Tag Archives: transport

Blue parking badge failing those most in need

Frank Gardner

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There ought to be parking permits specifically for wheelchair users like the BBC’s Frank Gardner
— Boris Johnson

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Suppose you’re in the car and you are looking for somewhere to park.  In fact, you’ve been looking for somewhere to park for the past 25 minutes, and the kids are starting to hit each other and the windows are fogging up so that you have to rub them with your sleeve.  People behind you keep hooting because you are going so slowly, and your stressometer needle is edging towards critical as you drift further and further from the place you need to be ;  and then suddenly you see a space — a gap between a row of cars of at least six axe handles in length.  Enough for you to park!

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Is the Met. Office facing relegation ?

Snow at Heathrow

Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world?  The Sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man.

Well, folks, it’s tea-time on Sunday and for anyone involved in keeping people moving it has been a hell of a weekend.  Thousands have had their journeys wrecked, tens of thousands have been delayed getting away for Christmas; and for those Londoners who feel aggrieved by the performance of any part of our transport services, I can only say that we are doing our level best.

Almost the entire Tube system was running yesterday and we would have done even better if it had not been for a suicide on the Northern Line, and the temporary stoppage that these tragedies entail.  Of London’s 700 bus services, only 50 were on diversion, mainly in the hillier areas.  On Saturday, we managed to keep the West End plentifully supplied with customers, and retailers reported excellent takings on what is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

We have kept the Transport for London road network open throughout all this.  We have about 90,000 tons of grit in stock, and the gritters were out all night to deal with this morning’s rush.  And yet we have to face the reality of the position across the country.

Continue reading Is the Met. Office facing relegation ?

The Tube Strike

I address myself directly this morning to the three million people – including many readers – who use the London Underground network; and I have no inhibitions whatever in focusing on these passengers, because the irritation they are experiencing as a result of industrial action is not only disgraceful, but an omen for the entire country as we struggle to come out of recession

If you have been kept waiting, or if your day has been wrecked, or if your colleagues and staff have been unable to make it to the office, then the first and most important thing I should say is how deeply I regret this strike and the inconvenience you are suffering. And if you are wondering why it is happening today, when the Tory party conference is taking place in Birmingham, then I hope the answer is obvious.

This is a nakedly political strike. It has nothing whatever to do with health and safety – nor have the union leaderships raised any such fears in the course of the negotiations.

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Should children cycle to school?

Every so often I find a new hero. I read in the papers of some individual who is managing to swim against the glutinous tide of political correctness.

In this age of air-bagged, mollycoddled, infantilised over-regulation it can make my spirits soar to discover that out there in the maquis of modern Britain there is still some freedom fighter who is putting up resistance against the encroachments of the state; and when I read of their struggle I find myself wanting to stand on my chair and cheer, or perhaps to strike a City Hall medal in their honour.

Such were my feelings yesterday morning when I read of my new hero, or heroes, to be precise. We are talking of a married couple from Dulwich, south London, by the name of Oliver and Gillian Schonrock. I have not been able to contact this illustrious pair – since it didn’t seem fair to phone them up on a Sunday – but if the papers are right, they deserve the thanks of us all. They have taken the sword of common sense to the great bloated encephalopathic sacred cow of elf and safety. And for this effrontery they are, of course, being persecuted by the authorities.

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Just Like Riding A Bike

Will the new London bike share program be perfect? Probably not. But at least you all have the courage and wisdom to try.

gotham girlWhen we settled on bike share programs as the subject of this week’s Gotham Girl, I admit – I was worried. I wasn’t worried about the new Barclays Cycle Hire. I find that very exciting and clearly so does Boris. The closer we draw to the July 30th launch – yes, July 30th! Just a little over a month! –  the giddier he seems.

I wasn’t worried about finding facts and figures on bike share programs. These facts and figures are everywhere – in discussions on urban planning, mass transit, environmental issues, health, energy conservation, etc. Nor was I worried that I’d struggle to find an array of opinions. Plenty of people on both sides of the debate share their views with little prompting needed.

So what was my problem? I was worried that I was going to spend too much time whining about New York City’s lack of a bike share program. It’s ridiculous that we don’t have one, that we’re not even planning one. Of course, even if we were planning one – we’d need more cycling infrastructure before it had any chance of being implemented.

Boris knows this type of infrastructure is central to developing a successful bike culture. He said, “If we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so.” Such as? Well, secure bike storage and parking, for one. Places like the London Bridge Cycle Park for people who commute and use their own bikes regularly. There are other issues as well – junction design, route management, etc. – but none of them require reinventing the wheel. So why can’t NYC wrap its collective head around this.

Despite what the opposition here says, creating this infrastructure is not an engineering obstacle. Lots of cities have done it. London is doing it and London is larger, denser and (layout-wise) more complicated than NYC. Is it an economic stumbling block? Hardly. Planning and implementation costs are dwarfed by what the Metropolitan Transit Authority spends on their shoddy quick fixes for long-term problems. Add in what it costs them to keep patching those quick fixes and bike share ends up being a veritable bargain.

No, this is a political stumbling block. NYC lacks the political will and London doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. I don’t blame Mayor Bloomberg particularly. He’s shown more support for the expansion of bike culture than any mayor has for – well, since I can remember. I blame the city council and the state government and I blame them for several administrations back. They seem content with announcing grand plans and then implementing only very abbreviated versions of those plans. Just the other week the city announced a bike lane expansion so sweeping that it almost took my breath away. Guess how long it took for them to back pedal on it? Two days. It was nice while it lasted.

New York City isn’t wholly without cycling infrastructure, of course. We have some bike lanes – loosely defined as pictures of bikes painted on a particular section of road. Of course, only cyclists seem to know or care that these are bike lanes. Certainly few cars and buses behave as if they know what a bike lane is for.  They seem to believe it has something to do with parking.

Looking back at what I’ve just written, I was right to be worried. I’m almost half way in and I haven’t talked about any actual bike share programs yet. All I’ve done is complain. So let’s ignore New York’s biking blind spot for now and look at bike share in action.
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Limo-Loving Politicians

We will push up the age of retirement, and I believe it should go to 70

I just don’t see why the taxpayer should be coughing up for state-sponsored cars, so that some people can feel superior about the way they get around

It must have been about six months ago that I was treated to a symbol of everything that was wrong with the wasteful and incompetent Labour government that has just been ejected from office. Indeed, it was a symbol of everything that has been wrong with British politics over the past decade. I came across this object in Derby Gate, Westminster, round about lunchtime – and I can still see it in my mind’s eye, stationed in the gloom not far from the Red Lion pub.

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Celebrating first year as Mayor

“Happy Birthday, Boris!” hails this week’s Spectator.  It has been a remarkable first year as Mayor of London including everything from ping pong to knife crime, transport to education and hard work to fun as the Spectator‘s Mary Wakefield found out.

Mary writes: “I met Boris Johnson in his office in City Hall overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. Our former editor seemed a more thoughtful and sensible character than the man who used to practise cycling with no hands down Doughty Street at lunchtime, but there were signs of the old Boris tucked around his mayoral office: ping pong bats (the Mayor likes to unwind by trying and failing to beat his personal assistant, Ann Sindall); a book of love poems by the late Woodrow Wyatt; a bust of Pericles in the corner, looking out over this 21st-century Athens. Continue reading Celebrating first year as Mayor