For really large values of “week”. I was too busy to digest October’s news as it happened, so here’s a quick look at the stories that stood out since the last Bulletin. Normal service should be resumed from next week.
TfL aren’t happy about delays to the cycle-hire scheme. I’d have thought TfL would have bigger contractor fuckups to get upset about — implementation of the bike hire scheme looks fabulously competent compared to most transport projects.
Speaking of which, TfL have resorted to banning colour photocopies and first-class mail, in order to save every penny. Network Rail, though, seem happy to chuck another £600k bonus at boss Iain Coucher, with the DfT actively stepping back from the matter.
Hammersmith & City line closed for three weeks in order to demolish a taxi rank at Paddington in preparation for Crossrail. That’s, erm, the war on taxis? No engineering work during the olympics, though. The IOC and olympics organisers have decided that they can cause enough disruption by themselves.
Regeneration plans at Wembley include a residential and retail development focussed on a street that people will be expected not to drive on. That’s the war on the motorist, that is.
This week, a driver was shot dead in rush hour traffic in Cricklewood. There’s no word on whether this was gangland drama, personal feud, or just the normal behaviour of city drivers, amplified by the presence of one additional lethal weapon. Police closed the Hendon Way for a “fingertip search”.
Police in Barking are just “investigating” the violent killing of a baby.
It just goes to show what a terrible effect this war on the Motorist is having when the fire brigade are beaten by the bike. The bicycling heroes of the Clapham Common fire are a sign of Wandsworth’s “traffic misery” — “misery” that is to continue, as a development project that would have included fixing up the “bottleneck” one-way system was vetoed by the communities minister merely because it would “harm the character of the area”. Philip Hammond should surely have a word in his ear about this blatant act of war on the Motorist.
Except! What’s this? Phillip Hammond, he who claims to want to put an end to the war on the Motorist, is trying to give more power to the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency to stop and punish Motorists and Motorist companies.
Highways Agency engineers working on widening the M25 (“to reduce congestion”) are having to waste time — time that they could be spending building roads — putting in fences and hedges to protect a St Albans naturist club from the noise. “We’re not closing,” shouted the militants from their trampolines. “We’ll never close, we’re here to stay forever, whatever life throws at us”.
A cabbie is reported to have had a “lucky escape” after being doored by Beyonce Knowles in her Mercedes outside Harrods. A lucky escape from what?
Rest your eyes on the new Picadilly line trains (due 2012).
Last week we reported that finances for Crossrail were safe. But a week is a long time in politics…
The CPRE have investigated the cycling “revolution” in London and discovered, er, there isn’t one.
Lollipop ladies are to get spy cams in their lollipops to catch Motorists who think it’s fine to drive over children. The comments on the Daily Mail article are certainly up to the high standard that we have come to expect. “However, this would make mean making the little darlings wait sometimes, and of course we can’t be destroying the idea that our cute little precious kiddies have to have everything Right Now Instantly, can we?” Oh you took the words right out of my mouth, Batman (if that is your real name).
And the Daily Mail is similarly conflicted over who to side with in the story of the primary school kids cycling to school unsupervised. They’re nice upper middle class kids in Dulwich! But they’re cycling, and on the pavements! But it’s two fingers to the interfering politically correct health and safety nanny state! But, but…
Spies! Stealth taxes! Those NuLiebour Big Brother councils are fighting dirty with conspicuous CCTV smart cars.
Meanwhile, in the regions…
Two children have been crushed to death by powered gates in gated communities designed for people who are paranoid about car theft.
The famously Motorist persecuting Bristol City Council, administrators over a city that, er, consistently has the highest and most debilitating car dependency of any major city in the UK outside of London, are fighting the war on the Motorist by removing a whole 12 city centre parking spaces (out of thousands) in order to install cycle stands.
Finally, your moment of zen, via Boing Boing, the Singapore fail train:
Previously, Jag-driving cycle-fearing new Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond candidly told interviewers that his teenage son had asked him, “so, ah, what is the point of your job?” Politics Home is now reporting that he has been candidly telling interviewers for The Spectator that not being a Lib Dem is the only possible reason he didn’t get a real job, the job of the moment, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. It’s almost as though he wishes he weren’t Secretary of State for Transport. That’s one thing we’re all agreed on, at least. (Tip of the hat to Railway Eye)
However, the power hungry petrol head did find time amongst all the other Very Important Things that transport secretaries do to end the speculation over whether the new government would drop tools on Crossrail: they’ve promised carry on and finish the whole thing. Just not said when by. Presumably this means that it’s Thameslink upgrade, Great Western electrification, and HS2 that get cut instead. (HT to London Reconnections)
Luckily, the economics boffins advising the government have developed a cunning plan for saving money on running trains. It’s all about supply and demand, see. If demand outstrips supply, you’ve got to do something to bring the two back into line. The boffins suggest that the way to do that with rain travel is to rip out the seats. Perfect! Make trains even more crap and demand is bound to fall back into line with supply. Even better, raise the fares by 7%. If that doesn’t get ’em back in their cars, what will?
Meanwhile, we find ourselves unlikely allies of the Daily Mail, who report that even in the age of the economy drive there’s still one publicly funded ministerial limo left in Westminster. It belongs to one David Miliband, who has been clocking up the miles on the campaign trail, and allegedly leaving it on the double yellows while he pops out for some hand-shaking and baby-kissing amongst the party members.
Also, pity the poor hard done by driver as there are more new calls for a reduction to the drink-drive limit — do check out the wonderfully vacuous and inarticulate statement from the not-even-entertaining-anymore Association of British Drivers, who were brave enough to take a stand against those who will take away the right of the humble Motorist to go out and kill somebody of a Friday evening. And then there are the trials of countdown displays on pedestrian crossing lights. These should be fun: pedestrians have been so well trained by drivers to think that the phase when the green man and the amber traffic light are both flashing is a phase designated for rapid acceleration of vehicles, and now traffic planners have decided to make the situation more interesting by re-training pedestrians to think that they can still safely step out into the road just at that moment when drivers are eyeing the amber light with their feet poised.
Meanwhile, in the provinces…
York has decided against having congestion charging, in favour of “improving public transport and making walking and cycling more attractive”. Staff at Dulux are on standby for a large order of blue and red from the city council as I write.
Pavement cyclists in Norfolk. Tut. More on these later.
Look at these unsporting fellows in Manchester, installing average-speed cameras. That’s basically a war crime. Everyone knows that average-speed cameras take all the thrill out of speeding without getting caught. The comments are, as ever, entertaining.
Cyclist rides naked through Suffolk village. “We don’t have this sort of thing in Acton.” Nope, I tellin’ ee, that’s the sorta nonsense them there folk up London way gets up to, with their disgusten by-cyclen ways.
Sustrans claims huge success in getting kids to cycle to school. The people of Northamptonshire must be shocked and appalled. There, the council’s opposition Labour group think it’s an absolute disgrace to suggest that kids should be doing something so dangerous as cycling, and want a stop put to it at once.
In Wales, man with mentally crippling micropenis condition desperately seeking some sense of purpose but running out of ways to try finding it.
And finally, secret recordings leaked from the BP boardroom, here re-enacted by actors: