Wednesday 30 March 2011

Poor sods stuck on buses - and junction capacity

I'm working with pupils from a school that's on the multi-lane, one-way A302 / St George's Road.

This is how it looked down the road at 5pm tonight:
 and this was looking up the road:
There were a handful of people incarcerated on each bus. Whatever the obstruction was, I bet they'd have been able to squeeze by if they were riding bicycles.

Which brings me to the issue of Junction Capacity and vehicle flow - where different forms of transport are assigned values by transport modellers in relation to one Passenger Car Unit (PCU). So a car is 1 PCU while a cycle is a hugely efficient 0.2 PCUs, as five bicycles can pass through a junction for each car, and a big chunky bus has a PCU of 2 or more.

I'm no transport planner, but what I do know is that a bicycle is always at capacity, whereas a car often has only one occupant and likewise buses (like those above) may be verging on the empty. The conclusion, for efficient use of space in cities, has to be to promote walking and cycling if we want to avoid the kind of urban screw-up images above.

Considerate behaviour promotion on Thames Path

It was good to see the police and Lambeth Council's transport team talking to cyclists and pedestrians on the Thames Path, and undertaking an informal survey. I was intrigued by the answers cyclists gave when asked why they chose the Thames Path over the adjoining A road. The majority talked about the risk of injury and general nastiness of the A road. The reply I particularly liked though was from a couple on a tandem who said cycling along the Thames Path was romantic. I completely agree with their view, and I can't imagine the same comment being made about the Lambeth and Westminster Bridge roundabouts and the A-roads.
The roller-bladers and their dog, above, typify the kind of hazardous space users that need to be considerate in their sharing of this lovely public space.
It was good to see some cycle parking installed by the cafe adjacent to Lambeth Bridge (though this photo is too poor to allow you to see it - it's where the cycle is.)

Monday 28 March 2011

Where are the cars and taxis in Disneyland?

From Royal Weddings to Olympic Games, the London Eye to Big Ben, the British Museum to Hyde Park, it is hard to envisage central London as anything other than a massive theme park - a delight for its residents and tourists alike. Except that a significant off-kilter aspect of London that proper theme parks don't have is the preponderance of noisy, polluting, space absorbing motor traffic.

But much of that can be designed out. The bicycle replaces the car; B-Bikes and Pedicabs replace taxis and minicabs. A similar hire system to B-Bikes could be introduced with mobility scooters for those unable to use these.

Deliveries could be slashed (maybe fanciful, but how about banning consumable crockery in central London for example - you lose a load of waste refuse collection as well as delivery vans. If you install taps and water fountains rather than bottled water sales outlets you can dispose of thousands of lorry journeys).

There are two posts other bloggers have written today that I urge you to read:
- check out the video on this and imagine if the private cars and taxis in the clip were removed. How much saner London would be.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Police highlight Vauxhall Gyratory cycle lane

The draft Cycling Superhighway 5 plans show the existing cycle lane, highlighted in this photo by a parked police motorcycle, is intended to remain and will doubtless be as effective as today but painted blue.

Legible Vauxhall?

Draft plans for Cycling Superhighway 5 (Lewisham to Victoria) have been prepared by TfL. It will go through the Vauxhall Gyratory and, whatever faults it may have, must be clearer to follow than the current signage (above, in the bus and cycle lane in the middle of the gyratory).

Subvertising on Kennington Road

Makes more sense than the original car advert which said 100% electric, 100% real

Friday 25 March 2011

UK Uncut to target Ice Creaminals?

The Guardian today reports that "More than a dozen separate UK Uncut groups from around the country will head to Oxford Street at 2pm, where they will stage 14 separate protests before descending on a new, as yet unannounced, target at 3.30pm. Actor Sam West and comedians Josie Long and Mark Thomas will be joining in the protests."

Those bastions of trading where they should not be, thieving trade from local business rate paying businesses are back in force on Westminster Bridge flouting the bus and cycle lane on the red route (above today, as every day this week).

The police are attempting to move them on but seem still to be losing the battle.

Maybe UK Uncut could kettle the vans?

Thursday 24 March 2011

Smoothing the traffic flow at Hyde Park Corner

As a cyclist, being able to cross from Green Park to Hyde Park through Wellington Arch rather than going around the Hyde Park Corner gyratory is pretty wonderful. It's let down somewhat by having to sit in a traffic island half way across to the centre of the roundabout and half away across going off.

I've just discovered that horse-riders have their own traffic lights enabling them to go across in one - but you have to be tall enough to operate the Pegasus crossing button (top right of photo).

With a coach and horses though the coachman isn't able to press the button until his horses are in the motor he has a remote control for the lights!!

Any cyclists know where we can get hold of these ;-)

Cleaver Square works not for the chop

Dawn Rahman, Lambeth'sTransport Policy Manager, is pleasingly described as 'amazing' by Lurking About SE11. I suspect both blogs are fans of her because she makes every effort to communicate effectively, including asking local micro-blogs such as ours to help. She's asked us to share the following:

The new cycle hire site in Cleaver Square will be in place on the 31st of this month. However, due to current resourcing issues at Transport for London, this means that the extensive remedial works at Cleaver Street which include re-paving the area, will need to be completed in the two weeks following the installation of the docking station. We are keen to notify residents of the time lag above, so as to avoid any confusion/disappointment when the docking station is installed.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

£4m for Thames Path

The SE1 website today reports that Mayor of London Boris Johnson has approved plans to spend nearly £4 million of Olympic funds on works to improve the riverside walkway along the South Bank and Bankside in time for the 2012 games.

I wonder if this funding came with a condition that considerate cycling needs to be permitted along the Thames Path by the respective boroughs and landowners, or is most of the £4m dedicated to improving cycling part of the Jubilee (Olympic) Walking and Cycling Greenway - which is largely on currently horrible A-roads that many families are too scared to cycle along?

Nurturing Cycling or Couldn't Give a Stuff?

Royal Wedding preparations appear to be well under way and an early victim is the cycle path along the Mall past Buckingham Palace.

There's no warning until the closure and it would appear you're expected to lurch across a few lanes of traffic to mix it with the taxis. Unless you're meant to use the pavement?

I doubt the Royal Park, Royals or Westminster Council have given the closure that much thought. Just slapped up some barriers and CYCLE PATH CLOSED signs.

I'd hope, given the huge numbers of cyclists using that route daily plus the need to promote sustainable travel, that the authorities would be bending over backwards to nurture cycling through creating a temporary cycle path by taking one of the lanes from the motor traffic (as would happen in the Netherlands).

But I suspect that thought had never entered their minds and they're contentedly patting themselves on the back for putting up closure signs, unlike the previous royal event to close the cycle path.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Bling your bike

 Workshop two at a Southwark primary school gave pupils the chance to personalise their bike (as well as playing a number of bike games). We had about 16 pupils today.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Lambeth Bridge today

While sat waiting for a break in the traffic on the roundabout on the Westminster side of the bridge

Sunday 13 March 2011

£31m versus £150k

£31,000,000 has been pledged to the proposed Battersea Northern Line tube extension by the company planning on developing 752 new homes, including 99 affordable ones on the Tideway Industrial Estate, in the Nine Elms corridor.

That's £41,000 per home!

In contrast they've pledged a paltry £200 a home to a community bike hire scheme.

Alongside this funding to transport their S106 agreement will include £2m towards the creation of family sized affordable housing units in the area.

But where will the money come from to pay for the schools, nurseries, libraries, leisure centres etc. for the thousands of new residents?

I've no idea, but it occurs to me that there could be more for these essential services if more was put into cycling and buses, and none poured into a hole in the ground. After all, it takes only a few minutes to cycle from Tideway to Vauxhall and about 20 minutes to cycle to the City of London.

Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea - the new Amsterdam?

Thursday 10 March 2011

Pedal Power at Charlotte Sharman Primary School

Today is the first day of a number of cycling activities at a local Southwark primary school. Pupils and staff were invited to bring in their bikes for a 'Dr Bike' check up.

23 bikes arrived (unsurprisingly more by a long shot than seen all winter I was told) and the bikes for check up were in the typical condition found in a central London school. Aside from flat tyres, a puncture and rusty chains we had:

Two bikes with the forks put on back to front, so the brake is behind the fork causing the noodle to wear
A bike with the front brake cable run in a way to affect the braking
a couple of missing brake pads
a seat post inserted an inch into the frame, much less than the marked minimum
a bike with no brake levers or front brake
a front brake missing the cable adjusting screw
A bike where the handlebars could turn without turning the wheel
handle bars ready to 'core' you if you landed on them
and a tyre with the side wall gouged by a poorly positioned brake pad (which had been replaced prior to us having a look \at the bike)

Two of use were kept busy for the best part of the day but we managed to get all but two in good running order before the bike club we ran after school. The kids had a great time as did we and we're looking forward to continuing the bike club for the next few Thursdays.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Searching Elephant for Toucans

Last July I checked with Transport for London that the works associated with the replacement of the southern roundabout and subway removal at Elephant & Castle would include installing Toucan Crossings (where pedestrians and cyclists can both cross a road, featuring a bicycle green light alongside the pedestrian one).

I wrote:
Like many local residents I am looking forward to improvements and being able to cycle easily to my local shopping centre.
Can you please confirm that the crossings will be Toucans given that the benefits you cite include, "New paved areas next to the junction to provide shared space for
pedestrians and cyclists". The text only refers to Pedestrian Crossings and the illustration seems to show Pelican crossings.

Here is the reply:
"I can confirm that the Toucan Crossings will be installed at the junction. This will allow inexperienced riders to exit the carriageway onto the shared use areas and use the crossing points to use the junction. "

I have written to ask when TfL plan to replace the Pelicans they've installed with the intended Toucans.

I really hope they haven't decided the vast expanses of pavement shouldn't be shared use.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Fuel Duty Scillyness

Fuel prices could be cut for drivers on the Isles of Scilly.

The government has confirmed it is trying to reach an agreement with the European Commission to reduce fuel duty by 5p per litre. The Isles of Scilly, along with some of the Scottish islands, have been chosen as a pilot area for the scheme. The coalition agreement contained a commitment to help people living in rural areas of the UK with the cost of fuel.

The total area of St Mary's, the biggest island, is a tiny 6.29sq km, and that's double the area of Tresco, the next largest! Given the diddy area PLUS the fact that the climate is amonst the mildest and warmest in the UK what earthly reason could there be for encouraging motoring here of all places when the overall idea is to discourage it?

Especially since they don't have to get an MOT!

The Scilly photo is of Tresco House and Bryher Court in Sancroft Street, Kennington

New Thames Path signage

That's an improvement!