On Sunday I took a look at Glasgow, a town I have previously only passed through without stopping. Here’s my commentary: a mix of cameraphone and proper camera photos; some of the commentary comes from the live tweets that accompanied the cameraphone pictures.
The great overwhelming presence in Glasgow’s built environment is the M8, which crashes through the centre of the city, dividing the central business district from the inner suburbs, and filling them both with a tangle of concrete flyovers and junctions. While several British cities have motorway arterial routes, a massive backlash prevented the planners of the 1960s implementing their dream of flattening our city centres and neighbourhoods to build networks of through motorways. Instead, most cities stuck to bypasses and orbitals, with smaller and not quite so destructive inner-city ring roads. In this through-motorway design with big city centre grade-separated junctions, Glasgow looks very North American. Continue reading “Crap cycling and walking in car sick Glasgow”
I’ve been away from London for three weeks now, taking a break from the noise and the taxi drivers. I needed to eliminate distractions to get a couple of work and writing projects completed, so I’m doing an extreme telecommute experiment for the winter, while observing the transport and environment situation at the opposite end of the urban-rural spectrum. Can you work out where I am?
There’s a valley, one side of which won’t see direct sunlight this month…
And a railway station, with just a single change of trains on the 12 hour journey from London — but you would only be able to get here on one early morning departure a day from King’s Cross, or one late evening departure from Euston. Continue reading “Can you work out where I am?”
Beijing has some lovely wide avenues. It’s not like London, where the streets are only wide enough for cars, and are too narrow for bicycles. The boulevards that cross the grid-patterned city at half-km intervals are not only wide enough for three or four lanes of traffic each way and a generous pavement for the pedestrians, they can also comfortably accommodate spacious segregated cycle paths between the two. Indeed, the pavements and cycle paths are so wastefully over-endowed that each can just about fit three motor-vehicles across their width: one parked on each side, and one carefully crawling between them looking for a space. The Chinese have brilliantly invented a road design that gets eight parking places per car’s length of road, and the Motorist doesn’t even have to get in anybody’s way: all eight lanes of through traffic can remain clear and free flowing. The best that London can manage is four parallel parking places — and the pavements are never wide enough to accommodate more than one of those each. Once again, China demonstrate why they are the future and we are the past.
Beijing has five million cars already. Just over twice as many as London, for a population three times the size. The number of cars on the streets grows by 10% per year. With each new morning, there are 1,500 more cars idling in the jams on the five ring-roads; 1,500 more freshly graduated drivers, free to roam, safe with the knowledge of what to do with the exposed intestines of the pedestrians and cyclists they drive over. Every new day 1,500 more cars than yesterday need to be parked somewhere convenient in the central business districts of Beijing.
Every week another ugly multi-storey car park opens; each new office block and shopping mall comes with several floors of underground parking. But the city clearly isn’t keeping up. The poor Motorist has to park somewhere. The city has even considered waging war on the poor Motorist by raising the municipal car parking charge from the current 25 pence per half-hour. But worst of all, in some places — such as here at the Yonghegong Lama Temple, they have now installed hard physical barriers separating pavement from road:
The problem with walking around Beijing, though, is that for some reason people kept thinking that their bicycles (and tricycles) belonged on the pavement. Even worse, on sections where the pavements are narrower and are therefore only wide enough to accommodate a single car parked perpendicular to the road, pedestrians must of course walk on the cycle path, being careful not to scratch the paintwork of any car that is driving down it in search of that elusive available space. And yet, rather than recognising that the cycle path simply isn’t wide enough for bicycles, cyclists continue to try to push their way down them, ringing their bells intimidatingly at pedestrians and Motorists. These are the sorts of selfish and anti-social behaviours that the city’s authorities need to crack down on if they are to complete their transition to a pleasant, modern, developed city.
It is no secret that the Conservatives are friends of the Motorist: we know that transport secretary Phillip Hammond is, as promised, working tirelessly to end The War On The Motorist. Motorists are right-thinking people, and right-thinking people are Motorists. But the reverse is also true. The subversives who wish to prolong this bloody war must be leftists. Socialists.
Evidence to this effect reaches us from Dorset:
These people — who call themselves the Pipes and Drums of the Northern Irish Prison Service — think that they can walk in the street. Playing music — or a crude approximation, at least. Eastbound, bold as brass, a brass band passes!
Here, pedestrians are trying to walk in the road with a banner which is clearly too wide for the pavement that has generously been provided for their needs (provided by the road-tax payer, no doubt). They appear to be having some sort of banner race. Banners such as these could seriously reduce visibility for any passing Motorist, and would surely be taken as a mitigating factor, were one to accidentally drive through this crowd at 35mph.
These tie-died hippies were weaving all over the road. Unable to walk in anything even approximating a straight line, they were clearly well over the legal limit for using this road — but did the police arrest them? No, they just stood there watching. Grinning. Laughing. In the background, people are attempting to use derigibles to get about: but do they have a license plate? Have they paid road tax? Third-party insurance? I think not. It’s one rule for them, one rule for the rest of us.
This is just outright in-your-face insulting to the Motorist. People are dancing in the street. In a main road. Dancing under the Red Flag to a song that delights in the prospect of closing motorways and replacing them with canals. Canals. Whoever had fun transporting themselves around on canals?
What more proof could you need to demonstrate that The War On The Motorist is perpetrated by communist subversives?
This post is part of a series by the Campaign For Cycling In London (CCL), the organisation which seeks policies to encourage cycling in the city.
City squares are a major battle ground in the War On The Motorist. The notoriously anti-car Bristol City Council go so far in persecuting the Motorist that they have even closed major roads in city squares. You might be thinking that this could never happen in sensible London, but just remember how Ken Livingstone ruined Trafalgar Square by closing a tiny fraction of the road space. The biggest insult to the Motorist in the city though is not Trafalgar Square, but is in fact just down the road, symbolically placed right in the centre of democracy and government: Parliament Square.
Parliament Square sits at the intersection of a number of major roads; vital arteries of our city. The Embankments, Victoria Street, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge. Big roads that are required for Very Important People — like politicians and senior civil servants; commanders of the Metropolitan Police, execs at Channel 4, directors of the National Gallery, and senior management of Transport For London — to go about doing their Very Important Things. Therefore, Parliament Square has to be one big signal-controlled roundabout, organising traffic. Nothing else would do the job. Continue reading “The war in pictures: Parliament Square”