Is Sadiq Khan purposely hiding real time pollution data?

If you subscribe to the AirText messaging service you will have received a number of SMS alerts recently saying “MODERATE air pollution”.

Notice how their website calls them Air Quality Alerts, thus leading one to think that quality is moderate, leading people to think that it is not so bad.

Indeed, why use the word “moderate” rather than “medium” or indeed “poor”?

Let’s assume you want to clear this bullshit fog with actual numbers and guidelines.

Sadiq Khan has made Air Quality his spitzen policy, so let’s see how he communicates with citizens. His policy page is here. The only map does not show the dire situation of today’s air, rather “the Mayor’s air quality actions across London”.

What a stupendous piece of self-aggrandising bullshit! The information on it is useless. For instance, the “Current Air Quality Data” is actually three years old …

Khan awarded a contract to friends to set up the BreatheLondon network of monitors. These seem to record lower levels than the official monitoring stations. Notice how most official stations show a level of 3

whereas the BreatheLondon monitors are all 2s

The above screenshots were taken at the same time. We don’t know if the numbers are comparable (but if they weren’t, what is the point?).

Let’s look at London Air which has comprehensive data from all the main official monitoring stations in London. We can see for example that on Monday 23rd January 2023, the Horseferry Road station (which is right next to a school playground) recorded unacceptably high levels of both NO2 and PM2.5 particulates

WHO hourly safety limits: NO2 = 200, PM2.5 = 35

The London Air website is fairly comprehensive, but it takes time to understand how to extract precise information. Its RSS feed of incidents of medium to high pollution events is no longer working.

What about other sources?

The BBC has for many years refused to provide accurate pollution information. Notice how wind, rainfall, temperature is measured accurately, whereas air quality just has an undefined badge, with uncertain provenance.

It is also probably wrong. At the same time the screenshot above was taken, another site, AQICN was calling air pollution in London “Moderate” – again that weasel word (If I find the asshole who started this ruse, I will give him a moderate smack in the head, and he will know what is coming)

AccuWeather uses data from PlumeLabs and this morning they were calling the Air Quality “Poor”, with PM2.5 at more than twice the safe limit (Where exactly?)

So we get a very mixed picture according to where we look, and numbers which are not easy to compare.

Knowing how slimy Khan is, we cannot help deducing that this obfuscation is deliberate. The reason is that if citizens knew exactly how bad sometimes the air we breath becomes, we would demand what other European cities do: forbid half or more of the drivers from using their poisoning vehicles at times of poor air quality.

But that takes cojones, which Khan does not have. So Londoners are told not to exercise outdoor, so that poisoners can keep on poisoning.

Interactive web tool helps participatory design of LTNs

A/B Street is an open source web tool designed to help citizens and Council officers play around with ideas on how best to implement a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

The project started in collaboration with Bristol City Council, who were aiming to engage with residents in East Bristol in designing a Liveable Neighbourhood in their area

The Turing Institute reports:

To capture Bristol residents’ needs, BCC launched a process with three phases: co-discover, co-develop, and co-design.

First, they collected feedback through online citizen engagement platform Commonplace, and paper surveys, on residents’ current experiences of their neighbourhood, aggregated on a digital map.

Second, they invited a diverse group of residents to attend virtual and in-person sessions to learn about the different street design options, and propose ideas based on their priorities. To reach people who may not typically attend public consultations, such as those new to the UK or who don’t speak English as their first language, BCC worked directly with volunteers (‘community champions’) in ethnic minority communities.

Third, BCC will now analyse these resident designs and work with traffic engineers to propose two schemes to pilot in East Bristol in 2023.

To facilitate the participation of citizens, BCC used the A/B Street tool

This interactive web tool allows anyone to visualise how small street changes, such as redirecting car traffic from certain residential streets, will affect the route options of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. In other words, it provides a shared canvas for residents, planners and policy makers to suggest, discuss and evaluate street designs. With a similar look and feel to other mapping apps, A/B Street can make creating a street design as easy as planning a route on Open Street Maps. Beyond usability, the tool’s map-based interface also helps BCC to answer questions that it has struggled to answer in the past, such as “where will traffic divert if we make a change on this street?”.

The A/B Street team is now working with planners and residents on street-design projects in places as varied as Islington, Taipei and Seattle.

New phase in Milan Open Square project targets school streets

In the past 4 years the city of Milan has rejuvenated 40 public squares and streets, by giving them back to citizens.

Following the playbook used by Janette Sadik-Khan in New York, the transformations were introduced as temporary measures. The typical objections by the usual suspects melt away after a few months, as everyone can see the massive improvements in quality of life.


Now the local authority is asking schools and citizens to propose new spaces outside kindergartens and schools.

Coupled with the plan of a 750 km network of cycle tracks in the metropolitan area, the Open Squares programme is transforming the Northern Italian city once famous for its smog.

And for all those cities too timid to reduce car-centric wastelands, please note: Mayor Sala was comfortably re-elected.

Why do Canal & River Trust, Canary Wharf Group and Tower Hamlets Council treat disabled people with such contempt?

The Thames Path at Canary Wharf has been closed for some weeks. A bridge over a lock is in need of urgent repairs, and the Canal & River Trust (responsible of all the inland water on the Isle of Dogs) has locked the gate, put up a sign and … problem solved.

They have not bothered to ask themselves: “If we close this gate, what will people walking and cycling (this is NCN Route 1) do? Is the diversion accessible to people on wheel chairs?” You can see from their sheet that no diversion route is shown.

Here is the diversion: the red line is the natural path one would take if no directions are given; the green line shows the longer, safer, accessible route. Without signs, no one would know it existed.

Let’s see what happens in both directions.

Going North, one meets the sign at A and would naturally follow the red line to B. There the pavement stops.

The first two lanes of the road go down an underground roundabout, a no-go area for pedestrians. The third lane goes up a slipway. One thus has to cross two lanes of fast traffic, with no zebra…

… only to find the slipway has the tiniest of pavements. Imagine you are on a wheel chair or have a push chair with a baby.

If you are walking from the North, you encounter the same issues, with the added insult that there is no warning sign at C that the path is closed.

The NCN signs tells you to go straight, and a big red sign in the middle of the path is just for advertising.

So one ends walking/cycling to D, only to find the path closed, and has to return to C, cursing the sheer incompetence of the idiots in charge.

The three authorities will probably say “Nothing to do with us”. And that is the crux of the matter: they are checkbox tickers, rather than human beings with concern for people with disabilities.

UPDATE 1 OCT – We have received the following from Canary Wharf Group:

Thanks for your feedback regarding the bridge works and accessibility issues. The bridge and signage is the responsibility of Canal & River Trust and the bridge itself is outside of the Canary Wharf estate boundary however, I flagged this with our estate management team when I saw your tweets and they have been to assess and as a result, we will have signage made up to post an alternative route including a safely accessible route. We have also reached out to Canal & River Trust to ask them about the repairs and schedule of works. I hope this eases some of your frustrations.

UPDATE 5 OCT – From the Reclaim Our River Campaign

UPDATE 15th October: Canary Wharf Group has placed a diversion sign on the North side of the bridge (Point C in the map above); however they refuse to put one on the South side, because “it is not their land”


UPDATE 25th October: Canal and River Trust has written to us. Effectively, these idiots don’t have a budget for emergency repairs, so they wil do nothing until next financial year, April 2023.

I can confirm that our contractors attended site on the 18/10/22 to scope out the requirements for the first stage of the works. We will start the planning stage over the coming month. A financial provision has been made in our budget for 2023/24 to allow the replacement to take place in April/May 2023. 

Additional signage is being arranged to divert users along the footway to the adjoining road and will be installed at the first opportunity.   

We have been advised by the local authority that the Thames Tow Path is a permissive right of way and not a designated right of way. Following identification of a concern regarding the condition of the bridge, we have acted to manage public safety. We have made financial provision at the earliest opportunity within our planning cycle to undertake the works and are developing the design in to allow us to act as soon as funding is available. 

UPDATE 25th November. Canal & River Trust have finally placed a diversion sign (the one we made and published) on the South side of the bridge

UPDATE 1 DECEMBER Tower Hamlets Council officers refuse to speed up the works required (see letter below). Subsequently, we have met again with Councillor Talukdar, who agrees that waiting eight months to fix the wooden boards is very unsatisfactory.

UPDATE 18 Feb 2023

The imbecils at Canary Wharf Group are making it even more difficult for citizens to navigate the deviation.

The offending signs have been correctly repositioned.

Still treating citizens in Woolwich with disrespect

Thirteen months ago we reported that a diversion on Q14 at Woolwich was disrespectful to people walking and cycling.

Image taken in January 2021

It is sad to report that the only thing that has changed is a new sign, which fittingly for the world capital of bullshit, is a lie.

Image taken in February 2022

The first sign said work would be completed in November 2020; the second one amended it to July 2021. It is now February 2022 and the cycle path is still closed.

Nothing has been done to make the diversion worthy of Sadiq Kahn aspiration of “world class cycling city”. More like Third World standards:

With four lanes of motor traffic, one would have thought that there is space to allocate one lane to cycle traffic, so that cyclists don’t have to share a narrow pavement with pedestrians.

Incidentally, Transport for London charges businesses who carry out work that involve closing carriageways; should they not do the same to those who close cycle tracks or pavements?

Our question to Transport for London: if the developer in Woolwich had blocked a traffic lane for 26 months (and counting), how much would it had to pay?

Institutionally unwilling to learn

Four and half years ago, Lucia Ciccioli was killed by a lorry driver at Lavender Hill. At the Inquest, the Coroner recognised that the junction layout was a contributory factor and asked Transport for London to rectify this death trap.

Last year we wrote how Transport for London failed to design a safe junction layout in the timescale they had promised.

Gareth Powell [Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London], 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.

It seems that our blog post has spurred TfL into action: it has been reported that they have finally prepared a design, although it has not been published.

Caroline Pidgeon, London Assembly member asked this pertinent question to the Mayor:

What steps has TfL taken to identify where other similar layouts are in place on TfL’s road network, so that similar improvements can be implemented?

The answer from the Mayor is appalling (but not unexpected from someone who has no understanding of Vision Zero:

The sites in Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Safer Junctions programme are determined using Excess Harm by applying a weighting to casualties based on severity and annual average daily traffic flows to determine total harm per million passenger journeys for each location. Excess harm is the additional harm observed per road segment compared to expected harm.

TfL has mapped the Casualty Harm Rate and Excess Harm data to highlight the most harmful roads and this information is available to the boroughs. Sites have not been identified where there are similarities to those found at the Lavender Hill / Elspeth Road junction because Excess Harm assessment is better for reducing road casualties. Similarly, TfL works closely with boroughs and encourages them to use a similar evidence-based approach to identifying priorities to reduce road danger on roads they manage.

As an answer to a follow up question, the Mayor adds

I understand that this is an experimental methodology and was used in conjunction with an existing framework to prioritise funding for existing schemes.

You can read a short explanation of TfL’s Excess Harm methodology here. This is the key formula:

In other words, TfL calculates the expected casualty rate on the network, allocates it according to road type, and will intervene only if the KSI rate on a stretch of road is higher than the expected one.

This shows that Vision Zero is NOT really one of the Mayor’s policies. Because if it were, the second part of the numerator would be zero and the methodology would become meaningless.

Let’s summarise:

  • Transport for London still equates casualties with danger: if they don’t see a corpse they will not fix it
  • Transport for London refuses to learn from failure and actively encourages other transport authorities in London to abstain from learning from failure
  • Transport for London adopts an experimental methodology that contravenes the most important principles of its core road safety policy and calls it evidence-based approach

Sadiq Khan is not an idiot; he is an arrogant liar who thinks he can fool Londoners; just like his predecessor.

Sadiq Khan fails to deliver StreetSpace promises

After European countries went in lockdown in March last year, many cities started to implement measures to promote active travel, from widening pavements to converting lanes on busy roads to cycle lanes.

For many weeks there was silence from London’s City Hall. Then finally on 15th May the StreetSpace initiative was launched with the usual “world-beating” exaggerations

So how much has actually been delivered by Transport for London in the past ten months?

Here is a list of promises made in May:

  • Quickly building a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials and including new routes
  • Some of the largest car-free zones in a capital city in central London.
  • Some streets will be be limited to walking, cycling and buses. This is now planned for streets between:
    • London Bridge and Shoreditch – i.e. Bishopsgate
    • Euston and Waterloo
    • Old Street and Holborn
  • Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only

A map was provided at the time of the announcement but it has strangely disappeared from TfL’s website. Instead they point to a map by Sustrans which of course does not show what was promised

Let’s see what has been delivered

  1. Quickly building a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials and including new routes
    • FAIL – No semblance of a network anywhere. a few measures here and there that dump people in dangerous circumstances.
      • Example: protected cycle lane on North side of Euston Road ends suddenly at British Library; no indications telling people how to progress East
  2. Some of the largest car-free zones in a capital city in central London
    • C – Car-free zones in Soho, Covent Garden and the City are welcome. Not enough to make the bombastic claims
  3. Bishopsgate limited to walking, cycling and buses
    • B – The scheme was implemented, but a judge ruled that it was unlawful to ban taxis (under appeal)
  4. Euston and Waterloo limited to walking, cycling and buses
    • No Grade – It is unclear what it was meant, There is already a mediocre quietway through Covent Garden and Bloomsbury.
  5. Clerkenwell Boulevard limited to walking, cycling and buses
    • FAIL – Absolutely nothing done
  6. Waterloo Bridge limited to walking, cycling and buses
    • FAIL – The anti-terror barrier have been pushed to where they should have been set in the first place. Nothing has been done at the danger points at entrance and exit of the bridge. Scandalous.
  7. London Bridge limited to walking, cycling and buses
    • FAIL – as Waterloo Bridge, protected lanes in the middle of the bridge (where danger is least) are rendered useless by no measures at either end. There are clear conflicts between paths of cyclists and buses

We have commented before about the PR (i.e. BS) exercise that was the Park Lane cycle lane.

Dangerous pinchpoint on Theobald’s Road
Clerkenwell Road, at the spot of a fatality and a serious injury. Nothing done
Good luck here, North end of Waterloo Bridge
London Bridge – an “accident” waiting to happen

It is difficult to understand why Sadiq Khan has not been taken to task for such a poor score card.

In our opinion the guy is not to be trusted. Please don’t waste your vote in May; there is a good Green candidate.

Diverting citizens disrespectfully

In Summer 2018 Will Norman opened the Eastern stretch of Quietway 14, which connects the Millennium Dome to the Woolwich Ferry, all along the river.

Then in Autumn 2019, the last two hundred meters had to be closed to allow the construction of a new development.

Some signs were prepared and a diversion set up.

Naturally they couldn’t resist placing their favourite sign.

So Isabelle Clements, founder of Wheels for Wellbeing, and featured in this Department for Transport ad on exactly the same Q14, would not be allowed to use it any longer.

And it gets worse. The diversion follows in parts the four-lanes “murderous Woolwich High Street” (not our words)

There is plenty of space on Woolwich Road / High Street to take a lane out, move the bus stop 100 metres back and create a new temporary cycle lane.

But that was too revolutionary in pre-Covid times.

And so nothing was done and people walking and cycling had to share a cramped pavement.

Then in May 2020 Sadiq Khan announced TfL’s Streetspace programme of reallocating space for active travel. But this is a backwater, not sexy enough for fancy photos like Park Lane. Will Norman has probably forgotten about it and TfL probably does not have a system to mantain the network of Quietways/Cycleways.

And so the active citizens of Woolwich are still confined to a narrow pavement.

The tyranny of space: everyone crammed into 1.5 meters, so that a few can drive at speed.

The building work was expected to end in October 2020, but hey, we know that these are empty promises. The path is still closed.

So, to summarise: lots of time was spent to make fancy videos of the new cycle route, but no money or thought has been spent to ensure that the cycle route is fit for purpose at all time.

This is the consequence of treating citizens with disrespect.

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.


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.


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 two 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.

Google Maps0320

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:


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.