Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Would you like some ice with your cycle lane?

Forest Road (A503) westbound, yesterday. The narrow cycle lane has ice in it all the way from the junction with Greenleaf Road to Wolsey Avenue. The advisory speed sign outside the adjacent police station helpfully gives you the speed of drivers who are flouting the 30 mph speed limit. Or it would do if it hadn’t been broken for weeks.

Mr Grumpy passed this way before me, commenting The source of water wasn't obvious, it looked as if it came from some hardy soul cleaning their car in an adjacent street.

No, no, Mr Grumpy! The water is bubbling up from beneath the road surface and has been for days. This is yet another case of Australian ice.

Bristol v. Waltham Forest

In Bristol they have all kinds of problems with cars parked on the pavement. If you complain to the local police, they point out that pavement parking is no problem at all to anyone on a diet.

How the poor pedestrians of Bristol must bitterly regret that they do not have the good fortune to live in a progressive London borough at the cutting edge of Green transport planning.

Here in the London Borough of Waltham Forest the council has a rigorous approach to the problem. Pavement parking is banned throughout the borough. Except on roads where it isn’t. And every year the council adds more and more roads to the exempted list. There are now so many – hundreds of ’em – I have quite lost count.

However, where footway parking is permitted special markings on the pavement ensure that no driver ever obstructs it. Like here on Orchard Street (such a lovely green name) in Walthamstow.

Interestingly the £90 permit charge on this van reveals to those of us who take an interest in these matters that this is a second vehicle.

Please note that this is not a business vehicle but entirely for private residential use. (I expect the resident needs it for that big weekly shop at Tesco.)

If the resident’s first vehicle is a private car (and I think we can safely guess that it is) the Controlled Parking Zone fee for that is £30 a year. So that means for a grand total of just £2.31p a week this resident can park two vehicles including this van on the pavement.

Whereas if you pay cash and get on a London underground train at Walthamstow Central and get off thirty seconds later at the next stop, Blackhorse Road station, it will set you back £3.50.

There is no economic logic at all to vehicle dependency of this sort. Discouraging walking and degrading the urban environment in this way is actively encouraged by this kind of lavish subsidy. But this is not a topic for discussion, either at the council or at the London Assembly.

And as I like to keep pointing out, when the topic of parking came up for consultation by the London Assembly both the London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets couldn’t be bothered to respond.

Because parking has nothing at all to with cycling and walking, does it.

Monday, 29 November 2010

NHS car dependency and cycle parking

What’s the biggest car park in the London Borough of Waltham Forest? My own extensive researches suggest it is ‘Whipps Cross Hospital’, a magnificent car park with 400 bays for visitors and 700 bays for NHS employees.

This fabulous car park also comes with several buildings devoted to health care.

Should you wish to cycle to the hospital, forget it. There are just 16 cycle stands, all grouped in one place (above). There are no signs to help you find these stands, which are of the kind designed by the Spanish Inquisition – the same kind which proved a major turn-off at the Walthamstow Bike Shed and outside Blackhorse Road tube station, where they had to be replaced by Sheffield stands. Luckily in those instances the local paper never found out about yet another example of council incompetence and financial waste!

The Whipps Cross Hospital website supplies an inaccurate cycling map which has obviously been created by someone who doesn’t cycle locally and which gives absolutely no information about cycle parking.

No surprise really, since Whipps Cross University Hospital is a diseased institution run by fossil-fuel addicts.

Another Waltham Forest cycling blogger draws some similarly acerbic conclusions after discovering that no cycle stands are supplied at either the St James Health Centre or the Forest Road Medical Centre.

To the Grumpy Cyclist’s two examples should be added the Penrhyn Surgery, Oliver Road Polyclinic, Chingford Health Centre and Leyton Green Clinic.

The NHS boasts lazy, car dependent staff like Dr Stanley Yu as well as unidentified lazy, lawless drivers

Meanwhile elsewhere in London the land overlooking the River Thames at St Thomas’s Hospital is devoted to car parking, even though it forms part of what should be an attractive route for walking and cycling.

And now other news.

One of Britain's most-recognised medics


uses the internet to promote public health

has had a little spot of bother.

The Labour Party and ‘dangerous behaviour’

Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi has written to Labour leader Ed Miliband accusing one of his MPs of encouraging "dangerous behaviour".

John McDonnell has said students facing tuition fee rises have "no other alternative" to direct action.

Barones Warsi urged Mr Miliband to take action to deal with Mr McDonnell's "reckless" comments.

A Labour Party spokesman said the MP would be spoken to about his remarks.

However the Labour Party remains immensely relaxed about its MPs who crash their cars while drunk ("He said that he had no idea what he had hit – but he knew he had hit something"), who are caught driving with one hand while chatting on a mobile phone, or who crash their cars while talking on a handheld phone then flee the scene.

The Conservative Party was also immensely relaxed about this reckless and dangerous behaviour and made no complaints. Because if every MP who had motoring convictions or who was a drunkard was ejected from parliament this would obviously strike a savage blow to the heart of the finest democracy in the world.

Pimp my cycle campaign

The London Cycling Campaign and its corporate sponsors:

The Corporate Partnership Scheme is an easy way of supporting our cause and showing your staff, customers or stakeholders that you are serious about cycling. Our advice and support will ensure you are making smart decisions that will work for your cycle users.

Support with promotion & marketing –
we have many years experience in running fun and successful cycling promotion events. We can support your promotional events, handle the questions, deal with the doubts and provide all the information.

But have all those years of experience in running successful cycling promotion events really delivered? London has one of the lowest modal shares in Europe for cycling. Cycling is dying out in Enfield, struggling to survive in Newham, declining on a major route in Waltham Forest, and complete crap in Redbridge. According to the latest TfL figures, modal share in Hackney is down from 8 per cent to 4 per cent.

But, hey, that’s not the kind of information any smiley-smiley cycling optimist wants to hear. Instead let’s turn to the list of Corporate affiliates of LCC

Purely at random I picked out

Kingston University (“Quality teaching and wide-ranging support in a vibrant and diverse university community.”)

Then I turned to the university’s website to see what advice it has for visitors. Let’s remember that the LCC's Corporate Partnership Scheme is a way of showing your staff, customers or stakeholders that you are serious about cycling.

This is what the Kingston University website says about visiting:

It is easy to get to the University:
• by train
• by bus
• by car
• from the airport

Details are supplied.

And that’s it.

There’s bugger all about cycling to this university or any cycle parking which might exist once you arrive.

This is why we at the Krapp Cycling Institute are urging everyone to write to British Nuclear Fuels asking them to send a cheque to the London Cycling Campaign. Once the cheque is received BNF can then be identified as a Green, environmentally-friendly, cycling-friendly organisation. No car parking facilities need be compromised. Cycling-friendly corporate environmentalism – it’s good for the sponsor, it’s good for the LCC. (As for cyclists – sod them!)

Pardon my French.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cycling: the gender divide

The London Bike Hire Scheme:

According to Transport for London (TfL) data released by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in response to a written question from Labour Assembly Member Murad Qureshi, only one in four of the first 92,000 members of the scheme are women.

However, the three-to-one male to female split revealed by the figures is in line with data from the Department for Transport that show that on average, men make three times as many trips by bicycle as women each year.

Similarly, national cyclists’ organisation CTC told road.cc that its membership “is 76% male 24% female

A spokesperson for TfL said: “We are doing everything possible to encourage women to cycle.We know that women's two main concerns when choosing to travel by two wheels are safety and changing facilities; that's why we are working extremely hard to make sure both of these continue to improve. Our Cycle Safety Strategy includes a whole raft of initiatives to keep cyclists safe.

“This includes signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Freight Transport Association to get lorry drivers and cyclists sharing the road safely and training courses including adult cycle training to improve confidence and skill on the road.

Safety issues apart, concerns over feeling hot and sweaty at the end of a bike ride don’t seem to deter female cyclists in The Netherlands, where cycling in everyday clothes is the norm.

Marc van Woudenberg of the Amsterdamize.com blog told us that
the gender split in the Dutch city is 55% women and 45% men

(Below) Transport for London’s new ‘road improvement’ in Walthamstow on the A503 involves moving the cycle lane closer to overtaking lorries, in order to create free parking bays on the pavement at cost of just £20,000 per bay. With attractive cycle lanes like these who can doubt that the women of Waltham Forest will be rushing to take up cycling?

It’s the Waltham Forest Energy Fair!

Two cars parked in the Town Square pedestrian zone – what’s going on here? Oh I see, another ‘Green’ marketing stunt. Might have guessed.

Come and find out ways of saving money, by being more energy efficient within your homes.

Doncha just love that plural? It's like they've forgotten we're not all on councillors' allowances.

At 10.35 am the marquee was still being erected, even though this event was supposed to start at 10 am.

The man was there with his bicycle contraption but sadly no one was sitting on it in order to blend a smoothie. Riding a bicycle of any sort is a bit of an alien concept in car-sick Waltham Forest.

The hypocritical Council itself doesn't bother saving energy. Lamp posts are burning brightly in the daytime all over the borough, including this one a couple of hundred metres away from the Energy Fair, just down the High Street, which has been merrily lit up in the daytime for weeks.

Not that Green hypocrisy is unique to our crap council.

Hey, when it comes to combating climate change, why not jet off to sunny Mexico for an agreeable discussion about the importance of curbing air travel?

After a hard day at the negotiating table, what could be nicer than a soak in your personal double Jacuzzi with a view over the Caribbean?

Such luxury will greet Cabinet minister Chris Huhne – and 45 other British Government delegates – during international global warming talks in Mexico.

Mr Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will be enjoying the facilities of the £240-a-night Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun for the United Nations summit.

Should he be tempted to use his hot tub, however, he will be doing the environment no favours. A typical double Jacuzzi generates 35 times more carbon dioxide than an ordinary bath – and 80 times more than a five-minute shower.

A dead baby and an unregistered car

A TWO-month old baby boy was killed last night after a hit and run crash along a busy dual carriageway in the West Midlands.

The infant was in a Toyota Corolla which was involved in a collision with a Mitsubishi Evolution on Grove Lane, in Smethwick, just after 6pm.

The baby boy suffered multiple injuries and was later pronounced dead. A woman from the Toyota was also taken to hospital with serious injuries and was in a critical condition.

But four occupants of the high-powered Mitsubishi – which police say was unregistered – fled the scene before emergency services arrived.

So this two-months-old baby had no chance to grow up and go to school in a society where One in 10 children say that they have been hit by a vehicle while walking or cycling.

The Mitsubishi Evolution had no registered owner. Fascinating. But then drivers of unregistered or uninsured vehicles know that the massive reduction in traffic police over the past twenty years means the chances of being caught are minimal.

Readers of this blog may not know what a Mitsubishi Evolution looks like. Let’s turn to an officially cycling-friendly organisation and find out…

Saturday, 27 November 2010

No cyclists were hurt during the making of this rock video

I expect, as in a TfL cycling-is-cool film, the police closed off the streets to permit safe cycling for the actors and actresses.

Getting plastered in the ‘No Alcohol’ zone

Buxton Road E17, just off the High Street. Someone has flytipped a sack of plaster, which has solidified in the rain, adding to the attractive walking conditions here (you know, pavement parking bays for lazy shoppers, signs stuck in the footway to advise motorists that parking on the pavement is allowed, that sort of thing).


I am confident that the next time I pass this way the matter will have been dealt with by the council’s superbly efficient and much-admired contractors, Kier Street Services.

Walthamstow High Street is a load of rubbish

Waltham Forest Council boasts that it is ‘disability aware’. This is why special sacks are placed across the footway to cushion falls which blind pedestrians might suffer as a result of tripping over objects left across the footway.


Hit and run driver who maimed cyclist gets one year driving ban

A HIT-AND-RUN driver who left a cyclist with life-changing injuries has been jailed for six months.

Driver Richard Malia, who had earlier been drinking in Derby city centre, left Tyrone Tunnicliffe with a fractured spine and a pelvis in the accident eight months ago, Derby Crown Court heard.

Mr Tunnicliffe needed two major operations, had metal plates inserted and is still unable to walk unaided.

Malia, 21, was travelling at 80mph along Manor Road, which has a 40mph limit, when he hit 35-year-old Mr Tunnicliffe from behind, throwing the cyclist from his bike.

His Audi A3 then veered over to the opposite side of the dual carriageway and hit a parked car before speeding off in the wrong direction, said prosecutor Sherrall Pickford.

Jailing him for six months, Recorder Stephen Eyre said: "I have to sentence you for an appalling piece of driving which had serious consequences for the man you knocked off his bike.

"You drove at 80mph at night, in a 40mph limit, no doubt also having been drinking earlier in the evening, and caused serious injuries to Mr Tunnicliffe."

Malia was also
banned from driving for a year and will have to pass an extended test to recover his licence.

Road rage in Wanstead

A MOTORIST drove into a group of residents who had confronted him after he sounded his horn continually early in the morning.

An off-duty police officer suffered serious leg injuries after a hit and run incident in Overton Drive, Wanstead.


Blue van N492 FLW, broken mirror on the driver’s side, male driver drove from Kenilworth Avenue E17 straight out into the cycle lane on Forest Road, obstructing it, paused, then sped off erratically up Falmer Road - the classic rat-running van-man-in-a-hurry.


PE06 FWJ, large silver-coloured car, Asian male driver using a handheld mobile phone, Selborne Road E17, noon, 23 November.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Shocking pictures of naked cyclists

Cycling blogger Buffalo Bill, who speaks out on behalf of that strange tribe known as ‘bicycle messengers’, has taken all his clothes off. Mercifully, we are spared a close-up.

Sadly nowadays there are far too many cyclists prepared to strip off and display their unfit bodies in public. The only thing that can be said for this kind of spectacle is that it shows the importance of making yourself visible to drivers, resulting in ‘safety in numbers’.

And now here is a photograph of a very well maintained Advanced Stop Line on London Bridge.

An anomaly

The police in Cambridge at the start of term targeted cyclists who were riding up the pavement to bike parking. Up a dropped kerb put in specifically to access the bike parking.

The terms of the Roads (S) Act driving 'over' or 'across' a pavement to access where you are allowed to legally park is okay, hence driving over the pavement onto my driveway at home is legal.

I did some research (for yet another article) and this does only seem to apply to motorised traffic. Technically my other half could drive into our driveway, with me cycling behind, and I'd be committing an offence.
It's an odd situation really.

war on the motorist: a shocking story

Motorists have accused an MP of failing to advise them properly on challenging parking tickets, leaving them having to pay thousands of pounds in fines.

One resident handed four parking tickets now owes more than £2,000.

Sarah Clements, who owes £150, claimed Mr Keen advised her to avoid paying until after her appeal was investigated. “In the financial climate at the moment this is ridiculous — I can't afford £150,” she said.

Mr Keen said he was “shocked to hear” of the lost appeals.

Roundabout collides with Labour MP

A controversial Labour MP resigned from the party’s frontbench after being banned from driving.

Former Army major Eric Joyce, 50, spent a night in the cells after an unexplained accident near a petrochemical plant in his Falkirk constituency.

A security guard at the Ineos plant in Grangemouth reported that Joyce, driving a Rover estate, smelled of drink and was ‘not compos mentis’.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that guards on duty at the Ineos plant called police after the MP approached their gatehouse around 11.15pm.

The politician told the guard: ‘I think I hit something, maybe that roundabout back there.’

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Yesterday’s shocking violence and lawlessness in London

By 10.20 am things were already looking ugly, with these sites flagged as ‘red light’ collisions involving road closures or major delays

A102 Blackwall Tunnel Greenwich » Severe delays and queueing traffic due to earlier accident, two lorries involved

A302 Victoria Street Victoria » Queueing traffic and partially blocked due to accident

A213 Penge Road South Norwood » Road closed due to accident

And so on, throughout the day. To the complete indifference of national news organisations. But then even BBC London News has always been indifferent to the regular killing of cyclists by lorry drivers. BBC London News never bothered to report the killing of Catriona Patel, it never bothered to report the trial, and it never bothered to report the verdict or the sentence. BBC London News is a petrolhead outfit run by journalists who obviously never cycle anywhere and who presumably have clocked up numerous parking tickets and speeding convictions, since they repeatedly give publicity to the most trivial stories involving ‘unfair’ parking tickets or ‘unfair’ speed cameras.

Chief Inspector Jane Connors said kettling had been put in place "as a last resort". She told the news agency:

we want to make sure that Londoners can go about their business

Which is a surreal remark in a city where yesterday, as on every other day, hundreds of thousands of drivers took to the streets to speed, jump red lights, talk on mobile phones and drive into Advanced Stop Lines. The rights of pedestrians and cyclists to go about their business peacefully, unobstructed and free from threats of violence has never been of much interest to the Metropolitan Police, which has a long tradition of colluding with the most violent and lawless section of London society, i.e. motorists.

The driver of the Toyota shown above, reg. J80 SLY, cruised past me as I approached the empty ASL at red and went straight into it, even though the ASL is very clearly marked and has a giant logo of a bicycle in the box. The junction of the A503 and the A104. But the driver, a middle aged white male, knows perfectly well that road traffic law is rarely enforced in London. If they wanted to, the Met could catch thousands of drivers every day breaking the law by driving into ASLs at major junctions in Waltham Forest. But they don’t enforce the law. They are institutionally anti-cyclist.

Not long afterwards I saw the driver of a massive HGV. He was driving with a large road map or something similar spread out across his steering wheel. He was belting along staring down at the map, not looking ahead. By the time it was safe for me to stop I had missed the chance of getting his number. Just another highly dangerous lorry driver working for a road haulage industry which is totally out of control.

Not that it’s different in other cities.


The police then blocked off the road near Rusholme, charged the protesters and threatened to arrest anyone who went on the roads.

“Manchester police said criminal or anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated.”

Except, of course, when the culprit is a motorist, in which case the cops couldn’t give a toss. No surprise really, in view of Manchester’s policing tradition.

And now for something completely different.

Cyclist down on Hoe Street

The Grumpy Cyclist spotted the aftermath of a collision involving one cyclist who appeared to have been knocked off his bike by a car on Hoe Street near the Queens road lights.

By the sound of it this wasn’t an injury collision, so it won’t be recorded in the road casualty figures for London 2010.

When it comes to injury crashes in Waltham Forest, last year cyclists were involved in collisions on average once every four days.

There were a total of 93 bicycle casualties in the borough in 2009, compared with 65 in 2008 - a rise of 43 per cent - according to the data from Transport for London (TfL).

The photograph below shows the conditions for cyclists on Hoe Street near the Queens Road lights.

Extreme road violence

Three men died in the space of three hours following separate accidents on the West's roads.

The first man died when his Renault failed to negotiate a left-hand bend on the A358 Axminster to Chard road at around 6.35pm. It mounted a kerb, hit a stone wall, landed on its roof and caught fire.

No collisions have been recorded at the spot where the accident happened, but several collisions have taken place 250 metres away where cars have several times gone off the road and ended up in a cottage garden.
A road surface with higher skid resistance was put in place to deal with that blackspot.

In other words, the local authority did not bother addressing the problem of reckless, speeding drivers going too fast for the road conditions but instead did its best to accommodate it by changing the road surface. This is the essence of the bogus ideology of ‘road safety’ which always diverts attention from the driver and puts the focus on secondary matters – ‘dangerous roads’, cyclists who don’t wear helmets, pedestrians who walk over zebra crossings at night wearing dark clothing, trees and lamp posts and bus stops which wantonly get in the way of innocent drivers. RoSPA is all about accommodating the motor lobby, never addressing the little matter of cars expressly designed to travel at speeds twice the maximum national speed limit.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lethal cycle lane modified

Last year, after a moment of blind terror while cycling south on the A112 in Walthamstow, I identified a potentially fatal design flaw in the road layout – a point where the cycle lane follows the kerb and swings slightly to the right at the very point where drivers are forced over to the left by the road markings and a central barrier. It creates a situation whereby a cyclist who is overtaken here by the careless or inattentive driver of a large vehicle like a lorry, is at risk of being hit.

In the eighteen months since I blogged about this potential death site the council has modified the cycle lane. It has now been painted pink. You can see for yourself what a difference this has made.

(Below) Looking back at the point of conflict. To add to the danger for cyclists the cycle lane makes a sharp, unrealistic turn, following the line of the kerb, at the point where the road widens and splits into two lanes, with the lane nearest the kerb a 'left turn only' lane. Since most cyclists are likely to be going straight ahead the choices here are (i) to slow down to walking pace and stay in the cycle lane, which fizzles out at the bus stop, then starts again later, continuing to a much-ignored Advanced Stop Line. This encourages undertaking alongside the 'left turn only' lane. (ii) continue directly on, which involves cutting across in front of overtaking traffic in order to reach the outside lane, which is 'straight ahead only'. If the overtaking vehicle is intending to turn left this results in conflict. This is not the kind of road lay-out which is going to encourage anyone to cycle other than the most traffic-hardened cyclist. You certainly wouldn't want to see children attempting this. But then very, very few children cycle in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which is hardly surprising.

Crap cycling in Bath

Cyclists say their commuting has been thrown into hazardous chaos by the closure of a key footbridge.

The 19th century Victoria Bridge across the River Avon on the edge of the city centre has been closed indefinitely by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The footbridge - the cables and beams of which are corroded - was shut in mid-October for safety reasons.

CycleBath member John Lucas said: “The bridge is a highly important route for cyclists in the west of the city, being the only off-road route in the area, and is the route I and many others use to reach the city centre from Oldfield Park.

“It is also well used by pedestrians, including children going to Hayesfield School. The alternatives for both pedestrians and cyclists are horrendous - long diversions on roads that are not safe or pleasant for either to use. To the east this is the main road route to Green Park. To the west it is the Destructor Bridge, which is one way so only legally usable in one direction, and which can only be accessed by the main roads and goes through areas that many would not wish to travel through. Further to the west of this the alternative is Windsor Bridge, a very busy road that many cyclists would not wish to use.”

The group’s chair Malcolm Dodds added: “The council says that it regards cyclists as its second highest priority when planning and spending on transport, but too often it feels like we are treated as second class citizens.”

Fellow cyclist Tony Ambrose said: “The state of Bath for pedestrians and cyclists is shameful. We seem to be stuck in the last century whilst the rest of the UK and Europe have been busy civilising their historic city centres.
Whilst the council talks the good talk about the environment all they do is make it more difficult, dangerous and unpleasant for people to get around on foot or by bike.”

Just like the London Borough of Waltham Forest, then!

Boris bike injury crashes: the facts

Transport for London figures show there were 34 incidents involving the Barclays Cycle Hire bikes between 30 July and 30 September.

There were also five incidents related to the Boris bike scheme — including one where a woman was knocked off her cycle by one of the trailers used to transport the bikes between docking stations.

One cyclist suffered a head injury when he was hit by a bus and a seven-year-old narrowly escaped injury when a docking station fell on the child after it was hit by a car.

In the first recorded accident, five days into the scheme, a male hire bike user was squashed against a kerb by a lorry.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 3,674 cyclists, or 10 per day, were killed or injured in London last year.

Another lorry driver case

A mother today hit out at the “insulting” £1,000 compensation she received after her daughter was killed when a lorry ploughed into her.

The driver, who was later jailed, had been smoking cannabis and was doing 60mph in fog when he hit 23-year-old Louise Cooper as she stood beside the A13 near Basildon.

Mrs Willis said she did not want the £1,000 herself and gave it to soldier Craig Wood, who lost both legs and part of his left arm in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Mrs Willis said that if her daughter had survived she would still be battling for compensation, adding: “Had Louise survived, she would have been severely brain damaged and would have had a leg amputated. I could not have left Louise in a home and would have had to give up my job to care for her.

Ms Cooper was on the hard shoulder exchanging details with another driver in 2008 after a minor collision
when the 7.5-ton lorry driven by Lee Baker of West Bromwich hit her.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Autumn comes to the Chingford Road cycle lane

Autumn leaves and a collapsed ‘roadworks ahead’ sign strewn along the generously wide cycle lane.

The A112, northbound.

Cycling and car dependency in rural areas

People in rural areas need to take home up to 20% more than those in urban areas in order to reach an acceptable living standard, according to a report.

The report cited transport and fuel as the main extra cost burdens.

A car is a significant additional cost for rural households because people said public transport is inadequate

Nicola Lloyd, executive director at the CRC, said there were ways to lessen the need for expensive travel to reach essential services in rural communities.

These included greater access to broadband and mobile technology, "and creative solutions to providing employment and services closer to home", Ms Lloyd said.

Naturally cycling is not mentioned and it would be interesting to know how Ms. Lloyd commutes to work.

It is perfectly true that rural communities are disadvantaged by poor public transport. But the other side of the coin, which is naturally not mentioned by this quango, is the way in which cycling is actively discouraged at both a national and local level. Apart from the little matter of joke infrastructure there is also the reality that cycling and walking on rural roads can be a very frightening and dangerous experience. Drivers come screaming round blind corners at 50 mph or faster assuming that the road ahead will be empty. If they kill you they will receive a short driving ban for ‘carelessness’.

Rural roads present particular challenges for cyclists, as the risk of being killed is much higher than for other roads. Almost half of cyclist fatalities occurred on rural roads, and the proportion of collisions on these roads increases for those aged 40+ years. Casualty severity was found to increase with the posted speed limit, and so measures to reduce traffic speeds in rural areas may benefit cyclists.

Collisions at night/in the dark were more likely to result in a fatality, and rural roads present particular difficulties, as not only are the speed limits generally higher but the roads are often unlit. A detailed examination of these accidents found that the bicycle was commonly impacted in the rear by the vehicle.

What’s more, according to the CPRE:

two-thirds of people feel threatened by motor traffic all or some of the time on rural roads.

In 1999 during the consultation on the current strategy, we highlighted the problems on rural roads and then secured changes to the Transport Act 2000. However the Government has been dragging its feet since and proposals for a ‘rural road hierarchy’ have not come to anything. Aside from a few demonstration projects, little seems to have changed beyond the publication of new reports and guidance.

Plainly change will not come under the current ConDem government and it won’t come under the next Labour government either. Britain is locked into car-dependency and a culture of reckless and lawless driving which seems unlikely ever to change until the oil runs out.

Another lorry driver kills another cyclist

A 60-year-old cyclist was killed in a crash involving a lorry on a Somerset road.

Emergency services were called to the A303 at West Podimore at about 1700 GMT on Sunday, following reports of the collision.

A police spokesman said both the cyclist and lorry were travelling west at the time.

A 45-year-old man from Exeter was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

Monday, 22 November 2010

more classic London Cycle Network permeability

This sign helpfully indicates to cyclists the two-way off-road cycle path which runs between Forest View E17 and Whipps Cross Hospital. It’s not far from this equally obstructed cycle path entrance.

Cycle paths are for fishing

POLICE are warning motorists they will be fined if they park illegally on a cycle track.

Over the past three weekends, cars have reportedly obstructed the cycle path on the A57 between Saxilby and the junction of Broxholme Lane.

Police received a complaint about six cars parked at the location on Sunday, November 7, despite an almost empty car park nearby.

Cyclist Antony Daniels, of West Bank, Saxilby, said: "I do wonder why the council is spending all this amount of money merely to provide parking for fishermen.

"I should try to be less cynical, but as a cyclist in Lincolnshire, it's quite hard not to be.

Lorry driver kills two cyclists in three years

The big rig driver involved in a fatal collision with a bicyclist near Portola Valley earlier this month and a similar crash in Santa Cruz in 2007 has been cited for two moving violations and been involved in numerous accidents -- many of which were determined not to be his fault -- over the past 12 years, Department of Motor Vehicles and court records show.

Gabriel Manzur Vera was behind the wheel of the 26-wheeler that struck and killed Lauren Perdriau Ward on Nov. 4.
Vera was apparently driving the same truck on Aug. 7, 2007, when he collided with cyclist John Myslin, a 25-year-old high school teacher, at Mission and Bay streets in Santa Cruz.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cycling on Oxford Street

(Above) Can you spot the cyclist?

(Below) The conditions for cycling on Oxford Street are so enjoyable it’s no wonder that you see so many people doing it. On their own. With high viz gear. And often wearing a helmet.

‘Inhumane’ damage to car by cyclist

According to this driver a cyclist went completely ape for no reason at all. Yeah, right…

When she crossed the roundabout and was in heavy traffic on the other side, he was between her stationary car and the pavement, and she said he cycled in front of her to try to cycle up the middle of the road.

But he fell off, and when Mrs Powell got out of her car to see if he was OK, she says he started shouting at her.

"He picked up his bike, lifted it above his head and threw it down on my car twice."

Mrs Powell watched in shock as the scene unfolded in front of her, and then the man cycled away.

She has been left with a cracked windscreen, smashed front headlight and damaged bumper.

"It was inhumane," she said. "You just can't do these things."

She called the police and was advised that if she saw the man again she should take his photo.

Cyclists give innocent motorist ‘a huge fright’

A Herald reader said cyclists' attitudes made driving treacherous for motorists.

He had been driving on a rural road with his family when he turned a corner to find cyclists riding side-by-side.

"I had nowhere to go without crossing the centre line - fortunately I was driving slow enough to stop, this time," he said. "This gave me, and my family, a huge fright."

The cyclists then rudely told him they were in a race, he said.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Spot the cycle sign

Grosvenor Park Road E17. Putting direction signs for cyclists on their own poles is an extravagance too far. So they go on the nearest street furniture, even if it’s behind a tree.

And they do mean roads

AN estimated 20 tonnes of leaves is being cleared from the borough's roads a day.

And now here is a cycle path at the Crooked Billet underpass. The first photograph was taken on 15 November 2009 and the second one in the same place one year later, on 7 November 2010. What a difference a year makes!

Petrolhead paradise

At Nations Trucks in Sanford, Florida., the deal is simple: "Buy a truck, get a free AK-47."

"We wanted to come up with a promotion, that would stir interest," general sales manager Nick Ginetta told the National Post. "Well, business has tripled in the last few days."

Friday, 19 November 2010

Cycle access: cycling not advised

This is what ‘permeability’ is all about, is it not? A clearly marked out cycle lane which leads to a gap that isn’t wide enough to accommodate handlebars (let alone one of those cargo bikes that funny foreigners use). Buxton Road E17.

Yikes! Not just foreigners. Waltham Forest says: don’t bother cycling out here ‘ndru’.

(I am sorry to say ‘ndru’ has fallen for all that nonsense about the Netherlands being better for cycling than Britain.)

Discrimination against those with a disability

One in 10 Londoners cannot access large sections of the public transport network in London because of mobility issues, a report has warned.

The London Assembly study found step-free access to stations falls far short of demand.

Val Shawcross AM, chairwoman of the transport committee, called the situation "simply unacceptable".

But for Transport for London and Waltham Forest Council to convert a cycle lane into parking bays, that is quite acceptable. And at £10,000 per free unlimited parking bay this is excellent value for money, leading to an enhanced footway situation for wheelchair users. Forest Road E17.

£3.4bn spent ‘improving’ 22 miles of road

The cost of widening the M25 motorway has increased by a quarter because of failings by the Highways Agency, a government report has said.

The project covers 22 miles (35km) between junction 16 and junction 23.

But an 18-month delay meant the contract was let in May 2009 at the height of the credit crisis, a National Audit Office (NAO) report said.

This increased the cost by £660m to £3.4bn, the report said.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Pinch points of Waltham Forest

Why not collect the series? The proliferation of pinch points in the London Borough of Waltham Forest plays a small but important role in suppressing any possibility of mass cycling. This magnificent example can be found on James Lane E11, by the hospital. Ostensibly a 20 mph zone, here the ineffective small rubber speed cushions do nothing to slow down the determined speeder, while encouraging drivers to swerve to avoid passing over them. To add to the fun this pinch point is in a small valley, which means that drivers approach it downhill at speed from both directions – no wonder it’s been demolished on at least one occasion when a driver ‘lost control’.

It is impossible for a cyclist and a car to pass this pinch point at the same time, so for the cyclist it’s a choice between a moment of sheer terror as a driver sees if he can manage it, or for the confident well-trained cyclist the experience of ‘taking the lane’, which is sure to provoke the blaring of a horn and some traditional monosyllabic greetings. Enjoy.

Top terror tips: just ask Osama

Q: Our local al Qaeda branch has successfully built a bomb, the only problem is that it’s quite bulky. At a time of heightened terror alert among the infidels how we can plant this in a town centre without it attracting suspicion?

Osama says: Simply place your bomb by a cycle stand. Large, suspicious objects can safely be left here for weeks without attracting any attention at all. Like this one planted in Walthamstow Town Square five weeks ago!

Q. Our local al Qaeda branch would like to build an underground chamber for the storage of weapons, explosives, martyrdom videos etc. How can we construct a ventilation shaft without attracting suspicion?

Osama says: Easy-peasy. Build it in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Here, ventilation shafts will attract no attention at all, as can be seen from this magnificent example built on Church Hill E17.

Reflections on the dropping of a fire extinguisher

A man claiming to be a territorial support group officer told the BBC how the metal object narrowly missed him: "It landed right behind me – literally no more than six inches," he said. "I think somebody would have been visiting my wife and children and saying I was either dead or very seriously injured, the height that it was dropped from."

I’m sure any cyclist can relate to that – a moment of sheer visceral terror as a lethal metal object passes by at speed, very very close.

The problem, of course, is that even if you have footage of a driver doing that to you neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service could give a toss. And even when aggressive driving is accompanied by threats to kill the matter gets brushed aside.

The driver in this video was not prosecuted.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

more London Cycle Network permeability

Here at the junction of Eatington Road E10 and Forest View Avenue there’s an off-road cycle path (well, ‘shared use’ actually) which offers a short cut to Lea Bridge Road and Wood Street.

Should the entrance to a cycle path be kept free of obstruction with a double-yellow ‘no waiting at any time’ restriction or should unlimited free parking be allowed at this spot, even though parked cars obstruct the cycling infrastructure?

No prizes for guessing which option the most progressive cycling local authority in London chose.

Cycling fatalities in London: an analysis

From 1992 to 2006 there was a mean of 16 cycling fatalities per year (range 8-21). 146 deaths (60%) were in inner London and 96 in outer London.

There was no evidence for a decline over time (p=0.7) other than a pronounced dip in 2004 when there were 8 fatalities. Freight vehicles were involved in 103 of 242 (43%) of all incidents and the vehicle was making a left turn in over half of these (53%).

The fatality rate ranged from 20.5 deaths in 1992 to 11.1 deaths in 2006 per 100,000 estimated cyclists per kilometre (rate ratio 0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.28 to 1.03).

Conclusions: There is little evidence fatality rates have fallen. Freight vehicles over 3.5 tonnes continue to present a disproportionate threat; they should be removed from urban roads and more appropriate means of delivery of essential goods found.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

‘Road improvements make life worse’

The so-called ‘Forest Road improvement scheme’ has been a catastrophe for cyclists, but as this letter from the current issue of the Waltham Forest Guardian shows, it is also bad news for local residents who prefer to walk rather than drive. The promised crossing has failed to materialise, even though this location is a strategic route for any local resident wanting to walk to Wood Street station.

Let’s recap. Almost a quarter of a million pounds has been spent on a scheme which creates around 20 parking bays on the footway, narrowing the width for pedestrians to as little as just over a metre (the transport planners said this wouldn’t happen but they were lying). They promised a new pedestrian crossing but then left it out. They said the scheme was to reduce vehicle speeds, then slipped into the traffic order (when it was too late to object) the announcement that on one section the speed limit was to be raised from 30 mph to 40 mph. They narrowed the road and relocated the cycle lane alongside the new parking bays, bringing cyclists much, much closer to lorries and buses, while creating an entirely new danger in the form of ‘dooring’. The ‘improvement’ has already resulted in total obstruction of the footway by a parked car, and by drivers ignoring the marked out bay and parking on the adjacent footway.

This scheme attracted no comment from any individual or organisation other than this blog. The local Green Party takes little interest in transport and has been silent. The local LCC branch has failed to utter a squeak of protest. The scheme is the work of the local Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, with, naturally, no objection at all from the Conservatives on the council. And yet this is the work of a council which has published innumerable fancy documents calling for more walking and cycling and less car use, in collaboration with Transport for London, which has likewise claimed to be keen to see more cycling and walking. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t get any starker than the gap between what the Forest Road Corridor scheme truly represents and the pious affirmations of walking and cycling which spew regularly from local authorities like Waltham Forest and from Transport for London.

Needless to say there has been no obvious reduction in vehicle speeds since the scheme was implemented. In a final touch the advisory flashing speed sign remains broken, as it has been for the past two years.

(Below) Complete obstruction of the footway for a wheelchair user, thanks to the car-sick transport planners of Waltham Forest council and its low IQ 'official' roads contractors J B Riney.

(Below) No matter how much you give a driver they will always take more. A driver impinges on the reduced footway space.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Walthamstow bicycle chic

Aptly posed against a Waltham Forest Council ‘quality environment’ litter bin and a car in a pavement parking bay, this intriguing ‘demon’ machine belongs to a member of that tiny weird fringe group known as ‘Waltham Forest cyclists’.

It shows that Walthamstow High Street is a place where you can safely leave your cycling gloves tucked behind your saddle without any danger of them being stolen. Because if you interfere with this bicycle Satan will steal your soul. You will then be transported by devils to a hellish underworld known as ‘forty miles of prize-winning cycle lanes and quiet routes.’

I can think of a better one

Rail is the greenest form of transport.

Except when it involves mentioning the Netherlands

LCC leads the way in evidence-based cyclist safety information

Sunday, 14 November 2010

What’s wrong with the London Cycling Campaign? (Part Two)

Three decades of LCC campaigning have given us prize-winning cycling infrastructure like this.

Next Wednesday the London Cycling Campaign holds its AGM. I shan’t be there as I resigned my membership a while back, regarding the organisation as a collaborationist outfit which is more of an obstacle to promoting safe and convenient cycling than an enabler. I have explained why here and here.

Let me refine my position on what’s wrong with the LCC. At the very centre of the problem is something which another cycling blog has noted: The fact that after decades of campaigning, the LCC doesn't know what form of cycling it wants, is slightly troubling.

Exactly. The LCC has no coherent philosophy at all as a campaigning organisation. If you look at its five year plan for 2008-2013, entitled One in Five by 2025, all you find there is aspiration. There’s nothing tangible. It’s a collection of platitudes orbiting a dead moon of buoyant optimism.

LCC campaigning has always fizzed with the belief that mass cycling is just around the corner. Listen to this:

Measures which positively discriminate in favour of bikes and pedestrians are ideas whose time has now come. The Department of Transport is beginning to permit new ways to calm traffic and promote cycle mobility, and national attitudes are changing.

Or how about this:

There are signs of hope. Public policy guidance is changing. The Manual for Streets, the recommendations from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, and the recent National Obesity Strategy and National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidance on physical activity and the environment all recognise the need to put people and planet back at the centre of transport and spatial planning.

There are signs of change. Top managers and Council leaders are starting to understand the significance of cycling to their priorities.

My first quotation comes from the Ealing Cycling Campaign in 1996. Back then cycling’s modal share in this London borough was one per cent. And today in Ealing it’s, er, still one per cent. But not to worry. The local campaigners are still fizzing with optimism. As is the parent body, the London Cycling Campaign; my second quotation comes from One in Five by 2025.

London is a failed cycling city with an atrocious modal share but you’d never know it from anything put out by the LCC. It is in denial about the state of things and in denial about its own role in that historic and catastrophic failure. For more than three decades the LCC has basically functioned as a vehicular cycling organisation with a deeply provincial outlook. Its energies have gone into trying to ameliorate the conditions of vehicular cycling at a local level. It has small local successes to its credit but it has never had a holistic approach to transport, pursuing cycle campaigning in complete isolation from car dependency. Ignorant of what has been achieved to varying degrees across continental Europe, it has remained stuck in Little Englander mode.

The LCC constantly bigs itself up, saying things like we can rightly claim to be one of the most influential environmental organisations in the capital.

OK, in that case why is everything such total crap? Even something like cycle parking, which generally doesn’t impinge on car dependency at all, is laughably inadequate after three decades of campaigning by the LCC. If the LCC is so influential why do we get a campaign like this?

The London Cycling Campaign’s Cycle Parking 4 London campaign is asking for 100,000 new cycle stands across Greater London as a solution to the current massive shortage.

You can use this website to show instantly where you want more cycle parking, perhaps near a shop or café you visit regularly?

Oh, please. I don’t expect to have to plead for cycle parking. I expect it as a right. I shouldn’t have to suggest that a post office or a pub or a library has bike stands installed outside. I find it very revealing that my local LCC branch has for years been holding its monthly meetings in a community building which has cycle parking for, er, 3 bikes.

In every London borough there is a whirlwind of activity and much LCC cycling campaign joy. In Enfield, for example

Our group had a very successful Bike Week with almost 100 people taking part in Enfield's Big Bike Ride, and large numbers of people attending the Enfield Festival of Cycling.

And what’s that? Oh I see, an annual fun cycling event, which this year included

the chance to pick up tips on where to ride in Enfield, and many other attractions like face-painting, hook-a-duck, a bouncy castle, music and other entertainment. "Doctor Bike" will also be there, offering a free check-up for bikes. Visitors can pedal the "Smoothie Bike" to power a blender and make their own smoothie drink.

Anything else to say about cycling in Enfield? Only that its modal share is ZERO PER CENT. That’s right, rates of cycling in Enfield are so low they don’t even register on TfL’s database. (See the most recent recorded cycling modal share figures, for the period 2006/07 to 2008/09, listed on pages 70 and 72 of Travel in London.)

But even as a vehicular cycling campaigning organisation the LCC is fundamentally incoherent. It has no core principles. This void at the centre of the LCC means that individual groups can cheerfully pursue any campaigning strategy they want to, irrespective of how effective this might be. Some branches are lively and vibrant, others lacklustre and exhausted. Anyone who joins LCC is automatically deemed to be a member of their local branch, even if they never attend a single meeting. In reality these branches, ostensibly representing anything from 200-800 cyclists, are usually run by half a dozen activists. Some of them will have been campaigning for over twenty years. They are hardened vehicular cyclists who have long since lost touch with the reasons why most Londoners don’t cycle. Cycle campaigning becomes a way of life, often not much more than a social club. Yes, there is a hurricane of activity, lots of meetings and small local victories. But a broader perspective is lacking, modal share continues to stagnate and no one ever mentions European cycling, least of all what’s going on in Denmark and the Netherlands. Each LCC branch is only as good as the volunteers who staff it and whatever version of vehicular cycling they subscribe to.

In Ealing, for example, the local LCC group is keen on cycle lanes:

A survey of 57 active cyclists, all members of the Ealing LCC, was carried out in October-November 1995 in order to gauge their views.

The greatest need identified was for more cycle lanes, and action on air pollution.

And fourteen years later cycling’s modal share in Ealing remains stuck at one per cent. And what conclusions does the local LCC group draw from this stunning failure? None whatsoever. As far as they are concerned it’s business as usual. Even the lessons of the Ealing Sky Ride are lost on them:

Nothing more was on offer than roads free of motor vehicles, yet people came in their droves, 13,000 of them. The lesson is clear: take away the danger, and people will take to their bikes. For those who don’t want to wait for the next traffic-free ride, the next best thing is to learn how to cycle in traffic.

They just don't get it, do they?

In Hackney, however, the local LCC group abhors cycle lanes:

for years our approach has been to reject tokenistic devices such as "cycle lanes" (have you noticed the absence of grit-strewn dooring lanes in Hackney, as compared to neighbouring boroughs?), in preference to engineering that reduces motor traffic speeds, opens up route choices for cycle traffic through increased permeability, and improves the streetscape in general, especially for pedestrians.

What that approach doesn’t do, of course, is reduce the sheer volume of motor vehicles in Hackney. And the permeability on offer in Hackney is, in my view, crap. It requires the cyclist to defer to the motorist at all times. It’s quite literally lethal permeability. It’s laughably bad.

But who is right about cycle lanes – Ealing or Hackney? Although implicitly on the side of cycle lanes, the LCC parent organisation sits on the fence even about something as basic as this kind of on-road infrastructure. It declines overtly to say whether they are a good thing or a bad thing, or, if they are a good thing, what form they should take. Timidity is a fundamental organising principle at the LCC. Offend no-one is the watchword.

In reality Ealing and Hackney LCC groups are both wrong, because they both adopt a vehicular cycling strategy. Ealing and Hackney are both crap places for cycling.

Interestingly, Hackney’s modal share for cycling has recently spectacularly collapsed, going down from 8 per cent to just 4 per cent (see Table 3.3. here). You’d think somebody would have noticed that remarkable statistic but if they have, they aren’t talking about it. But then cycle campaigning in Britain has always been in denial about its spectacular failure to raise modal share.

In Waltham Forest it’s the same story of stagnation, but then this is hardly surprising when the local LCC group actively and enthusiastically promotes crap infrastructure which is a deterrent to all but the hardcore cyclist.

The sheer arrogance of the worst kind of LCC campaigning zealot is summed up for me by Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign’s pathological insistence that Probably the best single cycle facility in the borough is the underpass under the notorious Billet roundabout on the North Circular Road. The fact that the council’s own cycle counts show that cyclists don’t wish to use it (335 cyclists over 12 hours in 1998, 312 in 2002 and 309 in 2006) is of no interest to this type of LCC campaigner. They simply don’t care about the feelings of either existing cyclists or those who don’t wish to cycle. Although the cycle count figures signify stagnation, these campaigners think they know best and that is the end of the matter. (Bear in mind also that the population of the London Borough of Waltham Forest with a modal share of one per cent is roughly comparable with that of Utrecht.)

Which brings me on to Mark.

He quotes a letter from the LCC magazine:

Separated bike lanes are not even mentioned in the LCC's election manifesto - unless they come under the eighth and last point as 'reallocation of road space'.

In the same issue, LCC campaigns officer Charlie Lloyd says that the "number one reason non-cyclists give for not using a bicycle is that they don't feel safe." I would think that there's nothing safer for cyclists than segregated cycling routes. But where does LCC stand on this?

Bill Saltmarsh, SE27

The LCC responds:

When speeds and volumes of vehicles are high, LCC says separate bicycles and cars. However, removing through traffic from residential areas and reducing speed limits can also work towards creating a cycle-friendly city.

The LCC’s perfunctory reply is fundamentally dishonest because it has never once campaigned as a parent organisation for segregation. Nor, to my knowledge, have any of the local LCC branches. The LCC has never shown any significant interest in what has been achieved in the Netherlands and Denmark. Modal share is a dirty word in most cycle campaign circles.

Take a look at the LCC’s impoverished notion of how the roads must be made more cycle-friendly. The organisation even lacks a sense of irony, because if you are showing infrastructure which is supposed to encourage cycling you might at least prove it by showing some cyclists using it. LCC can’t even manage something as rudimentary as that. This is a measure both of its complacency and its arrogance. Failure means nothing. The LCC just keeps rolling along, irrespective of results. All that is required is a smiley-smiley optimism, unrelated to anything so unpleasant as the statistics for modal share.

The LCC is quite clear where it stands: It believes the city’s roads should be made safer and shared by motorists and cyclists. Vehicular cycling, in other words. Yes, the LCC is a cult, as in

a small, yet vocal, group that is male-dominated, testosterone-driven and that lacks basic understanding of human nature.

[Actually to call the LCC ‘vocal’ would be untrue. But it's true that the LCC is a male-dominated organisation at the top.]

They expect that everyone should be just like them - classic sub-cultural point of view - and that everyone should embrace cycling in traffic and pretending they are cars. They are apparently uninterested in seeing grandmothers, mothers or fathers with children or anyone who doesn't resemble then contributing to re-creating the foundations of liveable cities by reestablishing the bicycle as transport.

As Mark observes:

I thought I'd apply a little litmus test to the London Cycling Campaign's words... do LCC really push to separate bicycles and cars when speeds and volumes of traffic are high? Do they really speak up for segregated infrastructure? Flicking through the last 4 issues of their 'London Cyclist' magazine you wouldn't think so. There have been...
3 features on bike theft,
2 on cycle parking,
2 on the cycle hire scheme,
2 on HGV safety as well as features on the Skyrides,
bike week,
the Tweed Run,
cycle touring,
the general election,
a road danger map
...and one interview with the former Mayor of Copenhagen in which she clearly states that segregation is key to cycling numbers and subjective as well as physical safety.
The benefits and potential for Dutch-style cycling infrastructure here in London barely get a mention.

And that’s the problem. Vehicular cycling campaigners have a long list of reasons why the Dutch or Danish model would never work here. Even though all those reasons have long since been exploded they cling to them with the fanaticism of the true believer.

The LCC, having disregarded the Dutch template for decades, sticks to business as usual. It believes that traditional campaign strategies are resulting in increased numbers of cycling and that by sticking to the old ways cycling is snowballing and this will result in a critical momentum being built up that will magically result in what Koy Thomson was pleased to call ‘the Copenhagen effect’.

I can only say that to me as a cyclist in the London Borough of Waltham Forest I don’t see this. All I see is a bad situation becoming worse, with cycle lanes being converted into parking bays, the cost of parking being slashed by the council, more and more one-way streets being introduced even when they involve strategic cycling routes marked on TfL cycle maps, more and more car ownership achieved by pavements being turned into parking areas, cycle lanes lined with legally parked cars, and congested streets where the cyclist is repeatedly slowed down and forced into conflict with huge volumes of motor vehicles. The notion that the LCC is having success with opinion makers behind the scenes strikes me as unrelated to the real world of London streets.

So, what is to be done?

The first necessary thing, it seems to me, is for the LCC to establish a set of principles of what it stands for. If it is at all serious about turning London into a mass cycling city it needs to embrace segregation and all the subsidiary infrastructure that goes with it, unequivocally. That should be its number one core aim. It doesn't mean you have to stop doing all the other stuff, but it does mean you have to have a sense of what is most important. The LCC needs to stop sitting on the fence. It needs to abandon thirty years of failed vehicular cycling campaigning. It needs to get rid of people at the top of the LCC who whine that London’s streets are ‘too narrow’ for segregation, because campaigners like that are obstacles to cycling. It needs to stop pussyfooting around and acknowledge the atrocious state that cycling in London is in, and stop pretending that mass cycling is just around the corner. It needs to stop collaborating with TfL and acknowledge it as a poisonous, car-centric obstacle to mass cycling. The LCC needs to get off its knees and start daring to criticise. But above all it needs to acknowledge that the Dutch template is the ONLY way forwards and everything else will just involve perpetuating and extending thirty miserable years of campaigning failure.

And as a first, practical step it needs to start insisting on segregated cycling infrastructure on major routes into and around London. A cycling North Circular. A cycling M25. A cycling A1 and a cycling A3. Because you start with the fundamental routes and then build out from them. And if you aren’t prepared to do that you might as well shut up shop and stop pretending your campaigning is doing anything for anyone else but yourself and your own vested interests. And there an awful lot of vested interests in the British cycling campaign establishment.

And when the LCC has undergone a reformation and has a coherent set of campaigning goals, we need direct action and stunts. Change rarely comes from petitions and polite letters to MPs. We need cycling activists who will seal off a carriageway on one of London’s car-sick superhighways (the Euston Road is the kind of street I have in mind) and invite commuter cyclists to use a cyclists-only lane. We need a couple of hundred cyclists outside the offices of TfL loudly demanding the re-allocation of road space for cycling.

Recently someone in the Guardian remarked:

How about closing a road to motorised vehicles that goes all the way through the West End?

That would be a small start. Too small, really. Better would be to

Create a network of real cycling superhighways into and through London — direct wide joined-up and pleasant motor-free routes; about twelve of them, say, radiating from a partially de-motorised zone 1 — and you will not merely provide a nicer path for the people who already cycle. You will unleash the latent demand for cycling and cyclist numbers will swell to ten times their current number.

Because that's the absurd thing, the time it can take to travel relatively short distances on a bicycle in car-centric London. I live 6.7 miles from Charing Cross but that takes me an hour to cycle, not because I am a slow cyclist - I could do it in 30 minutes - but because there is no cycling infrastructure to speed me on my way. It's a choice of motor-vehicle crammed roads or convoluted 'quiet routes' on which the cyclist always has to defer to motor vehicles at junctions.

Here in Waltham Forest the easiest road to convert to segregated cycling would be the A503 (Forest Road), which cuts right across the borough from Redbridge to Tottenham. It’s a strategic cycling commuter route but it carries huge volumes of motor vehicles, including lorries and buses. Yet along most of its length car parking is not permitted, and width is not an issue. This is precisely the kind of road (and roads like it across Greater London) which should be at the centre of LCC campaigning, the absolute number one priority. At present no one but the hardcore cyclist will use the A503. Provide a safe, convenient segregated cycle path with priority at all side junctions and dedicated cycle lights at major junctions, strictly on the Dutch template, and you will get the masses cycling. Once you have these spines of mass cycle traffic you can then build outwards, reducing car dependency and civilising London’s car-sick neighbourhoods.

Yet what is happening to the A503? In 2007 the council’s car-centric transport planners slipped in some parking bays on the A503 between Gaywood Road and Jewel Road. The design was lethal for cyclists. Parking is free. Needless to say there is not one cycle stand at this location.

Having got away with this the council’s transport planners have since come up with the recent A503 corridor scheme which involves creating car parking bays in the old cycle lane, and pushing the cycle lane out closer to overtaking motor vehicles. This immediately creates the danger of ‘dooring’ while simultaneously bringing lorries closer to cyclists. It is utter madness. The cost of creating this free parking for 20 cars comes to £222,357, i.e. over £10,000 for each parking space. You would think that the LCC’s local branch would be screaming its head off about this. In fact its website doesn’t even mention it. But it gets worse.

The latest traffic orders published by Waltham Forest council reveal that there is more of this imminent, with free parking bays to be provided across the cycle lane on the A503 near Blackhorse Road station, and again across the cycle lane near the lethal Bell corner. This is not suppressing cycling – this is strangling at birth even the tiniest chance of a cycling renaissance in a low-modal share outer London borough like Waltham Forest.

And the role of the London Cycling Campaign in all this?

Silence. Apathy. Inertia. Indifference. Tacit complicity.

As things are at present, the LCC is part of the problem, not part of the solution. But I wonder how many ordinary LCC members realise this?

(Below) The first two photographs show a section of the A503 in August 2010, before the TfL/Waltham Forest ‘improvements’ were implemented. Note how far away from the cycle lane the traffic is. Then look at the last two photographs taken last week which show the new pinch point and the cycle lane moved closer to the centre of the carriageway. These ‘improvements’ make cycling both subjectively and objectively more unattractive and dangerous.