Monday 27 December 2010

Quick! Complete Westminster Council's Parking Survey

You've only got until Jan 7th to make a difference in Westminster  (you don't have to live there to complete the survey).

The great site, Cyclists in the City has the lowdown here, and I've put elements of my reply to Westminster's survey in the comments on his post.

Please spend a few minutes and help make central London more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Cornwall Road Bollards

 Work to improve the London Cycle Network 3 route up Cornwall Road is practically completed, no doubt much to the annoyance of cabbies such as the one below who briefly enjoyed having a bit of a rat run to use.

Pedestrians banned from Thames Path

 3.30pm today at the riverside of St Thomas' Hospital and the powers that be have seemingly banned walkers as well as cyclists from the Thames Path. 

Christmas Day on the Southbank

Returning from watching the swimmers in the Serpentine I visited the Thames Path at about 9.45am. Yet another occasion when it would have been splendid to cycle along it, if a ban hadn't been imposed.

Christmas swim in the Serpentine

A beautifully quick ride to Hyde Park to watch the annual 100 yard race at 9am in the Serpentine.  Unsurprisingly it couldn't take place this year as the Serpentine was frozen over apart from a small section where the erstwhile racers took turns for a brief swim instead! Hats off to them. Many of the onlookers had arrived by bicycle:

Friday 24 December 2010

A seasonal message to cyclists from Westminster Abbey

Must be the danger from all the cars and vans

Jubilee Greenway or Motorway?

The Jubilee Greenway is a path for walkers and cyclists linking the London Olympic and Paralympic Games venues with some of the capital's best attractions, heritage sites, parks, waterways and views.

Young visitors from the Netherlands over for the Olympics? Why not send them out for the day to ride our version of Dutch child friendly cycling infrastructure, the Jubilee Greenway, incorporating Kate Hoey's excellent cycle route past St Thomas' Hospital and crosses over Lambeth Bridge? All 60 km (35 miles) of The Jubilee Greenway is already fully open and available to walk and cycle.

Oh, hang on,  However, a recent audit by Walk England identified several areas which would benefit from further investment to primarily improve accessibility, signage and safety.

I wonder whether there are plans to create a motor traffic free cycle route along Lambeth Palace Road?

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said: “The Jubilee Greenway will be a terrific way for Londoners and Games goers to get around the capital. Whether by foot or by pedal power, people that use the route will be able to enjoy some of London’s best parks and most wonderful waterways. Few capitals of the world can boast such a superb asset for walkers and cyclists.“

The Jubilee Greenway is being supported by a partnership including senior representatives from central government, The Mayor’s office, Royal Parks, The Olympic Delivery Authority, Transport for London, British Waterways, Thames Water and all the relevant local authorities. The Jubilee Walkway Trust is working in partnership with Walk England to coordinate the investment programme.

Email TfL now about Lambeth Bridge

There's a narrow window of opportunity to get TfL to improve the cycle lane going northbound on Lambeth Bridge while resurfacing it, so please email them now: to let them know that it would be a shocking waste of money to resurface and repaint the bridge without improving the northbound cycle lane which in its current width is horrendous to use and dangerous. My view on what needs to be done are here.

It seems the imminent works may be briefly postponed, going by the following reply I've received to my email to TfL asking whether they plan to improve the cycle lane while doing essential works between now and the new year:

As a result of the cold weather and having looked at the weather forecast, we are currently carrying out a review on what works can realistically be undertaken between Christmas and New Year.

It now appears the predicted temperatures will be too low for us to carry out the resurfacing works on Lambeth Bridge as planned. We will re-programme this work for when the weather has improved, and we will include the replacement of the failed expansion joints within a re-scoped scheme instruction.

We now have a little time in which an assessment of the possibility of a slight widening of the northbound cycle lane can be carried out. We are not currently able to give a date, but if it proves to be possible, we will adjust the width of the cycle lane as part of the resurfacing works.

TfL opposed to South Bank cycling ban

The Albert Embankment where cycling is now banned, on 22 Dec at 3.30pm, with plenty of space for pedestrians and cyclists as usual.

Today, top local community website London-SE1 reports:

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and chair of Transport for London, has voiced his opposition to a ban on cycling on the Thames Path along the South Bank.

Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones recently tabled a question asking the Mayor of London whether he supported a ban on cycling on part of the South Bank.

"TfL does not believe that cycling should be banned along the South Bank," replied Boris Johnson.

"TfL's response referenced my target to increase cycling by 400 per cent by 2026, to improve cycle safety, and the importance of improving the permeability for cyclists in central London, including in the Waterloo area."

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Maybe a happy new year on Lambeth Bridge?

Our local councillor's blog has news of essential maintenance works overnight on Lambeth Bridge between Christmas and New Year.

These essential works will not only give road users, especially cyclists, a smoother drive, but they will also help reduce carriageway noise and the need for disruptive maintenance closures, benefiting local residents and businesses.

The essential thing to do on Lambeth Bridge is widen the cycle lane from South to North London to a sensible width so that people on bikes aren't passed scarily close by lorries while twitching between red lines, white lines, kerb edge stones and expansion joints

It's simple enough to create the extra carriageway space for this, by removing the equally narrow cycle lane southbound and moving the bus lane across. The bus lane is preferable for cyclists to use here, not least because at the south end of the bridge buses and other traffic often turn left putting them in conflict with cyclists going straight ahead.
I've got my fingers crossed that they'll not only do this but also sort out the deadly approach I've mentioned before

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Christmas Day cycle rides

One of the quietest days in the year on the roads and a perfect day for joining in all or part of Southwark Cyclists xmas day ride - either meet at 10am at Cutty Sark Gardens or at 11am at Southwark Needle (south side of London Bridge, by Evans Cycles) for a slow and very sociable ride round deserted London on the smiliest day of the year in wonderfully diverse company. Join in/drop out whenever or stay for a late lunch up Edgware Road. The ride costs nothing, there's no need to book or check that it's still on: it won't be cancelled.

I can't go on the ride this year but instead I'm aiming to nip on the bike to Hyde Park  to watch the Serpentine Swimming Club's annual 'Peter Pan' 100 yard race which starts sharp at 9am.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Calling on Lord Butler of Brockwell

Within a short cycling distance of Kennington we are privileged to have a world leading research led university (King’s College London) and three successful NHS Foundation Trusts (Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley).

They're clubbing together as King’s Health Partners, one of the UK’s five Academic Health Sciences Centres, delivering health care to patients and undertaking health-related science and research, plus a well developed role in teaching and education.

King’s Health Partners will bring real and lasting benefits to the communities of south London. Local people will continue to benefit from access to world-leading healthcare experts and clinical services which are underpinned by the latest research knowledge. There will also be benefits for the local area in regeneration, education, jobs and economic growth.

Their handful of 'Values and Guiding Principles' includes:
Transform the nature of healthcare: by moving from treatment towards population screening and disease prevention.

I hope they're really going to 'kick ass' locally on the disease prevention front.

Usefully their immediate aims include:
We will be in the top 10 globally, both clinically and academically, in the fields of:

- Mental health and neurosciences
- Cardiovascular disease
- Transplantation, immunity and inflammation linked to disease.


We will build our capacity to address diseases that have a particularly large impact on our local community, but also are important on a global scale, in the areas of:
- Childhood diseases
- Diabetes and obesity
- Cancer

There are loads of reliable, peer reviewed studies that prove that physical activity, such as walking and cycling, plays a MAJOR part in reducing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity as well as being good for mental health.

There are also loads of reports that make it perfectly clear that most people really don't enjoy cycling in motor traffic.

So, the question is, will these major local institutions (25,000 employees and 21,000 students) meaningfully weigh in to make their patch exquisitely pleasant for people to walk and ride bikes in, or will they skirt around the edges and focus on patching up those damaged through a failure to tackle the causes?

Let me be clear here that I'm not just talking about commuter males riding bikes. I want to see children riding to school, health visitors cycling to patients' homes and grandparents riding to do their neighbourhood activities.

Will King's Health Partners commit to reducing the number of motor deliveries to and from their institutions by 10% a year?
Will they force TfL and the boroughs to create wonderful cycle routes between their buldings?
Will they campaign for a 20mph limit rather than 30 and will they require their drivers and suppliers to commit to 20mph in the meantime?
Will they ridicule the police's opposition on account of inability to enforce such a limit ('yeah, well apparently you can enforce a cycling ban on the South Bank...)?
Will they hit TfL over the head about the unpleasantness of the bridges over the Thames?
Will they expect their staff to walk or cycle rather than sit in a motor vehicle on work journeys?
Will they provide cycle training to all their staff?
Will they dramatically increase secure cycle parking in prominent positions on their sites?

We know from the pressure that St Thomas' applied to have cycling banned on the Albert Embankment that these instutions have clout. So what are the chances they will use it to support rather than hinder cycling?

There's at least a glimmer of hope; the Chair of King's Health Partners is Lord Butler of Brockwell and he's a cyclist, recently lobbying for a Boris Bike station in the House of Lords.

Let's hope he can prevail over those who stand in the way of taking space away from the motor vehicle and giving it to pedestrians and cyclists.

Friday 17 December 2010

Christmas comes early to Pedal Power Kennington

The chilly weather hasn't deterred local young bicycle enthusiasts from attending  Pedal Power Kennington right up to the end of term, even though the space is unheated! Kennington Police Station kindly donated a stack of bikes to the project to do up. How else would we collect them but by cycle, although in fairness we wheeled rather than pedalled back to base!

Thursday 16 December 2010

The cost of inconsiderate parking

Our local councillors blog celebrates the fact that Pratt Walk and Juxon Street will be resurfaced in March 2011.

These road works require quite a lot of planning and preparation, not least booking contractors and giving residents notice that they'll need to park elsewhere on the day. And, of course, putting up signs prohibiting parking in the places where it is normally permitted.

Funnily enough this all happened in these very same streets recently and, the other day, some resurfacing vehicles turned up to do the work. So why didn't they go ahead?

Rumour has it that they were unable to as the police had ignored the signage and taken the opportunity of lots of suddenly clear space to park their fleet of riot vans there.
Should the rumour be true I certainly hope the council will be billing the police for the cost of rescheduling the work.

I can't help but wonder whether the resurfacing contractors should have kettled the riot vans.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Forward the Light Brigade! Into the valley of death

Cardigan Street's entrance-filter for cyclists pays homage to the 'Charge of the Light Brigade' at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.

You can imagine the desperate situation that the Cavalry, led by Lord Cardigan, found themselves in as they charged towards the enemy, into the valley between the Fedyukhin Heights and the Causeway Heights.

As Alfred, Lord Tennyson, put it:

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

The car appears to be parked quite legally with its wheels within the white line.

Biggest Boris Bike dock to date at Waterloo

 126 bikes are now available to use outside Waterloo Station on Mepham Street. Interestingly the previous cycle lane and pavement have been made into shared space for pedestrians and cyclists. The powers that be have put up the sort of sign that would be sensible to use on the Thames Path.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Kate Hoey's "Excellent Cycling Route"

At 9.48am today the Thames Path by St Thomas' Hospital wasn't busy (above). Plenty of room to pootle along on a bike except that our local policitians, such as MP Kate Hoey, and organisations such as the hospital, have clubbed together in advance of the publication of the South Bank and Waterloo Cycling Strategy to ban cycling here.

At 10.17 the Thames Path wasn't busy either (below)

Not being allowed to cycle along here any more, I was obliged to take the route our MP, Kate Hoey, recommends  "There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital."

Thus it was that at 10.22 I was sat stationary, breathing in diesel particulates, in the bumper-to-exhaust motor traffic, stuck behind the bus that was stuck behind other traffic in the advisory cycle lane. Excellent? Pah.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Loom(is)ing on a Cycling Superhighway near you

A Loomis 'security' van on the Cable Street segregated bit of CS3 today by Shadwell Rail Station that it was presumably delivering to. A few feet forward of the van the double yellow line on the left becomes a single yellow allowing loading/unloading.

Alternatively the van could have turned left into Dellow Street directly opposite the station.

 Let's look at Loomis' values shall we?

Our values are prominent in all our Loomis locations and drive a culture committed to deliver an honest and reliable service.

We are committed to developing quality people and treating everyone with respect.

We strive for exceptional quality, innovation, value and exceeding customer satisfaction.

We perform with honesty, vigilance and high ethics.

These words reflect Loomis' focus on creating a company culture that can deliver services to our customers in a responsible and confidence-inspiring way.

It is how we live our values in everyday life that make us different from our competitors.

Friday 3 December 2010

Seasonal fun on the South Bank

It's a beautiful day with the snow laying on the Thames Path. I was mulling over forking out a goodly sum of money to have a go on the miniature skating rink by the London Eye. But then I saw that, courtesy of whoever paid for and authorised these brand new signs, I could enjoy a similar kind of experience for free:
The sign could have said 'Considerate Cycling Pedestrian Priority' like the Council's traffic experts proposed. My, how dull that sign would be to a Banksy wannabee.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Ice is biggest hazard

An interesting link emphasising the high number of hospital admissions due to accidents on ice popped into my mailbox just after posting my pics of today's icy conditions on the Cycling Superhighways. The NHS Public Health Network website states:
 Slipping on ice causes 35% of all non-collision incidents on the commute to work.

Cycle Superhighways after the snow

The central London part of Cycling Superhighway 7 I used around 8.45 this morning was generally good with a slightly tricky bit on the off-main-road section around the Elephant and Castle bypass.

I'm guessing that the heavy motor vehicles using the CS7 mash the snow out of existence...or is it that these roads are better gritted?

Cycling Superhighway 3 was a different situation. Clearly some grit had been dumped on the CS at Cable Street:

But generally it seemed pretty treacherous compared with the road (except I was travelling in the opposite direction to the one-way traffic!)
Further on, past East India Dock and it looked like this (CS3 is on the pavement at this point!!):
I moved to the snow and ice free dual-carriageway A13 and mixed it with the fast lorries and cars instead.

Should we expect the Cycle Superhighways to be functional after a little snow? Should clearly signed diversionary routes be put in place on main road, maybe with temporary speed restrictions imposed, if they're not meant to be useable? Or should we not find a different way to commute when it's snowed - maybe taking the car?

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Throwing £31m away each year

At a birthday party last weekend I was gobsmacked when this sparkling, musical birthday fountain was produced only to be thrown away about one minute later. Once lit, the flower sparkles whilst the petals slowly open lighting the candles around. At the same time, the "Happy Birthday" tune starts playing. There were no details on the packaging about replacing the pyrotechnic so this contraption is clearly intended to be used once then thrown away, batteries (yes, two) and all.

Lambeth Council is working out what services are for the axe as it's being forced to make cuts of £79m over the next 4 years.

It costs £31m a year to collect and dispose of Lambeth's rubbish (£113 for each of the 272,000 residents) so it's clear to me that the sanest way to protect essential services is to cut down the amount of crap we mindlessly consume.

What's this got to with riding a bike? Well, first of all we'll have fewer lorries on the streets...

Secondly, it gives me a chance to mention Lambeth Freecycle - the Yahoo group for giving and collecting unwanted items. When we use it we normally give preference to people collecting on foot/public transport or by bike.

Thirdly, if you're reading this shortly after it's been posted, there's still time to vote for the Council to provide funding to kickstart the Brixton Reuse Centre (including bicycles). Deadline for voting is midnight 1st December.

Moving stuff by bike

There's work going on at a local pub with at least some of the wood arriving by bike. It's not as heavily laden as this bike that I've seen being cycled by St James's Park and photographed in Victoria

Tower Bridge is the base of Office Depot's fleet of 8 'La Petite Reine' cargo bikes that make deliveries in the City of London. Read more in their press pack.

A longer established local leader in delivery by bicycle is Darwin's Deli in Sail Street

Hopefully this idea will catch on at Pimlico Plumbers, directly opposite Darwin's Deli. I bet most of their journeys are within two or three miles.

Transport for London undertook a useful scoping study on moving freight by bike . See if you can guess which stationery company was involved in their trial.

There's more on cargo bikes at I Bike London

Monday 29 November 2010

Hanging out at Pedal Power Kennington

Dave Lukes volunteered to nip in in over the weekend to the PPK workshop on the old Lilian Baylis school site to put up some of the storage items donated by BC Bikes. We now have wheels hanging from the ceiling and racks hanging off slatboard hooks.

It's great to have reclaimed some floor space and great to have volunteers such as Dave helping out with the project.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Lambeth Cyclists Deco Decadence Ride

Dozens turned out in the chill for yesterday's Deco Decadence ride, one of Lambeth Cyclists regular Architecture Rides. From the Embankment, opposite the Moderne former London Fire Brigade HQ in Lambeth, we headed out west taking in the deco wonders of Chiswick Park, the Great West Road and Hanwell. Our two volunteer ride leaders, from English Heritage, knew their stuff and were entertaining. A great day out.