Sunday 31 January 2010

Where was Super Tidy Guy?

Are you the next David Bailey or Ansel Adams? Or do you just enjoy snapping photos of things that interest you? Why not take part in Waltham Forest Council’s Love your borough photographic competition.

Sadly I missed the deadline. But, hey, I love my borough, so here’s a sample of it, captured through the magic of digital photography. Belmont Park Road E10 by the junction with William Street, yesterday.

This spot is a regular site for flytipping. If the Council was prepared to have someone sat here in a van watching they could catch the culprit, but they aren’t prepared to resource this kind of suirveillance. Not even temporary CCTV. (The Met has discreet CCTV which can be fitted to lamp posts on a temporary basis and which few people notice.) Instead the Council prefers to shower money on expensive consultants, who publicise the problem but do nothing to address it.

The big question is: where was the borough's Super Tidy Guy? I mean Superman and Spiderman were there when they were needed. Super Tidy Guy is notable only by his absence. Judging by that gear he probably moonlights as a Lycra-lout.

John Terry’s car parking

…probably the same car that he once famously parked in a disabled bay so that he did not have to walk too far to a restaurant for lunch.

Olympic cyclist hit by car

Olympic cyclist Hayden Godfrey required arm surgery after being hit by a car in Christchurch. Godfrey, a member of the New Zealand track cycling team, had just returned from a World Cup meeting in Beijing.

Godfrey said he was cycling towards the city when a car travelling towards Sumner turned in front of him. "I looked down for one second and then I look up and there's a whole faceful of car in front of me," he said. "There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. I didn't even have time to hit the brakes."

His left elbow went through a passenger-side window and as his body went over the top of the car, his arm was pulled back, causing a horseshoe-shaped gash that went through to muscle. Surgeons at Christchurch Hospital removed glass and paint chips from the wound.

Godfrey's helmet and three-week-old, $13,000 bicycle, with just 150 kilometres on the clock, were destroyed. His mother, Jeanne,
said the car's driver admitted liability , but she did not know if charges would be laid.

local Lib Dems suck up to lawless drivers

Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Bob Belam announced a new scheme telling drivers exactly where CCTV enforcement vehicles will be deployed. The initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in the Country, aims to promote safer driving, reduce road accidents and lower the number of penalty charge notices issued to motorists for transgressions such as stopping in a box junction. Details of where the boroughs five CCTV enforcement vehicles will be are available for viewing on the Waltham Forest Council website

Warning law-breakers of where they can expect to get caught is a courtesy extended only to motorists. You don’t find the robbery squad announcing in advance that they’ll be staking out a particular bank. Shops don’t tell you who the store detective is and where they lurk.

Also, if enforcement is going to take place at fixed sites, why bother to do it through two people sitting in a Smart Car? Why not just install a permanent CCTV stalk?

Saturday 30 January 2010

Where have all the drivers gone?

All the cars have mysteriously vanished!

Suddenly there are people walking everywhere!

But it's alright, it's only a property developer's fantasy.

I haven’t blogged about the proposed Walthamstow stadium development, as it’s not a transport issue, and you can find plenty of astute local commentary here. A dissenting view is voiced by the local Green Party, which is pleased to see the end of greyhound racing.

What intrigues me about the proposed development is that when property developers want to get their hands on yet more local land they conjure up an idyllic scene without cars and traffic-choked streets. It's almost as if they knew that, deep down, people don't really like living in an ocean of metal crap.

You’d never know from the picture that this was the vehicle-choked A112. And I’ve never seen so many pedestrians enjoying the exotic sun-soaked landscape here before. Next time I pedal past I’ll take a comparison shot of the reality, as I know readers of this blog like a larf.

Someone has already noticed a change to the fabric of the building.

In the meantime here’s a snap I took before Christmas. That cycle lane in the foreground of the pretty picture fizzles out just to the left of the developer’s picture, and starts the other side of the junction like this. Top quality! Especially on a day like today, with temperatures below freezing and even a light dusting of snow.

Cycle Superhighway News


Drunk killer driver to be allowed to drive again

CCTV footage captured the Stefan Stanko’s car travelling around a right-hand bend, before mounting the pavement a split second before it hit the group. A witness who saw the car said it stopped briefly at a red traffic light before driving off, leaving the dead and injured lying in the street.

Stanko, 24, admitted drinking whisky and cokes and cherry brandy throughout the day before getting behind the wheel of his car. He was over the limit when he ploughed into a group of friends who were walking home together after a night out in Ashford, Kent, on September 27 last year.

Stanko, previously of Gravesend, admitted causing the death by dangerous driving of 67-year-old Brian Moon and Denise Head, 49. He also careered into 12-year-old Rosie Brown, who is now in a rehabilitation unit where she remains in a coma with brain damage. Rosie's aunt, Julie Scorah, 24, and Mr Moon's partner, 63-year-old Phyllis Wanstall, were also injured following their night out at the International Sports and Social Club in Beaver Road.

Stanko, who also pleaded guilty to drink-driving and failing to stop after an accident, was told he had caused 'carnage'.

The driver, a Slovakian, got a hefty jail sentence. But the real scandal is that

he was banned from driving for 10 years

Why should he ever be allowed to drive in Britain (or anywhere) again?

104 mph in 50 mph limit

England footballer Ashley Cole asked for 21 days to pay a £1,000 fine after being banned today for driving at 104mph in a 50mph limit.

The Chelsea player, who earns more than £100,000 a week, claimed he was trying to escape paparazzi tailing his £150,000 Lamborghini Gallardo as he roared down the A3 in Kingston at midday on 17 November 2008.

Cole, who was not in court, immediately appealed after being given a four-month driving ban.


P367 HUD, plum coloured car, male driver steering with one hand while chatting on handheld mobile phone with the other, Grove Road E17, 2.50 pm, 26 January.

Friday 29 January 2010

“Cyclists should make themselves visible to other road users”

Some brand new road safety advice for cyclists from Waltham Forest Council:

Cyclists should make themselves visible to other road users, wear a protective helmet and use cycle facilities such as cycle lanes, and advanced stop areas wherever possible.

Here (below) is an example of a grossly irresponsible cyclist who did none of those things. This woman has reckless risk-taker written all over her.

Bicycles are magic, are they not? Not only do they possess strange qualities which allow them to disappear without trace but the simple act of mounting one is equivalent to a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. One moment you are in an office, bank or shop and everyone can see you, then you walk outside, get on your bike, and hey presto! – you start to vanish from sight.

That’s why you need to wear, at the very least, a bright yellow jerkin, otherwise you are just asking to be run down, you foolish invisible person. Ideally you should also wear yellow reflective trousers. A cycle helmet is a must, obviously, otherwise the judge will quite rightly blame you for your gross negligence in seriously injuring yourself when that speeding/drunk/texting driver hits you from behind.

This marvellous advice is brought courtesy of what the Council, in economical-with-the-truth mode describes as

the only local newspaper distributed across the whole of the borough

(which is a rum claim as there’s a weekly paper called The Waltham Forest Guardian, available from newsagents across the borough)


No other local paper can compete with our coverage of the borough.

Except, of course, the real local paper, which informs local residents about stuff you’ll never read in the council’s propaganda sheet, for example the lawlessness of this very dodgy council!

But enough carping. Let’s be fair to the council and display some of its marvellous local cycling infrastructure. If only cyclists would make the effort to use these cycle lanes and advanced stop lines, how very much safer life would be for this irresponsible section of the transport community.

Pics: (1) Chingford Road (2) High Road Leyton (3) High Road Leyton (4) Forest Road, Walthamstow (5) Church Road, Leyton (6) Wood Street, Walthamstow (7) Kirkdale Road, Leytonstone

Police reluctant to charge motoring criminals

Inspector Clive Darvill told a meeting of Area One committee tonight (Monday) that police prosecuted 16 motorists and warned a further 55 for breaking the speed limit during a three-day operation in the street last week. Inspector Darvill suggested that speeding in the road was not as much of a problem as some residents think."

In the first place what’s the point of catching 71 speeding motorists and then prosecuting only 16 of them?

It's also very revealing that 71 crimes in three days is regarded by a police inspector as not much of a problem.

The message from the police is loud and clear: if you break the speed limit by 5-10 mph that’s fine with them. Ideally, Inspector Darvill should be put on a bicycle and then cyclists would be allowed to drive past him in 4X4s and white vans just inches away at “only” 35 mph. It might change his smug, complacent, dangerous and highly prejudiced perceptions.

The other reason why police catch few drivers speeding on residential roads after complaints from locals is that most drivers slow down when they see police officers up ahead dressed in yellow high-visibility gear. If the police had an unmarked vehicle with a speed camera inside they would catch far more drivers, but naturally the police have no real interest in pursuing motor criminals effectively. To them, driver crime is not real crime.

Yet another hit and run

A cyclist left for dead in a road smash is devastated the person who ran him down has not come forward.

Philip Marsh suffered a broken right leg, concussion and other injuries in the crash which took place on the A4 Bath Road in Charvil at 3.25pm on Sunday, January 17.

Motorists are far more deadly than terrorists

Hairdryer Horror!

'we are holding you under the Anti-Terrorism Act because you're running around in flak jackets and a utility belt', and I said 'and please put spangly blue hairdryer' and he was, like, 'all right'."


In the UK each year more than 30,000 people are killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year.

Thursday 28 January 2010

How an integrationist became a segregationist

When I started this blog I was an integrationist. I was against the idea that cyclists need infrastructure separate from drivers. But not any more. Basically I'd rather cycle in conditions of the sort found in Assen (second pic) than Leyton (first pic). [Assen pic by David Hembrow] I imagine any sane person would, too. And if you really want to get masses of Londoners cycling, you aren't going to succeed if they have to face the kinds of traffic to be experienced in Leyton or anywhere else in the capital.

A central argument against segregation is that it reinforces the idea that cyclists aren’t traffic and don’t belong on the road. Removing cyclists from the roads is exactly what the road lobby wants. The most prominent American advocate of so-called ‘vehicular cycling’ is John Forester. For an English variation there’s this, from Bill Chidley:

I fear that the push for cycle lanes will result in cyclists being pushed off the road altogether. Those of you who might dismiss such a view as paranoia brought on by galloping monoxide poisoning would do well to remember the words of Edmund King, of the Automobile Association: "I think separating out cyclists [from other traffic] can only be good for everyone." In other words, get off the road - you know it makes sense. If one of the main obstacles to getting more bums on bikes is lack of confidence, then surely it would be better to spend the money on training so that potential cyclists will know how to handle their bikes and to recognise and negotiate hazards. This will instil confidence. And a confident cyclist is a safe cyclist.

This is also the philosophy of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. We have a national cycle network that connects everywhere to everywhere else - the routes are called "roads". Cycling is not in decline but growing, and the more people who can be persuaded to cycle the safer and more attractive cycling will become. The London Cycling Campaign has a similar philosophy, though it is not in principle opposed to segregation, and it is in favour of ‘cycling friendly streets’, which seems to mean on-road cycle lanes and Advanced Stop Lines.

Put like that, who would want to defend segregation? It is perfectly true that British-style segregation is crap. British cycling infrastructure in almost every aspect is subordinated to the primacy of motor vehicles, both driven and parked. British highway engineers like nothing more than splashing some paint on a pavement, sticking up a sign with a bike next to a pedestrian, and calling it ‘shared use’. Even when a separate off-road cycle path is built it is often a hideous parody of what you’d find on the continent.

Cycling ideologues who heap praises on British segregated cycling infrastructure often seem wholly detached from reality. Thus the Waltham Forest Cycle Campaign asserts that

Probably the best single cycle facility in the borough, though, is the underpass under the notorious Billet roundabout on the North Circular Road. It has cyclepaths connecting to all of the roads entering the roundabout on an intermediate level above the North Circular Road.

The most recent high profile cycle route was provided on the new Orient Way which links West Leyton with Stratford along the Lea Valley. This has very wide and smooth segregated cycletracks and it won the LCC Best Cycle Route Award in 2001.

Yet “the best single cycle facility in the borough” is unpopular with cyclists. The Council’s own figures show that in the eight years between 1998 and 2007 cycling numbers actually decreased at the Crooked Billet underpass.

The following 7am to 7pm cycle counts undertaken along the North Circular Road screenline.

Crooked Billet underpass:

1998: 335

2002: 312

2006: 309

2007: 324

While cycling on selected main roads in Waltham Forest has generally risen, cycling numbers fell at the Crooked Billet underpass over a nine year period. This underpass system is actually suppressing cycling. Curiously the figures for 1985-1996 have been removed from the record of cycle counts given on p. 21 of the Council’s Waltham Forest Cycle Action Plan, which is plainly another attempt to mask failure, rather than acknowledge it and seek a solution.

No counts are taken on the Orient Way cycle path, and I think I can guess why. It’s little-used by cyclists, largely because it is not a strategic route but also because it is broken up by side roads where the cyclist has to give way, has one section which is lonely and out of sight, has signalled junctions where a cyclist has to wait up to three times at red to travel some 50 metres, and it is generally an unpleasant environment, beside fast moving traffic. The fact that crap like this was felt worthy of a prize by the London Cycling Campaign shows how bizarrely remote from any notion of attractive and convenient cycling that organisation is.

But if crap British segregated infrastructure is deterring cycling, so, too, is on-road unsegregated cycling. Consider Hale End Road E17. The cycle counts (for a period of 12 hours) are

1998: 64

2002: 82

2006: 101

2007: 61

Now take a look at the road conditions. Speeding vehicles which come perilously close.

It would be perfectly feasible to build a segregated cycle lane here, but as fading scraps of white paint on the pavement reveal, the footway is one where you are free to park a car, even though every household has off-street parking. Footway parking allows a resident to accumulate a third car in addition to the two in the front garden.

I am now an enthusiastic convert to the possibility of segregated cycling. The reason is quite simple and can be summed up in two words: David Hembrow. Hembrow’s blog lucidly demonstrates how segregated cycling infrastructure on the Dutch model is the secret of mass cycling. And I see that in being impressed by the world of possibility which David Hembrow's blog opens up I am not alone.

The Netherlands is the leading cycling nation in the world and it’s all down to segregated infrastructure. But it's not on the road lobby's terms, rather the reverse. Even within the Netherlands the variations in modal share are rooted in infrastructure. Cycling is suppressed where cyclists have little infrastructure and have to share the road with large volumes of traffic, and cycling’s modal share rockets once you put the bicycle before the car and provide direct, safe, convenient segregated infrastructure. Now, everywhere I cycle, I see the potential which London has, if only cycling campaigners would embrace the Dutch template.

But many won’t. Britain is too hilly! There just isn’t room on London’s narrow streets! Where would all the parked cars go? The excuses pile up, reminding me of the excuses people give as to why they really, really need to travel short distances by car.

And hardcore cyclists think if they can do it, everyone else can. People who are afraid to cycle, quite reasonably in my view, are lectured with road casualty statistics and told how rare it is to be killed or injured. There’s safety in numbers! But as a hardcore cyclist myself I have grown increasingly disenchanted with on-road cycling in London. The sheer volume of traffic, both in motion and parked, makes for very uncomfortable cycling, and the large number of aggressive and reckless drivers take away the joy of cycling. What ought to be an exhilarating way of getting around is all too often stressful, unpleasant or frustratingly inconvenient. The reason why so many cyclists ride on pavements, go through red lights and go down one-way streets the 'wrong' way is that the existing transport infrastructure thwarts them at every turn. Perceived 'bad behaviour' by cyclists is simply a classic Darwinian survival strategy in a hostile environment. Cyclists usually want to get to their destinations on fast, safe routes, and if the transport infrastructure only puts up barriers to that aspiration, they adapt accordingly. I always cycle down Lloyd Baker Street WC1 (see photo below) the 'wrong' way and I see no reason not to.

Parking is certainly an issue in transforming London. Getting rid of car parking was the challenge for both Groningen and Copenhagen. The proliferation of parked cars in London has been achieved at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. There is no reason why this tide should not be reversed. But it has to begin with cycling campaigners having a vision of what is possible. Here I am not optimistic. Cycling campaigners seem to me to be all too often either defeatist (masked as gritty realism about the limits of the possible) or collaborationist (accepting with gratitude the scraps offered them).

The other day, on London Cyclist, someone commented

Anything that tends to get more people onto cycles more often is likely to be mostly good. Then an increasing number of people will find that, without any particular magic (or clothing), they are “cyclists” too. And then they may think about that when driving or walking around London. And then they may start thinking “hmmm, it would be better if there was better cycling infrastructure in London; perhaps I should contact my council”. And then things might snowball.

They might. But I don’t think for a moment that they will. Not unless cycling campaigners are very clear what they want, and what they are no longer prepared to put up with. Me, I want infrastructure on the Dutch model. I’m sick of all this other crap.

(Below) Space which could be used for a wide, segregated cycle lane is instead devoted to free car parking on the pavement. Chingford Road E17, where drivers speed.

(Below) The perfect site for a wide segregated cycle lane - currently devoted to free parking for 4X4 owners, despite off-street parking nearby. Shernhall Street E17.

(Below) Lloyd Baker Street WC1. This absurdly wide street is one-way, even though it is on a direct line for cyclists heading into the West End, and wholly given over to car parking, not cycling.

(Below) Farringdon Street EC4. The carriageway is seven lanes wide, two reserved for taxi parking, none devoted exclusively to cycling.

(Below) Bayley Street WC1. Ample room for segregated cyle lanes, if you got rid of those taxi stands. It is surrealistic that a handful of parked vehicles are the priority on this street, not safe segregated cycling.

Schoolgirl lorry death: ‘Traffic signals out of operation’

Witnesses said Latoya Smith was crushed at the junction of East Dulwich Road and Peckham Rye, just after 8am. Traffic signals there have been out of operation for weeks as roadworks are carried out.

Latoya had been walking with two friends aged eight and 12. She died of her injuries in hospital soon after.

Matthew Page, 42, an estate agent opposite the scene, said: “It was awful.
The way the roadworks are, it was an accident waiting to happen. I heard a bang. She'd been under the wheels of a 60-tonne truck and had no chance. She was lying in the road bleeding, moving but not conscious.”

It seems to be the convention in London that temporary traffic signals are only provided for motor vehicles, not pedestrians or (where cycle phases exist) cyclists. If that was the case here and these roadworks were being done for Transport for London, then Boris Johnson is the person responsible. If these are for the local authority, then the leader of the local Council is the person responsible.

In Waltham Forest, scandalously, the cycle phase lights on Hoe Street at the St Mary Road/Selborne Road interchange are STILL HOODED AFTER FIVE MONTHS.

Cyclist causes traffic problems

A CYCLIST was taken to hospital today after he was knocked off his bike in Aberdeen. The accident happened at 7.20am during rush hour on Aberdeen’s Fountainhall Road. Police were called to the scene after the man was hit by a passing car.

A Grampian Police spokesman said: “It appeared the cyclist and a car collided on Fountainhall Road. The accident was causing some traffic problems.”

Wasting police time

The police, who won’t enforce Advanced Stop Lines, and who take little interest in the epidemic of mobile phone drivers, or the huge numbers of uninsured drivers on the roads, have nevertheless found the time to visit the homes of local BMW owners. But then “car crime” to the cops has always meant theft from or of a sacred object, not maniac drivers.

POLICE are warning BMW owners to protect their vehicles against theives who are targeting the cars for their airbag units.

Officers from the Chingford Green Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) have been tracking down BMW owners to make them aware of the recent thefts.

But a BMW driver without an airbag will drive far more carefully than one with an airbag, so in reality these thieves are making a major contribution to road safety and should be encouraged.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Uses for a Waltham Forest cycle stand # 47

Royal Mail may be phasing out bicycles but it remains fully committed to the use of cycle facilities.

High Road Leyton, junction with Church Road.

London schoolchild killed by lorry

A lorry driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving after a ten year old girl walking to school was knocked down by a lorry at the junction of East Dulwich Road and Peckham Rye yesterday morning. The child died of her injuries.

Latoya Smith was taken to hospital this morning (January 26) with serious injuries after being struck by the lorry in East Dulwich at around 8am.

Every day in Britain 10 children and young people are killed or seriously injured while on foot and bicycles (6 young people aged 12-19 and 4 children aged 0-11).

(Statistic from Brake)

BBC News continues to promote car supremacist values

Two simultaneous examples of flat earth news in the past 12 hours, which consist of nothing more than vested-interest press releases uncritically regurgitated by the car supremacists who control and disseminate BBC news. Firstly, today, the national ‘top story’ revelation:

Major roads 'not meeting top safety rating'

Only half of the motorways in England reach the top safety rating, with other major roads much worse, a report says.

The Road Safety Foundation - the UK arm of the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP), the sister organisation of EuroNCAP which measures car safety - inspected virtually all of the 7,000km (4349.5 miles) of motorways and major A roads in England.

There are ten deaths a year on Britain's motorways caused by motorists hitting trees.

The Road Safety Foundation, EuroRAP and EuroNCAP are overlapping road lobby organisations with a commercial interest in road building and the manufacture of fast cars. You’d never know that from BBC News, which misleads its audience into thinking that they are impartial organisations. In fact they represent such scientific bodies as Toyota, Mercedes Benz and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Nor does BBC News bother to reflect on WHY those drivers hit trees. The problem isn’t the tree, or the absence of a barrier around that tree (building crash barriers around every tree alongside every main road in Britain is a classically lunatic road lobby demand), the problem is reckless driving. Drivers who ‘lose control’ and hit trees are almost always travelling at dangerous and inappropriate speeds, or are tired, or are drunk. The problem is first and foremost the driver, and secondly the driver’s access to a death machine capable of speeds well in excess of 70 mph.

Instead of that hard truth, the road lobby peddles this fantasy:

Responsible, law-abiding drivers frequently die on Europe's roads because they unexpectedly face a momentary situation with which they cannot cope. Drivers might also experience a brief lapse in concentration, but they should not pay for this with their lives.

Yes, it’s shocking innit – you can actually lose your own life while steering with one hand and texting with the other. And it’s all the fault of that tree, and the government’s scandalous failure to put a crash barrier round it.

The so-called ‘Road Safety Foundation’ has no interest at all in seeing speed cameras on motorways, or in the fitting of black box data recorders in cars, or mandatory speed governors in cars, or in the manufacture of cars which can go no faster than the maximum speed limit of 70 mph. But you’d never know that from BBC News, which is nothing more than the servant of the road lobby.

The second example of flat earth news:

The main story on BBC London News last night and this morning consists of nothing more than a regurgitated press release from “Parking campaigner Barrie Segal”, whose every press release BBC News takes very, very seriously.

It was essentially a non-story. For news which repeatedly constructs drivers as victims while regarding the regular killing of London cyclists by lorries as not newsworthy, BBC London News is in a realm of its own. It has simply blanked out the killing of every single London cyclist by a lorry driver during 2008 and 2009, and needless to say the BBC didn’t bother to send a reporter to the inquest into the killing of Eilidh Cairns.

This latest BBC non-story includes a free advertising link to Segal’s business. Segal boasts of his popularity with the media, and his appearances include:

• BBC TV's Breakfast News
• BBC TV's BBC London News
• BBC TV's News 24
• BBC TV's Real Story
• BBC TV's Now You're Talking
• BBC3 TV News.
• The Today Programme on Radio 4
• BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in
• BBC Radio Newcastle
• BBC West Midlands
• BBC Three Counties
• BBC Radio Berkshire
• BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
• BBC Herefordshire
• BBC Radio Kent
• BBC Radio Bristol

The BBC is an organisation totally in the hands of car supremacists, stuffed full of overpaid journalists who live in a bubble world and assume that “we” all drive cars, and “we” all clock up numerous speeding and parking tickets.

If you feel like complaining, the person to email is the head of BBC news, Helen Boaden:

Amazingly, there are some cycling organisations which regard the BBC as cycling-friendly.

White van injures Edinburgh cyclist

"I had a bright orange jacket on and a 900 lumen light on my head, which is brighter than some car headlights

"I had right of way, I was going north and the van pulled across my lane to get into Cammo Road, and I went into the side of the van at about 20 miles an hour.

"Then the van driver drove off.

Mr Scullion said he had been disappointed that no other drivers stopped to help: "I'm pretty sure a lot of people saw what happened, because the two lines of traffic the van came from were stationary rush hour traffic but if so, lots of people saw it and did nothing."

He is now recovering after surgery to straighten a badly broken and dislocated finger, and has been left with a bruised and battered shoulder and knee.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

How to block a cycle lane

Just add four roadworks signs (one of them fallen flat) and hey presto! - the cycle lane is blocked. Which adds to the fun of undertaking heavy goods vehicles and buses. Good job one of those vehicles is an ambulance, it might be needed...

Yes, it's High Road Leytonstone again, defined a year ago as "cycle friendly" by that slippery organisation Sustrans. At present there are roadworks in the other lane, with temporary traffic lights. Instead of blocking off the parking bays and using them for signing, the signs were plonked obstructively in the cycle lane.

(Below) There's no real reason why a cyclist should be expected to wait at red as the cycle lane acts as a temporary contraflow lane. But consideration of cyclists simply doesn't enter into the philosophy of roadworks in a primitive and backward transport society like Britain.

British on-road cycling infrastructure - integration - isn't working. The only way you are going to get lots of people cycling up and down High Road Leytonstone is to provide a segregated cycle lane on the Dutch model. There's plenty of space to do it on this street, although of course it means clearing away those parking bays. At present there is no vision of this kind of cycling future on the part of either the London Cycling Campaign or the Cyclists' Touring Club, both of which remain doggedly committed to on-road cycling. And if cyclists aren't going to demand it, there's little chance of politicians implementing it.

Compare the scene above with that below. Notice that none of the cyclists is wearing helmets or feels obliged to dress up in luminous yellow jackets. In Amsterdam two unaccompanied small girls cycling side by side is a natural activity. You'd simply never see that anywhere in Leytonstone. Quite understandably, no parent would want their child to cycle on a road like High Road Leytonstone.

Sister slams “accidental death” verdict on Eilidh Cairns

The sister of a cyclist crushed to death by a tipper lorry today criticised Boris Johnson over the “needless slaughter” of riders on London's roads. TV producer Eilidh Cairns, 30, of Kentish Town, died from multiple injuries at a pedestrian crossing in Notting Hill last February.

Driver Joao Lopes, 53, would have spotted her if his mirror had been adjusted correctly, an inquest heard. An accidental death verdict was recorded.

Ms Cairns's sister Kate, 37, “The one thing we didn't want was an accidental verdict. We agree it was not intentional but we believed it was avoidable.

Ms Cairns said the Mayor's decision to get rid of the Commercial Vehicle Education Unit was “completely irresponsible”, adding: “Boris wants to make London the cycling capital of Europe but he is doing nothing to help this situation.”

Driver who killed cyclist: “it was just one of those things"

A DRIVER who crashed into an Army major taking part in a cycling time trial claimed she had not seen him, a court heard.

She told police after the crash "it was just one of those things"

Yet another geriatric driver crashes

An 89-year-old man has died after he drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway and smashed into a van.

Terrified drivers swerved to avoid the Ford Ka, as it sped down on the A12 near Ardleigh in Colchester, Essex, at 8pm last night.

Police were scrambled to the scene but discovered the car had already crashed head-on into the Renault van.


KT55 EE0, blue car, white woman with black hair, steering with one hand while chatting into a mobile phone with the other, Grove Green Road E11, 10.30 am, 23 January.

Monday 25 January 2010

The photo that sums up London’s transport sickness

London is a sick, backward, car-polluted city which massively discriminates against cyclists, pedestrians and non-car owning households. And this scene on Stanley Road, Chingford, perfectly sums up this sickness, which no one in the three main parties has any interest in curing. In Waltham Forest, 38 per cent of households don’t own a vehicle, and they have to endure even the theft of their pavements to car owners.

The historic irony is that in 1985 legislation came into effect in Greater London which was supposed to eliminate pavement parking across the capital. That legislation was the result of intense lobbying by the Pedestrians Association, Friends of the Earth and other environmental organisations, disability groups and women’s groups. It was transport policy from below – democratic resistance to the powerful road and motor lobby. But all the major institutions in British transport culture were ranged against that progressive legislation, from the Department for Transport – which to this day very successfully resists a national pavement parking ban – to local authority highway engineers, a profession then as now dominated by able-bodied car dependent men on car user allowances.

The 1985 legislation contained two glaring loopholes. It allowed councils to exempt streets from the ban and it provided no statutory protection for pedestrians on exempted streets. The Kafkaesque consequence is that a law intended to liberate pavements from parked cars has been used for 25 years to create pavement parking. Highway engineers continue to exploit it to promote car dependency. Naturally no journalist or politician has ever noticed this anomaly.

Stanley Road has been turned over to unrestricted free car parking which obstructs the pavement on both sides. It’s a sick street where walking and cycling are unpleasant, and the body responsible for this situation is the Council, which has the chutzpah to blather about getting tough with those responsible for blighting the streets we live in.

Waltham Forest Council has the hypocrisy to assert that

People may think it is only a sweet wrapper or cigarette end, but littering creates the problem of dirty streets and it is illegal. If you are seen littering you will be fined £75.

However if you dump a ton of metal on the pavement and leave it there to block the pavement, the Council will be on your side.

With pro-car anti-walking policies of the sort pursued by Waltham Forest it is hardly surprising that

“Evidence shows that people living in East London may lead less healthier lifestyles than people living in other parts of London.

But there is no greater local environmental criminal than Waltham Forest Council. It’s a council which has actively encouraged a massive local increase in car ownership and dependency and which plays an active role in fouling London’s atmosphere:

London has already breached new EU pollution limits for the entire year — weeks after they were introduced. Monitoring stations across the capital show that four areas have exceeded the number of times that levels of nitrogen dioxide are allowed to rise above safe levels. Found primarily in exhaust fumes, NO2 can harm lung function and cause respiratory problems, especially among children and the elderly.

Simon Birkett, of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, said today: “This shows a systematic failure of government to comply with pollution targets. This affects every Londoner, and just weeks into the year we have already exceeded the yearly targets, which is a disgrace.

Apart from air pollution, there is also a connection between degraded streets like this one and obesity, crime, mental illness and depression. Who could possibly call Stanley Road a neighbourhood? It’s a sewer for cars. A squalid landscape occupied by addicts - fossil-fuel addicts. Ironically just a couple of hours after I took these snaps there was a stabbing just around the corner.

On the next street, Garfield Road E4, the situation is no better. Motorised insanity hardly becomes more extreme than allowing drivers to park on the pavement right next to a car park. But this is the true face of the local Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, who blather endlessly about how Green they are, while actively defending and enlarging street degradation like this.

Call for segregated cycle lanes in Melbourne

THERE was a time, a decade or so back, when Leon Cassidy would cycle along Mount Alexander Road from his home, through the city, all the way to St Kilda, for a ride along Beach Road. But the veteran cyclist says he has not dared ride along Mount Alexander Road's bike lane after 6am for years because it is too dangerous.

''It would save me a lot of time, but it's just not worth the risk - the traffic has become so heavy now and the lane isn't safe,'' Mr Cassidy said.

Bicycle Victoria's Jason den Hollander said cycling would be more popular if government invested more in improving conditions for bikes.

Inaction on this front was preventing Melbourne from enjoying the environmental, social and economic benefits that came with being a cycle-friendly city.

Mr den Hollander said the quickest way to boost cycling numbers and create a cycling culture would be to expand the number of separated bike lanes in the inner city, like the networks throughout Europe.

Bicycle Victoria figures show that since the bike lanes in Rathdowne Street, Carlton, were upgraded in 2008 to include raised ''vibra-lines'' separating bikes and cars, cycling numbers had increased by about 40 per cent.

Melbourne could have a European-style cycling network within five years if government started investing $100 million annually,
a fraction of what is spent on other transport projects, he said.

20 year old woman cyclist killed by lorry

A DEVASTATED mother has paid tribute to her “very loving daughter”, who died following a collision with a lorry.

Stacey Turney, 20, died on Thursday night after a collision between a white Iveco articulated lorry and a pedal cycle.

The crash happened on the A120 near Phoenix Bridge and involved a 53-year-old male driver from Witham.

Both vehicles were travelling towards Harwich
when the collision occurred at 8.30pm.

Car dependency grows exponentially among older women

More retired women are now driving their own cars - 36 per cent of women aged over 70 have a driving licence, compared with just 4 per cent in 1976.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Transport for London’s crap contractors

TfL’s indifference to cycling and walking is eloquently expressed by the organisation’s attitude to the maintenance of the Crooked Billet underpass, on the border of Walthamstow and Chingford. This was the situation last June. And it was no different last week (above) with the cycle lane blocked by a mountain of pruned vegetation, and the contractors yet again having driven as close as possible to the site and showing the typical contractor’s indifference to free access for cyclists and walkers.

And that sign in the background is pointing in precisely the wrong direction. No suprise there. Signing for cyclists in the London Borough of Waltham Forest is a total farce, with no one ever bothering to check on them (the Council claims that signs are checked every four weeks but that's a lie of stupefying proportions). Ironically this site is not all that far from where the Councillor most responsible for this dismal state of affairs lives, i.e. Bob Belam. Bob needs to get out more and spend some quality time at his local labyrinth.

The problem with contractors is that they tend to be Sun-reading car dependent males with no awareness of access issues, working for firms who get away with obstructing the footway, or for that matter cycle lanes, simply because no government has ever bothered to introduce appropriate legislation, and complacent organisations like TfL set no standards to which firms have to adhere.

The very next day I spotted this on the corner of Comely Bank Road E17 and Brunswick Street. The problem for a wheelchair user isn't the flytipped TV or the badly-sited telephone pole, it's the contractor's sign left propped against the pole. And it occurs to me that there's a strange law of physics whereby street furniture (including cycle stands) acts as a magnetic attraction for other objects, of the variety which we of the scientific community term crap.

The inquest on Eilidh Cairns

A cyclist was crushed to death by a tipper lorry at an accident blackspot where the road was too narrow for the vehicle, an inquest heard today.

TV producer Eilidh Cairns, 30, died from multiple injuries after the rush-hour collision at a pedestrian crossing near Pembridge Road, Notting Hill.
The road narrowed to two metres at that point and the truck, driven by Joao Lopes, was 2.5 metres wide, Westminster coroner's court heard.

Cycling-hostile London

An astonishing tale of the growing privatisation of public space, which in this case impinges on cyclists:

Half of the development above ground is supposedly public space. Even so, and although the estate plays host to the cycle-friendly mayor of London and the GLA, More London has a policy of fining cyclists who lock their bikes up anywhere on its land.

The latest spectacular piece of driving by an elderly motorist

A pensioner tried to reverse out of her garage but hit the accelerator by mistake - and smashed through a wall before landing in a river.

Click on the link and see the photograph...

Hit and run 4X4 driver kills pedestrian

RESIDENTS living near the scene of a fatal road accident have spoken about their concerns over dangerous motorists and their sadness at the latest incident to hit their quiet neighbourhood.

Sandra Toner, 51, of Drayson Close, died when she was hit by a 4x4, in Parklands, Waltham Abbey, in a hit and run incident as she was walking her dog yesterday.

“People tear along here.
It's supposed to be 40mph, but I assure you it's not.”

Saturday 23 January 2010

Leytonstone Bike Shed: empty

A cutting edge cycle parking facility in a busy London suburb - completely empty on a Saturday morning (today). Apart from the enduring remnants of two abandoned bikes.

Leytonstone Bike Shed is an eloquent testimony to something horribly wrong with the local culture of cycling.

Waltham Forest 'Enviro-Crime' crap

Relax! - you're in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. (Barclay Road E17, yesterday)

There's always lots of lovely council tax payers lolly to be showered on consultants and marketing:

Together with a campaign strapline – ‘We’re wiping out enviro-crime’ – we developed a creative approach which uses hands to give a very real and human focus to the messages

But when the publicity campaigns are over, residents are left with the same crap streets.

‘Motorway Man’

Motorway Man – a materialistic and car-dependent middle manager – is at the centre of the cross-party tussle for victory in a tightly fought general election, the Financial Times has learnt.

Rob Hayward, the elections expert who is now advising the Tories on electoral reform, told the FT that
there were 21 swing constituencies with good motorway links that could shift from Labour to the Conservatives.

This is probably meaningless froth, but it’s the kind that makes politicians wobbly. So don’t expect Labour, the Tories or the Liberal Democrats to pursue policies that reduce car dependency and promote cycling and walking.

Some people are daft enough to think that a Tory government would be good for cyclists. This optimist, for example.

Chingford crash kills driver

A MAN has died after the car he was driving hit a lamp-post.

The cause of the crash in Kings Head Hill, Chingford, has yet to be established, but no other vehicles were involved and no-one else was injured.

Hope in Highgate hell?

CYCLISTS struggling in heavy traffic through a "dangerous" one-way system could benefit from plans to improve road safety.

The Wellington Gyratory, the main route into Highgate from the A1, is often jammed with motorists and blighted by traffic fumes making it almost impossible to navigate the busy network of lanes.

TfL had looked into various ways to ease traffic flow in consultation with residents and decided that removing the gyratory altogether would be too expensive.

Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent ‘improving’ roads for motorists but when it comes to improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, suddenly it all becomes far too expensive. And that toxic term ‘easing traffic flow’ usually means simply accommodating increasing amounts of motor traffic and promoting car dependency and fossil fuel addiction.

However, there is a possible little ray of sunshine:

A TfL spokeswoman said: "Transport for London is currently looking at whether a segregated cycle lane can be installed around the Wellington Gyratory to help improve cycle safety. This work is currently in the design stage and if approved, TfL hopes to be able to carry out the work within the next financial year.

I reserve judgement on what a TfL 'segregated cycle lane' will turn out to be like. In my experience British segregated cycle lanes are poorly maintained and usually involve the cyclists having to give way at entrances and side roads, slowing you down so much you might just as well stick to the main road. Which is precisely what most cyclists in Waltham Forest do on Lea Bridge Road (A104).

Pedestrian run down and killed in Woodford Green

A WOMAN who was hit by a car at an accident blackspot on Monday night has died in hospital. Police confirmed the news today (Friday) after the Guardian asked for an update on the condition of the 30-year-old, who has still not been named.

The woman suffered serious head injuries after being struck by a car while trying to cross the High Road in Woodford Green - near the junction with Forest Approach - at around 7pm, and was taken by ambulance to the Royal London Hospital.

The road was shut for five hours after the accident, which happened
on the same stretch where popular boxing coach Norman Yearley was fatally injured in January 2008.


AK53 YCO male driver steering with one hand while talking on handheld mobile phone, High Road Leytonstone, 12.18 pm, 21 January.


LY09 FHJ large white van, male driver (Oriental appearance) steering with one hand while talking on handheld mobile phone, Wood Street E17, 11.40 a.m., 21 January.


M722 WMC ‘Mobile Vehicle Repairs’ light goods vehicle, white driver steering with one hand while chatting on a mobile phone, Chingford Road A112, 11.25 am, 20 January.

Friday 22 January 2010

Cyclists on the pavement at 35 Harold Road E11

These cyclists on the pavement, they're a menace. They make people fall over, they kill them, it's a fact.

Sorry, did I say cyclists? I meant builders. They drive on pavements with their lorries, they block them with building materials, they're completely out of control. I think every builder should be made to wear a number plate.

Builders break the law and block pavements with impunity. Like these cowboys working at 35 Harold Road E11 today. They've dumped huge metal girders on the pavement, making it impossible for anyone with a wheelchair, pram or buggy to get by. A blind person or someone visually impaired could easily trip over and smash their skull.

And if a police officer or a PCSO walked by, what would they do? Nothing whatsoever. This sort of lawlessness and anti-social behaviour isn't on their spectrum.

If you ring the Council they'll send someone to have a look. In a week's time. By which time the obstruction will usually have gone.

Not that the Council exactly goes out of its way to publicise all those laws designed to maintain free access for pedestrians on pavements, or advertise a number to ring when residents see the law being broken. In fact the only time I saw a feature on problems faced by pedestrians in the Council's fortnightly propaganda rag it was about, you guessed, cyclists on the pavement.

Top Cop’s Rogue Cyclist Horror (yawn)

CAMDEN'S top police officer says he was almost killed by a rogue cyclist who gave him "the finger" before making his getaway.

The revelation came at a town hall debate about the behaviour of cyclists in the borough -
and sparked discussion about whether bikes should be fitted with registration plates.

How does Chief Supt Dominic Clout know he was “almost killed”? He doesn’t. It’s a facile assertion devoid of substance.

What did he do or say that made the cyclist give him “the finger”? Again, no information is forthcoming.

As a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police, Clout is one of those people who decline to enforce laws which protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. The streets of Camden are filled with lawless drivers who benefit from Clout’s failure to enforce road traffic law. Some of these drivers will go on to kill.

In London in 2007 a total of 67% of pedestrians were injured or killed by a car, 10% by heavy goods vehicles, 10% by powered two wheelers, 8% by a bus or a coach, 7% by goods vehicles and 1% by cyclists.

What’s wrong with Leytonstone Bike Shed?

Waltham Forest to benefit as Mayor unveils £10bn investment programme to transform Londons transport network

was the press release from Transport for London back in October 2004.

The menu of improvements included

installation of secure bike sheds at Walthamstow Central station and Leytonstone Underground station.

That’s right, the Walthamstow Bike Shed, which had an early user tribute here but which I would now argue is suppressing cycling.

The Leytonstone Bike Shed opened on 20 May 2005 and I last wrote about it here.

Today the shed contained just three bikes, as well as the remains of two stolen/vandalised ones which have been there for months.

Cycling isn’t flourishing in Leytonstone but the scale of that failure isn't registered because no cycle counts are ever taken in the area. The Leytonstone Bike Shed is a failure probably because it is an insecure facility with a history of bike thefts, because it is located some distance from the station at a site which can be lonely and threatening at night, and because the streets of Leytonstone are not pleasant places to cycle, crammed as they are with parked cars on both sides of the street, one-way systems designed to 'ease traffic flow', bike lanes which put the user between parking bays and overtaking traffic, and streets full of drivers chatting on mobile phones.

(Below) Every cycle farcility must, by the universal law of crap cycling, contain at least one bollard. And where better to put a bollard than right in front of the door to the Bike Shed? Note that the entrance to the shed involves a step. But London cyclists are a tough breed, who don't need namby-pamby stuff like smooth surfaces.

Anti-social behaviour

Last night's ITN London News had a feature about anti-social behaviour in Newham - a borough which is deeply hostile territory for cyclists and walkers. The anti-social behaviour was by the yoof, who the council was making write letters of apology to people they upset.

There was a clip of the high street, with an agent of the law plodding along. And in the foreground a motorist who had driven beyond the continuous white line and was nudging towards the dotted white line where pedestrians crossed at the lights. Classic driver impatience and harassment of pedestrians. But the kind of anti-social behaviour which is invisible to the media, the police and politicians. Motorists are the most violent, lawless and inconsiderate group in society but remain curiously exempt from categories such as "anti-social behaviour".

In the courts

A businesswoman who was over the drink drive limit when she killed a young couple while speeding at 113mph has been jailed for more than seven years. Mary Butres, 48, lost control of a high-performance Jaguar XJ8 saloon after she hit standing water and aquaplaned while returning from a day out at the races.

She careered into Mark Compton, 20, and his 19-year-old girlfriend Jodie Brown, who were walking away from their car after it had broken down on the A1 near Grantham, Lincs,

The couple, who were walking along the central reservation, were hit with such force that they were hurled onto the opposite carriageway.

They were killed instantly but Butres and her passenger John Nichols, 58, who owned the car, escaped unhurt, Nottingham Crown Court was told.

The recorder showed the Jaguar was travelling at 113mph - whereas other traffic had slowed to 40mph because of the standing water. Butres denied ever driving at more than 100 mph.

She was originally sentenced to nine years.

I can’t find any reference to a driving ban being imposed, so I imagine this driver, who has exhibited no remorse at all for her actions, will in due course be back behind the wheel of another powerful car.

She’s back!

I thought we’d lost this blogger.

But she’s back. At least I hope she is…

Thursday 21 January 2010

The recommended cycling route where cycling is banned

The signed ‘quiet route to Chingford’ for cyclists. You can find it on Transport for London’s LOCAL CYCLING GUIDE 4. It runs between Walthamstow from the Crooked Billet, where the North Circular meets the A112, to Chingford, where it emerges on to The Ridgeway (B169) and King’s Road (A110). From the Chingford end it is, of course, the ‘quiet route to Walthamstow’.

Between Grove Road E4 and Heathcote Grove there’s a two-hundred metre path through Chingford Mount Cemetery. It forms part of the designated route but cycling is banned. Which does rather defeat the point of a cycle route, does it not?

The reason for the ban is that the cycle route incorporates a tarmac public footpath fenced in by iron railings which crosses the cemetery. The path is too narrow for ‘shared use’ with walkers.

I’ve never met a singe cyclist while using this 'quiet route', and no cycle counts are ever taken here. But then nobody involved in promoting cycling in London seems interested in acknowledging or measuring failure. It’s enough to celebrate ‘20 miles of quiet routes in Waltham Forest’ without bothering to examine why those prize-winning ‘quiet routes’ may be suppressing cycling rather than encouraging it.

It would be possible to put in a dedicated cycle lane on the Dutch model at this point, but naturally there is no political will on anyone’s part, least of all cycling campaigners. As far as British cycle campaigning goes, marketing campaigns, minimal-cost cycle facilities and statistics which portray cycling as safe and getting better all the time are always preferable to infrastructure which has been shown to succeed.