Recently, As Easy As Riding A Bike has written a report on a piece of Q-rubbish installed by the City of London, from Farringdon Road to the Barbican.
Which just about sums up the usefulness of this entire intervention. It’s a waste of money.
But just how much money?
This is the question that Caroline Russell MLA asked Transport for London. Here are the answers:
How much money did the Corporation of London receive from Transport for London for the Farringdon – Goswell street section of the central London cycling grid?
As part of the Central London Grid programme, there is a Quietway link in the City of London from Farringdon Road to the borough boundary with Islington on Chiswell Street. The alignment for this route follows West Smithfield – Hosier Lane – Cloth Fair – Middle Street – Beech Street. A number of improvements have been made including new segregated cycle tracks, mandatory cycle lanes, traffic islands, footway widening, lighting improvements and wayfinding. The City of London received a contribution of £593,500 from us for these works.
Please share the healthy streets check scores achieved by each section of each of the Quietways.
The Quietways have not been scored using the new Healthy Streets Check at present, but we would of course be happy to send these to Caroline when they have been finalised.
And the Corporation of London could not even bother to repaint some faded icons:
No-one, absolutely no-one uses this route because of the nonsensical meandering.
This is a contemptuous treatment of citizens and tax-payers. We will urge the London Assembly to investigate deeper.
Images courtesy of As Easy Of Riding A Bike
The new draft Transport Strategy was released on 21st June. We welcome the central role awarded to the Vision Zero approach.
Here is the relevant text:
Vision Zero to tackle road danger
Minimising road danger is fundamental to the creation of streets where everyone feels safe walking, cycling and using public transport. Road danger disproportionately affects people travelling on foot, by cycle or by motorcycle, with 80 per cent of all those killed or seriously injured on London’s roads travelling by these modes. Safety concerns are the main reasons people give for not cycling more, and for being unwilling to let their children walk unaccompanied.
Adopting Vision Zero – working towards the elimination of road traffic deaths and serious injuries by reducing the dominance of motor vehicles on London’s streets – will be central to the overall success of the Healthy Streets Approach.
Vision Zero means that road danger will be targeted at its source by ensuring the street environment incorporates safe speeds, safe people, safe street design and safe vehicles. It means reducing the dominance of motor vehicles on streets, and then making the remaining essential motorised journeys as safe as possible.
With Vision Zero, road danger reduction will be considered integral to all the schemes delivered on London’s streets. The proposed pace of progress is set out by the short-, medium- and long-term targets below:
• 2022 – reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured by 65 per cent against 2005-09 levels
• 2030 – reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured by 70 per cent against 2010-14 levels
• 2041 – eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions from
In addition, interim targets have been set regarding buses:
• 2022 – reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured in, or by, London buses by 70 per cent against 2005-09 levels
• 2030 – reduce the number of people killed in, or by, London buses to zero.
To achieve this, efforts to reduce the danger posed by motor vehicle journeys will be focused in four areas:
• Safe speeds – lowering speeds is fundamental to reducing road danger because a person is five times less likely to be fatally injured if hit at 20mph than at 30mph
• Safe street design – ensuring all transport infrastructure projects in London contribute to reducing road danger; attention will focus particularly on areas of highest risk such as busy junctions and roundabouts
• Safe vehicles – making sure those vehicles that need to use London’s streets are as safe as possible
• Safe people – improving the behaviour of all road users, especially drivers of motorised vehicles, will help make the city a safer place and encourage more people to walk and cycle.
While seeking to reduce the number of deaths and injuries is the first priority, in tragic cases, those responsible must face serious consequences. There is little transparency around the sentencing of people involved in collisions currently.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has committed to addressing this with the publication of a joint Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)/TfL annual report of road traffic enforcement in London. MOPAC will also work with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts Service to collate and publish information about fatal and serious injuries.
The consultation is open until 02.10.17
The Healthy Street strategy document is certainly congruent with Vision Zero.
P.S. The image chosen as cover of the Healthy Street document has very little of a healthy street and it fails in at least six Indicators; for example:
a. Poles in the middle of the pavement, a danger for people with poor sight
b. No cycle tracks
c. Street has high pollution levels
More than 1,300 comments were received. The headline results:
In May 2015 TfL concluded
Two years have passed and nothing has happened. If one looks at the TfL website, there is no mention of when the cycle tracks will be built. Moreover the Roundabout was NOT included in the new list of 73 dangerous junctions.
So, what is going on?
We are grateful to Caroline Russell, LAM to ask the following questions to TfL:
1. Why has the scheme not gone ahead, and why is TfL still “working on proposals”?
Following the conclusion of the public consultation on Old Street roundabout in January 2015, we also considered an integrated proposal that included an upgrade of Old Street station and potential commercial development. Consideration was given to both sets of proposals to ensure we secured the best value for our customers with minimal disruption.
It was not prudent for us to continue with detailed design of the roundabout project during this period, as there was a risk of work being aborted if the integrated proposals went ahead. Having decided to progress the original roundabout proposals, we have now issued a tender for the detailed design and construction of the project and expect to award this contract at the beginning of September, with a view to commencing enabling work by the end of the year.
2. Why hasn’t the Roundabout been listed in the 73 junctions to be improved for cycling, walking, motorcycling, under its new safer junctions programme?
The 73 projects recently announced as part of the Safer Junctions programme have been included as they all saw a higher than average collision rate in the three most recent years analysed. Old Street has also had a higher than average number of collisions in previous years, which was one factor that led to it being identified as a key location requiring the improvements we are now looking to deliver.
However, whilst we recognise there are safety improvements to be made, the Old Street project also seeks to transform the public realm and promote active travel, so is included in our new Healthy Streets programme. The project will provide increased cycling facilities, including segregated cycle routes where possible, and will replace three of the four existing subways with surface-level crossings. A new station entrance will also provide a place where people can stop and rest and a new lift will provide step-free access to the retail concourse in St Agnes Well.
The Safer Junctions programme will be reviewed annually to monitor changes and trends, and will include additional locations if and when they are identified.
3. How much has TfL spent so far in preparing the proposals and consulting?
At the end of the last financial year the total value of work done was £2.9m. This includes, but isn’t limited to, preliminary, feasibility and concept design, surveys and modelling of pedestrians and traffic, structural surveys, ground investigations, public consultation and staff time. This represents just over 10 per cent of the estimated final cost of the project, which is £26.6m. As a general rule across the industry, design and development costs usually make up between 15-25 per cent of a total project budget.
At the time of writing, the TfL website says:
… which seems to be another potential spanner in the works and possible further delays to the start of work.
We are also concerned of this phrase:
segregated cycle routes where possible
This is in line with the shoddy approach to cycle safety by the present Mayor.
No Sadiq, you need to install cycle tracks WHERE NEEDED, not where possible.
Contrast this lethargy with the speed they installed the safety barriers on bridges (in the wrong place) after the London Bridge incident.
On his way to perform at Saddler’s Well, riding his motorbike at 80kph, dancer Jonathan Ollivier met his death as Abdul Qayyum pulled out of a side street while talking on a hands-free phone and misjudged the dancer’s speed.
I let the readers judge whether the killer should be spending time in jail or having his licence revoked (the jury acquitted him). Certainly this quote by the killer shows no remorse, no understanding of the law and the typical arrogance of people driving big cars:
I did my best, I did not see him. I think my car was large enough to be seen. He didn’t even bother to slow down.
We would like to point out that this death is one more black mark on the conscience of Islington Council Officers and Councillors who have refused to stop Clerkenwell Road being used as a rat run.
Qayyum picked up his passenger in Hackney with Heathrow as destination. We assume that he or she has been picked up in the green area. There is a fairly direct trunk road that takes one from Old Street Roundabout, to the West, the red route in the image below. Why then was the driver on Ray Street (half way on the blue route)?
This is the question no-one asks, because there is no-one who investigates fatal crashes with a Vision Zero approach, i.e. what can we do to avoid a similar tragedy?
Abdul Qayyum chose to take the blue route because:
There is also another possibility:
Here is where the crash occured:
The driver of the Mercedes was attempting to cross Farringdon Road, from where the black cab is (left of picture). The motorcyclist was riding on Farringdon Road towards us.
Here is a different angle that shows the point of impact:
The Mercedes would have traveled from the right, across the Southbound lane of Farringdon Road, intending to go straight across and would have been where the red car is in the picture; Ollivier was riding North (coming from the left of the picture) and obviously had priority. Qayyum didn’t see him (or misjudged his speed) and did not stop. Ollivier crashed into the Mercedes, flew in the air and hit a lamp post.
It is a dreadful junction, very dangerous, because
Incidentally, the Extension of the North/South Cycle Super Highway (CS6) is planned to use this junction. Sensibly TfL plans to put traffic lights here:
What TfL, Islington and Camden are NOT planning to do is to plug the rat run. Which means that people will be riding unprotected with drivers of taxis and vans on Ray Street. These drivers are there only because they think that it is a faster route than the trunk road, i.e. they are likely not to be considerate to people on bikes.
Four years ago we proposed this vision for the Clerkenwell Boulevard, from British nastiness to European civility:
In other words, stopping through traffic from blighting Clerkenwell Road should be an obvious thing to do.
But Islington Council refuses to do it, and shamefully both Islington Cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign are too coward to fight them.
And people keep getting killed.
Coroner Mary Hassell was not getting the answer she was looking for. The Police expert witness, Simon Gladstone explained that killer Zanah Mohamed was fully aware that more than hundred people were on the pavement at 4:00, many attempting to cross the six lanes of Old Street after a night of clubbing. Driving at 50kmh with the road dog-legging left wasn’t something the Police officer would have done.
The Coroner insisted “Is it therefore “careless” to drive at that speed, when one is aware of the hazards?” The Policeman muffled and cowardly refused to give a resounding “Yes” (i.e. the correct answer). And so Hassell was denied the opportunity to send this case of miscarriage of justice back to the Crown Prosecution Service, who had shamefully refused to progress it.
It was a typical case of not rocking the boat, even more shameful because Gladstone had just retired, so had very little to lose in spelling out the obvious.
The Police covered themselves in more excrement when they even failed to charge the driver for failing to stop, because they missed a procedural deadline. See full report here.
And to complete this abject portrait of institutional failure, the killer was let off from being charged for Contempt of Court (for lying under oath), because the Coroner had forgotten to warn him that he could refuse to answer if he felt he could incriminate himself.
The Inquest was taking place at the fortress of the Old Bailey, where earlier in the week, another attempt to rectify a miscarriage of justice also failed. The private prosecutor was unable to convince twelve jurors that hitting someone perfectly visible is an act of carelessness.
So why is the system broken and why is it important to fix it?
The root cause is the way careless and dangerous driving are defined in the legislation.
According to section 2A of the RTA 1988, a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if (and only if)—
(a)the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and
(b)it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
Careless is the same as (a) above with “far below” substituted with “below”.
The key point that is not addressed by the justice system is Who should judge the standard? Who is a competent and careful driver?
It would seem obvious that the judge should be someone who is officially recognised to be a competent and careful driver, according to objective standards. This means that the Police expert witness should be asked to make a statement on objective grounds whether the driving was dangerous or careless. That should be taken as a statement of facts, rather than an opinion.
The starting axiom should be that a careful driver does not kill or injure, unless the victim purposefully put herself in harm’s way (i.e. to commit suicide). It should be an extremely difficult hurdle to show that a careful driver would have killed someone.
In practice the judgment is made by a jury that statistically is composed by regular drivers who see themselves as competent and careful according to their own standards. Innumerable studies have shown that people over-rate their abilities in all domains and that driving is particularly rife for over-confidence of own skills. This is compounded by the very British “us-and-them” attitude of cataloging people according to accent, transport mode, schooling, etc.
So in effect we have incompetent, biased people making judgments.
The second order consequence of this absurdity is that Prosecutors and Police are extremely shy of charging and prosecuting killers, because of over-sensitivity to failing to obtain convictions.
We have a paradoxical situation where the legal system, rather than raising the standards of people’s behaviour to ensure everyone’s personal safety, is held hostage by the lowest denominator who resist to improving their behaviour.
It is rule by the mob.
In other words the system is broken. And a broken Justice System has deeply troubling social consequences; if people convince themselves that some people are above the law and the State does nothing to rectify the injustices, people will start using personal violence to rectify miscarriages and stop behaving as compliant citizens.
Duncan Dollimore, of the Cycling Defense Fund, said after the failure to convict Purcell, the killer of Michael Mason:
“If failing to see an illuminated cyclist on a well-lit road is not careless driving, and no explanation for that failure is required, that reinforces the arguments Cycling UK has made through our Road Justice Campaign for many years: namely the definition and identification of bad driving offences needs urgent review.”
In the graph below we see the consequences of this broken system. Please note that the headline is written by an innumerate journalist: Less than 20% of the sample received a prison sentence.
In other words, if you want to kill someone who rides a bike, use a car: you have an 80% chance of getting away with it.
UPDATE: Duncan Dollimore has written an excellent report of the Old Bailey hearing of the Mason case. It highlights the typical behaviour by Police that we have pointed to several times when they decide not to charge killers: they go in extensive and absurd victim blaming. Duncan adds three recommendations:
1. The current guidance regarding referral of fatal road collision cases to CPS for charging decisions needs to become a requirement, a rule which police forces can’t simply ignore as they did in this case;
2. Collision investigation standards are urgently needed, with accreditation and increased transparency as called for by RoadPeace through their collision investigation campaign.
3. The current classification of careless and dangerous driving offences, how driving standards are assessed, and charging standards, are simply not fit for purpose. They must be changed, with the standard of driving required being more objectively determined. Currently, the law requires jurors to consider whether another driver’s standard of driving fell “below”, or “far below” the standard which they believe would be expected of “a careful and competent driver”, whatever that standard might be. One person might well think they’re a careful and competent driver as they overtake a cyclist whilst speeding, leaving a 30 cm gap. I would disagree, so our perspectives on what falls “below the competent and careful driver” test will be irreconcilable. We are asking jurors to apply a standard that few understand, and which is far too subjective.
Investigative work by Tom Kearney has revealed the selective use of statistics by Transport for London, and its planned campaign of burying uncomfortable data, in spite of boasting about its so-called “world-leading bus safety programme”.
Imperial College runs the International Bus Benchmarking Group which looks at various performance variables of the bus systems in 14 large world cities.
The figures expose the management priorities of TfL Bus Operation:
So even though buses are getting slower and crashing more than buses in 10 out of 15 ‘world leading’ cities, London’s buses are the most profitable and most punctual.The only way those data can live side-by-side is if you run a Bus System that is purposely designed to kill and injure so that buses can be on time….and, more importantly, you can purposely hide that information from the public.
The London Assembly Transport Committee is conducting an Investigation of Bus Safety in London. Unlike the 2013 London Assembly Bus Investigation led by Val Shawcross AM-now-Deputy-Mayor-for-Transport (which did not scrutinise TfL Bus Safety Performance at all), Bus Safety Performance is the precisely the focus of this current investigation. Since TfL has been a member of the IBBG since 2004 and, according to this helpful IBBG promotional video, it receives frequent reports for its members to help managers “defend their performance” (cf 5:49 in video), I think it is incumbent on TfL to release all the Reports it has received from the IBBG since 2004 to the Transport Committee so that the London Assembly can conduct a meaningful investigation.
What do you do?
Few people will blame Corneille Massengo who, at the moment he watched himself and his friend Osman fly up in the air after being hit by a car driven by Zanah Mohamed, jumped on him showering him with punches, soon followed by eight of his friends.
This is what happens when the Justice System fails; it is a failure at different levels.
The Inquest to the killing of Osman Ebrahim was adjourned after the punch-up, so we have not heard the details of the Police investigation. We do know however:
We can only guess at the warped logic of the CPS for not prosecuting the killer. It is actually probably very basic: “The killer did not break the speed limit, so we cannot win in court”.
The Coroner, Mary Hassell was unhappy that this case was being heard in her court and not at a Criminal Court. Probably her desire to put a light on the odious behaviour of the three people in the car on the night and ever since, led her to forget to warn them that they had a right to refuse to answer her questions if they felt that a truthful answer would incriminate them.
Hassell was so disgusted by the evident contradictions in what the two passengers said under oath, that my feeling was that she intended to charge them for contempt.
Sitting at the audience benches one could feel the tension rising; the killer was then called to the witness box. Amongst the lies he said was that a taxi parked in front of the Aquarium, pulled out just in front of him, thus hiding the view of the two pedestrians. It was at this point that the Coroner decided to show the CCTV footage, which would discredit the testimony. The killer stepped out of the witness box, and sat on a bench, just below the Coroner. Corneille moved from the rear of the room to the same bench, to have a better view, for the first time, of the moment he nearly died.
It was a perfect set-up for a showdown. The 20 sec. video rolled and the audience gasped when the car hits the two young men. But Corneille missed it and asked it to be run again. On the second showing, the clip was stopped when the car came into view (the taxi always stationary). Corneille followed it and then, at the top of the screen, saw himself and Osman fly in the air…
We wish Corneille well. We hope that he takes the Community Service sentence he will probably receive as an opportunity to channel his anger to constructive ways to improve the system that has failed him and Osman’s family so badly.
We are certainly glad that at last someone was able to teach a lesson to the scumbag who killed Osman, but that is not the way a modern society should design its justice system.
UPDATE 09.03.17 In the Evening Standard the Metropolitan Police is quoted as saying:
“Three men aged 21, 18, and 19 were arrested on the morning of March 29 after they handed themselves in at a police station. All three have since been released with no further action.
“A full investigation was conducted into the circumstances of the collision, led by detectives from the homicide and major crime command working alongside colleagues from the roads and transport policing command.
“A report was prepared for the Inner North London (St Pancras) coroner.”
We will provide an update when the Inquest resumes.
UPDATE 13.04.17 The Inquest resumed at the Old Bailey. Here is our report.
In the morning of 13.09.16, Sheila Karsberg got off a bus on Pratt Street in Camden. She intended to go up Camden High Street, so she walked on the pavement past the bus and noticing that the traffic lights were red for motor traffic she started to cross the street on the bicycle box. After four seconds while she was halfway across the lights turned green.
She was now in front of a Cement mixer which had been stationary at the lights. The driver’s main focus was on his right hand mirror, because the street ahead is misaligned and he needs to first make a slight right turn.
He doesn’t see Sheila in front of his cab, drives off and kills her.
Let’s repeat this: Sheila Karsberg was right in front of the cement mixer, but the driver did not see her and killed her.
Police estimated that because of blind spots, Sheila would have been visible to the driver for one second, had he been looking the right way. They decided not to charge the driver.
As we mentioned many times before, once Police decides to exonerate the killer, they feel they need to blame the victim for getting killed. So emphasis was placed on the irrelevant fact that the pedestrian lights were already red when Sheila stepped off the pavement.
“She broke the law, so she deserved to die”
That is essentially what Police is saying. The Coroner pursued this victim blaming by spending considerable time on her medical record, painting a picture of a diabetic with frequent memory lapses, onset of Alzheimer and worst of all (in the Coroner’s eyes) a propensity not to take the medication that she was prescribed.
“She was old, her brain not working well, a rebel, so she deserved to die”
What is most disheartening about attending these inquests is that no-one says: “Hang on a minute, this woman may have made a mistake but that is not a reason to kill her.”
Blind spots on monstrously big lorries are forgivable but walking across the street when lights are red is worth the death penalty.
We don’t want to blame the driver. Vision Zero is not in the blame business. We are in the problem solving business. And we think that errors like Sheila should not be punished by death.
Some work to improve the visibility of HGV drivers has been made but it is clearly insufficient. These are some of the essential things that should be done but are not done:
We hope that the new Walking and Cycling Commissioner will lobby hard for the above changes.
There are many Sheila Karsberg in London and they don’t deserve to be trumpled over like a big rubbish bag (as the driver described what he thought he had run over).