Thursday 30 September 2010

Incredible but true: Waltham Forest council to gate cycle route

‘Permeability’ is one of the buzzwords in cycling campaign circles. It refers to direct convenient routes for cyclists which incorporate short-cuts unavailable to motor vehicles. Permeability means infrastructure like cycle lanes through road closures, contraflow lanes on one-way streets, or off-road paths which avoid gyratories or other circuitous roads. In Walthamstow a good example of permeability is Clay Path, a pathway where cycling is permitted. Clay Path provides a useful short cut across Lloyd Park, between Winns Terrace E17 in the west and Bedford Road and the A112 in the east. Now read on…

(Above) Clay Path at the Bedford Road end, with the path running west.

Waltham Forest council wants to close Clay Path after dark - that's the path which runs through the middle of Lloyd / Aveling Park, London E17. Close, as in stick a gate at either end and lock it up from as early as 4pm.

• Returning from work after dark? Take the long cut through scenic Forest Road.
• Walking your kids home from Winns Primary / Chapel End school at the end of a long day? The extra exercise is good for kids.
• Collecting children from the Lloyd Park Centre? Push your buggy along the narrow, congested pavement on Forest Road instead. Oh, watch out for those bus stops!
• Cycling through the park after dark? Take your chances in the 4 lanes of traffic on Forest Road instead.
• Walking to work bright and early through the park? They won't be opening it until 7:30am in the morning, or 9:00am on Sunday.

We say: Clay Path is one of the few pedestrian rights of way in Waltham Forest, and we want to improve it, not lose it. You don't have to be a planning genius to release what Clay Path needs is working street lighting, re-surfacing, and widening - not a total shut down after dark.
The lottery money awarded to the park surely affords an opportuntity to do something decent, not something stupid.

But with characteristic contempt for walking and cycling Waltham Forest Council is proceeding with its crackpot scheme, once again underlining how things in this borough are comprehensively getting worse and worse for walking and cycling. With typical arrogance the Council hasn’t even bothered to measure use of this pathway by cyclists and pedestrians. It simply doesn’t care. The glaring contradiction with the pious aspirations of its climate change strategy document – essentially a worthless piece of trash – bothers no one. On pages 6 and 7 of the Council's fortnightly newspaper Waltham Forest News there's a lot of guff about the environment and requests for everyone to drive less and walk and cycle more, and then tucked away on page 18 in the 'Public Notices' is the small print:

Cyclists who once cycled east along Clay Path after work will now have to go on a much longer route, emerging from Winns Terrace on to Forest Road (A503) at the exact spot where a cyclist was run down and killed by a speeding driver. Also bear in mind that in the recent past the Council has turned the roads surrounding the park into one-way streets: Brettenham Road, Carr Road, Winns Terrace, Bedford Road. This was done to maximise car parking and smooth motor vehicle flow. There are no contraflow lanes and the (in)convenience of cyclists was of no interest.

Let’s also consider the role played by the London Cycling Campaign, which on its website trills

Lobbying by Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign (WFCC) is helping to open up Lloyd Park to cyclists.

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign (WFCC) successfully lobbied to get several paths in the park redesignated as shared use for cyclists and walkers.

The routes include the vital 'Clay Path' through-route, used by cyclists avoiding the perilous Forest Road and the convoluted one-way system to the north of Lloyd Park.

It’s a peculiar claim because Clay Path has always been admissible for cycling, and it’s even more peculiar now that the Council is shutting down night time use of the path. You might hope that the Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign was screaming its head off about this insane plan, and marshalling its claimed 400 members. Instead, not a squeak of protest, and the news section of its website is (with symbolic aptness) pretty vacant. But then I’ve pointed out the dismal failings of LCC campaigners on this route previously.

Let me sum up. A popular route for cyclists and walkers is to be gated and closed down from sunset to the next morning, even though the route is lit by lampposts and has been used by the public for over a century. With characteristic deviousness, the Council used a legal procedure which allowed no appeal to anyone but itself. There was public opposition to the scheme from local residents, which the Council has flippantly disregarded. All this scheme will do is further deter people from walking and cycling and make travel by car more attractive.

Anyone who seriously thinks that cycling in Outer London is going to increase from its dismal modal share of one per cent is delusional. Cycling in an Outer London borough like Waltham Forest is going precisely nowhere, and the increasing inconvenience and danger of cycling locally is likely to result in a reduction in cycling, not an increase. The fact that officers can get away with a scheme like this underlines both the mediocrity of the elected members of the borough and the weakness of supposedly ‘Green’ campaign groups, which continue to collaborate with farces like the Green Fair and Car Free Day, while the cycling and walking environment continues to be degraded, pinched and marginalised.

(Below) The route marked in red, with the Winns Terrace entrance on the left and Bedford Road on the right.

(Below) Clay Path facing east, outside the nursery.

(Below) The Council employs the latest in digital technology to announce park closing times:

(Below) Stolen from cyclists. Bedford Road has been made one-way in this section by the Clay Path entrance (directly ahead) which leads through to Chingford Road (A112). But as any top member of the LCC will tell you, roads like this are just too narrow to provide cycling infrastructure.

in bad odour

In the bad old days pubs used to discriminate. Now times have moved on and there are new categories of unacceptable members of society:

The 13-strong group, who are aged between their mid-40s and mid-60s, all belong to the Lordshill Road Runners Club in Southampton.

They had been cycling half an hour on Saturday in temperatures of around 16C (61F) when they stopped off for refreshments, but said they had barely taken a sip of their coffees and beers when the restaurant manager told them to leave.

One of the cyclists, medical secretary Janet Burnage, 54, of Romsey, said the group were angry and had vowed never to use the pub again.

“The restaurant manager came over to us and said ‘I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but there is a bit of a body odour and would you mind leaving’.”

Vehicular cycling in the London Borough of Richmond

Police are appealing for witnesses to a crash which left a cyclist in a coma for six weeks.

The 37-year-old man was riding his bike with his 10-year-old son along Warren Road, Whitton, when police believe he was hit by a coach.

He suffered serious head injuries in the collision and has had to undergo major surgery.
The man was in a coma for six weeks and has only recently regained consciousness.

Driver targets cyclists

Cyclists are being targeted by a driver who Oldham County Police say is trying to run riders off the road intentionally.

The latest incident was reported to police Monday evening. Investigators said it's not a game of chicken, it is serious.

Oldham County Police describe the driver as a white man about 30 years old.
The truck is described as a red Dodge Ram with a specialized license plate called a farm tag.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Cycling, council newspapers and Greenwash

Safe cycling? Grove Green Road E11, where car parking bays are the number one priority.

New proposals to limit how much money local authorities can spend on free newspapers will be announced later by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. He said he intended to clamp down on "frivolous town hall propaganda papers" which threatened the viability of the independent local press.

Under the changes, town halls would be allowed to publish such municipal newspapers only four times a year. Their content would be restricted to factual material relating directly to council services, and include no comment or commentary.

This is excellent news. The local council’s massively subsidised 'free' fortnightly newspaper Waltham Forest News would not be out of place in North Korea. It exists simply to sing the praises of our glorious leader and his practices. And it’s full of Greenwash, designed to obscure the reality that Waltham Forest Council is bitterly hostile to cycling and walking. Crap like this, from the latest issue (which can’t even bring itself to use that controversial word ‘cycling’):

The 10:10 campaign is just the kind of pious crap that makes me reach for the sick bag. Asking drivers to give up driving in a car-centric society is futile. And in reality

Plenty of nations – like Britain – have produced what appear to be robust national plans for cutting greenhouse gases. With one exception (the Maldives), their targets fall far short of the reductions needed to prevent more than two degrees of global warming.

Even so, none of them are real. Missing from the proposed cuts are the net greenhouse gas emissions we have outsourced to other countries and now import in the form of manufactured goods. Were these included in the UK's accounts, alongside the aviation, shipping and tourism gases excluded from official figures, Britain's emissions would rise by 48%. Rather than cutting our contribution to global warming by 19% since 1990, as the government boasts, we have increased it by about 29%.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is enthusiastically pursuing policies which promote car ownership and use and which deter walking and cycling.

(Below) Pavements are for parking those extra cars for households which already have off-street parking. Foresters Drive E17 and Carnanton Road E17.

Introducing Mr Grumpy

There is now a third cycling blogger in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. And The Grumpy Cyclist asks

Does anyone who works for Waltham Forest transport division actually know what a cycle is?

(I believe that’s what grammarians call a rhetorical question)

Boris bikes and helmets

My admiration for the work of Brake has just diminished:

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, show there have now been a total of five people who have injured themselves after hiring the bikes since the scheme's inception on July 30.

A spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake insisted helmets should be introduced before a cyclist is killed on London's busy roads. She said:
"We recommend all adult cyclists wear one as well as children, whether you are cycling on or off road.

But demanding that cyclists wear helmets is simply demanding that they adjust and conform to dangerous road conditions. Brake simply hasn’t understood that the key to safe cycling is not helmets or high viz gear but a safe cycling environment, and the only way that is going to be achieved is by imitating the Dutch bicycle master plan, rather than pursuing the catastrophically failed policy of attempting to ameliorate the conditions of vehicular cycling.

16th century archway collides with lorry

It had stood for centuries as an imposing entrance to one of Britain's finest abbeys, where a succession of Scottish monarchs were crowned.

But 500 years of history were wiped out in an instant yesterday
when a delivery lorry smashed into the 16th-century archway at Scone Palace and reduced it to rubble.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Safe cycling? Another cycle lane by a pinch point

Selborne Road E17 was ‘improved’ last year. The cycle lane was refurbished and refuges were created for pedestrians. The consequence for cyclists is just another example of the kind of dangerous infrastructure I’ve previously blogged about.

Drivers lurch into the cycle lane to avoid the island. Evidently a driver has even managed to collide with the ‘Keep Left’ sign, which in itself is just another example of London’s secret violence.

Boris Bikes: sending a message

A blogger who reckons that 4X4 drivers are borderline sociopaths has some interesting ideas for stickers.

Cyclist ‘crashes with a lorry’

It’s shocking the way vulnerable lorry drivers are constantly being run down by cyclists innit:

A MAIN road in Ramsgate has been closed by police after a cyclist crashed with a lorry.

Cyclist down in Norwich

A 50-year-old cyclist has been taken to hospital after an accident on a busy Norwich road.

The accident between a car and the cyclist happened in Earlham Road, at the junction of Park Lane, just before 4pm this afternoon.

The man was being treated by the critical care crew for head injuries.

The Earlham Road is a nightmarish road for cycling and there are streets off it where the pavements are totally obstructed by pavement parked cars. But then Norwich is a car-sodden car-sick city, where drivers are encouraged to come into the very centre of the town and utilise the massive car parking infrastructure. Not surprisingly cycling’s modal share inside the inner ring road (which is where the Earlham road can be found) is a very British 2 per cent.

Monday 27 September 2010

paradise regained

This blog was wrenched at very short notice to an internet-free zone, but is now back in the paradise of Waltham Forest. Normal service resumes tomorrow. In the meantime here’s the latest instalment of that popular Waltham Forest game called spot the cycle stand.

Mission Grove E17

Tuesday 21 September 2010

‘Cycling, Safety and Sharing the Road’: new DfT report

Cyclists and drivers ‘Sharing the road’ in London (A503, Walthamstow) and ‘cyclists not sharing the road’ (Netherlands, pic: Judy Hembrow).

A new report published by the Department for Transport examines the views of cyclists and drivers about each others’ behaviour and considers them in the context of ‘road safety’:

Qualitative research was carried out with cyclists, other road users and the parents of young cyclists to explore views on the positives and negatives of cycling, accounts of stress and risk on the road, views on the potential problems in interactions between cyclists and other vehicles, as well as strategies for dealing with and managing risk - including the use of safety gear.

It’s a seriously flawed but nevertheless interesting report. The interpretation put upon it by the Daily Telegraph is:

Cyclists and motorists do not want to share road, report finds

Attempts to make cyclists and motorists share the road are doomed to failure, Government research has found.

An embarrassing conclusion both for the Department for Transport, which has no interest in promoting successful, segregated cycling on the Dutch model, but also for the Cyclists’ Touring Club, which remains wedded to vehicular cycling.

The report’s authors assert

our focus throughout the design, delivery and reporting of the research has been on issues of road safety

But some very large ‘issues’ are evaded, not least that ‘road safety’ is an ideological construction invented by the motor lobby to resist effective action against their weapons of mass destruction. The ‘road safety’ industry is institutionally designed to avoid engagement with the core issues of high speed vehicle manufacture, lawless driving, inadequate road traffic law enforcement, and inadequate penalties for criminal behaviour. Instead ‘road safety’ focuses on education and telling pedestrians, and cyclists to adjust their behaviour to the risks posed by the behaviour of reckless drivers. For the definitive hatchet job on the road safety industry, see Robert Davies’s book Death on the Streets: Cars and the mythology of road safety (1993).

This new DfT report is itself contaminated by this ideology. It ignores exposure to risk on the part of cyclists, just as it ignores risk compensation on the part of drivers (make a bad driver safe from the consequences of recklessness by supplying air bags etc and they will be reckless). Instead it limits itself to conclusions drawn from road injury figures, which are both notoriously unreliable and provide no adequate index of exposure to danger.

This report introduces the topic of cycle helmets and concludes:

Opportunities may exist to: encourage inconsistent wearers to extend existing habits into new settings; and tackling the image of the helmet as something for children only.

This assumes that cycle helmets are a good thing. This assumption is not tested within the report; it simply emerges as road safety ‘common sense’.


There was widespread agreement that cyclists should do more to make themselves visible on the road

Oh really? In what way do the laws of optics not apply to cyclists? The toxic sub-text of that sentence is ‘because many drivers are not concentrating on controlling a ton of machinery in motion – they are chatting on the phone, reading a text message, changing a CD, finding a new radio station, looking at their SatNav etc – cyclists have a special obligation to draw attention to themselves in order not to be run down.’

That toxic logic even applies to pedestrians. It is now acceptable for a driver to execute a pedestrian on a zebra crossing if the pedestrian was wearing ‘dark clothing’. Road safety is a victim-blaming ideology and the conspicuity red herring is one of its most striking achievements. Indeed

High-visibility clothing was seen as important by many cyclists

(Yes, even sheep can sometimes be persuaded that the wolf is their friend)

though very few actually wore it.

Well, yes. Why should they?

The report asserts that

Better sharing of the road by cyclists and other road users (ORUs) remains… a fundamental issue for road safety.

In a vehicular cycling society there is a sense in which that is true. But what the report reveals are the levels of hostility and aggression felt towards cyclists by ‘Other Road Users’. The report notes that

no stereotype of car drivers in general exists… By contrast, a stereotype of cyclists in general does appear to exist among ORUs. This stereotype is characterised by:
serious failures of attitude, including a generalised disregard for the law and a more specific lack of concern for the needs of other drivers; and serious failures of competence and knowledge of the rules of the road

It’s worth asking where this stereotype comes from, and the answer is the mass media – another relevant aspect which is excluded from consideration by this report.

Britain’s national and local newspapers depend heavily on car advertising, and are often owned by corporations which also publish motoring magazines. The mass media invented the term ‘war on the motorist’ and established the stereotype of drivers as victims, bled dry by the state and mercilessly persecuted by traffic calming, parking wardens and speed cameras. This is the same mass media which excludes daily road carnage from its news pages. Needless to say there is no balancing perspective to show that bad behaviour by cyclists is (i) not greater than that by drivers (ii) has only a fraction of the serious consequences which results from bad behaviour by drivers (iii) occurs as an adaptation to roads designed to benefit the flow and parking of motor vehicles, not the convenience and safety of cyclists or pedestrians, and as a response to the failure to enforce laws protecting such vehicular cycling infrastructure as exists.

But if some drivers feel hostile to cyclists on the basis of a stereotype (cyclists are lawless spongers), the report shows that cyclists are hostile to drivers, and intimidated by motor traffic:

the most important barriers to road cycling are related to ORUs:
• the behaviour of ORUs; and
• the volume and speed of traffic.

This chimes with the reason why most people in Britain have no interest in cycling. Every survey ever taken demonstrates that non-cyclists cite road danger as the number one reason why they won’t get on a bike. The response of the CTC to this situation is to cite statistics supposed to show that cycling is safe, and to attempt to get people to dispel their fears through cycle training. This has never worked as a strategy and it will never work. What is interesting about this report is that it now shows that even among vehicular cyclists there is significant hostility to vehicular cycling, based on personal experience:

Over and above any specific bad behaviours, it was clear that most, if not all, participants experience increased levels of stress when the volume and speed of traffic increased.

Interestingly, Section 7 of the report references Amsterdam as a successful city for road sharing. The authors appear wholly ignorant of what Dutch cycling infrastructure consists of, and why Amsterdam, though infinitely better for cycling than anywhere in the UK, ought not to be the template. The report rhetorically asks if it is necessary to change the infrastructure, then flinches from the Dutch option by blathering that ‘the scale of what can be done in practice is constrained by the space of most urban roads’. That, of course, is garbage, and it is interesting that the transport professionals involved in producing this report are astonishingly ignorant of Dutch practice.

Having backed-off from the one thing that will bring about mass cycling in Britain, the authors then bluster about conspicuity as a solution:

Promoting better visibility would be easier than promoting helmets. Moreover, it could be incorporated into a wider programme to promote better road sharing, since making yourself visible was widely conceived, by cyclists and ORUs, as something that cyclists can do for ORUs.

To which my reply would be that I am not remotely interested in ‘winning respect’ from drivers by dressing up in a manner which would please petrolheads.

Amazingly, even the narrow and limiting possibility of improving the vehicular cycling infrastructure is abandoned:

Infrastructure has a role to play in improving the culture of road sharing. The scale of what can be done in practice is constrained; and any serious attempt to change the culture of road sharing would require a range of coordinated interventions, such as marketing, education, legislation and enforcement.

Ah, yes, marketing and education, those old chestnuts which can be rolled out as a substitute for action. As for more legislation… When the laws which are supposed to protect cyclists and pedestrians are already cynically ignored by Britain’s sleazy car supremacist cops, the last thing we need is more laws.

What we need is not what this report proposes. What we need is safe, segregated cycling on the Dutch model. Everything else is a worthless substitute which will guarantee the continuing stagnation of cycling in Britain. But then if this report has one value, it is that it demonstrates that perhaps the biggest obstacles of all to mass cycling in Britain are that diseased limb of the state known as the Department for Transport and the culture of car-centric transport professionals which it nourishes.

Access the full report here.


The report was released last Thursday with little attendant publicity indeed understands that a draft copy was prepared over a year ago, perhaps the DfT's reticence on the matter is because the report does paint such a depressing picture of the interface between cyclists and what it terms other road users (ORUs).

Boris Johnson to poison London’s air for extra 3 months

London's mayor has confirmed that larger vans and minibuses will not be required to meet Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards until January 2012.

These vehicles
were originally due to be included in the LEZ from October 2010.

War on the young motorist

Banning newly qualified young drivers from night-time motoring, drinking any alcohol or carrying passengers of a similar age could save 200 lives a year and lead to 1,700 fewer injuries

More insurance companies could offer schemes that meant cheaper premiums for those young drivers who, for instance, did not drive late at night.
These were monitored by black boxes in their cars.

The ConDem petrolhead government has absolutely no interest in saving 200 lives a year, so this suggestion is going nowhere.

As for black boxes in cars – this is a shocking infringement of liberty even greater than speed cameras.

Monday 20 September 2010

chugger off from my bike stand

I was wondering where these enigmatic sacks came from which regularly obstruct the cycle stands in the Town Square (by the children’s playground). And now I know: chuggers. This sack, padlocked to the stand and accompanied by various umbrellas, belongs to chuggers operating on behalf of the NSPCC.

It’s funny how the council enforcement officers give a hard time to people who turn up in the Square protesting about council cuts, but do nothing about the regular obstruction of cycle stands.

Occupied Walthamstow

This year the council belatedly installed the first four cycle stands in Walthamstow village, on Orford Road, by the popular pubs and restaurants (or five if you count the one marooned on the patch of ground opposite St Mary's church, which I have never seen anyone use, presumably because it isn't close to anything and is also ideal for bike thieves).

On Orford Road there are more parking bays than cycle stands, and council policies continue to promote the occupation of the borough's streets and pavements by the shock troops of the fossil fuel army.

Waltham Forest - committed to encouraging car dependency to new and even bigger levels

Westminster’s petrolhead Tories exposed again

Dr Helen Walters, the new director of public health for Westminster, has written to council chiefs, urging them to reopen the case for bringing the speed limit down to 20mph on residential roads.

Dr Walters said a lower limit would also help the fight against soaring child obesity levels in Westminster, where more than a quarter of 11-year-olds are putting their health at risk.

Opposition leaders have seized on Dr Walters’s comments, saying the council can no longer ignore the weight of medical evidence that supports the scheme.

In a letter accompanying the latest child health profile for the borough, Dr Walters wrote: “The profile rightly highlights
our high child obesity rates and poor oral health. It also highlights the high rates of road traffic accidents.

3,500 killed EVERY DAY by drivers

More schoolchildren are daily being killed by traffic on the highways of the world's poorest nations than by deadly infectious diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, prompting campaigners to call for a UN-backed target to halt the spiralling numbers of traffic fatalities by 2015.

Road accidents claim the lives of 3,500 every day, 3,000 of which are in poor countries.

Watkins said that more lives, of those aged five to 14, were lost on the roads than to "malaria, diarrhoea and HIV/Aids". Unlike these deadly diseases, road traffic injuries were "conspicuous by their absence from the international development agenda". By failing to pay attention to road deaths, he said, the worthy ambitions of UN goals, such as universal primary education, were undermined.

"It doesn't take rocket science to work out that primary school kids should not be crossing six-lane highways to get to school … Likewise setting targets for cutting mortality rates among children aged up to five and then turning a blind eye to road deaths, one of the biggest killers of five to 14-year-olds,
is not just irrational, it is ethically indefensible."

Sunday 19 September 2010

Cycling in Greek mythology

An ancient Greek legend tells of a hero who tried using an award-winning cycle path in Waltham Forest, became lost in the jungle, climbed to the top of the highest tree to find his bearings, only to fall fatally to earth.

The prize-winning pedestrian/cycling route on Orient Way.

Crap cycling in Norwich

The other Waltham Forest cycling blogger writes:

I should be happy. But I am not.

First off, in Norwich I encountered my first anti-cyclist rage. Sworn at by a motorist because I happened to cross her path – she happened to be indicating to turn left into the ‘no entry’ street we were in and as she appeared to be slowing I figured I should get out of the way. Never quite sure about these motorists and if they will obey the rules. This got me an earful of abuse. Never mind, get to the station onto the London train all would be fine.

the last leg of the journey on the Chingford train up to the ‘stow was utter hell.

I won’t bother disgorging my feelings about the Liverpool Street line, as ‘Alan P’ sums up the situation perfectly adequately. (Basically, you can take a bike on the local train line but there is nowhere to put it.)

I’m more interested in his bad experience in Norwich. The interesting thing about Norwich is that the city has more Green councillors than anywhere else in Britain. You wouldn’t know it, walking or cycling around the city. Norwich is a car sick, car-sodden city, with some perfunctory (and very old) pedestrianisation. Drivers are encouraged to come into the very heart of the city, with huge capacity for car parking everywhere.

The Green councillors in Norwich, like their party at a national and London level, are completely clueless about how to end car dependency and promote cycling. In other words, committed to the failed policy of vehicular cycling.

Norwich’s Cycling Action Plan asserts:

This review should acknowledge the reaffirmed basic principle stated in the DfT’s recent guidance LTN2/08, Cycling Infrastructure Design which states:

“The road network is the most basic (and important) cycling facility available, and the preferred way of providing for cyclists is on the carriageway where cyclists are content to use it, particularly in urban areas.”

Naturally if you pursue a clinically insane policy like this you will get the modal share you deserve. The most recent figure I’ve managed to come across for Norwich is very revealing:

Norwich - All journeys within the Inner Ring Road

Walking 40%

Cycling 2%

Public transport 6%

Car 44%

The compact, easily-cycled area within the Inner Ring Road is exactly where you would expect a modal share for cycling of at least 25 per cent, if the proper infrastructure was in place. Needless to say it isn’t. Norwich is a city which promotes car dependency and suppresses cycling, with the active support of the most powerful local Green group in Britain.

Cycling in Britain – going nowhere for the foreseeable future.

London’s secret violence

On Hoe Street, a short distance from where a BMW driver recently ‘lost control’ and crashed into a lamp post outside The Rose & Crown, another driver has ‘lost control’ and smashed into the Keep Left sign opposite the Arcade site.

But this crash hasn’t been in the local paper and quite probably involved no injury to the driver, so it won’t appear in the annual register of ‘road accidents’, helping to maintain an image of Hoe Street as ‘safe’. Yet in this short section of the A112 drivers have crashed into the railings near the junction with Church Hill, a bus went through the window of MacDonalds, another driver crashed into railings by First Avenue, and another driver recently demolished an advertising panel.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Regularly obstructed cycle stands of Waltham Forest

(1) Walthamstow High Street (2) Pretoria Avenue E17.

Phwoar! (The Daily Mail interests its male readership in road safety)

A spokeswoman for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said

'While we have no concern with this advert so far, we would be interested in knowing if there are any road accidents caused by it.'

Aggressive van driver throws bottle at cyclist

For more about this incident check out I Pay Road Tax.

it’s the Esom effect!

This blog used to have a label ‘the Esom effect’ just to register the complete uselessness of the officer in charge of the local cycling and walking environment. And now see what’s happened.

Time to go down memory lane.

Or should I say memory cycle lanes!

Friday 17 September 2010

Pope’s visit celebrated on London National Cycle Network

The Pope’s visit to Britain is celebrated locally on the National Cycle Network, with this charming artwork by Tracey Emin, specially commissioned by Waltham Forest Council through the Esom Creatives agency. Costing only half a million pounds I think we can all agree this represents value for money at a time when we shall all soon start having to tighten our belts and patch our lycra.

Ms Emin has generously added a ‘bonus extra’ panel which adopts her more traditional style (below).

You can see these panels on the 'Cyclists Dismount' section of the local National Cycle Network.

From here continue north, then turn east following the attractive cycle-friendly route which links up with London Cycle Network route nine (below).

On the next section of route which requires cyclists to dismount, further artwork can be seen, encapsulating the values of diversity and inclusion in the enhanced European community.

Lorry driver collides with group of 18 cyclists

One man is dead and two others are in hospital after a transport truck plowed into a group of cyclists from Ottawa on a New Brunswick highway Thursday.

RCMP Cpl. Rob Landry said the group of 18 cyclists were riding on a four-lane stretch of the busy Hwy. 7 near Petersville Hill, N.B., when the collision occurred. A 23-year-old man was killed, while the other two were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Images from the scene showed bicycle parts scattered across the pavement.

Alayne McGregor, who sits on the board of Ottawa group Citizens for Safe Cycling, said speed, sun and inattention can all play factors.

"This isn't the same as in urban cycling. It's a different situation, there are different risks. Vehicles are going at higher speeds and they're not looking for cyclists because they don't expect them to be there.

"The essential risks we hear about in rural collisions are driver inattention, drivers claiming they didn't see the cyclist because of sun in their eyes, drivers driving extremely fast and not being able to correct in time and some people transfixed by the road after driving for a long time, which might apply to truck drivers."


The cyclists are part of the Ottawa-based group that promotes sustainable environmental choices.

The group performed earlier Thursday in Oromocto and had been cycling toward Grand Bay for another performance in the evening.

"This group of young people liked to spread awareness about choices that young people can make," said Landry. "They're actually a theatrical group that travels by bicycle from city to city putting on theatrical performances."

Thursday 16 September 2010

Jenny Jones and the London Cycle Network

It’s the iconic London Cycle Network Plus, where the infrastructure is of the type which “provides continuous, fast, safe and comfortable conditions for cyclists” (in the words of Transport for London). Photo: Ralph Smyth, City Cyclists website (see below)

Underneath a feature on Boris Bikes by Adam Bienkov I came across this comment:

The London Mayor under spent his cycling budget by £54m last year and £10m the year before that. Whilst it is good to see the superhighways and cycle hire implemented, the big expansion in cycling needs to be in outer London.

The London Mayor and Transport for London have issued press releases announcing “record” levels of investment in cycling this year and in the previous two financial years. In 2008/09 ten million was added to the cycling budget by the current Mayor, but actual expenditure was the same as that allocated by the previous Mayor. In 2009/10 the budget was £111m, but actual expenditure was just over half of that at £57m.

London’s cycling revolution has been stalled for the last two years as the Mayor failed to finish the London Cycle Network, which would have created hundreds of linked up cycle routes throughout London. The Mayor has talked about record levels of expenditure on cycling, but his main achievement in the first two years was to cancel the one big project that was on the verge of delivering a huge advance for cycle safety, especially in outer London. Expenditure on cycling has gone up, but with the exception of some good work by a few local authorities, little extra was acheived in the first two years.

By Jenny Jones on Sep 6

Jenny Jones is a Green Party representative on the Greater London Assembly and a cogent critic of the Metropolitan Police’s indifference to road violence and lawlessness. While she is right to be sceptical of TfL’s spin regarding cycling investment, I think she is quite wrong to talk of a ‘cycling revolution’ which has ground to a halt because Boris cancelled further work on the London Cycle Network.

In the first place there hasn’t been a ‘cycling revolution’, unless you are gullible enough to swallow what comes out of TfL’s press office: stuff like the number of cyclists in London has risen by 40% during the past five years - a figure based on nothing more than cycle counts (whose methodology is obscure) taken on 29 cherry picked main roads with high levels of commuter cycling.

The cycling revolution hasn’t stalled because it never existed in the first place. Cycling’s modal share in London is risible, both at a borough level and in terms of Greater London. But the entire cycling establishment prefers to evade the only statistic that really matters, because no one in this establishment is interested in acknowledging either failure or their own role in it.

It seems to me foolish to blame Boris for the problems associated with the London Cycle Network. Back in 2005 the new super improved London Cycling Network Plus (LCN+) was already seven years behind schedule. You can’t blame Boris for that. All you can accuse him of is bringing down the curtain on the project. The LCN and LCN+ were intended to provide 3,900 km of good quality cycle routes in Greater London.

Or as TfL put it (illustrated by a weird picture of a cyclist with a helmet and a smog mask) the LCN was designed to encourage even more people to cycle while also improving conditions for existing cyclists.

However, after all the years of work and consultancy fees, and with 60 per cent of the network completed, there isn’t one complete north-south or east-west cycle route across Zone 1 of the English capital. That says it all, really, doesn’t it?

Jenny Jones’s idea that LCN+ was ‘on the verge of delivering a huge advance for cycle safety, especially in outer London’ strikes me as total garbage. In the first place, there was a telling critique of the LCN by Jeremy Parker as long ago as 1997. Parker was writing from the perspective of a committed vehicular cyclist, but he still had some very good points to make:

The cost benefit study for the London Cycle network is so unrealistic as to border on fraud. The LCN study assumes that the only switches to bike will be from cars. Nobody will switch to bike from bus, tube, or train. The LCN study assumes that the emptier streets from this switch will not fill up again with more cars (see Mogridge, "Travel in Towns", Macmillan, 1990, for a refutation of this).

The LCN study misuses York accident statistics to claim that facilities similar to York's will produce large reductions in accidents in London. In point of fact the reductions in accidents in York seem to be just about the same in places where there were no bike facilities as where there were facilities, and seem to have been due to a general reduction in car traffic from anti car facilities, not from increased safety from pro bike facilities.

At the moment there seems to be very little of any kind of monitoring. This implies that the bureaucrats have no interest in learning from their mistakes, that the mistakes will continue, and that the bureaucrats do not have the interests of cyclists at their heart.

Parker’s scepticism was justified. What evidence there is suggests that people in Britain who give up their cars switch to public transport, not cycling.

Even those who believed in the LCN were frustrated by what was happening during the era of the Livingstone administration:

The target for completion of the LCN in 2005 has come and gone, and in late 2006 the City's own target for completion of the LCN+ (a slimmed down, higher quality revision of the LCN) of 2008 or even the Mayor's target of 2009/10 looks incredibly ambitious.

The photo above shows a kerb buildout and entry treatment funded by the LCN+ in 2005 from the cycling budget. Not only has the buildout made the cycle lane go into the kerb but also a new pinch point on the bend, particularly dangerous as bendy buses are common on this route. The LCN+ has been so desperate for the City to finally spend some of its cycling grant that it has been willing to approve virtually anything. City Cyclists was not specifically consulted and think that the actions of the LCN+ and City here were an unjustifiable waste of taxpayers' money.

The City of London was allocated £156,000 to build the London Cycle Network + in 2004/5, spent £82,000 of which only £5000 went on cycle facilities. Of the rest £54,000 went on an "entry treatment" (see photo below) and the remaining £23,000 went on consultants' fees.
That's just 3% of the allocation going on cycle facilities and bad ones at that.

But the London Cycle Network in all its manifestations was completely flawed from the start, because it was rooted in vehicular cycling. The car came first and all the London Cycle Network offered was the amelioration of vehicular cycling:

The LCN+ includes provision at junctions, measures on main roads, signed routes on back streets, contra-flows in one-way streets, cycle tracks and routes through parks.

The aim is to make it easier and safer to cycle between home and work, to shops, to school or college; to commute, refresh or socialise. It aims to give cyclists priority where possible.

Ah, yes – where possible. And we all know what that means, don’t we? Infrastructure will be supplied, but only if it in no way inconveniences or upsets motorists. Cycling will never have priority and will always be secondary to a car-centric transport culture.

This is why cycling to school continued to decline during all the years the London Cycling Campaign was cheering on the LCN.

This is why the London Cycle Network is complete crap and an utter farce and no one should mourn the passing of a project which gave cyclists dangerous infrastructure like this, where a car parking bay always took priority over a cycle lane, where drivers are allowed to park in cycle lanes seven days a week, where one metre wide cycle lanes are installed between parked cars and high volumes of lorries and buses, where LCN signing is flagrantly contradictory and where cyclists are required to take ridiculous detours.

The notion that more infrastructure like this was ‘on the verge of delivering a huge advance for cycle safety, especially in outer London’ reveals just how out of touch with the real world Jenny Jones is. Far from enabling cycling, the London Cycle Network is one of the reasons why cycling is still a minority activity in London.

But then Jenny is a leading member of the Green Party, which is no friend of cycling.

(Below) A section of the London Cycle Network delivering a huge advance for cycle safety and convenience on Church Hill, London E17.

Potholes? Nuffink to do with the council, mate

Mr Prior hit the pothole on Lockwood Road in March. His fall left him with a cracked rib and black bruises on his back. He was also in pain for a couple of months.

But, after making a complaint to Kirklees Council six months ago, he’s just been told they’re not liable.

More global warming greenwash

In her first speech on climate change since taking office Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, will speak about the need for Britain to adapt to rising temperatures.

“It is vital that we carry on working to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions to stop the problem getting any worse,” she will say.

One simple way of cutting emissions would be a national 50 mph speed limit, rigorously enforced, with massive penalties for ignoring it. It would also see a significant reduction in road crash fatalities. Naturally the ConDem petrolhead government has absolutely no intention of doing any such thing, even though lowering the speed limit to 50 mph would cut transportation-related CO2 emissions by 30 percent.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

why ‘The Campaign for Better Transport’ is no friend of cycling

Cycling in Nottingham

Nottingham has been named as England's least car-dependent city in a survey that exposes inconsistent planning across the country with one of the nation's newest conurbations, Milton Keynes, labelled the worst for cyclists and bus users.

Award-winning bus services, a European-style embrace of the tram and a bias against out-of-town shopping centres were cited as powerful incentives for residents of Nottingham to leave their cars at home, according to a report by the Campaign for Better Transport.

Nottingham's investment in 30 miles of cycle tracks, a nine-mile tram network and 230,000 miles of bus journeys per week made it the top ranking city overall. "It ranked highly for factors such as bus patronage, satisfaction with bus services and low car use for the school run. As well as having an efficient bus service, the new expanding tram system is now used by 10 million passengers a year," said CBT.

The green lobbying group judged 19 English cities by three criteria: accessibility and planning; quality and uptake of public transport; walking and cycling.

Dan Milmo, the author of this uncritically regurgitated press release, really ought to read his colleague Nick Davies’s book criticising journalists for failing to tell the truth by simply lapping up PR pap fed to them by vested interests.

In the first place The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT - formerly known as Transport 2000) is not a ‘green’ lobbying group. It exists to promote buses, trains and trams (and there is nothing remotely ‘green’ about buses). It has strong links both to businesses (Eurostar, Stagecoach and Arriva among others) and to trade unions (including ASLEF, the RMT, Unison and Unite-Amicus) and receives funding from them.

There is nothing particularly unusual or wrong about this, of course – the CBT is simply a lobbying group which reflects large and powerful vested interests. These businesses want government to subsidise them and protect them from competitors, and the unions want to look after the interests of the people who work in these industries. The CBT’s hostility to road haulage and car dependency is not rooted in environmentalism but in promoting public transport. And no genuine green organisation would have jet-setter Michael Palin as its figurehead:

A foreword by Palin for its annual report was edited to remove a reference to the individual’s “right to fly”.

The reason why the CBT is no friend of cycling is that cycling is a much better way of getting around cities than buses, trams or trains. But the CBT is not remotely interested in seeing Britain’s towns and cities restructured for cycling. It has no interest in campaigning for the only proven way of bringing about mass cycling.

Complete segregation of cyclists from motorists is what is actually required to make the masses feel that cycling is safe. It's also required to make cycling efficient and safe.

The CBT doesn’t have a clue about cycling, as its utterly ludicrous claims about Nottingham reveal. Nottingham is a car-sodden cycling-hostile city and cycling has been stagnating there for many years (ably assisted by the local collaborationist vehicular cycling sect, offering yet more proof for the simple thesis that among the biggest obstacles to mass cycling in Britain are self-appointed ‘cycling campaigners’). You only have to look at the photograph above to understand both the scope for the re-allocation of road space for safe segregated cycling and the existing conditions which are of the kind which will only ever attract a small minority of hardcore cyclists.

Cycling’s modal share in Nottingham in 1995 was 3.2% (according to this). In fact that figure is misleading as it almost certainly refers to commuter cycling’s modal share, which is invariably higher than modal share per se. If you want to exaggerate the amount of cycling people do, just cherry pick the figure for biking to work. Ironically, over the past fifteen years in the cycling paradise that is Nottingham, the modal share figure for commuter cycling has not increased but has actually dipped slightly:

Nottingham has a population of 274,000 with 45% of this population without access to a car. 23% of the population owns a bike however only 3.1% of these people use their bike to cycle to work.

In reality the overall situation in Nottingham is much, much worse

Basel and Nottingham: compared. Basel has 21% mode share, Nottingham has 1.6%. What is the problem? Nottingham is dominated by a car ideology.

Not such a paradise for cyclists, then, and not a place where car dependency is low, contrary to the fantasies of the CBT.

I sought advice for a randomly chosen cycling journey of 2½ miles in Nottingham. It turned out to involve roads with motor traffic and ‘shared’ use with pedestrians. I was cautioned:

There are some very busy sections on this route.

You are required to dismount and walk on some sections, (for 2% of the distance, 6% of the time).

For full details take a look here.

In Nottingham, the usual atrocious conditions for vehicular cycling are matched by joke infrastructure when it comes to such matters as cycle parking.

NEW bike parking bays at Nottingham railway station will make it more accessible to train users, it is claimed.

The Cycle Hub will provide 92 spaces for bikes – 38 more than previously catered for at the station.

Crikey, 92 places for the main station in a city with a population of 292,400. That’s awesome, is it not? Whereas

in the Netherlands a small city with just 65,000 inhabitants has 2,300 spaces at its station

There is also something very British about what happened next at the frabjous Nottingham station secure cycling hub:

We are very concerned to hear that a bike was stolen from the new 'Secure' Compound only a few days after the opening and have taken this up with Nottingham City Council and East Midlands Trains.

The CBT’s blind spot regarding cycling is exposed by this celebration of the recently published National Travel Survey, which ludicrously asks did Labour succeed after all?

On the contrary, as far as cycling is concerned, it failed, catastrophically. But the CBT is just another of those outfits which brings good news which is utterly bogus:

London has the lowest number of car commuters and cycling is growing dramatically.

That is fantasy campaigning, since London’s modal shares have been essentially static for many years. Where there have been slight shifts they have not involved cycling. Reading this sort of thing you would never know that the latest TfL figures show cycling’s modal share in Enfield currently registering at zero per cent, and in Newham flickering between zero and one per cent. The notion that there is a cycling revolution in London is utterly delusional. And the strange idea that there is going to be a surge in cycling in outer London boroughs is quite bizarre, for all the reasons regularly demonstrated on this outer London blog.

When the CBT does mention cycling it comes up with the usual bland generalisations:

Lower traffic speeds, for example more 20mph zones in towns and cities and 30mph in villages, would provide a better environment for walking and cycling.

No, they wouldn’t. Lower speed limits reduce the impact of collisions on pedestrians and cyclists and result in fewer fatalities, but they do not in themselves make a street cycling or walking friendly. A car-sodden street is still a car-sodden street and 30 mph and 20 mph zones still involve vehicular cycling.

Wackiest of all is the CBT's demand for

safe ways of carrying bikes on the front of buses

Oh, please.

But I suppose no one should be surprised that the CBT is clueless about cycling. Among those working for the organisation is a former Campaigns Coordinator at CTC

Nuff said.

Picture credit: the photo above comes from here.

(Below) Cycling friendly? A thrilling section of the iconic London Cycle Network running through a 20 mph zone, Church Hill, E17.

Vehicular cycling to get worse in Islington

LIVES could be put at risk if transport bosses go ahead with a plan to remove traffic signals from one of Finsbury's busiest cycle crossings.

Transport for London is considering removing lights from a junction in St John Street - even though, at peak times, it allows hundreds of cyclists an hour to cross between Owen Street and Chadwell Street.

Cycling campaigners fear that if the lights are removed, bike riders will risk life and limb trying to cross St John Street - a major north-south route.

Councillor George Allan, a keen cyclist and a Liberal Democrat member for Clerkenwell ward, said: "It would be a devastating blow to the safety and convenience of the hundreds - if not thousands - of cyclists who use that junction every day.

"If they do away with the lights, cyclists would just have to take their chances.

lorries and cyclists: what is to be done?

Ben Thomas:

I was dodging five lanes of swerving vans and buses near King's Cross when I saw the ad on a double-decker yesterday.

You can see it might make cyclists think.
But most of the cyclists I've spoken to suggest that, if anything, it might make them think about stopping cycling

The solution is simple. Don’t expect cyclists to share road space with heavy goods vehicles.

One of those “five lanes of swerving vans and buses” should be re-allocated exclusively for cyclists, who are kept segregated from high volume motor traffic, on the successful Dutch model. All other solutions – education for lorry drivers and cyclists, cycle training, conspicuity and high viz gear, cycle helmets, ‘share the road’, ‘three feet please’ – are utterly bogus alternatives which only serve to perpetuate road violence and inequality.

Sadly those two major obstacles to mass cycling – the London Cycling Campaign and the Cyclists Touring Club – remain stubbornly wedded to the catastrophically failed strategy of ameliorating vehicular cycling. They do indeed resemble sects.

Chingford driver killed cyclist and fled

A CHINGFORD motorist who killed a cyclist and then fled the scene has been jailed for five years.

Ali Altuntas had had two or three hours of sleep in the 24 hours leading up to a collision with cyclist Jim Fleming on the A413 at Gerrards Cross on April 1 last year, Aylesbury Crown Court heard.

Mr Fleming, a 47-year-old haywarden for Chalfont St Peter Parish Council, was killed instantly when he was hit from behind by a blue Mercedes car being driven by 37-year-old Altuntas, the court heard.

“He [Mr Fleming] could and should have been clearly seen. He completely failed to see Mr Fleming cycling along the edge of the road and he failed to take any steps to slow down despite having had him in view for many seconds before the collision.”

Mr Fleming was wearing a fluorescent high-visibility jacket and had a light on the back of his bike and another on his backpack. He was not wearing a cycling helmet.

Altuntas had had a “grossly inadequate amount of quality sleep in the 24 hour period before the collision”, Mr Barry said.

“This lack of sleep no doubt contributed significantly to what was, in any event, a catastrophic lack of concentration,” he told the court.

“Police spoke to his wife there and asked about the blue Mercedes,” said Mr Barry.

“The questions were very general. When asked about the car her response was, 'It's been stolen'. Then, crucially, before the police said anything else, she said, 'I don't know anything about an accident with a bicycle'.

“The police hadn't mentioned an accident with a bicycle.

Altuntas also claimed to have sold the car for £1,000 but had lost the phone number of the person who came to his house to buy it, jurors heard.

Mr Barry said these were “the actions of a man with a guilty conscience”. He added the car was never reported stolen and no claim against its insurance was ever made

A police reconstruction concluded a car driver would have been able to see a cyclist in a fluorescent jacket on the A413 from 290 metres away – giving the motorist “five or six seconds” to react.

It is not clear to me why the killer driver’s wife was not charged with perverting the course of justice.

No press report states what driving ban was imposed. The killer driver will presumably come out of jail in two and a half years and will almost certainly be back on the roads a few years after that. Under the British judicial system, the right to drive is the most basic human right of them all.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

The twisted logic of vehicular cycling: why Waltham Forest is a failed cycling borough

The London Borough of Waltham Forest is a failed borough for cycling, with cycling flatlining at one per cent modal share for as long as anyone can remember. This naturally concerns no one – certainly not the Council (which continues to encourage car dependency and increased car ownership by re-allocating roads and even pavements for cars and car parking), not the borough’s ineffectual cycling officer, and not the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign, for whom ‘cycle campaigning’ is a social event rather than a serious attempt to change the borough’s car-centric transport infrastructure.

At the root of the borough’s failure to increase cycling is its insistence that cycling MUST be done on roads, amidst motor traffic. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the population don’t want to do this is of no concern. The fact that the local cycling group’s own survey among existing cyclists revealed a deep dislike of vehicular cycling and a clear preference for off-road cycling is likewise of no concern to ‘campaigners’ who represent an organisation which displays no interest in arguing for the kind of safe, segregated cycling which results in mass cycling.

The borough’s Cycling Action Plan asserts:

Most cycling takes place on the road and this will continue to be the case. So it is essential that the road network is made suitable for cycling. Segregated cycle routes and networks will play an important role in some areas, but they will be of limited use if cyclists are unable to use ordinary roads freely.

What these flabby and ill-informed generalisations add up to is the belief that vehicular cycling can be encouraged by ‘improvements’ to the road network. On page 11 of the document is one such example (below). With characteristic dishonesty, the photograph shows High Road Leytonstone in the kind of deserted state you would normally only find early on a Sunday morning or late at night. My own photographs, taken on the same supposedly exemplary cycle lane, show what it’s like to use on an ordinary weekday. And the simple reality is that this supposedly exemplary cycle lane does not encourage cycling but rather suppresses it and keeps it stagnating. Families won’t cycle on cycle lanes like this. Few people will want their children to cycle to school in conditions like this.

If you really want to get lots of people cycling you need to accept the first lesson of how to succeed:

Cyclists should never mix with high speed or high volume motor traffic.