Author: Andrea

Liveable cities entrepreneur

TfL’s lazy approach to remove dangerous signals costs lives

In the past three years, two people have been killed as a direct result of the design fault inherent in Pelican crossings.

Daniela Raczkowska was killed by a lorry driver in Knightsbridge on 18 January 2018, as she was crossing on a green light. Read here how the coroner blamed her for the failures of a broken system.

These pedestrian signals are a symbol of the nastyness of the English class system: pedestrians are considered second class people and a system was designed to ensure that first class people driving vehicles would not be overly inconvenienced by the second class people crossing the street. While the pedestrian is still crossing the street (and indeed has a green signal), the motorist is allowed to drive ahead, by showing him/her flashing amber lights

[Incidentally this is an example of conflict between signals, which we are constantly told by English traffic experts is not allowed in this country, as an excuse for not adapting the universal system of green pedestrian lights in the same direction of green vehicular traffic]

The Pelican design is particularly dangerous on wide roads with two or more lanes in each direction. A pedestrian may be crossing the first lane, where a large vehicle may have stopped to let her cross; this may obstruct the view of the driver of another vehicle on the second lane, who can interpret the flashing amber lights as a signal to proceed, and thus crash into the emerging pedestrian.

The Department for Transport removed pelican crossings from their list of approved designs for signalised crossings in 2016. The last pelican crossing to be installed on TfL’s road network was in January 2012. Some London boroughs continued to choose pelicans as the design for crossings on their roads. The last new pelican site was installed in February 2015 by London Borough of Barnet. Additionally, there are several crossings which had already been programmed before the January 2012 cut off date which is why they have an installation date of after January 2012.

There are still 847 pelican crossings in London, 167 of which are directly managed by Transport for London and the rest by the Boroughs.

Through Caroline Russell, we asked the Mayor how quickly he is planning to remove these death traps. Here is his response:

London has a legacy of pelican crossings which are gradually being replaced through various investment and modernisation programmes. TfL will be upgrading at least 40 in 2020/21, not including those that are part of wider TfL investment projects or borough schemes.
TfL takes a risk-based approach to the prioritisation of investment funding, and its Vision Zero policy places a high priority on improving locations on the road network where risk is highest.

Of course the Mayor, in typical English amateurism, does not explain how he assesses where “risk is highest”. We know that his poodle Will Norman, when he started in his post, wasted a lot of time and money producing a report linking danger with black spots with high KSIs and then packaged this discredited analysis with the name of “evidence based approached”

So we can only assume that Sadiq Khan is waiting for people to be killed before removing pelican crossings. That is NOT a Vision Zero approach.

But we know that #VisionZeroLDN has nothing to do with Vision Zero. It is a hypocritical, amateurish exercise that is failing. Last month Transport for London finally released the KSIs for 2019, which showed a 26% INCREASE in pedestrian fatalities.

Daniela Raczkowska survived Nazi horrors during the Second World War but she was killed by English nastiness and laziness.

UPDATE: A further Question to the Mayor has revealed the future plans by TfL to remove these lethal signals:

  • Question
    • Thank you for your response to my question 2020/1012 on the modernisation of pelican crossings. Given that pelican crossings are no longer approved in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD), how are your prioritising their modernisation, and when will they all be replaced?
  • Answer
    • As set out in my earlier response, Transport for London (TfL) takes a risk-based approach to modernising its traffic infrastructure, prioritising locations that present the highest risk to the public. TfL’s risk criteria includes, but is not exclusive to, the age of the equipment, the obsolescence of the equipment, the critical failure rate and associated risk of the equipment to the general public. As of April this year, TfL has 847 pelican crossings within London, out of around 5,000 sets of traffic signals.
    • Crossings make up 55 per cent of the total number of sites being modernised, of which half are Pelican crossings. As such, replacing Pelican crossings is a high priority for TfL.
    • Given its current financial position and the ‘safe stop’ period during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, TfL has had to reassess the number of sites it can modernise this year.  Initially it planned to upgrade 40 Pelican crossings this year, but has had to revise this to 22 upgrades. Replacing aging and higher risk infrastructure is key to Vision Zero, and TfL expects to replace a further 60 Pelican crossings in the next financial year to ensure the overall programme remains on track.

In other words, TfL plans to remove half of the pelican crossings on its roads by April 2022. No words about the hundreds of pelicans on Councils roads (“It is someone else’s job”)

Everyone has different abilities. Don’t discriminate against some of us.

Cycles provide enhanced mobility to all of us, especially now that most types are available also with electric assist.

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Amsterdam. By @quixoticgeek

The Beyond the Bicycle Coalition has been lobbying transport authorities, both at local and national level to keep in mind the needs of people who use cargo bikes and specially adapted cycles, when designing road infrastructure and incentive schemes.

Too many safe routes become unusable when narrow pinch points are built. This is very important now, as the pressure to build fast may lead people not to think about all the details.

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Courtesy of Ellis Palmer

Sustrans have listened and have embarked on a national programme to remove discriminatory barriers to the National Cycle Network

Coalition member Wheels for Wellbeing has posted a manifesto to ensure transport authorities don’t fall into discriminatory practices. Here are the asks:

We urgently ask for Central Government to:

  1. Engage with Disabled people’s organisations to ensure Disabled people are not locked out of their communities over the long term.
  2. Take measures to tackle the infrastructure barriers to Disabled people’s wheeled mobility:
    • Publish the reviewed national cycle design guidance (to replace LTN02/08)
    • Improve footways safety for all by explicitly allowing the use of mobility scooters in cycle lanes and rename “cycle lanes” as “mobility lanes” or “micro-mobility lanes”.
  3. Take measures to tackle the cost barrier to Disabled people taking up cycling:
    • Extend financial support for electric-cycles, adaptive cycles and cargo-cycles, to Disabled people in self-employment and those who are not in work
    • Support our call for Motability to extend its offer to include adaptive cycles
    • Require (& resource) local authorities to provide cycle training on Electric-cycles/adaptive cycles and inclusive cycle hire centres.
  4. Recognise the fact that cycles are mobility aids for many Disabled people and develop a blue badge for Disabled cyclists
  5. Run a national public education campaign (inspired by RNIB’s call for a Covid Courtesy Code)

Further we ask Local Authorities to:

  1. Involve local Disability organisations in the access-auditing of temporary schemes & in co-production of all permanent schemes.
  2. Prioritise safety and accessibility of all temporary walking and cycling footway widening & temporary Cycling schemes. We recommend the use of TfL’s Temporary Traffic Management Handbook.
  3. Carry out Equality Impact Assessments for all temporary schemes and apply inclusive design principles, referring to our Guide to Inclusive Cycling.
  4. Retain essential car access for pick up, drop-off and Blue Badge parking, including on otherwise car-free streets.
  5. Provide for accessible cycle parking for longer/wider cycles in town centres and on residential streets/estates/developments.

 

Gareth Powell is in contempt of court

Gareth Powell is Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London.

On 25th July 2018 (nearly three years ago) he wrote a letter (pdf) to the Assistant Coroner of the Inner West London Coroner’s Court, to explain what Transport for London was going to do to prevent a repeat of the avoidable killing of Lucia Ciccioli on Lavander Hill in October 2016.

Lucia was killed by a lorry driver who was talking on his mobile phone at the time.

Here is a media clips gallery and here is RoadPeace report of the Inquest

The junction’s poor design was in the Coroner’s view a major contributory factor to the tragedy and TfL was summoned to explain what they would be doing to fix the dangerous design that forces people riding bicycles to merge in front of motor vehicles.

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Specifically the Coroner wrote:

The narrow aspect of Lavander Hill immediately past the junction places cyclists in a vulnerable position when they arrive in Lavender Hill from the Junction. There is no cycle lane provision in Lavender Hill immediately after the junction.

Graphically this is the problem:

Vision_Zero_-_Ciccioli_crash_map

In his response to the Coroner, Gareth Powell outlined the solution: reduce the number of motor lanes from two to one before the junction and design a cycle lane before and after the junction. It is really not a difficult intervention.

However, in typical TfL fashion, Powell didn’t seem concerned about the urgency of fixing this death trap. He said that it would take 18 months (!!!) to prepare the revised design; a consultation would follow, and construction “could begin in 2020”.

So December 2019 was the promised deadline to show the new design. However December came and went and no announcement was made. We wrote to Stuart Reid, Head of Vision Zero at TfL, asking to see the plans but received no reply. We chased him twice and still no information; so we issued a FOIA request and TfL tried to weasel out citing Covid. We pressed them and finally got the answer:

We do not hold the information you have requested. We continue to work on the design of the junction which, despite our best endeavours, we were unable to complete at the end of last year. The design we are currently working on will be modelled to consider the impact upon things such as bus journey times and the needs of pedestrians in the area. However, under the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, this work has been delayed. Any final design will be subject to consultation.

Did Gareth Powell write to the Coroner apologising for breaking his promise? Did he write to the family of Lucia Ciccioli to apologise that he has not done what he promised to do?

We doubt it. Powell is taking advantage of a broken system. The Coroner issues a request to fix a life-threatening situation but has no power (and/or interest) to follow up; so the relevant authority plays the game: writes a letter with empty promises and then ignores them.

This is England: systems designed to fail so that the elites cannot be taken to account. A fantastically corrupt nation in denial.

A monument to Bullshit London

UPDATE 26.05.20 The work to extend the cycle lane to the whole length of Park Lane and to link it with existing cycle tracks is underway. It is promising that the bus stops bypasses are built in asphalt.

It is also good to see that the speed limit has been lowered to 30kph. It now needs to be enforced.

The main point of article stands: to open a half finished cycle track next to the fastest street in Central London for publicity purposes is very foolish, against Vision Zero principles, and characteristic of our Mayor.

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London is the world capital of two things: recycling dirty money and bullshit. It is a stinking place of foreign thieves and local lying politicians.

Londoners seem to be happy to pinch their nose and carry on. After eight years of the King of Bullshit, they were happy to elect an ex-lawyer, who says that building a massive tunnel under the Thames for motor traffic is carbon neutral.

Khan’s idea of planning is

  • make an announcement of an ambitious scheme
  • covertly encourage someone to oppose it
  • blame the opponent for not allowing him to be of service to Londoners

Just look at his various steps over the saga of the Oxford Street pedestrianisation.

There, the virus has effectively done what Khan was afraid to do.

Khan is not having a good crisis:

  • In early March while the virus was quickly spreading in the capital and Ireland was readying itself to lockdown, Khan announced that the St Patrick’s Parade would go ahead (he was later forced to backtrack),
  • At the beginning of the lockdown, he had evidence from cities like Milan and Barcelona that the number of public transport passengers would plummet to 5% of normal. He could then forecast almost to the day when he would run out of money. On day 2 of the lockdown, he should have gone to the Chancellor and said “either you give me £x billions or I need to shut down tube and buses”. He didn’t and he ended up being humiliated by the Clown,
  • Most seriously, under his watch, dozens of bus drivers and tube workers perished as they were asked to work without proper protection (follow this scandal here),
  • As the media reported on myriads of interventions in all continents to make walking and cycling safer, not one word from City Hall or Palestra House. The optimists were hoping that staff were beavering away on some phantasmagorical plan.

When Schapps and Gilligan announced that the Government was providing funding for urgent interventions, a week passed and still nothing from Khan,

Then he gave the cheerleaders what they wanted. A big ambitious plan. “Wow” “amazing” “game-changer”.

These people had learned nothing in the past four years. If one counts the cycling schemes that he axed or that he manouvred to be opposed, Khan’s tally of newly designed AND built cycle tracks is negative.

To give Khan the benefit of the doubt is a losing bet. To prove his mendacity, one just has to look at the short stretch of cycle track that has been built on Park Lane.

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One needs to overtake the bus to reach the start of the track. Obviously five lanes are insufficient to build a by-pass

There is a strong argument to intervene here: the N-S cycle track in Hyde Park is too busy and has been ruined with humps by the asocial sadists at the Royal Parks; Park Lane, the parallel route, is a no go Mad Max zone with drivers confident that speeds of 130km are tolerated.

So what did TfL do? they built a totally pointless track for a few hundred metres half way up Park Lane.

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What is Khan’s equivalent of “taking it on the chin?” Image by Simon Still

Why there? Because it is the only spot that they could find that met these criteria

  • somewhere recognisable by the world media
  • somewhere central (Khan had heard that Paris was shutting rue de Rivoli to cars)
  • somewhere with no bus stops

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Did you like that? Good now, enjoy racing with the Lamborghinis, and don’t forget to kiss Khan’s ass

So Khan found his stretch of few hundred meters where he could crow how much the “best big city in the world” was doing.

Did he think of linking his little track to the existing tracks? If he did, he must have been too busy designing and affixing his beautiful sign “StreetSpace for London”

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The monument to Bullshit London (Photo by Road.cc)

Did he think that Vision Zero would suggest not to open the cycle track until it was ready, rather than opening it as the death trap it is now?

You are having a laugh. This is politics; the track’s purpose is to make Khan look good, not to help Londoners.

Don’t let the Covid crisis go to waste

We will have to live with the virus until Summer 2021 at least. The next twelve months are a golden opportunity to transform our cities. Many mayors around the world are grasping the moment. Alas, Khan has so far been silent.

This is an evolving post.

The main reason to transform our cities is that in the UK in 2019 more people have died because of air pollution that the probable death toll from Covid19.

Initiatives around the world

Berlin

Coronavirus pandemic gives cyclists more road in Berlin – DW

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Pop-up bike lanes help with coronavirus physical distancing in Germany – The Guardian

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Bogota

22km of temporary bike lanes

Brussels

Centre of city – priority for people walking and cycling. 20kph speed limit – Le Soir

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Dublin

Parking spaces blocked to increase space for pedestrians. However not enforced.

London

  • For latest updates read this report from RDRF
  • TfL – Mayor announce StreetScape initiative: BikeBiz
    • Strategic cycling network using temporary materials, building new routes
    • Traffic lights are being altered to reduce the time Londoners must wait to cross
    • Some roads may be restricted to bus lanes and bikes only at certain times of the day.
    • More space will be given to pedestrians to reduce crowding at busy transport interchanges
    • UPDATE 15.05.20: Details and map published. Report by LCC
      Emerging London Streetspace Plan for Cycle Routes1612
    • UPDATE 19.06.20 £22m allocated to Boroughs for emergency interventions like strategic cycle routes, school streets, low traffic neighbourhoods and pedestrian space in town centres – Road.cc
  • **City** – Plans to pedestrianise main streets around Bank – FT
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  • Croydon – Several residential streets closed to prevent rat running – Council
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  • Greenwich – Widening footpaths in town centres and around Greenwich Park filtering more residential streets to reduce through traffic, creating more School Streets bringing forward plans for the Greenwich to Woolwich cycle route – Council
  • Hammersmith – Pavements in King Street and Uxbridge Road are to be temporarily widened to help with social distancing, by reducing two-lane roads to single lanes
  • Hackney – After Councillor Burke’s plans for extensive temporary filtering has been blocked by the Chief Executive of the Council (allegedly following legal advice), Burke and Mayor Glanville have written a letter to DfT Secretary Shapps to ask for clarifications
    • UPDATE 29.04 The Council has decided to widen pavement at seven sites near supermarkets and to close Broadway Market to through traffic
  • Lambethreleased £78,500 to enable immediate changes to the highway to allow physical distancing to take place at high priority locations

Milan

Milan announces ambitious scheme to reduce car use after lockdown – The Guardian

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Copenhagenize likes it, with one exception:

New York

Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Carlina Rivera to Introduce Legislation to Open City Streets During Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic – Press Release

New Zealand

New Zealand has become the first country to provide funding to make tactical urbanism into official government policy during the coronavirus pandemic – Forbes

Paris

Mathieu Chassignet on Twitter_ _[Thread] Liste des collectivités françaises, par ordre chronologiq

As well as many other French cities:

Philadelphia

City Announces Closure of Martin Luther King Drive, in the interest of facilitating social distancing among trail users. The 24 hours per day closure will last until further notice. – Municipality

Vienna

Several streets pedestrianised – Map

Birgit Hebein (@BirgitHebein) _ Twitter23

Rome

Rome Mayor @virginiaraggi pledges to build 150km of cycle lanes during Phase 2 of Covid response. BikeItalia

UK

Cycling UK is mapping various initiatives

  • For latest updates read this report from RDRF

See also this comprehensive spreadsheet

Delays kill – Open letter to Heidi Alexander

Ms Alexander,

After a horrific 2019, when more than 70 citizens have been killed walking in London (compared to 58 in 2018), the first killing of 2020 highlights why Transport for London is failing in its Vision Zero effort.

It was the third killing in a 100 metre stretch on Peckham High Street, over the past three years.

In 2014, before the first killing, Peckham Town Centre was identified by Transport for London, as one of two “Pedestrian Town Centre Safety Pilots”, because of deaths and serious injuries there.

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First killing: Mary O’Leary, 04.09.2015

Clipix _ Clipboard _ Mary O'Leary, Peckam Hi Street, 04.09.1513

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Mary O’Leary’s funeral. © Southwark News

After the first killing, of Mary O’Leary in Sept 2015 TfL stated: “Peckham has been selected as one of two locations for pedestrian focused safety improvements as part of the pedestrian town centres programme. Work is now underway to identify a wide ranging set of improvements to make the area safer and more appealing for pedestrians and over the next two years [by the end of 2017] these ideas will be developed and implemented.”

peckham-crash

Second killing: Peter Allingham, 04.09.2017

Viking enthusiast, publican, steam train driver - friends tell incredible life story of Peckham man

After the second killing, of Peter Allingham, in September 2017, Southwark Councillor Ian Wingfield, stated: “Council officers met with TfL on Monday to discuss their long-standing proposals to improve pedestrian safety in the town centre. TfL say they will consult on these plans in May 2018, with construction beginning in 2019. We have put pressure on TfL to act faster and bring these dates forward.”

Two months ago, at the Allingham inquest, Stuart Reid, TfL’s Vision Zero boss said: “We continue to work on a scheme to reduce danger in Peckham Town Centre as part of our Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury on London’s roads. Proposed upgrades include wider pavements, improved pedestrian crossings and reduced speed limits. The engineering scheme in Peckham has been extremely complex to develop, however we remain committed to improving safety there and will be consulting the public on a design early in the new year [2020], with a view to starting work following public feedback.”

So SIX YEARS after identifying this stretch of road as needing urgent intervention to protect citizens, and after three citizens being killed, we still don’t know what TfL is planning to do.

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Third killing: Jason Bent, 08.01.2020

First picture of father of one Jason Bent who was mowed down on Peckham High Street in South East Lo

This is common practice: whenever the issue to be resolved appears too difficult, it is put to one side, hoping it will go away.

This is criminal. Literally: TfL, as the relevant authority

(a)must carry out studies into accidents arising out of the use of vehicles

(b)must, in the light of those studies, take such measures as appear to the authority to be appropriate to prevent such accidents

[Section 39 of Road Traffic Act 88]

Nobody denies that the solution to Peckham High Street is difficult. The street is a busy shopping street with narrow pavements and is also used as a major arterial road. There are in other words irreconcilable demands. One cannot have an arterial flow with vehicles driving up to 50 kph on a narrow shopping street.

Some people are blaming pedestrians for crossing away from designated crossing places and encourage the introduction of barriers to pen in citizens. This is not a Vision Zero response: the waiting time at the pedestrian crossing is very long; moreover, the congested streets with stationary traffic induce people to cross along their desire lines. Barriers are conceptually alien to a programme that wants to encourage active travel.

It is clearly impossible to put a patch: TfL must have a “system” solution. Either

  • the traffic artery is diverted to the much wider A2
  • the current shops are relocated elsewhere.

And while the work is carried out, a 20kph (=12.4mph) speed limit needs to be implemented and enforced.

In the past year I have highlighted many safety concerns to Stuart Reid. Although I have always received a welcomed willingness to look at the issues, there is a distinct lack of urgency in fixing problems.

The Mayor’s Vision Zero Action Plan has been built around five interventions. Let me remind you of #5:

Post-collision response: Developing systematic information sharing and learning, along with improving justice and care for the victims of traffic incidents

My experience has been extremely frustrating: TfL is obstructing demands of greater transparency. There is no willingness to learn from failure and urgently to rectify situations that can lead to preventable deaths. Let me remind you that that is the purpose of S39 of RTA88. By kicking things in the long grass, Transport for London, for which you are responsible, are in contempt of the law and are criminally negligent.

Let me conclude by posting you this video, which should be watched daily by you, Stuart Reid and everyone involved in Vision Zero, so you can visualize how the seventy+ citizens you allowed to be killed look like:

 

UPDATE: On 28.01.20 TfL finally published its proposals to make Peckham High Street safer. They include lowering the speed limit to 30kph (20mph) encouraged by various raised tables, widening of pavements and pedestrian crossings, removal of some loading bays. There is no attempt to lower the level of motor traffic; people riding bikes are expected to share the road with buses and huge lorries like the ones in the pictures above.

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TfL promises: “Depending on the consultation feedback we receive, we plan to start building the scheme in late 2020 or early 2021.”

So it has taken four years to design some really tame improvements. No attempt radically to change traffic flows to ensure a pleasant and safe environment for the thousands of people who shop here.

UPDATE 30.01.20. Tragically, two days after the proposals were published, a fourth fatality occured, at the corner of Kelly Avenue and Peckham Road, just 150 metres West of the proposed scheme.

UPDATE 12.02.20. Heidi Alexander has responded to our letter, see below. She states that the proposed changes are only “the first phase of changes being developed for Peckham High Street”. She has “instructed TfL to bring forward further changes to the junction of Peckham High Street and Peckham Hill Street as quickly as possible”

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Tale of three junctions – Part 2: Deptford Broadway

This is a classic Vision Zero case:

  • a design, safe on paper, actually had a fatal flaw
  • when someone actually was killed as a consequence of the flaw, no proper investigation took place
  • Vision Zero London went to investigate and detected the fatal flaw
  • we are now waiting for the flaw to be corrected, but how long will it take? The last words we heard: “This will not be immediate”

In the afternoon of Sunday 16th September 2018 Julia Luxmoore Peto had gone shopping in Deptford. Just before 17:00 she was at the large junction between New Cross Road and Deptford Church Street.

Until a few years ago, this enormous, extremely busy junction had no protected pedestrian crossing; Transport for London eventually placed signaled crossings on three arms of the junction. However the design had a fatal flaw, not immediately apparent from the drawings, but indisputable to anyone who spends fifteen minutes at the junction.

deptford_1

Julia’s intended path had three stages:

  1. An unprotected crossing of the slip road for traffic turning left
  2. A signaled crossing of three lanes of traffic coming from West: two going straight and one turning right
  3. A third crossing (signaled) of the westbound traffic.

The phasing of the motor traffic of the second crossing is a. straight only, b. straight and right turn, c. right turn only. Naturally the pedestrian light shows red during the three phases. However 90% of the traffic goes straight, and after the second phase, when it stops, it gives the misleading impression that it is now safe to cross.

For someone crossing North to South, this false signal is augmented by the fact that often the traffic stopped at red consists of lorries, which obscure the third lane.

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It seems safe to cross. But beware of the third lane!

In the picture above, the lady may forget that the third lane is still on green. Adding to this confusion is the geometry of the staggered crossing, a dog left, which leads people to look away from the potential danger coming from the right.

Julia crossed the third lane as a bus approached; she was hit and died in hospital the following day.

At the inquest, the Coroner issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report to Chris Grayling concerning the issue that the signal of the second stage of a staggered pedestrian crossing may confuse people crossing the first stage. This is obviously an important point, but it is unlikely to be the contributory factor of the fatal crash here.

The PFD notes that, following the crash, TfL had installed louvres on the pedestrian lights to obviate the problem cited by the Coroner. We alerted TfL’s Vision Zero team that that measure was insufficient because the real problem was elsewhere, namely in the confusion created by the hidden third lane. That was the fatal fault in the design that killed Julia. We arranged for TfL’s Vision Zero team to view the site and they agreed with our analysis.

At the site visit, a number of solutions were discussed. For instance the staggered crossing can be redesigned so that it is dog right, so that the attention of pedestrians is drawn towards and not away from danger. We wait to know what TfL will implement.

We also pointed out that the crossing of the slip road should have a zebra:

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Is it appropriate for an 8 year old or an 80 year old to risk their lives here?

Finally, we suspect that there are many junctions with a similar flaw. We strongly urge Transport for London to review all their junctions if it is the case.

julia-luxmore-peto

Julia was only 27 when she was killed; she was training to become a speech therapist. This is how her father remembers her:

“She loved her friends, the children she worked with, and her family. She had lots of friends and they were very important to her.She wanted to work with people and help people. She had travelled to lots of different parts of the world, including working at an orphanage in Mongolia during her gap year. She believed in social justice and she was a feminist, and she believed in supporting people who were less fortunate than herself. She would have made a cracking speech and language therapist.”

She was killed as a consequence of a faulty design.

Let the image of this wonderful young woman be a constant reminder to everyone at TfL that the way they design roads may have tragic consequences; it requires constant supervision whether people use the facilities the way they were drawn on paper. Humans are not robots: they are fallible and don’t like to waste their time. Good design takes the humanity of users into consideration and creates systems where attention is directed towards what matters.

 

The banality of the killing fields

With credit to Hannah Arendt

On Saturday 31 August, Pat went to his favourite pub, the Molly Bloom on Kingsland Road in Dalston, for his regular lunchtime pint. At 13:00, he left the pub heading back home; Pat, 69 was the victim of a stroke a few years ago and one side of his body had limited mobility. As a consequence he used a crutch to walk. He was also in the habit of pushing a wheel chair, in case he got tired and needed a rest.

He started crossing Kingsland Road but never made it to the other side. A lorry driver didn’t see him and killed him.

The crash is under investigation; we don’t know how the driver, on a Roman-like road without a bend for several kilometres, failed to see a disabled man pushing a wheel chair crossing the road right in front of him.

We talked to some of the publicans at the Molly and the quotes sounded familiar but were nevertheless shocking:

“He stepped out without looking; it was his habit; we kept on telling him not to do it, but he would not listen; he always used to come out of the pub with his wheelchair and just start crossing the road. Like he didn’t care.”

“But how did the driver not see him?”

“I don’t know; I was inside, I didn’t see it. The driver could have been looking right or left”

“But should he not be looking ahead of him?”

Shrug of shoulders. “It is very sad, but he always did that: just crossed the road looking ahead; he didn’t care”

Maybe Pat didn’t care, or maybe he did; maybe he cared to show that he did not want to be cowed into submission by a culture that made him second class, not because of his disabilities, but because he could not or did not want to drive.

I left the pub asking myself: how could these people, who have spent many hours together with Pat, blame him for being killed? The answer is well known: they have been brainwashed by a society that instills in all citizens the concept that roads are designed for people who drive; people walking and cycling are lower class and must defer to the powerful drivers. Pat challenged the powerful and he was rightly killed.

This fascist attitude has been inculcated in people’s mind for decades, most notably by the Government’s Think! campaign, a poster child for victim blaming.

Screenshot 2019-09-15 at 00.31.39.png

Outside the pub, a few metres south, half of the pavement and half the carriageway was cordoned off for repairs. The people working at the site had parked their van on a double red line in a way that obscured the view to anyone wishing to cross the road; and many people were doing just that.

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I approached the manager of the team and pointed out the danger of their van.

“We have to park it somewhere”

“I understand but the way you have parked it, it is creating a visual obstruction for people who want to cross.”

“They should not be crossing here. There is a signaled crossing 100m up the road.”

“But people do cross here because they want to get to the station. A pensioner was killed at this very spot”

“Yes, but he was disabled”

“So disabled people who cross the road deserve to die?”

“No, but he shouldn’t have crossed here, it is not legal”

“Excuse me, but where does it say that it is illegal to cross the road here?”

“Well, we have to park it somewhere” We were entering a loop.

Difficult to reason with people who have been zombified. We tweeted the image above, pointing out the danger, and thankfully the Mayor of Hackney promised to raise the issue with TfL. The next day, the van was parked elsewhere.

(1) Mayor of Hackney on Twitter_ _@V0LDN @BrendaPuech @willnorman @MBCyclingTM I've already been in

This fascist mindset is also prevalent among the Council Officers to whom Glanville should be providing guidance. Take our request to put two zebra crossings on Lee St, a rat run just one kilometre south of the fatal collision. One would be in front of Haggerston Overground Station, and the second at the entrance of a local park which every afternoon teems with children; the gate is at a dangerous T-junction with unpredictable vehicular movements.

One would think that officers would judge whether citizens safety would be improved by these zebra crossings.

Wrong! The priority for the Hackney Officers is to limit the inconvenience to people who choose to drive, i.e. the people who choose to poison and endanger the children playing in the park and the citizens who use public transport. Here is the response we have received from Andy Cunningham, Head of Streetscene at Hackney Council:

zebra_2019-09-13_1233zebra2019-09-13_1232

In other words the Council adopts some form of mathematical bullshit, and tells us that the zebras are not justified. Officers have spent considerable time and money to measure traffic data, and plugged it in a formula designed to say No.

If the officers had not been zombified, they would have spent thirty minutes at 16:00 at the gate of the park and they would have realised that the crossing is hazardous especially given the high number of young children using it, the volume of drivers using the road as a rat run and the difficulty in predicting turns at the junction.

If the officers had not been zombified, they would understand the fascist nature of their decision process: provision of safety to ordinary citizens has to surpass an impossible hurdle in order not to inconvenience the chosen race: motorists.

But this is the essence of the Banality of Evil: people just doing their job, their mind impregnated by an evil meme, namely that drivers are more important citizens.

We hope that the Mayor of Hackney understands the importance of his role and starts to cleanse the officers from this evil ideology, and understands that people like Pat don’t deserve to die just because they choose to cross the road where it is convenient to them and not where it is convenient to those who poison us.