Wednesday, 30 November 2011

New secondhand bike stall in Lower Marsh

The Kennington area has another place to get a bike from.In addition to the recent addition of Balfe's Bikes we now have Briggy's bike stall open most days of the week on Lower Marsh. Worth checking out if you're looking for a second hand way to get around and bring your shopping back from the market.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Westminster Council and congestion

There's an excellent article in the Standard that explains the need for car sick Westminster to have its streets totally totally jammed with cars - it's what allows them to set a low Council Tax. Lambeth by contrast has much less available parking so more people walk, cycle and use public transport.

What the article doesn't point out is how cheap it is for Westminster residents to park their car, with an annual permit for a 1200cc plus car costing a mere £115 online.

In Lambeth's congestion zone area the cost is between £136 and £247 for equivalent vehicles (you'll pay more for your V8 Range Rover than in Westminster) if you live inside the Congestion Zone, and £149 to £260 outside it.

The knock on effect to Lambeth residents of Westminster's addiction to drivers is Vauxhall gyratory and its ilk.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Drinking water fountains for Waterloo Station?

At the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea exhibition the other day I discovered (when a person I gave my name to said 'Ah, it's you') that over fifty people had written in response to Lambeth's consultation asking for drinking water fountains to be installed. I'd written this post and sent it around a bit.

Iwas told that this was the issue cited most often by respondents to the consultation on the Waterloo plans (which shows how few people generally comment) and the Project Manager told me,

I still have to go through a process on the Waterloo documents and expect to be able to publish the final versions in February. As it stands, my intention is to include something on drinking fountains to address the point you made.

Well done to all those who sent an email - let's hope we see free water, prominently positioned and delivered by tap rather than lorries, at Waterloo soon.

By coincidence I'm talking for 7 1/2 minutes about drinking water fountains at the next Movement for Liveable London Street Talks on 6th December.

An exciting tube project in Vauxhall (beyond the Northern line)

The BBC reports today the Governments multi-billion pound investment programme, including the Northern Line extension to Battersea, saying the government will consider allowing local authority borrowing against the Community Infrastructure Levy to support the scheme, subject to a commitment from a developer to contribute and develop the site.

It's a different tube project that I want to talk about:

One of the most inspiring things I heard at the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea (VNEB) exhibition is the research undertaken into having the rubbish from all the new buildings removed by vacuum tubes rather than dust carts.

It sounds like science fiction but Sweden's Envac have 50 years experience of doing just this. And if it still sounds fanciful for this huge development project, they're working right this moment on a project of equivalent scale in Helsinki - with recycling thrown in of course.

How can this kind of scheme be encouraged and nurtured? The obvious starting point is to impose a limit on motor traffic, a vehicular 'gastric band'. That will bring this kind of imaginative thinking from pipe dream to pipe reality. Good grief, you'd even see drinking fountains and taps at railway stations as the sane replacement to lorry transported bottled water .

There's a load of guff talked by Boris about equality - giving people the choice to choose their mode of transport. The reality is that most kids and many other people would love to cycle to get to where they want to go but don't because the volume and speed of motor traffic,the lousy road layout, and the aggression of drivers make it an unequal option.

The way to liberate people to cycle and walk in the city is quite simply to throttle motor traffic and give the direct and easy route to the cyclist and pedestrian. Limit the capacity to the motorist, make them go around a maze or the M25 to get to their destination. But give the cyclist and pedestrian their desire line; give them cashpoints and drinking fountains, attractive shop frontages (or better, book and stuff library frontages) and riverside views. Put in loads and loads of hire bike docking stations.

Sure there'll still be a quantity of really unavoidable motor traffic but a lot will simply evaporate, as the dust cart example shows, and as the Netherlands have proven.

There are wider actions too, including making sure the planning regulations support local businesses, by providing affordable housing and workshop space alongside the swish apartments, rather than forcing them out of town resulting in vans and lorries trundling for miles and miles through residential streets just to get to inner London.

The plans for residential properties need to nurture active travel. If it's easier to jump in the car or in a cab than on the bike the design is failing.

VNEB can be the new Amsterdam.

A really good first action to implement in the next month or two with a bit of white paint and a couple of signs is for TfL take away one of the southbound lanes on Vauxhall Bridge from motor traffic so that the UNBELIEVABLY DIRE cycle lane becomes a delightful wide cycling boulevard instead. I've used the cycle lane twice recently on weekdays at 3.30pm and it made everything clench up. I can't believe that anyone responsible for roads could conceivably have cycled it and not immediately condemned it. What were the traffic 'engineers' who dreamt up such a monstrosity thinking, and why wouldn't a cycle friendly Mayor dramatically improve it immediately?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bus stops rather than a bus station at Vauxhall?

The Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea exhibition at Market Towers tomorrow afternoon is worth a visit. In particular the presentation from Farrells Architects who Lambeth appointed to come up with a framework for Vauxhall. Farrells propose ten urban design principles:
1. Create a clear and legible mental map
 2. Reconnect the place to the river
 3. Something along the lines of good walking and cycling routes I think (dodgy camera work to the fore).
 4 Simplify road junctions and create direct pedestrian crossings
 5. Create a 21st Century High Street
 6. Create a new urban square as a focus for activity.
 7. A tall building cluster is being created without sufficient thought for the 'place'

 8. Respect the existing property lines.

 9.Bus Stops rather than a bus station.

 10. Anticipate future two way streets

There's a very large model of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area. A small part of it, below, shows Vauxhall Bridge and to the left the aspirational, though seemingly very narrow, pedestrian/cycling bridge. There's no firm detail on the bridge but costings are being obtained and it's intended, should it happen, to be a landmark. I'm nervous that the designers will skimp on the width necessary to make it a really useful walking and cycling bridge. It wasn't known if it was intended to be shared space or segregated.

TfL were present with a chap who could win prizes for understatement, using language along the lines of 'not very good for cyclists' when describing the Gyratory and 'fairly poor' when describing the existing on-pavement farcility on Nine Elms Lane. They hadn't any plans to show what the cycling provision would be down the line but told me Nine Elms would have shared, but wider, bus come cycle lanes, and wider pavements but with no cycle lane on them; the Linear Park will be cycleable along the length, with shared use rather than a segregated lane for cyclists and it's not intended for commuter cycling; the Riverside Walk will also be for pedestrians and cyclists.

As for the Gyratory, there was still a clear 'Boris' message coming across of the need to allow all options equally rather than prioritising active and public transport over the private car. The TfL chap said they don't have models of the non-essential motor traffic but could easily do that. One to ask for.

It's clear to me that action to make the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area great for cycling and walking must start right now, even in small ways while the grand plan is worked on. TfL has shut the shared use pavement under the railway bridge. Rather than helpfully reallocating the nearest of the multiple motor traffic lanes for pedestrians and cyclists to use, Vroom-Vroom TfL send you on a right old dog leg of a diversion. So last century, like the gyratory itself.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Loving London at night

 We had a terrific Pedal Power Kennington ride tonight up to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. None of the pupils, from Lilian Baylis and Charlotte Sharman schools, had been before and, as you'd expect, they loved it.
 We had enough money for chips but not enough to have a go on the big rides
 We did have a go at the Throw a Ring over the Glass and Box contest. Unsuccessful, of course, but fun.
On Tuesday we'd ridden to Covent Garden with a couple of the 13 and 14 year-old pupils who also came tonight. Though living maybe three miles away they hadn't been to Covent Garden before either. They loved the decorations, the smells in Lush, the Apple Store, the rules about throwing fruit from the original market, the huge Christmas tree baubles in the roof of the market

and the lights.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Colour choice for Cycle Superhighways

I've just discovered that Mauve dye was invented on Cable Street, now part of CS3. What a shame TfL didn't pick up on that to personalise the paint on this route.

It reminded me that in January 2009, when the Cycling Superhighways were still an unknown thing that I wrote a spoof press release, for a cycling forum, which TfL may wish to refer to in their junctions review:

Details of first London Cycling Super Highway announced.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Transport for London have announced plans for cycle highways - a set of twelve high-profile radial routes into and out of Central London that will concentrate cycle flows and provide a fast and efficient way into the centre.

Each route will have a clear identity, e.g. 'Docklands Cycle Highway' or 'Northern Line Cycle Highway', with consistent and easy to follow road markings and signs.

The first to be created is planned to be the Northern Line Cycle Highway, initially between Tooting Broadway in South London and Camden Town in North London. The ambition is that it will open in autumn 2009, with work commencing in the spring.

A spokesman said, "This can be implemented easily and cheaply. The Highway will take the existing TfL Red Route along the A24 from Tooting Broadway past Tooting Bec, Balham, Clapham South, to Clapham Common. It will then take the A3 Red Route past Clapham North to Stockwell.

From Stockwell the Highway will take the route planned for the Cross River Tram, which the Mayor and TFL stated last November will no longer be taken forward. It will follow the A3 through Oval to Elephant and Castle, then cross over Waterloo Bridge to Aldwych and up Kingsway to Mornington Crescent, Euston and Camden Town.
The proposed Cross River Tram was expected to carry 9,000 people per hour per direction in peak periods and the Mayor had committed to assess alternative solutions. The Cycle Highway is able to exceed the capacity of the Tram for a fraction of the cost. As well as conventional bicyles, electric bicycles and mobility chairs will be allowed to use the standard lane-width Highway to ensure the widest range of people can benefit."

In a radical departure from conventional cycle lanes, the Cycle Highway will have dedicated use of the central lanes of the road in each direction and these will be designated with coloured tarmac. There will be marked feeder lanes onto and off the Cycle Highway at each junction for cyclists to merge into the Cycle Highway traffic. All motorised vehicles will use the lanes adjacent to the pavement and will have to give way to cyclists using the feeder lanes.

To avoid lengthy delays at bus stops the old Routemaster buses will be reintroduced, pending delivery of the new design, allowing pedestrians to board and alight whenever the bus is stationary. As cyclists will not be filtering on the inside of the buses the Routemaster design is safe to use.

At most cross-roads motorised traffic wishing to cross the Cycle Highway will have to give way until a suitable gap exists to cross, as will traffic wishing to turn across the Highway. The intention is that cyclists will, with one or two exceptions, not have traffic lights hindering their progress.

Journey time for an average cyclist between tube stations is calculated to be similar to the time taken by tube and faster than existing road traffic.

Ambulances, Fire Engines and Police Cars responding to emergencies will use the Cycle Highway. Motorists will have to stop in their lane and cyclists stop on the edge of their lane or in gaps in the motorised traffic until the emergency service vehicle (which is limited to 30mph on the Highway) has passed.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is understood to want to create original 'Grands Projets' in the manner of former French President Francois Mitterand. Cycling Super Highways, expected to be known colloquially as Bicycle Only Journey Options (BOJOs), are to be his first.

TfL have neither confirmed nor denied that it is intended that the Cycle Highways will have tarmac the colour of the matching tube line on maps. Specialist cycle clothing company Rapha are expected to be interested in sponsoring this first route if the official Northern Line colour can be changed to Metrosexual Pink, through a simple swap with the Hammersmith and City Line, and rumours are now circulating that Rapha/Condor could secure options on the sites of the former Woolworth stores along the routes in a bid to challenge dominant retailers Halfords and Evans. Wiggle were a possible source of sponsorship, as the Highway is likely to form part of the English side of the London to Paris cycle route. However it is now thought that this part of the route is too direct to suit their brand image.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Nov 24-25: Will Vauxhall be the new Amsterdam?

Heads Up! Two open days are being held next week, about the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea redevelopments, on 24-25 November (full details below). They say there's:

o A chance to learn more about proposed improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and local public transport users.
o Information about planned improvements to existing streets and a new linear park.

Questions I have in mind include:
a) Given this scheme is second only to the Olympics as a London regeneration programme, how are they making sure they aren't making a Bow roundabout style cock-up at Vauxhall Cross?
b) Will the cycling infrastructure be going in ahead of the major developments or trailing after?
c) Will the linear park be designed as an adult and child friendly place with segregated, wide cycle paths linking all the developments along the line smoothly and efficiently.
d)Will Nine Elms Lane be a delight for families and commuters to cycle along?
e) Will the primary school being built have cycle parking for its pupils at ground floor level?
 f) What percentage of children in year 6 and above at local schools have undertaken on-road cycle training. When do they expect to hit 90%?
g) What percentage of the spend on the tube line extension is being spent on cycling?
h) Are the developers requiring their building contractors to sign up to the Mayor's Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) and ensure that all their freight drivers have undertaken TfL's Safe Urban Driving Course which includes on-road cycle training for drivers?
h) What residential (resident and visitor) and commercial/retail cycle parking is being provided? Is it convenient, secure and sufficient?

The multi-million pound redevelopments that make up Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea, or VNEB, form one of London’s largest regeneration programmes – second only to the Olympic site. Over the next twenty years major investment will transform the area bringing with it new businesses and jobs, public spaces, homes and leisure facilities.

This is a complex and long term project with different types of improvements taking place over a number of years. The open days on 24 and 25 November will bring the key people from each area of expertise into one location, making it as easy as possible for local people and local groups to find the information that interests them most.
The VNEB open day events are free and open to all and a great chance to discover:
o The most up-to-date information about the VNEB redevelopments.
o An update on the Northern line extension that will link the whole area to the Tube network.
o A chance to learn more about proposed improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and local public transport users.
o Information about planned improvements to existing streets and a new linear park.
o A 3D model of the whole VNEB area.
o An opportunity to discuss proposals with the VNEB strategy board.
The open days will be held between 3pm-8pm on Thursday 24 November and 8am-6pm on Friday 25 November at Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, Vauxhall, SW8 5NQ.

The nearest tube and rail station is Vauxhall. Market Towers is the tall building on the south-western side of the Vauxhall one-way system. Use Exit 6 from Vauxhall tube station and it is the first building across Nine Elms Lane.

For more information visit:
If you would like to be added to, or unsubscribe from, the VNEB email update list please email us at this address:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ferry across the Thames

This Wednesday's Pedal Power Kennington ride, with a trio of Lilian Baylis pupils, took a twisting backstreets route (stopping to check out the fencing in Tabard Street made from wartime stretchers) to suddenly emerge by the Thames, equidistant between Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf

The riders were really looking forward to taking the ferry across to Canary Wharf so we continued along National Cycle Network route 4, stopping briefly by the Brunel Museum above the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world.

We went through the foyer of the Hilton Hotel opposite Canary Wharf to the jetty for the Thames Clipper ferry. The view of Canary Wharf from the ferry (which easily had room for all our bikes) is fantastic, as is the short crossing itself.
(photo Hamish2k under Creative Commons)

Our route home was along the bizarre Cycling Superhighway 3, followed by the usual getting lost through the City of London en-route to Cycling Superhighway 7 and back to base.

Once again all the riders really enjoyed the ride, amazed and delighted to discover the wonders within easy pedal power from Kennington.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Boris and TfL: Lack of will or institutional malaise?

The deaths of two cyclists at the Bow roundabout cycle superhighway within a month has forced questions about how far TfL will go to facilitate the safe movement of cyclists.

Not very far was the answer when they repainted the existing but unsigned Elephant and Castle bypass to make it a cycling superhighway.

Recently I commented on the needless mingling of HGVs and cyclists at the approach to the E&C cycling bypass. It shouldn't have been beyond the capacity of TfL to make a short section of bus and cycle lane 24/7 rather than 7am - 10am weekdays; instead general traffic can legally gatecrash the lane for 92% of the week. TfL chose to keep the emphasis on general traffic and not make the change.

Below is another example of general traffic having priority over safe routes at E&C:
On Saturday's Tour du Danger  we wanted to experience the Elephant & Castle northern roundabout, rather than the cycle superhighway. We turned off the roundabout into London Road, which has a useful and popular bus and cycle lane that runs towards Blackfriars Road.

The dismal truth is that you can't use the cycle superhighway (Princess Street at this point) to turn  into the bus and cycle lane on London Road because, as the photo above shows, this desirable left turn is not allowed from the superficialhighway!

What's the reason for having cyclists brave the roundabout rather than use the cycling bypass to enter London Road? According to TfL (my bold):

The reason is that the cycle phase and (pedestrian) crossing phase operate at the same time here, and left turning cyclists would be in conflict with peds crossing on green man. We looked at changing this, as the northbound left turn is a popular one. But unfortunately the southbound lanes on London Rd are still open to general traffic, and get very congested at peak times, meaning that running a ped phase and cycle phase sequentially rather than concurrently would mean traffic backs up and blocks the bus stops, affecting journey times unacceptably for bus passengers and motorists.

In fairness to TfL's cycling superhighway team they wistfully hope for better years down the line:
I would hope that when the plans for E&C north roundabout come to fruition in years to come, that this can be changed.

The powers at the top of TfL can't be allowed to prevaricate like this. They need to build proper superhighways NOW, not years down the line, and accept that providing safe space for those who wish to cycle means reducing the huge amount of space and preference currently given to the CO2 emitting, polluting, noisy, and space-wasting motorist.

Please reserve Saturday 17th March in your diary now for the 2nd Tour du Danger when over 1000 cyclists, adults and children, will cycle to the Olympics to press TfL for proper not superficial space for cycling across London. 


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hundreds turned out for the Tour du Danger

Saturday's 'Tour du Danger' had an amazing turnout of people who want to be able to ride their bikes without fear and, more importantly, want a London where those who currently daren't ride a bike will be able to do, feeling and being safe - something the Cycling Superhighways are signally failing to deliver currently.

It was a peaceful ride and pedestrians took photos, clapped, smiled and voiced their support. I loved the smartly dressed female tourist standing in the middle of the Strand repeatedly saying 'Fantastic, Fantastic, this too is just starting in Valencia'. We'd clearly made her day.

The throng of cyclists behind me meant I was relaxed enough to be able to cycle one-handed and take a photo, albeit not a good one, over my shoulder as we left Hyde Park Corner and entered Park Lane - something I wouldn't conceive of doing in its normal race track mode.
Bravo to all those who took part - we hope it will encourage the politicians and Transport for London to step up their efforts to create a London where children will enjoy cycling to school and visit friends, and where their mothers will feel confident in letting them.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Bring your kids on Saturday and tell Boris to have a reality check

I'm leading a ride for Cyclists in the City and I bike London bloggers on Saturday at 10.30am, from St Mark's Church on Clapham Road opposite the Oval tube station, around the ten locations with the highest number of collisions involving cyclists - the Elephant and Castle northern roundabout being top of the list. I urge you to come along, bring your kids and your grannies - As Boris said yesterday in Mayor's Question Time, "If you keep your wits about you, Elephant & Castle is perfectly negotiable."

He also said, ""I want people to feel confident. The cycle superhighways are about building confidence."

As an experienced motorist, cyclist, cycling instructor and trainer of cycling instructors I'd like to say that the E&C and the majority of the Cycling Superhighways are bloody awful for cycling - which is why you hardly see any secondary school children,  especially girls, cycling there.

Most of the motorists I know dislike many of TfL's roads and junctions, and they've undergone loads of training and a test! So what are the odds of your average soft, squidgy person who can't drive merrily pootling around these roads on bikes? Bugger all, and around here a huge number of households don't have a car. The Guardian recently reported that, nationally, the percentage of 17- to 20-year-olds with driving licences fell from 48% in the early 1990s to 35% last year. I bet it's nearer 20% locally so it's pretty damn optimistic for Boris to think that these people are going to be confidently cycling around the gyratories.

Does Boris really believe it's just lack of confidence that has the Head of Notre Dame secondary girls' school on St George's Road refusing to let her girls cycle to school? Or do you think it's because this is the road on which the school has its entrance?

Does Boris think the Head of Lilian Baylis Technology School on Kennington Lane, the edge of the congestion zone (below mid-morning) as it leads into the Vauxhall Gyratory, is completely deluded when he tells me that he suspects the challenge of these roads acts as a major barrier to his pupils cycling and their parents permitting it?

The off-road cycle option for the Vauxhall Gyratory is fragmented, obscure and takes forever to use. The semi-decent bit, if you can get to it, is used each day as a parking bay for the Tesco metro there (like the driver below today)  and I bet no-one has ever been fined for it.

In the world of Boris, is London Nautical secondary boys school on Stamford Street (above today) wrong in preferring that their pupils don't cycle over the Thames bridges to school? Can Boris really believe it's not an issue that the cycle lane on Waterloo Bridge disappears due to a pavement build out just as people zoom downhill to the roundabout?

Does he really consider the alternative route to avoid the foul Imax roundabout to be adequately signed?
And is the entrance to Waterloo Bridge off Upper Ground obvious to cyclists?
I know the teenage kids at these schools. Like any teenager they'll take the quick and easy option, not always paying total attention and sometimes being awry in their estimation of speed, position or intent.

In the Netherlands they work really hard to make the route for cyclists friendly, obvious, direct and safe, subjectively and statistically, because they want their children to cycle and they recognise their vulnerability.

Here Boris just tells the boys and girls to grow some cojones and jump in front of the HGVs.

What a buffoon.

Please join the ride to protest against his arrogance and TfL's apathy. And see if you can drag along one of our Councillors, none of whom have replied to my invitation. Finally, check out and share this short BBC newspiece

Anti-social behaviour in Kennington

Above is a picture of Gilbert Road tonight with, I think you'll agree, any amount of space to park if you're not too worried about single yellows. It's just around the corner from the police section house in Renfrew Road where lots of the police that I saw protecting the bankers today (see previous blogpost) are staying. The police found the permitted spaces outside the section house were full, so did they park on the road around the corner? Did they heck. They just stuffed their vans all over the pavements.

Kennington takes on the City

I don't know whether the marches in London today scared the parents but today's Pedal Power Kennington trip in search of gold in the City of London had just two pupils, one regular and one whose bike we'd fixed on Monday at a Dr Bike at his school.

I'm pleased to say both pupils had a fabulous time.

Our first port of call was the Bank of England Museum to pick up a bar of gold. We arrived within their opening hours but they had locked the doors early to prevent us (or anyone else) from entering, apparently out of their fear that the students' march today turning nasty. There were an incredible number of police throughout the city though we saw no students.

With the bank shut to its customers we decided to nip down to the Monument, where the staff were pleased to see us and let us in. The views from the top of the 311 step tower are fantastic

I got a little nervous on the spiral staircase three quarters of the way up when I saw this sign

We managed to make our way down safely and were given certificates

We then moved on to One New Change which has a wonderful view of the adjacent St Paul's Cathedral from its roof terrace

We then meandered past more van loads of police to see the tranquil tent city (where my photographic skills deserted me), before returning to Lambeth via Southwark Bridge and the superficial highway 7.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Do dogs belong in the cabs of Cement Mixers?

I doubt anyone would agree that having large construction vehicles, often with time-critical deliveries, sharing roadspace with cyclists is ideal. This in however the case in London today, even needlessly and ludicrously on the cycling superhighways.

Where all road users are required to share the same road space I expect an extremely high duty of care to be laid on the operators of the multi-tonne vehicle in respect of more vulnerable road users, given the high likelihood that a person hit by a large vehicle, even at low speed, will be maimed or killed. Cement mixers, tipper trucks and skip lorries are involved in a high percentage of cyclists' deaths from collisions in London.

It is clearly dangerous to drive a cement mixer that is two tonnes overladen and has an unrestrained dog in the cab. For these combined dangerous actions a penalty of, say 120 hours of community service would seem appropriate.

Let's say that the driver of this cement mixer was to switch lanes and in the process strike and kill a cyclist, and then plead guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, what would an appropriate sentence be?

Today's Standard reports,
The widow of a civil servant run over and killed by a cement mixer as he was cycling home said today she had been cheated of justice after the driver walked free from court.

Father-of-three Everton Smith, 48, was cycling home to Fulham when he was hit by Paul Joseph's truck near Vauxhall Bridge when the driver switched lanes in May last year.

Joseph, 45, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. At Southwark crown court he was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service.

Court News today reported,
A cement mixer driver who killed a cyclist while carrying an excessive load and an unrestrained dog in his cab has been spared jail.

Neither report says whether a driving ban has been imposed on the driver.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Will our local Councillors join the collision hotspots ride?

We live within a couple of miles of seven of the top 10 collision hotspots for cyclists in London. Cyclists in the City and I bike London have arranged a ride to review them on Saturday 12th November, starting at 10.30am by St Mark's Church, where the Oval Farmers' Market is, opposite Oval tube station.

You'll see me there in a Hi-Viz top at the front of the ride, as I've agreed to lead it (gulp!). There'll be at least 100 cyclists on the ride and, given that over 2000 turned up on Blackfriars Bridge recently, I hope there'll be even more to keep us company so please come along if you can. The route takes us through some of the most multi-lane motor-centric junctions in London, many of which have no clear, cycle-friendly and convenient alternative.

Just over a week ago I emailed the three Lambeth Councillors in Princes Ward, which has part of the Vauxhall Gyratory within it, and the three in Bishops Ward, which has the Imax roundabout in it. I invited them to join the ride or to speak to cyclists at these points about the actions they're working on to improve them for cyclists.

A week isn't a long time in politics and none of the Councillors have yet been in touch.
There's still a week to go and I'm sure we'll get at least one local Labour and one local LibDem Councillor along (nudge, nudge).

If you'd like to invite a Lambeth Councillor along their contact details can be found here.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dead curious and curious dead things

Yesterday's Pedal Power Kennington Ride, on All Soul's Day, saw us reflecting on the dead, our version of Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead.

Our first port of call, in the nick of time before the 5pm closure, was the Grant Museum of Zoology. This is a fabulous, free museum which houses not one, but two sets of Dodo bones - they're scarce given that the bird became extinct around 1700, following the Dutch arriving in 1638 in the birds' island home of Mauritius.
We then hopped on our bikes for a quick ride to the British Museum to check out the Egyptian Mummies, c2686 BC-AD 395, before that museum shut at 5.30pm. (photo by Klafubra, under Creative Commons)

From the British Museum we headed back to UCL to see the Auto-Icon: a wooden cabinet containing the preserved skeleton of philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832), dressed in his own clothes and nowadays with a wax head - the original being looked after in a safe! 

On our journey home we happened upon a projection on, I think, the University of London in Malet Street. We were dead curious, but didn't have time to find out more.
Next week, all things being equal, we're be going with the pupils to The Monument and to the Bank of England to pick up a bar of gold.