Tag Archives: road works

There’s gold in them thar holes

London these days is beginning to resemble California’s gold rush of 1849, everywhere you look somebody is digging a hole and staking their claim. If you are a regular passenger in London’s cabs you should look away now for you’ve almost certainly listened to your driver ranting on about this ad nauseum, but for the rest of you indulge me if you will, as I come to tell of the roadworks that now infest London.

It is estimated that in London last year there were 370,000 scheduled roadworks and with 85,000 streets in the capital (tell me I tried to memorise 25,000 of them whilst doing the Knowledge) it has been extrapolated that each street would have been dug up every three months.

[W]ith almost every bridge across the Thames needing repairs, and due to two severe winters as a result of global warming an estimated 180,000 potholes have appeared on London’s streets needing urgent repairs, you have a recipe for chaos. Transport for London have admitted that more than 5,500 roads are being worked on at any time, at a cost of £1 billion a year, which is the highest number of road repairs in post-War London.

How can it be that the Nation’s Capital has got away with the necessity for repairs for so long and almost overnight over one-third of a million locations are now in urgent need of repair?

Part of that answer is that our water mains haven’t been upgraded since Victorian times and also the 2012 London Olympics are putting an extra dimension in the need for upgrading London as we “Dig for Victory”.

Our Mayor ‘Bicycle Clips’ Boris promised two years ago a ‘holy war on holey streets’, so where are the regulations he promised to require utility companies to synchronise their work and fine them if they leave their workings untouched for weeks.

Thames Water it is estimated are responsible for over 60 per cent of all roadworks as they replace their water mains, is it beyond their ability to descend en masse on an area, replace the mains and then move on to a previously unaffected part of London?

It won’t surprise you that London now has a committee for co-ordinating bridge works, so what were they doing allowing that at the same time over 70 per cent of London’s bridges would have ongoing repairs?

At least some enterprising fellow is making a stand, an i-phone app is being developed called iGripe. The iGripe is an application to protest about potholes. You use it to photograph any pothole into which your car, bike or 10-tonne truck has just tumbled. Then it will send the offending photo, plus detailed gripe, to the local jobsworth responsible. Brilliant.

I’ve got to stop griping now the traffic has started moving again through the roadworks, talk to you later; or when you are in the back of my cab . . . stuck in traffic.

An In-Convenience Truth

Westminster Council who aspires to become the most anti-social borough in London must be fearful that it is in danger of losing its ranking.

For not content with pursuing a regime of traffic enforcement that the Taliban would like to emulate, they now have turned their attention to a more basic function than motoring parking offences, namely reducing its provision of public toilets.

[O]ver the past few years public conveniences have been closing at an alarming rate, so critical has it become, that London Mayor Boris has even suggested that private shops and restaurants open their doors (so to speak) to facilitate the public’s needs.

Then recently under cover of darkness, in a clandestine operation, Westminster Council filled the public conveniences at Oxford Circus with concrete. But never mind they provide a text-based service providing you with all the information you need to find a toilet in their borough (80097 TOILET at a cost of 25p if you’re interested). I was told at 9.20 in the evening that I would have to walk best part of a mile from Oxford Circus to use one of their toilets.

The more charitable among you might presume that the time chosen to fill these toilets with concrete was so that drivers were not inconvenienced (sorry again about that) by the lorries. But I would remind you that Westminster Council now collects more income from parked cars than from taxpayers, so they are hardly car friendly.

The Council plans to provide a £5 million diagonal pedestrian crossing at this intersection modelled on the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, ignoring the fact that, while Japanese assiduously cross a road at the designated points, in London jaywalkers are knocked down on a regular basis in Oxford Street, completely ignoring the correct crossing points.

Westminster City Council’s Cllr Danny Chalkley said while commendably keeping a straight face:

This new crossing, which will transform Oxford Circus and ensure visitors who emerge from the Tube are impressed by what greets them, is part of a whole series of improvements taking place to ensure the West End looks truly world class in time for 2012.

The developers hope to have the new crossing ready in time for the Christmas lights switch-on in November. It is just a pity no-one will be able to have a pee.

As a footnote, in 200 years time when archaeologists are excavating these Edwardian toilets they might be surprised to find mummified corpses down there encased in concrete, caught having their last ‘comfort stop’ before Westminster poured concrete down the staircase.

The Burghers of Trumpton

windymiller Patrick Moore must know if there is a parallel universe in London.

For most of us who use London’s roads encounter inappropriate speeding, overtaking on the nearside, rude and careless drivers, and a complete disregard of pedestrians and cyclists.

But it would appear that The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s roads department don’t populate the world that I live in (or most accurately the world that I drive in).

Their world is akin to Camberwick Green when everybody is aware of other road users, greeting them with a cheery riposte, and continuing on their journey unimpeded. They help little old ladies cross the road and slow down for children.

[F]or what the good Burghers of Kensington and Trumpton are proposing is to convert Exhibition Road by removing the kerbs and to semi pedestrianise the road. Already the RNIB have objected to this lack of delineation between the road and pavement, going as far when on 17 June 150 blind and partially sighted people campaigned outside the London Assembly.

This is an extract from Trumpton’s website explaining the proposed changes:

The most recognisable characteristic of shared space is the absence of street clutter, such as conventional traffic signals, barriers, signs and road markings. This encourages motorists to slow down, engage with their surroundings and make eye contact with pedestrians – resulting in a higher quality and more usable street area, with enhanced road safety.

So next year look out for Police Constable McGarry, Mickey Murphy the baker, Dr Mopp, Mrs Honeyman and Windy Miller.

Pugh Pugh Barney McGrew Cuthbert Dibble and Grubb!

Cock-up or Conspiracy

All right I know we have been here before, but I’m back to the old chestnut, road works.

The road works and the planning, or lack of planning, has now in London reached epic proportions.

It is only when you have been stuck in the gridlock that the West End has become of late you start to question the Westminster Council’s ineptitude.

[O]r is it part of a conspiracy by a group of sandal-wearing, tree hugging, muesli munching ‘environmental anarchists’ that have managed to infiltrate councils across London with an agenda to force motorists off the road?

Are they gradually bringing London to a standstill in the hope that people will give up their cars? Why else have they slowed down all traffic lights? Why have they built bus bays that stick out into the road forcing all the other traffic to stop at every bus stop? Why are there speed humps on almost every road, including cul-de-sacs? And why has the one-way system at Aldgate been turned back to its 1960 configuration?

Whinge for 25 years

This is whinge of the week or should it be called whinge of the next 25 years?

Listened on the radio today and they said there are now over 580 different scheduled road works in London, that’s not including any emergency works that crop up. Thames Water when asked for a date of completion of their much vaulted ‘Replacing London’s Victorian Water Mains’ have said it will be finished in 2035 yes!, you read right, 2035.

[T]he Victorians built the water system quicker than Thames Water are fixing it by inserting plastic sleeves into the existing pipe work. Just one example Cromwell Road the major route out west was started on 10 July and will take 18 weeks.

And do you know, I think these holes are dig by leprechauns, because I never see anyone working on them.

Why don’t they just converge on an area and work three shifts all day and night until the job is done? They say night work is not possible because it disturbs the residents, I would have thought traffic jams day and night outside your bedroom window might be a little irritating.

Are they really trying to stop London’s traffic, the bendy buses on diversion around the Oxford Street hole have jammed up half of the West End?

While apparently the traffic flow in London is now back to pre congestion charge levels. So anyone paying the congestion charge is hardly getting value for money, are they?

Some of these holes are untouched for weeks, is it beyond the wisdom of Thames Water to complete one excavation before they start another?

They can’t even get the signs right; a roadwork’s sign in Hyde Park reads ‘delayes suspected’. Is this a case for Inspector Morse? Should not the Education Secretary, the appropriately named, Ed Balls, be complemented on the rising exam result passes?