Wednesday 30 September 2009

Tooting cycling superhighway not so super

Cyclists peddling on the new cycling superhighway through Tooting Broadway could be put in danger because of patchy planning, it is claimed. Labour councillors say the A24 through Tooting is not scheduled to be finished until after the rest of the highway, creating a dangerous gap in the route.

The route runs from Merton to the City through Tooting High Street, which has often been described as a “death trap” because it is so busy and narrow. Last year a 16-year-old cyclist was killed by a lorry in Tooting High Street.

Charlie Holland, a cycling instructor from Tooting said: “I would like to see a superhighway that 12-year-olds can use to cycle to school with safety and confidence. I don’t see the absolute commitment to making the kind of change that will allow that to happen.”

Friends, why not make your own 'cycling super highway'? Simply convert an existing cycle lane, such as this attractive facility shown here in central Walthamstow this morning, by painting it blue. Your 'cycling super highway' is now ready for use! (Please note, for added realism this cycling super highway contains buses, just as in the original Transport for London artist's impression of a cycling super highway.)

David Byrne: The Bicycle Diaries

David Byrne, former Talking Heads frontman, visual artist, documentary film maker, essayist, environmentalist and ... um ... avid bicyclist.

The Bicycle Diaries are

wide-ranging, but most speak in some respect to his central theme that healthy cities are cities that are bicycle-friendly. The revolution Byrne wants is one that creates and protects accessible, interesting, human-scale urban spaces–places where people can get around by foot or bike without feeling like deer during the hunting season.

Britain is dangerous for cycling

Janice Turner:

In Europe’s top three cycling nations — Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands — timorous old people cycle, women as often as men, children bike off unaccompanied to school. Cycling is not a moral manifesto or a carbon offset. It does not require DayGlo or £500 alloy wheels or attitude. Cycling is, as it should be, banal. Because it is safe.

Only 1 per cent of our journeys are on bikes, in the Netherlands it is 27 per cent. And the reason is simple: a British cyclist is three times more likely than a Dutch one to die per miles travelled — even though only 3 per cent of Dutch cyclists wear a helmet. In Britain safety is seen as a matter for the individual, not government policy: yet it is highways, not helmets, that save lives.

And with quite extraordinary far-sightedness, these three countries built endless miles of barriered lanes along major roads but, more importantly, in many residential streets cars were slowed to a crawl and compelled to give way to bikes. And to enforce this, the law assumed, unless otherwise proved, that in an accident between a vehicle and a cyclist, the driver was at fault. Last week when that very principle was suggested here by Cycling England, there was a predictable furore about a (snore) Lycra louts’ charter.

But maybe it would make the idiot motorists who pelt down my 20mph street obey the law. Maybe it would have encouraged the left-turning HGV lorries who in London this year killed six female cyclists (women being vulnerable because we tend to ride defensively, hugging the kerb) to check their mirrors. Two fitness instructors, a film producer, a Goldsmiths’ graduate, a City director and an architect

Your attention, please

Do I have your attention?


Ms. Mariella Frostrup would now like to say a few words.

Having once used my bicycle for fun, it's now my main mode of transport.

Becoming a regular cyclist only increases my sense of frustration at
how little is being done to facilitate the changes in lifestyle we all need to make. Where is the big plan, the helping hand to lead us into the new, greener world?

Spot the difference!

A cyclist who rode on the pavement and hit an elderly pedestrian who subsequently died as a result has had his appeal rejected.

Mr Justice Keith said the judges did not accept that his offence had involved only ‘momentary inattention’. “The appellant decided to remain cycling on the pavement and, therefore, to run the risk that he would encounter a person on the other side of the blind corner,” he said.

“He should have realised that, if he collided with someone who was infirm or elderly, it was entirely possible that serious injury might ensue.

It’s hard to object to the logic of that. It’s just a stark contrast to the sympathy which judges ooze when the killer is at the wheel of a car rather than on a bicycle. For example, this case.

However, the judges did feel sympathetic to the cyclist, by allowing him to drive when he comes out of prison:

The Appeal Court judges quashed a one-year driving ban and an order that his driving licence be endorsed with six penalty points.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Crap cycling on Markhouse Road, Walthamstow

As you'll see from the sign above, located on South Grove E17 close to the junction with Markhouse Road, what you are about to see is a recommended cycle route to Leyton.

You've no sooner started cycling along Markhouse Road then you encounter this. (Below) Why is the driver of the first car in the cycle lane? Because the driver has no other choice. The Council has built a new pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road. The carriageway is far too narrow for a cyclist and a car driver to share the space that's left over, but that doesn't deter the geniuses in highway engineering, who have painted some lovely white lines.

(Below) Cyclists then encounter a second new pedestrian refuge, where vehicles are once again forced into the cycle lane. And it's cleverly positioned just before a bend, ensuring that speeding drivers remain by the kerb. The cycle lane fizzles out beyond the bend.

Note that that one of the KEEP LEFT signs has already been smashed away by a vehicle colliding with it, and the remaining sign is askew, after a minor collision. Hardly a safe environment for pedestrians to wait in the middle of the road.

See what effect the refuge has on these two buses.

(Below) Just after the junction with Queens Road E17 there's another new pedestrian refuge. And once again high speed vehicles are forced into the cycle lane.

(Below) And notice that on this pedestrian refuge one of the signs has also already been demolished by a driver not in control of their vehicle.

This road has recently been "improved" to benefit cyclists and pedestrians. I would argue these improvements actually make the road more dangerous for both walkers and cyclists.

Markhouse Road is a perfect symbol of what's wrong with transport policy in London, and why cycling and walking are currently going nowhere. The first problem which has to be dealt with here is that of speed. These so-called improvements do nothing to address reckless risk-taking drivers. This is supposedly a 30 mph limit in a dense residential area, close to two schools, but there is nothing to slow down speeding drivers, not even a solar-powered flashing advisory speed sign. And because Markhouse Road is an A road, Transport for London would not permit it to be made into a 20 mph zone, even if the Council wanted to. And yet a 20 mph limit is the first essential step in humanising this road.

Secondly, the refuges are stupid and useless. Who wants to be stranded with small children between a pair of concrete pancakes in the middle of two lanes of high density fast-moving traffic? Much better to replace all these islands with zebra crossings. But of course TfL would not allow this, because vehicle flow is a greater priority than the safety and convenience of local residents who walk.

Thirdly, the cycle lane is a useless farce. It should be blacked out. It might as well not exist. It makes cycling more dangerous by giving drivers the illusion that it supplies an adequate space for cyclists. And as we know, cycle lanes encourage drivers to come closer than they would otherwise. I shall not be unduly surprised if a cyclist is killed or seriously injured by a driver colliding with her as she is passing one of these new refuges.

Fourthly, there is the basic problem of car dependency and driver attitude. The volume of vehicles makes this a very unpleasant road to cycle on. How many of these drivers are going on journeys of less than five miles? Quite probably most of them. Yet their transport choice is given priority.

The other problem is that many drivers will overtake you at the very last moment, desperate to get past the concrete island before the cyclist. Those who don't cycle in London because they are fearful of their safety are quite right not to. Cycling on Markhouse Road can be unnerving and dangerous, and the rest of your life can be in the hands of some moron driving a 4X4 while texting.

London is currently trapped in a vicious circle of pampered car dependency, spectacular and widespread driver lawlessness, and a reluctance at all levels to create the safe and convenient infrastructure that will encourage people to walk and cycle.

Exciting new cycling safety initiative in Norwich!

Norfolk County Council has defended its decision to back a controversial measure allowing lorries to use a bus lane in Norwich, which was given a permanent green light last week.

Cyclist groups have condemned the initiative as "brainless" but the council says it will cut congestion and be safer for cyclists.

Dirty and dangerous black cabs

Thousands of black cabs emitting illegal levels of pollution - and hundreds with brake problems - are being allowed on London's streets as a result of Boris Johnson "cosying up" to the taxi trade, it was claimed today.

New figures obtained by the Green Party show 2,898 cabs - one in seven of the capital's black taxis - failed a mid-year inspection prior to the tests being scrapped by the Mayor last year.

A further 1,452 were temporarily taken off the road after problems were found with their brakes, according to the Transport for London statistics.

Darren Johnson said: "These tests are vital in terms of reducing deaths due to air pollution. The black cab trade were very enthusiastic supporters of Boris Johnson during the mayoral election. This looks like pay-back time."

Another cyclist killed by a lorry driver

The incident happened shortly before 8.40am on Saturday on the southbound carriageway of the A1 just before the turning for Great Casterton.

"Both the lorry and the cyclist were traveling in the southbound carriageway when the collision happened.

A recovering car addict speaks out

A journalist defends Vancouver Critical Mass from the perspective of a cyclist and a recovering car addict who hasn't owned a vehicle in two-and-a-half years.

75% of crashes are caused by distracted drivers

Three out of four vehicle crashes are caused because the driver is distracted at the wheel, according to researchers. The study, by Heriot-Watt University academics, found texting behind the wheel or dealing with children were the two biggest causes of accidents.

Despite the penalties, the study showed more than 52% were prepared to admit using a mobile phone while driving, and 40% said they had written a text.

Technology was found to play a big role in accidents and near misses, with satellite navigation systems and MP3 players cited as major distractions for drivers.

Police said the research spells out exactly why it is important drivers minimise the distractions in the car. Ch Insp Bryan Rodgers, of Lothian and Borders Police, said failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences. "Nobody goes out intending to cause harm in these situations, but not focusing on your driving can mean that you change your family life forever, you change someone else's family life forever and even maybe face criminal charges or even imprisonment."

But don’t worry, most of the time you won’t be caught, and even if you are caught texting at the wheel you’ll only be fined £60 and get 3 points, which means you can do it four times in a year, and then again after the points have been cancelled!

And even in fatal crashes where cyclists have been killed, Scottish police have not a set procedure which requires them to check if a driver has been using a mobile phone, so even killers can get off with the excuse that it was just an accident.

Cheer up!

Unchecked global warming could bring a severe temperature rise of 4C within many people's lifetimes, according to a new report for the British government that significantly raises the stakes over climate change.

The study, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by scientists at the Met Office, challenges the assumption that severe warming will be a threat only for future generations, and warns that a catastrophic 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060 without strong action on emissions.

So why not cheer yourself up and buy a new car, courtesy of that nice Mr Brown:

The cash-for-clunkers scheme has been extended with a £100 million injection partly funded by the taxpayer.

The scheme has boosted car sales; the proportion of cars built in the UK for the domestic market reached a 56-month high of 33.8 per cent in August.

Monday 28 September 2009

All cyclist are existentialists

Cyclists are existentialists because there are regularly key life choices to be made.

Here on the A112 this morning there is complete gridlock. The lights are at green but the traffic isn't moving the way I'm going (north).

I have five choices.

I can use this gloriously wide cycle lane to undertake the heavy goods vehicle. But then if it suddenly starts off and moves into the lane I may end up dead. Bad idea. Even if I succeed in getting past alive I may then collide with a pedestrian crossing the road from the other side, who won't have considered the possibility of an undertaking cyclist.

I can go round to the middle of the road and try and overtake it. There I risk being hit by a motorcyclist roaring up behind me in the middle of the road, who won't be expecting me to pop out. Or I may encounter an oncoming motor cyclist, bus or heavy goods vehicle. Splat.

Or I can cycle on the pavement and then re-join the cycle lane, confirming the impression of pedestrians that cyclists are louts and the biggest menace around.

Or I can dismount and push my bicycle past on the pavement and then rejoin the cycle lane.

Or I can sit on my saddle and wait with the rest of the traffic.

(Obviously I made the only sensible existentialist choice.)

Background notes

The clock in the background says 4.35 pm. It always says 4.35 pm. Like most things in Waltham Forest, it's not working.

I wonder what yellow thing is dangling from the back of the lorry? Some sort of reflective patch, it looks like. Could this be a sign of a poorly maintained vehicle?


EY07 OTL, white van man, 11.05 am Friday, Asian driver, plump face, moustache. Male companion.

Stationary in the road one hundred metres ahead of me. Still stationary as I reach the van. As I cycle past, the van suddenly accelerates without warning. I am trapped in the middle of the road with a speeding van on my inside. I scream at the driver to stop, and he does. ‘You were parked, and you didn’t look in your mirror!’ I shout.

‘I wasn’t parked!’ he shouts back.

Well whatever he was doing – looking at a map perhaps – he wasn’t considering the possibility as he drove off that a cyclist might be overtaking him.

Nor was he in the slightest bit repentant or apologetic.

Pointless having an argument with a driver like that, so I cycle on.

As he overtakes me, he screams at me.

Something uncomplimentary.

I am left shaking from the original shock of being placed in a position of danger, and now I’m furious that the driver didn’t even say sorry, but chose to verbally abuse me, even though I didn’t abuse him but was scrupulously reasonable and polite.

Is it a coincidence that my favourite film is Kill Bill? A revenge film, where lots of bad people are terminated.

Some of us cyclists have a rich fantasy life, you know.

One fantasy involves me giving up cycling and blogging and instead using a car to get around the neighbourhood. And, hey, sometimes dreams come true!

Walking and cycling? We don’t want to waste money on that.

Transport planning and budgeting in Britain remains fundamentally committed to motor transport and contemptuous of walking and cycling. Here’s the latest example.

THE campaign for a pedestrian footbridge across King’s Cross station has received a new blow with planners from Islington Council saying that it is not financially viable. The proposed bridge, which would span the entire station from Wharfdale Road in Islington to Battlebridge Road in Camden would cost around £8million, according to the council’s transport planner Karen Sullivan.

Last Tuesday Ms Sullivan told the West Area committee: “In this climate there is just no money for it. [Sic!] Any benefits to pedestrians and cyclists do not outweigh the costs.”

King’s Cross resident Sophie Talbot, a leading campaigner for the footbridge, said she was bitterly disappointed.

“The needs of at least 17,000 residents plus hundreds of businesses have been ignored,” she said. “Once again this is a poor quality report lacking in proper research.

“The King’s Cross development is a billion pound development but provides little for the community.”

And I say to myself, it’s a car supremacist world

MOTORISTS are cheering the fact that the road-level pedestrian crossing between the newly opened Ion Orchard and Wheelock Place [Eh?] is gone.

No more hordes of pedestrians and stragglers crossing Paterson Road means no more vehicular congestion along Orchard Road.

The pesky bipeds have been diverted into the bowels of the earth.

Statistical imbalance

Of all of the disparities between different transportation modes, one of the most important and least talked about is the disparity of information. Right now in American cities we have an enormous and expanding set of knowledge about how cars and trucks move, yet we know almost nothing quantitatively about how pedestrians and bicyclists use the infrastructure.

Because pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure lacks this precision of data, or any data at all in most cases, there is little scientific support for funding it.

It’s the same in Waltham Forest. Cycling is measured on an irregular and wholly inadequate basis; walking is not measured at all. From time to time the council attempts to close public footpaths, and on not one occasion has it ever bothered to measure the use of those paths before it seeks to close them. Walking just isn’t important.

Unfit children

Only one in eight youngsters is getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Hardly surprising, with ‘the school run’ and some schools banning children from cycling. Not to mention the car dependency of the teaching profession and the medical profession. But naturally these factors are excluded from this news story.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Waltham Forest Council climate strategy unveiled

I enjoyed this year’s E17 Art Trail, and I was impressed by artist Valerie Grove’s suitcase installations in the garden of the Vestry House Museum (you can find out more about her work here).

I think Ms. Grove has perfectly captured the Council's environmental policies. There's a lovely looking package, and then you open it up, and inside...

(Above) Rotting fish on a bed of sand. Yes, the perfect symbol of our stinking, rotting, corrupt, putrid, dead and disintegrating council!

I hope to participate in the E17 Art Trail myself next year. I'm working on a display of bizarre surrealist photographs called 'cycle parking in Waltham Forest'. In the meantime here are shots of cycle parking at some of the sites on this year's art trail.

(Below) The William Morris Gallery has been in existence for over half a century, during which time not even one cycle stand for visitors has been provided. But there's a lovely bit of wall you can lean your bicycles against.

(below) Cycle parking at the Quaker centre on Jewel Road.

(Below) Cyclists visiting The Old Glass Factory were able to take advantage of these railings.

Driver runs down NINE children on pavement

Nine children were treated in hospital after a car ploughed into a school group in a village.

A 40-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving following the incident in Worlingham, Suffolk, on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile in New Zealand:

A cyclist was critically injured and three others hurt when a car ploughed into a pack of 20 riders in Auckland yesterday.

Cyclists who were with the injured men described the scene as "absolute carnage."

Police inspector Willie Taylor said the driver appeared to have driven through a compulsory stop before colliding with the group.

(Below) High viz gear and cycle helmets. But I expect the driver just didn't see them....

Heard the one about the one-legged nonagenarian driver?

Well, there was this one-legged nonagenarian driver, see, and he

…crashed into the conservatory of the pub at a speed of more than 30mph at about 6pm on Thursday night.

He then reversed onto the nearby A376 before picking up speed and crashing into the building again, causing further damage.

Onlookers described the elderly man, believed to be holidaying in Devon, as "confused".

Another symptom of the marvellous system whereby anyone over 75 is allowed to continue driving without anyone verifying their fitness to do so apart from… the driver!

Judges ooze sympathy for killer of cyclist

25-year-old golf coach Matthew Rice on Low Road last November. Rice, of Peartree Close, Fenstanton, admitted causing death by careless driving in July.

He told police he pulled into the right-hand lane to begin overtaking the cars, but that the Fiat Punto, second in the queue, had also pulled out and he had then followed. The driver of the Punto then spotted Mr Robinson's cycle coming towards her and pulled in, leaving Rice confronted with a cycle heading directly for him and no opportunity to avoid a collision.

At Peterborough Crown Court a month later, he was jailed for 20 weeks. But on Wednesday, following an appeal to top judges, Rice's sentence was overturned and suspended, allowing him to walk free from prison immediately.

In Rice's favour, he was described during his sentencing hearing as a man of "exemplary good character" who had never been in trouble with the police and who had shown "deep" remorse.

If he’s that sorry then he won’t mind giving up driving, eh? Er, no.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Irwin said that, had Mr Robinson survived, even with devastating and life-changing injuries, the maximum penalty Rice would have faced would have been a fine - as the other driver received.

So by that perverted logic, the judge thinks prison was unfair.

He added: "The recommendation of a pre-sentence report was that any prison sentence should be suspended.

"It is not clear that this proposal was given active consideration by the judge."

Well, why not ask him, then?

Rice's two-year driving ban was also cut to one year as he needs to be able to drive in order to carry out his work as a golf coach.

So one more reckless killer is allowed back on to the roads. The right to drive is the most important human right of all, no matter how bad and lethal your driving.

Last Friday

Just a few miles from the serious collision involving a cyclist in Leyton

A MALE cyclist thought to be a teenager was hit by a van in Tottenham this afternoon.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Cyclist seriously injured in Leyton

A CYCLIST has suffered a serious leg injury after being run over. The 26-year-old was riding in Leyton Green Road at 10.45am today (Friday) when he was knocked from his bicycle and went under a passing car.

He was rushed to Whipps Cross University Hospital. Patrick Edwards, of Walthamstow Village, saw the aftermath of the accident. He said: “The man's leg looked like it was hanging off. It looked like it had suffered serious trauma.”

Leyton Green Road regularly features on this blog.

Last year it won the prestigious Waltham Forest crap cycle lane of the year award.

As you can see, it has since been improved!

A few reflections. Firstly, the local paper probably only got to hear about this serious collision because a local resident rang them up and told them. The emergency services are regularly called to car crashes but are under no obligation to tell the local press, which means most road violence goes unrecorded. Even cycling fatalities can pass unnoticed, because the Metropolitan Police can be very slow to release the news, sometimes taking as long as five days. By then the story is of no interest to the media, except to the small local press.

Secondly, I cycled along Leyton Green Road this morning. There was nothing to indicate that there’d been a serious collision the day before. Even when pedestrians and cyclists are killed, the Met can take a week to put up signs asking for help from witnesses.

Thirdly, the cycle lanes on this road are meaningless, because drivers can park anywhere on Leyton Green Road, and do. This means that cyclists are forced out into the centre of the road and have to rely on the good sense of drivers coming up behind them. Unfortunately the streets of Leyton are packed with people driving while texting, chatting on mobiles, speeding, and red light jumping. Drivers themselves are forced into the cycle lane to avoid oncoming traffic in the middle of the road which is itself forced out by vehicles parked in the cycle lane. In short, the cycle lanes on this road are a dangerous farce.

Fourthly, the junction of Leyton Green Road and Lea Bridge Road is a shambles. The so-called ‘improvements’ fizzle out just before the junction, where the cycle lane shrinks, the road surface crumbles, and the Advanced Stop Line for cyclists, though visible, is in a seriously neglected state. Drivers abuse the ASL all day long, secure in the knowledge that Commander Mark Benbow is not interested in enforcing it. This morning (10.50 am) I pedalled into the ASL at red and waited there. In due course I was joined by the male driver of a big flash silver car GU02 AYW – the typical slob London driver, who is contemptuous of such rudimentary facilities as exist for cyclists.

At this junction there is no signalled crossing of Leyton Green Road for pedestrians, even though this is a major crossing point, just down the road from Leyton Sixth Form College. This makes crossing Leyton Green Road a terrifying experience, as drivers turning into it from Lea Bridge Road approach at speed and don’t always bother to signal.

All in all, Leyton Green Road E10 supplies a classic example of why cycling and walking in London remain marginalised , dangerous and often unpleasant activities, in a city where the car is king.

There are various things which could be done to make this road safe and attractive for cycling. You could get rid of all the parked cars, for example. You could turn it into a one-way street with a segregated two-way cycle lane. And the junction with Lea Bridge Road could be redesigned to provide a safe priority crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. However, Transport for London, highway engineers and local authorities continue to prize car dependency and use above all else, so none of these rational options will be adopted.

Cycle parking at the Vestry House Museum, Walthamstow

There isn't any. Even though Waltham Forest Council describes itself as one of London's leading cycle-friendly local authorities, its only museum has no cycle stands.

But try hiding your bike behind the rubbish container. With luck, it might not get nicked there.

Road safety trainer now afraid to cycle

As a road safety trainer with Leeds City Council, Mrs Jones tours schools teaching young cyclists and pedestrians how to stay safe, so she knows more about the issue than most.

But she is now nervous about climbing back on her bike for the daily 35-minute ride to and from work and also fears for the young riders she is trying to help.

Boris transport adviser collides with pedestrian

Witnesses told police he had hit the pedestrian, but no evidence was given to charge him with dangerous driving.

The transport adviser, who has been riding for only one year, was not using his normal Honda CBR600F for the rally but borrowed a bike from BMW.

Interesting that a man involved in letting bikers into bus lanes is getting freebies from a motorcycle manufacturer. But as it’s for charity that’s alright, innit?

dangerous Ottawa

Three cyclists were involved in separate accidents with motor vehicles within about an hour late Thursday afternoon.

The wit and wisdom of Jeremy Clarkson

Clarkson added that he was not concerned what people might make of the environmental effects of his long-haul flights to complete the tour.

He said: 'Every time they put a climate change programme on, 42 people will watch that, eight million or seven million will watch Top Gear.

'I think people are rather bored with the idea of climate change and, when we do get a lovely day, let's just enjoy it, not get guilty.'

Oh yes, and

Some 20 million people worldwide were forced to leave their homes last year, because of floods, storms, drought and other natural inconveniences relating to climate change, a United Nations' report said.

But that’s alright, because they were foreigners. And climate catastrophe is never going to affect Britain, is it?

Scientists warn that if the Himalayan glaciers disappear, the impact would be felt by more than one billion people across Asia. What will African farmers do when floods wash away their crops as is happening these days in West Africa?

Asians? Africans? Top Gear fans can’t be expected to care about populations where very many people don’t even own a car.

Language shapes how people perceive reality, as we know from those toxic terms 'road accident' and 'road safety'.

Why don't we designate a 2C rise in temperatures "global burning"? Although the term is more emotive than scientific, it would focus minds enormously on the risks of inaction on climate change.

As it is

the world is sleepwalking into a disaster. Unless world leaders wake up pretty soon we will all face a living nightmare. For people all over the world who are aware of or already feeling the effects of climate change, it’s somewhat perplexing and frustrating that there is so much talking and negotiating taking place on an issue that is effectively a ticking time bomb.

Friday 25 September 2009

A wake up call to cyclists

Too many cyclists 'nod off' while cycling, victims of the smooth surfaces and relaxing, stress-free environments which they enjoy. This clever device, specially placed in the carriageway to catch out cyclists turning left into Cleveland Park Avenue E17, ensures a jolt that provides a valuable 'wake up call' to the drowsy and inattentive cyclist.

The Metropolitan Police: car supremacist and useless at its job

This is why Sir Paul Stephenson should be sacked, along with the rest of the senior management of this crap police force:

London has the worst record for the offence, with 1 in 8 cars (13 per cent) in the capital flagged as being driven illegally because they were uninsured, the highest proportion for any region.


There were 33 per cent more uninsured drivers on the road this year compared to 2008.

Another indictment of the complacent and totally unaccountable Association of Chief Police Officers.



A cyclist was concerned that the new access at Winwick Road would prohibit cyclists’ access to cycle paths as staggered crossings would cause them to wait at central reservations while crossing the road.

Cyclists are near the top of a policy ‘hierarchy’ that encourages other means of transport, the meeting was told, but there is a need for balance between drivers and cyclists.

“It is ideal to have a straight access route without a central section but we have to balance that against the efficiency of the junction,” said Duncan Richardson, principal leisure manager.

In other words, motor vehicle flow is a greater priority than cycling flow.

And this sort of mindless car supremacism, which you can find in a thousand different forms anywhere in Britain, is one small part of the reason why

The pace and scale of climate change may now be outstripping even the most sobering predictions of the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change

Traffic calming for ‘rampaging cyclists’

Ecstasy at the Daily Mail

The radical step to introduce traffic calming measures to combat dangerous cyclists in Islington in London has been applauded by pedestrians and residents but condemned by angry cyclists.

News from Armenia

There are too many cars and pedestrians in the streets of Yerevan.

According to

Chief of the Traffic Police, Police Colonel Margar Ohanyan

In an admirable new move (we urge Bristol Traffic to draw this policy to the attention of the authorities in that marvellous city)

From October 1st pedestrians will be fined for violating the traffic rules.

dangerous Dublin

In just one day

four separate bus crashes left 12 people in hospital.

Ken on Boris and transport policy

Since his election Boris Johnson has subsidised the polluters at the expense of ordinary Londoners. But why should a bus or Tube passenger subsidise a “Chelsea Tractor”? And why should they pay for ridiculous gimmicks like a new Routemaster that will probably never carry a single passenger?

Motorists driving the worst gas guzzlers have been let off the planned higher C-charge of £25. In addition, the Mayor's plan to halve the congestion charge zone would lose London another £55-70 million a year.

Meanwhile, small lorries and vans are being let off heavy fines if they don't meet higher air-quality standards, because the Mayor suspended the planned next phase of the London-wide, clean-air low emission zone. This is despite the fact that, thanks to this move, we face £300 million in fines for exceeding EU emissions limits; thousands of Londoners die unnecessarily every year from respiratory illnesses because of some of the worst air quality in Europe.

City Hall has created a vicious circle. Revenues have been thrown away, pollution and congestion get worse and Londoners will pay through higher fares and lower investment in public transport.

The net result is that
Boris Johnson is planning big fare increases in January.

Er, a bit like you, Ken, then!

Thursday 24 September 2009

My ride today

This morning I'm cycling south on the A112. Between Richards Place E17 and Milton Road E17 the cycle lane ahead is obstructed by a heavy goods vehicle. The driver has parked half of it on the pavement and is not in the cab. He is probably delivering to the car showroom he has parked outside. On my right is another lorry. The driver is waiting for oncoming traffic to pass, because there's a green van parked in the cycle lane on the other side of the road, causing a pinch point.

Just beyond the HGV on the pavement is a vehicle delivery truck, also half on the pavement and the rest across the cycle lane. Both drivers are committing civil and criminal offences, but I think they park like this because enforcement is rare or non-existent.

(Below) Two hundred metres further on I come to this. That huge tow lorry is not in the cycle lane, although the white van in front of it is. The cycle lane is of irregular width and at the point beside the tow truck it narrows to somewhere between half a metre and three-quarters of a metre in width.

A safe and attractive environment for cycling? I think not.

‘Surely this is madness’

Who is

the most dangerous green Nazi in existence.

You guessed. The cyclist. And who can possibly doubt that someone on a bicycle poses the most deadly threat to European civilisation since Adolf Hitler?

And who thinks cyclists are

hoodlums who disregard the Highway Code believing they have the morale high ground because they are not polluting our planet.

And who doesn’t seem to know the difference between ‘moral’ and ‘morale’?


‘Gary Wright Group Midweek Editor’

Who presumably aspires to employment on the Daily Mail.

A newspaper which, as the Media Blog observes,

has clearly decided cycling – or rather its abolition - will be its new cause-celebre.

And while we’re on the subject of the Daily Mail, here’s a pic of that newspaper’s founder with a buddy who was not a cyclist but a famous motorway pioneer and fast car enthusiast.


We, the undersigned, call on Tower Hamlets Council, Tfl and the Highways agency to work together to redesign the junction at Whitechapel Road and Vallance Road to make it safe for cyclists.


"She absolutely loved cycling and was a very experienced cyclist. She wore a helmet and always made sure she had the right lights.

Another lorry/cyclist collision

A cyclist is fighting for his life in a critical condition after colliding with a lorry during rush hour. The accident happened on Geddington Road, Corby.

PC Keith Millard, from Northamptonshire Police, said: "The collision was between a lorry and a cyclist. Both were travelling towards the Holiday Inn. The cyclist has serious, life-threatening injuries.

"There was some disruption to local businesses. Some people had to walk in to their sites. We've had a couple of incidents on this road in the last few years."

People having to abandon their cars and walk in to work – that’s just awful.

Consequences of the school run

In London, 36.3 per cent of children aged 10 and 11 are overweight or obese, compared with a national average of 32.6 per cent. Four and five-year-olds in the capital are also above the national average, with 22.9 per cent being overweight or obese, compared with an average of 22.6 per cent.

Climate catastrophe

Our leaders are fiddling with the old dirty technologies, too addicted and too addled to move us on and up.

It will require a global mass movement of extraordinary tenacity, pressuring governments everywhere, and overpowering the fossil fools.

Well, yes. But as a first step I’d settle for some cycle stands.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

My morning bike ride

This morning at the Blackhorse Road junction. Where the A503 crosses the A1006. Death trap railings (which I feel confident the London Borough of Waltham Forest won't remove until there's been a cycling fatality), the Stansted Airport EasyJet bus driver overtook me when he didn't need to, blocking the cycle lane and entering the Advanced Stop Line. As for my bad experiences before I got to this junction, and then after it... well any London cyclist can bore you with tales of near-misses and wantonly reckless drivers.

I think the cycle lane here is about three-quarters of a metre wide. Part of the glorious 20 miles of on-road cycle lanes which Waltham Forest is so proud of.

Fun puzzle. See if you can spot any similarity between these pics and the one shown here.

Compulsory jet packs for doctors’ children?

Every year hundreds of doctors and members of their families are injured in road accidents, sometimes even killed. Now a shock new report from Waltham Forest's prestigious Krapp Institute has shown that every single one of these incidents could have been avoided if those involved had been travelling through the air with the aid of jet-packs.

The Krapp Institute is calling for the wearing of jet-packs by doctors’ children to be made compulsory. ‘It is extremely frustrating to know that doctors are putting their children at risk by sending them to school in cars. Roads are no places for children. A small jet-pack can ensure your child will arrive safely in the school yard just minutes after take-off,’ said Chief Executive F.W. Krapp.

And now other news.

Members of the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine (APEM) and the College of Emergency Medicine have called for the law to be changed so cyclists under 16 have to wear helmets. The APEM and the College of Emergency Medicine voted overwhelmingly for the call at their annual conference in London.

Their call was welcomed by other campaigners on the issue. Angela Lee, the chief executive of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, said: “We are delighted that the College has today joined the British Medical Association (BMA) in giving such a clear endorsement to what we are saying.”

A BMA spokesperson said: "The evidence is there that wearing cycle helmets saves lives and prevent brain damage.

Oh yeah?

The objection to the bike helmet campaign is that, like the blood-soaked ideology of ‘road safety’, it diverts attention from the need for road danger reduction by transferring responsibility from those causing the injury to those who are injured.

Whether or not you are wearing a helmet is irrelevant if you are cycling on roads where drivers speed, jump red lights, chat on mobile phones, overtake and then turn left right in front of you, emerge from side roads without stopping etc – which is the daily reality of cycling in London. The medical profession has a long history of silence on the epidemic of deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads, in part because the profession is itself dominated by people addicted to car dependency and big flash cars.

Somehow I had previously managed to miss the existence of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust. It appears to be a one-woman charity run from an address in Reading. Its website asserts that

There is overwhelming evidence that cycle helmets are effective and wearing one can help to reduce head injury by up to 88 per cent.

Which is garbage. As we know, wearing a cycle helmet can increase risk because drivers come closer to you than they would if you weren’t wearing one.

The Bicycle Helmet Evangelical Ministry of Truth is keen to spread the gospel:

Children’s wards, GP surgeries and schools are also key areas in the campaign to spread information about the importance of helmets and it is essential leaflets are distributed in all these places.

As more and more children are being encouraged to cycle to school under the Government’s Safer Routes to Schools initiative it is vital that they do so ensuring all safety precautions are taken.

This involves wearing the correct reflective clothing, having cycle training and wearing a helmet.

These sorts of campaign in reality make the roads more dangerous not less, by absolving drivers from responsibility and transferring it to the victim. Not wearing reflective clothing – no wonder that driver ran you down! Crushed by a lorry – well, if you weren’t wearing a helmet it must be your fault you got killed.

Coroners courts now regularly attribute blame to pedestrians and cyclists run down at night who were wearing dark clothing, even when the pedestrian is walking across a zebra crossing.

The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust links to an American outfit called the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

It squeals

In August of 2009, President Obama appeared in photos riding with his daughters. Like many parents, the daughters were outfitted with helmets, but dad was not. Many cyclists had the same reaction we did: Oh no!

Whereas my reaction was: I bet he’s not and never has been a cyclist, this is just Obama (who obviously we at the Krapp Institute prefer to the raving mad 19-cars-owning other bloke whose name we’ve already forgotten) doing a typical politician’s Green nice-family-guy PR exercise. And the President of the United States on a bicycle is not remotely at risk of being hit by a driver, because he is cycling on a closed-off road –which makes his family’s use of helmets absurd.

Movingly, the BHSI is troubled by a frightful scene from an American soap opera:

No, not Ed and Carol moving in together, but the scene with them riding a tandem bicycle without helmets and running a stop sign! As a cycling advocate and a rehabilitation professional who has worked with survivors of traumatic head injuries, I was appalled. Head injuries from bicycle accidents are a major problem primarily due to riders not wearing helmets.

No, they’re not. Head injuries from bicycle crashes are a major problem primarily because reckless or inattentive drivers negligently operating a ton of high-speed metal run into cyclists.

Still, you’ll never need to contact the BBC to complain about cyclists not wearing helmets in EastEnders, because in that soap opera nobody cycles, there are no cycle stands, everybody drives, and everybody is always screaming at each other and making threats. Now that’s what I call realism.

Danny McBean is dead

TRIBUTES were paid last night to a stunt cyclist who died in a car crash.

Danny McBean, 16, was a passenger in a Vauxhall Vectra which crashed on the A862 at Lentran, near Inverness.

He featured in hundreds of YouTube clips,
performing amazing stunts and tricks on his BMX bikes.

Breaking news - Ontario just like Britain!

A survey commissioned for the opening of the Ontario Bike Summit in Waterloo this morning indicates over 60 per cent of Ontarians would like to ride more often but the main reason they don’t is fear.

Others cited lack of bike trails that go where they want to as a major reason for not riding.

Washington DC won’t allow permanent ghost bikes

Memorials are typically allowed to remain for 30 days.

Four dead, nothing said

You probably didn’t notice, as this violence was not caused by terrorists or hoodies with knives and was therefore of no interest to the media or the political establishment, but a few days back there was

a weekend of carnage on the roads across the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Back to normality

Once the fun of Skyride is over, it's back to the everyday world of London cycling. This cycle stand on Hoe Street by the junction with Daventry Avenue E17 has sacks of fastfood rubbish dumped around it, week after week after week.

Eye-witness account of last week’s Whitechapel cycling death

A charity worker today described his battle to save the life of a cyclist who had been crushed by a lorry.

Chrystelle Brown
, 26, was dragged 100 yards along the road after being hit by the vehicle as she rode to work.

As she lay screaming in pain another cyclist, Andy Dangerfield, stopped and tried to put her in the recovery position.

Mr Dangerfield, 33, described the junction of Whitechapel Road and Vallance Road as a death trap.

"I think the truck driver didn't see Chrystelle. There were works on the pavement, with a temporary fence, so Chrystelle had nowhere to go," he said.

Her family are campaigning for improvements to this junction:

Cousin Kat Hawes said: "We want to ensure that she did not die in vain and are campaigning for the redesign of this junction to prevent further tragic deaths.

"It is renowned throughout the cyclist community as being dangerous, particularly when travelling south down Vallance Road.

Crown Court Judge on second drunken-driving charge

A judge who was already on bail after being charged with drink-driving has been arrested for a similar offence.

Judge Bruce Macmillan, 63, was arrested in his home city of Liverpool, on Thursday for allegedly being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.

He was already due to appear before magistrates on Septmber 30 charged with drink-driving

If Judge Macmillan is found guilty of these offences it would be interesting if someone went back through the history of his judgements to see if his sentencing policy was unduly lenient towards convicted drivers. But of course no one ever will. Such considerations are outside the frame of civilized discourse.

The law and killer drivers (in NZ)

The death of a cyclist near Otaki has prompted calls for mandatory manslaughter charges for drink drivers who kill on our roads.

Mr van Kampen was cycling home from work on Friday afternoon when he was hit from behind.

Peter Jenkins of the Sensible Sentencing Trust says it is pushing for changes in the law making manslaughter charges mandatory for drink drivers who kill.

“The person has made a deliberate decision that then results in the death of an innocent person,” he says.

Monday 21 September 2009

Free radicals

(Above) Late Victorian Clarion Cyclists.

I discovered on Roger Huddle's 'Radical Walk' that Walthamstow was once a hotbed of radical cycling socialists. They were known as the Clarion Cyclists, and were the local chapter of a national organisation. Amazingly the Nation Clarion Cycling Club still exists, though these days it gives the impression of being a jolly cycling social club rather than a socialist propaganda outfit.

In Walthamstow hundreds of cyclists would assemble at The Bell corner, and then pedal off to greet the arrival of The Clarion Van, which they would escort around the neighbourhood, bringing the message of socialism to the workers. All tangible local traces of this phenomenon seem to have vanished, and there don't seem to be any photographs. So I've had to make do with pics of Clarion Cyclists from oop north.

(Below) A Clarion van.

(Below) A jazz age Clarion Cyclist named Elsie. Well, you only have to look at her to see she's a born troublemaker.

(Below) She married fellow radical Thomas Calderley. Note the disgraceful absence of cycle helmets or high visibility yellow luminous jackets. And that device they are sitting on is plainly designed to slow down motor traffic and impede the glorious dawn of mass car ownership and the great car economy.

Safe cycling!

Mike Roots began cycling the world in 1996 and 80,000 miles later he is still in his front room because he thinks roads are too dangerous.

The former economics teacher, aged 67, rides his exercise bike while plotting his trip on maps following the coast of each continent except Australia.

“I am currently in Argentina having got round the Cape of Good Hope and I have got a fair way to go through North America, Greenland, Iceland and then home,” said Mr Roots, who has worn out six exercise bikes and lost 5st.

Kill a cyclist, contact the professionals

You are a prominent public figure who has just killed a cyclist. What’s one of the top considerations going through your mind? That’s right – the PR angle.

Among the first calls former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant made after summoning his lawyer was to a blue-chip public relations firm.By the time he emerged hours later, facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, Bryant's image was firmly in hand by Navigator Ltd.

They didn’t believe him

Riaz, of Langley Way, Watford represented himself during an appeal to get his licence back at Watford Magistrates Court on Thursday.

He told the court the cyclist ran into his taxi rather than him opening his door.

Another motorbike/cyclist crash

A CYCLIST has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries following a crash near Thorne last Sunday.

Police said the rider was in collision with a black Honda Varadero motorbike on the A18 Tudworth Road, Hatfield, near the junction with Sandtoft Road. The 58-year-old man, from Doncaster, was taken to Sheffield's Northern General Hospital with life-threatening head injuries.

Officers believe Sunday's incident, at around 11am, happened as the motorbike was overtaking the bicycle.

Sunday 20 September 2009


Wheeling away down the road of life,
I and my Daisy Bell.
When the night’s dark, we can both despise
Policemen and lamps as well.
There are bright lights in the dazzling eyes
Of beautiful Daisy Bell.

This song is a shocking reminder that cyclists have always been a subversive force in society, ignoring traffic law and despising policemen. This is probably not the bit used by Walt Disney in the film where Donald Duck courts Daisy Duck on a tandem bicycle and sings part of the song.

Apparently the song was inspired by Frances Evelyn "Daisy" Greville, Countess of Warwick, who, surprisingly, was a high society socialist, who spent a lot of time hanging out in Walthamstow with working class radicals. One such location was The William Morris Hall, shown in yesterday's post. This was built by workers who contributed by buying bricks, and then helping to construct it, allowing local radicals to have a meeting place, not just for politics but also for a wide range of artistic activities. In place of Sunday school and theology, the children of working class activists had a secular alternative. Sadly, the 'Socialist Ten Commandments' have vanished from the hall, having naturally been removed when the hall eventually fell into the hands of the local Labour council, who sold it on to a local sweatshop business. Since then it has, fortunately, been taken over as a children's centre.

I learnt all this by going on last Sunday's 'Radical Walk', led by local activist and campaigner Roger Huddle (shown above), who the other active Walthamstow blogger has dubbed inspirational. And he is, too - bubbling over with enthusiasm and local knowledge, and marching us off on a three-hour jaunt around the neighbourhood, stopping outside local sites where significant local figures once lived or assembled. 'There should be a plaque here!' he kept saying. But as we know, the local council is dominated by philistines who have no interest in the area's extraordinarily rich cultural history. This crap Council is only inspired by the proposals of property developers. Roger Huddle is very involved with local campaign group antiscrap and I hope one day he'll publish his walk talks.

He also talked about Walthamstow's radical cycling history. More about that tomorrow...