Tuesday 31 August 2010

Cycling in London is a rubbish experience

Can you spot the cycle parking?

Could you really be anywhere else but the London Borough of Waltham Forest? “One of the leading local authorities in London in its commitment to introducing cycling facilities” – facilities which it can’t be bothered to protect, maintain or develop, and which are reflected in a perpetually stagnating modal share for cycling of just one per cent.

Truro Road, London E17.

Samuel Beckett and cycling

The theatre of the absurd. Dublin.

In his earlier years the writer Samuel Beckett was a keen cyclist, and bicycles figure prominently in his works. One of the key phrases of the novel Mercier and Camier states: "The bicycle is a great good. But it can turn nasty, if ill employed."

In modern Dublin the name ‘Samuel Beckett’ is synonymous with cycle lane design in the great tradition of Irish comedy.

(It is not generally known that Beckett wrote a play satirising British cycling campaigners but that’s a treat for another day.)

‘disrupting the order of traffic’ in Beijing

Song Jianguo, director of the Beijing Trail Management Bureau announced last week that as of September, there'll be a new campaign to stop and fine reckless pedestrians and cyclists, citing them for disrupting the order of trafffic, especially at intersections and traffic lights.

See the last photograph here for a shocking example of the kind of dinosaur transport mode which is standing in the way of progress.

from the Letters Page

Walking on Bruntsfield Links, I constantly have cyclists whizzing past me on footpaths with "No cycling" signs.

Walking on the cyclepath I get a bell-ringing psycho telling me I am not allowed there.

Cycling is a hobby, keep it to mountains and country roads.

La Crosse's first auto-pedestrian accident dates to 1907

What likely was the first serious automobile/pedestrian accident in La Crosse occurred Aug. 15, 1907, at Fourth and Main streets.

Timothy Lewis, 76, a Civil War veteran who ran a popcorn and cigar stand at the corner of Fourth and Main streets, had just gotten off the streetcar on Main Street and was walking toward his stand when he was struck by a Cadillac driven by Henry Sharp. The impact of the collision sent Lewis flying into a cart belonging to a street sweeper.

Witnesses estimated Sharp's Cadillac was traveling at the "breathless speed" of 15 mph, more than double the speed limit of 6 mph set by city ordinance in 1902.

Monday 30 August 2010


On my way back from the Redbridge Sky Ride I took a look at Wanstead High Street, which has been in the local press as a cycling-on-the-pavement hotspot.

And you can see the difficulty. It would be nice to put in a segregated Dutch-style cycle path here but as any top LCC cycling campaigner will tell you there just isn’t the space in London.

(Below) Assen in the Netherlands. But as one seasoned campaigner quite rightly observes on the CTC discussion thread, “To compare the UK to the Continent is not helpful to the argument. Continental roads are very different to UK roads. Even the cities are differently laid out.” Even worse, they don’t speak English.

It’s the new, updated National Cycling Strategy!

In July 1996 the Department of Transport unveiled its new National Cycling Strategy with the aim of massively increasing rates of cycling in the UK, doubling them by 2002 and quadrupling them by 2012.

It failed – massively. Cycling’s low modal share has barely shifted anywhere.

However, the new government has very clearly set out its commitment to cycling under ‘the cycling prime minister’.

You can read it in full on the new, updated National Cycling Strategy website here.

(Yes, sunglasses are required.)

I hate Oxford Street

In Mid Town, where pedestrians come first...

I hate cycling on Oxford Street (it’s a sewer for taxis and buses). And I hate walking on Oxford Street, because the pedestrians, who vastly outnumber all other road users, are pushed to the sides. Every time I’m on Oxford Street I want to shout “take over the road, people!” but I know if I did they’d just think I’d forgotten to take my medication.

Oxford Street should have been pedestrianised years ago and its continuing pathological condition is symptomatic of the medieval state of British transport policy. Trams are much, much better than buses. And it’s grotesque that anyone is allowed to drive a private car in central London.

Child in pushchair goes under lorry wheels

A two-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after his pushchair was struck by a lorry.

Thomas Wilshaw's mother
was pushing the pushchair along Huddersfield Road in Denshaw at the time of the accident.

Double standards

Number of blue badge fraudsters in Waltham Forest nabbed by the Council in Waltham Forest during the first six months of 2010: nil.

Number of blue badge fraudsters in Waltham Forest nabbed by the Metropolitan Police in Waltham Forest during the first six months of 2010: nil.

Neither body is remotely interested in cracking down on this particularly blatant and highly visible form of fraud.


MORE than 1,150 people were caught watching TV without a licence in Waltham Forest during the first six months of 2010, new figures have revealed.

Manchester cops flout parking regulations

'All GMP members of staff are reminded of their responsibilities when they are parking police vehicles. It not acceptable for any member of staff to park on double yellow lines unless it is an officer responding to an emergency.

Ah, yes. Greater Manchester Police. Manchester, the city of the petrolhead’s copper where some officers display a bullying and repressive attitude to the Manchester naked bike ride

And they don’t do customer relations either.

When she pleaded that Hanvey was hurting her, the custody sergeant retorted: 'If you misbehave you will be hurt. It is the technique we are trained to do - hurt.'

It later emerged Hanvey had a history of violence and narrowly escaped being dismissed after punching a prisoner in the face in 1998.

Bosses at Greater Manchester Police took the unusual step of giving him a chance despite his criminal conviction.

Unusual? In the words of Tom Jones, it’s not unusual.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Tesco, cycling and car dependency

Yet more promotion of car dependency, by a firm which is contemptuous of cycling:

For a flat fee of £2 they will be able to drive to a dedicated area in a Tesco store at a set time and pick up their shopping without having to leave their car.

Laura Wade-Gery, chief executive of Tesco dotcom and Tesco Direct, said:
This will be especially popular with busy mums who have the school run and children's activities to manage.

Tesco despises cyclists. There are no less than ten bicycles visible in the picture above, which shows the giant Tesco near the Green Man, Leytonstone. There might have been eleven but I decided to take my money elsewhere. Tight-fisted Tesco supply just four bike stands.

One interesting question is why did the Planning Committee of the London Borough of Waltham Forest grant Tesco planning permission for a massive supermarket with extensive car parking but provision for only four bike stands? And really cheap, crap stands they are, too. (The covered shelter in the background is for supermarket carts. Tesco is more interested in keeping them dry from the rain than supplying shelter for parked bikes.)

Teenage girl on bike harassed by youths in car

Another case of cyclophobia.

Vehicular cycling news


A cyclist has died after he was involved in a collision with a 4x4 in a Suffolk village.

Police said the collision between the cyclist and a Nissan Navara happened in Old London Road, Copdock, at about 1700 BST on Friday.

The cyclist, who was aged in his 30s, was taken to Ipswich Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The driver of the Nissan, a 31-year-old man,
was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

In rural Wiltshire

Ian Tompkins, 51, from Netheravon, was cycling on an unclassified road between Enford and Fittleton, near Amesbury, when the accident occurred at about 0930 BST.

He was taken to Salisbury District Hospital with internal injuries
and died in the early hours of Friday

And in Doncaster town centre

A SOUTH Yorkshire pensioner is fighting for life after suffering serious head injuries in a collision between his bicycle and a car.

How green are Rosa Racer bikes?

Rosa Racer. This is a firm which has been promoting itself in the press recently as some kind of a 'green' messiah because they say they assemble bicycles in Walthamstow from bits made abroad. Apparently they should get a medal for this, not because someone local is being kept off the dole (there is no evidence for this), but because they are an 'eco' business.

A Walthamstow blogger isn’t convinced.


the guy helping them with their self promotion in the Guardian, a writer called Simon Munk

is a leading light in the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign and its Movers & Shakers coordinator, the Movers & Shakers document being something I have plunged my hatchet into on a number of occasions – see this and this and this and this.

The war on the motorist

Vehicle exclusion zones should be set up around Scotland’s primary and secondary schools to deter parents from driving their children to school, campaigners have urged.

Surveys have estimated that the proportion of children who walk to school has dropped from 56% to 49% over the last seven years, while 28% are being driven in the morning.

Living Streets also called for “park and stride” sites – which would involve parents parking up to 10 minutes’ walk away from a school – to be adapted

However, the Automobile Association said the proposals should be met with caution.

Cycling magic in Loughborough

Plans have been drawn up for the first cycle lane on a roundabout.

County Hall highways engineers said installing a "magic roundabout" at an accident blackspot in Loughborough would save lives and prevent serious injury to riders.

But cyclists described the idea as "barmy" and "dangerous" as motorists would not be expecting to see them there.

Leicestershire County Council said
six cyclists have been knocked off their bikes and injured at the roundabout, where Epinal Way meets Alan Moss Road in the past three years.

The driving record of George Michael

JULY 2010
Crashed Range Rover into shop in Hamptead. Arrested and tested for drugs. CHARGED

Arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink or drugs after crashing into the back of a lorry on the A34 in Berkshire. Breathalysed and held for almost five hours. NO ACTION

Found slumped at the wheel of his Mercedes in north London. Pleaded guilty to driving while unfit. Banned for two years and handed 100 hours community service. Also cautioned for possession of cannabis. PLEADED GUILTY

APRIL 2006
Allegedly crashed his Mercedes into three parked cars near his north London home. Interviewed under caution but not charged. NO ACTION

Arrested for possession of a Class C drug after being found asleep at the wheel at Hyde Park Corner. Later said it was 'my own stupid fault as usual' CAUTIONED

and now

Singer George Michael admitted crashing his Range Rover into a shop while under the influence of cannabis.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Cyclists: for double protection wear a computer dust cover AND a helmet

Angela Lee, chief executive of the Bike Helmet Initiative Trust and a nurse consultant in paediatric trauma, says it's clear that helmets make cycling safer.

"It's plain and simple that helmets are effective," Ms Lee continues. "If you think of people who have mobile phones, computers, I bet they all have covers on to protect them. You have a skull protecting your brain and if you know anything about computers you know that if you damage a computer you can't load the programme. That's exactly the same with your brain."

Yes, exactly. So to avoid any confusion ALL cyclists MUST wear a computer dust cover AND a helmet, as demonstrated above by Sam, whose chances of getting a job as an extra on the next Star Wars movie are now very much improved. Cyclists, if you do not do this AT ONCE your BRAIN is at risk and you may end up becoming VERY, VERY CONFUSED.

What do mean, the helmet straps aren’t done up? I have looked very carefully at the Bike Helmet Initiative Trust website and all it says is to put a helmet on your head. I can’t see anywhere that says you have to do the straps up.

A question of enforcement

Let me repeat a question I asked earlier in the month. Why are drivers being allowed to get away with parking for hours at a time in Rosebank Villas E17, across the pedestrian zone which forms the main passenger route to and from the High Street leading to Walthamstow bus station? This is a high profile area for parking enforcement. None of the vehicles involved is displaying a blue badge and the sign is very clear that no parking is permitted at all between 10am and 4pm, which is the time slot when I photographed these offenders on 23, 25 and 26 August.

Regime change: down memory lane again

Remember the bad old days when the Lib Dems were in charge of the squalid streets of Waltham Forest?

Hasn’t a change of administration made all the difference? Vernon Road, 23 August. For more from the Clyde Loakes range of bedding see the catalogue here.

Millions of uninsured drivers on Britain’s roads

"Millions of people are deliberately flouting the law by not insuring their cars

There’s one Labour policy the ConDems love

Sorry, there’s no money for cycling. Now here’s five grand towards a new car.

The new Government is honouring the promise made by Labour to offer temporary incentives of about £5,000 to motorists brave enough to go down the all-electric car route.

Barriers to cycling

"The barrier had only been down for a matter of seconds and I cycled across immediately. It came up without warning, catching my back wheel, and I was catapulted off my bike. The next thing I remember was waking to hear my daughter, Serena, screaming and a member of our cycling club calling for an ambulance."

"The road barrier that caused my injuries had no audio or visual warnings for cyclists or walkers – it merely had a sign for cars, but nothing stated the possible danger for those crossing it.

Sara Heppenstall for Russell Jones and Walker representing Mr Westerman, said: "The barrier Mr Westerman rode over had no clear signage stating the time in which pedestrians or cyclists had to cross safely. The result is Mr Westerman has had to have extensive surgery to set his shoulder and neck, taking significant time off work. Cases like this highlight that the safety of all road-users must be a priority for the authorities,
not just drivers.

Northern Rail staff caught on film discriminating against disabled man

A disabled train passenger was unable to board a service because guards refused to provide a ramp for his wheelchair.

Qamar Khaliq, 35, filmed rail staff on his mobile phone as his repeated requests for help were ignored.

Mr Khalik told the BBC that his treatment had left him feeling upset and humiliated and one guard had become angry when he realised he was being filmed.

'He yelled at me as I left saying the police would be coming and they would take my mobile phone off me for filming it,' he added.

House collides with car

The bonnet of the silver Volvo was wedged under the window of the home's front room.

Neighbour Collette Hanley said: "I was in the garden deadheading my flowers and I heard a huge crash.

"I ran out and the driver was getting out of the car, I was expecting him to be dead."

Obesity in car-sick Britain

"The number of morbidly obese patients in the UK is increasing rapidly

Health minister Paul Burstow said people should be encouraged to live healthier lifestyles such as eating more fruit and vegetables, reducing fatty foods
and being more active.

And what better way of getting people to be more active than terminating Cycling England and its Bikeability cycling proficiency scheme? Cycling is obviously ripe for cuts, since The overall amount of tax money spent on cycling is tiny – it was estimated at 0.01% (or one ten thousandth) of the overall annual tax take and 0.3% of the transport budget in 2005-6 and that percentage seems highly unlikely to have increased significantly since then.

LS07WJM - terrorist

I was cycling along Forest Road (A503) heading west and I’d just passed the junction with Palmerston Road E17, when white van reg. LS07WJM swerved into the cycle lane (which is very narrow at this point) giving me a moment of sheer blind terror. 26 August, 10.46 am. It’s the kind of moment which cyclists with head cams regularly post on YouTube. On the back of the van it said First Impressions.


FV10 ZRN silver car being driven on The Drive E17 by black male driver steering with one hand while talking on handheld mobile phone. 3.30 pm, 24 August.


R833 HRO space wagon style vehicle, being driven by male driver steering with one hand while talking on handheld mobile phone. Hoe Street E17, 26 August, 4.30 pm.


EF52 KUS black car being driven on Hoe Street E17 by Asian male driver steering with one hand while talking on handheld mobile phone, 10.55 am, 28 August.

MJ56MVH - terrorist

I was cycling along Forest Road (A503) heading west when I had a moment of sheer blind terror as the driver of a huge black 4X4 reg. MJ56 MVH overtook me and cut right across in front of me to turn left along Shernhall Street. 3.05pm, 15 August.

Friday 27 August 2010

Look who’s in the cycle lane…

Ah, now I understand why ‘the cycling prime minister’ is cracking down on disability benefits. Yes, take their money away and remove the mobility scooter maniac menace from Britain’s cycle lanes. Selborne Road E17, yesterday.

This is not the first time I’ve encountered a mobility scooter in a local cycle lane. What’s wrong with these rogue scooter anarchists? Surely they don’t think that Waltham Forest's footways are uneven and dangerous?

Cycling to school plummets in Scotland

Yet more evidence that as long as Britain’s cycling organisations continue to embrace and promote the philosophy of vehicular cycling, cycling is going nowhere. At best you will achieve a small rise in commuter cycling by hardcore cyclists, who will mostly be male, will ride alone, and be aged 25-45.

Scottish Government figures published this week showed the proportion of people cycling increased by just 0.1 per cent last year to 2.4 per cent, against 1.7 per cent in 1999.

Overall, only about 1-2 per cent of Scots cycle, although Edinburgh leads the way at 6 per cent, with 4 per cent in Aberdeen and 2 per cent in Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness.

This is well behind much of Europe, whose leaders include 55 per cent of people cycling in Groningen in the Netherlands, and 30 per cent in Copenhagen. Even in the UK, cycling rates used to be far higher, with 15 per cent of people in the saddle in the 1950s.

Cycling to school in Scotland is also in decline, the new figures show, from 1.5 per cent in 2008 to 1 per cent last year.

Two views of the Ealing Sky Ride

Photo: Charlotte Barnes

I think it’s such a shame the way these hyper-critical cycling bloggers are always grumbling, grumbling, grumbling. Don’t they realise 2010 is the year of the bicycle?

The Ealing branch of the London Cycling Campaign thought the Ealing Sky Ride was

an extraordinary day.

And this blogger on a bicycle didn’t.

I tried hard to just treat it as a fun day out on the bike, but I’m afraid that I couldn’t help thinking just how little it all had to do with promoting cycling. Really, I know that sounds awful, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that’s going to persuade people to get out of their cars and ride their bikes next week when all the marshals have gone home and all the barriers have been taken down.

Worse, this kind of blog just brings out all the other whingers:

And I thought I was the only one curmudgeonly enough to resent the corralling, the frequent stops for the important people in cars and the absurd preponderance of highly questionable safety equipment.

Don’t forget the original idea of these days was a city completely closed to motor traffic. That was too much for London to swallow so for the Freewheel we got a few closed roads, and the stops were to allow pedestrians to cross. Now the Sky Ride is a segregated route mainly on back roads and in parks with minimum inconvenience to motor traffic. The message is: these are the safety measures we need to take so you can venture out for a ride to nowhere on your bicycle.

More rubbish collector crap

When they aren’t forcing child cyclists off the road the borough’s crap refuse collectors are leaving emptied wheelie bins in front of cycle stands… I think they need a spot of re-education. Pretoria Avenue E17, yesterday.

Killer driver sued by dead cyclist’s father

The father of a cyclist who was killed in a head-on smash has launched a High Court bid for £300,000 in compensation.

Mark Robinson, 32, of Somersham, died from multiple injuries after the collision in Low Road, Fenstanton, in November 2008, when he was hit by a car overtaking another vehicle.

The driver, professional golf coach Matthew Rice, 26, of Peartree Close, Fenstanton, was jailed for 20 weeks and banned from driving for two years after admitting causing death by careless driving.

He appealed against the sentence and was released from custody after the prison term was suspended. The driving ban was halved.

The court was told that had Mr Robinson survived, even with life-changing injuries, the maximum penalty Rice would have faced would have been a fine.

Anderson Roofing: a ‘Trusted Tradesman’ driver on a mobile phone

I spotted an Anderson Roofing vehicle being driven south on Hoe Street E17 (A112), the male driver steering with one hand while chatting on a handheld mobile phone. Yesterday, 10.42 am.

I couldn’t be bothered to chase after the driver to get the number as I was going in the other direction. It wasn’t a standard white van, more a van with a little cherry picker attachment on top. Anderson Roofing boast that they belong to the Trusted Tradesmen scheme, whatever that may be. Plainly it doesn’t encompass obeying road traffic law.

‘multiple vehicle traffic accident’ on the M5

Crikey, I hope no one is going to suggest that all these speed camera cuts are going to give drivers the idea they can belt along motorways at excessive speed, driving much too close to the vehicle in front. Because, after all, they do that anyway!

A statement released by Devon and Cornwall Police said: "At 9pm 26th August 2010 Devon and Cornwall Police received a call to a multiple vehicle traffic accident two miles south of junction 28 on the M5 northbound near Cullompton. Fire service and Ambulance were also attending.

"On arrival the M5 Northbound was closed. Eight vehicles were involved in this accident. Several persons were trapped in their vehicles and had to be cut out by Fire Crew. The M5 southbound was also closed to allow Air Ambulance and a helicopter from RMB Chivenor to land to ferry casualties to RDE Hospital Exeter.

"At present there are thought to be seven casualties who have been admitted to hospital, some of them with serious injuries. There are also several ‘walking wounded’ who have been tended to by Ambulance Paramedics at the scene.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Front wheel bike thieves

On 9 July I blogged about a wrecked bike which had been abandoned for weeks in the cycle stands by the Arcade site. Someone had evidently nicked the front wheel, at which point the bike’s owner lost interest in her machine.

Bless my soul if the Council wasn’t down there the very next day with a notice requiring the removal of said bicycle within seven days, or else. So somebody out there IS reading my blog!

I don’t expect the luckless owner of the bike ever went back to look at it. Maybe she packed in cycling altogether. UK research shows that, 17% of cyclists experience bicycle theft. Of these, 24% stop cycling and 66% cycle less often (DTR/TRL 1996)

As you might expect from Waltham Forest Council, since then nothing at all has happened. Nothing at all. Nuffink. Zilch. Rien.

But is it really the case that a council has to apply to a magistrate’s court to remove an obviously abandoned bike from a stand? I would have thought it possessed the powers to remove unauthorised and obstructive street materiel without going through such a cumbersome procedure.

Cycling campaigners are always fretting about the image of cycling. Me, I think prolonged scenes like this send out a very clear message that cycling today is a neglected wreck.

Incidentally the motorbike which is shown locked to the bike stand in my original blog post continues to be parked here (it was there yesterday, for example) even though the parking attendants should be giving it a ticket for footway parking.

How to avoid obstructing an Advanced Stop Line

Too many drivers occupy the cyclists’ Advanced Stop Line. This G4S driver has respected it by parking beyond it, at the same time helping pedestrians to develop their road crossing skills at a major junction. The Baker’s Arms junction, on the border of Leyton and Walthamstow.

Barriers to cycling

It was a very bright day and I was probably doing about 16mph. I never saw the barrier and it was not until I hit it that I realised it was there. I can’t believe it is painted grey and has no warning sign.”

“There’s three other people at work (at BAE) who have hit the barrier.

Thought For The Day

If speed cameras are such a great revenue generator – which always seems to be a significant pillar of the anti-camera argument – why are they turning them off when money's tight?

‘Dave Atkinson’ in the comments to this.

the latest ‘Cycling revolution’ news

Consumers are getting more confident about committing to car-buying, according to a survey today. Would-be purchasers are prepared to spend a total of £51 billion on new or used cars over the next six months

Sainsbury's Finance head of loans Steven Baillie said: We've been conducting our car-buying index for the past seven years and our findings would indicate that the numbers looking to purchase a car are certainly starting to pick up again.

"We have also recorded an increase in the number planning to buy a brand new car, which is good news for the car industry as a whole as it would suggest that the end of the car scrappage scheme has not led to the feared drop-off in the number of customers wanting to buy a new car."

Sensational news: Hollywood star seen not using car

The 43-year-old Big Daddy star could afford chaffeur-driven Hummers by the dozen to transport cute four-year-old Sadie and 21-month-old Sunny in Los Angeles. But instead, the actor likes to get on his environmentally friendly trike.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Pavement cycling: the danger & the solution

The danger of pavement cycling and why cyclists should never cycle on the pavement was vividly brought home to me yesterday.

Why no one should never ever cycle on the pavement can be summed up in one word: lorries. The danger that lorries pose to cyclists is well known, yet many cyclists seem to forget this when cycling on the pavement. Lorry drivers often drive on pavements and it is all too easy for a pavement cyclist irresponsibly to enter the lorry driver’s ‘blind spot’.

Yesterday afternoon the driver of this Mercedes HGV lorry reg. YK04 FRN drove on to the pavement on Cleveland Park Avenue E17, at the junction with High Street (below). He parked there and went off down the High Street. A careless cyclist could so easily have collided with the lorry, which would have raised that all important question: was the cyclist wearing a helmet?

Half an hour later, on Leyton Green Road, I was admiring the magnificent cycling infrastructure when suddenly the driver of this SS Builders Merchants lorry (no, not an old established Third Reich construction company but a local firm with premises in both Leyton and Walthamstow) swerved onto the pavement and roared along it rather than wait for oncoming traffic. In the third snap (below) you can see the driver re-entering the carriageway, forced there by a pavement cyclist, a ‘hoodie’, who for some reason is wilfully ignoring the splendid cycle lane, presumably on the selfish grounds that the said cycle lane is full of legally parked cars. Do take time to pause and admire the nearest stretch of pink, cycling-friendly London Cycle Network infrastructure in the third photo.

The other day I was in London’s most successful cycling borough, Hackney, and I am pleased to be able to report that progressive Hackney has finally cracked the enduring problem of how to stop pavement cycling. The solution is easy when you think about it. Yes, simply allow cars to park entirely on the pavement and the menace of pavement cycling is extinguished forever. Cadogan Terrace E9.

there’s ‘Safety in Numbers’ in York

As we know from the CTC, there is safety in numbers:

York, the authority where cycling to work is most common, is, by our calculation, the safest place in England to cycle.

Yes, York, city of crap cycle lanes, where the fatalities include the best cyclist York had ever known and involve lethal mini-roundabouts and where you can even be killed by a lorry on an off-road Sustrans bike path and where yesterday – oops…

A CYCLIST was taken to hospital after being involved in a collision with a car at the junction of Piccadilly and Tower Street, in York.

And in the comments to this story, one York cyclist seems a bit grumpy, commenting

CYC will take central funds to fanny-about with road markings, etc, but it does little to make the roads safer for cyclists.

New training film provides guidance for cycling in London

Whether you are a novice or an experienced cyclist, this excellent short new training programme will help you develop the essential skills required for cycling in London. Particularly recommended for cyclists using the King’s Cross gyratory, the Aldwych gyratory or Marble Arch.

Streets clogged with clutter

It’s an old story that never goes away:

Streets across the country are being ‘disfigured’ by tens of thousands of unnecessary road signs, bollards, posts and railings, a campaign dossier revealed last night.

Civic groups said the rapid growth in ugly ‘clutter’ was blighting otherwise attractive neighbourhoods and high streets.

Detailed briefing notes released by the charity campaign group Civic Voice as part of its Street Pride dossier reveal:

• Guard rails used to protect pedestrians ‘can cause accidents or increase the risks to people - such as where cyclists get caught between them and large vehicles'.
Bollards are used to stop cars parking on pavements when lifting the height of the kerb would achieve the same thing without the clutter.

In cycling-friendly Redbridge I came across this marvellous example of ‘shared use’ on the Southend Road (A1400). Simply stick up a sign allowing cyclists to ride on the pavement and watch as they develop their skills in avoiding both bipeds and traffic sign poles. Disappointingly, I didn’t encounter any pedestrians or cyclists on this marvellous piece of infrastructure. Why, it’s almost as if normal people prefer to use cars rather than walk or cycle!

Bus collision news

A PENSIONER has been taken to hospital with life-threatening head injuries after he was hit by a double decker bus.

The man, 76, is believed to have been using the pedestrian crossing outside Homebase, in Church Hill, Loughton, around 7.55 this morning when he was hit by a number 20 bus.


A DOUBLE decker bus crashed into railings in Piccadilly Circus today, injuring a woman.

The number nine bus veered off the road on the Leicester Square side of the junction, near the station, around 2.20pm.

TfL is investigating why the driver did not then stop until the bus reached nearby Haymarket.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Woman on bicycle discovers legendary Waltham Forest

My missing-three-hours-of-sleep foul mood is not helped by doing a detour through Walthamstow where a woman on the High Street calls me a 'fat cow'.

The outer roads look like some early 1950s dystopian nightmare of future vehicle use where everyone has a car and everyone drives every day. Given that oil is a finite resource, I rather feel that petrol for private cars should be rationed.
No wonder the Waltham Forest cyclist is always in a grump.

Grumpy? What have I got to be grumpy about? Why, only yesterday on the Guardian website it said that Cycling in this country is not exactly mainstream, but it does seem to be on its way to achieving that status. And here in wonderful Waltham Forest you only have to compare the infrastructure for drivers with that for cyclists to see how believable it is that more and more people will be soon be abandoning their cars for the bicycle.

(Above) The A406

(Below) The adjacent infrastructure for cyclists.

Where the cycle path meets the road

Double yellow line ‘no waiting at any time’ parking restrictions ensure a smooth transition for cyclists exiting the cycle path on South Access Road E17. (Sunday afternoon.)

Vehicular cycling - guaranteed to deter non-cyclists, thereby helping to keep the roads free for car drivers and CTC members. Bless.

Hogwarts cyclists in Chester warned to ‘stay visible’

A sombre warning to all those cyclists in Chester who have been misusing their invisibility cloaks:

CYCLISTS who flout traffic laws in Chester are being warned to get their act together or risk prosecution.

City officials have revealed they plan to crack down on bike users who break the law following several reports of near-collisions on roads across the city centre.

Cyclists are being reminded they are bound by the Highway Code just as any other road user. They are told never to jump red lights, ride on pavements, pedestrian crossings or ride the wrong way in one-way streets.

In addition, they must think ahead,
stay visible and move over when it is safe and convenient.

Chingford driver ‘lost control’

POLICE investigating a crash which killed a Chingford man believe his car may have been speeding at the time of the collision.

Joe Slater, 23, died after the white Ford Sierra Cosworth he was driving
hit a wall in Beckton

The end of ‘a loveable rogue’

A 20-year-old was killed in a ‘Starsky and Hutch’-style stunt trying to jump 30ft across a harbour in his car.

He had drunk about ten pints of lager and cider.

Forensic officers later said tyre marks on the quay indicated the car had hit a bollard
before it plunged into the water.

ConDems for road carnage

Ministers are set to reject an official report calling for the drink drive limit to be halved, the Evening Standard has learned.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is expected to rule that it would be too damaging to rural pubs despite evidence that tougher laws would save hundreds of lives. An insider said: “The minister is very sceptical indeed about this idea. He is far from convinced that it would be a good thing.”

Mr Hammond, a Conservative and motoring enthusiast, greeted Sir Peter's report as “a serious piece of work” but delayed a decision so that he could find out what his chums in the booze industry thought of it.

[Woops! – that last sentence should finish ‘so that he could commission research into the likely impact on beleaguered country pubs.’]

The drinks industry argues that cutting the limit would put people off driving to rural pubs and restaurants yet would do nothing to change the behaviour of the minority of drunks who already flout the law.

fiery finale for Ferrari fuckwits

‘The 458 Italia is Ferrari's latest high-production vehicle so I knew there would be many crashes but I didn't expect there to be so many so soon.

Monday 23 August 2010

Aftermath of a Walthamstow hit and run

This is where a driver ‘lost control’ on Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow, in the process running down two pedestrians, demolishing a bus stop and three brick walls, and colliding with a house, causing serious structural damage.

The driver was evidently going at excessive speed (this is supposed to be a 30 mph zone) and was presumably driving the kind of large vehicle with airbags (a 4X4, say) which allows the driver to emerge from spectacular wreckage like this unscathed. The driver then apparently did a runner.

Blackhorse Road is a road I generally avoid cycling on. It has high volumes of traffic, often moving at speed (much faster than on traffic-light-dotted Hoe Street) and some drivers get very impatient at being delayed by a cyclist. It forms part of the A1006. In the Leyton section of this 'A' road they also have a problem with drivers ‘losing control’, which is why you can see steel crash barriers at the roadside, cleverly located alongside the cycle lane. Parking is squeezed in wherever possible.

Marketing cycling using pretty girls: just fancy that!

William Slack of Cambridge, saw our photograph, from 1948, of two be-shorted sporty gals pausing with their bikes by a country road, and immediately recognised it.

"The two girl cyclists were not members of a cycling club, but were used by the cameraman Charles 'Slim' Hewitt to 'sex up' an article in Picture Post. I was working there at the time and had suggested a feature on my cycling club, the Becontree Wheelers. Slim Hewitt followed us from Dagenham into deepest Kent, but when the pictures were developed, the editors thought they weren't glamorous enough. So two girls from the office were persuaded to be taken by Slim to near Box Hill, where they were photographed. I would be surprised if they had cycled more than a few yards for the shot."

Gutter Bunny notes that

Tour of Britain is looking for women cyclists to (wait for it) become their podium girls! Alas, it seems that the only way a female cyclist can make her way to this contest is to stand on the podium, looking pretty and kiss the winner.

But, hey! As any British cycling campaigner will tell you, the way to get people cycling isn’t safe, convenient infrastructure (we leave foreigners to invest in that kind of nonsense) but to defend all elements of the existing road and trail network as safe and comfortable places to ride.

We must defend to the bitter end our right to cycle among lorries, buses and BMW drivers and be knocked down by them. We must tell the majority who are frightened of cycling to get a grip on themselves (especially women). We must quote statistics at them to prove that is scientifically safe to cycle. And we must

Associate cycling with health and fun, not danger, in marketing materials.

Because at the end of the day it’s not about infrastructure. It’s about marketing. It’s about promotion. It’s about telling all those non-cyclists that cycling is cool and – phwoaar! - sexy.

So, hey! Don’t listen to the whingers. Just Catch Up With the Bicycle.

The driving record of Bolton MP Yasmin Qureshi

She’s a sturdy pillar of the House of Commons:

Family and religion are the cornerstones on which her politics is built.

(Yes, you will require a sick-bag, so please ensure one is nearby before you read any further.)

She’s also a shining example of The Law:

As a lawyer, she has worked for the Crown Prosecution Service

And now this shining exemplar of all that is good, decent and judicially respectable has been, er,

banned from driving for six months.

Yasmin Qureshi, the MP for Bolton South East, was spotted using a mobile phone while driving and when stopped by police was also found to have no car insurance, Bolton Magistrates' Court heard.

The Labour MP, who was not in court, apologised to magistrates through her solicitor who said she would now have the "inconvenience" of having to use taxis and public transport.

She had a previous offence of using her mobile phone while driving dating from May 25 2008 and two speeding offences, one in 2007 and another last year.

"For whatever reason, matters are being looked into by Ms Qureshi, on this occasion the insurance was not renewed, therefore she did not have insurance.

"Clearly something has gone wrong.

"As a result of administrative error or whatever it is, she is not insured."

Hat tip to Richard Brennan.

There’s always something new at a Waltham Forest cycle stand

All part of the rich tapestry of life in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. A figure slumped behind the cycle stands in the Town Square by the children’s playground, being attended to by the emergency services. A male in his twenties. Apparently not shot or stabbed, displaying the symptoms of being conscious but unable to stand. Saturday. No police turned up, so evidently not the aftermath of a crime.

Cycling injuries up in Kingston

Recorded cycling injuries in the London Borough of Waltham Forest increased significantly in 2009.

Oddly enough the same thing happened in faraway Kingston, Surrey:

Latest figures show Kingston’s cyclists are facing increasing danger on main roads.

In 2009, nine cyclists suffered serious injuries on the Borough’s roads, while sixty minor injuries were reported, a rise of 17 from 2008.

There was also a growth in injuries sustained by motorcyclists but, while it makes bleak reading for two-wheel fans, there is brighter news for other road users.

Total pedestrian casualties fell by seven to 73, while there were fewer reported serious injuries sustained by car occupants.

‘She took up cycling two years ago’

She took up cycling two years ago and survived on Britain’s lethal roads until earlier this month, when she was

hit by a car in Warwickshire.

A 27-year-old man was arrested and bailed on suspicion of
causing death by careless driving.

Sunday 22 August 2010

A new angle on cycling infrastructure

My photo shows an Advanced Stop Line at the junction of Leeman Road and Station Road, York, looking towards Rougier Street, photographed from the city walls.

Along comes a bendy bus.

The driver has stopped his wheels outside the ASL but the forward part of the bus extends some two metres beyond the wheels. Cycling along beside the bus and squeezing into the ASL along that magnificent cycle lane would be inadvisable. If the lights turned to green while you were doing this the bus would hit you. The death-trap railings on the traffic island would trap you. You would be mangled or crushed.

The railings are there, of course, to serve as a cattle pen for pedestrians, who are allowed a few seconds at green to sprint to this refuge, where they must wait another couple of minutes to cross the rest of the road. Well, we wouldn’t want motor vehicles to be slowed down by pedestrians, would we?

As everybody knows, York is an iconic ‘cycling city’. Onwards with the cycling revolution!

safety in the Town Square, Walthamstow

CAMPAIGNERS from the newly-formed Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union have criticised council staff for taking photographs of its members as they tried to hand out leaflets in Walthamstow Town Square.

The group, made up of a variety of left-wing activists, union members and even a Labour councillor, have said they will make a formal complaint after an enforcement officer tried to stop their activities during a protest on Saturday (August 14).

Nancy Taaffe, co-ordinator of the anti-cuts union,
said she believed Saturday's events were more about the council trying to clamp-down on dissent over funding reductions than about public safety.

And when these pesky protesters aren’t there, the Town Square is a very safe place indeed. Look at the pedestrian as he jerks round in surprise, not expecting to encounter a vehicle approaching him from the rear in a pedestrian zone.

As you can see, this irresponsible pedestrian has forgotten to shout “Three feet please!” at the driver.

9.35 am, yesterday.

Driver ‘loses control’ in Walthamstow, knocks over two pedestrians

Resident Thomas Murphy, 74, was woken by the sound of the crash to find the teen lying injured by his doorstep. He said: "I had just gone to bed when I heard the bang. I came downstairs to see what had happened and one of them was lying in my front garden covered in blood. The ambulance teams were on the scene very quickly and took him off. He didn't look in a good way. I heard another person was thrown into my neighbour's garden too."

Neighbours claim that the driver of the car fled after the crash, which happened near the junction with Coppermill Lane.

Several house fronts were damaged in the crash, as was a nearby bus stop.

‘Cyclist killed and huge commuter queues as steel cabin topples off lorry’

Yes, it’s important for newspapers to acknowledge that a traffic jam is equal in importance to the violent death of a cyclist.

It is truly shocking to learn that

Motorists were taking more than two hours to cover just a couple of miles.

SMIDSY driver gets £120 fine

A motorist who was in collision with a cyclist in Soham has admitted driving without due care and attention.

Demba Camara was behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Omega when he came to a halt while turning right into Clay Street from the High Street, stopping in the path of the cyclist.

“My wife said to stop, because there was a cyclist coming,” he told Ely magistrates. “I had not seen the cyclist.”

Camara, 46, of Mill Corner, Soham,
also admitted that he had no licence to drive the car.

The court fined Camara total of £120, four points were endorsed on his licence, and he must pay £85 costs and a £15 surcharge.

Cycle superhighways update

With all the excitement over hire bikes it’s awfully easy to forget about those glorious cycle superhighways.

The only thing that baffles me about this photograph is why, when we are in the middle of a cycling revolution, this cycling-friendly, safe, attractive and convenient Copenhagen-style cycle lane only contains one cyclist at 8.30 am on a Wednesday morning.

Saturday 21 August 2010

The ‘Walk Redbridge’ swindle

On the Redbridge Sky Ride I picked up a copy of the borough’s lovely leaflet about why walking is good for you. One of the reasons given is ‘Relieves stress’.

Oh, I don’t think so. The woman with the kids shown on the cover of the leaflet would get quite stressed walking the streets of car-sick Redbridge, where obstructive pavement parking is commonplace. The lawless-driver-friendly council absolutely refuses to deal with it (I know, I’ve tried ringing them up). The car supremacist cops in Redbridge are likewise indifferent to enforcing laws designed to protect pedestrians. It’s an offence to obstruct a footway but Britain's finest couldn’t give a toss.

(Below) Cowley Road


Redbridge has some 1,800 streets in comparison with Waltham Forest’s 1,300 but the Conservative council there is far more reluctant to enforce parking restrictions than in Labour Waltham Forest.

In Redbridge 96,000 penalty charge notices were issued in 2005/6, in Waltham Forest 153,000.

Bereaved mother leads protest against speed camera closures

Ms Brixey said: "I cannot just stand by while the council puts an axe to vital road safety services that save so many young lives here each year.

They need to know how appalled local communities are about this. Most people fully support cameras and feel safer with them turned on.

"When I heard in the news the Government saying they were ending a 'war on motorists', I thought that all they were doing was enabling people to break the law and endanger lives by speeding.

"What about people's rights to use local streets safely? What about people's right to life? The Government should be prioritising saving lives on our roads not accumulating deaths. The cost of a speed camera does not compare to the cost of a life."

Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said:
"Increasingly, decisions being made on speed cameras are more about politics and less about facts.


The Association of British Drivers has questioned her right to protest about the camera network.

Petrolheads always claim that it’s fairer to enforce speed limits using the police rather than speed cameras. And you can see why:

A senior policewoman clocked speeding is challenging the charge by claiming that the speed gun used by her own force was not accurate. Superintendent Helen Chamberlain, 43, was recorded driving at 79mph on a road with a 50mph limit.

She was given a verbal warning by the officer who stopped her. But a more senior officer disagreed with the decision.

Ian Boddy, defending, said that questions over the accuracy of the speed gun test result would form the basis of her not guilty plea. He added that he would also seek to challenge the process that led to the decision to overrule the initial warning and the quality of traffic signs on the road she was caught on.

But Brian Gunn, prosecuting, said the defence would mean that expert technical witnesses would have to be called. He also raised questions over why the officer failed to challenge the caution she was given when she was initially caught, adding: 'I would want to, under cross examination, ask the defendant why she did not challenge this at the time.'

Last year, a police officer who was caught driving at 98mph in a 50mph zone claimed the speed limit was not enforceable because the signs were not lit. Sergeant Craig Nicholas Jones, an organised crime officer with North Wales Police, was taking a prisoner from Colwyn Bay to Caernarfon when he was stopped. The 40-year-old was fined £500 by Llandudno magistrates, with £1,000 costs.

Another policeman caught speeding at 100mph last year told a court he had been late for work. Matthew Stott was allowed to keep his licence despite admitting the charge.

Meanwhile, as speed cameras are closed down across the nation and as road traffic policing continues to shrink

Cyclists who pedal on the pavements will be the target of a police crackdown

The neighbourhood policing team received a number of complaints about cyclists regularly flouting the rules of the road.

Which may be because the neighbourhood policing questionnaire has naughty cyclists near the top of the tick box list of ‘anti-social behaviour’ while totally excluding pavement parking, speeding or indeed anything at all done by drivers. Yet the government’s own figures show that the number one form of anti-social behaviour identified by the public is… speeding.

‘Safety in numbers’ update

ONE cyclist is fighting for his life and another remains seriously injured after they were both hit by a car on a busy road close to Robin Hood Airport.

The first cyclist, a 52-year-old man from Rossington, was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary with life threatening full body injuries following the collision around 7.20pm last night.

According to police, the crash happened
when a red Skoda Fabia travelling in the opposite direction crossed into the wrong carriageway and collided with the two cyclists.


Martin Maltby, of Don Valley Cycles, said: "We think they were on their way home from a training ride. That's not a bad road.

"Everyone is very upset about it."

[I have a theory that the reason why such a large proportion of cycling fatalities seem to involve time trial cyclists or cyclists on charity rides is that these are now the only two cycling groups left using roads which almost all other cyclists have abandoned out of fear. A secondary explanation is that both groups cycle much greater distances and spend much more time on roads than the average cyclist, thereby radically increasing their exposure to risk.]

87-year-old killer driver

The scandal continues of monstrously selfish car-addicted geriatric drivers who are physically unfit to drive but who are permitted to keep driving dangerously under a system which allows them to verify their own fitness to drive independent of any assessment by a third party.

These highly dangerous old fools kill time and time again but no government – least of all the current petrolhead ConDem regime – is interested in preventing this. The protection of killer drivers is institutionalised and seems likely to remain so since there appears to be no organisation campaigning on this issue.

An 87-year-old motorist with appalling eyesight who fatally injured a disabled woman while she was riding a mobility scooter has escaped serious punishment.

War veteran Raymond Hampshire had cataracts in both eyes and was unfit to be on the road because everything appeared ‘foggy’ to him.

He was driving home from a casino on a dark winter’s evening when he failed to see 43-year-old spina bifida sufferer Fiona Buckley and hit her scooter.

[So his gambling addiction was fed by his car addiction.]

She died in hospital six weeks later from multi-organ failure due to the injuries sustained in the accident.

Hampshire – who was one of Britain’s oldest drivers – admitted causing her death by careless driving.

But choosing to drive at night when you can barely see is not ‘careless’ it is conscious, wilful criminal negligence.

As usual, anyone who doesn’t dress up at night like a Christmas tree is regarded as fit for execution by a motorist:

But Judge Robert Moore took pity on the ex-soldier and gave him an absolute discharge after hearing that an accident expert regarded the victim as reckless for riding on the road in the dark on a black scooter with no lights or reflectors fitted.

The judge said: ‘Punishment is not appropriate, the fact of the conviction is the real punishment.’


He found special reasons not to ban him from driving and only gave him three penalty points.

The judge said Hampshire’s level of culpability fell below sentencing guidelines and the motorist had accepted some responsibility for the death.

The controversial sentence angered Miss Buckley’s relatives. After the hearing, her aunt Audrey Heeley, 74, said: ‘We are all upset over the sentence.

‘I don’t think the judge appreciated that the wheelchair was only on the road momentarily so Fiona could get onto the pavement. We loved Fiona very much and will miss her. She was an inspiration to us all.’

Amazingly it emerges that this geriatric fuckwit also ran down the dead woman’s carer:

The accident happened in Sheffield around 10pm on December 6, 2008. Miss Buckley was riding in the road with her carer Kay Pilley, 46, walking just behind.

They were going in the same direction as Hampshire’s Ford Sierra. The former taxi driver, later told police he was doing about 20mph.

A former taxi driver? Say no more. And needless to say the driver’s assessment of his speed is as worthless as his own assessment of his fitness to drive.

He said: ‘Suddenly I heard this bang at the front of the car and wondered what it was. I never saw them at all. That was it.’

Police tested Hampshire’s eyesight after the crash and found he could not read a number plate from the required distance of 20.5 metres.

The wisdom of Susan Hill

After the writer Susan Hill confessed to ‘dooring’ a cyclist when getting out of her taxi, which inspired her to write a rambling piece about cyclists putting themselves in danger, I asked

What is Susan Hill, who is apparently an able-bodied woman, doing travelling by taxi in Piccadilly? Why isn’t she walking, cycling or using public transport? Does she even reflect that the reason she is 'stuck in Piccadilly' is that Piccadilly is a site which, absurdly, is clogged by cars and taxis. In any civilised society Piccadilly would be empty of private motor traffic and taxis and the only available surface transport modes would be walking, cycling or trams.

Hill’s article has since generated a long column of comments. Hill hasn’t answered my question, but has instead come up with an innovative suggestion for helping cyclists to become safer on our roads.

Being a Conservative, I am for less government interference in our lives not more but I wish they would make wearing helmets compulsory with an on the spot fine of £50 for non-compliance. The saving to the NHS would be spectacular.

Better still, why not ban cycling altogether? There would be a massive reduction in road casualty figures and the savings to the NHS would be spectacular.