In June 2015, as TfL proudly announced that their target of reducing road deaths in the capital by 40% from the 2005-09 baseline by 2020 had been achieved six years early, discussions focused on a new target.
Some people, including members of Transport for London’s board, argued that a Vison Zero target should be set, recognising that no preventable death was acceptable.
TfL is reluctant to set a target of Zero because it mistakenly thinks that any deaths will be blamed on them. That is not correct: every death is a failure, and it is imperative to learn from failures; to really do that one must detach the learning from the blaming. [A cynic may say that managers’ bonuses cannot be linked to an “unachievable” target]
So a compromise was reached and this headline was paraded on TfL’s website:
Anyone reading the headline would assume that the new target would be 50% of the 127 people killed on London roads in 2014. That would still mean that TfL expects 63 people to be killed in 2020, more than one/week. At present ratios, 38 people would be killed while walking or cycling.
It now transpires that TfL does not think that such a reduction of preventable deaths is achievable. They have kept the old baseline of 2005-09, so the so-called halving is actually a reduction from a 40% reduction target to a 50% reduction target, i.e. only 10 percentage points.
This is a trick that TfL has employed before, namely when they set the 40% target in the first place.
The 40% target was announced in June 2013, in the Safe Streets for London report. The Executive Summary on page 10 states:
TfL will reduce KSIs by a further 40 per cent by 2020
When they say “a further 40%” one would expect they mean from the 2012 figures. Wrong, it was from the 2005-09 average. Now the 2012 figures already showed a 17% reduction from the 2005-09 baseline. Therefore TfL’s target was only a FURTHER 23% reduction from the baseline.
That 23% reduction was reached in 2 years rather than 8 years as planned. Great.
Why then not try to achieve the same rate of reduction in the next six years?
This chart shows how timid the new target actually is:
You can see that a real halving of KSIs by 2020 using 2014 as a baseline (orange line) is consistent with the trend of the previous seven years (green line) (it actually is less demanding).
The new TfL target, which they call “challenging”, effectively expects 900 more KSI in 2020 than could be achieved if present trends continued.
When I challenged TfL about their lack of ambition, I received this reply:
The annual Casualties in Greater London report is published each spring and currently these figures are compared against the 2005-09 baseline. At this time, within the context of the ambition set by the ‘Safe Streets for London: Road Safety Action Plan for London 2020’, we feel it is appropriate to retain the same baseline period.
With regards to using 2014 as the new baseline; we set our casualty baseline over a number of years instead of just one. This is in line with the Department for Transport’s position. This controls the effects of short-term, statistically insignificant variations in data and gives a robust comparison period for the target.
We remain confident stretching the target from a 40 per cent to 50 per cent reduction over the life of the Safe Streets for London Plan is challenging but achievable, representing significant additional KSI reductions to the period to 2020.
I then asked Simon Bradbury, Head of Road Safety at TfL, whether he found it acceptable that in 2020 more than 100 people would be killed on London roads. Again he defended these scandalous targets.
We asked Valerie Shawcross, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee and TfL Board member Michael Liebreich to comment on the misleading headline and the cowardly target. They all refused to respond, showing lack of manners and decency.
This is not about numbers; it is about the lives unnecessarily destroyed by traffic violence; the area between the red and the orange line represents 2544 people who will be either killed or seriously injured by 2020 because of the cowardice of Transport for London and those who should oversee it.
Is there anything more devastating than losing one’s teenage daughter, killed in a violent act, a totally avoidable death if people had been more observant, if people had responded to safety concerns, if people understood that the sanctity of life (especially that of young people) comes before the convenience of business?
Lavna Chuttoo was walking to school on Coombe Road, New Malden, with friends in the morning of 17.11.15.
They were walking from left to right in the picture. A lorry driver had overtaken them 45 metres before and was therefore aware of their presence; however he turned left into Lime Grove, without looking and killed Lavna.
Police investigators however blamed Lavna for running across the junction. British Police is deeply ignorant of rule 170 (as is most of the brainwashed British public) and believe that a vehicle turning left into a side street has priority over a pedestrian going straight across, which obviously is not the case.
Moreover, the junction has raised concerns in the past. Here are two quotes:
David Hoddinott, 63, of Ely Close, said: “The Lime Grove junction with Coombe Road is particularly bad as you have to be aware of traffic entering and leaving Lime Grove and Cambridge Avenue.
Tony Scott is boss of the New Malden branch of builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, which sees heavy goods vehicles drive into its site, near the junction at Lime Grove, where Lavna was hit.
He said: “It was not speed that caused that. I don’t know what they can do about it to be honest. It’s not safe, people just turn into it [Lime Grove] not necessarily looking.
“It’s very busy along here at that time of morning. There’s schools around here so there’s a lot of schoolchildren about.”
Having determined that the lorry driver had no case to answer, the Police then always feels compelled to build a story of blame around the victim (who conveniently cannot dispute it). They are quite clever: taking advantage of the frail psychological state of the traumatised family, they offer compassion and understanding, at the same time painting a picture of a tragic error by the victim.
The tactics are invariably successful: the family of the victim are won over by the narrative and start to recite typical comments such as “Oh, if only he/she had just waited …” or “Oh, if only I had been louder in telling him/her to wear a hi-viz vest”, in other words blaming the victim or themselves
As an outsider, one feels disgust on how the Police misuse their authority to manipulate minds at such frail moments.
In the case of Lavna, the psychological pressure of the Police was even able to convince the father that only a Documentary Inquest was required; in other words, rather than the Police report heard and cross-examined in Court, it was briefly summarised by the Coroner, no questions asked.
Indeed many questions needed to be asked, such as
- Why was the driver entering a residential street which has a sign saying “Unsuitable for HGVs”?
- Was the driver not aware of the presence of the children on the pavement, which he had passed only few moments before?
- What are the recommendations of the Traffic Management Officer?
- What has Kingston Council done to make the roads to the two schools in the area (one, a primary school, on Lime Grove itself) safer, in view of its obligations according to S39 of the RTA88 and the petition signed by hundreds of residents?
But the West London Coroner seems as lacking in curiosity and awareness of his duties as the Southwark Coroner.
Chettan Chuttoo, Lavna’s father, knows the answer to Question 4: a resounding NOTHING.
That should have been the headline of the newspapers after the Inquest: “Why is the Council not making the road safe for the hundreds of school children?” This is what Mr Chuttoo was asking at the end of the Inquest, but the journalists chose not to hear. And the media, the third column of this Orwellian conspiracy to keep the British public docile and dumb in the face of unremitting traffic violence, without exception ran with the victim blaming story under the cloak of the “compassion” headline:
This again is a dishonest attempt to confuse compassion with acceptance of violence by the powerful. Jesus Christ actually said:
I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
“Ye resist not evil”. Mr Chuttoo is indeed compassionate, but he is also wise: he understands that the unbearable tragedy that visited his family has a cause and it is this evil, the evil of acceptance and passive promotion of traffic violence, that needs to be resisted and stamped out.
We wish him the best in forcing Kingston Council to make urgent changes so that the children of New Malden can go to school in safety, without having the need of second-guessing the intentions of people in charge of killing machines. For a start they need to put a zebra crossing at the entrance of Lime Grove.
(a)a senior coroner has been conducting an investigation under this Part into a person’s death,
(b)anything revealed by the investigation gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future, and
(c)in the coroner’s opinion, action should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances,
the coroner must report the matter to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action.
(2)A person to whom a senior coroner makes a report under this paragraph must give the senior coroner a written response to it.
(3)A copy of a report under this paragraph, and of the response to it, must be sent to the Chief Coroner.
The standards of Coroners varies considerably and we are concerned that the Southwark Coroner is in breach of the Act.
We have witnessed two occasions where he conducted inquests following the death of people riding bicycles. In both occasions the Police reports clearly indicated concerns that “circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future” and the Coroner did not make these concerns public and did not take the action which is required to take by Law.
After a fatal collision, two branches of the Police investigate the circumstances of the collision:
- Collision Investigators examine the mechanics of the crash
- A Traffic Management Officer examines the road layout and other environmental issues
In both occasions, detailed below, the Coroner chose not to make public the report of the Traffic Management Officer highlighting his concerns.
In spite of the Police concerns, the Coroner chose not to issue Prevention of Future Death reports. This can only be explained if the Coroner followed 7.1.c, i.e. in his opinion no action “should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances”. But surely if that is the case, he must explain why he reached such conclusion. The fact that he chose not to disclose the Police concerns clearly point to a cover-up.
Here are the details:
Inquest of the death of Tafsir Butt at Vauxhall Gyratory
Ross Lydall has written an excellent account of the Inquest .
These are the recommendations found in the Traffic Management Officer’s report, suppressed by the Coroner:
Following the site visit I have the following recommendations /observations .
1) South bound South Lambeth Road on approach to Parry Street be made a three lane carriageway for mixed traffic, each lane to be slightly wider than the present ones to accommodate large goods vehicles having to straddle existing lanes when turning into Parry Street . This then allows room for a dedicated cycle lane along the near-side of Parry Street .
2) North bound South Lambeth Road on approach to Parry Street to have a near-side cycle lane leading to the recommended cycle lane in Parry Street .
3) To have a lighting review under the railway bridge in Parry Street .
4) South Lambeth Place north west bound to have the cycle lane joining point with the main carriageway greater highlighted with either or both markings and/or lighting .
Essentially there are two areas of concern and in both cases the Coroner chose to disregard them:
- Deficiency of cycle lanes on the gyratory. Following the death of Butt, and a few months prior to the inquest, a new segregated cycle infrastructure was opened; it allows cyclists heading to Vauxhall Bridge and to Albert Embankment (and this would have included Butt) to avoid the treacherous gyratory. But what about cyclists heading to Nine Elms: are they catered by the new cycle tracks or are they still led on the same death trap that killed Butt? This is is a question that the Coroner needed to ask but chose not to.
- Lighting under the bridge. Both TMO and crash investigators stated that the tunnel under the railway bridge is insufficiently lit. However rather than following the TMO’s recommendation and ask TfL to review the lighting, the Coroner chose to blame Butt for wearing dark clothing.
Inquest of the death of Abdelkhalak Lahyani at Elephant & Castle
We described the Inquest here. Again the Coroner chose not to make public the Traffic Management Officer’s Report and in spite of its recommendations chose not to issue a Prevention of Future Deaths report, without stating his reasons.
Lahyani was killed when a lorry turned left from a lane that had “Only Right Turn” arrows.
Here are the conclusions of the Police report (my bold):
During the site visit it was noticed that all buses both passing through and waiting at the junction straddled the cycle feeder lane. Lane two did not appear wide enough for buses to wait without straddling the feeder lane.
The positioning of the cycle feeder lane between lanes one and two where lane one is a lane for vehicles intending to turn left, is within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions guidelines and is a previously used design . At this location, in order for this design to be safe for cyclists, drivers in lanes two and three must adhere to the advisory right turn arrows on the carriageway . Lane two does not appear wide enough for larger vehicles to use without impeding the cycle feeder lane . Lanes two and three are clearly marked with arrows that they should be used by traffic intending to turn right ahead. These arrows however are not mandatory. According to the road layout, a cyclist using the feeder lane could reasonably expect vehicles in lane two to be turning right.
Transport for London have looked at the option of using mandatory directional arrows as part of the signal phasing but have discounted this .
We will not dwell on the point that the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions guidelines is a discredited document and that even TfL acknowledges that many of its guidelines compromise the safety of people cycling.
The report makes clear that
- the design is too cramped for the safety of cyclists
- the right hand turn from the lanes to the right of the cycle lane must be made mandatory
And yet the Coroner chose to disregard the report, did not ask why “Transport for London have looked at the option of using mandatory directional arrows as part of the signal phasing but have discounted this ” and did not issue a Prevention of Future Death report.
We have often decried that the present system, without an Independent Investigative Road Collision Authority, is not fit for purpose. Many avoidable killings are poorly investigated and lessons are not learned.
In this post we are highlighting that some of the actions of the people appointed to prevent avoidable deaths breaches the Law and we encourage the Chief Coroner to issue clear guidelines and to be more vigilant of illegal behaviour by Coroners.
Andrew Gilligan has publicly admitted several times that the models used by TfL to forecast the consequences of changes in the road network are broken.
Although mathematically complex, these models are based on wrong assumptions, namely that transport users are automatons that can’t/won’t/don’t change behaviour. The reality, repeatedly demonstrated by many, following the lead of Professor Goodwin and Sally Cairns, is that people adapt to new circumstances by changing the time or the mode of travel.
The result is a typically British exercise in futility and waste: millions of pounds are spent in preparing studies that:
- are intellectually meaningless (GIGO)
- feather the pockets of unscrupulous “consultants”
- block real change
We have repeatedly said that a much more useful exercise is to examine what happens on the ground when long-term roadworks occur.
We go further: we suggest that, when long term roadworks need to be implemented, it is a golden opportunity to plan and execute experiments with the view of establishing permanent motor traffic reduction.
We therefore welcome Caroline Russell’s Question to the Mayor on this topic (below), but it seems Sadiq Khan doesn’t understand the issues.
Capturing data on temporary road closures Question No: 2016/1980 Caroline Russell
TfL does not routinely collect data on temporary road closures or changes, in terms of traffic levels, changes to peoples’ travel patterns and satisfaction with travel conditions. Do you agree that this is a missed opportunity to gather evidence to support changes that could encourage more active travel and if so should TfL start routinely gathering this evidence, for example during the three month closure of Tower Bridge?
TfL routinely collects anonymised data from a network of over 1,590 Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras as well as traffic signals and automatic traffic counters. This enables investigation of changes in traffic levels and patterns, and travel behaviour during temporary closures or changes to the network. Since 2010, the TfL Road Network Customer Satisfaction Survey has helped provide TfL with a better understanding of road users’ expectations. TfL is supporting customers, road users and stakeholders including local residents and businesses ahead of the City of London’s closure of Tower Bridge by providing information and advice to reduce disruption to their journeys. I have asked TfL to monitor traffic levels, patterns and road users’ response to this closure and to adapt advice and information accordingly.
The problem with Khan is that so far he has approached answering questions from Assembly Members in an arrogant non-informative way. So we cannot tell: did he not understand or did he choose to provide a non-answer?
We urge Russell to ask again, giving more concrete examples. Here are two:
- Transport for London is planning to remodel Old Street Roundabout; will it take this opportunity to examine the effect of curtailing through traffic on the Old Street/ Clerkenwell Road corridor?
- Tower Bridge is a very unpleasant bridge to cycle on. The carriageway is narrow; if one plans for two cycle lanes there is space for only one motor traffic lane; so the best solution is to make Tower Bridge one way, with alternate direction in a.m. and p.m. Will TfL study the changes in travel patterns during the closure to validate a plan to make Tower Bridge one way?
The recent spate of Bus smashes pushes us to remind our readers what Tony Akers, Transport for London’s head of bus operations, actually means when he says “There will be a full investigation”
The truth is:
- Transport for London will NOT investigate
- An investigation will be carried out by the contractor and by the Police, but Transport for London does NOT receive copies of the investigation
In other words, the investigation could be a sham or could reveal some important truths and Transport for London wouldn’t know.
This is a regulator who wants to be blind, so that it can continue to run an operation, which last year killed 14 Londoners, with impunity.
Tom Kearney, SMK Transport Campaigner of the Year, made a Freedom of Information request, asking TfL to disclose the correspondence between TfL and contractors following fatal crashes caused by TfL Buses. TfL has refused to disclose the information.
Now, one of the primary roles of a regulator is to inspect that what people say they did is actually true.
How can the Mayor and the Board of Transport for London be assured that these crashes are properly investigated and that lessons are learned to prevent similar crashes if TfL does not inspect whether the investigations have been carried out professionally?
Wouldn’t management, the Mayor and members of the Board be liable to the charge of corporate manslaughter if it is proven that TfL’s regulatory framework is not fit for purpose?
These crashes cannot be blamed on “pedestrians throwing themselves onto the path of a bus”. They are either the result of mechanical faults or driver errors, but TfL doesn’t want to know, because otherwise it would have to start fixing things.
I leave you with this video, with a reminder to Sadiq Khan: “This could have been you, walking on the pavement. Are you going to instruct TfL to do things properly, or is the ‘world leading’ Bus Safety Programme another piece of Boris spin?”
The mother of Akis Kollarou, killed by Robert Taylor on 02.02.15, is reported as saying “I hope that lessons have been learned”.
I am afraid that in fact no lessons have been learned and the incident could easily occur again in exactly the same circumstances.
We were not at the trial, but it is clear how the collision occurred. Akis was following this vehicle:
on this road:
He clearly could not have attempted to pass it on either side. When the lorry approached Homerton High Street, it made a manoeuvre similar to the picture below:
Akis intended to go right, and having seen the lorry move right, started to proceed on its left. Alas, the driver had forgotten to put his left indicator and when he turned left he crushed Akis.
After sentencing, Judge Noel Lucas said: “I want it clearly understood by those who drive vehicles of this type that they must take the greatest of care whilst driving on the streets of London to avoid precisely this type of accident.”
Maybe that is what Maria Kollarou refers to “lessons being learned”, but I doubt that any lorry driver (except, hopefully Taylor) will change his/her behaviour following this incident.
Indeed the driving ban issued to Taylor (12 months) is insultingly short.
The truth is that in order for lessons to be learned, there needs to be someone doing the learning; but in the present system of road regulation there is nobody with the responsibility to investigate collisions with the goal of preventing recurrence.
In the absence of an official body “learning lessons”, Vision Zero London will continue do its job.
So how do we prevent a fatality like this one occurring? The cause is simple: Akis misunderstood the intentions of the driver because the latter did not indicate. (Yes, the driver may have stopped in time, had he looked at the mirrors, but given the narrowness of Wardle Street and the high traffic levels on Homerton High Street, it is understandable that the driver’s attention was away from his near side mirrors). Had Taylor indicated, Akis would have not found himself on the lorry’s left side.
The driver’s error not to indicate was substantial and circumstantial evidence points to the fact that it is quite common. Authorities need to convey the message that failure to indicate is a major infraction; this should be done by two measures:
- very long driving bans to drivers involved in serious collisions, who did not indicate
- penalty fines through cameras at major junctions
However, Vision Zero philosophy rests on the principle that humans are fallible; people may forget to indicate, and such a simple error should not result in the death of an innocent person.
The solution is simple and inexpensive: the lorry in question was fitted with sensitive safety equipment – “these activate a camera on the near side of the vehicle. There were also sensors that would have detected movement and when the indicator is depressed there is audible warning equipment – warning of a left turn”. Obviously we cannot rely on a human, prone to error, to activate the warning system; it must be automatic.
How to do it? We have already argued that the routes of HGVs need to be pre-approved and pre-programmed on the routing app used by the driver. Once the journey is started, the driver should have no options to change the route and any unauthorised diversion from the planned route should be reported as a major infringement. We then need to link the warning system to the routing programme, so that indicators come on automatically whenever the HGV is programmed to turn.
What we propose is much cheaper and “smarter” than most of the interventions to lorry design proposed by CLOCS.
In July 2015, we reported how IslingtonCouncil spent more than half a million pounds of our money received via Transport for London in internal and external “design fees” without actually implementing any section of the Central London Grid, in spite of having accepted £2,000,000 for that purpose.
In June 2014 TfL awarded funding to the Council to design, consult on and deliver routes 1 (Clerkenwell Road from the junction with Farringdon Road to Old Street roundabout), and 3 (Lloyd Baker Street from the junction with Farringdon Road to Arlington Avenue at the junction with New North Road), and part of route 2 (Bath Street from the junction with City Road to Finsbury Square at the junction with Wilson Street).
Let’s see how the Council is doing, 19 months after receiving the money:
Route 1 – The most cycled route in Central London – Nothing
Route 3 – An existing QuietWay – Virtually Nothing, Job considered Done
Route 2 – Consultation – Whoa!
To put the above into context, in the mean time
- TfL has consulted and either completed or partially completed large stretches of fully segregated Cycle Super Highways (Embankment; Blackfriars Road and Bridge; Vauxhall Bridge and Gyratory ,to Oval);
- Camden Council has implemented the doubling of Torrington Place segregated cycle tracks and built segregated tracks on Pancras Road; (shamefully they are doing nothing at Holborn, which should be their top priority, given four recent fatalities);
- Westminster has consulted on three difficult stretches of the Grid (mostly sub-standard designs);
- The City of London (the richest Local Authority in the world) is more shameful than Islington; in spite of four recent cycle fatalities in its territory it has refused to provide any part of the Grid (except a sub-standard N-S route), because of a personal spat between one of its Officers, Iain Simmons and Andrew Gilligan.
Let’s look at Islington’s consultation. Here are the proposals:
1 – Lever Street – Two-way cycling, providing a westbound cycle lane
Strangely, there is already an outside with-flow cycle lane on this stretch of Lever Street.
So what they will do is switch the direction of the cycle signs and make most of the line continuous. PAINT JOB. The plans say that there will be no waiting/stopping Mon-Fri 07-19 but how do they plan to enforce it, to prevent this?
2 -Junction Bath Street/Lever Street – Kerbside build-out to protect cyclists turning into contraflow cycle lane.
There is already a build-out here. The proposal is to increase its size so that one car park space is replaced by cycle racks.
No explanation on
- how would it make safer for people turning
- why not just install racks where the car parking space is
==> Waste of resources; no improvement in safety
3 Bath Street through to Bunhill Row – Refreshing existing road
markings to better define the cycle route
4 Bunhill Row – Clearly marked contra-flow cycle lane which will help
cycle safety by making it clearer that cyclists are using this route
PAINT JOB – Please note there is inconsistency between the drawings and it is not clear whether the contraflow lane will be clearly marked all the way to Chiswell Street. It is clear however that contraflow riders will be forced to ride in the door zone for about 200m. It is not clear why car parking is needed here on both sides of the street:
5 Bunhill Row junction Chiswell Street – Protection for cyclists with
footway build-outs and traffic islands. A signalised junction could be
considered in future, depending on the outcome of a consultation
carried out by the City of London in November 2015.
Another unnecessary build-out proposed; the white area is useful for contraflow cyclists coming from the left intending to turn left. The build-out may be helpful for pedestrians, but if that were the intention, a zebra across the entrance of Bunhill Row would be much more useful. So paradoxically here is a case of paint job needed but not given.
The next four points refer to quite substantial work that is going to cost a lot of money for very little immediate gain.
6 Chiswell Street – Introduction of segregated cycling facilities resulting in the loss of some parking bays
7 Chiswell Street/Finsbury Square junction – separate traffic light phases for cyclists
8 Finsbury Square – Two-way segregated cycle lanes
9 Sun Street/Wilson Street junction – Two-way segregated cycle lane
Let’s see why. It all starts from not being able to think of a network:
Officers’ present mindset is “build a route”. Users, on the other hand, think: “How do I get from A to B safely and pleasantly?” A route by itself is valueless unless it links with others. These are the key network considerations in this area:
- TfL is building C and the City has promised F for 2016.
- Unfortunately B is not planned this year; A makes sense only in conjunction with B.
- For anyone coming from the North, D+C is just as efficient as G+A, and much cheaper to implement.
- The real purpose of G is to link with F, so the crucial intervention is the Bunhill Row / Chiswell Street junction, which is not considered in this consultation (it is referred as “could be considered in future”)
- Even if one is at G, E makes more sense to reach Liverpool Street than A
So yes, A is good to have, but it makes very little sense to spend the money there, when it could be spent more wisely elsewhere (for example the Bath Street/Shepherdess Walk Junction, which would link this route to the canal and beyond. That is a TfL responsibility, but what is Islington doing to hasten the process?)
The difficulty of the Bunhill Row – Moor Lane Link should not be a reason to duck it, because that is the main weak link to solve. We are against signalised junction unless necessary. Our proposal for the link is a wide N-S priority (and no-stopping) zone for pedestrians and cyclists that encompasses the entrances of Bunhill Row and Moor Lane.
Let’s look at what is proposed at D
Featherstone Street to Leonard Street -Proposed Measures
10 Featherstone Street/City Road junction – Featherstone Street at the Junction of City Road will be closed to motor traffic
11 Leonard Street – Inset parking bays and widened cycle lane to improve contraflow cycling
Please note that Featherstone Street is already closed to motor traffic because of multi-year building works, so they are proposing to maintain the status quo. This is what is proposed for crossing City Road:
Essentially the Council is proposing to do NOTHING to a very unpleasant and unsafe crossing. First, the mixing of people on foot and on bikes especially on the extremely narrow East pavement is totally unsatisfactory. The solution is not difficult: keep the cycle flow South of the pedestrian flow: all you need to do is move the motor stop lines further away from the junction and remove the jut-out on the NE corner.
Equally important is to alter the phasing of the light from the present inconsiderate 40-sec wait for active travellers.
Leonard Street is presently not fit for purpose:
The drawings are not clear if the proposed solution will be satisfactory:
Are the new parking bays taking away space from the pavement?
If yes; why not make the contraflow lane mandatory; if no, what is the point?
We recently had this exchange with Claudia Webbe:
We admit that to say that the proposed scheme is just paint, glosses over certain parts of it, but we hope it is now clear why we think that what is not-paint is either useless or unnecessary at the moment. Worse, the key decisions to improve the weak links of this route to the rest of the network are ignored or ducked.
We are pleased to hear that the plans for the Clerkenwell Boulevard will be released soon; we need to point out however that we have heard this rumour many times before, and the Council has been sitting on them for well over a year now.
An interaction with a pair of impatient Police Officers (see below) motivated me to write this post.
The Highway Code is quite clear where one should ride a bicycle on a road with parked cars:
look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path
But we know that most of the Highway Code rules aimed to protect vulnerable road users are ignored by drivers, Police and traffic engineers.
Here is a road in Westminster:
A couple of years ago I raised this issue with Edgar Agrar, a vile toad, at the time Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment, pointing out that
- the signs encourage people to ride on the door zone
- anyone riding safely to the right of the signs gets honked by obnoxious drivers
His response: the signs are there just to alert drivers of the presence of cyclists; a response so idiotic that he could only have copied it from the king of bullshit, Boris Johnson, whose antics cost the lives of at least six people on blue paint.
BTW, in the world capital of bullshit, Argar has been duly rewarded with a seat in the House of Commons, to add fodder to that den of idiots, also called Tory back-benches.
However, even the handful of enlightened engineers probably fail to understand the subtleties of safe road positioning.
In the picture above, A is the door zone; to be avoided. However, B is also unsafe, because it leaves a gap just wide enough for a car to squeeze through; therefore to avoid close passes, one needs to ride at C, i.e. in the middle of the road.
The problem of course is that to the driver behind you it looks like you are being intentionally obstructive; well, tough, if she honks, there is only one way to respond:
This is an unwholesome way to design streets and makes an unpleasant environment to ride bicycles; which is why most people don’t and why the sub-standard proposals for the Central London Cycling Grid are such a disappointment.
Vision Zero means designing unnecessary conflict out of our roads. Here are the key concepts:
- Residential streets like the ones above should not carry through traffic;
- Through various interventions, it must be made clear to motorists that they are guests on residential streets;
- The width of residential streets needs to take into consideration not just the door zone, but also the width to the right of Channel B; it should not encourage close passes.
Just a few metres ahead the road narrows:
Here riding in the middle of the lane does not generate hostility, because it is obvious that there is no space to overtake. Too many roads in London are the wrong width: they encourage either close passes or hostility.
On Friday afternoon, as I was riding on Channel C in the wider section of the street, I noticed blue lights coming from a Police van, driving behind me. I found a gap in the parked cars and let it pass; except that the Officers (incidentally of British Transport Police) had no urgent call: they just wanted to tell me off for slowing their progress.
What I fail to understand is why people are in such a hurry to breathe the fumes of the car stopped at the next set of lights; but after all, given a normal distribution of intelligence, half of the people are below average. The issue however is that street engineers have to acknowledge that most people when enclosed in metal boxes become bestial, and this should not endanger or inconvenience the rest of us.
One of the most important things that needs to happen in London is the establishment of the Motoring Grid. The Police Van shouldn’t have been on that road in the first place. They were just rat running. Rather than taking the red route, they should have been on the Blue Route, because they had no business to fulfil in Fitzrovia.
Appendix 1 – After having tweeted the incident, I received a call from a BTP officer; we had a chat which he followed up by writing the following:
I have identified the officers who were driving the vehicle that had an interaction with you today. I have given the driver an appreciation of the challenges faced by Cyclists that use London’s congested roads and their vulnerabilities.
We need to credit the willingness of the police to engage with people unhappy with their behaviour; however it seems more an exercise in PR than actually admitting that an abuse of power had taken place, symptomatic of an institutional culture which is deeply unsympathetic towards vulnerable road users.
Appendix 2 – Some people have asked whether the BTP have jurisdiction on public highways. They used to be confined to police the railways, but the Terrorism Act has widened their remit … to tackle Lycra Terror.
In March 2015, we wrote to Ben Johnson, who manages Transport for London’s road safety programme and to Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor, Transport at Greater London Authority, with a long list of proposals, which included Tom Kearney’s Fourteen Points to make London’s Bus Service less dangerous.
We did not receive an enthusiastic response, but it seems that concerted campaigns from different fronts are having an effect on TfL’s culture and we are seeing the first results.
Number Two of the 14 Points (Subscription to CIRAS by Bus Sub Contractors) was adopted at the beginning of 2016.
Tom Kearney dissects and comments on the proposals here. He makes the key point that
TfL’s announced danger reduction actions are measurable. Whether or not TfL’s proposed programme can be called “world leading” will depend on how—or if—these actions are actually executed.
Sound bites, glossy reports and press releases don’t make our streets safer. “Putting Active Travel at the core of Transport” and “Learning from Mistakes” do.
Peninsula residents have raised the everyday hazards and risks to TfL, councillors, the MP, the GLA and the developers. We have told them about the regular near miss incidents involving buses hurtling through and confused drivers in the wrong lane trying to get to the O2 or Millennium and Peninsula Retail Parks. They say TfL is in charge but TfL refuse to listen or even talk to local people.
That is why we remain of the opinion that changing TfL is a Herculean task that only a Mayor fully and enthusiastically committed to Vision Zero can accomplish in a speedily fashion.
How do we know that? TfL has told us in June 2015:
Therefore, just as TfL has been very professional and successful in implementing the Congestion Charge and the Cycle Superhighways (Version II), we are confident that TfL will be professional, competent and successful in adopting Vision Zero, if the new Mayor believes that Londoners deserve an environment where they can walk and cycle without fear of being killed or seriously injured.
What do the main candidates think about Vision Zero?
We are confident that Caroline Pidgeon, Sian Berry and Zac Goldsmith will adopt Vision Zero, if elected.
The question is:
Does he have the courage and the vision of his namesake? Both are needed to implement Vision Zero. It is not a question of publishing glossy reports, but radically change the culture inside TfL
Zero compliance above, because humans don’t wait 78 seconds at a lightly used crossing. In spite of a TfL employee being killed by a Tfl-contractor employee, TfL refuses to change the pedestrian green phasing.
As we have documented, in the fatal collisions above, Police blamed the cyclist at E&C and the lorry driver at LC; cases closed, no lessons learned, no changes made, waiting for next inevitable fatality.
In all other realms of human activity, investigations are very different. Below are the Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines:
But HSE refuses to investigate road collisions even when a professional driver is involved.
Here are some initial concrete steps to guide the new Mayor: