Friday 31 August 2012

This is not dangerous

Photo: Paul Cowan 

It appears that no one was injured in this SVO crash (Single Vehicle Only) and so this will not appear in the government’s annual road casualty statistics, which are commonly regarded as an index of road danger. Air bags and rigid steel safety frames often protect drivers and their passengers from the consequences of a crash like this.

The blue Alfa Romeo smashed into a lamppost and turned over outside the William Morris Gallery museum in Forest Road, Walthamstow, just before 6pm on Friday (August 24). 

Police say the vehicle was being followed after it failed to respond to a request to stop a short distance earlier. Ryheem Gordon, 18, of College Close in Hackney, has been charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop, not having proper insurance and not having a valid driving licence. 

Although it isn’t immediately obvious from the photograph, the upside down car is lying on a zebra crossing.

You might say that In reality, it was only sheer chance that prevented a pedestrian from being seriously injured, or even killed, in this incident..


The site of this crash has featured previously on this blog here and here.

The aftermath of another crash on this same bend is shown here

In the distance, beyond the zebra crossing in the foreground, you can see the bend where this driver lost control in the second photo here.

This is not a road fatality

A road fatality is defined as meaning any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of a road crash.

A man who never recovered after being knocked down by a hit-and-run driver six years ago, died after contracting pneumonia, an inquest heard. 

Paul Dix was hit by a car outside his Drayton Road home in Norwich on January 22, 2006, and spent almost six years in a persistent vegetative state. 

 A woman from Lakenham received a six-month driving ban and a £50 fine after admitting careless driving and failing to stop at the scene. Her driving licence had expired due to medical restrictions.

The Paralympic Games

One moment you’re a star, the next you are not worth spending money on.

Accessibility problems in the underground system have annoyed some of the athletes. British wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft said in an interview before the Games: "Am I allowed to swear? It's crap. 

NOTE. Although often mistakenly regarded as a term of abuse, the word “crap” is in fact a scientific category used to describe UK cycling infrastructure.

ALSO there’s some anger regarding a particular Paralympics sponsor.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Terror therapy

An ‘Independent’ reader writes:

 I do not cycle in this country. I am not just frightened, I am terrified. 

This is why we urgently need more safe, attractive cycle lanes of the kind pioneered on main roads by cycling-friendly Waltham Forest council.

Another London cyclist is run down by a speeding police driver

A cyclist was in hospital with a head injury today after being hit by a police car responding to a 999 call. 

The car and bike collided in Liverpool Road, near its junction with Chapel Market in Islington.

There’s a jumping revolution happening in London!

There are signs of an encouraging 80% increase in this very safe activity and there seems little doubt that what we are seeing in London is nothing less than a jumping revolution.

It’s very exciting when big name celebrities show that jumping from buildings is cool, sexy and above all safe.

Great news, then, that the editor of The Lady, Matt Warren, is to leap off the roof of the St Pancras Hotel on September 14

Cops and cyclists in New York City

Police certainly haven't spared any resources in one area: ticketing cyclists. In 2011, truckers got 14,962 moving violation summonses and 10,415 Criminal Court summonses, while cyclists got 13,743 moving violation summonses and 34,813 Criminal Court summonses. (Large vehicles only account for 5-17% of vehicles on New York City's streets, but are involved in 30% of all cycling fatalities.) Of the 241 pedestrians or cyclists who were killed by drivers last year, only 17 of the drivers responsible faced criminal charges.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Paralympics start here!

Scenes from the A4 (between Knightsbridge and South Kensington) yesterday.

As elsewhere in central London, many of the pedestrian crossings have been closed along the A4, so that “Games vehicles” won’t be delayed. Pedestrians are left to fend for themselves as they try and cross a four-lane speedway, like this woman (above) who has heroically made it across to the other side and is now searching for a way round the temporary barriers.

Yes, getting around London during the Paralympics will not just be extra difficult for the able-bodied pedestrian and cyclist but much, much more difficult for wheelchair users and others with a mobility handicap.

Vehicles are also prevented by temporary barriers from turning right from Fulham Road into Brompton Road. Naturally there is no dispensation for cyclists, but this cyclist (below) has managed to get to the other side of left-turning traffic and has reached the central island, where he waits for a gap in the traffic. Making simple journeys as difficult as possible for cyclists ensures they develop their own individual “permeability skills”.

It was mid-day but only one bike had been hired from this row beside Brompton Oratory.

Surely people aren’t deterred from cycling on the A4?

Sadly, with its cramped footways and narrow carriageway (in places only four lanes wide separated by a generous strip of dashed white lines) the A4 is just too narrow for Dutch segregated cycle tracks.

Just off the A4 are some wonderful quiet back street routes for novices. Yes “permeability” is the name of the game round here. Just follow the line of the Boris bikes and head for Ennismore Street and...

- Doh!

Common sense about cars and town centres

A Daily Telegraph journalist:

 The more intolerable it is to drive into town centres, the more deserted they will become. 

And now here are some shocking scenes showing what happens when you get rid of cars from urban centres:


Fear and Loathing in Three Bridges – update

This is a classic:

Mr Smith, who is also a cycling campaigner, said: "The problem is that people can't tell where the cycle paths are. "Many times the county council has just put some white lines down and designated it a cycle path. 

"We don't support people cycling illegally on footpaths but we do need to see better infrastructure for cyclists to stop them doing it." 

The News reported in January that borough councillor Ken Trussell had requested £25,000 from the borough council's budget to fund some improvements. However, the money will not pay for the upkeep of cycle paths but is geared towards encouraging more people to cycle.

‘Shared space’ in Southend

A FURIOUS cyclist is suing Southend Council after dislocating her ankle in the town’s seafront “shared space” zone. 

Visitor Karen Stanley, 51, came to the town with her husband, Neil, 43, for a bike ride along the seafront, including the revamped £7.6million City Beach area, in Marine Parade. Spotting three cars behind her, she pulled over to let them through, tripping over the small kerb which runs through the zone. Mrs Stanley now faces six weeks in plaster and has had to cancel a holiday in Menorca, because of the August 18 accident. 

In the shared space zone, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are supposed to mix freely. The scheme was a cornerstone of the council’s bid for Government funding to revamp the seafront, which was finally finished in March last year. However, many users say the area’s layout is confusing and potentially dangerous.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

When you MUST wear a cycle helmet

Photo: Oxford Mail 

When you are issuing a fixed penalty notice to a cyclist it is very important that you wear a helmet and high viz vest. This will ensure pedestrians can see you and help avoid a collision while you are engaged in taking a zero tolerance to cycling like that

Because let’s face it, pedestrians are a menace. They have no respect at all for cyclists. They walk in a reckless way with total disregard for cyclists. They act like you are invisible. They step out in front of you without warning. They flout red lights and treat cyclists as if they don’t exist. Some of them are very obviously drunk (which is understandable if they live in Stratford or Leyton).

I was cycling through Walthamstow the other day and the lights were at green and all these pedestrians totally ignored the red light and treated me like I wasn’t there. I came very close to being very nearly practically almost killed. 

Luckily I managed to weave my way between them and survived (although road weaving is, I know, something which is widely deplored and loses us cyclists some respect).

If you ask me these pedestrians should be insured and have to wear some sort of identification. Most of them are totally irresponsible and wear dark clothing, which means you can hardly see them at all, especially on zebra crossings, which pedestrians should not be using anyway as they are supposed to be for striped African quadrupeds.

Fear and Loathing in Three Bridges

Horrifying news from cycling-friendly Sussex, where frightened old people are being forced to assault cyclists and trash their machines.

Yes, cycling on the footway is making a trip to Tesco intolerable:

"Some of these cyclists are doing 40 miles per hour” 

Which is even faster than Lance Armstrong on drugs!

Must be the Sussex air.

Or perhaps these high-speed cyclists are simply fleeing an animal which has now moved to southern England?

Stella Creasy MP slanders cycling Methodist Minister!

Walthamstow’s famous MP gave a talk yesterday at this year’s Greenbelt festival.

There was a cycling blogger in the audience who appears not to have been a fan of her perspective and apparently Ms. Creasy made an unfortunate misidentification.

Frankly, it is shocking when a Methodist Minister is openly slandered in this way.

Why, it’s almost as if Stella is still a little touchy about this!

Or perhaps she remains cross about this charming photograph, which I took outside the local Labour Party office.

Because nowadays image is very important to a politician.

Monday 27 August 2012

Enduring Crap: a Manchester example

Photo: Cycle A 2 B

Hundreds of cyclists are set to get free training to help them get on the road. 

[ Because it takes real skill to hold handlebars, move forwards, and roll your bike on to the carriageway.]

Britain’s largest cycle training company – Manchester-based BikeRight! – is offering the free training to adults in the city. 

[ Cycling culture in Britain is burdened and suffocated with sectional vested interests which have no impact whatever on this country’s pitiful rate of cycling and which exist only to perpetuate their own self-interested existence. They are irrelevant to creating mass cycling and are frequently both a diversion from it and an obstacle to achieving it.]

It is working with Manchester council and local NHS chiefs to help people learn how to negotiate the city’s traffic.

[ Because Manchester council isn’t interested in building safe and convenient cycling infrastructure and neither is the NHS, which has a national chain of car parks with hospitals and surgeries attached, and which is run and staffed by sick, fossil fuel addicts in the grip of extreme car dependency. ]

Transport chiefs aim to make Manchester the capital of commuter cycling after the Manchester-based GB cycling team won seven gold medals at the Olympics.

[ A fatuous and meaningless target which will never be remotely achieved in the absence of Dutch-style cycling infrastructure is stupidly linked to sports cycling which is completely irrelevant to utility cycling. ]

BikeRight! spokesman Andy Tucker said: “Lots of people who want to give it a go are put off by busy roads or worried about accidents.

[ BikeRight! regards such well-founded and perfectly rational beliefs as an individual behavioural problem which needs addressing through the irrelevant and futile quack therapy supplied by BikeRight! ]

BikeRight! trains more than 20,000 people a year. The company is accredited by the Department for Transport. 

[ The Department for Motor Vehicles is always keen to support collaborationist outfits which collude with the hegemony of the motor vehicle. ]

The training courses will teach people how to cycle safely, how to position themselves in the road and how to be seen by other traffic.

[ None of this crap would be seen as necessary if we had good Dutch-style cycling infrastructure. And remember that positioning yourself correctly in a British road will often lead to verbal abuse and sometimes physical violence from aggressive and impatient drivers who perceive you to be wilfully delaying them. Here's an example from Manchester. And it is not the duty of a cyclist to wear special clothing in order to be seen by inattentive drivers using mobile phones etc but rather the duty of a driver to concentrate and pay close attention to the road ahead. Outfits like BikeRight! are in complete denial of the existing condition of reckless and dangerous driving on Britain’s roads and, lethally, endeavour to adjust cyclists to it through good, sensible behaviour. ]

It will also show them how to find good cycling routes 

[ These do not exist in Manchester. ]

how to cycle at night 

[ Cycle at night in Manchester? Are you kidding? Cycling at night is best avoided if you wish to remain uninjured and alive. ]

or in bad weather, what equipment they will need

[ Because novices are baffled and confused by rain and will not have heard of raincoats etc ]

plus some tips on how to maintain their bike.

[ Maintain a bike? Who wants to maintain a bike? Fiddling around with a bike gets your fingers dirty and may result in damaged fingernails or grease marks on your clothes. Either get some rugged bloke of your acquaintance to do it or take it to a bike shop. Best of all, don’t bother maintaining it. A dirty, rusting bike is far less attractive to a bike thief than a nice shiny well-maintained one. ]


There is one aspect of cycling where expert training and advice is invaluable.

Inflating a bicycle tyre in the correct manner involves special skill and experience, as helpfully demonstrated here.


On the buses (not)

Lawyers representing clients on legal aid have spoken of their anger after being told they can claim less in expenses if they travel to court by car. 

The Legal Services Commission, which operates the legal aid scheme, is cutting the mileage rate for cars from 45p a mile to 25p and urging lawyers to use public transport. 

But many lawyers warn it is impractical and dangerous to catch buses while carrying confidential documents.

Representing lawless drivers as victims

Many motorists believe they have been seen as an easy target in recent years. The industrialisation of speed enforcement over the past decade led to a flourishing speed camera industry. 

[ Some lawless drivers resent being caught ]

At its height, speed cameras earned more than £100 million a year from motorists, with the cash being reinvested in yet more devices by safety camera partnerships set up by police and local authorities.

[ Speed cameras revealed that the standards of driving on Britain’s roads are so poor that significant numbers of drivers even get caught by cameras in bright yellow boxes with advance warning signs ]

The previous Government tried to defuse their unpopularity by decreeing that the fines should be handed over to the Treasury rather than being spent on installing more cameras.

[ Speed cameras are not unpopular despite ceaseless attempts by the corporate media to suggest that petrolheads represent all drivers. But politicians have traditionally been terrified of the supposed influence of the Murdoch press and the Daily Mail ]

Then, in a move to appease motorists further, the Coalition stopped all central Government funding for cameras on taking office. Philip Hammond, the Coaltion’s first transport secretary, declared an end to the war on motorist within hours of taking on the portfolio.

[ "Motorists" =  the libertarian sort, who believe they should drive in whatever way they please, wherever they please, whenever they please, without any restrictions. But with free parking. ]

As for the war on the motorist...

Sunday 26 August 2012

cycling in the enchanted Lea Valley

Here in the magical Lea Valley, on the borders of the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Hackney and Newham, the CYCLISTS DISMOUNT signs are looking exceptionally lovely at this time of the year.

The cycle path which won the London Cycling Campaign’s coveted “Best new cycling facility” award for 2000 will take you right to the heart of the countryside.

If you pedal to the end of Walthamstow’s historic Black Path you can see one of the local wonders – a sign to Hackney which has been pointing in the wrong direction for over four years!

And while on the Black Path, if you ever need to park your bike in the heart of a desolate industrial estate, there are no less than ten bike stands. No one has ever seen a bike locked up here and there’s a prize of one year’s free subscription to legendary Waltham Forest News if you do!

On the Hackney side of the River Lea you can explore local flora on this magnificent early example of “Going Dutch”, where a pink cycle track runs alongside a footpath. Thank you, cycling-friendly British Waterways!

Marvel as the “Olympic legacy” takes shape by the refurbished Cow Bridge. It has traditionally been banned to motor vehicles but this brand new light-up sign bearing the word FULL suggests that soon a lovely car park will be built on Hackney Marshes, ending years of vicious discrimination against visitors who have previously been forced to walk or cycle to this lovely open space (where quite frankly there is room for thousands of cars).

The Olympic Legacy for cyclists includes this magnificent Greenway, the official route to the Eton Manor Gate entrance to the Olympic Park. The surfacing has been specially adapted for London’s very popular “mountain bikes”.

Marvel at this lighting column by the cycle path under Lea Bridge Road, which has been burning brightly in daylight for five years, while at the same time Waltham Forest Council regularly urges residents to save the planet by conserving electricity!

Why, it’s almost as if no one from the council ever cycles anywhere! 

War on the motorist update

The Daily Mail is usually exceptionally keen to kick out Johnny Foreigner when Johnny breaks the law.

But everybody knows that traffic offences aren’t really crimes, are they?

He has served in the British Army for four years with an ‘exemplary record’, but Poloko Hiri has now been ordered out of the UK – because of a speeding offence. The 32-year-old from Botswana has had his application for citizenship rejected by the UK Border Agency who claimed the single offence was a sign of ‘bad character’. The UKBA rejected his bid because he had received a £100 fine and five penalty points for speeding on the M1. He had been doing 81mph in a 50mph roadworks zone at 1.30am. 

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘Each claim for settlement is considered on individual circumstances and in line with published policy.’

Saturday 25 August 2012

A scene from the best of both worlds

One cycling blogger has noticed that the London Cycling Campaign’s notion of ‘Going Dutch’ implies that

there are two distinct categories of cyclist; those that are happy cycling on the road, and who would continue to cycle on the road once ‘provision’ has been put in, and another category of cyclist, made up of those who are more nervous, or who don’t currently cycle but who would like to, for whom the infrastructure is being provided. Further, and problematically, this categorisation extends to the notion that these two distinct types of cyclist will require two different approaches to their cycling needs. 

It’s no surprise that Waltham Forest is the first London borough to sign up to ‘Going Dutch’ as local cyclists have long been able to enjoy this visionary “twin track” approach to cycling infrastructure.

Here on the eastbound A503 outside Walthamstow Magistrates Court cyclists have the option of a pink on-road cycle lane suitable for sharing with speeding tipper truck drivers talking on handheld mobile phones or, alternatively, an off-road two-way cycle track built to the very highest British design standards for off-road cycling infrastructure. Here you can literally "go West" against the traffic - and there's more fun and excitement where the westbound track comes to a sudden end at the junction of the A503 and Farnan Avenue!

This "twin track" approach has proved brilliantly effective as it has now attracted a surprise visitor to the cycle track – a ‘new model’ Dalek. The Dalek is believed to have been drawn to this location by the council’s adjacent advertising, which invites extra-terrestials to sample one of the most advanced cycling cultures in the universe.

PLEASE NOTE: For Health and Safety reasons cycling is not recommended in Waltham Forest cycle lanes, cycle paths, or cycle tracks.

Could they perhaps be related?

Reader I. N. Vented writes:

Looking at photographs of political leaders milking the Olympics for cheap propaganda purposes, I was struck by the uncanny physical similarities between these two figures. 

What's more they both have moustaches and in the sphere of transport their policies tend to favour the motor car over the bicycle. 

Team Krapp says: Well done Mr Vented for spotting this uncanny coincidence!

(Above) Chris Robbins, leader of infamous Waltham Forest Council, poses outside the Town Hall with local youth. © Waltham Forest News 

(Below) The notorious “Fuehrer” poses outside his bunker complex with local youth.

Friday 24 August 2012

Prince Harry: sensational nude cycling photo

Clarence House begged us not to publish this photo, saying “it’s not him”. But we don’t take orders from dudes named Clarence. And let’s face it, that false beard doesn’t fool anyone. And, hey, what is there to be ashamed of? It’s good for young people to let off steam.

Besides, who among us hasn’t sometimes found themselves cycling around London naked on a Saturday afternoon being photographed by attractive young members of the opposite sex?

We asked top members of the British cycling world what they thought of the sensational Prince Harry nude cycling photo.

Michelle Smooth, Transport for London: ‘Here at TfL we are all very excited to see the Prince sending out the message that cycling in London is cool and sexy and exciting. In view of the Prince’s intervention we have decided to divert this year’s cycle promotion budget to feasibility studies into raising speed limits on London’s bridges and eliminating more of those congestion-causing pedestrian crossings.’

Edward Himmler, ‘Right to Ride’ convenor, Crapburgh Cycling Campaign. ‘It is important for cyclists to occupy the moral high ground and win respect from motorists. Frankly these kind of antics do us no good at all. Naked bike rides, critical mass, and red-light-jumping do the reputation of all cyclists immense damage.’

Midge Dimm, Bicycle Crown Trust. ‘The figures speak for themselves. Last year not a single cyclist hit by a motor vehicle was wearing a crown. We’re delighted to see the Prince sending out the message that wearing a crown can quite literally save your life.’

Gary Speed, ‘Share The Road’. ‘It is impossible for drivers to share the road when it is full of naked cyclists. This is why we are calling on the government to lock up all naked cyclists so that our streets can be shared by BMW drivers, lorry drivers, and van drivers, who will all drive much more carefully once there are no naked cyclists to distract them.’

(Below) Planning to go cycling in Las Vegas? These easy-to-slip-off pants are highly recommended for British visitors. Available from all British Cycling outlets.

Spot the irrelevant and prejudicial detail

The Press Association:

Mr Belmonte, who was not wearing a helmet, was cycling to his girlfriend's house in Newington Green, north London, and had travelled the route on many occasions before, the court heard. 

 [The driver] was travelling at 68mph in a 30mph zone when he hit Mr Belmonte, known as Pepe to his friends and family, who was cycling ahead of him in the same direction.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The role of amnesia in local transport planning

I was clearing out some old files when I came across a now long-forgotten document. I refer to the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Interim Transport Plan 2000/2001.

Produced at the start of the new millennium, this 114 page document (with additional unpaginated tables) sets out a variety of targets to be achieved in the area of transport over the next decade.

Glancing at it, I was struck by what a fabulous vision lay in prospect for the lucky residents of Waltham Forest. Over the next decade Waltham Forest was on track to be one of the Greenest places in Britain, as far as transport was concerned. Car use by council employees would switch from private cars to council-owned electric cars, and the mileage allowance for “essential” car use would be totally phased out. In addition there would be a massive cut of 20 per cent in the number of motor vehicles on the borough’s roads. What’s more cycling would grow and go on growing, until by 2012 in the London Borough of Waltham Forest ten journeys in every hundred would be made by bike.

Let me quote exactly what the Interim Transport Plan 2000/2001 says on these matters.

On page 36, under Green Transport Plans, it is revealed that:

A scheme at the Waltham Forest Chingford Municipal Offices has been implemented whereby two electric cars are being used by staff in an attempt to switch 10% of “business at work” journeys to electric travel rather than private car use. The scheme will phase out the Essential Car Users’ Allowance and other casual car allowances as the electric car pool expands over the next ten years. 

 On page 37, under Traffic Reduction, it is stated that:

The London Planning Advisory Committee (LPAC) have set a traffic reduction target of 20% for Waltham Forest from 2000 traffic levels by the year 2010. Road traffic reduction is needed because it will produce many benefits including reducing congestion and car dependency, improving bus reliability, improved conditions for walkers and cyclists and better environmental conditions and air quality. 

On page 66, under Cycling, the borough gives its support to a London-wide initiative:

A London Cycling Strategy was launched by LPAC/London Pride Partnership in October 1997, this includes a number of targets, in particular, that by 2012 the number of trips in London made by bicycle should increase from the present two percent to ten percent. The LCN [London Cycle Network] is the key capital investment in taking this strategy forward and meeting the target.

(Elsewhere the Council committed itself to an increase in cycling of at least 80 per cent in the borough in the period 2001-2010)

What happened to those targets? More than a decade later the reality is that not a single one of those targets came even near to being achieved. In fact they all failed in a spectacular fashion.

The interesting thing is that failures like these have no impact whatsoever on subsequent transport planning. Much the same kind of promises are made in document after document, year after year. Yet not a single document refers back to earlier documents, either to acknowledge past failure or to analyse it.

This is what happened.

The two newly purchased electric cars were put on show at council environmental events (I have a dim memory of seeing them years ago on display at the Green Fair or some such event). After some years had passed a whistleblower tipped off the local paper that the two electric cars could be seen rusting and disused, quietly abandoned in a council yard. The great electric car experiment was a dismal failure. The Council has bought no electric cars since.

How did that “traffic reduction target of 20% for Waltham Forest from 2000 traffic levels by the year 2010” work out? I recently enquired, and received this reply:

For a number of years after 2000, the Council did not have the resources to carry out borough wide traffic monitoring. However, this was done between the years 2005 - 2009. The results show that there was generally very little change in the overall traffic levels in the borough (with +/- 1% range) in that 4 year period. It is likely that there has been a fairly minimal change in the overall traffic levels in Waltham Forest between 2000 and the present day. 

So, nothing at all was achieved. There has been no traffic reduction whatever in the borough.

(I am by the way not entirely persuaded by the official reply. The trend of car ownership in the borough has been steadily upward for many years. My belief is that traffic volumes on both major and minor roads are significantly greater than they were a decade ago but in the absence of counts this is impossible to establish.)

And cycling?

Last year’s borough Local Improvement Plan revealed that according to TfL cycling’s modal share in Waltham Forest was below one per cent (nought point eight per cent to be exact). It appears that cycling locally has at best stagnated, and at worst has declined. A ten per cent modal share is nowhere on the horizon.

All this of course raises the question as to why these three targets were not achieved. Or rather, as far as transport planning in the London Borough of Waltham Forest is concerned, it doesn’t. When it comes to local authority transport targets, amnesia is the order of the day.

Borough transport planning documents appear on a regular basis every year or so, and they always promise to “encourage cycling” and curb car use and promote walking, and none of them is worth a hill of beans because they are just empty words which fail to acknowledge the glaring failure of previous identical commitments. In that regard the borough’s most recent LIP (2011) is as culpable as any.

The stark, blatant, core reality is that cycling and walking are given “encouragement” but only on car-centric terms, and the big money and the serious infrastructure changes are directed at car use and car parking. For example, in the unpaginated tables at the end of Interim Transport Plan 2000/2001, devoted to capital expenditure, it is revealed that the so-called Leyton Relief Road (designed to ease pressure on Leyton High Road) cost £9,372,000.

That’s right, trying to combat congestion by building a new road – a strategy which has rightly been compared to combating obesity by loosening one’s belt – cost over nine million pounds. The road did include off-road cycle tracks but these were cosmetic, since the route is irrelevant to most local cyclists, leading from the car-centric Temple Mills complex in Leyton to the municipal rubbish dump in Walthamstow.

Another page reveals that putting in traffic lights exclusively for drivers at the Crooked Billet roundabout cost £450,000.

And cycling and walking? They get £25,000 to encourage “travel awareness” through “publicity and maps”.

I also believe that the failure of each of the three targets should not be viewed in isolation but that they are intimately connected. The official explanation for the failure of the great electric car innovation is as follows:

Yes - we did purchase two electric Peugeot 106 cars in 2000 and these were used by staff making business trips for a number of years. However, these were the early days of volume electric cars and they proved to be problematic in terms of reliability. In addition, the number of dealers qualified to repair them was very limited and we had problems getting spare parts and getting repairs done. 

The council currently has no electric vehicles. This in itself is of no significance, since the ‘Green’ claims made for electric cars are essentially bogus, ignoring as they do the environmental costs of producing such vehicles, the environmental costs involved in creating the electricity to power such vehicles, and above all the fact that an electric car is still a car – a means of personal mobility which generates a huge range of negative consequences, particularly when used in dense urban areas where much better alternative means of transport are possible.

However, bear in mind that the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s great electric car innovation also promised to “phase out the Essential Car Users’ Allowance and other casual car allowances as the electric car pool expands over the next ten years”. It emerged last year that staff using their own vehicles for “essential” council business (known as the “grey fleet”) was a scheme which had escaped all proper scrutiny and was completely out of control. The council employed a consultancy (the Energy Saving Trust) to review the borough’s grey fleet.

The EST made three fascinating discoveries. Firstly, ‘the Council’s grey fleet emissions relative to the size of its fleet…are high compared to other London Boroughs.’ Secondly, ‘the report concluded that the Borough currently pays very high rates for its grey fleet provision.’ Thirdly, and perhaps most revealingly of all, ‘The grey fleet is not managed; there is insufficient data to address the high costs’.

What is apparently not scrutinised by the report (the council has not made it available to the public) is the concept of “essential” car use. The borough is relatively compact (think of it as a rectangle running north to south, around 10 km in length and 5 km wide). Such distances could, in theory, easily be cycled. However, it emerged that “essential” car use included members of the transport section driving some three kilometres for a meeting with the local cycling group. Or to put it another way, the council’s own transport planners are addicted to fossil fuels and car dependency, and this addiction probably extends to other areas of council employment.

Council employees will often enjoy the perk of reserved parking which has traditionally been free. Add to that the perk of an “essential car user” mileage allowance and other forms of subsidy, and car use is a very attractive option. This fossil fuel dependency inevitably influences the priorities of local planners. The “official” explanation for the council’s abandonment of electric cars is not especially plausible and I strongly suspect that basically none of the officers wanted to give up using their cars or being financially rewarded for doing so.

Meanwhile the official explanation for the massive failure of the traffic reduction target is as follows:

Since 2000, the Council’s planning and transport policies have tried to reduce reliance on the private car by encouraging more people to walk, cycle or use public transport. In addition, our land use planning policies have tried to promote ways of reducing the need to travel. However, a substantial traffic reduction target such as 20% would only have been achieved by a combination of ‘carrot and stick’ approaches. For example, the London Mayor's congestion charging scheme was introduced in 2003 in central London which made a big difference in that area but traffic restraint schemes have not been rolled out in the rest of London. 

There is of course a grain of truth in the argument that some things are outside the council’s control. Some of the roads in the borough come under the remit of Transport for London, others under the Highways Agency. Waltham Forest Council is not, for example, empowered to restrain traffic on the M11 motorway or the North Circular Road. However, these are the exception rather than the rule. It is also the case that on some occasions the council seeks to restrain car ownership by, for example, introducing a clause into some new developments in a Controlled Parking Zone that forbids residents to apply for a car parking permit. However, these are also very much the exception rather than the rule.

The overwhelming thrust of council policy since 2000 has been to promote increased car ownership and use by a variety of inducements. These include halving the cost of CPZ permits, changing the CPZ permit charging regime in favour of owners of bigger cars, massive subsidies for free new on-street parking bays, the continuing reallocation of space on footways from pedestrians to drivers, a refusal to crack down in any way on blue badge fraud (arguably out of control in this borough), a disinclination to ban drivers from parking in cycle lanes, inadequate cycle parking, traffic light phasing which prioritises motor vehicle flow over pedestrian flow, and the view that the health of the local economy is dependent upon prioritising shoppers who arrive by car, who should be encouraged by free or very-low cost on-street car parking.

However apart from these parochial symptoms of a council which is fundamentally car-centric in its policies there are two broader aspects of council policy which are also relevant: infrastructure spending is heavily weighted in favour of motor vehicles, and the purpose of transport infrastructure is perceived to be smooth traffic flow, i.e. the convenience of drivers.

The council is not generally in favour of making the use of the private car inconvenient and the number of road closures in the borough appears to be minimal. (The council is unable to say how many road closures there are: I used FOI to ask and it turns out that the council doesn't even know how many roads there are in the borough, let alone how many are closed to motor vehicles. The amateurism of supposed professionals is truly extraordinary.)

Policies which favour walking and cycling are acceptable but are always qualified by the proviso “where possible”, a qualification which defines possibility not in terms of technical possibility but rather as meaning “which does not seriously impede smooth traffic flow or prevent on-street car parking”.

In short, the claim that the council’s failure to meet its commitment to a 20 per cent traffic reduction was due to outside forces is almost entirely bogus. The council has promoted the ownership and use of the private car in the borough, and the consequences of that are visible on every car-choked street.

Lastly, why did the borough’s cycling target fail?

That’s an easy one to answer. The policy engine was vehicular cycling, a transport strategy which has demonstrably failed. Its concrete expression was the LCN:

The LCN [London Cycle Network]] is the key capital investment in taking this strategy forward and meeting the target. The aim of the LCN is to provide a network of safe, convenient and conspicuous cycle routes…suitable for use by cyclists of all age groups” 

And this is how the LCN worked out in practice on the A112, the central north-south communication spine in the borough.

Elsewhere, in Leyton, the council allows unlimited free car parking in the LCN, with the result shown here.

Statistics which count individual cycling trips on particular roads in isolation from driver trips need to acknowledge (but never do) that any upward trend might be expected from a borough where the population is increasing in number.

Or to put it at its most basic, “encouraging cycling and walking” involves a light scattering of sugared words over a determined and unyielding car-centric agenda.

But, hey, why brood over the past? Let’s apply the traditional amnesia and all cheer loudly as we embrace another glorious future.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Are you safer on a Boris bike?

It is asserted that

bike hire cyclists are three times less likely to be injured per trip than other cyclists in London as a whole.

If true, this is an interesting statistic.

What conclusions can be drawn from this statistic?

Dr Robert Davis believes

they are more likely to be tourists (and have a carefree attitude), not wear helmets, and I would suggest that they are less likely to be aware of the road environment in central London. 

The point is that, yet again, we have evidence of adaptive behaviour by road users, in this case motorists. It backs up the evidence for Safety in Numbers (SiN) 

Does it really, though?

My immediate response to the assertion that bike hire cyclists are three times less likely to be injured per trip than other cyclists in London as a whole is that this may be because trips made using hire bikes are short ones, while other cycling journeys are longer.

If other cycling journeys are on average three times longer than those made by hire bike then the statistical difference in casualties becomes of no significance whatever.

Or to put it another way, it’s about exposure to risk. Measuring safety by individual trips is not a good way of measuring danger because some trips are far more dangerous than others. Exposure to risk involves the length of the journey, the kind of roads cycled on, and the prevailing conditions on those roads in terms of motor vehicle type, volume and speed. (It may be, for example, that Boris bikers cycle far less in the vicinity of lorries than commuter cyclists on certain routes.)

I am not particularly convinced by the argument that drivers treat Boris bikers better than other cyclists, or that the behaviour of Boris bikers is significantly different to that of other cyclists. But then I think that the behaviourist approach to cycling and “road safety” is doomed. Trying to modify the behaviour of drivers and cyclists on shared roads is the classically failed tradition of UK cycle campaigning. Danger reduction is best accomplished through re-designing road infrastructure to separate cyclists from vehicles on the Dutch model, not by attempting to shape the individual psychology of the driver or the cyclist.

My own personal observations also suggest another reason why Boris bikers may be less likely to be hit by a motor vehicle than other cyclists. See if you can spot what it might be.

Calling all Bolshevik cyclists

A CYCLING 'czar' has been appointed by Glasgow City Council to get more people on their bikes by 2020. 

Councillor Frank McAveety has been given the job of making cycling the most popular activity in the city. 

[Yes, cycling is destined to become even more popular in Glasgow than sex, drinking, fighting, or the consumption of fried Mars bars.]

The former sports minister said he was determined to see biking overtake walking, football, swimming and dancing as the city's favourite sport


Now I must confess that I lead such a miserable and stunted existence that I had never previously heard of Frank McAveety.

But thanks to the interweb I now know a great deal.

Frankly, Frank doesn’t strike me as being someone who has ever been particularly interested in cycling.

Nor does his record as a tribune of the people inspire much confidence.

Yes, the job of Glasgow’s cycling Czar has gone to an overweight liar who also happens to be a sexist creep (or to put it another way, a political figure who puts a new gloss on the notion of ‘petitions’).

In the past Glasgow’s new cycling Czar has been very supportive of local Glasgow enterprise including a vehicle body shop repair company called Ferrymill Motors.

If Frank ever needs a career change I feel sure there's a place for him at Walthamstow Town Hall.

 The picture of Frank and his plate of food is borrowed from here.

Monday 20 August 2012

Why do more people not involve themselves in this very safe activity?


On Friday I saw a man jump off a high building into a London street. This is a perfectly harmless activity and I would urge you all to give it a go.

I saw with my own eyes how the man in the pink suit jumped off the roof and landed quite safely in the street below.

Incredibly, many people have got the totally mistaken idea that jumping off the top of a building is dangerous. In fact anyone can do it.


I believe that not enough is being done to encourage jumping off the tops of buildings. There are two ways we can tackle this, and I am confident that with the right approach we can get one Londoner in twenty jumping off the top of buildings by the year 2025.

What we need first of all is a promotional campaign to encourage jumping. We need big street posters with messages like CATCH UP WITH THE JUMPING.

We need photographs of a young slim model smiling broadly and with her long hair blowing out behind her as she plummets to the ground, alongside the simple word FREEDOM.

The posters need to be accompanied by a campaign to educate people who have the totally mistaken idea that jumping off a roof is dangerous. The best way of changing people’s minds is through statistics, and statistics prove that it is perfectly safe to jump off high buildings.

FACT: The figures show that every year more people are injured in Britain as a result of gardening than from jumping off a roof. This totally proves how SAFE jumping off a roof is. 

But let’s face it, promotion and education are not in themselves enough. We need to address the fears of novices who say that they would be happy to jump off a roof but they think it’s just too dangerous. The solution here is TRAINING.

No one should be allowed to jump off a roof without instruction from an accredited trainer. What we need is free roof jumping training, financed by local councils. With expert training those irrational fears can be conquered and before long the small number of existing roof jumpers will be joined by their partners and children. (However please get the written approval of social services before allowing your child to jump off a roof, as some ignorant and prejudiced people may report you for putting your child at risk. Incredibly, and very disappointingly, some schools actually ban children from jumping off their school roofs.) There are already encouraging signs that a “roof jumping revolution” is underway.

PLEASE NOTE this blog post is not intended to promote self harm. If you are distressed or upset in any way by this blog post please seek medical advice.

CAUTION. Do NOT confuse a harmless practice like roof jumping with others which may appear risk-free but are in fact extremely hazardous.  



1: The man in the pink suit jumped off the roof into Brushfield Street E1. Apparently he was Robbie Williams’s stunt double and was involved in making a rock video for a forthcoming single called ‘Vertigo’.

2: The original plan was to end this post with a Robbie Williams video, but out of respect for our readers’ good taste in music this idea has been dropped. Instead here is The London Cycling Song, suitable for playing at all cycle campaign group meetings throughout Greater London.

It’s D-Day in Walthamstow (not)

In 1996 a footpath was due to be built linking Walthamstow Central station with nearby Queens Road station. This was a condition of allowing the redevelopment of the site for housing. The developers built the housing then reneged on the footpath deal.

And now, sixteen years later, work is finally about to begin.

D-day is the 25th of June!! Should I hold my breath?

Definitely not, where this crap council is concerned. Because there is not the slightest sign of work having started on this link, which remains arbitrarily blocked off by fencing, flytipped crap, and a jungle of overgrown vegetation.

Photo taken on 9 August by the car park fencing, from the Queens Road station end of the link.

Dead end.

Sunday 19 August 2012

a shocking photo of a criminal cyclist

So far this year 1,112 tickets have been given to cyclists for not wearing helmets

And let’s face it, you can’t argue with statistics, can you?

This one which concerns cyclists is particularly awesome and is guaranteed to impress all road safety professionals and top public health experts:

Of those who died after some sort of accident involving a vehicle, 55 per cent did not have a helmet on.

Crime and punishment: cyclists and drivers

Our friends down in Bristol will be delighted to learn that the British criminal justice system takes a far more robust attitude to lawless, road-tax-dodging cyclists than it does to ordinary decent motorists who through no fault of their own and in exceptional circumstances sometimes find themselves going a little faster than the permitted speed limit.

A “ROGUE” cyclist spent a night in the cells for refusing to give police his name after they stopped him for using a no-cycle lane on Hampstead Heath. Jean Dollimore, spokeswoman for Camden Cycling Campaign, said it was “extreme” to arrest a cyclist using an empty path when “there are not nearly enough cycle paths on the Heath”. She added: “I imagine this man wasn’t trying to be a rogue cyclist, he just thought it was 8pm, no one was around, and it was safe to do so. 

There is no way to cycle all the way across the Heath on a network of paths without having to get off and walk some of the way, and that needs to change.” Cyclist Eddison Joseph, 50, from Kentish Town, called for “common sense” after he was fined £330 by magistrates in March last year for riding on a no-cycle path on Hampstead Heath 


Mercedes driver Shayla Christina Arnold, 27, of Tennant Road, Acomb , admitted doing 96 mph on the A64 at Tadcaster . Her solicitor, Keith Haggerty, said she was racing to get home because her daughter, a passenger in the car, was feeling ill and needed medicine. Arnold said she needed her car to do two care service jobs looking after up to 20 people a week in their own homes. She was given five penalty points and fined £170. 

Porsche driver Dean Robert Sheriff, 43, of Dalton Terrace, York, admitted doing 97 mph on the A64 at Tadcaster and had a previous conviction for speeding. He was given five penalty points, and a £200 fine. He said he had been suffering from stomach cramp, sickness and diarrhoea and was hurrying to get to a McDonalds further along the route. 

VW Golf driver Luke Tibble, 29, of Broad Green Wellingborough, admitted doing 108 mph on the A63 at Newthorpe. He was given a 28-day driving ban and £230 fine. He said he had not been in a hurry, but had had a loss of concentration.

York: the latest incredible crap

CONTROVERSIAL 20mph zones could be increasing rather than reducing the risk of accidents, a new report has warned. 

The reduced limits could be lulling pedestrians into a false sense of security, so they take less care, a transport boss at City of York Council says. 

The revelation has sparked calls for a rethink on York’s “twenty’s plenty” campaign, central to Labour’s transport strategy.

Conservative group leader Ian Gillies said Labour’s push for 20mph zones was “purely ideological”, and said: “Motorists ignore them, the police will not enforce them and there are no statistics to justify them.” 

Over to Joe Dunckley.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Cycling in York – update

(Above) The kind of advanced cycling infrastructure that has made York the safest and most attractive city in Britain for cycling. 

Yes, make no mistake – York is a city where the cyclist is number one.

And now here is the news.

The AA starts lobbying against the next fuel duty rise

Drivers facing 6p-a-litre surge in the price of petrol as AA warns price could soar to record levels 

The alarming prospect is revealed in a new AA Fuel report. It has sparked renewed calls for Chancellor George Osborne to abandon the 3p per litre tax rise he has already deferred from August 1 to January 1. 

And who can doubt that the crap Coalition will capitulate yet again to the fossil fuel lobby rather than risk being represented by the meeja as the vicious oppressor of the ordinary decent British motorist?

But as Cycalogical remarked a while back:

So why fuel duty? Why not cut VAT? Fuel duty only helps families who rely mainly on the car to get around. And it helps most those who drive high mileages in big, thirsty cars. In other words, it is regressive. And it conspicuously doesn't help those who have been hit by above-inflation increases in rail and bus fares. Or those who choose more active modes of travel.

Putney roundabout collides with Audi

News from a 30 mph zone.

A former racing driver and close friend of Lewis Hamilton died following an horrific 78mph crash at a roundabout following a night out drinking with friends.

Friday 17 August 2012

Crap cycling in Richmond


Richmond’s strategy is to increase cycling by 40%! Yes, in seven years’ time, cycling’s modal share needs to rise to a whopping 7%. Except we’ve no idea how to get there. I asked about the strategy, and the strategy is … to increase cycling’s share. 

Luckily the London Borough of Richmond has come up with some exciting ideas, which include:

Advanced cycle stop lines at signal junctions for cyclist safety 

[meaningless white paint on the carriageway which many drivers will choose to ignore]

Extensive widening of footways 

[the current flavour of the month among London’s deranged transport planners, who are doing their bit to suppress even the current low levels of cycling by making things even more off-putting for vehicular cycling by forcing cyclists even closer to overtaking motor vehicles]

Pedestrian ‘countdown’ at all signal junctions to indicate the time allowed to cross the road 

[Richmond is doing its bit to terrorise pedestrians and remind them that the most important thing in life is smoother traffic flow]

There will be CCTV enforcement of traffic violations that impede traffic movement

[there will be no enforcement of laws that protect walking and cycling but drivers who slow things down for other drivers can expect a fixed penalty notice]

Number of car parking spaces (on and off street) will remain the same

[Richmond is as car-sick and car-sodden as anywhere else in Greater London and its crap council plans to keep it that way]

Sadly there are a few malcontents who are not persuaded by these improvements:

surely any plan to get rid of bus/cycle lanes could easily see the introduction of dedicated bike lanes and still have scope to increase pavement width? 

And those ingrates in the local cycle campaign have even dared to suggest that Richmond's transport planners don't understand cycling:

The council is convinced this is an improvement, completely misunderstanding why people do not choose to cycle in the borough.
But I expect Richmond is like the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The roads are just too narrow for cycle tracks on the Dutch model. In Waltham Forest our transport planners are making every effort to improve cycling safety by discouraging cycling altogether.

Here on Wood Street in Walthamstow (aka the B160), a direct through route for cyclists has seen expensive “street scene improvements” which involve widening the footway and replacing the cycle lane with parking bays. Cyclists are pushed closer to overtaking motor vehicles and some lovely new bike logos have been painted on the carriageway. This model appears to be being pushed out across Greater London, but as usual pioneering Waltham Forest was there first.

Isn't this a lovely street for going shopping? If trade is suffering I expect it's because there isn't enough car parking.

Thursday 16 August 2012

The European Cyclists’ Federation and the ‘Safety in Numbers’ myth

For dodgy statistics, bogus comparisons, and unwarranted conclusions I suggest you start here and follow the link.

Quite why a European cycling organisation illustrates its material with a photograph from a Critical Mass in Canada is baffling.

For an admirable critique of “Safety in Numbers” you could start here, and also consider this:

The greater rate of cycling in some European countries could be a result of more safety, rather than their greater safety arising from their greater numbers. In addition, and even more problematically, the graph simply fails to take account of a wide range of variables that might also have an effect on cyclists’ safety, of which, perhaps in order of importance, we could name physical infrastructure, policing, speed limits, even (if we are looking at a rate of cycling fatalities) quality of emergency medical treatment. 

And let’s not forget this concrete example:

The relatively high volume of cyclists — coupled with the atrocious fast and confusing road design, signalling conflicts, and appalling road use discipline — puts this junction in London’s top ten for cyclist casualties. So much for safety in numbers. 

If there really is safety in numbers, then shouldn’t the safest place to cycle in London be Hackney? And if the fewer the cyclists, the more the danger, then surely the London Borough of Waltham Forest should be a very dangerous place to cycle? After all, Hackney has at least six times as many cyclists as Waltham Forest.

Yet KSI rates for Hackney are much, much higher than for Waltham Forest. It might be, of course, that there are other factors determining KSI rates, outside cycling numbers. For example, Hackney may be a borough with more lorry trips than Waltham Forest.

The fact remains that no cyclist has been killed in Waltham Forest since 2007. The same does not hold true for Hackney, which has an alarming fatality rate.

There are some interesting statistics in this parliamentary report. although unfortunately they refer to parliamentary constituencies rather than London boroughs. Nevertheless, to my mind they demolish “safety in numbers” as defined by KSI.

Here are some of them.

KSI cyclists

Hackney South and Shoreditch

2005: 12
2006: 7
2007: 14
2008: 19
2009: 8
2010: 10

Hackney North and Stoke Newington

2005: 4
2006: 9
2007: 9
2008: 14
2009: 10
2010: 9

Leyton and Wanstead

2005: 0
2006: 3
2007: 1
2008: 3
2009: 3
2010: 5


2005: 2
2006: 3
2007: 5
2008: 8
2009: 6
2010: 8

Chingford and Woodford Green

2005: 1
2006: 3
2007: 0
2008: 3
2009: 1
2010: 1


It’s a scientific fact that where there are almost no cyclists at all, very few cyclists will be killed or seriously injured.

However, this does not mean that an area with very few cyclists or with a low KSI rate is safe for cycling.