Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Latest written questions and answers from the Mayor:

Cycling conditions on the Westway

Question No: 1373 / 2013

Darren Johnson

A constituent who was once diverted to cycle along the Westway during a bomb scare reports that high winds and traffic noise made cycling on it an unpleasant experience. Will TfL therefore be mitigating these problems by erecting sound barriers and wind shields when the proposed Westway cycle way is implemented?

Written response from the Mayor

The issues you raise are being considered as part of the engineering and design studies into this route. Further information will be available in due course.

This is a good question, and I am so glad that I am not the first person to ask it.  I am probably not the ideal person to pronounce on the proposed two-way, segregated cycle path that is to be built on the elevated section of the M40 motorway between White City and central London, otherwise known as the Westway. I suffer from acoraphobia, which is an irrational fear of falling off things, and it becomes especially pronounced when cycling across bridges.  Even allowing for this irrational fear, I don’t find the prospect of using this proposed lane appealing at all, and that’s not only my inbred prejudice against west London.

I’m sure the lane will be objectively safe, as it will be separated from the motorway by a substantial lump of concrete, but I’ll be surprised if it’s pleasant.  One will, after all, be riding along a concrete gulley, exposed to the elements, with motor-traffic rumbling past at 40+ mph.  Ok, there will be times when the traffic will be stationary, but row upon row of stationary cars, engines idling, is little more appealing for reasons that I won’t need to spell out for anyone that has ridden along Euston Road in rush hour.  Is it just Darren’s constituent and me that find the proposed lane to be not altogether enticing?

Advertisements

Next week is Hackneyise week!

Movement for Liveable London

Street Talks with Cllr Vincent Stops, Hackney Council and Trevor Parsons, London Cycling Campaign in HackneyHackney: Lessons from London’s most liveable borough

Many different factors – topographical, historical, economic, social, demographic and political – have contributed to the borough of Hackney becoming arguably the most liveable in London. We hope you can join us for Street Talks in June when Trevor Parsons and Vincent Stops will explore these factors, outline the many problems and constraints which still remain, and discuss strategies for overcoming them.

Upstairs at The Yorkshire Grey, 2 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8PN at 7pm on Tuesday 4th June 2013 (bar open from 6pm).

Vincent Stops has been a councillor in Hackney for 11 years. For two he was the lead member responsible for transport, streets and environment issues. For the last seven he has been the Chair of Planning. During all that time Vincent…

View original post 89 more words

Quite a nice piece about a London bicycle courier (or messenger, if you prefer) avoiding the normal sensationalisation and clichés on BBC news – if you ignore the use of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Crosstown Traffic’.  Couple of quibbles: 80 – 100 miles a day? Back in the day, maybe some of the Metro riders were clocking this up, but not many.  Average mileage was/is more typically something around the 100k or less, i.e. 60 miles.  This number is not scientific, but is taken from my own measured mileage over a period of months, and compared with other riders measured mileages.  I doubt that the BBC’s numbers are more accurate.

Earnings are quoted at £200 – £600.  Again these are old numbers.  I don’t know where the BBC got them from.  As I said in this post on Moving Target in 2009 (since when earnings have gone down):

The only systematic survey of London bicycle messenger earnings was conducted by Ben Fincham in 2003, and published in the Sociological Review in 2006. The average earnings were given as £65/day, which is £325/week. I was on the road in the early 90s on one of the biggest circuits, Security Despatch, and I can tell you that it was rare that anyone made more than £500/week. Of course, there were a few guys doing a bit more than that at other companies, but there is no way that we ‘expected’ to make £1000. The best single day’s earnings at SD was around £125 in 1993.

Lower down in the article, the chief exec of City Sprint is quoted as saying that they charge £2 for WC1 – EC2. It’s not clear if that is what the rider gets paid, or whether that is what they charge the client. If it’s the latter, then I guess the rider might be taking £1.50 on the docket (which would be generous), which would mean 266 dockets a week to make £400, which hardly seems likely.

Anyway, whichever way you do the numbers, I would be very surprised if most guys in London were making, on average, more than £250/week at the moment. Which is around minimum wage BEFORE paying for equipment.

I reckon a more representative number would be £50 – £500, with the £500 being very much the outlier. £50 is probably more common, as there is a high turnover of novices who try it for a week or two, see what they are making and quit, to be replaced by more novices.

Another inaccuracy is the statement: because of the obvious risks couriers find it impossible to get life insurance.  This is not true.  The Combined Insurance Companies of America have been insuring couriers against injury, illness and death for at least 20 years.  The policies aren’t cheap, but they do exist.

Got this via Facebook from a female friend:

“Are the schools on holiday? The commute in was remarkably pleasant apart from one HGV driver who decided that me looking back to check he saw me was an invitation to roll up next to me, roll down his window and yell at me about how he was a professional driver and to not listen to a word I had to say on my actions or reasoning. Bill Buffalo, have you heard anyone reporting similar in the wake of increased pressure for more education for drivers?”

I was looking back through some notes, and found something I took down whilst at one of the Commercial Vehicle Educations Unit’s ‘changing places’ demonstrations, designed to illustrate HGV/LGV/lorry ‘blind-spots’ to cyclists.  This is from 2007, so a little bit out of date.  I don’t know why I didn’t put it in my original post.

I was speaking to one of the CVEU officers, and he expressed surprise at their strike rate, when stopping LGVs, i.e.  how many times CVEU officers stop an LGV (lorry) and find something wrong.

Something I wrote last summer that I adapted in view of my recent (injury-related) lay-off.

London Bike Polo

A few people have been asking me why I haven’t been at polo recently.  There are a few reasons, which I will summarise briefly:
Courts
Let’s face facts: the sport has been going down-hill since we stopped using Brick Lane. The young & ill-informed might point to the steep camber on the court, to the large gaps in the fence, the inconveniently placed goals or even to the very frequent discoveries of human faeces as good reasons to stop using the court.
To these persons, I say, huh! The large gaps in the fence facilitated that game moment now largely lost to London Polo,  namely, the Beer Break.  The ball would go under the fence, shoot off down Shacklewell Street towards Cambridge Heath, and we’d all stop for a refreshing & reviving draught of beer. By the time Yorgo had returned with the ball (yes, Yorgo was our ball boy)…

View original post 455 more words