Friday 31 October 2008


On Hallowe'en, the prizewinning Orient Way cycle lane is best avoided...

Cycle parking at Homebase

Popular: locking your bike securely to the railings near the Homebase entrance, in a very visible position.

Unpopular: locking your bike insecurely to 'front wheel only' stands in a bike shed located in a far corner of the car park, well away from the entrance.


None of the vehicles shown below will ever get a parking ticket, even though they are parked on the pavement and are causing an obstruction.

Park with two wheels on the kerb from the road side and you can get a ticket. Park on the pavement with the front of your vehicle parked on private land and the parking attendants have no powers. It's an absurd loophole which Transport for London has never bothered to address during the 33 years in which the Greater London footway parking ban has been operating.

Thursday 30 October 2008


I suppose this paint is extra visible at night. Perhaps it glows in the dark or reflects light.

Not a bad idea, really. And if anyone nicks it, it's easily identifiable. Provided lots of people don't imitate it.

Attractive walking routes of Waltham Forest

This popular alleyway between Storey Road and Somers Road E17 is a well-used short cut by local people. As you can see, it is maintained to a high standard by Kier, and because no one in this crap council ever walks anywhere, nothing has ever been done about the lethal coils of barbed wire which have been placed at one end.

Spot the difference!

Selborne Road E17 recently had a makeover, to improve if for cyclists and pedestrians.

Some years ago the borough's cretinous highway engineers 'improved' this road by removing the pavement, so that articulated lorries had lots of room to turn into the Sainsbury's loading bay on Vernon Road. Pedestrians were commanded to cross the road, which they chose not to do, preferring to walk on the thin strip of kerb that was left. If they obeyed and crossed to the other side of the road they came into conflict with (i) vehicles exiting the shopping centre car park (ii) commercial vehicles entering a dedicated delivery lane (iii) Vernon Road (iv) cars entering and leaving the multi-storey car park above Sainsbury's.

This is a major walking route from Walthamstow station to the Gosport Road area, but naturally pedestrians are the last thing anyone in Waltham Forest cares about. The vanished pavement has since been turned into a cycle lane, and a crap one it is too, since it is well below the recommended minumum 2 metres, cars drive at speeds in excess of 30 mph, and where there are traffic islands vehicles lurch into the cycle lane.

Anyway, spot the amazing improvement in these two 'before' and 'after' pics.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Alice in Wonderland update

Yet another example of this. The road closure where Colchester Road E17 meets Lennox Road. Parking bays are prioritized over cycling access.

Attractive quiet routes for walkers

The council has done everything possible to discourage use of this convenient short cut for pedestrians coming from the Priory Court area, by not signing it at either end (it runs from Forest Road near the junction with South Countess Road to Coleridge Road). It offers a quiet traffic-free route for anyone heading in the direction of the market. Maintained, naturally, to the usual high standard...

Tuesday 28 October 2008

'40 miles of cycle routes'

This borough boasts 40 miles of cycle routes - a concept which includes everything from residential back streets with a blue sign stuck to a post saying 'quiet route' to A roads with salmon pink cycle lanes.

Here is the reality of three minutes cycling along a stretch of top-quality cycle facilities on Hoe Street last Friday. Experiences like this make me sceptical of statistics used to underpin claims that cycling is getting better and better all the time. I also laugh hollowly when I read that London is the great success story which bucks the national trend of fewer and fewer people making journeys by bicycle.

Up ahead at the junction with Queens Road the road was empty and the lights were at red. The driver of a 97 bus chose quite deliberately to drive into the cyclists-only Adavanced Stop Line. When the lights turned to green he cut me up, in order to stop at the bus stop the other side of the junction.

(Below) The cycle lane approaching the Baker's Arms junction.

(Below) The cyclists-only Advanced Stop Line at the Baker's Arms.

The NeverEnding Story

Mission Grove E17, yesterday.

(Below) The shameless indifference of this crap council to the repeated obstruction of cycle stands by a local trader who locks trolleys to them is really rather remarkable, don't you think? How many times do I have to point this out?

Monday 27 October 2008

kick out Kier

(above) Kier: still obstructing cycle stands on a daily basis all over the borough (this one photographed on Friday is on Lea Bridge Road, by the Bakers Arms)

We are calling for the Kier contract to be immediately terminated and for street cleaning to be brought back in-house, with responsible councillors clearly identified. We want a decent service for residents and fair treatment for staff.

(below) Kier: dumping street sweepings sacks across a dropped kerb (Grosvenor Park Road E17)

Free Calendar!

In these recession-hit times don’t waste money buying a calendar to give as a Christmas present. Instead just print out scenes from this blog and give your loved ones a personally-crafted ‘Beautiful Waltham Forest’ pictorial calendar.

To kick the series off, here’s ‘Autumn in the High Street’, showing the autumn drifts in the area between the pawnbroker’s and the derelict Burger King building.

for the adventure holiday of a lifetime...

Trekking is great fun in legendary Waltham Forest. Try out your tree climbing skills on the corner of St John's Road/Sturge Avenue:

(below) Watch out for alligators in the swampland regions of The Drive, E17

Sunday 26 October 2008

Breaking news: everything is complete crap

• Traffic congestion is worse than a decade ago

• The investment needs of the railways have been almost completely ignored, in particular to increase capacity

• Bus services in most of the UK have remained poor, especially in comparison with European rivals

• Tram schemes have been abandoned, despite proving effective at getting motorists out of their cars

Walking and cycling have been largely neglected

• The government is afraid of addressing the environmental impact of aviation

• Transport carbon emissions continue to rise.

Traffic has grown by 15% overall in Britain between 1996 and 2006 and by 27% on the motorways.

200 kilometres of new roads are still being built per year despite Labour's pledge to make new road building "a measure of the last resort".

New starts on road building projects are now outstripping those being completed, while the total number of kilometres driven by all vehicles registered in Britain has increased from 441 billion to 506 billion in the past 10 years.

"Ten years on the problems are still there and they have got worse, because Labour has dodged making major decisions to address the key issues.
They have failed to achieve their own objective, which was to move us away from dependence on the car and use more sustainable public transport."


A CROSS-PARTY group of seven MPs and two council leaders have joined forces to campaign for a `no' vote in Greater Manchester's transport referendum. They have set up a `Stop the Charge' alliance, along with more than 250 businesses, to fight against the Transport Innovation Fund bid - which would include a peak-hour, weekday congestion charge.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Cycle stands of Waltham Forest

(above) Erskine Road

(below) 795 Lea Bridge Road

Another absurdity which results in road carnage

A judge has called for checks on elderly drivers after an infirm 86-year-old man ploughed into three pedestrians, maiming one and contributing to the death of another. Allan Skoyles was registered deaf, had undergone eight heart operations and had suffered a stroke which left him barely mobile, but was still allowed to drive.

He was pulling up in his Ford Focus outside a church in Gorleston, Norfolk, when he accidentally pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. The car mounted the pavement and hit an elderly couple, Joyce and Arthur Willett, and Emma Woolnough, 24. Miss Woolnough had a leg amputated, while Mr Willett, 78, died three months later.

There are more than 1.5million drivers aged 75 or over. Under the present law, drivers over 70 must re-apply for a licence every three years, but it is up to them to state whether they have any condition that would affect their driving.


A lorry passing a bicycle at 40 or 50mph can produce enough force to destabilise the rider.

Crash on Forest Road

A POLICE officer had to be cut from a patrol car after a crash near a busy junction. The Vauxhall Astra, which was answering an emergency call and contained two officers, was in collision with a BMW driven by a man carrying a female passenger at around 11.20am today (Friday). The accident happened on Wood Street, Walthamstow, close to the junction with Forest Road.

The crash comes just two days after another car crashed in Lea Bridge Road after being chased by a police vehicle.

Footnote. The local paper has got it wrong. The photograph shows that the crash happened on Forest Road, not Wood Street. This means there has now been a major smash at three successive junctions on Forest Road in recent months.

Friday 24 October 2008

Another superb facility for walkers and cyclists

The council works closely with other agencies to ensure walking and cycling routes enjoy a consistent standard of... crappiness. Here, Network Rail collaborates with the London Borough of Waltham Forest to make this major walking and cycling route between the Black Path and the Lea Valley a challenging and unforgettable experience.

(below) Talented artists have been commissioned by Tate Modern to add that extra touch to the footbridge, which is cleverly modelled on the B & Q 'large vermin trap'.


The Guardian newspaper is launching a regular online column, Greenwash, and calls on readers to submit their examples of the fraudulent, mendacious, confusing, ignorant or just daft claims jostling for our attention.

I suppose you could start with a newspaper that solemnly hosts a climate change summit while stuffing its pages with lucrative adverts for 4X4s and cheap flights. And last Saturday’s Weekend magazine had the usual full page rave for a car cynically designed to break the national maximum speed limit.

The new 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine we drive has an impressive, six-speed automatic DSG gearbox and a nannyish optional cruise control that keeps you a safe distance from the car in front.

But, best of all, the new Golf rips along merrily: gear stick into "sport" mode and it powers you with surprising ease up even the steepest Icelandic volcano - should you ever find yourself at the foot of one.

This Golf has a top speed of 120 mph. Yes, the Greenwash-hunting Guardian will happily pimp for death machines, gas guzzlers and cheap air travel while solemnly deploring the state of the environment.

Thursday 23 October 2008


(above) Why not pause while walking and relax on this council bench in these attractive surroundings on Forest Road E17? (Yesterday.)

Waltham Forest Council supports the Mayor’s vision to make London one of the most walking friendly cities by 2015.

Providing attractive and well-located seating forms an essential part of that vision. Who therefore could possibly doubt that this council is on track to make the Mayor's vision a reality?

(below) This beautifully designed bench outside Sainsbury's in Walthamstow High Street offers the chance of a soothing break for the weary shopper. (Yesterday)

(below) Just off Queens Road you can find this rare example of a Harry Potter "invisibility bench", constructed according to classic minimalist principles. (Yesterday)

A test of skill

A white arrow helpfully alerts road users travelling down Northcote Road E17 to this comatose plastic fencing which adds an extra challenge to anyone who wants to make that ninety degree turn into Carisbrooke Road. This service is brought to you by Clancydocwra. (Yesterday)

The religion of speed

"This is one of the most exciting things you can do on God's Earth”

Swindon Tories pass death sentence on vulnerable road users

Swindon’s Tory council has unanimously voted to get rid of the town’s fixed speed cameras.

The two Tories who led the campaign against speed cameras are Peter Greenhalgh and Roderick Bluh.

In the case of one of them their decision is not entirely lacking in self-interest since Roderick Bluh, the leader of the Conservative-controlled council, was banned for three months after he collected 12 penalty points on his licence for speeding.


This news will be celebrated by motorists across the land, chief among them Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of BBC’s Top Gear who has in the past voiced heart-felt support for Mr Greenhalgh on his programme.

That’s classically lazy and prejudiced journalism from the Press Association. This news will only be celebrated by petrolheads and reckless risk takers, not by careful motorists, who in reality form the majority. National opinion polls have always shown that the majority of drivers support speed cameras (and ignore the results of crappy online polls run by local newspapers, where you can vote 200 times if you want to, and which are statistically worthless).

Michael Wills, North Swindon MP, said: “I’m very concerned about this decision. All the evidence shows that speed cameras are effective in reducing road accidents. “I have seen too many heartbreaking cases of people in Swindon whose loved ones have been killed or maimed by speeding drivers.“I am surprised the council did not conduct a full and thorough consultation with the people of Swindon before taking such a radical step which could effect the lives of so many people.

It is believed to be the first time a council in the UK has challenged the Government over the issue. Chief Inspector Ian Copus, head of the Wiltshire Police roads policing unit, said there was evidence that speed cameras had reduced accidents and saved lives. Collision statistics for Wiltshire and Swindon for the 12 months ending in April showed a reduction of more than 30 per cent in the number of people killed or seriously injured compared with pre-speed camera levels.

"For children under 16 years the reduction is 47.7 per cent," he said. "At the core camera sites in isolation, the collision statistics indicated a 69 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured. For children under 16 years the reduction is 58.5 per cent." At core sites in Swindon, in the three years before cameras were introduced in 2002, an average of 19 people were killed on the roads every year.

"Since safety camera enforcement began at these sites the average number of persons killed or seriously injured is 5.9 per year, a reduction of 69 per cent," he said.

Elsewhere, new ‘average speed cameras’ are being installed, since they work: “The 'average safety camera system' was used in Norfolk when the Highways Agency undertook road works in Dereham on the A47. Compliance and safety at the site were at high levels.”

It happened to five cyclists on Tuesday

6.30 a.m.

A passing motorist found the unconscious man, aged in his 20s, on the A533 Davenham bypass, near Peckmill roundabout, at 6.30am and he was taken by ambulance to Leighton Hospital. As the Guardian went to press the man, thought to be local, was described by police as in a critical condition.A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “It would appear that the cyclist has been in collision with a motor vehicle, which did not stop, between the Moulton junction and the Peckmill Roundabout on the A533 Davenham Bypass.

8 a.m.

A man is fighting for his life after a being mown down in a hit and run in Twickenham. Police and emergency services descended on the junction of Heath Road and Clifden Road at around 8am yesterday morning after a cyclist was left for dead by a driver of a silver car, thought to be a BMW. The 25-year-old, who has yet to be named, was taken to West Middlesex hospital and was initially able to sit up and talk. However his condition rapidly deteriorated and he was rushed to a specialist unit at Charing Cross hospital.

1.45 pm

A YOUNG cyclist was airlifted to hospital yesterday (Tuesday) with serious injuries after being involved in a crash with a bus. The 20-year-old man suffered injuries to his head and chest, including a collapsed lung, and was flown to the specialist head injuries unit, at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge. The victim came off his bike after a collision with a single-decker Stagecoach bus on Star Road in central Peterborough, at about 1.45pm yesterday (21 October). The incident comes more than a year after a former city teacher died when she was in collision with a car in Star Road. Margaret Reed (69) was cycling along Star Road when the incident happened in August last year.

5 p.m.

A nine-year-old cyclist who suffered head injuries after a collision with a car in Stonehaven has been left in a critical condition.Wesley Clark was riding his bike in the Farrochie Park area at about 1700 BST on Tuesday when the collision with a grey Mazda 3 happened.

6.45 p.m.

A 14-year-old schoolboy who died after his bicycle was in a collision with a car in Dundee has been named by police. Sean Hanton, from Helmsdale Place in Dundee, was killed while riding his bike on the busy Kingsway road at its junction with Graham Street.Tayside Police said the collision, which involved a silver Ford Mondeo, happened at about 1845 BST on Tuesday.

Wednesday 22 October 2008


Where better to put a protruding roadworks sign than here, where the cycle lane is lethally narrow?

Forest Road yesterday, near the junction with Farnborough Avenue.

Two suggestions for making cycling in London safer.

(i) Get rid of all cycle lanes which are less than two metres wide. Because cycle lanes as narrow as this are a dangerous menace.

(ii) Fine contractors who put signs wholly or partly in cycle lanes, or who obstruct pavements with them. Most of these signs are unnecessary since they simply state the bleedin' obvious, and any driver who doesn't notice roadworks up ahead on a long straight road isn't paying attention and isn't fit to drive.

'Waltham Forest trade refuse service'

Spot the cycle stands...

(above) Buxton Road E17, yesterday
(below) Vernon Road E17, yesterday

Katy Perry and media hypocrisy

(above) offensive to the mass media
(below) acceptable to the mass media

Outrage as singer Katy Perry poses with a knife to 'look edgy' screams today’s Mail. The Sun joins in, Branding the chart topper "Number one idiot," it says it is a poor way to respond to the "massacre on our streets" and demands an apology.

It’s a non-story in the first place because the photo was never used for anything. It was a studio prop and it would undoubtedly have been the photographer who suggested she posed holding it. This unused photo was then leaked to the gutter press, to give it the opportunity to foam at the mouth with synthetic fury.

It’s also unbelievable hypocrisy, since all newspapers employ motoring correspondents who go into ecstasies about high-speed cars (“this sexy thoroughbred offers a delectably smooth ride at 120 mph” sort of thing), all newspapers depend on advertising revenue from high-speed cars and gas guzzling speed-limit-breaking 4X4s, and all newspapers are happy to publish photographs of celebrities posing by cars built to exceed the national maximum speed limit. The Daily Mail’s outrage about Katy Perry is deeply hypocritical.

The corporate mass media also colludes in marginalising road violence as a subject, either rendering it invisible (the daily violence against pedestrians and cyclists never rates a mention in any national newspaper) or naturalising it as simply “an accident”.

There is a massacre going on in British society, and the mass media plays an important role in ensuring that it continues, either by ignoring it altogether or, in the rare instances that it does register road deaths, by deflecting attention away from the central issues. I have yet to see any media outlet discuss the latest motorway massacre in terms of the reckless, lawless high-speed driving which occurs on every motorway in Britain, to the complete indifference of all those institutions which have the power to stop it.

Tucked away at the end of the ‘motorway fireball’ story is this: In an unrelated incident, three people, including a 12-year-old girl, have died in a collision on the A52 in Derbyshire, police said.

How many people have suffered violent death or injury on Britain’s roads in the past three days? It must be a phenomenal total. If terrorists had killed and injured this number of people it would be the number one story for weeks. Knife crime pales by comparison. But no national newspaper will tell you this total because no national newspaper is interested in finding out. Where the massacre on Britain's roads is concerned, it’s business as usual.

(above) No, not Monday's crash but one a few months earlier on the M6.

Cart locked to cycle stand: no change

The weeks roll by and this crap council has still done nothing about the trash-filled cart locked to a cycle stand on Mission Grove E17. Yesterday.

Tuesday 21 October 2008


(Above) This obstructive and unsightly advertising panel has been installed slap bang in the middle of the pavement on Wood Street E17.

Ah, who remembers the council’s great anti-clutter initiative of 2004? It was one of those projects which exist for the purpose of providing a few councillors and officers with a photo opportunity. Once the publicity session is over, the project can be safely put on the back burner and left to fizzle out. It's spin that counts - not substance.

Over the past decade both Transport for London and the London Borough of Waltham Forest have spewed out endless policy documents about improving the walking environment. Packed with pious aspirations, they are essentially worthless documents because their recommendations are never implemented.

Here’s a sample of one, on the topic of street clutter.

Community safety measures will be implemented such as the removal of unnecessary street clutter and overgrown vegetation which could provide physical and visual barriers to pedestrians... The Borough’s anti clutter initiative will assist with the improvement of key pedestrian routes in the borough by targeting street clutter in town centres and busy shopping areas in Waltham Forest.

Source [PDF format] here.

In reality the council is actually adding to street clutter and obstruction, not getting rid of it. The footway is seen as a commodity, not as a space for walking. Footways are used for advertising, storage and car parking and pedestrians are left to negotiate a route through this intrusive and unpleasant clutter.

(Below) Pavement clutter on Winchester Road E4

(Below) Palmerston Road E17. BT have just stolen some pavement for this obstructive advertising panel, which nicely matches the council's own advertising panel a bit further along. Incidentally the council never sought or obtained planning permission for their advertising panel at this location.

What does obstructively cluttering the pavement matter when there's money to be made from selling advertising space?

Advertising which is aimed at passing drivers - yet another distraction for motorists.

(Below) pavement clutter on Coppermill Lane E17

(Below) The brazen impudence of Cllr Bob Belam in touting his climate change strategy and emitting his windy aspiration to see this council the greenest in London is remarkable since Bob is responsible for all the clutter here on this narrow pavement on Browns Road E17. Bob recently decided that cars could be parked on the pavement here, where it was previously unlawful. By turning pavements over to car parking Bob Belam is promoting greater car ownership and use, as well as the ownership of larger vehicles. He's also doing nothing about wheely bins which are left on the pavement seven days a week. And he's contemptuous of minimum footway width recommendations for pedestrians with a mobility handicap.

Cars before pedestrians, even on pavements.

Another London cyclist has been killed by a lorry

This happened yesterday in Tooting.

Judging by the time of the collision and the age of the victim, this was probably a child cycling to school.

There has been nothing on BBC London news. But then I've noticed that BBC News devotes far more coverage to stories of 'rogue cyclists' than it does to cycling fatalities, which frequently go unmentioned.

Update 2.30 pm

There’s a fuller account in today’s Standard: Witnesses today told how the junction was notorious for accidents.


A CYCLIST has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after a collision with a lorry in Flint this morning.

and a probable hit and run in Cheshire this morning:

POLICE have issued an appeal for information after a cyclist was found collapsed unconscious and with serious head injuries at the side of a busy road in Cheshire.The victim who has not yet been identified, was spotted by a passing motorist at the Peckmill roundabout on the Davenham by-pass at Bostock at around 6.30am.

Update 8 p.m.

A nine-year-old cyclist has been taken to hospital after being struck by a car in Stonehaven.