to car-centric values. If lots of people started transporting goods by cargo bike, important road traffic like cars might well be held up. It would also be very bad for the oil and car industries.

Well done the highway engineers of the London boroughs of Redbridge (above, Hermitage Walk E18) and Waltham Forest (below, Edinburgh Road E17), who have made impressive efforts to stop people using cargo bikes.

Finally, let us never forget this horrifying example of cargo bike irresponsibility (below). Any normal British mother would drive her children in a People Carrier along the arduous half-mile route to school, driving on to the pavement or the school ‘no waiting’ markings in order to deposit them safely at the school gate. By contrast this disturbed Danish woman has spent so much money on looking good she has none left for petrol and is reduced to transporting her poor children in a wooden tub on wheels.

It’s council-approved

When contractors Riney have finished their roadworks (which have nothing to do with cycling and do not include restoring the nearby dedicated cycle crossing lights which allow cyclists to cross Hoe Street (A112) in safety and which have now been out of action for a staggering 10 months), where better to pile the plastic fencing than by a cycle path?

After all, Riney are the official highway maintenance contractor for the London borough of Waltham Forest

St Mary Road E17, yesterday.

‘The most expensive cycle hire scheme in Europe’

London’s new cycle hire scheme, which opens for business tomorrow, is

the most expensive in Europe.

Experts today warned that while Londoners are likely to become adept at riding for under 30 minutes, when hire charges are zero, tourists could be caught out.
“I think we’ll see Londoners turning this into a game, and you can ride for free all day if you time things right,” said Rob Spedding, the editor of Cycling Plus magazine. “However, tourists who may not know the price increase the longer you ride could be caught out - you can imagine them keeping the same bike with them all day.”

Jenny Jones, green assembly member, said the problems could be much worse if the scheme is extended. "I'm distressed by the price of the scheme, and in particular the high membership costs," she said.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Jon Snow and the B159

The Daily Mail whips up some froth about a famous cyclist:

Despite being a vocal campaigner for cycle safety, the 62-year-old flouts the rules with astonishing regularity.

Watched on his three-mile journey home from Channel 4 News’s office in central London, Snow committed at least 12 offences, risking hefty fines.

For good measure the Mail throws in a juicy morsel about Jon Snow’s private life, to underline the extent to which this pedalling pest is Not One Of Us.

Snow for his part has denied any wrongdoing.

Fellow journalist Matt Seaton emerges from his Stygian hole to demand that Snow and all cyclists Obey The Rules since

Cyclists in large parts of the UK now benefit from new bike lanes, advance stop lines at intersections, more bike parking and serious investment.

Serious investment?

In the Netherlands, which already has the best cycling infrastructure in the world, the government is spending 30 euros per person per year, every year.

In the UK the government in 2008 gave Cycling England the equivalent of 77 pence per person per year for just three years.

Whereas the Dutch spend their money on serious infrastructure which attracts mass cycling, the UK’s paltry cycling budget is blown on painted lines in the road, badly designed cycle paths which quickly become unattractive through poor maintenance and expensive advertising and celebrity endorsement. Check out the fiscal facts here. Cycling is continuing to flatline in the UK, though hardly anyone cares to acknowledge this dismal reality.

As for Seaton’s fabulous Advanced Stop Lines. Does this guy cycle around with his eyes closed? Every ASL in London is repeatedly abused by motorists on a phenomenal scale. The proposal to transfer enforcement from the car-supremacist cops to local councils seems to have been kicked into the long grass – but then we wouldn’t want to upset drivers by actually enforcing laws designed to protect what little vehicular cycling infrastructure there is, would we? Seaton doesn’t even have to stray outside the Guardian’s own website to discover the ASL reality.

As for those ‘new bike lanes’. My photographs illustrate the lovely resurfaced and widened cycle lanes on the B159 in Leyton. Since you can quite legally park in any section of the lane except at junctions this does not make for safe or convenient cycling. Cyclists who disobey the rules are simply adapting to a car-centric transport infrastructure which has no interest in their safety or convenience. As far as I'm concerned, that's fine as long as you don't impinge on the safety and convenience of pedestrians. (It's interesting to see that Jon Snow wears a cycle helmet, which is a symptom of someone anxious about their safety.)

Instead of demanding that cyclists obey the rules of a car-centric world, Britain needs to start building the kind of safe, convenient, segregated Dutch-style infrastructure where rule-breaking isn't remotely tempting because cyclists are valued and treated as equals, or even as more important than drivers.

Waltham Forest park to be fenced off for Olympic car parking

More inspiring local news from 'the Green Olympics'!

THE council has agreed "in principle" to close a popular sports field for 16 months so that it can be used as a car park during the 2012 Olympics.

Drapers Field in Leyton, which is used by an estimated 9,000 people a month, will be shut off to the public in September 2011 and will not re-open until December 2012.

The land will be fenced off, with temporary buildings constructed and the installation of 'hard' landscaping on the floor.

Car-sick Winchester (2)

My link was wrong in Monday’s post. You can find the correct one here.

The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles

"This is an act of vandalism which puts the safety of motorists and our staff at risk.

"They've taken handles which we need to replace, which we're hoping to do as soon as possible".

Preston city centre: two crashes in 30 minutes

One involved a cyclist and a Mercedes:

two crashes within half an hour.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

How is ‘cycling in London’ measured by Transport for London?

I asked TfL for details of how they measure 'cycling in London'.

Although their press releases always claim that cycle counts are taken on 40 main routes in London, they were only able to supply the names of 29.

Here's what TfL has to say:

The counts are taken from automatic cycle counters which are placed under the road surface on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN). This is designed to provide a robust sample of cycling on the TLRN. The counts are collected using automatic cycle detectors that provide permanent coverage for each location. These units use inductive loop technology to detect cycles and the count data is stored in a roadside cabinet before being downloaded to TfL’s computer systems.

We measure cycle samples on the following sites:

Stockwell Road, Streatham Hill, York Road, Clapham Road, Vauxhall Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Chiswick Bridge, Homerton High Street, Pound Street, Tooting Bec Road. East Hill, Upper Richmond Road, Finchley Road, Camden Road, Great West Road, Harlington Road East, Mile End Road, Woodford Avenue, Seven Sisters Road, High Road Tottenham, Kennington Lane, Pentonville Road, Tower Bridge Road, East India Dock Road, London Road, Brompton Road, Well Hall Road, New Cross Road, Twickenham Bridge .

What is not clear to me is how accurate sub-surface cycle counters are, the frequency of the counts, and whether or not there is any margin of error. That aside, I do not myself believe that measuring cycling on just 29 roads enables anyone to generalise about ‘cycling in London’ in the way that TfL does. The London Borough of Waltham Forest, which is just one London borough, has some 1,300 streets. No one seems very interested in taking regular, comprehensive counts, and Waltham Forest hasn’t published a cycle count since 2007.

My photo shows an Advanced Stop Line on New Cavendish Street, W1, occupied at red by a bus driver and a black cab driver. An everyday scene in London, city of a so-called cycling revolution.

There is no long term vision for either walking or cycling in Britain

Cycling has been in long term decline in Britain. Cycle traffic declined from 23 to 5billion passenger kilometres between 1952 and 2006, though there is some evidence of a slight increase since the late 1990s (DfT, 2007a). Between 1995/7 and 2006 the number of trips per person made by bicycle fell by around 20% and the average distance travelled by 9% (DfT 2007a). The proportion of people cycling to work in Britain fell from 3.8% in 1981 to 3.0% in 2006 (DfT, 2007a).

Cycling in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark is typically perceived as a good example of what can be achieved in terms of quantity and status. However, it was not always the case (Pucher and Buehler, 2008), as levels fell considerably between 1950 to 1975 in all three countries. It was only through changes in transport and planning policy in the mid 1970s and beyond that the current success story was generated.

In the UK walking accounted for 35% of all trips in 1975/76, but this fell to 24% in 2006 (DfT, 2007a). This decline is mirrored in the USA where between 1975 and 1995 walking’s share of urban trips fell from 9.3% to only 5.5% (Pucher and Dijkstra, 2000). While the proportion of trips in both cases has fallen, walking is still an important mode of transport and in the UK it accounts for 80% of all trips under 1 mile (DfT, 2003). By its very nature walking is something that virtually everyone does though households without a car walk on average 65% further than those with a car. Nearly 30 years ago Hillman and Whalley (1979) concluded that: “in both transport policy and practice, it [walking] has been overlooked or at the least, has been inadequately recognised”. This may in part have been due to a feeling that walking “will take care of itself” (Litman, 2003) and that walking is a benign mode of transport in the sense of having few adverse impacts. Pucher and Dijkstra (2000) report that transport and land use policies have made walking “less feasible, less convenient, and more dangerous”. Formidable obstacles to walking remain such as low density sprawl generating long trip distances, narrow or non-existent footways, inadequate crossing facilities and the growth of motorised traffic. Funding for walking and cycling provision in the UK is a negligible percentage of total transport funding by government,

It is not yet clear that there is any long term vision and consistent strategy to promote a step change in the way in which walking and cycling are perceived and the roles they play.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Every day is Critical Mass for drivers

(Above) Markhouse Road E17. Don't try getting past these cars on a bike because you can't.

(Below) This woman is her gas guzzling jag quite deliberately cruised into the cyclists’ Advanced Stop Line on Great Newport Street WC2. It’s quite absurd that anyone should be allowed to drive a private car around this part of central London but London’s entire car-centric transport culture is built around pampering toxic anti-social car criminals like this, who are not even required to obey basic road traffic law.

(Below) This woman on Cranbourn Street WC2 is allowed to drive around central London in her sports car suppressing walking and cycling and poisoning the air. The pedestrian crossing is obstructed by a black cab.

Car sick Winchester

Winchester green campaigners have slated the city’s new transport plan as too weak and a recipe for a “deterioration of residential quality of life.”

Mr Gillham, a veteran FoE campaigner involved in Winchester transport issues for more than 30 years, said it did not address the challenges of climate change or sustainability and was too car-friendly.

“At the heart of the document is a fundamental blindness. The failure of imagination and the failure of will in Winchester is staggering.”

Mr Gillham was unhappy that the plan accepts that the car will carry on dominating people’s travel. He said there were towns in Europe of 150,000 people, four times the size of Winchester, where more journeys are made by bike than car and many places of 25,000 people that are almost car-free.

But car-sick Winchester is no different to car-sick York, car-sick Waltham Forest, car-sick London, or car-sick Britain. Britain is a coarse, reactionary society under the thumb of three political parties which all believe in pandering to petrolheads, with the worst transport planners in Europe, with a car supremacist Department for Transport which despises walking and cycling.

Everybody is in denial, including Britain’s two main cycling organisations who think that somehow things are going to get better.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Fascism, cars and cycling

I am sorry to say that there seem to be a growing number of bloggers out there who are not only displaying extreme ingratitude for the marvellous cycling and walking infrastructure which their local councils make available to them, but who actually have the temerity to use formulations like the Highways Department (the Fascist wing of any County Council)

Fascism? I ask you! What on earth do cars have to do with fascism?


This is the kind of thing we like to read:

It has made me realise how much I have been conditioned to accept the relentless prioritising of motorised traffic and traffic flow above all else, even human life. I am beginning to see how often I am marginalised and inconvenienced by this both on and off the bike everyday.

These are the kind of photographs we like to see.

Because in Britain, car-centric crap is cosmic. Crap cycling and crap walking are everywhere. And I say to myself, it’s a car supremacist world.

Blaming the victim

A witness, who did not want to be named, said she saw the truck turn into Mr Dickerson’s path, but she believed it could have been difficult to sight the rider.

``It was approaching dusk and (the cyclist) didn’t really have brightly coloured clothing on ... it would have make it very tough for the driver to see him,’’ she said.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

It’s the quiet route to Chingford

Cyclists emerging from the dedicated backstreet ‘quiet route to Chingford’ on Pretoria Road E4 enjoy the protection of these dashed yellow ‘no stopping at any time’ lines, which ensure ease of access on to the fabulous cycling infrastructure on Kings Road (A110). No driver queuing at the red lights at the junction would ever dream of obstructing this access, since the markings are very clear.

York: hostile to wheelchair users

(Above) A pedestrian is forced out into the road by this pavement-parked car on Low Petergate.
Parking enforcement seems almost non-existent in York.

(Below) An absence of dropped kerbs on The Stonebow. Anyone pushing an adult in a wheelchair or a wheelchair user on their own encounters serious difficulties in this part of supposedly pedestrian-friendly York.

Jenny Jones wants to hear from you

Watch the video.

Send your views on cycling to

You could always include a link to this!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Troublemaker in Shepherd’s Bush

Here are people in Shepherd’s Bush who are quite rightly campaigning for more congestion, toxic air pollution, and subsidised car dependency. Let’s face it, if drivers were made to pay for the social consequences of their addiction, most Londoners would end up being forced to walk, cycle or glide around in trams. Horrible. It would be like the worst parts of abroad.

I am sorry to say that the blogging world attracts malcontents and misfits and there is someone called Chris Underwood who lives in Shepherd’s Bush who writes

from my office in South London I have a view across Lambeth, the river and into Westminster. There are times when I can't actually see the towers of the City behind the wheel. The Gherkin and others disappear into grey haze under which, presumably, brokers and the like are breathing. Air pollution is linked to 3,000 deaths every year in London. Scary.

Personally I wanted the zone to succeed.

Footnote to a fellow blogger

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, Chris, but for reasons you’ll understand in the context of your archives let me quietly draw your attention to this and this

lawless Lewisham

FOR years, especially during morning and evening rush hour, I have witnessed vehicle after vehicle drive the wrong way down my one-way road - Courthill Road, Lewisham.
Recently, a cyclist using the green cycle lane was missed by inches when a car sped the wrong way, almost swiping her from behind.

The reason I am furious right now is that a woman with two small, lively children has just been scared witless by yet another speeding driver zooming up the road as she checked for traffic coming from the correct direction.

I write this because I've run out of ideas. I have telephoned or emailed Lewisham Council several times to discuss this problem, and I have raised the issue several times with local police. Will action be taken only after someone is killed?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A considerate lorry driver

This parked lorry carries a yellow warning sign on the back advising cyclists of the dangers of undertaking. To help make cycling that little bit safer the driver has even parked close to the kerb, in order to minimise that risk for cyclists. The lorry also bears the word brakes, supplying a helpful reminder to cyclists of the need to keep one’s bicycle in safe working order.

Selborne Road E17

Just fancy that!

When looking at the solutions people suggested for overcoming the barriers identified for cycling, the overwhelming request seems to be for segregated cycle facilities, away from traffic where possible.

The graphs show that while there is a widespread opinion among cyclists and non-cyclists that some form of cycle specific route would encourage them to cycle more, the preference is clearly for off road facilities.
Both groups felt that these would be more likely to achieve a higher growth in cycling levels.

Tree collides with 4X4

The BMW X5 careered off the A33 Basingstoke Road about a mile north of Kings Worthy, near the junction with Bridgetts Lane, at about 7.50pm.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Why London is unfit for cycling

24 march 2010:

Witnesses at the Northgate pub nearby [the building in the top left corner of the above photo] 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.

Surprise, surprise, the Metropolitan police are dragging their heels about investigating a cop who has killed an innocent Londonder.

The MacLeods' lawyer said the family, of Stoke Newington, were “disappointed” about the way the police had handled the inquiry.

But leaving aside all the problems associated with the police investigating themselves and the issue of high speed police drivers who regularly kill other road users (usually pedestrians), the primary problem at this site is infrastructure:

Locals said that cars rarely give right of way to cyclists and angry exchanges were commonplace.

James Leong, who lives in Southgate Road, said: “There are a dozen near misses every night. You sit in the pub garden during rush hour and [hear] cyclists shouting at cars and cars tooting.”

He added:
“They’ve created a cycle route but this crossing is deadly for cyclists.”

This is indeed a deadly crossing for cyclists. It is on a major cycling route and has, by London standards, a high level of cycling flow. Cyclists pass by all the time. The two photos below show the crossing from Northchurch Road, facing west across the junction with the B102, Southgate Road N1.

As you can see, even from this perspective the design is atrocious. There are no clearly defined cycle paths to deter conflict with pedestrians, or for that matter cyclists going in opposite directions. It's just a chaos of bollards. The highway engineer who designed this crap should be sacked.

Now look at the mini roundabout from the perspective of a driver who is heading south down Southgate Road. There is absolutely no indication that cyclists might suddenly appear from the left (immediately to the left of where the red car crossing the mini roundabout is).

Only local drivers are likely to anticipate a cyclist whizzing out across the pavement on to the roundabout, even though the cyclist is acting quite lawfully and will, if they reach the roundabout first, have priority. In fact mini roundabouts on straight roads like this are lethal because drivers always regard themselves as having priority over drivers or cyclists approaching from a side road, even though they don't.

Both Hackney council and Islington council know there’s a problem but neither is very interested in addressing it. No surprise there. There is not a single street in the whole of Greater London where cyclists have priority over motorists, and every London borough is hostile to both walking and cycling, with transport policies dictated by able-bodied male car-driving highway engineers whose fossil-fuel addiction is heavily subsidised by non-car drivers.

Local cyclists know all about the problems at this site.

A PROMINENT cycling group has criticised the council for failing to act over a dangerous mini-roundabout where a cyclist was knocked off his bicycle by a police car last week, writes Charlotte Chambers.

The Islington Cycling Action Group told the Tribune they had presented the Town Hall with a dossier of danger about the junction of Southgate Road and Northchurch Road a year ago.
John Ackers, the ICAG secretary, said:

“I had given the council six to eight emails from Hackney cyclists pointing out this junction is really dangerous. They said they were going to initiate a safety review.”

However, one year on, he said he has heard nothing from the council.

What is needed at this lethal junction? First of all, get rid of the lethal mini roundabout. Secondly, block off Northchurch Road to motor traffic on the west side of Southgate Road. Thirdly, introduce lights that give cyclists equal priority with motor traffic. Fourthly, design a proper cycle crossing instead of a few crap bollards. It’s really quite easy. To get to this blissful state will require more than writing a letter to London Cyclist. It will mean a couple of hundred cyclists turning up to bring all traffic to a complete stop for a protest. Invite the media. Give them press releases stating that you are sick of seeing cyclists killed as a result of poor infrastructure, and spelling out you want to go Dutch, with proper infrastructure.

(Below) See if you can spot the cyclist.

(Below) Looking east, with the pub to the right.

Drunken driving is ‘careless’

Isn’t it marvellous that you can be drunk, run down and kill a child on his bicycle, and still only be regarded as careless. And a careless driver will soon be re-united with his driving licence after a short period of disqualification.

The family of a cyclist killed in a crash with a suspected drink-driver in Oxfordshire have paid tribute to him.

Thomas Kahl, 18, from Kidlington, was declared dead at the scene on the A4620 Banbury Road near Thrupp, Kidlington, on 10 July.

The 54-year-old male driver of the car was held on suspicion of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Cycle superhighway safety mats

"Well, now I discover they have put one of those CS7 logos outside the parked car, and actually, it does work perfectly well," conceded Geffen.

"It does what the Superhighway needs to do if you going to take that approach to on-road cycle planning. It's still a parking bay, but now there is a sign for drivers to expect a cyclist to pull out into the road at the point where the parking bay begins."

There is the same arrangement similarly at bus stops.

"It's a perfectly sensible solution to the problem.
We're calling them safety mats."

Isn’t it wonderful that both the CTC and LCC can see so many positive aspects to Cycle Superhighways? And nobody uses the words ‘segregated infrastructure’ or ‘the Netherlands’ once. Bloody marvellous.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

It’s the Waltham Forest ‘Love Your Borough’ Awards!

The latest issue of Pravda, which contains no less than THREE fabulous colour photographs of our glorious leader Councillor Chris Robbins, contains a lengthy account of Waltham Forest council’s ‘Love your Borough’ awards, which celebrates all that is uplifting about our local environment and those who seek to improve it.

These awards are sponsored by borough highways contractors RINEY. It took me a long time to work out where the photograph on the right in the Riney ad was taken, but then that’s because I had foolishly forgotten about the rolling wheat fields, hills and forests which surround the Arcade site. The curving inflatable tent resembles the one that collapsed on Katy Carr.

Oddly enough RINEY have been admired for their work on this blog!

Waltham Forest. Where all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Mayor makes sensational sex scandal statement

Asked about recent headlines over whether the Mayor fathered the child of art consultant Helen Macintyre he said simply: I think this is a fantastic cycle superhighway and I hope people will enjoy it."

(Below) Will there be Dutch-style cycling infrastructure in the capital by the time this typical London love-child is an adult? That’s the question on the lips of every Londoner. What do YOU think? Phone Crap Cycling NOW and let us know. Calls cost just £5 for ten seconds.

FoE, Greenpeace and Prince Charles

I was a bit surprised to get a letter from Friends of the Earth asking if I could help them financially. They say “our fundraising income has dropped dramatically” and they would quite like it if everyone could chip in and help them urgently raise the sum of £500,000. I would have thought that multi-millionaire environmentalist Zac Goldsmith would be the person to ask. Or Paul McCartney. Or why not that well known multi-millionaire Green, Prince Charles?

Presumably its dire financial straits explain why FoE has gone down the dodgy road of supporting internet gambling and why it has just appointed a charity hopper.

The problem is that FoE is a totally unaccountable and undemocratic organisation. You can be a ‘supporter’ but not a member. And me, I’ve gone off FoE at a national level, largely because of crap like this:

Over the years I have solicited the help of celebrities - one can't underestimate the power they have in drawing attention to valuable causes.

In 2005, I had lunch with Madonna to persuade her to take part in our Big Ask campaign for a tougher Climate Change Bill.

David Cameron has made himself an important force in green politics.

One thing has not changed in the past two decades. Prince Charles has been an absolute rock of the green movement.

Yeah, right. The Prince who used a private luxury jet to take his personal 14-strong entourage on a ‘crusade against global warming’ in Chile, Brazil and Ecuador and who jetted off to Copenhagen using

the £1,019-an-hour Queen’s Flight so he could deliver a keynote speech to the climate change conference, flying back after less than three hours.

Prince Charles, over the last four years, has been travelling the world on a private jet lecturing us about carbon emissions.

Alas, Greenpeace is no better. It’s also run by a self-perpetuating clique which prefers not to open itself up to any kind of democratic accountability. And it, too, fawns on celebrities.

Last month John Sauven, chief executive of Greenpeace, escorted Prince Charles at the Glastonbury Festival.

And how did this celebrity Green icon get there?

Charles's cavalcade of Range Rovers dropped his party off in the busy Greenpeace field

And the marvellous thing about being Green is that it helps you maximise your income:

Prince Charles’ latest published accounts show he paid less tax last year while earning £1m more by off-setting his payments to HM Revenue & Customes with a series of green purchases,

Prince Charles was able to use his ‘green expenditure’ to ensure he paid less income tax on revenues which increased by 7% to £16.3m and which grew more than £360,000 to £8.3m

So, how can the ordinary person follow the Prince’s inspiring example?

Easy. Find a new fuel for your luxury sports car.

Prince Charles's Aston Martin has been converted to run on surplus wine from English vineyards

Boris Johnson’s latest assault on public transport

Car sick London goes ever backwards…

Ticket offices at nine out of 10 Underground stations are set to have reduced opening hours from February, Boris Johnson has announced.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat leader at City Hall, said: “The Mayor was elected on a clear commitment to keep ticket offices open. His plans to have many closed for most of the day flies in the face of his election commitment. This is an absolute sham of a consultation. If the Mayor really thinks he is consulting Londoners he obviously needs to look up what the word actually means in the dictionary.”

Mr Johnson has admitted that jobs would be cut as part of the move but would not say how many. Other sources put the figure at 450.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Why is a Waltham Forest cycle stand like the bike lane on Westminster Bridge?

Because you can repeatedly and flagrantly obstruct cycling infrastructure in a very public location while the authorities turn a blind eye!

The Town Square cycle stands by Walthamstow library, yet again used as a storage facility for the frame of a market trader's stand over a 48 hour period (all day Sunday and all day Monday).

Is cycling flatlining in York?

What are the facts regarding York, sometimes described as "Britain's Number One Cycling City"?

According to the London Cycling Campaign,

Cycling‘s second highest modal share in the UK is York 19%

Crikey! One in five of all trips in York are made by bicycle. It certainly doesn’t seem like that when you travel around York.

However, York also appears in a list of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities, with an impressive modal share:

York, UK - 18%

Perplexingly, however, another site says that

Percentage of trips to work by bike at the last Census included: York 18%.

Hang on a bit! Modal share doesn’t mean commuter cycling, which is always the top cycling mode. It means ALL cycling, throughout the day.

Strange. A York website also asserts that York is

One of the premier cycling cities in the country - with 19% of the population cycling to work, compared to a national average of 3%

However, even if the 19 per cent figure only applies to commuter cycling, this is less than impressive since the figure was higher two decades ago:

the proportion of residents’ journeys to work by bike in York has dropped only slightly (down 8.1% from 22.1% to 20.3%) between 1981 and 1991

The same could be said for the overall modal share, assuming that the figure is accurate:

York, comparing 1991/3 and 1996/8: mode share for cycling rose from 15% to 18%

So, at best, cycling’s modal share in York has risen one per cent in 12 years. Which, allowing for a margin of error, is deeply unimpressive, bearing in mind the resources poured into promoting York as a "European City for Cycling" and "Britain's Number One Cycling City"

But even if the modal share figures are accurate

The rate of cycling in York remains lower than that anywhere in the Netherlands.

If York is a place where one in five journeys are by bicycle, where are all the cyclists? If the modal share figure is true, then York is only just behind Copenhagen - except that it plainly isn’t and has nowhere near the same cycling density as the Danish city.

My photograph above shows Blossom Street (A1036) at the junction with the city walls, looking towards Micklegate. This is a major route into the city centre from the south and my photograph was taken on a weekday morning. I saw just two cyclists using this car-choked junction, which is hardly surprising in view of the cycling-hostile road environment. There isn’t even a cycle lane on these three lanes devoted to motor vehicles.

There are always very big questions about cycling statistics and how they are arrived at. Camden Council, for example, calculates modal share from three sources:

monitoring of traffic flows and composition in Camden, London Area Transport Surveys and multi-modal monitoring.

This is plainly more reliable and comprehensive than simply relying on the census or a survey. What people say about themselves in a questionnaire may not be very accurate.

Cycling does not appear to be a very attractive option for most people in York.

Interestingly, when Sustrans produced a report

Personalised travel planning: evaluation of 14 pilots part funded by DfT

It noted that

Among participants in the York pilot, 20% of all trips moved from car to other forms of transport. There was no increase in the modal share for bikes.

People who switched from the car, did not switch to cycling.

Traffic growth in York was 0.8% over the period 1999-2003, reflecting both national and local encouragement of car dependency. The council currently anticipates a dramatic increase in traffic in the city, and as the local FoE group noted, all of the options will put more traffic on our roads over the next 10 years.

The extent of car dependency in York is underlined by the council’s recent Traffic Congestion Survey,

The largest proportion of respondents (39 per cent) chose scenario C

Scenario C - Restricting congestion without charging - 16-21% traffic growth

Expecting vehicular cycling to flourish on roads where even more motor traffic is anticipated is, to put it mildly, unrealistic.

Overall, the greatest proportion of respondents said the majority of their journey to work is made by car. Dropping children off on the way to work is overwhelming the most likely reason for respondents saying they travel by car for school/nursery journeys.

Those over 55 years of age were statistically more likely to travel by Park & Ride for journeys around York than younger residents.

The extent of car dependency in the city is underlined by these figures for the University of York:

34.5% of staff live within 2 miles of the University but over half travel by car more frequently than they walk. A further 24.6% live less than 5 miles away.

53.9 per cent of staff drove to work in 2006

Only 12.9% of staff live more than 20 miles from the University

30% of car users stated that there were no initiatives that would lead them to change their travel behaviour.

Britain now has generations who have grown up in families where car travel is the natural way to get around towns and cities, in a national context where walking has declined steeply, and cycling has stagnated.

Yet York is the perfect place to Groningenise.

With less than three miles - or around 18 minutes by bike - between the outer ring road and the city centre, getting around York by bike is fast and easy.

However it is plain that both York traffic planners and councillors completely lack the kind of vision required to turn York into an attractive city for walking and cycling. The current pedestrian zone is a farce, with cycling banned and no cycling through-route, while at the same time many so-called pedestrianised streets are penetrated by vehicles which are either exempt (blue badges) or unlawfully present and not subject to enforcement. Dutch-style infrastructure, which would turn York into a genuine mass cycling city, is not remotely on the cards.

I have never understood why transport planning has to be made ‘democratic’, since no other form of city management is. Like the very centre of London, York is infested by taxis and has a vocal taxi driver lobby, who complain about things like the high flow of pedestrians across the two pedestrian crossings at the station. The projected ‘improvements’ to York station will doubtless include the abolition of the zebra crossings and their replacement by signal lights, in order to further discriminate against those who walk into the nearby city centre at the expense of those who choose the fossil-fuel option.

Congestion charging?

“A cross-party consensus has been reached that we will not recommend charging at the moment,” said the congestion committee’s chairman Councillor Dave Merrett.

How is the council proposing to tackle congestion and persuade people out of their cars? Not by encouraging them to cycle by introducing safe, convenient Dutch-style cycling infrastructure but instead

improving local bus services has to be top priority in terms of the ability to get people about by different means.

But there is nothing attractive or sustainable about getting around York by bus. From the point of view of fuel consumption and emissions, it's almost certainly better to drive than to take a bus. For the entire UK, average occupancy is about 9 people per bus. This is skewed upward by places like central London and Manchester where the occupancy levels are quite a lot higher. Then you have the way that buses take you from somewhere near A to somewhere near B via C, D and E, so the distance is always greater than you'd take by private transport. And of course add to this the way that buses reduce cycling and walking due to not being very pleasant to "share the road" with.


York is a car sick city, with an exaggerated and false reputation for being walking and cycling friendly. Its population is in the grip of extreme car dependency and the city council has no coherent transport plan for the future. Cycling appears to be stagnating and the future for cycling in York is bleak, since all the council offers local cyclists is some minor amelioration of vehicular cycling against a background of ever-growing volumes of motor traffic.

Or in the words of York’s very own cycling man of wisdom:

City of York Councillor Joe Watt commented that: “I think one of the lessons for cyclists is that they have to cycle defensively and be visible. Wearing a helmet can also make the difference.”

(Below) Sharing the road with buses on Queen Street, York.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

suppressing cycling on Gillygate

Cyclists also expressed concern about safety on Gillygate and the railway station. Non-cyclists and those who used to cycle but don't any more mentioned Gillygate.

That's from a York council survey of local attitudes to cycling in the city.

So, Gillygate is a dangerous and unpleasant street to cycle on? Yes it is. But that’s not the conclusion York Council reaches:

This suggests that cyclists with different levels of skill and confidence may perceive danger differently

What you might call the vehicular cycling fallback position. This assumes that because hardcore cyclists will use Gillygate, those who don’t and won’t cycle there suffer from erroneous perceptions of danger which derive from their inadequate skills and confidence. These wallflowers need to be toughened up with cycle training, which will give them the confidence to adapt to dangerous streets. These people must also be persuaded to cycle by telling them not to be so silly in their perception of danger, because the CTC has scientifically proved that York is the safest place in Britain to cycle. It’s a perspective that breezily ignores the crucial issue of subjective safety.

York the safest place in Britain to cycle? Yeah, right… Spot the cycle lane for right-turning cyclists which runs between the right-turning lorry and the car. There’s an Advanced Stop Line for cyclists in front of/under the lorry.

Terrorist bomb causes mayhem in Birmingham suburb, six injured

Oh no, sorry, it was a car. So just a minor local story:

Six pedestrians were injured, three seriously, when they were struck by a car in the West Midlands.

The ambulance service was called to the junction of King Street and Stafford Street, Dudley, at 1605 BST.


Dudley is the fourth most car-friendly town in Britain.

The borough trailed only St Helens, Telford and Blackburn in the Virgin Money Car Insurance quiz, which looked at factors like number and cost of car parks, levels of car crime, number of speed cameras and petrol prices.

It’s interesting that a car insurance company should regard an absence of speed cameras as determining whether or not a place is ‘car-friendly’, is it not?

‘Operation Blowtorch’ and bad police priorities

HOW ON EARTH CAN A MONSTER LIKE MOAT BE HAILED A HERO? frothed Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph (14 July), before answering his own question (‘Growing hostility towards the police lies at the heart of a mindless reaction to his death’).

To explain why a large proportion of the British public appear to dislike the police Heffer then came up with that old chestnut of the car supremacist media:

The police are exceptionally good at catching people who commit minor motoring offences.

This is total fantasy. Traffic police numbers have been massively reduced across Britain over the past 20 years. In London up to one driver in eight is uninsured. If the police are so good at catching lawless drivers why then are the roads full of people driving around steering with one hand while talking on a handheld mobile phone? In reality the only two spheres where offending drivers are likely to be caught are for parking offences, which are no longer enforced by the police, and by speed cameras. A vast range of other more serious offences are committed every day, to the complete indifference of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Far from being enthusiastic about cracking down on minor motoring offences, British policing is institutionally hostile to road traffic law enforcement, and indulges the very worst kind of driver as much as it is indifferent to so-called ‘minor’ offences. Policing priorities are obsessed with so-called ‘car crime’ (i.e. damage to vehicles or theft of vehicles). As we know from the black cab rapist case, in some parts of London ‘car crime’ is regarded as a far more important priority than investigating rape. London policing is run by car supremacist men, and those at the top enjoy a chauffeur-driven lifestyle which shields them from the dangers they impose on ordinary Londoners. Here is an example of a very bad police priority, from the Waltham Forest Guardian, July 8:

Chief Inspector Forbes is scandalised that when it comes to motorists filling up their cars with petrol then driving off without paying there are ‘an average of 10 offences occurring in east London every day’. The definition of east London involves a total of five London boroughs. So that’s just two offences a day for each borough. In the first place garages these days have CCTV, so it's hard to tell what the problem is. Could it be that the motorists who commit these offences are untraceable through their numberplates? The crime in itself is trivial and inconsequential compared to the staggering amounts of very visible crime committed by motorists, to the complete indifference of the Metropolitan Police. If Chief Inspector Forbes cares to stand at any signalled junction he’ll have no difficulty witnessing crimes at the scale of at least one a minute.

Leaving aside crimes like jumping red lights, driving into Advanced Stop Lines, or driving while using a mobile phone, at red, what about blue badge fraud? The Council loses spectacular amounts of money through the fraudulent use of blue badges, but both the Council and the police encourage this form of theft by ignoring it altogether. Blue badge fraudsters in Waltham Forest are in paradise, because no one ever pounces to catch the fraudsters. Which is why you see able-bodied youths jumping out of flash cars on yellow lines and jeering at parking attendants, why numerous businesses including builders and gardeners operate with blue badges, and why market traders with blue badges can been seen unloading the goods for their stalls.