Sunday, 10 October 2010

A gloomy outlook

A Kennington cyclist recently told me how much she dreaded going into the dark chasm below the Waterloo and former Eurostar lines on Westminster Bridge Road.

Like her I hate this sudden change from light to stygian gloom and the panicky feeling that one day a driver coming out of the light on the multi-lane chicane will run straight into the back of you.

To maintain the suspense Transport for London have arranged things so you normally have to spend a dark minute nervously waiting for the traffic lights in the tunnel to change while taking deep breaths of taxi exhaust.

As you set off you realise you need to move out to the 'fast' lane if you're not going to spend more long minutes of your life breathing diesel particulates while stuck behind a bus at one of London's foulest bus stops.

Transport for London and the rail companies (the overlying cause of the gloom) should be ashamed of themselves for creating such an unpleasant environment for cyclists and pedestrians and not resolving it.

Bizarrely The South Bank Employers Group didn't mention this horror in their draft Cycling Strategy, despite (or maybe because) Netwonk Rail being a member.

This is the kind of dire infrastructure that puts people off active travel and results in hospital admissions for heart disease and obesity surgery. Given that the tunnel is adjacent to St Thomas' Hospital I hope that the Guys and St Thomas' Trust (another member of SBEG) are actively campaigning for improvements. Then again, the lack of reference to this in the thick draft strategy they helped write suggests they're not. Naybe they're scared active travel will put their fat cat consultants out of work and out of their Mercedes? Most likely though, as the largest employer nearby with a particular duty of care to the residents, they just don't consider it any of their business.