Weekly War Bulletin, 11 Dec

Ken Livingstone has picked Val Shawcross as running partner.  Val chairs the assembly transport committee and has experience with both the outer and inner boroughs, so from a transport perspective, she’s probably the best person for the job.  She wants people to get out of their cars (including Olympics VIPs).  It’s worrying, though, that despite commissioning the cycle superhighway survey and stating that she “wants to know what what would get you cycling”, she hasn’t quite acknowledged yet that the result of the survey was a massive call for proper cycle paths.

The Scottish Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, resigned for his slow response to the snow.  By his criteria, Boris would have resigned several times over by now.  Truck drivers in Scotland have been allowed to work overtime — because safety rules matter less when it’s icy?  Of course, making sure that petrol stations have supplies is more important than preventing overworked truckers driving into a fuel tanker.

And according to BBC News, SouthEastern management have made up for all their snow-related customer service failings by, erm, turning up to their long-scheduled recurring meeting with passengers.  No resignations (or franchise forfeit) there, yet, then?

There are no drink-driving TV adverts this year — after all, the government has ended the War On The Motorist!  In Oxford, the annual police operation has caught twice as many wannabe killers as last year.  (I’d be cautious about concluding that one caused the other on such a small and non-controlled sample, though.)

Absurd innovation of week: yet another device to allow Motorists to pay less attention.

South Yorkshire are “trialling” a speed camera switch off.  Uh, haven’t we done enough “trials” to know what happens there?

And in South Wales, Motorists demonstrate their contempt for the lives of the people who are building roads for them.

There are record numbers riding the railways in London — but for how much longer?

While it’s hard to give a damn about car parking charge increases when you don’t have a car, it does seem unfortunate that the rising price of station car parking (at the same time as 13% p.a. fares hikes) appears to be making people give up the train rather than the car — one in four say they’re considering switching.

And a government adviser’s report suggests that we can cut overcrowding, by, erm, charging much more to use overcrowded trains.

Labour are reconsidering high speed rail, while the Tories are promising to keep those Tory voters along its route happy with fabulous cash payouts.

The Campaign for Clean Air in London are threatening to challenge Boris in court over the removal of the Western Extension Congestion Charge Zone.  Waste of public money if it goes to court?  No news outlet I can find mentions the massive EU penalties for poor air quality (many times the cost of a court case), or the vast numbers (much greater than direct road deaths) of otherwise economically-active people who are disabled and killed by pollution-related diseases.  Meanwhile our own Green MEPs are encouraging the EU to reject the mayor’s application for an extension to the deadline for complying with those air quality laws.

That runaway Northern Line train was both human error and faulty equipment.

The Met are looking at thousands of people’s Oyster records behind their backs.

Having cut back on customer services, SouthEastern are looking for more staff savings: look forward to strike action in the new year.

Somebody’s stealing the pavements in Camden.

Apparently a couple in a ridiculous chauffeur driven car got viciously attacked by a mob of rioting thugs?  They should have ridden inconspicuous hire bikes to their appointment…

“Grannies don’t like being thrown around”: cuts to pensioner bus travel will mean dedicated crap bus services for them.

(I’m late to this story, but had to post it.)  Ferrari driver who “unwittingly” drove around at 100mph is allowed to continue driving because he is reliant upon the car for his hospital treatment.  Apparently ferrari owners can’t afford bus fares, and they don’t have taxis in Devon…

And for some reason not allowing blue badge holders to use the olympic lanes is considered an outrage too far.  How will builders get to their jobs now?

The RV1 riverside bus has gone hydrogen powered, in order to test the technology.  The hydrogen production requires electricity, and the electricity is still mostly generated by burning coal and gas.  It might at least reduce the particulate pollution given off by these vehicles (or shift them back to the out-of-town power station, anyway).

Here’s an updated tube map for the day London goes under the waves.

I don’t often cover news outside of the UK, but: this is just how they drive in China; and this story from NZ made me giggle — they seem surprised that building a new motorway caused congestion.  Has NZ learned nothing from the mistakes that Europe made forty years ago?

Your moment of zen: the mayor’s Christmas card:

I took the opportunity to pen a few lines on this occasion.

We three kings of Orient are,
One in a taxi, one in a car,
One on a Boris Bike beating the tube strike,
None of them getting far.

Weekly War Bulletin, 4 Dec

I just looked outside to check and apparently it’s true: it snowed.  Unfortunately I can’t find a single news article about it, though, so you’ll just have to go without hearing a any news at all about snow causing transport chaos.  Oh, well, but I can’t resist a little blog post or two about just how appalling SouthEastern’s customer services were during the outage.  (I’m currently in Scotland, where the MD of Scotrail came on the news to tell everyone how hard he was working his staff, and even though the message was “find your own way home”, at least there was a message…)

But stop the presses!  The important news is that Becky Sargent, 24, from Portsmouth had an eight hour nightmare drive back from Bluewater.

Scotland was looking into some radical policies to tackle car addiction; the car lobby has succeeded in having them quietly dropped.

Bike hire opened to casual users… and crashed, of course.

In an effort to end the War On The Motorist, the government are declining to approve an EU scheme for cooperation on enforcement of traffic laws.  The scheme would allow countries to pass on fines to a Motorist’s home country for enforcement.  The UK government doesn’t want to join up because they are worried that it will cost too much to the UK.  Presumably because on the continent there are some fines of a magnitude that actually provides a serious disincentive to breaking the rules.

Not strictly on topic for AWWTM, but the opening of a new major trauma centre at St Mary’s caught my eye because motor vehicles are the single largest cause of major trauma.  It’s open just in time to take the victims of all the new M4 lane-changing pile-ups that Philip Hammond will be responsible for — indeed, St Mary’s was apparently chosen for its proximity to the M4, M40, and M1.  This is the final of four new MTCs around London, and they’re not cheap.  It’s great that the cost of NHS care is free at the point of delivery; it would just be nice if it were acknowledged at the point of tabloid hacks whinging about speed cameras, government ministers making dogma-based policies, and Motorists shouting about “road tax”.

The Department for Transport have already failed: the Health department thinks that it has been left to them to provide the nation with cycle paths.

Press release plugs massive relative rise in cycling in Merseyside.  Fails to even mention the absolute figures.

Hardened criminal Katie Price finally taken off the road, along with a killer HGV driver.

Kids in Oxford plea for drivers to slow down.

Some (overinterpreted) numbers on fines given for bicycle misuse in London.

A private members’ bill seems to move us onto Central European Time, moving our daylight hours to later in the day thus saving lives on the evening commute in the winter.  (The Scots don’t like this one, but I don’t know what the fuss is about — I’ve not managed to wake up before sunrise while here…)

I was thinking of getting some spoof parking tickets made up myself, actually…

The transport select committee have come out in favour of lowering the drink-drive limit — a change that almost everybody was agreed upon, but which Hammond recently decided against pursuing.

I’ve cycled in Yeovil and I can reassure anybody thinking of doing the same that chavs with air rifles are the least of your worries.

Insightful news: tube drivers might go on strike next year.  What was that about a no-strike deal, Boris?

Rosie Sullivan clearly has a great anti-motorist future ahead of her: holding up the traffic right from the start.

Your silly story: “bizarre incidents” as drivers in Limerick can’t work out which side of the motorway to drive on.  I don’t know if it’s still there, but the road from the ferry terminal at Cork always used to have helpful “wrong way turn back” signs for those who picked the wrong carriageway.

Weekly War Bulletin, 28 Aug

The Motorist ranks are divided by news that the suckers who pay for insurance are subsidising, to the tune of £50 per driver per year, the 2 million who don’t bother to get insured on account of the fact that they’ll almost certainly get away with it, and even if they don’t, the worst they’ll get is a slap on the wrist.  But the AA, always quick to spot an unfair attempt to blame the poor hard done by Motorist, has found that the high cost of insurance is not the fault of people driving uninsured, but of those who are killed or injured by drivers and who subsequently exaggerate the seriousness of their deaths and injuries so that they can over-claim.

And the Institute of Advanced Motorists, who must surely be anti-Motorist impostors, are even claiming that 70% of drivers are in favour of safety cameras.  It’s almost as if they’re suggesting that Tory newspapers have invented the War On The Motorist, and that in fact most drivers do not think that speeding is acceptable behaviour.  Everyone already knew that the IAM were imposters.  But what’s this?  The AA signing a letter in favour of speed cameras?  What has happened to the great institutions of Motorism?

Luckily, Motorists can unite against local councils who want to tax people for parking at work.  It’s just another stealth tax on the working man.  A War On The…, well, you know the rest.  Meanwhile, in Brent, Motorists are being bribed to give up their residents’ parking permits, with vouchers for bikes, season tickets and car clubs on offer.

Luckily, Super Philip Hammond to the rescue: central government might step in again and veto these anti-Motorist councils and their parking taxes.  And more importantly, Hammond has saved the pub industry, by agreeing that preventing drink driving would be bad for business, and is therefore unacceptable.

Cycling England, the quango administering Bikeability training courses and Cycling Cities looks likely to be cut.  What does anyone need Bikeability training for anyway, when we have PCSOs to teach people how to cycle safely and courteously — as they have with the 84 year old pavement cycling war veteran.  Police around the country are cracking down on the menace of anti-social cycling.

Manufacturer of 200mph car is baffled as to why they keep crashing.

This week, it rained.  The tube got a bit damp and stopped working.  And the first monthly tube strike is coming up in two weeks, as TfL proceed with plans to close ticket offices, arguing that modern technology has made many redundant.  Depot staff are also walking out over the coming months.

Every time is peak time on the railway now: rush hour has been redefined, so that train companies can charge more for longer.

TfL are having to manage the daily problem of Hire Bikes piling up around Waterloo in the evening.

Metal railings have collided with a bus in Picadilly Circus, injuring one.  This presumably makes things easier for the proposed Picadilly Circus remodelling, which will remove the remaining railings.

Stoned pop singer drives Range Rover into Snappy Snaps; not allowed to drive for six months.

And finally, Londonist has the architects’ pictures of the new Blackfriars Station: all pedestrians are expected to be ghosts by the time it opens.

Weekly War Bulletin, 19 June

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: