On the urban motorway that is Whitechapel. Whitechapel should be the quintessential neighbourhood High Street: it has the tube station, the bus stops, the shops and pubs and library — sorry, “Idea Store” — and the street market that these vans supply. As Andy Cameron would put it, Whitechapel has a very high “place status” — it is not an anonymous transport route but a destination, somewhere people go and things happen. It’s not a part of London that I frequently have reason to visit, but every time I do it is packed with people living their lives.
And yet the powers that be have for decades put Whitechapel the place secondary to Whitechapel the A11, TfL trunk road. This is a High Street on only one side of the road; the other has withered and died because crossing the four to six lanes of traffic has been deliberately made as difficult as possible with the use of metal barriers and cages to supplement the barrier of fast moving rivers of traffic. There are a few official crossing points, where crowds gather as the signal timings make it clear how much their time is valued relative to the other road users’. The High Street and street market is being prevented from reaching its full potential, as growth is limited not by lack of interest from businesses or customers but by lack of space — space that is currently given to the movement and storage of cars.
Isn’t it interesting how we always manage to find room for the storage of cars?
What I don’t understand is why the bicyclist chose to chain to a signpost, instead of the excellent cycle stands nearby?
If you’re interested in the colourful transit van, check out this week’s Spitalfields Life for an explanation. The vans are essentially storage for the market traders, who seem to be subverting the fact that society tolerates using the streets as free storage, so long as you’re storing a vehicle-shaped object.
More photography and prints for sale at my photography site.