Month: June 2014

Visiting the killing fields with a survivor

Today I visited the site of the latest killing by a Transport Against London bus. A lady was hit at the junction of Duke Street and Oxford Street and died a few hours later. The junction is one of the the Pedestrian Collision Hotspots, so you would think that
a. bus drivers would be instructed to exercise extreme caution in the area
b. Transport Against London and Westminster City Council would take steps to lower the danger

I was joined by Tom Kearney, who has miraculously survived a similar collision four years ago, a few hundred metres away, at another Hotspot; (yes out of 25 Hotspots in the whole of London, 6 are on Oxford Street).

In twenty minutes at lunch time, we witnessed:
  • buses running red lights
  • buses speeding through the junction to catch a green light
  • buses impatiently overtaking each other, i.e. driving on the lane used by traffic driving the opposite way
  • bus mirrors coming within a few centimetres of people standing on pavements
  • buses speeding in the direction of people crossing and hooting aggressively
  • buses approaching bus stops at inappropriate speeds and at angles which take the body of the bus over the pavement.

It was clear that a considerable number of bus drivers was not exercising consideration as mandated by the Highway Code, Rule 206

“Drive carefully and slowly in crowded shopping streets”

Why was there no Police monitoring the behaviour of these potential killers?

One of the reason why the junction is a collision hotspot is its narrowness. The Westbound lane is only 2.95m. (London buses are 2.5m wide excluding the mirrors). Narrow is not necessarily bad, but it necessitates very slow speeds.

Here are a few pictures:

Extremely tight – Picture by Tom Kearney

The lady in orange skirt is unaware of the risk she is taking
If the lady with glasses was standing just a bit forward, she may get hit by the yellow mirror…

‘… she must have felt the wind of the fast moving bus. Another is coming.

Needlessly driving on the opposite lane …
… for then approaching the bus stop at speed and at a sharp angle.
The margin of error is so small and the severity of the consequences so large, that it is no surprise that everyday someone is killed or seriously injured by a London bus.
Indeed it is clear that Transport Against London runs the Buses and the Roads in a way that death and serious injuries are a certainty. They have absolutely no concern for the safety of ordinary Londoners; indeed the managers salaries are indexed to speed not to safety (and they are making a good living out of killing people)
Here is the result of Transport Against London’s policies:
Tragic moments as by-standers try to save the unfortunate lady, before the arrival of paramedics. By 

I would expect the Metropolitan Police, investigating this killing, to ask the following questions:

  • What were the instructions by the Controller to the bus driver in the ten minutes prior to the collision?
  • Was the Headway messaging system a source of distraction?
  • Was the driver (whose bus was “not in service”) under time pressure to return to the depot?
  • How many hours had the bus driver worked in this and the previous shift and how much sleep had he had?
  • What was the driving record of the driver?

Having witnessed previous Inquests, the Metropolitan Police often fails to ask these simple essential questions. Tom has clearly shown the collusion between the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London in covering up bus drivers culpability.

The Transport Authority for the area is Westminster City Council, the epitome of #NastyBritain. Unsurprisingly, they feel that the killing of an old lady is none of their business.

The Metropolitan Police, Transport Against London and Westminster Council all conspire to kill ordinary Londoners. One of the aims of Vision Zero London is that they will pay for their crimes.

It is also disappointing that in spite of calls for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street from all quarters, these dinosaurs refuse to contemplate it. The Eastern end of Oxford Street will be one lane only for several months. Any intelligent person would say: “This is a good opportunity to test the suspension of bus services on this stretch of road, as a pilot for full pedestrianisation.” Not these donkeys: they are going to reroute buses down narrow streets, taking with them pollution, noise and death.

Since when do you need a public consultation to fix something seriously wrong?

One of the most repugnant aspects of this country is the brazenness in using idiotic excuses for not doing a proper job, the classic example being “Health and Safety reasons”.

It is a tragic irony that in the case of the ” nastiest junction in London “, where a 52 year old was killed on Monday morning, Health and Safety should have compelled Transport for London to take urgent action and provide temporary measures to protect people cycling.

This was indeed the message that Stop Killing Cyclists demonstrated in December last year, and again reiterated by Donnachadh McCarthy yesterday: “There is buckets of space for segregated bypasses [at Vauxhall Cross] and it just needs to be done. We accept that many junctions need significant amounts of time [to improve], however you can put bypasses in quickly and cheaply.”

Indeed, this was the original mantra from Gilligan when he first unveiled the Cycling Vision, fourteen months ago. However no temporary precautionary measure has been put in place since then.

One would like to be kind to Gilligan, and assume that he has been frustrated by TfL monsters, such as Daniels and Hendy, whose bloodied hands just got redder.

But, when you hear the Cycling Commissioner, saying that these things take time because they need to pass through consultation processes (“This is the price of living in a democracy “) our Bullshit Thermometer goes out of scale, and we start to believe that he is part of the conspiracy to keep London roads at Third World levels.