Tag Archives: fines

Weekly War Bulletin, 1 Jan

A rollover bulletin…

Apparently some people had holiday journeys disrupted by snow?  The civil servants are having fun suggesting technical solutions to the third-rail problem — some more expensive than others.  (Not that the overhead-electric east coast route did any better: the lines came down under the weight of ice; I have vague memories of being told that the line was built with a larger than recommended distance between gantries to save money, in the knowledge that this would mean the cables would fall down more readily.)  Guess it’ll be another fares hike to pay for that, if it ever happens, then.  Can’t have anyone suggesting that we should instead be investing in arranging our lives and economy in a less mobility-reliant way.  Meanwhile, from his bunker, the mayor boasted about London’s resilient transport network even as it predictably ground to a halt.

The weather turned out to be awfully convenient for SouthEastern, who, having called an emergency and cancelled their trains, had the snow days struck from their performance records and subsequently just happened to meet their targets by the tiniest sliver, thus avoiding compensating season ticket holders.

Philip Hammond’s Department for Transport don’t care about the thousands of known dangerous drivers on the roads.  Our judges seem to think that it’s their job to facilitate the truck driver training careers of convicted road-rage attackers.  And the police seem to think that pushing somebody under an oncoming vehicle is fine if they’re a cyclist.  That’s The War On The Motorist, that is.  Just compare the authorities’ actions to those in The War On Drugs.

And the latest reform of road safety initiatives mean that you will no-longer get fined if you only go 10%+9mph over the limit — because what harm could you possibly do at 41 in a built-up area?  As one Daily Mail reader points out, this is “yet another money-gouging racket at the motorist’s expense”.

The Western Extension Zone is no more: Boris promised to obey the people’s will, and 41% of people wanted the WEZ to go, so the numerically challenged mayor (elected by the will of 24.1% of the electorate) obeyed.  The removal of the WEZ, and loss of its £55m revenue, will be funded by the £60m raised by another bus fare hike.

It’s time for those fares increases.  Up to £5,000 season tickets on some routes — though frankly, if you find yourself in the situation where you need to do a £5,000 commute, I think you might be doing something wrong.  Predictions are for a shift from rail to private car,

Fuel duty and VAT also go up this week, though, so it’s still a good time to leave the car behind.  The Express are desperately trying to stir up the resistance.  The Institute of Advanced Motorists is suggesting that, gasp, Motorists might be forced to drive at responsible speeds in order to save fuel, while RMI beg us please won’t somebody think of the petrol stations?

Fake ban on cycling to be enforced by fake police on the South Bank.

Government to publish data on where most people are recklessly breaking the law they are having greatest success at bleeding the poor innocent hard done-by Motorist dry. (c) All Newspapers.

Awww.  Poor Motorists can’t even terrorise sick people by taking short-cuts through hospital car parks without getting hassle some jobsworth.  It’s The War On The Motorist, I tell you.

Absurd solution of the week: Maria Eagle thinks we should pay Motorists not to break the law.  I think there is great potential here for basing all of post-New Labour’s manifesto on this concept.

Speaking of absurd transport solutions, last Bulletin we noted that the absurd Royal Docks cable car would not be entirely privately funded as Boris had originally promised.  Now our suspicions have been confirmed: upon further investigation, estimated costs jump from £25m to £40m, and there is no chance of being built before the mayor’s Olympic deadline.

Could we please drop this folly now and divert the money to keeping our existing river crossings open?  Greenwich Tunnel, the nearest existing crossing (excluding tubes and the motor-only Blackwall Tunnel), is plagued by unscheduled closures due to maintenance problems, with the council and contractors providing a customer service that they surely learnt from SouthEastern.

People got to travel on the tube for free last night, courtesy of a loans company that charges 2,689% interest.  When grilled by LBC, Boris called it extortion, as he happily took the money that they had obtained by extortion.

Humankind has reached the stage where it has developed computers that can be aware of the emotional state of the people using them.  What noble purpose should we find for this technology?  Satnavs that don’t upset their poor sensitive drivers, of course.  Somebody get one for this guy.

Following the earlier news that ELL passenger numbers have risen fast, and the recent introduction of the full timetable, Ian Brown — the man who organised London Overground and had great visions for the public takeover of all suburban rail in London under TfL — is honoured.

Tory campaigners are trying to distract from Boris Johnson’s failure to resolve the problems that unions are striking over by accusing the unions of calling strikes merely to make the mayor look bad.

That Oxford coach that turned over on the motorway? A drunk passenger done it.

The police have been visiting the people selling stolen bikes at Brick Lane.

Careful now.  Cabbies have learned dozens of new ways to kill you.

More plans for congestion relief at Bank.

New York consider adding bicycle training to their driving test.

This “news” is written by “Ian Onions”, which is a delightful combination of syllables.

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, 25 Sep

As we know, Boris has been quietly dropping policies that improve our transport and built environment by cutting private and business vehicle use.  The already delayed Low Emission Zone, for example, has been pushed back another two years — so another two years of the smogs that cost the city millions of pounds and thousands of lives.

All Newspapers reported the story that Brake are backing helmets for hire bikes – they’re essential, apparently.  Indeed, Boris is terrified by people’s careless Borisbiking.  As CycaLogical points out, though, All Newspapers overlooked the next part of Brake’s recommendations — that traffic be cut, speed be cut, and more routes be de-Motorised.

Oona King thinks that cycling in London will take off only if we provide showers for “hot and sweaty” cyclists.  No mention of the one issue that non-cyclists most consistently cite as putting them off: too much traffic too badly driven, and the lack of sane de-Motorised infrastructure.

Car park fees at tube stations are to rise — a stealth fares hike says All Newspapers.  Presumably, since there is no other way to get to a tube station, Motorists will just have to drive all the way to their final destination instead.  And up and down the country local councils are continuing their War On The Motorist by considering raising parking fines.

From the department of absurd transport “solutions”: the 155mph 23 seat business-class “superbus“.  And the electric van fitted with sci-fi sound-effects, because people would obviously be unable to adapt to a world with quieter vehicles.

Instead, how about a more stepped introduction to driving, with recently-passed Motorists kept off the roads after dark?

Via Boing Boing: the story of an Illinois state trooper who sends emails while driving at 126mph, before inevitably veering into an oncoming car, killing two.  His comeuppance? A 30 month suspended sentence, two years off work on full pay, and the receipt of $75,000 worker’s compensation.  If that isn’t a harsh disincentive to drive dangerously…

The number of careless driving convictions is falling.  Interpret this fact as evidence for anything you like.

Cycling is cool — but not for professionals.  Therefore professionals are not cool.

Recall of Bentleys: the flying B mascot will impale the pedestrians that get hit by the cars, they found.  Obviously, it’s fine to sell something that you know will kill people, it’s only the impaling bit that’s wrong.

London Underground will be fined for flying flaps that slapped passengers on the platform.

The proposal to give Waterloo Station (a “much altered and uncoordinated mix of styles”) listed building status has been rejected, leaving Network Rail free to mess about it with it.

Brixton bus depot burned down.

Apparently it was car-free day on Wednesday.  Me neither.

Railway first-aiders say they’re not allowed to give first-aid to passengers.

And your moment of zen, via flickr blog and flickr user Brunocerous: the sad sight of an old tree downed by storms in NYC.

BJN_1152 tree v SUV

Weekly War Bulletin, 4 Sep

How to shift modal share to cycling?  Shut down the tube.  TfL say commuters should get on their bikes during the strikes that start today.

Prince Charles has another brilliant idea: a national tour to say nice things about cycling.  But how to get around such a big and difficult to traverse country as the UK?  How about a £100k private train?  “‘Peep peep,’ said Charles the Mental Engine to Thomas, as he was pulling Annie and Clarabel on the 08:27 stopping service to Birmingham New Street.  ‘Get out of my fucking way.  Don’t you know who I am?'”

A professor of marketing has discovered that sad non-cyclists envy us awesome cyclists.  This is not news.  One only needs to watch all the cabbies, bikers, and white van men sat in the advanced stop lane for cyclists at the lights, desperately hoping that people will see their position and mistake them for a cool bicyclist.

And from the desk of Professor Obvious: drivers are not very good at driving when they are angry.

We were supposed to be able to use hire bikes without a subscription and key around about now.  TfL now say casual users won’t be allowed to have a go until the new year.

And with other important transport projects being mothballed, scaled back, and dropped entirely, rumours are flying that Boris, fearing that the electorate will take it out on him, might give up and seek to return to Parliament, to represent Londoners as a back bench trouble maker.

Oxfordshire towns and villages can rent their own speed cameras for £5000 a year, after a residents’ backlash against the county’s cameras being switched off.

The motorways are full, and the M6 toll road has failed to solve the congestion problem around Birmingham, because Motorists will not pay for a road when there is a free one going to the same place.

Want to get to your destination three minutes quicker?  You can now take advantage of a new convenient fast-track level-crossing service from the British Judiciary, where you can put the lives of hundreds of people in danger for the competitive price of just £50.  Payment may be made by direct debit; no need to turn up in person to pay.  On days when revenue enforcement officers are unavailable, the service is free.

Police arrest drunk driver; crash his supercar into garden.  Heh.

London-Frankfurt direct trains are moving into the testing phase; but intra-national high-speed rail is going to face hiking nimbys.

Finally, your moment of zen: a cyclist with a reckless disregard for his own safety — where is his helmet?

Weekly War Bulletin, 21 Aug

As yet more counties have to switch off their speed cameras, a study from the Department of The Obvious finds that more people are speeding where the cameras have been switched off.

This week’s cold hard news, though, is all about how some rich sportsman drove an absurdly inappropriate vehicle into central Manchester and got a parking ticket from a mean looking unrepentant traffic warden.  When you make millions of pounds a week, you can afford to do what you like with our streets.  “Supercar” drivers (for some reason I can’t read that word without thinking, I’m super, thanks for asking…) in Westminster just chuck their parking tickets away as they leave the country.  A fellow footballer demonstrates that in a country which punishes homicidal behaviour with £60 fines, millionaires will happily keep on behaving homicidally until you confiscate their weapons.  And a TV actor is released on bail and presumably allowed to continue driving his BMW after giving a pedestrian serious head injuries and driving away without stopping.

There’s another type of person who likes to drive in London.  In Peckham, a shop has collided with a BMW, killing its driver, who was in his 30s.  Hmm.

Motorists whine about having their human right to park wherever they bloody want being infringed.  Except that the government have this week ended the war on the motorist!  Hooray!  Motorists right to park on your front lawn, in your business’ front yard, or, indeed, on any part of a pavement that is technically private land, has been enshrined in law.  Only IanVisits dissents.

Sounds about right: on average, one child in every class is killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle before they can leave school.  Kids in rich London boroughs are safer.  Hey, it’s just the necessary price we pay for our modern quality of life…

It’s OK though: authorities and businesses around Holborn are taking seriously the dangerous anti-social behaviour on our streets: they’re setting their private armies of wannabe cops on anti-social cyclists.  Previously, London’s battalions of private security guards were able to keep themselves busy tackling the threats posed by tourists, train spotters and press photographers.  Now that the EU has ruled that owning a camera is not an act of terrorism, security have had to find a new threat to neutralise, and a new set of laws to make up.  Look forward to being hassled by people who think it’s illegal to ride without a helmet, or who tell you that they will call the police if you don’t stay within the advisory cycle lane, because as a private security guard they know the law and that is the law.

As the Lib Dems join the fight over just who it was that had the idea to install hire bikes, we find that one in six of them aren’t even in use yet, because installation of docking stations in some of the posher parts of town has been held up by people who are worried that they will take road space away from their Mercedes.

Ready for the next round of train fare increases?  The Secretary of State for Motoring Transport could abolish the cap of 1% above inflation increases, in the hope that more expensive train fares will mean higher fares revenue, and less need to subsidise the trains.  Like it does on the, er, very expensive but empty SouthEastern bullet trains from St Pancras to Kent, which have already had to be subsidised by exempting SouthEastern’s conventional services from the 1% cap.  All sound a bit complicated and surreal?  That’s train fares.

Another reason we must build HS2: how else will people get to London Birmingham Airport on time for their flight to Edinburgh?  It’s not like they can use Heathrow, given how awful the shopping is there.

Local train in Suffolk hits a sewage tanker, whose driver thought that getting his sewage to its destination a couple of minutes quicker was more important than the life and limb of 21 train passengers and staff.

Your moment of zen: bear gets stuck in car! (via Boing Boing)

Weekly War Bulletin, 7 Aug

The big news this week is that the government has put dogma ahead of practical economic policy by scrapping their support for speed cameras; Oxford were first to switch off their cameras, and now many more are following.  Everybody knows that the sole purpose of speed cameras was to rake in gazillions of pounds, which local police forces got to pocket.  Without central government financial support for the camera schemes, the local police will have no money to pay for them.  The logic is watertight.  I don’t know how the government experts have failed to follow it, when so many Motorists in the comment threads have.

Meanwhile, get out of a driving ban free, by blaming your nine points worth of speeding on your dead mother.

Hit and run driver leaves cyclist lying on Bracknell roundabout; Motorists following just drive on past.

Here’s a car that runs on shit.  This pretty much sums up Britain’s approach to solving transport problems: come up with ever more absurd but headline catching ideas that give a vague impression that people are thinking hard about the problem and working tirelessly on clever solutions.  Quietly step around the real causes of the problems.  Recycle the same solution and news stories every three to five years.

East London councils are queuing up to pave over their playing fields for, er, Olympic Games VIP car parks.  What a fabulous celebration of sport these Olympics will be.

Croydon chavs throw baby under bus.

Tut.  How dare a minority section of the London population go around believing that they are entitled to vast amounts of expensive dedicated infrastructure, on which they can speed around dangerously, imposing their smells upon the people around them.  These bloody joggers should know their place.

Where have all the bicycles gone?  To the Ukraine: gang of stolen bike exporters caught by GPS enabled decoys.

Sign language for “where’s the nearest tube?” mistaken for “I’m ganna push you on the tracks.”  Deaf man ends up in court.

Oh yeah, remember that epidemic of Toyota braking problems?  Just bad drivers blaming their tools.

Sustrans think that Bike Hire phase 2 money could be better spent “expanding potential” for cycling in the outer boroughs.

I’ll leave you with a page full of frickin awesome art deco trains:

Weekly War Bulletin, 31 July

Apparently some sort of new bicycle thing — a hire scheme of some sort — launched in London on Friday.  After things got heated with an organised anti-bank stickering campaign, a man was arrested for kicking one of the poor things.  And if we had known that usage on Friday would be free — and with hindsight, we probably should have expected it — we’d have taken one on the Mass.

The Olympic Road Network (the news have been misnaming it Route — all of the routes are in fact roads) has been confirmed: Park Lane, Embankment and Upper Thames Street are in.  25,000 “sponsors and their guests” will be able to use them, thus guaranteeing that the Olympics will not be ruined by the absence of “sponsors and their guests”.  Some are already expressing their shock at hearing that even taxis will not be allowed to use them.  We really have been expertly conditioned to believe that taxis have some sort of right push in and drive wherever they like.  With the fine for “improper use” at £100 (or, in newspeak, £200 with a 50% discount if paid on time), a nicely flowing Olympic lane will no doubt prove very tempting to the sort of idiot who already thinks it’s a good idea to drive in the congestion charging zone.

Ho ho.  Parking, eh?  Harrods owners’ luxuary cars clamped on Knightsbridge.  Kensington & Chelsea council have realised that a £70 fine means nothing to the sort of person who already thinks that it’s a good idea to drive into their borough, and so instead of a token fine that merely gives the fine payer the feeling of having paid for a service, K&C are taking away the children’s toys and making them stand in the corner.

Those new Victoria line trains that we’ve been expecting for three years turn out not to work perfectly first time.  They shut down if you stand too close to the doors, and are therefore described as “23 times less reliable” than the old ones.  Except, as London Reconnections points out, this won’t be a surprise to the engineers and project managers, who will know that this is how engineering projects work, and be ready with the fix right away.

Of a more long term concern to tube commuters should be the cuts to station staff, which this week are prompting strike ballots, and the Mayor’s great Air Con.

Meanwhile, talentless banjolele players accuse TfL of discrimination after being told they’re not good enough to play on the tube.

Bus firm repudiates last week’s racist abuse story.

Camera on world’s most blindingly obvious “Buses and taxis only” road rakes in £2 million from Motorists who get confused and think they’re a bus.  I for one welcome this tax on the stupid.

The New West End Company have an artists impression of St Giles’ Circus after the Crossrail works are completed at the station below: a scene delightfully free from street furniture clutter, where pedestrians and cyclists meander about in the junction, while buses, whose motion blur implies quite some speed, plough through them.  Most depressingly of all, they tell us that the Queen musical will still be playing a decade from now.

Finally, after Tom Hall suggested six uses for a hire bike, your moment of zen: the author demonstrates how a 20kg hire bike can be a complete replacement for a gym membership: