Monday, 29 June 2015

Good riddance

The sycophants, and among them is astonishingly the London Cycling Campaign, seem to forget that during Hendy's stewardship of Transport for London, close to 900 vulnerable road users have been killed and tens of thousands of Londoners' lives have been severely affected by traffic violence. 

YearPedestriansCyclistsTotal KSIs

In the vast majority of these killings, Transport for London had an important contributory role, either by 
  • prioritising capacity of the road network over the safety and convenience of active travel, 
  • prioritising timing of bus services over passengers and pedestrian safety,
  • failing to give a clear lead in the adoption of 30kph speed limit across London
  • fostering a culture of non-compliance of pedestrian lights, by setting absurdly long waiting times
  • prioritising archaic bus routing over the health and safety of millions of shoppers on Oxford Street and many other high streets. 

Hendy symbolises the ignorance, arrogance and nastiness of many in the British Establishment: the callous, inhumane pursue of self-enrichment with total disregard of the welfare and lives of others,  seasoned by a sickening amount of bullshit. 

Victim blaming is ingrained in British culture and Hendy was a master; here are a few examples: 
  • When Dan Harris was killed by a driver of an Olympics bus on a hostile road built for the Olympics, Hendy falsely blamed the victim for cycling on a prohibited road. 
  • When Brian Dorling was killed by a tipper truck driver, Hendy blamed the victim for riding through a red light when the layout of the junction was the primary cause of the fatal collision. 
  • The day after Brian Holt was killed by a Crossrail contractor on a blue strip of paint euphemistically called Cycle Superhighway, Hendy told the TfL board that it was important to release mis-information to shift away the blame from Transport for London. 
Part of the reason for Hendy's resilience, despite his record of killings and cover-ups, is that he started his career as a bus driver, and in London it seems you cannot touch this sacred cow; we will defy this stupid rule in a future article.

One of the most sickening piece of bullshit spouting from this vile man was that Transport for London has adopted Vision Zero. In most countries he would have been pilloried for having made such a dishonest remark, but in the world capital of bullshit nothing sticks. 

This is only surpassed by the repulsive rejoicing every year when, 6 months late, Transport for London issues road casualty figures boosting that "only" 65 pedestrians have been killed in the previous year. Absolutely no sympathy from Transport for London for the families of those people which would be alive today had they done their job properly.  

Hendy's likely successor comes from the Tube, where the culture of safety is very different. 

Just in case Mike Brown gets corrupted by the Bus Mafia, beheaded but still powerful at TfL, here is what needs to happen for London to adopt Vision Zero:
  • Renunciation of prioritising "smoothing traffic flow" over safety and comfort of active travel.
  • Establishment of an independent investigator over all road in London; failures, ie KSI to be properly assessed with mandatory recommendations. [It is clear that both TfL and Councils flagrantly breach Section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988]
  • Removal of rat-running through adoption of the Motoring Grid were through traffic is limited to arterial roads
  • Re-phasing of pedestrian lights so that waiting time at all but the busiest intersections is reduced to 20 seconds. 
  • Redirecting "Operation Safeway" to 3 primary goals, 
    a. enforcing 30 kilometres per hour speed limit 
    b. ridding London of cowboy lorry operators
    c. enforcing Rule 170, disregard of which epitomises #nastyBritain. 
We're sure that the next Mayor will have Vision Zero as a core principle of her/his transport policy, so it is in Mr Brown's interest to start now to change the culture of the juggernaut.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Revealing comments by Gilligan

We hope that the following comments by Andrew Gilligan make cycle campaigners reflect on their strategies:

There is, in fact, a power in the GLA Act which allows the mayor to take control of any road in London. We have to get the agreement from the Secretary of State so it's not quite the slam dunk we hoped it was.

However we did contemplate using that power in one or two cases on the superhighways. We didn't have to in the end, the threat of it was enough.

I wonder if it might be worth asking future mayoral candidates whether they would be prepared to use that.


We're still in the foothills of making London a cycle friendly city and the task for Londoners is to make sure the progress we've made continues after May 2016.
There is a chance that whoever is elected next might not care so passionately about cycling. There is also a risk that parts of TfL might feel they have 'done their bit' by delivering the segregated routes they are doing now; they have ticked the box, they can get back to buses and trains.
It's a mistake to think transport investment is a zero-sum game, in which any investment comes at the expense of everyone else. Most of the schemes we're doing for cyclists have huge benefits for almost everyone else.
My hope in delivering these segregated routes is people realise that traffic doesn't melt down, it is not the end of the world, it becomes less difficult to do more routes like that.

Gilligan is a clever guy and the message he gives is very clear:

  • The task of making London a cycle-friendly city is monumental, not because of its geography but because of strong myopic reactionary forces entrenched in local government
  • His primary objective was to score an important win; the EW and NS Cycle Super Highways constitute that first crucial victory
  • The ultimate goal is a NETWORK of safe cycle routes; the fight to score the first win was much more demanding than anticipated; as a consequence, insufficient effort has been devoted to the Central London Cycling Grid, with the consequence that no progress has been made on the core of the Vision
  • As it is probable that he will not be involved in the new Mayoralty, it is imperative that Cycle Campaigners concentrate their strategy on selling this message to the new Mayor: "Bicycle infrastructure benefits all Londoners" and on convincing her/him that the Cycling Vision cannot be left in the hands of Councils. The Mayor will have to use overwhelming power to defeat the Reactionaries who are making London sick.

Quotes recorded by Laura Laker for

Friday, 5 June 2015

Crown Prosecution Service lets another killer off the hook

Christopher Tandy was killed on 2nd August 2014.

Picture courtesy of Evening Standard

He was riding northbound on London Bridge. It was a Saturday evening and the carriageway was fairly free. After crossing the river, Christopher started to move right from the bus lane, in anticipation of his right turn at the hostile and dangerous junction at the end of the road. For reasons unclear, he miscalculated his trajectory, hit the central kerb and fell over onto the other carriageway.

At the same moment, on the southbound carriageway, a young driver of a powerful BMW,  relieved that a bus in in front of him had just pulled to the left, accelerated and reached a speed of 61 kph. At that speed, the driver had no time to react when Christopher fell in front of him. Christopher was run over and killed.

At the Coroner's Inquest, the investigating officer testified that
"Had the driver been driving at the speed limit of 20 mph (= 32kph), he would have been able to avoid the collision."
However the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute the driver for causing death by dangerous driving.

The driver was prosecuted and convicted for speeding; so there is no doubt that he broke the law and was driving at almost twice the speed limit. Why then no prosecution for the much more serious offence?

We can only speculate that in the mind of the prosecutor was probably the view from the driver's seat of a cyclist suddenly flying over the kerb.

This is a total misconception of why 20mph speed limit have been adopted. The limit is a fundamental pillar of Vision Zero, because it is based on the concept that people are fallible and errors should not be death sentences.

The key and only fact that the CPS should have considered was "Would Christopher Tandy have been killed if the driver had been driving according to the law?" The expert opinion was a clear NO and there was no opposing view. It is a stone dead case of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.

The fact that Christopher had made an error or that he had drank 5 pints of beer through the day are irrelevant.

We still have a long way before British authorities understand Vision Zero. The tragedy is that until they do, young people like Christopher will continue to be killed unnecessarily.

It is sadly significant that the Coroner considered a Prevention of Future Death report because he was concerned about the size of speed signs  and not about the lack of enforcement of the speed limit.

Drivers know very well that they are speeding. They do it because
1. they know they can get away with it and
2. they feel that they can handle the higher speed.

The latter may be true most of the time, until a fellow human being makes an error.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Update following the sentencing of Meyer

A judge can rule only on cases that are brought to him.

When sentencing Barry Meyer for killing Alan Neve by careless driving, Judge Daniel Worsley expressed his bafflement that other related parties were not prosecuted as well:
"Heaven knows why the lorry owners let you drive that vehicle without checking and seeing whether you had a proper HGV licence,"
This lack of willingness by the authorities to catch the bigger fish has prompted the London Cycling Campaign to write to Nick Denton, the Traffic Commissioner, i.e. the person who decides who is allowed to operate commercial vehicles, in South East England:
"The 32 tonne tipper lorry driven by Mr. Meyer had registration S 77 DHL. We believe that it is linked to Operator Licence OK1046680 held by an operator based in East London. London Cycling Campaign expects that the Traffic Commissioner should review the Operator Licence and consider revoking it. We also believe that the licence holder and/or the transport manager concerned should be considered to be of bad repute and therefore unsuitable to hold a licence or act as a transport manager in the future."
The Commissioner has responded by calling the lorry operator and transport manager in for an inquiry. There will be a preliminary hearing on 4th June followed by an inquiry sometime in June.

At the same time, at City Hall, Jenny Jones has asked Boris Johnson the following question:
“What action is being taken by the Metropolitan Police Service against the company and the licenced operator, who gave a job to Barry Meyer, despite him not having a valid HGV licence and a history of being banned on five previous occasions?

Cowboy operators fester in an environment which is not properly regulated and policed. One would think that with the appalling figures of people killed by HGV drivers staring in front of their eyes, regulators and police would be very rigorous in clamping down on anyone who poses a threat to ordinary citizens.

It is indicative of the lazy attitude of the Traffic Commissioner, that four months after the killing of Alan Neve, Alan John Drummond  (holders of the licence) was authorised to move its operating centre. Why wasn't his licence suspended at the time?

UPDATE: On 4.6.15, Alan and Colin Drummond failed to attend the hearing at the Commissioner's Office. Investigations have revealed inconsistencies of the registered operating addresses used by the Drummonds.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

No lessons learned from a preventable death

Henry Lang was killed by a refuse lorry as he was cycling on a cycle track in Richmond. This was a totally avoidable death and yet:
  • the Police has not charged the killer
  • the Coroner has refused to issue a Prevention of Future Death report
  • the local paper has done its bit of victim blaming
  • Transport for London are likely not to change anything.

Let's see the conditions of 350 metres of cycle facilities, before and after the site of the killing:

Picture 2 - Share with pedestrians and then, who has priority at exit of rugby pitch?
Picture 3 - Where Henry was killed

Picture 4 - 50 metres after Henry was killed, another yield

Picture 5 - Why should cyclists yield to waiting pedestrians? Pedestrians should wait either side of the track; cyclists should need to stop only when green man is on.

Picture 6 - Typically awful treatment for crossing road, with two unsynched traffic lights

Picture 7 - Why do they bother?

Picture 8 - The ultimate insult: Dismount!

According to the engineers who laid out this deathtrap, to TfL, to the Coroner and to the ignorant journalist, it is Henry's fault to be killed, because every few metres he should have looked behind him and guessed whether any of the criminals driving over the speed limit was going to cut across him. At the inquest, it was not recorded whether the lorry was indicating. We have all seen the very poor standards of driving of sub-sub-contracted drivers of refuse lorries. [I have been physically assaulted by one such driver in Islington. The team lied to the Police, so no-one was charged, the Council refused to pay my claim for injuries and Councillor Webbe refuses to mandate that refuse lorries be equipped with dashcams]

These 350 metres are a typical example of the idiocy and nastiness of British authorities. I leave it to Rosie Downs, campaigns manager at the London Cycling Campaign to explain in detail:

Henry's death highlights massive confusion in the design of safe road infrastructure and in the enforcement of laws requiring careful driving. Despite the confusion over priorities at this junction many cyclists will be disappointed in the failure of the police to consider there was a duty of care on the driver to look out for cyclists on the well used track  which is plainly visible to drivers turning off the main road.
Highway Code rule 183 says "When turning, give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction". However at this junction and at thousands like it formal priority has been removed from the cycle track with give way lines painted across the track.
Unfortunately that layout was seen as a safe design without realizing that it requires cyclists to give way to faster traffic overtaking them from behind. The latest advice from the London Cycle Design Standards (section 5.3.4) says the priority at this sort of junction should be reversed to reduce danger and "to offer the highest level of service for cyclists".
Such a change would make cyclists journeys safer and make them feel safer. The current design gives a false sense of safety which actually increases the risk of collision.

The most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond

London Cycling Campaign's local group has described the cycle track alongside the A316 as "the most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond" for the repeated use of this junction design.
In the UK, cyclists crossing the give way line at a cycle path have no legal protection. The advisory Highway Code rule 170, regarded as the rule most often disregarded in the Highway Code, says “You should watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way.” This advisory wording means that motorists do not give way to pedestrians, and as cyclists are not referenced they are forgotten altogether.
The normal rule in continental countries is that vehicles making any turning movement should give way to pedestrians or cyclists going straight ahead across their path, unless there are signs or signals saying otherwise.
LCC and others have pushed for cycle and pedestrian priority over turning traffic, but to date national government has refused to legally reinforce this. A legal change would make it much easier to introduce segregated cycle tracks, and it would make walking and cycling feel much safer, like it does in the Netherlands. Transport Minister Robert Goodwill says that the government doesn’t encourage cycle priority because of the low levels of cycling, and they will only reconsider this position if we see an increase in cycling. Yet there are barriers that need to be overcome before cycling becomes a realistic option for most: and road danger is the most significant barrier.

There is a 100% probability that someone is going to get killed on a cycle track like this. It is like having a live electric cable in the middle of a Regent Street pavement and then blame pedestrians for getting electrocuted, because they did not read the sign.

Just another example that Transport for London kills by design.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Promotion and disrespect

The Labour Party Manifesto famously promises: "We will support long-term investment in strategic roads, address the neglect of local roads, and promote cycling"

This is the typical stance of someone who doesn't want to do anything to solve an issue. UK's pitiful cycling modal share is not due to lack of promotion and yet despite

  • proven favourable ROI on money spent on cycling infrastructure
  • strong links between cycling infrastructure and other issues that the next Government has to tackle, such as air quality, health crisis and climate change

the Labour party is happy just to "promote" cycling and spend nothing on infrastructure.

We all know who the beneficiaries of promotions  are: consultants, printers, video makers.

Vision Zero was invited to speak this week at a workshop for organisations involved in European Mobility Week. Twenty years ago European cities started having Car Free Days on 22nd September; that evolved into Mobility Week, which seems designed as a gift for UKIP to show how your tax money is wasted on promoting activities that people are not keen in doing, because much more money is spent to convince them to do the very opposite.

The Conservative Party has pledged to spend £200,000,000 on cycling and £15,000,000,000 on motoring and £0 on walking. In other words, every year they plan to spend £0.62 per person on walking and cycling (and they have not specified if it is on infrastructure or on promotion) and £47 per person on motoring. This when the City of Copenhagen has shown that every km cycled benefits society, and every km driven places a cost on society.

Let's assume that one attends an EMW event, visits a promotion merchant, and is convinced that next time she goes to the cinema, 2 km away, she will walk there with her boyfriend. They arrive at this junction, at the corner on the right and need to cross to the white building:

It will take them five minutes, twice corralled in the middle of the road, where pollution is highest, because the timing of the lights is programmed for the benefit of motorists, not pedestrians. A woman died here a few months ago, probably punished by a motorist for not waiting, i.e. for not knowing her place in society.

Here is another example, again site of a killing of a pedestrian:

The crossing in the foreground has no green man; motorists from the left (behind the trees) will turn right at speeds of 50kph. Sustrans, the quintessential promotion merchant, will tell you "Walk to school!" Well, the choice for your child are risking being killed, or going all the way around, which will take her more than four minutes. You think: "This is not right", so you write to TfL, and they respond saying, "Sorry, nothing can be done, otherwise we inconvenience motorists [who as you know, are higher class than you - Know your station and wait]

Or take this crossing in front of Euston Station, where TfL expects you to wait one minute and twenty seconds to cross and is happy for bus drivers to kill you if you are impatient [66% of bus drivers break the speed limit here, one of them has killed a young man last year, but TfL has no intention to change things]

Every journey one takes on foot or by bicycle, one is reminded that the Government is treating you as a second class citizen. They may be promoting walking and cycling, but the way they use your money is sending you a clear message: if you drive, we will spend billions of pounds, if you walk, go to the back of the bus:

Black people in America had only one choice: rebel. People in the UK have a much easier choice: conform, get a car and join the rat race.

People in Venice need no promotion to walk. There is just one way to increase the number of walking and cycling trips: make them safe, convenient and pleasant; that means designing cities where Active Travel is prioritised; and then we will discover that there is plenty of space at the front for everyone.