Thursday, 20 August 2015

CS2U (Again!) - Will it be worth it?

Want to cycle this? Maybe take some sea-sickness tablets first.
CS2U, the cycle superhighway that passes along Mile End Road and forms our southern border, is scheduled to impose a total of 58 weeks of disruption during its construction phase. When complete we will be left with other changes which will affect our neighbourhood permanently: newly banned turns making it difficult and time-consuming to carry out what were previously trivial journeys; and it seems increased traffic queuing is inevitable. But at least we can look forward to a first class cycle route that even the least confident of us will be able to use? Well I hate to say it, but disappointingly the route is turning out to be anything but first class.

The other day I had a cycle along the semi-completed part of CS2U between Mile End and Bow Road stations. The surface is really unpleasant to ride as it undulates every couple of feet (a result of it being laid in 2ft strips no doubt). It is like riding with oval-shaped wheels and you nod up and down. As a result it feels slow and I am sure a large number of commuters will opt to cycle on the road instead.

I am told the problem is that the path should be laid as machine rolled asphalt but hasn't been. Instead a chap with a hand roller goes to and fro as each section is dolloped down. What is particularly depressing is that similar defects in the surface condition of the section east of Bow roundabout had already been brought to TfL's attention on numerous occasions. As Phil Oakey once said: "experience is useless unless you can learn".

If a road surface was laid in the same way, car drivers would cause an uproar. I have emailed TfL about it, and encouraged the Tower Hamlets Wheelers and London Cycling Campaign to do likewise. 

You can see the waves clearly in the photo above. One cyclist has commented it looks like a badly rolled out carpet.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part III: Trash

Something TfL didn't plan for, but should have, was how LBTH could continue to collect the refuse from either businesses or residents along the CS2U construction route.

This has led to piles of rubbish of proportions not seen in Bow since the 3-day week. The litter mountain below left grew over a course of a few days in Eric Street, until Cllr Josh Peck was alerted and dealt with it quickly.

Ain't no mountain high enough for Veolia it seems

If you are looking at the photo above right and thinking perhaps Rachel Whiteread has returned to Mile End with a new art installation "Talkin' Rubbish", then I'm sorry to disappoint. It is actually the phone box opposite Keatons in Mile End Road - another by-product of the TfL planning process.

If you see piles of rubbish, litter or  issues then please report using the FixMyStreet website, iPhone or Android Apps. The issue will then be passed on automatically to the council and posted online.

Putting reports online has several benefits. Others can quickly see what has already been reported, so it prevents the council from having to deal with duplicates. It also creates a snapshot for local communities, so it's easy to see what the common problems are in a given area, and how quickly they get fixed. Other residents can browse, read and comment on problems – and perhaps even offer a solution. For these reasons I prefer FixMyStreet to Tower Hamlet's FiFiLi App which keeps reports secret.

Monday, 17 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part II: Trees

When TfL first published their visualisation for how Mile End Road would look post-CS2U I was struck by three things: the lack of traffic; the vibrant green of the trees; and the cleanliness of the streets.

In today's post, the second of three related posts, I'm going to update residents on what has been going on regarding the trees along the route.

On Wednesday 22nd July I attended a full council meeting with Geoff Juden, Chairman of the East London Garden Society who put the following question to the Mayor and his cabinet:

Mayor John Biggs replied that LBTH and TfL officers are talking to each other about this issue. Sites to replace 4 of the 22 trees have been identified, and work continues to find sites for the other 18. He understands three of the felled trees were mature and their loss is particularly regrettable. The borough aims to maintain and hopefully increase the cover of trees.

MEOTRA will keep you updated about this, as trees, as well as being aesthetically pleasing, also improve air quality, help cool buildings of a summer and absorb traffic sound.

(The next post will look at the continuing litter and rubbish issues in the MEOTRA area. especially those caused by the CS2U works).

Sunday, 16 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part I: Traffic

As we move from August to September the disruption within the MEOTRA area due to the construction phase of the CS2 upgrade should start to ease considerably as illustrated above. Although the Bow Church side of MEOTRA will remain busier than usual, the 2am traffic jams in Grove Road should be a thing of the past.

MEOTRA have written to TfL about the unacceptable levels of traffic, in particular those in Grove Road, and requested southbound traffic is given more than the current quota of 12 in every 120 seconds. (Timing light changes whilst waiting for my Greedy Cow burger is a new pastime).  

Some of you may have noticed or had a letter about the new road surface in Burdett Road. This new surface is great, and perhaps laying it is a sign the messy phase of the Crossrail works is complete? In any case, MEOTRA have written to TfL and asked about getting Grove Road resurfaced as sections of it form a significant hazard to road users especially cyclists. The poor surface is also very noisy, especially when wet.

A rare traffic-free moment in Grove Road. The silence broken by bouncing buggies and boisterous babies.
The increased traffic  has obviously affected the timings and waiting times for buses and MEOTRA have requested seating at the bus stop in the southern end of Grove Road next to the sign shop/ sweet shop. Additionally we have asked for northbound D7 buses to terminate north of Mile End Road to better link with other routes (e.g. 425 and 339).

Removal of the A11 Central Reservation near Tredegar Square
Residents are concerned that the removal of a section of Mile End Road's central reservation will allow a right turn from Mile End Road into Tredegar Square, and from Mile End Road into Southern Grove (see below).

Both of these turns were prohibited turns prior to the CS2 upgrade works and TfL have confirmed the restrictions will remain in place once the scheme is complete. TfL acknowledge that the removal of the traffic island has 'physically' made these turning movements possible, and that a number of drivers are choosing to make the turns.

One MEOTRA resident has put a lot of effort into proposing various solutions such as reduced width central barriers, but TfL remain adamant that the road is too narrow at this point for even the slimmest of central barriers.

TfL are working with the LBTH to amend the existing traffic orders, ensuring these restrictions can be enforced. They will also install signage at these junctions to ensure the right turn restrictions are understood by all road users and are currently looking at suitable locations for CCTV enforcement cameras.

(The next post will focus on the felling of trees along the route).