Sunday, 31 October 2010

Cycling city York twinned with Waltham Forest

York is one of Britain’s finest cycling cities, second only to Cambridge in its wondrousness. So why do its roads and cycling conditions remind me so much of the London Borough of Waltham Forest? Or anywhere in Britain.

Lendal Bridge.

More helpful cycle signing

As soon as one bunch of roads contractors depart, another lot comes along. Here on Selborne Road E17 the cycle lane has once again been obstructed, but this time a lovely blue sign advises the inattentive cyclist that the lane ahead is filled by traffic cones, some horizontal. Friday.

The disappearances (or: just fancy that!)

I used to have a lot of fun comparing the pious statements contained in the council’s Green Charter with the reality on the streets. But then I had some sad news: Funnily enough, since I started comparing the empty pledges of the Council's 'Green Charter' with the reality, the text of the Charter seems to have disappeared from the Council's website.

The Green Charter has mysteriously melted into thin air. But it wasn’t all that vanished.

A few years ago there was that inspiring council environmental group Local Agenda 21, which was to Green the borough in all kinds of exciting ways. I remember participating and making all kinds of exciting suggestions regarding streets and transport. The other local volunteers loved them. The councillors loved them. And the council officers approved them, with one small addition: ‘where possible’. And as we know it simply isn’t possible to curb car ownership, car use or car parking.

The Local Agenda 21 Action Plan included the commitment to protect open space. But that was before our council became the property developers' friend.

The two photos below show land, now fenced off, which once belonged to the people of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It is located on Forest Road, just to the west of the junctions with Palmerston Road and Higham Hill Road. The council decided it had no use for this land, even though it is close to the site of the birthplace of William Morris and could, at the very least, have been utilised as a small park area, with, say, a large and striking sculpture celebrating this local connection. But then Waltham Forest has some of the most dismal, philistine and unimaginative urban planners in London. This land was given away to a housing association, which claimed to want to build on the land. Once given away, the housing association changed its mind. Instead of returning the land to the borough the housing association is selling it, so local people lose twice – not only the land but also the money obtained from its sale. No one involved in the protection of open space in Waltham Forest has ever raised a squeak of protest.

Local Agenda 21 faded and died a quiet death, although curiously the local LCC group still maintains a link to its website – and if you click on it (I urge you to - it's under 'Transport & Environment') you’ll get a perfectly apt communication.

And now something else has curled up, died and vanished!

Until recently I had lots of fun quoting the council website’s advice Turn off lights when they aren’t in use and you could save up to 10% of your energy bill

The council has now wisely removed this link, which is obviously more effective than dealing with the hundreds of street lights which blaze all day long across the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Global warming? It’s a load of rubbish innit.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Cycle stands: the ‘shared use’ principle

Haven’t I always said that cycling in this country is going to the dogs?

Broken glass

The broken glass around one of the two cycle stands in the pedestrianised area outside the International supermarket at the St James Street end of the High Street was there on Thursday, it was still there on Friday and it was still there today. Yet the High Street is supposed to be cleaned and swept daily from Tuesday-Saturday.

Why not jet off on a long haul flight and discuss global warming?

As an occasional student of Greenwash my attention was drawn by this:

This year saw the inaugural Hay Festival in the Maldives, which attracted some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers to debate the issues of democracy and climate change.

Hang on. It takes ten hours to fly to The Maldives. Not terribly Green.

Two heroes of the event were Mark Lynas, author and adviser to the Maldivian President on climate change, and Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project.

I used to like Mark Lynas and his book Six Degrees is an important one. But then he panicked about the future and developed an enthusiasm for nuclear power, which was roundly criticised. Then he became a paid adviser to the Maldives government and popped up at the Copenhagen summit, blaming its collapse on China. Naomi Klein, on the other hand, blamed Obama and the USA. Blaming China, India or even the USA seems a trifle hypocritical since Britain is just as complicit in global warming as other developed or developing states: Rather than cutting our contribution to global warming by 19% since 1990, as the government boasts, we have increased it by about 29%. It's the same story in most developed nations.

As for Tim Smit. The Eden Project has in the past been accused of some very dodgy links and things don’t seem to have changed much over the years:

The eco-town developers and the Eden Project spend a lot of time trumpeting their “Green” credentials, but this can be considered little more than “Greenwash” if they are happy to associate themselves with a 240,000 tonne incinerator.

The list of attending

environmental writers and campaigners

at the Maldives conference included

Montagu Don.

Who he?

Celebrity gardener Monty Don will teach the students how to create compost from waste and how to grow their own fruit and vegetables, with the aim of teaching islanders how to reduce dependency on the transportation of supplies.



The Maldives is apparently also a great place to renew marriage vows!

Jet-setting environmentalism and colourful local folk customs – no wonder the Maldives is a natural focus for comedy.

Brain dead driver

Kandlbauer, a car mechanic from the south-eastern province of Styria, lost both his arms in September 2005 when he climbed a high-voltage electricity pylon as a dare.

Doctors fitted him with a prototype bionic arm for research purposes two years later and he became the first person outside the United States to wear such a high-tech prosthesis for everyday use in January 2009.

Just 10 months later, Kandlbauer passed his driving test and was given a specially-adapted Subaru. He returned to work as a warehouse clerk with his former employer. "One of my first goals was a driving licence," he wrote on his homepage. A trip to Australia and getting his own flat were among his other dreams.

"I love driving. My licence has given me back my independence," he wrote, saying his motto was: "Don't live for others, live for yourself!"

A few flinty-hearted sceptics might think a man with bionic arms is not fit to be driving. But I expect this is just a frightful coincidence:

Kandlbauer, who would have turned 23 next month, sustained severe head injuries when the specially modified car he was driving swerved off the road in the south east of Austria and crashed into a tree on October 19.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Waltham Forest council’s ‘approved contractor’ obstructs more bike stands

Spot the cycle stand.

The roadworks firm JB Riney has previously come to the attention of this blog as a result of its dynamic engagement with cycling infrastructure which allows cyclists to test their skills.

JB Riney has been made the council’s official roads contractor, which is a very lucrative arrangement (such a shame it isn’t a local business). What the borough gets out of the arrangement isn’t clear, though together with legendary Kier and something called the Good Impressions design consultancy (a ‘graphic design consultancy’ based in Canary Wharf – another non-local business) Riney assist in the sponsorship of the council’s awesome Love Your Borough awards.

You’d think a council would set certain standards for its approved contractor, such as for example requiring its work force not to wilfully obstruct cycle stands or leave contractor's clutter littering the streets weeks after a job has been completed. But then again this is Waltham Forest Council, so obviously not. Indeed, so great are our local traditions that they have given birth to a completely new verb, a dazzling gift to the English language: to Walthamize.

These photographs were all taken yesterday. The one above shows a cycle stand on Mission Grove E17, and below is the one next to it. The final pic was taken in The Town Square by the children’s playground. There was no work going on around these cycle stands. To JB Riney’s not very bright workers, cycle stands are simply convenient places to store plastic fencing and other equipment.

Cycling expert in frank admission

As the curator of the UK's bicycle museum, David Higman has an unexpected stance on two-wheeled transport.

"I'm not a cyclist," says the man who has been head of the National Cycle Collection since 1997.

Nothing unusual there. There are cycle trainers who don’t otherwise cycle on the grounds that it’s too dangerous. There are local authority cycling officers who don’t cycle to work each day. And the entire cycling infrastructure of Great Britain is designed by car drivers!

NYPD shows how to catch lawless cyclists

a cop parked in the bike lane on First Avenue near 23rd Street proceeded to write tickets for cyclists who weren't using the bike lane, because they had to ride around him to get by.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Vehicular cycling update

Whether it’s the cycling-friendly A503, with its extensive on-road cycling infrastructure, or a quiet street like Vernon Road E17, there can be little doubt that more and more people will want to take up cycling in conditions like these. Onwards to a 70 per cent increase in cycling in outer London!

Pedestrian refuges of Waltham Forest

Raglan Road E17 and James Lane E10 (supposedly a 20 mph zone).

cycle superhighway 7 revisited

The full story here.

And from Wandsworth there’s exciting news about Cycle Superhighway 8:

It looks completely useless to me. It's not even 1.5M wide. It's certainly not continuous. To get onto it you have to turn off the pavement, at which point you're in danger of getting rear-ended by vehicles turning from Armoury Way. The cycle lane is advisory only, so any vehicle can drive in it.

And from Westminster another inspiring photograph of a Cycle Superhighway.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Permeability and cycling: some exciting examples

Permeability refers to the ease and ability of cyclists to pass through the city with maximum route choice and minimum diversion.

It’s an exciting concept and one way to achieve it is by providing cycle access through road closures. As you might expect from a multiple-award-winning cycling-friendly borough like Waltham Forest, the local streets hold some truly fabulous examples of best practice.

Whether it’s Walthamstow (Raglan Road E17) or Chingford (Nelson Road E4) see for yourself how the dynamic principle of cycling permeability can also be applied in a way that maximises free, legal on-street car parking. Because let's face it, here in Waltham Forest car parking is the number one priority, not a tiny fringe activity like cycling.

Access no areas

Permeability for cyclists is a lovely idea. However the management of motor vehicle flow and providing on-street car parking at minimal cost to drivers is a much greater transport planning priority than providing direct, safe, convenient cycling routes. Which is why any cyclist heading towards the shops of Walthamstow village will encounter this NO ENTRY sign on Addison Road E17.

Filthy black cabs

The worst single type of vehicle for air pollution is the black cab. The cab is a London icon, but it's a vehicle that was designed in the last century when air pollution was less well-understood. Johnson has made a bad situation worse by cancelling the 6-monthly emissions check for black cabs.

However, he's now considering a new 'very low emission zone', which may apply to all vehicles, including black cabs. There wouldn't seem much point in it not applying to black cabs, given that they account for 35% of tailpipe emissions.

The fact is that the London taxi is the least 'green' transport mode. Each cab weighs around 2 tonnes, yet the typical load factor (number of passengers being carried) is around one passenger per cab. Consequently, emissions of all types (CO2, NOx, particulates) per passenger are an order of magnitude greater than other transport types except for private cars.
In central London, black cabs account for around 70% of traffic.

a film in which lots of women ride bicycles, apparently

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Copenhagen and Walthamstow – can you tell the difference?

As we know, now that we have a cycling mayor and a cycling prime minister, there can be little doubt that Cycling will accelerate to levels that will create a Copenhagen effect in London

And that’s so true! It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between Copenhagen and a multiple-award-winning cycling-friendly borough like Waltham Forest, which has met all the cycling targets set it. In fact with these pics I am not even going to give you a clue, you are just going to have to work out for yourself which shows cycling in Waltham Forest and which is a scene from Copenhagen.

the historic role of women in organised British cycling

Cycling England and cycling statistics

Velorution mourns the death of Cycling England, including a link to the DfT’s claim that
Results from the first three years of the Cycling Demonstration Towns programme show that it has been a major success, with

An average increase in cycling across all six towns of 27%

Impressive stuff. But sadly one local blogger from a Cycling Demonstration Town – Lancaster - is unimpressed:

“I start from a position of complete distrust towards the monitoring and evaluation methods for two reasons. Firstly, Cycling England is understandably hell-bent on proving that the CDTs work, because if they can’t prove this, the Department for Transport will cut off their funding. Secondly, there’s lip service paid to qualitative judgements about improvements in cycling, but otherwise the monitoring is quantitative, which is limited because cycle counts are really difficult at a time when you’re expanding the cycle infrastructure.

Lancashire County Council is seriously contemplating spending £136 million on one short stretch of road through our local countryside (the Heysham-M6 link – 3 miles of road), and yet we’re meant to show an improvement in cycling levels with £1.5 million spread over three years. And this is where I’m with the City Council really……you look at the amount of money that is devoted to cycling in the transport budget for the UK, and it’s absolutely nothing. We’re meant to be grateful for getting a few million here and there, and then to demonstrate what a massive difference it makes. I’m sorry, but that is not how you get half the population on bikes for half of their journeys, which is what I’m aiming for, and it’s what everyone should be aiming for.”

And this is where our cycling blogger comes to the heart of the problem and touches on the real reason why Cycling England, along with the London Cycling Campaign and the Cyclists Touring Club have always been obstacles to mass cycling, not enablers:

We’ve got a cycling promotion industry in the UK which refuses to contemplate the act of deterring driving. It’s always promoting cycling around the edges, not seeking to dismantle the central system of mobility in the UK, which is the car. It shouldn’t be called ‘Cycling England’, it should be called ‘Stop Driving England’, because that’s the only way you can get people cycling. For as long as you’re building roads, you’re supporting the car economy. You’re supporting people driving, and you’re not going to get them to change their transport habits. …..So we don’t need a bypass. What we need is £135 million spent on promoting walking and cycling in Lancaster, and we could have 50% of journeys in Lancaster and Morecambe by bike within a decade. It’s just so obvious.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Streets redesigned for cycling

The London Cycling Campaign demands that transport planners Redesign our streets for cycles, with a lovely photograph some cycling-friendly infrastructure (naturally it contains no cyclists, but then the LCC doesn’t worry about such trifles). Yes, after 31 years of campaigning the LCC knows what really works for London – although some of its members are getting a little restive.

And here’s a local example of this kind of cycling-friendly infrastructure, with a generous cycle lane and Advanced Stop Line, in delicious pink. This helps cyclists on the busy A503 to safely negotiate the junction with the A112.


Look who’s breaking the speed limit!

I stood with my back to the traffic and clicked away at the speed-activated sign whenever I heard a vehicle approaching. Immediately there was white van man, then blue van man, both breaking the limit, then four cars, all going less than 30 mph, and then this offender… Chingford Road E17. A residential street with a sixth form college. This police car did not have its blue light flashing and was not sounding a siren.

The curious case of Ken Kifer

Ken Kifer’s opposition to segregated cycling in the USA:

When city planners and government agencies finally recognized the value of cycling, they started hatching out plans to build bike paths and bike ways as ways of separating cyclists who don't obey the traffic laws (that is, the ones with accidents) from the rest of the traffic. Thus, it's possible that we could end up with a bikeway system like the one in Holland, where cycling is both encouraged and restricted at the same time. There are five problems to such a scheme: 1) the enormous cost, 2) the restriction in ability to get from A to B, 3) the tendency of bikeways to fill up with other, incompatable traffic, 4) the problem of crossing other roadways, and 5) the higher accident rate created by incompatable traffic and frequently roadway crossings.

Kifer had evidently never been to the Netherland which didn’t deter him from pontificating about the world’s most successful cycling nation. His expertise was based on ignorance (he seems not even to have known even that only two out of twelve provinces of the Netherlands are Holland) and his account of cycling infrastructure there is a travesty. His five points are all the reverse of the truth.

Ironically when Kifer does grudgingly acknowledge that some cycle paths might be useful, he asserts For most conditions, three feet or a meter for each lane are sufficient; however, more width should be provided on turns and descents.

But one metre is totally inadequate. What’s more you’d never find a cycle path that narrow in the Netherlands, where the minimum is 2.5 m wide for single direction and 3.5 m wide for bidirectional paths (though most are 4 m or wider).

Kifer insisted that cycling among traffic was perfectly safe:

The perception that cycling is dangerous even causes some who value cycling and who are not worried about it being too difficult to confine their cycling to off-road trails. And it also leads to calls for mandatory helmet laws and for separate bike paths

For those who obey the traffic laws, cycling is actually safer than traveling in an automobile.

Those of us who bicycle on a regular basis while following the traffic laws know that it is a safe activity from years of experience, but we are also aware that other cyclists have frequent accidents, we assume due to different behavior.

As a passionate proponent of vehicular cycling and the theory that cycling was safe provided that the cyclist took no risks, Kifer pinned all the blame for cycling collisions on the victims.

The number of adults killed should have also dropped due to the decrease in drunk driving. My experience in traveling by bike around the country tells me that we have a new generation of cyclists who no longer obey the traffic laws, so I think that their behavior is responsible for most of this change.

Kifer, alas, provides the classic case of the vehicular cycling zealot whose faith bears no relation to reality – cycling’s equivalent of Creationism.

There is a brutally ironic footnote to Kifer’s commitment to on-road cycling and his stubborn insistence on its safety:

Ken Kifer died on September 14, 2003 after being hit by a drunk driver just 6 miles from his home near Scottsboro, Alabama. He was 57.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

cycling in the age of stupid

(Above) Station Road, Chingford

Shopkeepers in Station Road, Chingford, are asking for 15 minutes free parking on the road to help local businesses and encourage more people to come and shop.

Naturally these clowns have never considered the inadequate cycle parking on Station Road, Chingford, because they find it inconceivable that anyone shops by bicycle. But then shopkeepers have always been in thrall to the delusion that their prosperity depends on someone driving as close as possible to their shop. Shopkeepers have always been in the vanguard of opposition to pedestrianisation schemes – until they find they work.

Even in Groningen shopkeepers were unenthusiastic about a car-free centre, until it proved to be a stunning success:

businesses, once in revolt against car restraint, are clamouring for more of it. As Gerrit van Werven, a senior city planner, puts it, 'This is not an environmental programme, it is an economic programme. We are boosting jobs and business. It has been proved that planning for the bicycle is cheaper than planning for the car.' Proving the point, requests now regularly arrive from shopkeepers in streets where 'cyclisation' is not yet in force to ban car traffic on their roads.

In car-choked Station Road, Chingford

Currently shoppers pay £1 an hour for a voucher, which traders say discourages people from coming into the area for a quick shop and drives people to supermarkets with free parking.

[There is not the slightest sign that having to pay discourages shopping on Station Road, where the parking bays are often full. For those who don’t want to pay there is ample parking in the side streets, though admittedly this might involve a driver in having to walk 300-400 yards, which is obviously a very distressing experience for a fossil fuel addict.]

Cllr Michael Lewis said: “People don't like the parking system. And the traffic wardens are very vigilant. They don't want to pay for an hour's parking when they are just popping into one shop.

[Note how ‘people’ in the eyes of a Conservative councillor are indistinguishable from drivers and car dependency. The notion of someone cycling to a local shop is literally inconceivable to the likes of Cllr Lewis.]

“I think if the new scheme goes through it will be very popular with the shoppers and shopkeepers. It gives more flexibility. And if you are going to stay longer that 15 minutes you can still pay for parking. The current system discourages people from shopping in the area.”

If you look at the kind of cars driving around Chingford, you’ll see that their owners are unlikely to be short of one pound to spend on parking. But making driving even cheaper is all part of the insane logic of current British car dependency, which gets worse with every year that passes. Over 80 per cent of all journeys in Britain are made by car and car dependency is ubiquitous.

In short

The vast majority of the British population do not use cycling as a means of transport. Many people simply don't understand it. They don't see cycling as having anything to do with them. Most British people never, ever cycle at all, not even once a year. 79% of women are in that category.

What I find striking about little news stories like this Chingford one is the complete absence of opposing voices. The local Green Party has little or no interest in transport, and none at all in cycling or walking. The Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign, which promotes vehicular cycling, never speaks out about car-centric planning or even the absence of cycle parking. The local Friends of the Earth group seems to have withered and died. The local Transition group appears to have nothing to say.

Documents spew forth all the time urging everyone to walk and cycle more, but they exist in a curious vacuum, unrelated to what is happening on Britain’s streets. Cognitive dissonance rules OK. Global warming? Peak oil? Obesity? Air pollution? These topics exist only as empty words.

Oh no – not more ‘improvements’ for cyclists

The latest issue of the council’s propaganda rag has more bad news. Yes, Wood Street is to undergo even more "improvements" including “Changing cycle lanes to make them safer”. And how will that be achieved? That’s right – building parking bays next to them and pushing cyclists nearer to overtaking traffic. It's part of another fabulous local development scheme which will see the construction of a new plaza in attractive cement grey with anti-tank blocks and the usual ineptly sited lighting column. I am not sure if those strange white feathery objects are fountains or Dementors looking for Harry Potter.

Of course the London Borough of Waltham Forest is outer London’s most cycling-friendly borough, which never stops helping cyclists. Naturally no one ever stops to ask why all these improvements have resulted in the total stagnation of cycling in the borough for decades, with modal share stuck solidly at one per cent.

The council is also “widening and renewing pavements” – but only in order to create parking bays there. And for all those suckers who like car-centric Green tokenism there will be “an Electric Vehicle charging point”.

(Below) The imaginative use of space in urban planning. This recent street ‘improvement’ features four holes for trees, subsequently planted with tarmac, some heritage railings, and a fake heritage bench on which the weary pedestrian can rest and admire the traffic speeding past. Church Hill E17.

Pavements are for... Jeep Cherokees

This Jeep Cherokee obstructed the footway on Willow Walk E17 on October 17

It was back again on October 18. It’s at this location a lot. It never seems to get a ticket. Curious.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Lamp post collides with car

One problem with the Church Hill 20 mph zone in Walthamstow is that the traffic calming fails to keep speeds down to 20 mph. Which may be why a driver ‘lost control’ and hit this lamp post. (It’s a common problem.)

Volvo tipper truck kills cyclist

A CYCLIST was killed in a Tyneside road smash.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene this afternoon after his bike was involved in a crash with a lorry.

The cyclist was travelling along Western Approach, in South Shields, when the crash occurred.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Officers were called to Western Approach at just after 1.30pm following reports of a collision between a cyclist and a Volvo tipper wagon.

“Western Approach and Commercial Road were closed as officers attended the scene along with the fire service and the ambulance service.
The cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Why is there no enforcement on Rosebank Villas?

As long ago as December 2007 I queried why the parking attendants seemed to be turning a blind eye to cars parked in the pedestrian zone on Rosebank Villas E17. I have since asked it again and again. And I shall keep on asking. Latest pics taken on September 21, September 30, and October 19. The serial offender RJ02 GYK was there again on October 20.

East Harlem cyclist doored, then crushed by lorry

A 27-year-old cyclist in East Harlem was killed Friday morning when a driver in a parked car opened his door into him and knocked him into the path of an oncoming truck, the police said. The rider, Marcus Ewing of Manhattan Avenue, was heading east on East 120th Street just west of Third Avenue around 8 a.m. when he was struck.

The man in the parked car was issued a summons for unsafely exiting a vehicle. The driver of the truck was issued five summonses for equipment violations.

Council spends money to find out about spending money

Waltham Forest Council is spending money saying its wants to know what the people of Waltham Forest think about its spending – which apart from being ironic is a bit rich when this sign has gone up on the notorious Arcade site where residents were originally asked to choose one of four possible development plans. When the vote was in the council decided to ignore it and go for one of the other proposals, which subsequently imploded. Still, at least the site was an inspiration to local artists.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Cycling on the pavement

This blog has always been unequivocally opposed to cycling on the pavement – yes, there’s no question that it’s dangerous.

Some police forces, especially those with a tradition to uphold, take a commendably robust attitude to pavement cyclists:

Great grandfather and World War II veteran James Gresty was chased into a bank by two police community support officers after they accused him of cycling on the path outside.

The pair ordered Mr Gresty outside for a ticking-off but when he refused they called for back-up from two officers in a nearby police van.

The police drove over the paved area outside the Halifax in Sale, Greater Manchester, and issued him with a £30 fixed penalty. Widower Mr Gresty, who won several medals during his three-year service with the York and Lancaster Regiment, said yesterday: ‘I was shocked at their attitude. They were carrying on as if I had committed a serious criminal offence.

‘They were being aggressive, rude and heavy-handed all over whether I was cycling on the pavement.

‘But I had got off my bike before I got on the pavement. I’m an 84-year-old man, not a teenage hoodie.’

Recently on Monmouth Street WC2 I witnessed this scene (above). A cyclist riding not on the pavement but in the road, enjoying the cycling-friendly environment of a city in the grip of a ‘cycling revolution’. Sadly, everyone but the cyclist and the pedestrians were committing offences.

Various commercial vehicles were parked obstructively on ‘no waiting at any time’ double yellow lines, and the taxi in front of the cyclist (reg LM55 YHJ, black cab 61233) had just driven over the pavement to get past the lorry.

You never hear much about it (I wonder why?) but driving on the pavement is an offence:

Driving on the pavement contrary to Section 72 of the highways Act 1835 as amended became a fixed penalty offence on 1 August 1999. The offence applies to all driving on the pavement.

It never gets enforced, and even parents with children who encounter dangerous drivers on the pavement can expect little sympathy or support from their local police or council.

Oh, look who followed the law-abiding cyclist and also drove on the pavement contrary to Section 72 of the highways Act 1835 as amended!

It is however permissible to drive on the pavement when it has been turned into a car park, as here on Forest Road, Walthamstow, as part of the ongoing ‘improvement scheme’. The improvements for both pedestrians and cyclists are obvious.

news from the cycling paradise of Cambridge

A woman cyclist has been injured after being hurled into the windscreen of a BMW in Cambridge.

The blue car was being driven along Queen’s Road when it was involved in the collision.

Elsewhere in Britain’s most cycling-friendly city

A road rage incident between a cyclist and motorist resulted in them both being injured.

The latest clash between cyclists and motorists happened in Link Road, Sawston.

A 22-year-old Cambridge man was driving when his wing mirror was clipped by a bike.

The motorist then flashed the 57-year-old rider, urging him to pull over. As the cyclist started to pull in, the driver’s vehicle “accidentally” collided with the back wheel of the bike.

Police were called after the cyclist, who claims to be the victim, accused the motorist of criminal damage.

But officers are unsure what exactly transpired

Earlier this month a road rage cyclist rammed his bike into a car at a notorious Cambridge flashpoint between riders and motorists.

It happened in Hills Road,
leaving the car’s doors scratched.

A cyclist ramming a car? Oh please.

And as the streets of Cambridge fill up with parked cars, how interesting that some residents are calling for a cycling-hostile one-way system.

another killer breezes out of court

The court heard that Stallard “clipped” Dr Steven Morris, a 52-year old university professor and father of three. Dr Morris died 12 hours later, having sustained unsurvivable head injuries, despite wearing a helmet. According to prosecution evidence Stallard would have had up to 5 seconds to see Dr Morris before hitting him.

who has previous convictions for speeding and driving whilst using a mobile phone, claimed that despite working and driving overnight he was neither tired nor distracted at the time of the accident, 7.15am. However, he admitted causing death by careless driving.

Sentencing Judge Neil Ford QC imposed a two-year community order, involving 200 hours of unpaid work, £350 costs and a two-year driving ban

Another roundabout collides with a lorry

A lorry laden with macaroni caused severe traffic disruption after it overturned at a busy roundabout.

The incident happened at about 4.20am on the A142 at the Lancaster Way roundabout in Witchford.

Patrice Gougam

A friend of a cyclist who suffered brain damage in a hit-and-run crash involving a driver with very poor eyesight told today how their community had been “devastated” by his life-changing injuries.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Cycle parking doesn’t get any greener than this

Outside 633 High Road Leytonstone, yesterday. You can’t miss this bike stand – it’s just across the road from Leytonstone police station!

What the government’s spending review means for transport and cycling

Money will continue to be poured into the infrastructure for drivers, with widening schemes on the M25, improvements to the M1, M4, M5 and an upgrading of the A11 in East Anglia.

The cost of rail travel will rise sharply, encouraging greater car use. The £50 million Better Stations programme has been junked. If you are pathetic enough to use trains you deserve overcrowded carriages and crap stations with smelly toilets. For God’s sake pull yourself together and get a car.

Bus travel will become more expensive, but frankly only losers, geriatrics and poor people travel by bus.

£17.2 million has been sliced from the road safety budget, which is why everyone should buy a Lexus 4X4 with eleven air bags. You owe it to your family to keep them safe, especially with so many drivers using mobile phones.

Cycling will continue to be discouraged at all costs. Britain is a European leader in discouraging cycling and the government is determined to maintain this proud tradition. We don't want foreigners like the Dutch and the Danes showing us how to change out shopping centres. Obesity rules OK.

Motor traffic is expected to rise dramatically. This is why it is important to keep spending money on road improvements to ease congestion.

The Department for Transport will continue not to deliver its long-promised integrated transport policy because Britain doesn’t have one and never will.

Er, that’s it.

Below: the present condition of the great British high street – and how it will look in the future.

Driver who assaulted cyclist walks free from court

A motorist launched a vicious attack on a cyclist who clipped his wing mirror, and left him unconscious.

Robert Smith kneed Nandor Erdos in the stomach, punched him up to 15 times and kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground, Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard.

Smith, a 38-year-old British Gas employee, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.

Chairman of the bench Tony Birks handed Smith a six-month jail term,
suspended for two years.

It’s a good job he didn’t do something really wicked like puncture car tyres. That will get you a sentence of 16 months in prison.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

car-centric Transport for London is the enemy of cycling

A year ago this was a cycle lane. Now this section of the A503 in Walthamstow has been re-allocated for car parking bays, with the cycle lane moved closer to overtaking traffic (below). A killer design.

Here’s one small example of how Transport for London (TfL) wastes money. In a recent tube strike

at one Tube station - Brixton - three guides were paid £240 to escort one cyclist three miles to The Mall in central London.

At Clapham Common, four commuters on their bikes found themselves escorted by three guides and a Transport for London (TfL) traffic controller, whose job it was to ensure the roads were not blocked by the large numbers of people turning to their bikes.

These risibly low numbers (comparable to the Cycle Friday farce) show once again how few non-cycling Londoners actually want to try out cycling. But it’s also completely in character for car-centric Transport for London to fret about cyclists getting in the way of drivers.

Here’s the problem. Huge sums of money are being squandered promoting cycling in London, yet the infrastructure just isn’t there. Transport for London purports to be the friend of the cyclist but the one thing it won’t do is put the interests of cyclists before the interests of car drivers, or re-allocate road space from cars to cyclists. TfL is institutionally on the side of car dependency, and it continues actively to encourage greater car dependency. Cyclists (and pedestrians) are treated as a subordinate species, who must never be allowed to slow down motor vehicles. London’s entire transport infrastructure is designed to prioritise the car driver over the cyclist and the pedestrian.

Some examples.

It's striking how much cycle promotion there is around London these days. You can't get on a tube or bus without seeing posters exhorting you to cycle.

And lots of people do want to cycle. But then come the practicalities. A question we just received on our Yahoo! group was: "What is a good way to cycle from Dollis Hill to Stanmore?" This cyclist has been on the TfL journey planner, and selected "bike only", and got the suggestion to go up the A5 and over the 50mph (in practice 70mph) Staples Corner flyover with it's terrifying motorway-style slip roads. And one has to answer his question, sorry, but it isn't actually possible to cycle from Dollis Hill to Stanmore by an acceptably direct route without going through feasome motorway-style junctions, or breaking the law and riding on pedestrian bridges and pavements. Brent south of the A406 North Circular road is completely cut off from north Brent and the outer suburbs, that is the way it is.

The same message is coming in loud and clear from cycling bloggers across London.

Over in Kennington they talk about TfL’s invitation to die.

In the London Borough of Merton the complaint is that

TfL don't accept they have a problem. They are institutionally car-centric. Listening to them protest about what good they've done for cycling is like listening to an alcoholic say they don't have a drink problem.

I struggle to think of anywhere in London where the safety or convenience of cyclists has ever taken priority over motor traffic, except at the Stockwell Gyratory where they removed one general traffic lane. Yet despite this being the jewel in TfL's crown, Jenny Jones pointed out they've not even solved the problem, which is that the junction is still dangerous and intimidating in both directions, although slightly less so northbound.

In the City a group of cyclists complain:

The problem for cycling in the City is that TfL's understanding of "traffic" equals "motor vehicles". Cycles aren’t part of the traffic, apparently.

If you think London Bridge or Victoria Embankment aren't nice places to cycle, it’s TfL that you have to thank for the road design and not the City. The City wanted to implement some more two-way streets for cycling recently. It was TfL that prevented this.

When it comes to urban road and street space, TfL seems a bit stuck in the dark.

In Haringey there’s the little matter of the Tottenham Hale gyratory redesign.

Question: Why has the scheme not been designed to reduce motor traffic or give preference to walking and cycling?

Answer from Transport for London:

We want to make Tottenham Hale a better place to be. The proposals have been developed with the needs of all modes of transport being important. Removing the one-way system will allow the transformation of the area, making the area a more attractive place to live, work and visit. Our proposals will provide an opportunity to meet the needs of proposed future developments in the area.

One can read this response any number of times and be completely mystified about its meaning.
It is the pinnacle of ecofluff nonsense.

Meanwhile TfL and the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Forest Road Corridor Scheme nears completion.

The spurious justification for this scheme was that it was intended to reduce vehicle speeds in a 30 mph zone. At the last moment, long after the consultation period was over, Waltham Forest’s car-centric transport planners slipped in a little extra to the traffic order – raising the speed limit to 40 mph on a section by a school and where cyclists are forced out closer to overtaking traffic.

Naturally there is no evidence whatsoever that speeds have been reduced. All that has happened is that conditions for cyclists have drastically deteriorated on a major route, further ensuring that cycling in the London Borough of Waltham Forest will never get above a modal share of one per cent. Because no one would want to send their child to school on a bicycle on what was previously an unsafe road and is now, thanks to TfL and Waltham Forest, twice as unsafe.

The only people to benefit from this insane scheme are drivers, who were previously not allowed to park in the road, but who have now had parking bays created specially for them. If you wonder why car ownership in Britain grew from just over 26 million in 2005 to more than 31 million in 2009, a rise of nearly 20% in just four years, look no further than schemes like this.

The cost of this scheme is £222,357 which makes these some of the most expensive parking bays in London. What’s more parking is free and without restrictions of any sort. And some of these new bays have been created outside houses with garages and drives (below).

This scheme was approved by Transport for London – the same TfL whose Director of Integrated Programme Delivery at Transport for London, Ben Plowden, has the impudence to say

It’s staggering that half of all car trips in outer London are less than two miles in length, a distance you can cover on a bike in around 10 minutes.

There’s nothing at all ‘staggering’ about it when bodies like TfL and the London Borough of Waltham Forest implement anti-cycling pro-car projects like the Forest Road Corridor Scheme.

Half a mile down the road incidentally is Wood Street library, one of the many public buildings in the borough which lacks even a single cycle stand. While vast sums are spent on motor vehicle infrastructure, even the most rudimentary cycling infrastructure remains neglected.

And in a final two-fingers to the spurious road safety justification for this insane scheme, the advisory flashing speed sign on Forest Road at the junction with Fernhill Court E17 remains broken. It’s been like that for over two years, but obviously with over £200,000 to spend building car parking bays there’s no money to repair a speed sign.

Police car hit in lorry driver’s blind spot

This right-turning French lorry driver has hit a police car in his blind spot.

The police car was not wearing a helmet.

Surely police drivers should be invited to sit in the cabs of French lorries to understand about blind spots?

This crash occurred on the A141 near Chatteris

Boris Bikes and the Evening Standard

The shocking truth.

Another crash on Woodford New Road

The collision occurred when a Nissan Micra, which was being driven by a woman learner during a lesson, was hit from behind by a Waltham Forest dustbin lorry at around 10:45 on Monday (October 18).

The crash happened on Woodford New Road in Walthamstow, near the junction with Forest Road.

The crash site is adjacent to the new Forest Road ‘improvement’ scheme which has just raised the speed limit from 30 mph to 40 mph.

Yesterday I came across the aftermath of yet another crash on Forest Road at the junction with Hoe Street. Broken glass all over the road and the cycle lane and some tangled metal, evidently someone hitting the vehicle in front.

killer lorry driver news (1)

Former teacher Colin Rae, 83, died in a crash last Wednesday morning as he cycled near the University of Cumbria campus.

He was a founder member of the Carlisle Cycling Campaign – now Cycling Carlisle – and was the group’s first chairman in 1992.

A lorry driver, 61, from Carlisle, was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop after an accident.

killer lorry driver news (2)

A lorry driver has been charged with causing death by careless driving after a Margate postman was killed while cycling to work in May.

Steven Hole, 45, of Farm Avenue in Swanley, was charged (Monday, October 18) and is due to appear at Margate court on Monday, November 1.

Grass verge collides with lorry

A TRANSPORTER lorry carrying at least half-a-dozen cars overturned on the A52 today.

Garden wall collides with electric car

This was the horrific scene when an electric car fell apart in a crash that killed the driver.

The 47-year-old woman was thrown clear of the Reva G-Wiz when it hit a garden wall in Hendon last night at about 6.45pm.

No other vehicles were involved in the collision at the junction of The Vale and Hendon Way which left the vehicle in two pieces. Adjoining roads were closed for several hours.

The tiny Indian-made car has been seen in increasing numbers on the roads of the capital
because it is exempt from the congestion charge and parking fees and has been adopted by celebrities including Jonathan Ross and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

‘in London there’s no room for cycling segregation so it’s not going to happen’

A scene from the London Cycle Network (there’s a lovely blue sign in the distance telling cyclists of their good fortune). Yes, this is the hellish westward section of the A104 (Lea Bridge Road) between the A114 and the B159, where cyclists get a narrow cycle lane and have to share the road with high volumes of traffic, including numerous lorries. And you can see at a glance that there just wouldn’t be room for a segregated cycle path on the Dutch model.

It is a fact that

There are technologically advanced, affluent countries that have managed to make cycling a mainstream mode of transport, a perfectly normal way to get around cities.

Britain isn’t one of them, of course. All British cities are car-centric and hardly anyone has a vision of a better way of planning personal mobility in dense urban environments. London is car-centric to an astonishing degree, and its anti-cycling culture is aided and abetted by a cycling organisation which has no coherent philosophy of how to bring about mass cycling, with local branches which give their support to dangerous and unpleasant cycle lanes, led by a parent organisation whose Trustee and Vice Chair says

Sure, segregation would be great but in London at least there's no room and no money so it's not going to happen.

Campaigning for behaviour change is more realistic right now

This kind of ‘realism’ has given London a modal share for cycling of between one and two per cent. Trying to persuade drivers to be nicer to cyclists is a fatuous and doomed policy, just as it is trying to persuade non-cyclists that their fears of cycling are groundless.

Only good, attractive infrastructure will get people cycling. It’s a basic lesson which London has yet to learn, and all over London there are now cycling bloggers showing how crap the existing cycling infrastructure is, and how TfL remains wedded to putting the car first. More on this tomorrow.