Shared Space Roads

INTRODUCTION

All of this post bar this introduction has appeared on aspi.blog a few moments ago. Because the road at the heart of it all is Exhbition Road, London, close to both South Kensington and Gloucester Road (each served by the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines) I am also posting it here. Here is a satellite view of the area:

WHAT IS A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

A shared space road is a road without pavements, with no clear distinctions between where cars, cyclists and pedestrians should be. According to some this arrangement reduces accidents. However, a recent incident on London’s Exhibition Road has called this into question. Here is a tweet from campaign group Transport for All:

This (to me) raises two questions to be taken in turn:

CAN SHARED SPACE ROADS WORK?

I am uncertain on this one and will welcome evidence from people with experience of shared space roads in their localities. My own view is that they could work but the following is necessary:

  • Clear signage explaining what a shared space road is and what that means.
  • A very low speed limit for motor vehicles (even lower than the 20mph which is now commonplace in the vicinity of schools) fiercely enforced – speeding on a shared space street should be punished more severely than speeding elsewhere because of the greater risk of hitting someone.
  • Referring back to my first bullet point it needs to made clear that motorists are always expected to give way to cyclists and pedestrians.

Given what I know of London drivers I do not think that London is the right city to be trialling these (although Rome and Paris would both clearly by even worse options!)

SHOULD EXHIBITION ROAD
BE A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

Absolutely not – it should be completely pedestrianised. There are excellent public transport connections in this part of the world.

tourlondon – a new link for this site

INTRODUCTION

I received an email today about a site called tourlondon, asking me to link to them, which I am delighted to do. This little piece, in addition to the links I have put in on the home page is to set the stage for introducing you to more of their stuff. 

THE SITE

Here is a screenshot of the of the top portion of the homepage of this site:

I am delighted to connect with this site, which looks excellent to me, and I look forward to working with them in future.

The Uber Decision

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday the news came out that Uber are to lose their private hire licence in London. The decision has apparently come as a surprise to some, although the mere fact that Uber’s most recent extension was granted for a period of a mere four months, as opposed to five years should have provided a clue that the writing was on the wall for them. This piece is my official response to that decision. Although I will mainly be doing q and a stuff later in this post I am going to finish this section by answering one question – how many Uber rides have you taken? That would be a big fat zero.

THE DECISION

Here is an image of the decision and its reasons courtesy of Transport for London (note to various filthy bigots who have asumed otherwise its was TFL who made the decision, not Sadiq Khan):

 Note that this document is succinct and extremely clear about just why Uber have los their right to operate in London. Here is London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s official response to the decision:

 ANSWERS TO A FEW OF THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY OPPONENTS OF THE DECISION

What about the 40,000 low-paid workers losing their jobs? Uber go to great lengths, including fighting (and in at least one case losing) court cases to not accept their drivers as employees because that would mean giving them certain rights that as (officially) self-employed people they do not have. Some of these Uber drivers may experience hardship as a result of this decision, but in the long haul they will probably be better off. Also there is nothing to stop these people setting up a scheme of their own to run private hire vehicles – find out what TFL require of them to give them a licence and go for it. 

What are alternatives to Uber? There is an app specially for London black taxis called gett. Also the only times when there is not public transport available in London are between about 1AM and 4AM – and even in those hours some buses run. 

What about people who cannot afford to pay extra? First up, if you use gett you get a flat rate and no sudden price hikes due to extra demand as Uber do, so it probably works out fairly similar in cost. Second, look back at my answer to the question about alternatives to Uber to remind yourself of when public transport is not available – if you can afford to be out and about in London at those sort of times you are not that poor (btw, although this is not strictly relevant I am a part time minimum wage worker, so I know a thing or two about actually being poor). 

GOOD LINKS ABOUT THIS DECISION

First up, this Guardian article gives a good overview of the decision and the reasons for it. Another good general article is this one on inews. One final article providing general coverage is this from RT.

Still from yesterday we have excellent pieces from Zelo Street “Uber Licence NOT Renewed” and from Evolve Politics “Uber being stripped of their London licence signals the first nail in the coffin for the gig economy” both of which explain the wider implications of this decision. 

Today has seen more on this decision, led by the Mirror with “Uber ban by TfL raises questions about future in other cities – and is a warning to the gig economy“, Zelo Street have returned to the attack with “Uber – The Pundits Bleat” and finally, courtesy of Huffpost comes “I’m An Uber Driver And Agree With TfL – Uber Must Play By The Rules Or Get Out Of London“. This last also helps to fix the blame for Uber losing their London licence actually lies – squarely with Uber, who have had four months on notice in which to put their house in order and clean up their act, and have signally failed to do so, arrogantly believing that they are above such things as rules and laws.

FINAL WORDS

TFL have made absolutely the right decision, the only decision that in the circumstances, given Uber’s continued failure to even attempt to co-operate they could have made. Uber are a billion-dollar business, but the apparently insatiablke and limitless greed of the people who run it has finally caught up with them. If Uber want to regain their London licence there is a simple solution: do what TFL require of them to make that happen. 

Report it to Stop it – TFL on Unwanted Sexual Behaviour on Public Transport.

INTRODUCTION

I found this by way of a tweet from the official account of the British Transport Police, which contained a link to a more detailed piece put out by Transport for London.

THE TWEET

 

 

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THE TFL “REPORT IT” PAGE

To visit the TFL “report it” page please click the image that concludes this post. 

Big Wheels Old and New

INTRODUCTION

This post was inspired by a number of lots that will be featuring in James and Sons’ next auction (20th – 22nd February, 1st two days at James and Sons’ premises in Fakenham, third day at The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich).

THE GIGANTIC WHEEL, EARLS COURT

This structure, from the top of which Windsor Castle was visible on a good day, was open between 1895 and 1906 (hence the green coloured heading – it closed before the Piccadilly line opened,m meaning that the only public transport link would have been the District line). More about this wheel can be found here.

Lots 1286-90 inclusive and also lots 1294-5 in the auction are tokens/ medallions from this wheel’s period of operation…

If this gallery has tickled your fancy, a click on the image of lot 1286 reproduced below will take you to a full auctuion catalogue:

Lot 1286

THE LONDON EYE

The nearest experience to this you can enjoy in the capital today is on the London Eye, which is near Waterloo, and hence can be reached on the Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines, as well as mainline, national and international railways and by boat.

For more on today’s version of a gigantic wheel visit the official website.

Amazing & Extraordinary London Underground Facts – Book Review

INTRODUCTION

I spotted this book in King’s Lynn library and of course had to take it out. Here is the front cover:

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OVERALL IMPRESSION

The book is crammed with interesting information,  and covers every line in detail as well as going over the history and some of pre-history of London Underground. I am very glad that I did borrow it, and have enjoyed dipping into it on a regular basis while it is in my possession. However, I have some…

QUIBBLES

I am going to start with the coverage of the East London line (which was still part of London Underground when the book was published although it is not now). In covering this line Mr Halliday states tat the Brunel tunnel under the Thames is the oldest object on the system having opened as a pedestrian tunnel in 1843. I have no quibble with his dating of the tunnel, but the stations that now form the northern end of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line opened as main-line railway in 1842, one year earlier than the pedestrian tunnel.

When covering the Central line Mr Halliday fails to mention that original eastern extension of that line beyond Liverpool Street did not end as it does today at Epping, but continued to Ongar (this is another former main line railway incorporated into London Underground, and opened in that guise in 1856). This leads me to another minor area of disappointment:

OVER-ORTHODOXY

In talking about the early history of the Metropolitan Mr Halliday mentions the Brill branch and the envisaged extension of this branch to Oxford but does not seem to consider that by opening up connections at both ends this could actually have boosted the use of the line. Similarly, when mentioning the former Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line he does not consider the possible use of this under-used branch as a starting point for an extension into southeast London and west Kent. As mentioned above I regard the failure to even mention the stations beyind Epping on the Central line as inexcusable, and this too could be a discussion point – in my own post on the Central line I have advocated an extension to Chelmsford and another connection to mainline railways. Nevertheless, for all these issues I conclude this post (apart from some more pictures) by restating that this is a very useful and interesting little book.

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The Institute of Education

INTRODUCTION

This post features a London landmark which is particularly well served by public transport. There will be links to several other posts in appropriate places, and I have a couple of satellite maps to share as well.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE

Although it was independent for a long time, the Institute of Education is now part of University College London’s (UCL) seemingly ever expanding empire (UCL owned/ run buildings nowadays occupy a significant proportion of Bloomsbury). More information about what is generally available at this particular site can be found here. Although I visited the institute a few times in connection with an autism research project for which I was a subject my main involvement with the place has been by way of the Marxism Festival which has made use of this building for all save a few of the years since I first attended it (in 1995, when I was on the team). Back then we used only three venues in the building for meetings, the Logan, Jeffery and Elvin halls. This year, when the institute was one of only two buildings used for the festival (the other bieng the Royal National Hotel, across Bedford Way) these venues were augmented as meeting rooms by Clarke Hall, Nunn Hall, and various rooms on the upper floors (including one set aside as a designated quiet space). For more about the most recent incarnation of this festival click here.

THE TRANSPORT CONNECTIONS

While the closest station by some margin is Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, Euston and Euston Square are both also within ten minutes walk (Northern, Victoria, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, London Overground and National Rail between them), with Warren Street (Northern and Victoria) and Goodge Street (Northern) also near at hand, and King’s Cross comfortably walkable (as I can confirm from experience). In addition to the above, Euston station has out front what is effectively a bus station, and buses travel from there to most parts of London.

TWO SATELLITE VIEWS

To end this post here are two satellite views obatined by use of google maps, first one showing the transport connections in the close vicinity of the building:

IOE and local stations.

And a closer view shwoing the building in more detail:

IOE Close Up

The institute numbers its floors (or levels as they call them), starting at 1 and ascending. Bedford Way adjoins level three, while the courtyard on the other side gives access to level four.