Monday, 27 July 2015

Has Boris Johnson finally admitted that the Clerkenwell Boulevard needs to be filtered?

At a recent mayoral Q&A, assembly member Darren Johnson asked the mayor:

Clerkenwell Boulevard
Question No: 2015/2071
Darren Johnson
What action are you and Transport for London taking to help finish the Clerkenwell Boulevard? Do you agree that it is a scandalous waste that a cycle path started 10 years ago on a stretch of Clerkenwell Road, close to the junction with Farringdon Road, has been left unfinished, whilst the number of cyclists using this route has doubled?
Written answer from the Mayor
The section of Clerkenwell Road, which will form part of the Central London Grid, is a borough road under the responsibility of the London Borough of Islington. This scheme will be delivered by 2016. The junction will be modified and the intention is that the footway on the north side of the bridge over the railway will be cut back to provide cycling facilities in each direction. Clerkenwell Road will also be bought up to Quietway standards, with kerb realignments and protected cycle lanes in both directions.

Old Street/Clerkenwell Road/Theobald's Road is a key element of the Central London Cycling Grid. It carries thousands of cyclists everyday (on some sections bikes represent more than 60% of all rush hour vehicles) and it has no direct alternative.

At the moment it shows the contempt that most council officers and counsellors have for people riding bicycles:
  • No protection whatsoever. 
  • Dangerous pinch points. 
  • Pollution at illegal levels. 
  • No investigation of fatal crashes. 
  • No enforcement of 20 miles per hour. 
  • Lack of communication between Council, with the only stretch of protected Lane (3 metres!) been bricked over because of lack of continuation. 
  • Vision Zero London banned by both Camden and Islington Council for pointing out their criminal behaviour. 

Anyone who spends half an hour in the morning or evening rush hour cannot feel bewilderment on how so many people can be treated so poorly. Anyone whose responsibility is to manage the roads cannot have spent half an hour here, otherwise she or he would have said "we need to do something urgently".

Does Claudia Webbe know that this happens every morning and evening?

Since Vision Zero London has started its campaign for the Clerkenwell Boulevard, several people have been killed or severely injured on this stretch of road but no sense of urgency has arisen among officers or counsellors.

One key element of our campaign has been the ban of through traffic on the Boulevard. The narrowness of the road and the illegal pollution levels require filtering the Boulevard so that only bicycles, buses and local access traffic are allowed. This is what the Boulevard should look like:

If the Dutch can do this, why can't the Brits?

Camden Council are considering filtering in the context of their review of the Holborn Gyratory, but are moving at glacial pace. Islington has refused to consider filtering Clerkenwell Road and Old Street. Even Sukky Choongh-Campbell, the person in charge of air quality in Islington, has voiced against the only measure that would effectively reduce pollution to legal levels.

So we come to the Mayor's answer. "Clerkenwell Road will be brought to QuietWay standards." Now, even a bullshitter like Boris Johnson can claim that Clerkenwell Road is a quiet way. At the moment it is an Arterial Road. The only way to bring it to QuietWay standards is to filter it so that it is not used by through traffic.

We have often pointed out that Islington council have a golden opportunity to put in place a temporary filter during the forthcoming work on the Old Street roundabout, to study the effect on air quality, traffic evaporation, etc. If the experiment is successful, it can then be made permanent.

Andrew Gilligan has repeatedly said that he would not pay for crap. Given his boss promise that Clerkenwell Road will be a QuietWay, will he reject Islington Council proposals which do not include filtering? He certainly cannot possibly accept proposals that keep the same level of motor traffic and apply the insignificant interventions that are currently applied to so called QuietWays. That would be a mockery of the Mayor's Cycling Vision and the Central London Cycling Grid would be laughed at by the whole world as another British Botch Job.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Taking advantage of the dead

Most British people are like Romanian orphans, traumatised by a hostile, intolerant environment, permanently scarred by daily traffic violence, unable to vision a humane world where people are respected.

Take Coroner Mary Hassell, who describes herself a "cyclist", and yet, at the inquest of Federica Baldassa, killed by a lorry driver at Holborn, commented:

"It only takes a moment’s lapse of concentration and I think that’s what happened here". Yes, she means Federica's lapse.

Ms. Hassell, Federica was not Dean Potter, she did not choose to put her life at risk in an activity where a moment's lack of concentration means you are killed. Federica just wanted to go home on a bicycle, the most natural way to get around a city.

The reason she was killed is that Camden Council and Transport for London are dragging their feet in redesigning this hellish gyratory which has claimed the life of five people in the past few years.

No civilised city should force its citizens to cycle here, slaloming between gridlocked traffic:

Here is the view from the other side:

Federica was riding  where the woman in the red jacket was. in front of her a lorry was where the grey car was. 

Notice how the bus stop is so close to the junction. This picture shows it better:

This creates a very dangerous situation for anyone crossing the street (notice: no zebras, and this being the UK, forget about respect for Rule 170 of the Highway Code, giving priority to pedestrians crossing a street), because left turning vehicles have impaired vision until the last minute. Indeed if you spend a few minutes here, you will witness several near misses. But the Coroner, under advice from the Police and TfL, decided that it would be impractical to move the bus stop back. Impractical because there are too many buses on this road. Too many buses, because most people are scared of cycling or do not want to be treated as third class citizens and have to slalom between lethal machines. But Londoners don't understand the simple logic that to reduce congestion you need to reallocate road space to people on bicycles, so that fewer people will feel the need to catch a bus or a taxi. Like Romanian orphans their mental capacity has been impaired and they have become asocial and imbeciles.

The lorry in front of Federica was indicating left, but notice that it would have just passed an arrow painted on the ground pointing "straight only". It is probable that Federica thought that the lorry was going to turn left at the traffic lights, 30 metres ahead. As many other women, she would have felt uncomfortable in riding in the middle of the road, and once passed the bus, she rejoined the left lane. Alas, the driver's intention was to make a sharp left and she was run over and killed instantly.

Federica was unable to attend the hearing, so we will never know what she was thinking. However, at least out of respect to her human dignity, one should assume that she was acting in a reasonable, careful manner. To blame her for a lapse of concentration, when she cannot vouch for herself, is cowardice of the highest sort.

So Federica becomes just an other statistic, another small price to pay for running a bloated bus service, and for managing roads for the benefit of motorists and not for ordinary citizens.

Last year, Camden Council blacklisted us for suggesting that this stretch of road needs urgent work to keep people safe. The Camden Cycling Campaign, another set of zombies, supported Camden Council in their lethargic approach. When Hassell issued a Prevention of Future Death report, following the killing of Francis Golding, 30 metres ahead, Camden Council ignored it. It is Contempt of Court, but British Justice doesn't pursue the institutional killers.

#NastyBritain has been very successful in brainwashing the population that the convenience of motorists comes before the safety and enjoyment of everyone.

We repeat our appeal to young Europeans, fooled by a mirage of false opportunities: London is a Third World city, run by idiots and charlatans; the Brits will kill you and then blame you. Find your future elsewhere.

Monday, 13 July 2015

How Islington Council spent half of £million in cycling money, without doing anything on the ground

In July 2014, Islington Council accepted £2,000,000 from Transport for London for three sections of the Central London Cycling Grid.

Instead of saying thank you, getting down to work, produce some good schemes and then apply for more funding, Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, has spent the last year complaining that TfL is not giving her enough money and her officers have managed to spend a quarter of the money and produced nichts, nada, rien.

The Greek Government sure has competition in wasting money given to them in good faith and then blaming others.

Here is the breakdown on how £598,464 has been wasted, achieving nothing and making consultants rich:

Here is what they have achieved:

CLCG Route 1 Clerkenwell Road/Old Street [The most cycled route in the Borough] - After paying £95,503 for some decent proposals by Project Centre, Council officers seem reluctant to go ahead, afraid to deviate from Usual British Botch Standards (UBBS) - see more below.

CLCG Route 2 - Bath Street/Bunhill Row/Chiswell St/Finsbury Square - The first half had already received  its UBBS treatment, with dangerous contraflows, un-negotiable junctions, etc. To make this an appealing North South route, the Bath Street junction with City Road needs to be fixed; apparently TfL is going to do this, so Islington need not worry about the most difficult challenge. Chiswell Street is a nightmare and needs to be filtered, but Islington has no intention to do this; nevertheless they managed to spend £129,403 on absolutely nothing: if they have developed designs, they have not shown them to anyone.

CLCG Route3 / QuietWay 2 - £208,820 spent on absolutely nothing. This was already a LCN+ route and Islington Council has refused to make any substantial improvements, like closing rat-runs

CLCG Route 4 - Vincent Terrace/Graham St/Central St/ Golden Lane/Banner St/ Leonard St - This is a fairly quiet route, which needs two quick interventions: a contraflow on Banner Street and sorting out the Leonard St/City Rd junction which is an insult to decency. Nothing done, except spending £69,909 on who knows what; nobody has seen any plans. Islington is additionally spending more money on consultants to produce a so called Master Plan for Central Street.

CLCG Route 5  St John Street - When Crossrail closed the bottom of St John Street for six months to through traffic, people realised what a beautiful public space it could be turned to. It was a perfect opportunity to study the feasibility of making the filtering permanent. But oh no, Islington does not do something so obvious; otherwise it wouldn't be able to waste money on modelling. Is that how they frittered away £38,698? To add insult to injury, when we suggested to keep St John civilised, back came the Great British Bullshit line: "the Council considers reopening St John Street after Crossrail have completed their works to be beneficial to all residents, businesses and visitors in the Farringdon area."

Please note that Route 2 and 4 run across Bunhill Ward, the constituency of Cllr Webbe, who is on record for "being too scared to cycle". So here we have the person in charge of Active Travel in the Council, who admits that things are terribly wrong but is unwilling to fix them.

The tragedy of this scandal is that people are dying because Islington Council are frittering our money instead of making our roads safe to walk and cycle. Take for instance the junctions of Clerkenwell Road with Goswell Road and with St. John Street. Rebecca Goosen was killed at the former and Harriet Tory was killed at the latter, both by left turning lorries. Section 39 of the Road traffic Act 1988 mandates the Council to make the junctions safe and prevent similar fatal collisions.

Islington Council has yet not done what the laws requires (in other words they are criminal). As a consequence of their misuse of public money and flaunting of the law, in December 2014, Victoria Lebrec was almost killed at the junction with St John Street, in exactly the same way Harriet Tory lost her life; Victoria was saved by the heroics of the London Air Ambulance.

Project Centre produced the following plans for the two junctions:

St John Street

Goswell Road

The brown bits are protection. The key new element are the protective islands at the corners. It is not clear why they are in black and not in brown, but if they were physical separators, they would prevent collisions like the one that cost Victoria her leg.

There is much to improve on the above design, but it is going in the right direction. Alas, Islington officers are refusing to contemplate this design; they are also refusing to install continuous cycle tracks, happy for 10 year olds to cycle around buses and stopped vans. In other words, they are proposing yet another Usual British Botch Job, which means more people getting killed or losing limbs and the majority of the population too scared to cycle.

So Claudia Webbe, isn't it time you stop taking selfies and wasting our money and actually start making walking and cycling in Islington safe for everyone, including yourself. That is what we are paying you for.

And Andrew Gilligan, shouldn't you be auditing how the Councils are spending our money?

Incidentally, a three-day immersive course at David Hembrow learning Dutch infrastructure costs €675. Why doesn't the Council send a couple of Officers for a month to the Netherlands and study how the Masters do it. It would cost max. £10,000 and then they could design everything in-house? Or maybe they prefer to receive kickbacks from the consultants?

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.