A simple solution to save lives on London’s roads

18 April 2011

This post on the Guardian’s bike blog is a sad reminder of how a simple solution that can save lives is still to be implemented.

At 3:15pm on a pleasant and clear 5 April, at the junction of Camden Road and St Pancras Way in Camden, 20-year-old London Metropolitan University student Paula Jurek was first knocked down and then crushed by an articulated lorry. Her injuries were so severe that her life could not be saved even by the doctors who rushed to the scene from a practice 100 yards away.

Critically, accidents such as these can easily be prevented by an almost insultingly cheap and simple invention. The Trixi Mirror.

Please, read it and sign the petition.

Barclays Cyle Hire

7 September 2010

WordPress users may have noticed not on the ‘tweet this’ button on posts, but the amusingly entitled ‘press this’ – which then tells me i’m cheating. This may be cheating, but as I was on the same failed journey I’m going to repress iamjasonhall’s post about Barclays Cycle Hire:

Sober, I decided I would jump on a ‘Boris Bike’ (erg, surely there’s a better nickname?) to take me home. I wandered up to Soho Square and, sure enough, there were three bikes parked on the north side. Unfortunately, the key in the slot this time elicited only an angry red light and try as I might I could not convince it to give up the goods. Another prospective cyclist flew into what I can only describe as ‘rental rage’ and tried using brute force to extract the two-wheeled bit of public transport. The bike won.

My companion then decided to ring up TfL and see what the deal was. After a good 10 minutes on the phone we were informed that the three remaining bikes where actually ‘locked’ (i.e. unrentable) because the previous users had returned them indicating they were faulty somehow. So, there they would sit, tantalizing any prospective users until such time they were repaired. Fair enough, I thought, better than hiring a bike that breaks down halfway to where you’re going.

So we asked the customer service bod where our nearest option was and, not really knowing any of the street names, walked west down Oxford Street on the basis that “Oxford Street has everything.” Well, let me tell you, Oxford Street does not have everything. It may have a Primark, it may two M&S stores, it may have twenty-eight H&Ms but a cycle hire rack? No.

Fortunately, an iphone was produced and it told us to walk north towards Goodge Street where we discovered a massive rack (easy does it)…with one bike on it. So that’s what the number 1 meant on the iphone app, it all made sense now…

I think the most annoying thing about the Barclays Cycle Hire is the way it doesn’t treat users intelligently. If all the bikes are locked because of a fult, why does it not tell me? If my key won’t work because I haven’t got any more access periods on it why does the terminal tell me it’s an “invalid key” and I have to spend 30 minutes on the phone to an adviser asking why it doesn’t work to find out?

Great stuff London, but sort out the teething problems and it can be brilliant. The technology’s there. And we’re cycling on your roads. Treat use intelligently.


21 September 2009

Yesterday was the London SkyRide (previously known as the Hovis Freewheel, when it had a different sponsor obv). I must say I enjoyed it. Having the chance to cycle through central London without traffic (except, worryingly, the odd ambulance being let through) was a great experience. I’d never ever voluntarily cycle along the Embankment north of the Thames when traffic’s using it – it’s like the M6 at rush hour, but moving faster.

Even had chance to take some photos:



Dave Hill at Guardian.co.uk today posted on the Skyride:

I went with my seven-year-old daughter, a child whose bike-riding displays a confidence her competence does not always justify. We arrived at around 10.30, soon after the start, and joined the route at its most easterly point, Tower Hill. The first 15 minutes were revelatory: a spin into blissful, if remote, urban possibility.

Did it last? To find out, read on. After that, try Cycling Weekly suggesting that Sky should run the railways too, and Real Cycling which was uneasy with the “implied message that cycling round London can only be done once a year with the help of heavy sponsorship, police cooperation and road closures.” Then there’s photos and anecdotes from blogger Richard Lartey, videos collected by Vinny, and a Guardian photstream. And finally, a Tunnel Bore. (see Dave’s post for all links)

Some food for thought. In Bogota, Colombia they basically do this every single Sunday. Every Sunday until 2pm one of the main traffic thoroughfares is closed off and people can cycle, run and rollerblade as they please. It’s called Ciclovía.

It’s an accepted part of Bogota life that it’s just a little more difficult to get around on Sundays (I know this because the road happens to lead to one of the City’s major hospitals and getting home from there early one Sunday after breaking my ankle salsa dancing the night before (don’t ask) was a nightmare – they wouldn’t let any taxis through to the hospital). Nevertheless it’s a brilliant experience and one many people take the opportunity to participate in.

In London we have the embankment north of the Thames from Westminster to the Tower – who on earth needs to use this on a Sunday? Why not close it off every Sunday (or at least once a month) and encourage people to get out and enjoy cycling along this road that the rest of the week is stuffed with cars and shrouded in smog? If the Colombians can do it, surely we can too, and not just once a year with massive sponsorship, police roadblocks and tunnel boom boxes.

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