TFL Reviewing Priority Junctions

Yesterday I got a press release from TFL stating the priority junctions they will be looking into as part of the cycle safety review. Read the press release here >

I recall raising issues with regards to CS7 and several of the junctions, I wasn’t the only one. Oval, Stockwell and the left turn down Clapham common spring to mind. In fact I recall my concerns got the attraction of the project manager, who invited me to talk to him about CS7. We rode along sections of it and spoke about various things, I highlighted the issue with Oval and Stockwell but it got ignored.

Those of us using the routes long before the superhighways came into play knew exactly what was wrong. We knew exactly how poor the facilities where when they where first put in. It’s funny how those of us who use the roads daily are not asked for their opinion on potential changes that will affect us greatly or what we think the issues are.

Take Care on London’s Roads

An e-mail I got from TFL…

I am writing to both cyclists and drivers to remind them to take care on London’s roads.

Cyclists are reminded to:

  • Be aware of blind spots all around large vehicles. It’s often safer to hang back
  • Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they have seen you
  • Not ride through red traffic lights. It’s dangerous and you can be fined £30
  • Allow space between you and parked vehicles. Doors may be opened suddenly

No mention of what drivers are reminded to be aware of on the roads. Hopefully a bit of education about cyclists and their needs on the road but that is probably a long shot.

Motorcycles in the bus lane

Yesterday TFL announced that motorcycles will now be allowed to use all bus lanes in London.

Previous to yesterdays announcement motorcycle use of bus lanes in London was on a trial basis, the second of its kind. Both trials lasting 18 months and on selected sections. This was to gain an understanding on the effect of allowing them to use the bus lane.

Collision rates in bus lanes in the second trial decreased by 5.8 per cent for motorcyclists and by 8.5 per cent for cyclists when compared with the first trial

Safety in numbers, as long as two wheelers stick together and don’t squabble about the space then I’m sure people will be more aware about us in the bus lanes.

In line with this increased enforcement, the average speed for motorcyclists in bus lanes reduced by 6.5 per cent during the trial, with the proportion of motorcyclists exceeding the speed limit decreasing by one fifth (51 per cent in September 2010 down to 41 per cent in September 2011).

41% of motorcyclists still speeding in the bus lanes? Seeing as how that was enforced by the Police, it shows just what sort of problem we have on our roads. People see speeding as acceptable even with the dangers of the bus lane.

Another study by TfL indicated that journeys made by motorcycles using bus lanes were, on average, more than 10 per cent quicker than those not using bus lanes and 36 per cent quicker than cars

It was quiet clear already to know that using the bus lanes is faster than sitting in a queue of cars. Seeing as how I can often keep up with a few motorbikes and mopeds over a few miles of bus lane and stop starts at traffic lights, 36% faster is a pretty good figure to hear. Now if only a bus lane went from my house to my work place.

As long as motorcyclists are aware that they need to share the bus lane with us (that is a two-way street) then I don’t have too much of a problem with the idea. But if they start behaving like the examples below, it is going to be a problem!

You can find out more information about the previous study here.

I Love Taxi Drivers

Ok I don’t really, the majority of my worst incidences have been with taxi drivers and they seem to be invincible! From my experience the police pass any reports to the PCO and the PCO hold their hands up and say it’s up to the police to sort it out.

The public carriage office in its current state is a bit of a shambles, I have been provided a small amount of inside knowledge from someone who was involved with the PCO from a day-to-day basis on a professional level. I won’t go into detail at present, it would be a very long post but the end result is taxi drivers in London are basically untouchable and a few of them act as if they know that.

I’ve reported various incidences of varying degrees to the PCO, in every case I’ve not had a positive response, most of them result in a ‘It’s not our job to the police the roads’ and a few result in ‘we can’t view youtube videos so it’s your word against theirs’. It normally ends there, they are very understaffed and just don’t have time to look into these cases in enough detail.

I’ve tried reporting it to the Police but the MET handed over regulation and licensing of hackney carriages to TFL in 2000 and they seem to try to push the reports on TFL/PCO.

So far I’ve gotten not a single result from anything that has happened with a black cab. If you follow what I’ve published on youtube then you will know there are some real shockers.
I have had a few incidences which I’ve been told will be put on the driver’s record, but note these where not confirmed and the information did not come from someone who worked at the PCO. So I have no way to be certain.

Transport for London have provided a handy document that outlines the laws which govern hackney carriages and it states

In this Abstract, ‘The Licensing Authority’ means Transport for London (TfL) which will exercise the duties imposed by the London Cab Order 1934 as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to apply the laws in that document. In the document is the Standard Scale, which is the different fines that TFL/PCO are to apply to drivers when the break various laws, unfortunately the fines are maximum and do not have to be that exact amount.

  • Level 1 = £200
  • Level 2 = £500
  • Level 3 = £1,000
  • Level 4 = £2,500
  • Level 5 = £5,000

Lets highlight a few of the laws and what fines should be applied to the drivers that break them.

39. Various acts of misbehaviour by taxi driver (Act of 1843 s28; Act of 1831 s 56)

(1) The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1) or two months imprisonment:

(a) Wanton or furious driving.

(b)  Causing hurt or damage to any person by carelessness or wilful misbehaviour.

(c)  Drunkenness during employment.

(d)  Use of insulting or abusive language during employment.

(e)  Use of insulting gestures during employment.

(f)  Any misbehaviour during employment.

(2)  The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1 )

(a)  Injuring or endangering the life, limbs or property of any persons by intoxication, wanton or furious driving or any other wilful misconduct.

(b)  Using abusive or insulting language or rude behaviour towards any person.

(c)  Assaulting or obstructing any police officer in the execution of his duty.

(3)  This type of behaviour is also contrary to laws of general application, for example the Public Order Act 1986, carrying where appropriate heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to deal with drivers who; drive dangerously, injury someone, damage someones property, swear at someone, use insulting gestures.

In several case I have been sworn at, threatened and had people driving dangerously around me. So that would mean that several drivers should have gotten fines but instead they may have a mark on their record or they got away with it.

I guess I will have to push the PCO next time I have an incident with a taxi and get them to properly deal with the driver. At present it’s a joke and I get the feeling that taxi drivers are currently untouchable which is a problem when some of them think you shouldn’t be on the road and they are king.

TFL Getting People to Cycle and Walk

Along with Recyclebank, TFL are planning a scheme where people will get rewards and discounts for making journeys in London on foot or by bicycle.

The idea is to get more people to walk and cycle in the capital to reduce pollution, boost fitness and ease congestion. Users will collect points for every journey they make and will be redeemable against a range of offers and discounts.

Launch is expected to take place in Spring 2012 and could be a massive hit with people who already walk and cycle in London. It is designed to work with your phone and GPS transmitter, with an app that logs your journey and rewards you from that.

Read More >

I could personally see this useful, depending on the amount of points you get per journey, it could potentially mean free lunches at Marks & Spencer or at least reduced costs.

This announcement comes only days after +2,000 cyclists and pedestrians took to Blackfriars Bridge in protest against TFL for not putting more thought into vulnerable road users in their re-designed Blackfriars Bridge.

It gives two pictures, one side TFL want to make the traffic flow for motorised vehicles as quick as possible but on the other side they want to get people out of their cars and onto the streets which they have just put fast-moving and dangerous traffic next to.

7 Days to go – Blackfriars Bridge 12th of October

Only 7 days until the LCC’s planned ride takes place at 6pm on Blackfriars Bridge.

Credits to Ealing Cycling Campaign

This isn’t just about Blackfriars Bridge anymore, TFL aren’t listening to vulnerable road users. We can’t let them ignore us, if they go ahead with the current plans then who knows what cycling will be like for Londoners in the future!

Hundreds have already pledged to the LCC that they will attend, lets hope that hundreds more turn up on the evening.

Blackfriars Bridge October 12th!

BE THERE!

The LCC sent out a newsletter yesterday with information about the next Blackfriars bridge flashride. Giving us plenty of warning about the next date to try and attract as many cyclists as possible. It’s important that we show up in numbers to show just how important it is.

TFL has shown their true intentions very clearly, they are car centric, in a city which already has awful congestion problems and pollution problems. They want people to get as quickly as possible from A to B whilst they are in their cars. This in turn puts cyclists and pedestrians in danger as they increase the speed limit and decrease the space we have to use.

It’s time for action, cyclists in the city and ibikeslondon have been pushing this forward for quite some time, but they and the rest of us need help from everyone to protest against this, even if don’t use this bridge. It is important to come along and add to the protest, if TFL win this ‘war’ then who knows what they will do to us next!

Show your support on the LCC page and by turning on Blackfriars bridge on Wednesday the 12th of October at 5.45pm.

Are we being sold a fairytale?

It’s approaching the time of year where another set of Barclays Cycle Superhighway routes are going to be opened. Work has already been underway for several weeks, with the roads being re-surfaced and blue paint being laid. In some places it has even meant a remodel of the road design, reducing 2 lane sections of road into one.

The cycle superhighways are meant to make it easier and safer for cyclists to commute into and out of London via direct and continuous cycle route . But CS7 and CS3 haven’t exactly done that.

CS3 is pretty much a nightmare. The shared pavement sections on Cable Street and the A13 aren’t continuous and aren’t exactly what i would call safe. Pedestrians walking onto the cycle route, plenty of roads crossing the path where they have priority. And due to how narrow it is, it makes it very hard to pass slower cyclists if it’s busy.
Due to the on road bits being built on sections of road which are quite narrow, then there is lots of conflict with drivers as you are forced to take a primary road position at plenty of points to keep safe. Not exactly what a novice cyclist wants to be doing on their dream cycle path to work.

CS7 is much the similar, i use it near daily for my commute to and from work and anyone that watches my videos will know that it certainly comes with issues. At certain sections you have to take a primary position to avoid dangerous overtakes and to keep your self safe.

Most of the cycle lanes along both routes only meet the minimum requirements set by the DfT (1.5m in width). With less than 1 mile of both of them being any greater. Even less of them are mandatory, and thus you will often find that other vehicles are driving in them and it’s not uncommon for it to actually be completely blocked.

Re-design of the road structure has been kept to a minimum. Sections of road have been re-designed to attempt to keep traffic flow and cycling flow constant but key issues like left hooks have not been addressed.

TFL boast about the increase in ASL size and quantity. Which is pointless considering they aren’t even enforced and more often than not they are full with other kinds of vehicles or you can’t get to them!

The main problem I see with these cycle lanes is the mentality of cyclists. I witness on a near daily basis cyclists filtering in the blue cycle lane in an unsafe position. Be it through a small gap or up the inside of a left turning TP flat-bed lorry. When these blue cycle lanes of death are laid down on the road, it gives cyclists the feeling that they are safe because they have their own designated area but in reality we are still at risk from the motorists that care not for our safety.

These cycle lanes are meant to aid in the cycling revolution that is happening in London. An increase of 70% of cycle journeys was recorded on CS3 and CS7. But the cycle lanes do not meet the demands of commuters, more often that not they are overflowing with cyclists overtaking each other and conflicts with drivers are not dropping.

Will the new cycle superhighway routes be an improvement over what has been given to us?

On a side note, don’t even try to use the superhighways on a weekend. It’s like cycling down Oxford street!

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.

The continued Success of the Barclays Cycle Hire

Barclays Cycle Hire bikes

Image by duncan via Flickr

Transport for London stated today that the Barclays Cycle Hire customers have cycled to the moon and back 13 times in the first 6 months of operation.  That’s over 2.5 million journeys at over 10,000,000km cycled.

The busiest day for the scheme saw more than 27,500 journeys, covering more than 124,000km.

There are nearly 110,000 registered users and ‘casual’ users have purchased over 28,000 access periods in just 8 weeks.

Plans for extending the scheme have been announced, this will see the blue bikes heading into and out of; Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Bow, Canary Wharf, Mile End and Poplar. This expansion will included 2,000 bikes and 4,200 docking points across new and old areas. These added station should be up and running in 2012.

I’ve been trying to compare the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme to others across the world, but it seems very hard to come up with figures of usage at a similar time to what TFL have produced. This is especially hard when trying to compare it to the Vélib’ scheme in Paris, mainly because my french is poor. Parlez-vous anglais?

I got some vague stats for both the Vélib’ and the bixi scheme which run in Paris and Montreal. In the first year the Vélib’ scheme logged 20,000,000 journeys with an average of 70,000 a day. Where as the Bixi scheme logged only just over 1,000,000 journeys. The thing to remember here is that the Vélib scheme is bigger than ours. And the bixi scheme has the same number of docks as us but we have more bikes.

I think the Cycle Hire scheme is clearly working, people are using it and the image of them on the street will only draw more people into cycling, which is a bonus.

But Boris needs to address some issues, and that’s the lack of free spaces to dock. I still find that I can go to several docking points in the middle of the day and not be able to park. That is the most frustrating part of using the scheme.
He should also look at how we can improve cycling as a whole in London. Making London a friendlier place to cycle, reducing the traffic, reducing traffic speed, more cycling specific routes. These will all aid cycling in London on a whole and increase the uptake of the cycle hire scheme. And not do things like reducing the congestion charge zone, that was one great thing that saw cycling improve massively in central London.