Friday 31 December 2010

Cycle Alienation

Come on in, the water’s lovely…

An internationally-acclaimed blog such as this one (we are big in Alaska) is naturally a bit reluctant to provide the oxygen of publicity to attention-seeking British fundamentalists, but I suppose I should respond to this.

I must admit at first I was surprised and a bit bemused. This blog has never had anything at all to say about Cyclenation as an organisation or its official philosophy of cycling or any of its staff or any of the cycling groups which are linked to it.

What this ‘official statement’ actually boils down to is a hissy fit by Simon Geller, who is Secretary and Communications Director of Cyclenation. In the first place this statement seems to me inappropriate for an organisation which represents itself as a professional organisation. Members of the local cycling groups which are affiliated to it can read the archives of this blog and decide for themselves whether it is fixated on Cyclenation. In over 4,000 posts the word ‘Cyclenation’ has appeared just twice. Secondly, it is a bit rich of Geller to attack this blog for its no comments policy when he himself attacks me on his own no comments blog, on the website of the Sheffield cycling campaign which allows me no right of reply, and in an ‘official statement’ on behalf of Cyclenation which also allows me no right of reply. This seems to me excessive for an individual whose name has never featured on this blog and of whose existence I was hitherto blissfully unaware.

If Richard Dawkins was invited to address a convention of Jehova’s Witnesses I suspect he’d decline, but even if he didn’t I think we can safely conclude that no minds would be changed by the experience. I therefore see no reason why this blog should be accountable to Simon Geller, though if Cyclenation wants someone to put the case for Dutch cycling infrastructure they could always try asking another vehicular cycling apostate. But if Cyclenation really wants to invigorate traditional British cycle campaigning what the organisation needs is not speakers putting the case for Dutch infrastructure but to actually hold a conference in Utrecht, or Assen, or best of all Groningen.

That this blog is getting under the skin of one or two of the gate keepers of traditional British cycle campaigning is a wondrous thing. Of all the tributes to this blog which have poured in over the past year this is the clear winner:

it's the product of embittered and twisted minds.

Thank you for that tribute. And in the same cheery spirit let this be the song with which Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest says goodbye to the old year and welcomes in the new.

Thursday 30 December 2010

Waltham Forest crap cycle lane of 2010

The judges reached a very quick decision this year, with one outstanding entry easily overshadowing the others. The Forest Road Corridor Scheme on the A503 between the junctions with the A104 and Woodstock Road was a clear winner for its multiple achievements.

These include seizing footway space and the original cycle lane and converting them into free parking bays at a cost of £10,000 per bay, in the process creating a new cycle lane closer to the middle of the carriageway. This both created an entirely new danger of ‘dooring’ while bringing cyclists much closer to overtaking buses, lorries and cars.

Ostensibly done to reduce traffic speeds there was much admiration for the way the transport planners at the last moment slipped in a traffic order raising the speed limit from 30 mph to 40 mph between Beacontree Avenue and the A104, while also creating a pinch point.

The scheme has demonstrably failed to reduce traffic speeds and a recent test showed drivers on the westbound carriageway entering the 30 mph zone at 42 mph and continuing at this speed along the entire length of the scheme.

There was also admiration for the way in which the contractors managed to block the footway for pedestrians during the course of construction, forcing them into the cycle lane with no protection.

The failure to mend the broken advisory speed sign on the westbound section and the removal of the last vestiges of the speed sign on the eastbound section were also commented on.

Finally, the continuing failure to provide an ASL at the lethal left-turn off the eastbound A503 at the junction with Hale End Road also impressed the judges.

In short, spending almost one quarter of a million pounds on a car-centric scheme which made cycling even more unattractive and dangerous made the cycle lanes on this route truly outstanding, even by the standards of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Catch up with the jerk

New York City officials are sending a message to cyclists who wilfully disregard traffic laws and increase the risk of personal injury to pedestrians and to other cyclists.

"Don't be a jerk," reads the ad slogan that will be featured on public-service campaigns for radio, television, emails, and billboards. The campaign's purpose is to combat problems New York City is facing by having many more cyclists on the streets.

Yes, more and more cyclists are being involved in crashes with drivers and common sense tells you it must be the cyclists' fault.

There were 19 cyclist fatalities in the city through the end of October, seven more than in all of 2009. In the same period, 3,505 bikers were injured in crashes with autos and other motor vehicles, more than last year's total and up 20% compared to the first 10 months of last year.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Cycling past a lorry

Never undertake in the cycle lane. It’s much safer to overtake on the driver’s side. Just hope the mirror isn’t broken!

Cycling in traffic. Pull yourself together and give it a go.

The killing of Cath Ward

Olympic silver medallist and Tour de France rider Harry Reynolds speaking on behalf of Solihull CC said: “We as a club are appalled at this sentence. It just beggars belief that anyone’s life is worth just this. The driver wasn’t even fined.”

And he went on to accuse the courts of a cover-up after hearing that when our reporter checked to see if Cook’s case was going ahead on November 15, he was told that Cook’s defence had asked for an adjournment so there was no need to attend, when in reality they were happy to proceed.

“This has all the signs of a cover up - in my view he should have had a five year custodial sentence at the very minimum,” he said.

More comment here.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

The new Olympics cycling park

This new cycling park close to the Olympic Village is nearing completion, allowing visitors to watch cyclists in their natural environment of mud, broken glass and infrastructure obstructed by vegetation.

CAUTION. Please stay well back from the fence as the cyclists often appear stressed and angry and may be verbally abusive.

Please note that rangers from Transport for London are on hand at all times ready to tranquillize the cyclists with Ten Year Plans, Fifteen Year Plans and Cycling Revolution for Outer London sedatives, which will soon return the cyclists to their natural state of inertia and docile faith that cycling is really going places.

Thought for the Day

I would like the DVLA database of vehicle keepers posted on the web, so that all of us – whether busybodies, neighbourhood campaigners or even intrepid boy reporters – can link every registered vehicle on our roads to a name and address.

An infringement to privacy? I don't think so. Operating a motor vehicle involves responsibilities as well as rights, and one of the longest established responsibilities is that a vehicle should be traceable back to its operator. I'm merely arguing that
citizens, as well as the state, should have access to this information.

Monday 27 December 2010

Waltham Forest: the one and only true Shangri-La

Not everybody knows that the term Shangri-La was invented by a resident of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. There are two blue plaques and in 2011 I shall pedal off and photograph both of them for the edification of readers of this blog.

Of course the only real mystery is why anyone living locally would waste their time writing about a fictitious paradise, when Waltham Forest is itself the finest place on planet earth, as is proved every fortnight by this impartial scientific publication.

Some recent proofs. For example, Johnny Foreigner has to make do with unattractive off-road segregated cycle paths like this.

Here in Leyton an impressive stretch of safe, segregated cycle path gives cyclist a generous half-metre of pink tarmac, which is character building and great fun when you meet a group of six pedestrians strolling home from the nearby nature reserve.

The Christmas reindeer. In Covent Garden the business community attempts to impress shoppers with a single paltry reindeer.

Note that in Leytonstone the business community splashes out on two reindeer – and a great deal more.

The cycling environment. In the Netherlands they often ban cars from city centres, which can result in some very dangerous cycling behaviour. This irresponsible couple are plainly not looking where they are going.

Here in Leyton you won’t see the kind of dangerous cycling behaviour you get in Amsterdam. You won’t see couples kissing because you won’t see couples cycling side by side. In fact you may not see any cyclists at all, which helps to make London a much safer city. Those cars parked in the cycle lane are there quite legally, because obviously with so few people cycling it is best to put road space to more practical uses.

The Christmas shopping experience. Who’d want to go shopping in Covent Garden, where quite frankly parking is hell and you are expected to walk around a shopping mall which is draughty and cold because it doesn’t have outer doors or heating. And a few giant baubles dangling from the roof never quite compensate for parking hell, do they?

In Waltham Forest the council makes every effort to encourage local residents to drive that arduous half mile distance to the local shops. And here on Buxton Road E17 you are allowed to park on the pavement, ensuring that you can bring your car to within just yards of the High Street and the attractive local retail environment.

Open space with a Green flavour? In Switzerland cycling’s modal share is 9 per cent, but that’s obviously because that country is famously very flat. And I am afraid over there open urban space can at times be entirely lacking in motor vehicles, which is plainly unnatural. In fact looking at this scene there seems little doubt that someone hasn’t been taking their medication!

Contrast that with Waltham Forest. Here, a lucky resident relaxes in Walthamstow’s pedestrianised Town Square and enjoys the ‘Green’ view

Thursday 23 December 2010

Last minute Christmas gifts for cyclists


No more SMIDSY misery with these plates! Beautifully hand-crafted by fully-trained cyclists, this pair of plates has been inspired by an old London Transport road safety poster. They are the same size as car registration plates. Simply attach them to the front and back of your bicycle and help win respect for yourself and other cyclists.

You’ll soon notice the difference as drivers toot their horns and shout greetings. Some lucky cyclists have even reported bottles of water and cans of beer are thrown their way by grateful motorists!

Free ‘3 Feet Please’ badge with every pair purchased.


For as long as anyone can remember cyclists have been disgracing themselves through their reckless disregard for other road users. Perhaps you have a family member who is one of this troubled, anti-social minority. This 1930s London Transport road safety poster is the perfect way of gently reminding all cyclists that they have a special duty not to collide with motor vehicles.


The risk of being knocked down by a powered two-wheeler wearing a giant panda mask may seem very small but it is best not to take chances. By purchasing one of these giant panda masks and wearing one the responsible cyclist will be able to appreciate the blind spots in the powered two-wheeler’s vision and adapt their style of cycling accordingly.

Can also be used instead of a cycle helmet.


Simply open this Charitable Status Box and then sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Incredibly, some of them last for as long as one year!

Completely harmless. Suitable for cyclists of all ages.


This has not been an easy year for the CTC as increasing numbers of ‘cycling bloggers’ have fallen by the wayside and lost their faith in the much-respected Hierarchy of Provision. Please find a special place in your prayers for Jim, who of all people should know better.

Its is very, very sad that so many people seem to think that the Dutch have a better approach to cycling than we do here in Britain. This is why everyone should buy a copy of this special CTC-sponsored Christmas single. Who knows, perhaps if everyone bought a copy we could make it as much of ‘a hit’ as cycling in Britain is!

1600 cycling iphone apps free with every order made through the CTC national office.

Shocking suggestion to ‘ban cars’

Traffic should be banned from the West End for the post-Christmas sales to boost the number of shoppers and save chains from “disaster”, a top retail boss said today.

Mr Tillman, who owns Jaeger, called on Mayor Boris Johnson to pedestrianise Oxford Street and Regent Street for two days next week

More than £250 million was spent in West End shops during the last “traffic-free” weekend, on November 27 and 28.

It is very sad when even top businessmen start joining the war on the motorist, is it not? We can only pray that Mr Tillman never has a holiday in Groningen, otherwise he will start suggesting that cycling on permanently traffic free streets not only makes cycling popular but can actually benefit traders.

Hammond horror

Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, told MPs the government needs to consider whether Britain is experiencing a "step change" in its weather which would justify continental-style winter equipment to keep roads and airports open.

Surely someone as sensible as Mr Hammond has not fallen for all that nonsense about global warming resulting in extreme weather variations?

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Cycling in London

The poster.

The cycle lane.

It’s one metre wide and between the bus and the railings. Enjoy. (The A112 in Waltham Forest.)

Cycling's many cheery optimists should begin here: New TfL report highlights success of London's Year of Cycling.

Nobody comes to this blog for cheery optimism about the future of cycling, so here’s what I’ve noticed on a quick scamper through the report.

At one point the report refers to

the Mayor’s smoothing traffic flow agenda

Journey time reliability is defined, for this indicator, as the percentage of motor vehicle traffic which, for a ‘typical’ 30-minute journey, takes less than 35 minutes (the typical 30 minute journey time plus a five-minute ‘allowance’). On this basis,TfL’s journey time reliability indicator suggests that between 89 and 90 per cent of journeys on major roads in London are completed reliably - a value that can act as a baseline for future improvement initiatives.

At the core of TfL’s transport thinking is the desire to accommodate and benefit the use of motor vehicles. Mass cycling is most unlikely to be achieved as long as the real priority lies elsewhere. The recession has cut car use, and so have things like the congestion charge, congestion itself and parking availability or pricing. But overall things are good for London drivers. London is a car-centric city which privileges the motorist, even though

Levels of car ownership in London have tended to be lower than those of the rest of the country. According to the National Travel Survey (2008/09), 43 per cent of households in London did not own a car.

Non-car-owning households are systematically discriminated against, unlike the 17 per cent of households in London having two or more cars


London achieved a 7 per cent net shift towards public transport and walking/cycling at the journey stage level, which is equivalent to a 5 percentage point increase in trip-based mode share for public transport, walking and cycling in London. This means that travel in London is becoming more sustainable.

Crap. Lumping together public transport, walking and cycling is a weasel way of masking the realities of quite disparate travel modes, and giving a false impression of cycling. And there is nothing sustainable about buses, which are high polluters and also a cumbersome way of moving people around dense urban environments. You don’t see cities in Denmark and the Netherlands choked with buses. Cycling is both much more efficient and also incidentally much more sustainable.

And it’s not just buses and private cars which clog up London:

London’s 22,000 licensed taxis account for about 200,000 journey stages per day and are a vital part of the transport network, particularly in and around central London.

The number of vehicles licensed has grown from 37,000 in 2005 to 49,000 in 2009 and 2010. Over the same period, the number of licensed drivers has increased from 19,000 to 59,000, working within 2,900 operator businesses. While this growth largely reflects the progressive nature of the licensing process in the earlier years, the data for more recent years continues to show significant year-on-year growth


Mode shares in 2009 were: public transport 41 per cent, private transport 37 per cent, walking 21 per cent and cycling 2 per cent. These shares are closely comparable to those of 2008.

Cycling’s modal share was 2 per cent in 2005, so despite all the positive spin and the frothy statistics there has not been a significant overall increase in cycling over the past 5 years. There has plainly been an increase in cycling at certain sites in London but modal share currently remains at

2.1 per cent for Londoners overall.

The target is for

a 5 per cent mode share for cycling by 2026

which is deeply unambitious. Can even that paltry target be achieved by the current strategies? I very much doubt it but we’ll see.

I was fascinated to learn under

Table 4.4 Hours of Serious and Severe disruption London wide – 2009/10.

that the biggest single cause wasn’t roadworks but road crashes:

Accident 28%
Breakdowns 9%
Highway Authority works 19%
Utility works 19%
Congestion 9%

There’s the usual guff about road safety with road danger being defined solely by injury statistics. But even here there’s an underlying message:

Noteworthy in 2009 against 2008 were a 6 per cent increase in pedestrian slight casualties, a 9 per cent increase in powered two-wheeler user slight casualties, and a 17 per cent increase in pedal cyclist slight casualties

Still the good news is that

A total of 3,227 people were either killed or seriously injured on London’s roads during 2009.

Down on 2008. Rejoice.

The TfL report contradicts the recent GLA report and may be more accurate:

Cyclists on the Barclays Cycle Superhighways identified benefits to their feeling of safety whilst travelling (80 per cent on route CS3 and 74 per cent on route CS7 felt safer)

However, like the GLA report there’s a suggestion that bike hire is not leading to much of a switch from the car:

Switched from underground, walking or bus 87 per cent
from using their own bike 5 per cent
from cab, car or van 4 per cent

Cycle Superhighways users and bike hire users had a similar profile to London cyclists generally. White, aged 25 to 44, predominantly male. Mostly affluent (no surprise that the Guardian and the Independent have bike blogs). These are the people who not only dominate hardcore cycling in the capital but who also, I think, dominate cycle campaign groups. Cycle campaigning can be very good at getting small scale improvements for those prepared to cycle in traffic. What it isn’t doing is enabling mass cycling among the broad and diverse non-cycling majority, which has repeatedly made clear its reluctance to cycle among motor vehicles. The traditional response of campaigners is to insist that these fears are groundless and to go on believing, in the face of all the evidence, that soft measures and not infrastructure will one day get us there.

The full report can be read here.

The London Cycling Campaign basically believes that plugging away in the traditional way will eventually bring about a critical mass that will result in an explosion of cycling, making it a mainstream activity. The problem I have with that is that I don’t know anywhere in the world where this strategy has worked. All the indications are that we are light years away from achieving critical mass in London as a whole, and that even where cycling levels can be phenomenally high (by British standards), as in the City of London, the transport planners are determined that not an inch of road space will be ceded to cyclists. Whereas we know that the world’s most successful cycling country, which happens to be a European country with high levels of car ownership, reversed its own car dependency and enabled mass cycling through infrastructure, the reallocation of street space and restrictions on the use of private cars in city centres. None of this is on offer in London, and here in Waltham Forest street space continues to be reallocated from the pedestrian and the cyclist to the motorist.

There’s nothing new in what I’m saying. Paul Gannon said it all back in the year 2000.

It seems screamingly obvious to me that this approach is an abject failure. Cycling here has declined over the long run, while it has increased or stayed steady at high levels in those continental European countries which rejected our way of doing things. I repeat this is a point which those who oppose segregated facilities have to address.

Such wild and intemperate ideas were evidently shunned by the London Cycling Campaign. But back then nobody needed to take lessons from the Dutch. Here in London we had the magnificent Cycling Strategy for London, which had the support of the Mayor, politicians, councils and opinion-makers across the capital. There was every cause for optimism since it was going to deliver

4% modal share by 2004 and 10% by 2012

Didn’t that work out well…

Car thugs attack cyclist in Ealing

“it all started when a silver car went through red lights and over a zebra crossing:

'' .. the cyclist collided with the side of the car, he knocked on the passenger window and pointed at the traffic light obviously indicating that they were still red and the car should have stopped.

''Immediately, 3 men got out of the car and started aggressively shouting at him and then pushing him, there were 2 white men and one black and the black man headbutted the cyclist, the other 2 then pushed the cyclist on to the corner of Ealing Green and carried on pushing and shoving him, one of the men picked up the cyclists bike and threw it near a tree.

“I shouted out to the men "Oi leave him alone there are 3 of you and only one of him" which made them all turn around and start shouting at me instead.

''The cyclist picked up his bike and left at this point. Then the men all came towards me (the distance to the bus from where they were all standing was approx 5 metres)
the largest man was particularly abusive and angry and he shouted "he went into my Missus' car!"

Ealing, of course, is where a murderous thug attacked a police constable and a PCSO with a knife. As Cycalogical points out there was an interesting aspect to that incident which almost the entire media failed to mention.

Vehicular cycling in Leicester

It seems like only the other day I blogged about crap cycling in Leicester (where cyclists would very much like one car-free route). And now

A male cyclist was in hospital last night following a collision with a car.

The 53-year-old was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary with head injuries following the crash, which took place in Charles Street, at about 2pm yesterday.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Cycling during an exciting time for cycling

Spot the bike logo in the cycle lane

This is an exciting time for cycling. It is at the heart of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) and some London boroughs are already leading the way by improving conditions for cycling and promoting its benefits.

There is growing public enthusiasm for cycling in Outer London. More people are seeing the bike as a viable and attractive alternative to the car. In a recent survey, 58 per cent of Outer Londoners said they are considering cycling more over the coming year.

Clearly outer London will not be like the rest of Britain, where recent research by the Department for Transport indicated that For every three respondents who had tried cycling to work, two had reverted back to using their car.

It’s a mystery why some novices lose their enthusiasm for cycling. The full version of Delivering the benefits of cycling in Outer London is packed with photographs of happy cyclists (although many of them evidently feel the need to wear helmets, which is odd when you consider that cycling in motor traffic is very, very safe). And let’s face it, what could be more relevant to cycling in an Outer London borough like Waltham Forest than pics of people cycling on a sunny day through Hyde Park?

I have been out on my bike today and, yes, as you can see, this is an exciting time for cycling.

(below) one-metre wide cycle lane with left-turning bus. Selborne Road E17.

(below) Walthamstow High Street cycle stand

white bollards on snowy cycle route

South Gloucestershire Council has been criticised for installing white bollards on a cycle path - which has led to cyclists crashing into them in the snow.

Cyclist Ian Redmond, 56, a biologist, was on his way from Bristol Parkway Station to the city's university when he smashed into one of the bollards, which blended perfectly into the white line marking the boundary between the cycle path and footpath.

The biologist split his lip open, cut his forehead and suffered severe bruising on his hand and thigh when he fell off his bicycle and onto the concrete path.

Apart from the problem with the white bollards, the design self-evidently falls well below Dutch standards for a two-way cycle path (even though the space is plainly there) and the absence of physical separation from pedestrians adds to the difficulties.

This is yet another piece of cycling infrastructure which has presumably been designed by someone who doesn’t cycle and who knows nothing at all about European best practice. This path would be completely inadequate if you had mass cycling.

war on the Sydney motorist

The Australian Daily Telegraph (yes, it’s just like the British version!) is horrified that

Cyclists may currently be enjoying more than their due amount of fair treatment.

To begin with, many inner-Sydney streets now feature extensive and invasive bicycle lanes. The expense of these lanes, in a time of economic stress, is remarkable.

The notion that cyclists should pay for at least some of the construction and maintenance of these lanes is becoming more widespread.

Now a range of other pro-bike proposals are on offer, including
absurdly prohibitive 30km/h CBD speed limits and traffic lights that allow bicycles to run on a different schedule.

American visitors impressed by cycling in the Netherlands

Our trip started in Utrecht, where our group marveled at the parade of bicyclists swooshing past on bikeways separated from the streets. This raised the immediate question among for us: Why is biking a way of life in the Netherlands and only a tiny portion of the transportation picture in U.S.?

Bicyclists swooshing past on bikeways? Segregation as a way of getting people cycling? I ask you, what nonsense. Just look at the kind of anarchy that Utrecht suffers from (below). It would never work here. It would be pointless asking for segregated cycle paths, which is why we shall continue not to ask for them.

Monday 20 December 2010

an irresponsible road user

As coroners across Britain know only too well, all pedestrians and cyclists have a very special responsibility to make themselves visible to drivers. If you are wearing dark clothing when you are run down on a zebra crossing, little blame can be attached to the driver. Similarly any cyclist who does not wear yellow high viz gear can hardly blame a driver who runs into them from behind. When so many drivers have to send or receive important text messages, the least a cyclist or pedestrian can do is dress in bright clothing to make themselves stand out.

Today I encountered this shockingly irresponsible snowperson, who is almost asking to be run down. Judging by the expression on this person’s face and the distinct tilt, this snowperson may well have had “one too many”. Even worse, this snowperson is flagrantly ignoring the sign behind him or her, which quite clearly states PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY.

Someone has paid good money for the right to park their car here (a CPZ permit works out at a savage 75p a week) and they are going to be seriously distressed and inconvenienced when they return to this street only to find the last space left has gone.

Let us hope that the Association of British Drivers has taken up the cudgels and is demanding a refund from the council for every resident in this parking zone. Justice and decency demand no less.

Nurse killed cyclist

A NURSE has been banned from driving for a year and fined £300 after causing the death of a Lincolnshire pensioner.

Wendy Walmsley, 39, was attempting to turn right on to the A159 North Street in Gainsborough, at around 8.35am on May 17, when she failed to see 68-year-old cyclist Derek Vickers and drove into him.

Mr Vickers, who was wearing a bright orange reflective jacket, but no helmet, was thrown from his bike and suffered serious head injuries, dying later that day in hospital.

But handing down the sentence,
District Judge Richard Blake said Walmsley had shown only "momentary inattention" and the case "was one of those tragic accidents that anyone could find themselves involved in".

This last remark confirms all my feelings about the car supremacist British judiciary, just as the risible punishment confirms all my feelings about the system’s indifference to the main cause of violent death and injury in our society and the continuing massacre of pedestrians and cyclists by criminally negligent motorists.

In the wider context, of course, there’s the reality that the NHS is a sick, diseased institution run by drug addicts hooked on fossil fuel dependency.

Some London hospitals even actively hinder cycling

Cycling blogger down

gaz545, who blogs as The Views of a Cyclist from Croydon and who posts his helmet-cam films on YouTube, has been involved in a crash. Luckily he wasn’t seriously hurt:

I've got no cuts or broken bones, but my back and arm are sore. Bike has a badly buckled front wheel.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, gaz.

See what happened here.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Magical cycling infrastructure

My photo shows the cycling cut-through on First Avenue E17 with the London Cycle Network TURN LEFT FOR LEYTON sign, which is just before the dedicated NO LEFT TURN cycle lights. A particularly impressive piece of infrastructure, this.

It’s extra magical in the snow, since the council has a policy of not gritting cycling infrastructure. This is only sensible as it would be a pity to waste money on a fringe activity that only a tiny minority engage in.

And right now everywhere in the London Borough of Waltham Forest is sheer magic. The Town Square is looking even lovelier than usual.

Cyclists warned not to collide with motor vehicles

A spokesperson for Humberside Police said: "The poor weather and reduced visibility can make riding a cycle at this time of year a dangerous proposition whatever time of day you venture out.

"That said you can reduce the risks of being in collision with a vehicle for instance by ensuring you have bright lights on your cycle, wear high-visibility clothing and where possible
avoid poorly lit areas along your route.

I am sorry to say that here in Waltham Forest we have an irresponsible cyclist who has been causing problems for motorists even in daylight.

4X4 driver ‘loses control’ in Glasgow, kills two pedestrians

Janet Brown, 40, was walking to work when she saw the incident unfold.

She said: 'I saw the 4x4 come speeding up the road. It was flying. Then it met a bus and had to swerve drastically to avoid it. The car hit the first girl as she was stepping off the pavement.

'She was thrown clear over the top of it, then the car swerved and hit the other girl. She was thrown 5ft into the air and landed on the road. It all happened in seconds.'

Both women, who were students at the Glasgow College of Commerce, were left lying in the road covered in blood. Their belongings and clothes, including a handbag, pink gloves and boots, were left strewn everywhere.

The incident happened in the main shopping area of Glasgow, at the corner of department store John Lewis and Buchanan bus station.

Whatever the cause of this fatal collision may turn out to be, you can be quite certain that no one will be placing it in the wider context of the massive expansion in 4X4 ownership in Britain – one of the most ludicrous and gas guzzling modes of transport in dense urban communities you can imagine – or the policies of Glasgow council, in a city where Fewer than 1% of journeys are made by bike

Glasgow council did a survey of barriers to modal shift among local residents. It discovered that the availability of city centre car parking, which at workplaces was usually free, was a major factor in influencing choice of transport mode. It also found that when drivers considered switching from the car to another mode, that other mode was public transport, not walking or cycling.

What’s more

People appreciated that cars were inefficient if used by a single person and that by driving they were having adverse effects on others through increased congestion, pollution, and safety problems. However there was a unanimous view that despite these problems, the advantages of car travel exceeded the disadvantages for most trips.

For cycling there was strong opposition to on-road cycle lanes which were perceived as unsafe.

That's a surprise innit.

Nick Clegg gets a new car

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been given a £300,000 armoured Jaguar to protect him from anarchist protesters.

can resist attacks with AK-47 assault rifles, CS gas and even hand grenades

But not even this may be able to protect Clegg from the war on the motorist.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Essential bike stand accessory

Bike stands full to overflowing? Nowhere to park your bike in central London? All the more reason to fill in a form and try to win this smart little thoroughbred, the perfect way to access every street in London. It's compact but fast and fits snugly into all Advanced Stop Line cycling reservoirs.

Yes, just guess the correct registration number and your dream can come true. And remember, in a car you’re always number one in London’s road transport hierarchy.

So why not pop along to the pedestrian precinct at the Brunswick Centre and try your luck NOW. No purchase necessary.

Snow horror

Bit of snow today, taking the council completely by surprise yet again...

Crap cycling in Leicester

Extra signs look set to be put up in Leicester's New Walk to enforce the ban on cycling. A report to be presented to the city council cabinet recommends that councillors agree to increase the number of "no cycling" signs along the pedestrian route.

Pedestrian Elizabeth Fraser, 60, of Evington, said: "I think they do need to put more signs up but to be honest I wonder if some of them care."

A 33-year-old male cyclist from Leicester's West End, who did not want to be named, disagreed. He said: "I cycle on it every day even though I know we are not supposed to, but what's the alternative? London Road is a death trap with cars pulling out everywhere.

"I don't see why walkers and cyclists can't share the path like they do in so many other places in the city, like Bede Street and Great Central Way."

Tony Abbey from the University of Leicester Bike User Group, submitted his opinion to the report, calling for a cycle lane to be created. He said: "I have never understood its pedestrians-only status.
The council's cycle lanes are appallingly haphazard."

Road danger in South Tyneside

A STUDENT who is campaigning to improve safety of one of South Tyneside's busiest roundabouts says she is not giving up on her battle.

Emma Mountain, from Marsden, South Shields, started a petition after cyclist George Le Blond died in a collision with a truck outside the Port Of Tyne complex in Tyne Dock on October 22.

The 20-year-old, who is studying English and history at Newcastle University, also contacted South Tyneside Council and South Shields MP David Miliband about her concerns, but says she is frustrated with the responses from both. She said: "I e-mailed Mr Miliband a few times before I heard anything back, and then when he did, it was very vague.

"I've called the council a few times and they say they're still investigating, but no one seems to be able to tell me where they are with it.

At a Riverside community area forum meeting last month, highways and
transportation design team manager David Elliott confirmed that putting traffic lights at the roundabout is not an option.

Obviously not. Traffic lights would slow traffic down, which would impose an intolerable strain on drivers.

Friday 17 December 2010

why driving instructors 2nd2none should relocate to Waltham Forest

Bristol driving school 2nd2none has 11 Driving Instructors offering driving lessons in the Bristol and Bath areas all of which are highly trained professionals.

All of whom, surely.

The driving skills of these highly trained professionals have been celebrated (with bonus comments by the owner) here and here.

The 2nd2none spokesperson rightly makes the point that modern streets are not designed for mass car ownership, leaving drivers with little choice but to park on pavements. If they didn’t do that they would be forced to park much further away from their homes or worse, have to manage without a car altogether and instead walk or cycle, both of which can be exhausting, especially if you are obese.

Sadly, Bristol council is an administration which deals with this matter by ignoring it altogether. This is why any business which wants to park on the pavement legally and not be pestered by bloggers should relocate to the London Borough of Waltham Forest, where a progressive administration manages to achieve the difficult balance between aspiring to be the Greenest council in the whole of London while converting pavements and cycle lanes into much-needed free parking bays.

Here on Browns Road E17 the council has had to make a difficult choice between the needs of wheelchair users and the needs of Lexus 4X4 drivers. The space between the marked parking bay and the wall by the tree is just 80cm (well below the national recommended minimum width for pedestrians, which is 2 metres) but in an imperfect world it is necessary for everyone to make compromises. And as you can see, even this parking bay is barely adequate for the Lexus driver, who through no fault of his own has been obliged to go beyond the markings in order to park his car where it will not be dented by another motorist.

On Wood Street E17 the council’s Christmas present to local drivers is a soon-to-be-opened massive extension of legal pavement parking on the footways, where the space has in the past been foolishly wasted on pedestrians. Whingers may complain that the space between the shopkeeper’s board and the parked vehicle will be too narrow at just 60 cm, yet this should present no difficulties at all to an able-bodied person on a diet.

Amy Houston, Aso Mohammed Ibrahim and David Cameron

A failed asylum seeker who left a 12-year-old girl dying under the wheels of his car while banned from driving will be allowed to remain in the UK, judges ruled today.

Speaking at an earlier appeals hearing, Mr Ibrahim said: 'This incident when Amy died was an accident

This high profile case has attracted a great deal of attention and commentary and it would be fair to say the decision reached is not a popular one. Responding to furious public reaction, today

Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken of his "great anger" at a tribunal ruling preventing the deportation of a failed asylum-seeker who killed a 12-year-old girl in a hit-and-run driving incident.

Mr Cameron said he hoped that the UK Border Agency would be able successfully to appeal against the ruling by the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber on Iraqi Kurd Aso Mohammed Ibrahim.

However, I think almost all the hostile commentary misses the point that this offender benefited not in the first instance from Britain’s policy on human rights but from Britain’s policy on dangerous drivers and drivers who repeatedly offend.


Before Amy's death, he'd twice been banned from driving and was on bail for a third offence when the accident happened

In the intervening years, Ibrahim notched up another motoring conviction - his fifth. In 2006, he appeared in court again, pleading guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance. This time, he was handed a two-year supervision order and banned from driving for three years.

Gun offences are taken extremely seriously by the courts whereas driving offences aren’t. Drivers who end up killing other road users very often have previous convictions indicating their unfitness to drive. Even when they kill, such drivers enjoy powerful institutional protection.

RoadPeace's position is that all culpable road deaths should be charged as manslaughter.

In this particular case the disqualified killer driver left a child dying under his car and fled (the collision was witnessed by the girl’s young brother):

She was still trapped under the car when Ibrahim got out of the car and ran off.

The maximum sentence the magistrates could have imposed was six months in prison but they are required to give credit for an early guilty plea.

The best friend that killer drivers have is an obscure body known as the Sentencing Advisory Panel, a body which believes in the basic human right to drive and that licence disqualification should be forward looking and preventive, not backward looking, i.e. punitive.

Thanks to the guidelines established by the Sentencing Advisory Panel, the lorry driver who killed cyclist Catriona Patel while intoxicated and using a handheld mobile phone, and who had a driving record which is just about as bad it gets – 48 convictions over a period of thirty years – only received half the maximum punishment of 14 years in prison. You do sort of wonder what else the killer had to do to get the full term.

More context:

Another family shared a shatteringly similar experience. Relatives of Simon Lawrence an ex Royal Marines commando, who served in Northern Ireland in the Seventies, called for the asylum seeker responsible for his death in a hit-and-run accident to be deported.

The 55-year-old motorcyclist was struck by Jean Mukadi in Harefield, West London, last June. He died instantly. Mr Mukadi, an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was imprisoned for four months after admitting charges of leaving the scene of an accident, driving without a licence and having no insurance, at Uxbridge magistrates' court.

But he escaped deportation because his offences are not considered serious enough by the Home Office. Deportation is automatic only for offenders who have been jailed for more than 12 months or convicted of gun offences.

David Cameron could change a lot of things to do with the treatment of motoring offenders by implementing every single one of RoadPeace’s recommendations, but I have no reason to believe that a prime minister who has cut funding for speed cameras is remotely interested in ‘road safety’ or justice for those bereaved by reckless killer drivers.

Reaction to the Amy Houston case has not been uniformly hostile, however.

John Wood, prosecuting, said that as Ibrahim approached a traffic-calming measure on Newfield Drive a boy ran across the road. Amy was following and ran into the car.

On the day of the offence he was fully aware that he should not have been on the road," said Mr Wood. "It obviously follows that had he not been on the road this tragic accident would not have happened."

But ‘Steve’ on Safe Speed disagrees with the prosecutor:

Sorry, but no! From what I've read, that’s an utter fallacy.

It could have happened with any driver who was there at that fateful moment, licenced/insured/MOTed or not. In fact it is very likely the accident would have happened anyway

That’s right, Steve! Cycling and walking are very, very, very dangerous and abnormal activities. If you choose to engage in this kind of reckless behaviour, it is you, the child, the victim who is responsible for ensuring you do not become the victim of a negligent motorist.

And now for some statistics.

And while we are on the subject of the Home Office and its car-centric indulgences, here’s a poster which is currently being put up all over the London Borough of Waltham Forest, published by this particular state agency. I think we can all agree that even at a time of recession and cutbacks it is necessary and very important to ring-fence core funding for the assistance of absent-minded motorists.

Thursday 16 December 2010

How a traffic-free High Road Leytonstone was subverted

High Road Leytonstone, which Sustrans has described as "cycling friendly"

I've been trawling through the council's archives and came across various policy documents. See how over a thirty year period a proposal to create a traffic-free High Road Leytonstone was watered down and finally destroyed in favour of car dependency gone mad.

1. 1980

The District Plan 1980 stated that

On completion of the M11 Link Road, High Road Leytonstone should be closed except for buses.

A very progressive proposal, which quite possibly resulted from a lot of hard work by local transport campaigners in alliance with sympathetic councillors. Now see what happened.

2. 1996

The Unitary Development Plan 1996 stated

On completion of the Link Road the Council will seek to exclude non-essential traffic from High Road and provide the opportunity to enhance Leytonstone Shopping Centre.

The proposal to exclude everything except buses has now been watered down but still excludes "non-essential" traffic, which implies (but does not explicitly identify) private cars.

3. 2005

All mention of restricting motor vehicles vanishes:

The Local Implementation Plan (Transport), Consultation Draft May 2005 stated that

The borough is committed to improving the street environment for residents, both in major town centres and ribbon developments on main roads.

‘Residents’ are now implicitly synonymous with ‘car owning residents’ despite the high levels of non-car ownership in the London Borough of Waltham Forest and the knowledge that car dependency is extreme in Outer London with massive use of cars for very short local journeys.

Urban regeneration is now identified not with traffic reduction or restriction but with car parking:

In Leytonstone new car parking spaces have been created. This comprises 95 off-street spaces and 40 short-term on-street spaces. Another 45 short-term spaces have been created in High Road Leytonstone, south of Church Lane.

4. 2011-12

The High Road Leytonstone Corridor Scheme (in association with Transport for London), to be implemented before the Olympics.

In the old days traffic schemes came with detailed drawings with specific measurements and figures. Nowadays in Waltham Forest it’s all glossy photographs and spin - generalisations with no concrete detail. For example, it is impossible to find out the width of the cycle lanes in this new scheme by scrutinising the available plans. Even the most detailed drawings currently on display in Leytonstone and Cathall Green libraries don’t provide that kind of information.

The scheme shows the extensive provision of free parking bays (a sample below). How many bays in all? This information is omitted from every single council document dealing with this scheme.

Cycle lanes are to be refurbished alongside parking bays, as if ‘dooring’ didn’t exist (and even if a ‘safe zone’ is to be supplied – and there is no evidence that one will be – it won’t, on past form, be wide enough and parking in it will not be an offence).

The zebra crossing is to be removed by Leytonstone station, to be replaced by ‘open space’ - sure to be a winner with the local minicab drivers who currently park in the cycle lane outside the station.

The scheme encompasses the area outside Harrow Green Library, which currently has no cycle parking whatsoever. However, the only parking deemed worthy of mention in this Corridor scheme is car parking. Cycling infrastructure is quite literally inconceivable to Waltham Forest’s transport planners, apart from the usual token on-road cycle lane.

There’s one other aspect of the scheme which overlooks the interests of anyone who wants to cycle to High Road Leytonstone. It blatantly indicates that these ‘improvements’ have been drawn up by planners who see the world through a car windscreen and who believe that economic prosperity and regeneration depend on providing as much on-street car parking as is possible. I won’t say what it is because it’s so obvious I’m confident that the local branch of the LCC with its detailed knowledge of local streets will spot it at once and demand changes to the plan.


It is worth asking what the driving force was (literally) in watering-down the traffic-free High Road Leytonstone proposal.

The answer quite simply is the borough’s transport planners and highway engineers, who are largely comprised of car-driving men who get financial help to buy cars and are financially rewarded for driving them. They also enjoy free workplace parking. Even though the London Borough of Waltham Forest is relatively small and can easily be cycled, the council is stuffed full of officers on “essential car user” allowances.

The drive to create an ever-more car-centric borough comes from the transport planners, not the public, and not even councillors. As I know from personal experience, even when campaigners can persuade councillors of the merits of schemes which curb car ownership and use, and even when those suggestions are enshrined in council policy, the transport planners simply obstruct them in every way possible. They are expert procrastinators. They simply wait until your favourite pro-cycling councillor has disappeared from the council – younger councillors tend to burn out quite quickly – and then dump the agreed policy.

Apart from walking and cycling being placed in the hands of car-centric transport planners for whom neither mode is at all personally relevant, the Blair local government reforms have further subverted public input into transport planning. Until fairly recently all traffic schemes had to be put before a transport committee and discussed openly before being voted on. This gave every resident and campaign group the opportunity to lobby councillors. Now all that has vanished, and traffic schemes are agreed behind closed doors between the officers and just one councillor, namely the cabinet member responsible for the environment. If this cabinet member is a weak councillor or an ill-informed one, then rubber-stamping becomes the order of the day. What then follows is a meaningless “consultation” process, like The High Road Leytonstone Corridor Scheme. Everything has been agreed in advance and your chances of getting any major structural changes are non-existent. At best you might squeeze a few cycle stands out of this scheme. Any tiny, parochial improvements on offer will only be those which do not impinge on the interests of drivers. And you will be regarded as mad if you suggest that High Road Leytonstone becomes a traffic-free street.

Five years ago the council did traffic counts on High Road Leytonstone which showed around 13-17,000 vehicles a day driving down it. These are relatively small numbers, yet they suppress cycling, clutter the street, pollute the air, and degrade the street for pedestrians. Motorists who drive to this street and park here for free are blatantly being exempted from the true social costs of their chosen transport mode. And their freedom to drive (hey, it's all about choice) crushes others freedoms, not least the freedom to cycle in a safe, direct, convenient and pleasant environment. There is nothing remotely attractive about cycling on High Road Leytonstone and that won't change after this scheme is implemented.

A street like this in Utrecht, with a population roughly comparable to that of Waltham Forest, would have almost no vehicles in it and 20-30,000 cyclists. This is a perfectly feasible scenario but one quite literally inconceivable to the kind of people who dominate transport planning across London. Unfortunately it is also inconceivable to lots of people who consider themselves to be cycle campaigners.

In short, The High Road Leytonstone Corridor Scheme is just another nail in the coffin of cycling, another contributor to obesity and air pollution, and another encouragement to the ownership and use of a car for short distances. Yet it could all have been so different, as someone understood 30 years ago.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Cycling on Ruckholt Road, Leyton

Ruckholt Road, Leyton, (the A106) is the second most popular of three major cycling commuter routes for anyone heading into central London from the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The other two are Lea Bridge Road (A104) and Forest Road (A503).

The borough has a population of 223,200.

Over the past five years the annual cycle count figures for Ruckholt Road on a weekday 7am – 7pm are

2006 764
2007 837
2008 701
2009 646
2010 709

It’s a mystery why these figures are so erratic on what is a signed London Cycle Network route with a magnificent cycle lane. Here’s what it was like cycling on Ruckholt Road yesterday.

cops in Hogwarts cycling crackdown

Watch out, Harry Potter:

police will talk to cyclists about wearing visible clothing

Inanimate objects repeatedly collide with drivers

Abad Sajad, 33, of Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, was one of the drivers who crashed into the traffic island on Saturday.

The crash caused him to have a serious asthma attack, which has since kept him off work.

He said: "I didn't even see (the traffic island). It was really dangerous. Someone could have been killed.”

The traffic island in question is the next one along from the one I recently blogged about here.

And for an instructive tale with ramifications about someone who

crashed into a bollard

do read this.

Meanwhile at 5 pm yesterday in Walthamstow a wall near the Crooked Billet collided with A single vehicle travelling eastbound.

A few days earlier

A CRASH involving three cars closed a main road in Chingford.

The vehicles involved are thought to be an Alpha Romeo, a Vauxhall Astra and a Mitsubishi Raging Bull.

Are those who drive a Raging Bull, or an Intimidator, or a Warrior trying to tell us something?

Christmas lights

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy will be holding a festive fund-raiser for Labour Party members this weekend. She’ll be bringing along a friend. The event will be at the Welcome Centre in Walthamstow Village on Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. And as they arrive at The Welcome Centre at 8 Church End, party members will be able to see for themselves just how seriously the Labour council takes its Energy Strategy:

Waltham Forest Council is working with local partners to take action on climate change through its Energy Strategy.

The energy strategy sets out how Waltham Forest will reduce energy and water consumption. Using less energy and water will not only save money, it will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
The energy strategy complements the climate change strategy.

Yes, just a short distance from The Welcome Centre is the lamp post at the St Mary Road end of Church Path which has been blazing away in daylight for most of the year and also the lamp post outside number one Orford Road which has been lit up in the daylight hours throughout 2010. And let’s not forget the extra large lamp post across the road from the Labour Party office on Orford Road, which has been blazing away in the daylight hours for months (see photo above). All a gross waste of electricity and what you might call blazing hypocrisy from a council which is always instructing local residents to switch it off.

This matter will surely be of particular interest to a passionate environmentalist like Dr Creasy, who previously brought this top climate expert to the borough.

In the case of Dr Creasy I do so hope it’s not a case of floods, famines and pollution losing their urgency once an election is over…

Yesterday, for a larf, I thought I’d see if I could photograph the blazing lamp post by the Labour Party office reflected in the sign. I think it’s come out rather well, don’t you?