Monday, 19 January 2009

It’s another Sustrans ‘exemplar’ facility!

The pedestrian and cycle bridge leading to Leytonstone over the A12 is an exemplar crossing of both a major road and London Underground Line.
(Sustrans North East Greenways policy document)

No it isn't.

It's a dirty, squalid, claustrophobic tunnel with two ninety degree blind corners. The corner on the Leytonstone tube side is shown above, with a pedestrian, hardly surprisingly, ignoring the fantasy that walkers will keep to the left of the white line, and cutting across the cycle lane, with the risk of colliding head-on with a cyclist coming the other way. And as you can see, "Test me U pricks" is the intriguing challenge painted by a local artist on one of the panels of this exemplar facility, which is popular with those who have urgent messages - sexual, political, whatever - to bring to the attention of passers-by.

Sustrans calls the road below the A12. This is what it says on modern maps. In reality it is a motorway. Cyclists can cycle on A roads but are banned from this one. It is, in reality, the M11 Link Road. And this supposedly 'exemplar' cycling and walking crossing in actually the Department of Transport's grudging, crappy response to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the wake of the massive community severance which resulted from the M11 link road being carved through Leytonstone and Leyton by the Conservative government of John Major.

The M11 link road involved the destruction of some 300 homes, the mass displacement of the people who lived in them, all in order to speed traffic outside London into the centre of town, connecting with Hackney, where at the time the road was built 62 per cent of households lacked even one car. This section of what purports to be the A12 is in all but name part of the M11 motorway.

Because the Department of Transport loathes cycling and walking, the crossing facilities it supplied were crap. The person who wrote the gushing Sustrans document on North East Greenways plainly neither knows the local area, nor ever cycles or walks in it.

There are in fact four crossings of the M11 link road in Leyton and Leytonstone, and they are all monstrously unsatisfactory in their own ways. But let's concentrate on the one Sustrans refers to. This fabulous exemplar facility had attracted the attention of this blog long before Sustrans arrived on the scene. The first three pics used here show the state of this facility last year, the last three show the condition it was in last Friday.

(Below) This exemplar crossing is unsuited to anyone suffering from acute depression or worried about the safety of their children, as it affords easy access to all that lies below...

(Above and below) Two vandalised panels.

(Below) And here is this exemplary cycling and walking route in all its splendour. Scratched opaque plastic wall panels add to a claustrophobic sense of entrapment. Muggings are an intermittent feature of this crappy pedestrian/cycle route, which lacks any CCTV, and which is the last place you'd want to come face to face with an aggressive gang. And once you enter this route there is no escape. Here, even Indiana Jones would turn pale...

(Below) Like all local cycling facilities, this one is, as you can see, beautifully maintained. In this pic you can see the ninety degree turn featured in the first photo here, but from the opposite direction. Turn sharp left at the upside-down cycle logo for Leytonstone.

(Below) There are fabulous views of the M11 link road, underground lines, and Chinese-style "wall posters" in this exemplar facility. Enjoy!