Thursday 30 June 2011

‘the number of cyclists killed rose for a third consecutive year’

The road casualty figures for 2010 have just been published

As far as cyclists are concerned

Although deaths and injuries fell significantly for motorists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, the number of cyclists killed rose for a third consecutive year. Deaths rose by 7% from 104 in 2009 to 111 last year, although the DfT says the number of cyclists rose by just 0.5%.

In fact the figures rose in all groups for cyclists - killed, seriously injured and slightly injured. But, hey, don’t let that get you down. With the right approach to statistics you can see that this is good news, since

In 2010, the likelihood of being killed while cycling was 54 per cent lower than in 1990.

This is reassuring, is it not?

Sadly there are still some cyclists who go round in ordinary clothing. It’s time to knock some sense into the heads of these self-destructive fools with this expert advice:

"Cyclists can help themselves by making sure they ride appropriately and make use of safety equipment and clothing. Wearing high visibility clothing, even during daylight hours, can reduce the likelihood of a collision and if one does unfortunately occur, the use of a protective helmet can significantly reduce the extent of injury."

Just fancy that! The cycling news the CTC didn’t mention

The CTC website has a regularly updated page of online links to cycling news and stories from the national and local press, entitled ‘News From The World Of Cycling’.

I was glancing at the news for this month when it suddenly struck me what was missing.

The CTC rolling news is filed in chronological order. If you scroll down you’ll see that there were four links listed for 2 June 2011. These were (i) a story from the Independent about Olympic athletes who missed out on tickets, (ii) and (iii) the same story about how most British workers take less than half an hour to get to work, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian Work blog, and (iv) a letter in the Oxford Times about statistics relating to cyclist-pedestrian collisions.

The next day’s cycling news, 3 June, recycles a classic local authority press release, bringing exciting news from oop north about tempting young people out of their cars: People will be urged to take up options, such as walking and cycling with grants for the introduction of bike parking at factories and offices.

There is no more news linked to until 8 June, when there’s a link to this inspirational revelation: The CTC, the national cyclists' organisation, has named Britain's best-performing pothole-filling council - and the award goes to Cheshire West and Chester Council. CWCC filled all 47 holes that were reported by cyclists via the CTC's website.

What I am leading to is very simple. There were two items relating to cycling in a national newspaper on 3 June which the CTC’s ‘News From The World Of Cycling’ chose not to mention. The first one was this and the second one was this.

Funny, that, wouldn’t you say?

A rubbish bike stand

Old Church Road E4

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Down memory lane: Blackfriars Bridge and the CTC

Blackfriars Bridge, north end, as it is now.

Vicki McCreery had predicted the journey home might kill her. Days before she was crushed by a five-ton bus, she had told friends a new cycle lane over Blackfriars bridge in London would claim lives.

As hundreds of people gathered for her funeral in north London yesterday, relatives demanded to know why a lane meant to protect cyclists from other road users had cost the 37-year-old physiotherapist her life. The lane had been in place barely two weeks before she died almost instantly following a rush-hour collision near the crest of the bridge

Safety campaigners are stunned that permission was granted for a narrow cycle lane sandwiched between two fast-moving carriageways and one of London's busiest bus routes. Worse still, a steady convoy of buses is allowed to veer across the thin path reserved for cyclists.

Roger Geffen, campaigns manager at the national cycling body, the Cyclists' Touring Club, said a cultural shift was needed so that local authorities considered cycle lanes more carefully. They had 'been left to the most junior planning officers, and we need better guidance on dealing with major junctions.'

Tony Russell, who advises councils on safer cycle lanes for the club, said: 'There are situations where designs put the cyclist in a more dangerous position. Most accidents, though, are caused by motorists not being careful.'

David Arditti:

The article brings up problems with the position of CTC in the statements by Geffen and Russell. The author rightly attacks the British systems compared to the far better segregated bike engineering of The Netherlands and Denmark. But CTC has always tended to oppose the segregating of cyclists and motor vehicles on British roads, wrong-headedly (in my view) fearing it that creates more danger and marginalisation for the cyclist - when anyone who looks at the situation in continental countries can see that exactly the reverse is true - the danger and marginalisation occur here, where we try to combine cyclists and motors in the same unsegregated space, not there. Russell saying "most accidents are caused by motorists not being careful" is a silly statement as it misses the point. We all know that. The object of cycle engineering is to protect cyclists from the mistakes of motorists.

The CTC, of course, thinks that putting a cycle lane between two lanes of motor vehicles is best practice.

Another lorry driver hits a cyclist and doesn’t stop

POLICE are appealing for witnesses after a teenager was knocked off his bike by a HGV in Heysham.

The 18-year-old was cycling from Morecambe towards Heysham along the A589 Heysham Road when he was clipped by the HGV at the junction of Seymore Grove at around 7.30am today (June 29).

The HGV didn’t stop and the teenager, who is from Heysham, fell from his bike suffering a number cuts and bruises. He was treated at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

And now here’s the story of Mary Strutt.

Photo: The Courier

She recounted the terrifying moment when the lorry struck — crushing her beneath.

"I was conscious throughout and I felt the wheel running over my body," she said. "I heard the grinding, crunching sound as it went over me — and every time I close my eyes I hear it again.

"I thought I was going to die and so did the doctors. When I initially asked if I was going to survive, they said it was too early to tell."

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Hackney Road tipper lorry crash cyclist dies

Photo: East London Advertiser

The news has been released today that the cyclist hit last week by a tipper lorry which did not stop, died in hospital on Saturday.

It turns out that he was from the London Borough of Waltham Forest:

Paul McGreal, 44, of St John’s Road, Walthamstow was cycling in Pritchards Road, Haggerston, when he was in collision with a tipper lorry at the junction with Hackney Road at 8.30am on June 21.

He was taken to hospital in a critical condition and died on Saturday (June 25).

The yellow lorry did not stop at the scene but was traced later the same day.

The driver, a man in his 50s, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr McGreal

was thought to be on his way to the London Metropolitan University where he worked as a graphic designer.

He had suffered severe leg and pelvic injuries and died at the Royal London Hospital on Saturday.

An inquest is expected to be opened tomorrow.

It is believed he leaves behind a partner and toddler.

The M74, TfL and the London Borough of Waltham Forest

When Mark speaks of Their 1960s-style obsession with accommodating motorised traffic at all costs is to the detriment of all others. he is referring to Transport for London. But the same transport culture rules in Glasgow, where any short term ‘benefits’ supplied by the M74 ‘improvement’ will be cancelled in the future: "In the longer term, Glasgow can expect slower journeys, worsening air quality and more cost to the local economy." Glasgow’s modal share for cycling seems to be one per cent or less – no surprise there. But, hey, there’s a way to turn that around: Let everyone know why cycling is healthier, greener, smarter and fairer. Yes, that’s the UK cycling infrastructure avoidance industry frothing away in its traditional fashion.

Meanwhile in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, the car-mad council is about to re-engineer High Road Leyton and High Road Leytonstone to create more parking bays on the footway and create lots of exciting new bike lanes, every one of which will incorporate a special ‘dooring’ facility. Yes, with a modal share of zero point eight per cent there is still work to be done to discourage cycling – or for that matter walking to school.

(Below) The recent Olympic heritage ‘improvements’ to Cann Hall Road, Leyton, designed to increase vehicle speeds, deter cycling and maximise on-street car parking by seizing footway space for free car parking.

BMW hit and run killer driver will soon be back on the roads

Elizabeth Beach-MacGeagh, 20, was knocked down as she crossed a street in Barnet by a BMW doing 45mph in a 30mph zone. The driver, Aryeris Angelis, sped off without stopping.

But Angelis has some very powerful friends, which is why he was only banned from driving for two years.

Monday 27 June 2011

Eight cyclists on Blackfriars Bridge: what they tell us about cycling culture in Britain

I happened to be on Blackfriars Bridge on Friday afternoon and I took some photographs. When I looked at them it occurred to me that they reveal a lot about cycling in Britain.

First of all, take a look at the pic above. Four cyclists. They were riding fast and with confidence. Nearest are three male cyclists and in the distance is a woman cyclist. Two of the cyclists are wearing helmets; three are wearing high viz gear; the three males are all riding road bikes with skinny racing tyres, no panniers, and no mudguards (except for a rear mudguard on one bike). Two of the male riders have drop handlebars. The woman is riding a more normal utility bike with panniers. All four cyclists are riding alone; they are almost certainly commuter cyclists. They were probably all in the age range 25-35. Two of the male cyclists are wearing lycra shorts. In one sense the cover of the latest issue of London Cyclist is spot on. People like this dominate London cycling (a statement which is a description, not a moral judgement).

A moment later I spotted four more cyclists coming in the same direction over the bridge, all on hire bikes. They were evidently a family - mum, dad, and two young teenage children. My guess is that they were visitors to London. They were cycling in the relaxed fashion you see in the Netherlands - a cluster of people in normal clothes, without high viz gear or helmets.

The only difference, of course, is that they were shunning London's cycling infrastructure and using the footway instead. Their logic is not hard to understand: cycling on the footway felt safer, there were no traffic lights to hold them up, and they could cycle alongside each other. And who knows - maybe they made it as far as Westminster Bridge, and had an agreeable pedal back along the South Bank to their docking station. Or maybe they met someone in a dark uniform who gave them penalty notices, deterring them from ever going near a bike again in nasty, scary London...

By the way, look carefully at the pic above and you'll see a powered two-wheeler displaying an 'L' plate, who has already discovered that using a mandatory cycle lane to undertake motor vehicles is something you can do tens of thousands of times without fear of any enforcement.

(Below) Only a very confident and assertive cyclist is prepared to cycle in conditions like this:

Blackfriars Bridge is a cycling route which is not only subjectively very dangerous, but is also objectively dangerous:

The sign refers to this crash.

The battle of Blackfriars Bridge is, of course, now notorious.

What is to be done? Personally I think retaining a 20 mph speed limit and tinkering around with the design at the north end would be a very dismal outcome which would fail to change the reality that Blackfriars Bridge is only for the fearless cycling commuter. In that sense people like Futilitarian are quite right. But if TfL and Boris Johnson aren’t even prepared to yield even on the issue of a 20 mph limit, then pragmatically this makes a very good battlefield, because it draws together a very broad range of opposition. Victory for a permanent 20 mph limit on Blackfriars Bridge can then be followed by the demand for this speed limit on ALL the central London road bridges. This would need to be followed by more protests, demanding enforcement, because the existing 20 mph limit is plainly being flouted. After that? Cycle tracks on all the major routes in London. Easy-peasy.

Incidentally, notice how much of the 'traffic' in the background to these photos consists of black cabs.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Saturday 25 June 2011

Waltham Forest council turns a blind eye to drivers obstructing Leyton Bike Shed

Last October I blogged about Leyton Bike Shed, comparing its provision with that found in the Netherlands. My post carried a photograph showing minicabs parked in the ‘no waiting at any time’ area, which includes the entrance to the shed.

When I went to the shed last week I was not unduly surprised to see the same two vehicles parked where they shouldn’t be (above). And the door, which is supposed to be closed, was wide open yet again.

And the automatic door is broken. The word ‘automatic’ has been crossed out and replaced by a handwritten sign which reads: UNLOCK + PUSH DOOR – PLEAS [sic] CLOSE AFTER.

And there you have it. A shoddy, substandard, poorly maintained facility, grossly inadequate in its provision, access to which is protected by parking restrictions which are daily flouted by the same vehicles. Very British-cycling, wouldn't you say?

It occurs to me that the Leyton Bike Shed may well turn out to be the closest mass cycle parking facility to the Olympic site. And who wouldn’t want to leave their Brompton here and trudge off to the Olympic ‘Village’?

And talking of the Olympics, CycaLogical has spotted an aspect of the orbital Jubilee Greenway which I’d missed:

The other miraculous thing about this world-class cycling route is you won't have noticed any roadworks going on during its construction. That's because they haven't built anything. In the words of Jim Walker, director of the Jubilee Walkway Trust, "We have worked out there is already a route you can follow - it's not something we have had to build." Awesome.

Bollard horror

Personally I think they’re kinda cute… But it seems unlikely they will ever be installed, since reaction has been adverse.

What is striking about this scene is its barbarism. If you build a long straight road like this you should not be surprised that drivers will speed. Putting up a crappy little sign that reads SCHOOL will not affect their behaviour (even if they notice the sign, since some drivers will be concentrating on sending or reading a text message).

The pedestrian crossing consists of a traffic island, which doubles as a pinch point for cyclists.

This is a road designed to prioritise fast, smooth, convenient driving at the expense of safe, convenient walking and cycling. Few parents will want to let their child cycle to school on a road like this.

The final insult, evidently, is that parents doing the school run park on the pavement, which is what the bollards are primarily designed to deter. The local council could, if it wished, obtain powers to hand out tickets to drivers who park on the footway. But Conservative councils in particular are on the side of anti-social behaviour when the offender is a motorist. The police could take action but British policing has long been institutionally car supremacist.

In any case, debates about bollards entirely miss the point. Cosmetic additions to car-centric streets never address the core issues.

And if you design cars with a top speed of 146mph, you should not be surprised if journalists on major national newspapers get caught driving them at 40 mph in a 30 mph zone – nor that this criminally dangerous behaviour in the vicinity of a local cycling blogger is turned into an occasion for some laddish just-having-a-larf humour. From his article it seems that this is not Wollaston's first speeding conviction. And see if you can spot the difference between the headlines in the website version and the hard copy:

Thursday 23 June 2011

more Olympic Greenways fantasy cycling

Today’s Evening Standard brings news of an £8 million, 37-mile Jubilee Greenway network that will guide spectators wishing to cycle between venues during the 2012 Games.

The map is deeply misleading. There is no continuous cycling route in the north east section. The Greenway route heading west from Becton terminates at the High Street, Stratford. It does not continue to the Olympic site but is closed until late 2014 by work on Crossrail. Cyclists wanting to access the Olympic Park will have to dismount and cross the road. However, one lane has been designated as a special Olympics lane which you enter on pain of a £200 fine. It is not clear how cyclists will cross to the other side. If they are somehow permitted to cross the multiple lane High Street, cyclists will then be expected to push their bikes along the footway for 400 metres to Pudding Mill Lane and follow a diversion to the Olympic site. At present parts of this diversion include the sign CYCLISTS DISMOUNT. However, when you get there you will apparently not be allowed to take your bike inside the site for ‘security reasons’. So you then cycle on to Victoria Park in Hackney, lock your bike, and walk back to the Olympic site.

In other words, don’t waste your time cycling to the Olympics. Go by jet pack.

(Below) The Greenway used to go in a straight line to the Olympic site. You can see the Olympic stadium in the distance. But now the route terminates at Stratford High Street and will not re-open until late 2014.

(Below) Welcome to the Stratford High Street urban motorway. If you enjoy cycling among lorries, this is the place to come.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Bike Week Blues

(Above) Bike week propaganda.

(Below) Bike week reality. High Road Leyton.

Bicycle Association chairman Phillip Darnton said: "We know that 77 per cent of people in the UK own a bike, but only 14 per cent use them regularly and a major barrier to people getting back on two wheels is often something as simple to fix as a dodgy brake or puncture.

Andrew Pankhurst, from Cycling Scotland, thinks that learning to fix bikes will get more people cycling. He said: “So many people have got bikes languishing in sheds, gathering dust, when just a few minor repairs would get them back out on the road again.

“People have concerns about the safety of cycling, but statistically it’s one of the safest modes of travel. It’s maybe more the fact that people don’t feel confident on the roads when they’re sharing it with other traffic. Cycle training is a fantastic way of getting your confidence up on a bike.”

The two examples cited above are perfect instances of what David Arditti means when he writes:

The longer Team Green Britain, or any of the other organisations in the Environment Issue Avoidance Industry that is most of UK cycle campaigning (and, yes, this means you, CTC and CCN) [Cyclenation, whose new Honorary President is Philip Darnton] keeps wittering on about how people are not cycling because they "lack training", or "lack confidence on the roads", or "don't know what to wear in wet weather" or "can't find the right routes" or "lack the skills to repair a bike", or any of these other bits of patronising tosh, the longer we delay solving the problem, the more years go by with derisory levels of cycling in the UK, the more money we waste on ineffective cycle promotion and pointless studies of cycling, the more people take up cycling and then quickly give it up again, the more people die of avoidable obesity-related health conditions and from the effects of pollution, the more we destroy our cities and countryside with motorways and concrete and car-parking, the more we live in de-humanised car-centric communities

In 2008 Cycling Scotland carried out a survey into why cycling had such a very low modal share in Scotland.

When looking at the solutions people suggested for overcoming the barriers identified for cycling, the overwhelming request seems to be for segregated cycle facilities, away from traffic where possible.
The graphs show that while there is a widespread opinion among cyclists and non-cyclists that some form of cycle specific route would encourage them to cycle more, the preference is clearly for off road facilities. Both groups felt that these would be more likely to achieve a higher growth in cycling levels.

Having made a discovery that was unpalatable to its notion of cycling, the organisation then, by a curious sleight of hand, converted it into something else altogether:

One thing that is interesting to note is that despite large numbers of people saying they would like to see less traffic on the roads, their suggested solution to this is segregated cycle lanes. People seem to assume that the prospect of reducing traffic on the roads is not a realistic option, but if we are to act on the wishes of a public who want less traffic, then maybe traffic reduction should be something for us to consider.

Ah, yes – making ‘traffic reduction’ the priority instead. Well we all know where that came from.

Now here’s something which needs to be printed out in large capital letters and stuck on the wall above the desks of the aforementioned encouragers of cycling.

When I asked Klaus Bondam, the Mayor of Copenhagen, what was the most difficult but most important decision he has made to make Copenhagen cycle friendly he gave a clear answer: replacing car parking space with spacious, segregated cycle lanes.

Oh no, sorry. Today's Independent has a better idea for Bike Week.

How to feel confident in the saddle
Feel protected That means wearing a helmet

Yeah, right. See if you can spot the helmet in the photo in the previous post below.

Hackney Road cyclist critically injured by tipper lorry which did not stop

Photos: London 24

On Friday an elderly pedestrian was killed on a pedestrian crossing on Marylebone Road by a tipper lorry. The victim has now been named.

Yesterday a cyclist on Hackney Road was critically injured by a tipper lorry whose driver did not stop at the scene.

Police are appealing for witnesses to a serious road accident in East London yesterday when a cyclist was seriously injured in a collision with a tipper lorry.

The cyclist, in his 40s, is in a critical condition in hospital following the collision during the morning rush-hour in Hackney Road, Bethnal Green, at the busy junction with Prichard’s Row.

The lorry did not stop at the scene, Scotland Yard confirmed, but has since been traced. The driver has been arrested in connection with the investigation and given police bail pending further enquiries.

The crash happened

in East London at crossroads that nearby residents say has been made dangerous by road ‘improvements.’

The cyclist was taken to the Royal London Hospital with severe leg and pelvic injuries after the accident in Hackney road, Bethnal Green, outside the Days Inn Hotel.

Families on Bethnal Green’s Minerva Estate nearby are worried about safety where the road crosses Temple Street and Prichard’s Row and want Tower Hamlets council to take action.

“They widened Prichard’s Row when the hotel opened two years ago. This is when the danger started, because they moved a pedestrian crossing further away—which means traffic coming onto Hackney Road from the side streets gets blocked and can’t go ahead or turn right.

“As soon as drivers see gaps, they put their foot down and shoot across—you don’t see them and they don’t see you until the last second.”

The families say they have complained for several months.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Transport for London: promoting asthma in children

The health of tens of thousands of children could be at risk after it emerged that more than 1,100 schools in London are within 150 yards of busy roads responsible for high levels of traffic pollution.
The schools, from nurseries to secondaries, are near roads carrying 10,000 or more vehicles a day - a level leading European scientists claim in a new study could be responsible for up to 30 per cent of all new cases of asthma in children.

The figures, uncovered by the Campaign for Clean Air in London, also revealed that there are 2,270 schools within 400 yards of such roads.

Campaigners today accused Mayor Boris Johnson of failing to protect the health of Londoners and said he "has to act immediately to reduce the total number of cars on our roads".

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's director for the environment, said: "The Mayor recognises that road pollution is a serious health issue for Londoners of all ages."

"He is doing all he can to tackle it across the whole of the city

Which is bullshit on an epic scale. Two examples of how TfL and the Mayor are promoting motor vehicle flow at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists, clean air, children's health, and a civilised London:

The Vauxhall Gyratory:

TfL's presentation reflects the Mayor's obsession with smoothing traffic flow rather than achieving modal shift towards more sustainable transport modes. Apparently removing the gyratory isn't a goer as it would require a 36% reduction in motor traffic in the morning forcing motorists to reconsider their mode of transport.

Unimaginable, doncha see. It's not desirable to reduce mindless motor vehicle use; we need to maintain the diesel particulate spewing, one person in a car, noisy central London experience.

The Tottenham Hale gyratory:

TfL justifies the incredible decision to remove an existing pedestrian crossing on the equivalent of an urban motorway.

The decision to remove this pedestrian crossing facility has not been taken easily. We considered how many people use the crossing as well as how many vehicles pass through the junction. We want to ensure that pedestrians have safe, convenient footways and crossing points. However, we also have to ensure traffic flow is maintained.

Which as far as cycling is concerned, amounts to what another cycling blogger has referred to as the historical lack of any coherent cycling policy for London, going back for at least the last 30 years.

(Below) It would be totally impossible to introduce a segregated cycle path on New Oxford Street because its three lanes are needed for empty taxis. Transport planning in London is all about balance, you see. And smooth traffic flow.

Cycle stand provision in Waltham Forest – WTF?

A sub-theme of this blog is that cycle stand provision in this borough is patchy, incoherent and generally inadequate.

I was therefore stunned to discover this on the Black Path. Ten spanking new cycle stands with a shelter. Brilliant! Just what the Town Square needs.

Now perhaps I have finally lost my mind but the question which springs into its muddy depths is: why here? The Black Path is a route that takes cyclists out of south Walthamstow via the imaginatively named South Access Road through an industrial estate and into the prize-winning Orient Way cycle path and the Lea Valley.

The stands have been sited where the Black Path is cut in two by Argall Avenue (the path has been there for at least 500 years but obviously a newish road for motor vehicles takes priority as it would be intolerable to give pedestrians and cyclists priority on an historic right of way). Here, the right of way has been snatched for motor vehicles and no crossing facility has been provided. It’s a lethal road to get across as it’s a few metres from a roundabout, with commercial vehicles whizzing round the corner at speed, not expecting to encounter cyclists or pedestrians in what is otherwise a bleak industrial estate. It would not surprise me if one day a pedestrian or cyclist is hit here and seriously injured or killed. There aren’t even any warning signs advising drivers that this apparently desolate location might suddenly manifest such species as bipeds or velocipedists.

As far as I’m aware there are no retail units on this estate open to shoppers. There are no leisure facilities. So the question is: who on earth is going to park their bikes here in this lonely godforsaken spot? Even the tiny numbers of workers who arrive here by bike will almost certainly shun it, preferring to store their bikes at their workplace.

I am therefore fully expecting to cycle past this fabulous (by dismal UK standards) facility and find it completely empty. Always and forever, until the last syllable of recorded time.

Monday 20 June 2011

In A Lonely Place (Bike Week Day 2)

Bike week day two. The perfect setting for a leisurely jaunt along the Lea Valley. I was coming south from Ponders End via the traffic-free road that runs beside the Edmonton Incinerator (sorry, new name: London Waste Eco Park) when I linked up with the towpath at Cook's Ferry. Here, by Advent Way, I spotted another top class piece of cycling infrastructure for anyone joining the towpath from the path that runs beside the North Circular.

(Below) Continue on under the North Circular. The dimensions of the cycle path and the adjacent footway are almost Dutch. The absence of illumination and the inadequate drainage aren't.

(Below) Emerging from the underpass and meeting the towpath: more high quality signing, well maintained.

(Below) A new sign, perfect for Bike Week. Towpath closed 16 May - 22 July. A map shows the very lengthy diversion around Banbury Reservoir. However, no diversion signs are installed anywhere on the route, so it's easy to get lost (as I did on the first bit). The towpath at this point accumulated a number of cyclists and ramblers, who'd suddenly found their planned day out disrupted.

(Below) The one-hundred-metres-long blocked-off section of towpath, photographed through a gap. Quite why it could not be left open on Saturdays and Sundays isn't clear, as there is no plant on site and the route is no more dangerous than it usually is. I feel sure that in the Netherlands they would maintain access for cyclists and pedestrians.

(Below) Let's go on the diversion. The cycle path on Argon Road leads to every cyclist's favourite sign. From here all you have to do is negotiate a roundabout with very fast traffic coming off the North Circular, pedal along Harbet Road, passing another bleak slice of industrial estate, then take the right turn at the roundabout by Folly Lane.

(Below) At last, back to the open road and traffic-free Folly Lane, a popular cycling leisure route maintained to the standard you'd expect in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Just fancy that!

Team Green Britain Bike Week is supported by EDF Energy

That’s EDF Energy as in

A cyclist left facing a lifetime in a wheelchair after a road accident has won a multi-million compensation payout at the High Court in London. Alexander Kotula, 27, was badly injured when he fell into barriers around electrical works in Park Street, St Albans and was hit by a passing lorry.

EDF Energy Networks PLC and their contractors, Morrison Utility Services Ltd and Birch Utilities Ltd, admitted their failure to maintain a pedestrian passage of one-metre width through the works meant they were in "breach of duty". They had originally argued that Mr Kotula was in part responsible for his own injuries because he'd either negligently cycled on the pavement or dismounted and carelessly walked through the works.

These claims were rejected in June last year by Judge Simon Brown QC, who said: "The defendants were wholly responsible for this accident in laying out a very hazardous multi-layered trap of a narrow path on a curve with a kerb across it."

The judge said the electrical works were beside a very busy road, with no warnings and no safety zone between the barrier and passing traffic. As the road was narrow and without cycle lanes, he said it was a "reasonable decision" for Mr Kotula to cycle on the pavement. Mr Kotula suffered devastating spinal and internal injuries, is dependent on a wheelchair for mobility and is unlikely ever to be able to walk again.

Clear remorse

the defendant showed 'clear remorse'

A road rage driver who throttled a cyclist in rush-hour traffic was snared by a video camera on the victim's helmet.

Fuming Michael Stewart, 47, jumped out of his black BMW and grabbed the biker - unaware he was being filmed.

Stewart - of Daven Road, Congleton - pleaded guilty to common assault and driving without due care and attention.

Stewart was ordered to pay a £200 fine and £200 court costs. His licence was endorsed with five penalty points.

He was also given a six-week community order with a four-week evening curfew.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Cycling’s image

Cycling's image is so different from when it was seen as a sweet-natured pursuit of children and maids around village greens. So if children's stories from back then were updated they'd go "Mrs Mablethorpe was cycling to Picklewitch Farm with Beryl Badger in her basket to pick up some delicious eggs.

'Ding-a-ling' went her bell as she passed Mr Jiffybag the postman.

'GET OUT THE FUCKING WAY, MABLETHORPE', yelled Mr Jiffybag, and threw a lovely round juicy orange at her head."

Thought For The Day

Given the choice most people would rather walk on the pavement than on the road, and only become vehicular pedestrians where absolutely necessary.

(Below) What happens when you close a road to motor vehicles (London Skyride, 2010)

Saturday 18 June 2011

Pedestrian killed by lorry: the Blackfriars Bridge connection

photo: London 24

(Below) Transport for London reduces crossing times for pedestrians to ‘smooth traffic flow’

A woman in her 90s has died after being hit by a lorry on Marylebone Road at about midday on Friday. It is thought the woman was crossing the main road at a pedestrian crossing when the incident occurred.

The driver of the lorry has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A number of things strike me about this latest central London fatality. Firstly, the type of lorry involved. It looks to me like a tipper truck – the kind of lorry which seems to have a much higher rate of involvement in fatal collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists than some other types of lorry. Unfortunately the name of the haulage company involved can’t be identified in the photograph. Recently my spine has been kept regularly chilled by sightings of Thames Materials lorries in Waltham Forest and those tipper trucks weren’t green but red. Very probably the lorry involved in this latest fatality wasn’t a Thames Materials tipper truck but it would be useful if someone like the London Evening Standard’s estimable Ross Lydall could find out. Secondly, the circumstances bear some resemblance to the killing of an elderly pedestrian in Hackney in March.

But setting aside the question of the specific circumstances of this collision and the vexed issue of lorries in central London, there’s an aspect of this fatality which is intimately connected to the ongoing Blackfriars Bridge struggle. Because what happened on Marylebone Road yesterday was Network Assurance in action. Marylebone Road is a hellish road for cyclists and pedestrians because it is totally devoted to the smooth flow of motor vehicles.

Take note of this comment under another report on this crash:

Simon Jacobs said:

I have worked next to Madame Tussauds for over 20 years and both these pedestrian lights and the ones at the junction of Baker Street are far too short for pedestrians to get across in time without taking your life in your hands. Westminster Council need to look into this as a matter of urgency.

But even if Westminster Council wanted to (which it wouldn’t), it couldn’t, because this road lies outside of its control. It’s a strategic route run by Transport for London – you know, like Camden Road, where pedestrians are left to cross four lanes of motor vehicles without any assistance whatever.

I would be very, very interested to know if this fatal crossing is one of the ones included in this programme, announced two years ago:

Traffic lights are to be re-phased and some will give more time to vehicles at the expense of those on foot.Up to six seconds of pedestrian crossing time could be lost at as many as 6,000 sets of lights across the capital.

If the answer is ‘yes’ (and I have a hunch it might be) then I think it’s time to start shouting from the rooftops that Boris Johnson and TfL are slaughtering pedestrians and cyclists, apart from injuring doctors.

That’s why the battle for Blackfriars Bridge is so important. TfL simply must not be allowed to put the speed limit back up to 30 mph.

TfL’s traffic modelling is intellectually incoherent and irrationally car-centric, and as Danny says it wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that TfL's traffic models are killing people.

The time for protest has come (actually, many protests, taking many different forms - there are three quite separate inspirational suggestions to be found here).

But lastly, don’t neglect the conventional channels. Do comment on TfL’s Draft Network Operating Strategy, because, characteristically,

throughout the document it not only doesn't mention speed limits, it exclusively refers to 'speed' as a positive aspiration and not once does it refer to excessive speed of traffic as a problem. The tone of the document is almost all traffic flow - that is - more, faster motor traffic.

This document effectively allows TfL to continue to ignore cyclists, because there is nothing in the strategy that requires them to consider cyclist safety or even cycle journey times when designing roads. In short, this is a recipe for more Blackfriars Bridge junctions, rather than an attempt to fix the historical strategy which has been an attempt to create urban motorways wherever possible.

Friday 17 June 2011

‘Bike week’ and crap cycling in Barnet, Oxford and York

Bike Week begins tomorrow, which means we’ll be getting lots of Team Green Britain tosh.

Hey, let’s get in the mood by celebrating cycling in the London Borough of Barnet and two of Britain’s leading cycling cities, Oxford and York.


Barnet Council has created a Bikeless Borough. There is virtually nothing for cyclists in Barnet except cycling on the traffic-choked, boy-racer filled main roads and residential rat-runs. No cycle lanes, paths, parks, home-zones, nothing like that. In Brian Coleman's Barnet, there is no room for the bike. Bikes, as he said so clearly in his email to Camden Cycling Campaign, just get in the way. It will get even worse when the TfL/Barnet Council changes to the North Circularl/A41 junction at Henlys corner get built.


Whilst Oxford has a useful network of off-road cycle routes, and some other examples of good practice, overall the conditions for cycling compare unfavourably with European ‘cycling cities’. Cycle routes lack continuity, there is a lack of cycle parking, facilities are often poorly designed and the most direct routes along the main roads are intimidating for all but the most experienced and determined.

Oxford City Centre is already difficult to cross by bicycle. The existing restrictions on cycling along Cornmarket Street and Queen Street during the daytime sever the main North-South and East-West desire lines. As always in such circumstances (with cyclists or pedestrians) the rules are not well respected.

The alternative North-South route via New Inn Hall Street – part of National Cycle Network route 5 – is poorly designed for cycling and would need considerable work to make it a feasible route for journeys through the city centre for transport (as opposed to leisure) purposes.


York is one of the country's premier cycling cities, with traffic-free routes, quiet country roads and on-road cycle lanes. York provides the ideal setting for a leisurely family day out

Many of these fabulous on-road cycle lanes are protected by double-yellow line ‘no waiting at any time’ parking restrictions, so get your kids on their bikes and get stuck into family friendly cycling.

Cycling-friendly Gillygate (below) has a one-metre cycle lane. Perfect for a leisurely family cycle ride to the centre of town.

(Below) Let’s imagine you’ve turned into Bootham out of Gillygate with your partner and kids. The first thing you meet is the start of the cycle lane...

And in the space of a couple of minutes cycling you meet this and this:

(Below) If you are heading back into the centre of York along cycling-friendly Bootham you'll have lots of opportunities to tell your kids how to spell 'articulated lorry'.

And if you are just a mere slip of a girl who doesn’t fit the demographic of rugged, courageous, helmet-wearing luminous-yellow vehicular cycling bloke aged 25-45, and you think York is a car-sick city crammed with useless, dangerous, unenforced cycle lanes…. then there’s always the pavement!

Finally, the reality that most British cycling campaigners and cycle campaign organisations and groups, as well as all UK transport planners including the ones in York, still doggedly refuse to acknowledge:

Q: To get more people on their bikes, what are the ‘must-haves’ in terms of cycling infrastructure?

A: No city in Europe or North America has achieved a high level of cycling without an extensive network of well-integrated bike lanes and paths that provide separation from motor vehicle traffic. Bikeways are the trademark of bike-oriented cities in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. Bike paths and lanes must be combined with intersection modifications such as advance stop lines, special lane markings, extra turning lanes, and advance green lights for cyclists. Physical separation from motor vehicle traffic is crucial for enabling risk-averse and/or vulnerable groups to cycle. Virtually all surveys report that separate cycling facilities are needed to encourage non-cyclists to cycle, especially for women, seniors, and children. Those traffic-sensitive groups have high rates of cycling in countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, with their extensive separate cycling facilities, but low rates in countries where most cycling is on roads with heavy traffic and no separation for cyclists. Separate cycling facilities are a crucial first step toward increasing cycling and making it socially inclusive.

Got that? A crucial first step. Not just another item to add to a long list of aspirations in the traditional UK cycle campaign pepper-potting way.