A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

A reminder

Posted by Alan on October 30, 2011

On Friday evening on the way between work and the comfort of the pub, I had the misfortune to bear witness to a road traffic accident. The roundabout on the south side of Trafalgar Sq. has never been my favourite piece of London to navigate but it’s slightly less stressful than Parliament Sq en route to the fast road east, the Victoria Embankment.

At the lights on the roundabout heading towards the Northumberland Avenue exit were myself (BorisBike as my steed) and a motorcycle courier – both of us forward of the double deck bus which had angled over both lanes and within clear sight lines for the bus driver. I am on the left on the nearside, the motorcyclist over towards the far side, quite probably in preparation to avoid the parked cars on Northumberland Ave.

The lights change and we move off, but as is fairly normal some pedestrians make a last dash in front of the traffic on the Northumberland Avenue crossing. The biker slows to avoid hitting them. The bus by now has moved behind me into the left lane.

Then rather suddenly: crash! A small Merc taxi with blacked out windows and diplomatic plates has hit the motorcyclist from behind. The impact gives the bike some unwanted momentum, it raises up throwing the biker off onto his back then lands down onto it’s right hand side. The bike screamed as the throttle twisted uncontrollably.

Thankfully the biker got up and was able to walk and after swapping details we all went our separate ways.

But it is an unfortunate reminder: it is a hostile environment out there on the roads.  With the encroaching darkness all it takes is for someone to be in a rush or not paying proper attention to cause disastrous consequences for someone else. Regardless of the mode you choose to use the road – please take time to think about the other users and how your own actions might impact upon them.

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Posted in Cycling | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A greenway, a waterway and a motorway (almost)

Posted by Alan on March 20, 2011

Olympics and boats

Olympic boats

Having successfully managed to stagger across the finish line at Bogle, the next challenge booked in the diary is the c2c. At at the moment most of my cycling is relatively short utility trips (i.e. shopping and commuting) this is something else to ‘man up’ for.  With a planned completion date of June, it’s time to start training properly!  Yesterday provided a glorious day here in London so I took the opportunity to check out East London’s ‘greenway’, cycling down through the Walthamstow marshes to it’s start at Hackney Wick.  At the moment the Lea/Lee* valley paths are being upgraded for the Olympics so there are a few diversions but once onto the Greenway you start to see what London is capable of infrastructure-wise.

The Greenway

The Greenway - segregated running

The Greenway cuts all the way across the borough of Newham, I believe it’s the main sewer from Hackney to Beckton sewage works. (It certainly smells that way when you pass by a manhole cover!) It’s flat, wide and straight – potentially a very fast piece of cycling infrastructure.  Again due to the Olympics and Crossrail, there are some diversions in place.  There were particularly poor involving much pushing the bike and queuing to allow road traffic in and out of the Olympic park.  It would be nice if there’d been a few signs to as it’s really easy to miss where you should cross Stratford High St.

Anti-cycling gate

Anti-cycling gate

Further down the track there are many road crossings – each with a set of anti-cycling gates at each side.  In most cases they seem to have been vandalised to allow free passage (probably for a few motorcyclist too…) but the odd one remains intact. It does seem a bit odd to create some infrastructure for fast easy cycling and then add barriers to prevent take up.  I know the main target is to prevent people running motorcyclists or quad bikes etc, this really doesn’t seem like the best solution.

The main objective of the trip was to cross the river using the Woolwich free ferry.  A strange anachronism of London down in the bottom right hand corner, the ferry connects the North and South Circular roads.

Bike and Boat

Bike and Boat - from the southside of the water

Apparently there is some legislation meaning there has to be a free crossing here – so the small ferry carries lorries, cars, bikes and pedestrians the short hop between North Woolwich and Woolwich. I wasn’t the only cyclist either! Crossing the river is quick and relatively easy – I was very lucky with where I was put on the boat, opening up a familiar view but from the ‘wrong side’ of the Thames barrier.

A familar sight

A familar sight - but from the 'wrong side'

Once on the south side however, it was pretty obvious the unwritten law (‘south London must be less good than north London’) rang true with respect to cycling facilities.  The ‘Thames Coastal Path’ weaves between the riverside and busy roads with lots of ‘give up an push’ signs.  In the end I gave up trying to follow the path round the Blackwall Reach peninsula due to the lack of sign posts! The roads of between Woolwich and Greenwich did have some advisory cycle lanes but on a Saturday afternoon were as snarled up as a rush hour.  At least, I’m not sure how much worse the traffic could get at rush hour.

Snarling traffic

Snarling traffic

By Greenwich I was pretty knackered – a quick pit stop and a chance to ‘refuel’ before heading under the river again using the foot tunnel.  Currently under renovation, the lifts are closed.  This meant carefully pushing the bike down a spiral staircase and the back up the other side.  Apparently this is part of ‘National Cycle Route 1’ but I didn’t see any signs and you can’t cycle in the tunnel (probably for the best – it’s very busy with people walking). Even back on the north side of the river there didn’t seem to be any NCN1 signs – so I just hit the road and headed towards Poplar. There’s loads of interesting things on the back streets here so it was really cool to explore a bit, even if all of the roads did some how seem to lead to the A12, effectively a motorway. Eventually back to the Lea/Lee path and to the ‘stow.

With 29.3 miles (46km) on the clock it was a new personal best. Still a long way to go though – need to nudge that above 40 miles and cycle every day for a while to ‘toughen up’. Where to venture next I wonder…?

*Lea/Lee – it is spelt differently in places. No idea why.

Posted in Cycling, Transport Rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Belisha Beacon

Posted by Alan on October 16, 2010

Belisha Beacon, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

If you didn’t have the photo, would you know what the subject of the photo was?

I think I picked up the name from my parents – who must have in turn picked it up from their grandparents, as their eponymous creator passed away in the year of their birth, let alone mine!

Still, on the way to the pub a couple of weeks ago with 6 friends no-one else knew…

Possibly factually correct info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belisha_beacon

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5…4…3…2…1… run!

Posted by Alan on July 14, 2010

Countdown pedestrian signal on Southwark Bridge Road, Southwark London

Countdown pedestrian signal (Southwark)

This is one of the latest ideas to hit London and something I now use roughly twice a week. There’s been a bit of negative press about these lights – “we are giving into the motorists” and lots of comment about the benefits in £-sterling. Well, maybe.

But personally it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Being a slightly observant chap, I’ve learned the sequence of the lights of the junction outside Southwark tube. Which means that I know that provided I’ve got 5 or 6 seconds to get to the island in the middle of the road walking towards the office pictured, I can get all the way across. The sequence means that the first lot of traffic to move is from The Cut/Union St – my basic ‘risk assessment’ (ugh! Health & Safety gone mad!) says unless I can hear blues and twos it’s pretty certain I’ll be OK.

I don’t think I’m alone in ignoring the red man either… oh well another storm in a London teacup!

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