Sunday 29 January 2012

TfL's equivalent to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic

For once I almost welcome this sign. Over the coming week Transport for London are removing the railings that limit the options for pedestrians to cross the five-lane one-way motorstrosity that St George's Road has become.
Unfortunately TfL are using their time and energy on piddling interventions rather than on measures that will make a real difference. This road,  with three schools on one side and a park on the other, should swiftly be made two-way and cycle-friendly.

As well as having no plans to make St George's Road two-way in the imminent future, TfL don't plan to make the one-way motorway bit of Westminster Bridge Road two-way and a mellow place to be and cycle.

I hope that the Catholic church are pulling its flock together to fight TfL's oppression of this area. After all St George's RC Cathedral,  Catholic primary and secondary schools, and the offices of Catholic charity CAFOD are all hemmed in by these truly nasty roads.

Come on TfL, put your energies into real, not superficial, change.

Monday 23 January 2012

Three reasons not to shop at Tesco in Kennington

(beyond objecting to their monopolistic ambitions in the Kennington area)

1. You can't park because of their rubbish - a regular occurrence at the first local store (photo today)

2. Drivers using their store, or making deliveries to it, park on the cycle path rather than on the highway - a regular occurrence at a second local store (Tesco's cash van pictured yesterday).

3. Drivers waiting to unload block the cycle path - a regular occurrence at a third local store (photos from the past week)

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Do you know an employer that needs cycle parking?

Transport for London offer free cycle stands for employers with a minimum 5 employees on site. 
There are three designs to choose from - Sheffield stands, toast racks and vertical parking.

Companies can request up to 20 stands, and it's quick and easy to get them. Details here . Companies need to sign up to the Cycle to Work Guarantee, which is also quick and easy and doesn't commit the company to taking further action (though let's hope they will).

Sunday 15 January 2012

Dr Bike opposite Oval tube on 18 Jan, 5.30-7.30pm

Lambeth Council will be providing a free bike check service in Kennington on 18 January between 5.30-7.30. It is especially important to look after your bike throughout the winter months so bring it along for a professional check up. We will be set up on the triangle opposite Oval tube station next to the southbound Cycle Superhighway 7. No need to book just turn up with your bike.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

City of London vs Southwark Cyclists

Why will this cyclist wait a very long time and then ignore the red light?

In my blogpost of 19th December I wrote about this traffic light:

Finally, in the City of London, the cyclist push-and-wait traffic lights at the junction of Queen Street and Queen Victoria Street weren't working as has been the case for a good three weeks now. Clearly no-one in the City's highways department cycles over Southwark Bridge in a month of Sundays.

There's now good and bad news. The bad news is worse than the good news.

Finally there is now power to these lights (maybe as a result of my reporting it) and as you can see a working red light.

On the bad news side,I have absolutely no idea if the amber and green lights work because cyclists have been prevented from pressing the button that eventually makes the lights change from red to green. (Would a motorist at this crossroads be expected to press a bloody button?)

The cyclists' button is attached to this traffic light
I filled in the on-line reporting form on the City of London website at noon today, so a traffic queue problem of this nature (somewhat less problematic to solve than the Hammersmith Flyover) should have been resolved by  commuter rush-hour tomorrow morning, or at least by the Olympics. I won't be there so please let me know if it's been fixed in the morning or, presumably surely, by the evening rush-hour.

It's totally deplorable that, at the end of Cycling Superhighway 7, cyclists should even have to press a button for the lights to work. It's comparatively incidental in comparison that the accursed button has been barricaded away. 

Let's see what the City of London's strategy says (my bold)

The Transport Objectives in the City of London Community Strategy 2004 – 2014

  • To facilitate the provision of an enhanced public transport system which is punctual, reliable, not overcrowded and accessible to all and has greater capacity, especially at peak times.
  • To facilitate greater ease of interchange and higher standards of customer information.
  • To maintain productive and effective relationships with the strategic transport authorities, operators and policy makers, including the development and maintenance of robust contingency plans.
  • To improve the ‘pedestrian experience’.
  •  To encourage improvements to the safety of all modes of transport.
  • To encourage cycling.
  • To deter breaches of traffic regulations.
  • To facilitate the maximisation of transport choice at all times of day.
  • To maintain the traffic flow.

In all mildness, the City of London can't be said to be doing very well with regard to the last five points of their strategy here.

Monday 9 January 2012

The key to successful shared space with motor vehicles...

is the rising bollard
There's a excellent post on Shared Space streets on 'As Easy as Riding a Bike' and other good posts on several other blogs, not least because this is the subject of this week's Street Talks arranged by the Movement for Liveable London . It gives me a chance to sing the praises of the centre of Bordeaux, which is fantastic to walk and cycle around.

There is the occasional motor vehicle, delivering stock to a shop or removing rubbish. But drivers absolutely know they are guests in the space - they can't enter without sufficient good cause that the bollard is retracted into the ground to allow them to pass. There are very few motor vehicles and the pedestrians stroll as they wish, with cyclists carefully weaving around them.
If only Exhibition Road could be like this

The Vauxhall factory moved; now can the Gyratory?

My grotty photo is of an interesting plan produced by Lambeth Council working with TfL by Farrells, SKM Buchanons and Lambert Smith Hampton. It's part of a document being discussed by Lambeth's Cabinet on Jan 16th. (For a clearer image you'll have to download this PDF .) Here's the text from the page that, despite not mentioning cycling, seems promising - now is the time to push for real change:

"Aiming to unlock the potential of Vauxhall, it offers a vision of how Vauxhall Cross could  change to deliver a sustainable community to reflect the vision agreed by the strategy board. The plan draws upon some of the history of the area when there was an identifiable High Street and looks forward to create a major transport interchange, a gateway to the city and a modern, vibrant and sustainable district centre. It intends to offer a centre to complement both Lambeth and London, and to be achievable within the framework of the OAPF and Lambeth Core Strategy.

The plan outlines a coherent and legible centre, easily negotiable for residents and visitors, with the historic barriers of the gyratory and the railway lines over come.Communities previously isolated to the east and north east, are re-connected to the river, the areas greatest natural resource- itself enhanced through the Thames walkway.

The numerous green spaces enjoyed by the area are now similarly now connected and linked to the proposed Linear Park, facilitating safe pedestrian movements. Pedestrian movement is further facilitated within the plan as road junctions and crossings are simplified from over 30 to 20 and transport barriers are reduced.

Central to the plan is the restoration of a high street at the centre of Vauxhall, to provide a heart and focus, along the Bondway, the strip currently occupied by the bus station.

Rather than a pedestrianised area, this is intended to be enlivened by allowing buses to pass through, and both sides will enjoy active retail frontage, thus providing valuable employment space and contributing further to Vauxhalls economic vitality. A Civic Town Square is proposed next to the existing station as a potential venue for community and cultural events. It is intended that this is an area of mixed use, both within the streets and the buildings themselves.

The plan allows for the development of tall buildings as described in the emerging OAPF, but describes how streets can be created so that those buildings have a context.

Transport, and the management of Vauxhall as an interchange remains essential and the proposal, is to remove the bus station and replace it with a series of bus stops, facilitating the bus routes and journeys. The plan anticipates the return of two way working, in place of the current gyratory, which exacerbates traffic and its attendant problems, but does not rely upon it."

Input to the future of the E&C (incl. the new swimming pool)

You have a chance to make a difference to the development of the Elephant and Castle area over the next 15 years as a planning framework is being established by Southwark Council with comments welcome by February 7th. Details with a link to the document to download are on the Council's website.

If you use the E&C and its adjoining areas please try to get to one of the following events and send an email or fill in a form with feedback/suggestions.

This Wednesday, 11 January, at Southwark Cyclists monthly meet, there will be a presentation on the Draft Elephant and Castle Opportunity Area Supplementary Planning Document by Southwark Council's Planning Policy Team. The meeting is from 6.30 to 8.30pm at Better Bankside Community Space, 18 Great Guildford Street (behind Tate Modern).

There will also be exhibitions of the plans:
12,13,14 January 2012 at 182 Walworth Road. (10am -4pm each day)
25, 26, 27, 28 January 2012 at Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre (11-1pm each day)

In greater detail, there is also a public consultation event to view and comment on the outline designs for the new Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre (including a swimming pool) and the supporting residential led mixed-use development at Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre, 22 Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SQ on:
Saturday 14 January 10am – 5pm
Monday 16 January 10am – 5pm
Tuesday 17 January 11am – 8pm

I'm going to suggest Southwark investigates building a pool like the Claudius Therme in Cologne, pictured above.

Saturday 7 January 2012

A flipping good idea for wet weather riding

 No rear mudguard? No problem - just grab a flipper
There seems to be a trend for placing advertising bikes at the end of batch of Sheffield Stands. 
Maybe an income opportunity for the Council?

Friday 6 January 2012

Who are our roads intended to be used by?

We have a lot of expectations of our streets.

We want them to be pleasant to live alongside and to cross, but we also want them to be a quick and efficient way for us, and an ever increasing population, to get from A to B.

As a society we are made to be very appreciative of urgency; our ability to get the DVD we want couriered to us at once. News reports continually remind us of the cost to the economy of congestion and delay. Speed  is king.

To accommodate this we have huge numbers of professional drivers, and professionalism in turn is increasingly expected of our road users. We have deadlines, no room for downtime, important stuff to deliver.

Speed and efficiency can be enhanced by training and testing. The driving test is intended to demonstrate that drivers are sufficiently skilled and trained to control their heavy and potentially fast vehicles - vehicles that are easily capable of wiping out a life with a casual swipe. Unfortunately it seems to be viewed as the key to being allowed to use the road at all - everyone should be professional and speedy.

Want to dawdle? Not too good at judging distance and speed? A bit prone to absent-minded action? Then the pavement is the safe place for you.

But where does that put the child cyclist?

It's illegal to cycle on the pavement but it seems to me that that a lot of drivers consider that other road users, including children, should only be permitted to use the roads if they have same level of training, skill, predictability and understanding as a grown-up and qualified driver (who always has an urgent and important reason to use the road).

Do you really want your child to share the road with the owner of the ANGER ROVER above?

In our society vehicles are often designed, promoted and driven with a view to intimidating other road users, particularly the slower and less skilled. Just look at the Mitsubishi Barbarian or the Range Rover Evoque, the website for which said:

""Its dynamic profile, with a dramatic rising beltline, muscular shoulders and a distinctive taper of the floating roofline, seems to draw the eye towards it, giving Range Rover Evoque a natural authority and magnetism."

I am not convinced drivers in the UK (and by extension Driving Instructors and the Police) believe that real kids (the soft, squidgy, unpredictable, immature ones) should be capriciously cycling around on our roads in their millions, with motorists gently working around them.

At the root of debates about Shared Space, segregated cycle routes and speed limits is the question of whether as a society we wish to make the motor vehicle a benign part of our public space or the domineering and aggressive one.

Until we decide to make the motor vehicle benign, parents will be reluctant to permit their children to roam freely by foot or by cycle. Let's work towards enabling free range kids earlier rather than later..