Ampere Way Updates

For well over a year, a cycle lane in Ampere Way, Croydon was full with plastic jersey barriers. Preventing use of the cycle lane. A few weeks ago there was an update to the cycle lane along Ampere Way.

It used to be like this.

It is now like this.

At least the cycle lane is now usable but the additional bollards now mean that the width of the cycle lane has decreased, road sweepers can not clean them and moving in and out of the cycle lane is difficult.

The bollards have been placed on the left side of the painted lane boundary line, reducing the width that was once there. As we can see from the image below, the road is plenty wide enough for the cycle lane to have been increased in width considerably and still allow for motorised forms of transport to pass smoothly.

Croydon’s Urban Motorways

As someone who has lived in or around Croydon all my life, I’ve never really noticed it before. That is until it was drawn to my attention by this post.

The post on As Easy As Riding A Bike is looking at a well-known cycling facility on Wellesly road. One that was in fact so bad on the first attempt, it was partially removed and modified. The post mentions how Wellesly road looks very similar to that of a motorway, several lanes of fast-moving traffic, no places for pedestrians to cross and some busses and trams thrown in for good measure. Standing back a little and it clearly divides the town centre in two. On one side you have central Croydon’s shopping plazas and entertainment areas and on the other you have a mass of office buildings, the busy east Croydon train station, Croydon Collage and the Fairfield Halls.

This isn’t the only road in Croydon that has similarities with a motorway. There are several flyovers and multilane roads that were designed in the 1950’s to help motor traffic move quickly from one area to the next. We have Roman Way, Croydon Flyover and The Purley Way for example. None of these roads have speed limits greater than 40mph and like all other speed limits, they are rarely obeyed by motorised traffic.

Roads like Wellesly Road and Purley Way are the kind which today should be very much avoided. They provide a fast and easy route though a busy area, taking away crossings for  pedestrians and providing traffic with the fastest route from A to B. The direct traffic flow with little traffic lights and long sight lines means vehicles travel much faster than they should and provide a dangerous situation for anybody who choose to travel by bicycle.

The centre of the town is pretty much surrounded by these kind of roads and it makes crossing the town by bicycle a difficult and sometimes unpleasant experience. If you have knowledge of the town there are various rat runs you can take to avoid said roads, but they usually involve crossing tram lines at tight angles or cycling through infrastructure which is not maintained.

TFL’s plans for Blackfriars bridge can be compared to these roads, hostile places for everyone that isn’t surrounded by metal, not pleasant to look at or use and certainly not inviting for clean modes of transportation.

You’re Looking for Trouble

I’m often told that I’m looking for trouble when I go out on my bicycle. After all, anyone that videos their bicycle ride is quite clearly acting up to the camera!

Comments range from

I ride a bike everyday and have never been aggressed in any way, so do thousands of others. The reason why is we aren’t looking for it.

to

it looks to me like you are looking for trouble and antagonising people for the benefit of the camera.

These comments come from all kinds of people, even from cyclists. They base this opinion around a few videos and presume that because I cycle in a position which they think is incorrect or because I did something different to what they would have done then I am acting up to the camera.

There are a few things to consider before making the assumption that I am looking for trouble. Distance, time, location, vehicle interactions and limited view.

Distance

My commute is 17 miles each way and I cycle to work and back again 5 days a week. Totalling my weekly mileage at 170 miles and that is not including the miles I do on the weekends. I miss a few days because of illness, holiday and occasionally bad weather. So my yearly mileage is normally around 7,000 miles. Much higher than the average cyclist.

Time

I work the 9 to 5, so the time I’m on the road is at rush hour, 170 miles a week at rush hour! Lots of traffic trying to get to work as quickly as possible and a few of them not thinking about anyone else but themselves.

Location

I commute from Croydon to central London. Whilst Croydon isn’t as big as central London, there is still a large quantity of traffic and I’m sure we are all aware of the traffic in central . I also follow some of the busiest routes in south London, with lots of different kinds of traffic all trying to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Vehicle Interactions

In a single day I will have nearly a thousand interactions with other vehicles, by that I mean them passing me or me passing them. So weekly it’s +5,000 interactions but I only upload maybe 10 videos a week. Why? Because I’m not looking for trouble and most people drive safely. There are a few videos where at the time I think it was bad but on reflection it doesn’t look so bad on the video, in this case I don’t bother to upload the video

Limited View

Most of my videos show bad drivers, so of course it might look like I’m out looking for them. I rarely post videos of good drivers, mainly because they don’t get many as many views and it’s hard to see how good a driver really is.

Conclusion

I bet it doesn’t look like I’m antagonizing drivers or looking for trouble 99% of the time, and that is because I’m not, the other 1% is just down to people’s perceptions of a minority of incidences where they think they would have done better.
Pedal 7,000 miles in my shoes, ride 170 miles a week on the same roads as me and see how you react.

Dangerous Pass – GY07 ***

I’m back on the road, unfortunately on 4 wheels and with an engine. I’ve had some camera mounts for a windshield for quite some time but I’ve not been able to use them because of my broken clavicle. Today was the day that I felt I could drive again and I went for a drive on some of the country roads around me. That’s one of the highlights of living in Croydon, It’s a big town, close to the city but also close to the country side.

Traveling down Shirely Church Road in Croydon when an approaching car flashed me as they where approaching a cyclist on their side of the road. I knew that it meant they didn’t care about the cyclists safety or mine and they just wanted to get passed. My instincts where to brake hard, move as far to the left as possible and sound the horn to A. warn the cyclist of the approaching danger B. to show my disapproval to the driver.

The driver passes only inches away from the cyclist and barely slowed, I honestly thought that we were either going to have a head on collision or the cyclist was going to get knocked over. Luckily neither happened but that won’t stop me from reporting this driver to Road Safe London. Unfortunately I was only able to get half the number plate but I’m hoping that it can still be traced and the driver spoken to about their actions on the road, they are quite clearly a danger to vulnerable road users and are putting their convince before the safety of others!

Croydon bicycle shops hit in the riots

Image from Cycling Weekly

Croydon has a handful of bicycle shops, ranging from top end bikes and parts to the lower end bikes. Geoffrey Butler Cycles recently told Cycling Weekly their story from the night of the riots last month.

Geoffrey Butler Cycles is located in the high street of South Croydon, a world of difference from West Croydon where the rioters where kicking off. Stephen Delaney, manager of Geoffrey Butler Cycles, went to his store at around 8pm and the door to his shop was already kicked in and several thousand pounds worth of stock was already missing, included a Team Sky Pinarello Dogma with Di2 Dura-Ace worth over £7,000. He decided the best way to protect his store was to stay up all night and protect it him self, he called some colleagues and friends to come and help him out, they blocked up the door with Calmpagnolo delivery boxes.

Geoffrey Butler Cycles also owns Bike Plus which is situated just a few miles down the road, at around midnight Mr Delaney received a call that this was also being broken into and rushed down there. In front of him was two white vans which pulled up by the shop but drove off as he got out. Quite clearly showing the intent of the thieves. Only a few bikes were taken from Bike Plus, and again staff arrived and stayed in the shop all night to protect it as the Police didn’t have the resources to protect local shop keepers.
In total Geoffrey Butler and Bike Plus had £40,000 worth of stock taken.

Cycle King which is based just down the road from Geoffrey Butler was completely cleared out, an estimated 600 bikes were taken which totalled over £120,000 worth of stock. As mentioned before, it is thought that this was done by an organised group of people. This looting was done well away from all the other action and looters turned up in white vans and packed them full of goods. Cycle King was forced to change the shutters they had several years ago by the council as they didn’t fit in with the rest of the high street. And as a result the cheaper ones where no match for organised criminals.

Originally reported by Cycling Weekly >

71 Drivers in Croydon with more than 12 points

Apparently there are 71 drivers in Croydon that are still driving with more than 12 points on their license. In each case the court has decided that banning the drivers will cause exceptional hardship. One of the drivers has got more than 17 points and been banned 3 times in 4 years.

Driving to me has always been seen as a privilege. You are allowed to get up to 12 points on your license and after that it gets taken away from you. Well that is what is meant to happen. Courts all across the country are letting people who routinely break the laws of the road back on the road. If you depend on your vehicle to live, to earn money or to provide for your family. Then your driving should be squeaky clean, some of these 71 drivers have been caught several times for the same offences, those offences include; speeding, no license, no insurance and using mobile phones.

There is a reason why these drivers have got points, they are breaking laws and rules of the road and they should be banned, have their vehicles seized and crushed!

The Broken Clavicle Part I

The broken clavicle is a common cycling injury. Cyclists often try to break their fall by out stretching their arm and unfortunately this leads to a break or fracture in the clavicle.

This happened to me 17 days ago, I won’t be going into detail about how it happened as the police are looking into it. But the resulting collision for me was the Tarmac at a high rate of speed. Before you ask, there is no video, my helmet camera was bashed, squashed and the memory card thrown from the camera when I hit the ground, I have looked for it but I can’t find it.

So I’m laying on the ground looking at the morning sky and I don’t even bother to try to get up, I know I’ve at least fractured my clavicle. Luckily there was a school nearby and a few shops on the other side of the road. Lots of people where there to help, be in calling emergency services, taking control of the situation, talking to me, contacting my parents and controlling traffic so it didn’t drive over me as I laid in the road.

Once the ambulance arrived they took a look and its pretty clear there is something wrong with my clavicle but we won’t know what until it gets x-rayed. At first I take gas and air to relieve the pain, I believe it’s a mixture of laughing gas and oxygen, it’s bloody awesome but you have to keep breathing it for pain relief.
They also gave me some oramorph which is morphine based but did little for me.

Before we could leave for A&E we had to wait for the police to arrive and they certainly took their time. We couldn’t leave incase the other person involved left. Eventually my mother arrived and said she would wait so I could go to A&E. So about 40 minutes after it had happened I’m finally in a moving ambulance.

So I’m finally at A&E, I’m given 10mg or morphine and I’m waiting for a porter to take me to x-ray. The police turn up and have a quick chap, they look over the bike and I tell them what happened, I found it strange that they didn’t appear to take notes of what I described in detail. But they where interested in the camera and what it would show, at that moment in time none of us knew the damage to the camera or that the memory card was missing.

The porter finally arrives and takes me down to x-ray. Unfortunately x-ray is a slow process and it would appear that morphine does nothing for me as I’m still in excruciating pain. Who knows how much time I was waiting for x-ray but it was too long for me!

Eventually I’m through x-ray and back in A&E, waiting for the results.

So the doctor comes to see me, she has looked at the x-ray and states it’s a basic fracture and the only thing they will do is put it in a sling and let it heal. It’s one they will definitely not operate on.
I had to be booked in at the fracture clinic where I will go for regular check ups to make sure it’s healing well. Unfortunately this is done a week after the break and I’m going on holiday in 2 days time. We ask for their advice and they say I should be fine to travel and the appointment is pushed back till after I’m back.

I’m discharged from hospital and I’m on my way home with some pain killers and my arm in a sling. I’m happy with the way everything has turned out and looking forward to the road to recovery but how simple is this road going to be?

Cycle Lanes of Croydon

As I recently blogged, Croydon – A cycling borough, Croydon will be receiving extra funding from the mayor to improve cycling in the borough. I’ve heard that this funding may well be coming to the council over a 3 year period which is going to equate to roughly £150,000 to spend per year on cycling.

The aim of the money is to make Croydon (and other boroughs that receive money) a cycling town. A place where people start to cycle instead of using other forms of transport but to achieve this Croydon Council will need to spend the money wisely on facilities and projects that will be beneficial to cycling and not harm it.

Over the next few months I will be making video logs of current cycle facilities that Croydon has and any new work which takes place. It seems from experience that any new facilities put in are done so in small segments, and are of no benefit to cyclists.

For example:

Said videos will be included in a youtube playlist found here.

Edit: Small spelling mistake 🙂

Croydon – A cycling Borough

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced yesterday that £4,000,000 would be spread across the 13 cycling boroughs of London that he had named in 2010.

Those boroughs are Barking & Dagenham, 
Bexley, 
Havering:, 
Redbridge, 
Brent, Ealing, 
Haringey, 
Hillingdon, Hounslow, Bromley, Croydon, 
Kingston and 
Merton.

Croydon will be receiving the largest amount of money, £450,500 which should go towards making Croydon a better place to be a cyclist. Be that adding more cycle facilities, adding more parking or offering cycle training.

And Croydon certainly does need that! At present cycling isn’t great in Croydon, despite being the London borough with the highest population of people and the 5th largest borough the cycling facilities are poor and parking is hard to find outside of the town centre.

When you do find a cycling facility it will be the usual crap, substandard, not maintained, not cleaned and often putting you in danger. Many cyclists have stated the danger of the cycle lane that travels along Croydon Road (A236), for miles cyclists are encouraged to cycle in the door zone and I see many unaware cyclists falling into just that potentially life costing trap!

Croydon has had 5 cycling facilities in the well-known cycling facility of the month which is run by Warrington cycle campaign. Each is a great example of the fine work and thought that is given to cyclists in Croydon. Don’t think we are any different to anywhere else, this happens all over the country!

Will nearly £500,000 improve cycling in Croydon? I shall certainly be on the look out for new and updated cycling facilities but i doubt that what we get will be any better than what we already have!

Croydon will certainly be a tough place to improve. Cars are relied on heavily by anyone that doesn’t live near a shopping centre, supermarket or local shops. Places like the Purley Way which contain a vast array of shops is very impracticable to travel to and from by bicycle. Bulk purchases are made in these shops and bringing them back on a bicycle would be a challenge.

Croydon isn’t exactly known for its road planning anyway. Look at Valley Park as an example. It contains a vast amount of shops including the only Ikea in South London, cinema, dining and a large B&Q. Yet there is only one way in and out!?
Which stupid designer thought of that idea?
It’s almost impossible to get out of there on a busy afternoon as everyone has had the same idea and gone shopping!

Croydon will never become a cycling town if the council doesn’t start looking after cyclists. Adding new facilities and parking is great! But if they are not maintained then  how can we use them safely?

Another example from Croydon Road (A236) is a small section just after Mitchem common and before the petrol station. A small section of cycle lane is in very poor quality, it is always filled with water, stones and glass. And just yesterday I had to move a tyre out of it.

I can only hope that we won’t be sold the same fairytale that TFL is doing with the Barclays Cycle Superhighways!

Expansion to Croydon Tramlink Could Break the Town Centre

Tramlink stop at East Croydon railway station ...

Image via Wikipedia

The tram system in Croydon has been a fantastic addition to the town and an easy way to get around if you live near one of the tram lines. But in recent years it has been running at max capacity and was clearly visible when Tramlink decided to change the route that the trams took a few years ago to try to increase performance.

Croydon Council will soon decide if is to use some funding from Transport for London to add an addition 10 trams to the system in the hope to decrease crowding and waiting times.

This will clearly be a fantastic addition to the tram system if it is something you use, but what effect will it have on other transport across Croydon?

Outside the town centre the effect will be minimal. The tram system was built on disused railway routes and on the sides of roads, which means that there is a higher chance that you will have to stop at traffic lights whilst the a tram crosses. This increase is minimal and not a problem if you ask me.

The problem I see, and it’s a problem currently. Is in the town centre where the trams use the road way to and come to a junction with other roads. At present the tram always gets priority and the lights change in their favour on the next light change.

This currently affects all road junctions where by the trams are on the road, but mostly it is an issue by East Croydon station, West Croydon Station and the junction over the underpass. What this can mean is that you are waiting at a red traffic light for up to 5 minutes before you can continue. This does cause massive traffic jams at peak times for apparently no reason.

For example (see picture below) we have the junction of West Croydon Station. The 3 routes into this junction are Station Road, N end (from the north) and the trams/busses come out of Tamworth Road. Station road has lots of traffic coming through it, and is always busy. N End road is also busy but the traffic is often less as you can only go down Tamworth Road. And Tamworth Road should only have taxi’s, busses, cyclists and trams coming out of it. The usual traffic light rotation is Station Road, then N End then Tamworth Road.

But if a Tram approaches along Tamworth Road when the lights at Station Road are green, then the next light phase will be Tamworth Road. Once the lights at Tamworth Road have changed to green, it goes back to Station Road, and the road users waiting at N End have to wait for another rotation before they get a green light.

That is just one example of how the trams get priority at junctions around the town centre of Croydon. There at least 5 other examples of where this happens around central Croydon. And with the increase in Trams traveling on this route, it is only going to get worse.

There is an easy fix, and that’s change how the light phasing works when a tram comes, fine if it gets priority to keep the system running, but at least put the light rotation back into place rather than re-setting it.

As it is, cycling in Croydon is a pain due to the tram lines that have been put in. Most of the crossing are not at a right angle, and trying to cross them at a right angle will only cause conflict with motor vehicles. The addition of these extra trams and the dodgy light phasing will only cause all other road users pain. Especially a problem for cyclists in the colder months due to loss of body heat.