Thursday, February 28th
The renaissance of the railways has extended to station approaches in many cities, perhaps with a view among planners to the conceived importance of first impressions of a city. The familiar experience of the 70s and 80s was to be dumped on a generally clogged up main road on exiting a station. Some station exits now offer a very different and traffic-free experience. At Liverpool, one drops into a large open square called The Concourse with great views of some of the major buildings. At Sheffield, the climb into the city from the station now starts with an open-space containing dozens of parallel fountains. Birmingham is on the way to adding to the list.
28.02.13 @ 11:04 AM CST [link]
Thursday, December 13th
King of the AA
Edmund King has been President of the AA (Automobile Association, a UK roadside assistance and motorists' club), for many years, and his press-releases, which had a knack of making it to the national press, tended to portray motorists as hard done by and put upon. We quite often challenged them, and he once told us to "think before we mouth off".
It's a sign of change, then, that last week he said drivers who refuse to share the road with cyclists were "absolute idiots". He continued that, "A lot of drivers have to look at their own habits first" [before criticising cylists]. Most remarkably, nowhere did he seem to add anything about cyclists jumping red-lights or riding on pavements, something which supposedly neutral commentators like to equate with the crime of speeding in town or overtaking a cyclist dangerously close. He does seem to have had some prolonged Road to Damascus type experience over the last 3 or 4 years.
13.12.12 @ 05:32 PM CST [link]
Sunday, November 4th
Milan Congestion Charge
A little surprising, perhaps, that the third major European city to introduce congestion charging (in January 2012, suspended pending an appeal, August 2012, re-introduced September 2012) was Milan. Not to doubt the degree of congestion there, but the stereotype of anarchic Italian driving where the roads are a free-for-all seems to clash with restriction and regulation. It's a reminder maybe that in prosperous cities enough business people may need unclogged roads that they begin to realign their interests.
04.11.12 @ 06:17 PM CST [link]
Saturday, June 16th
the green man
Young people in the UK seem to increasingly abide by the green man when crossing the road. Is this down to the increasing Europeanisation of Britain? In Germany, for instance, obedience is almost universal. (In fact there is a fixed penalty fine for crossing at other times, although to counter that, timings put the pedestrian at a significant advantage compared to the UK; longer crossings and shorter waits for pedestrians are achieved largely by pedestrians having priority over left turning cars.)
Another factor might be inflexibility and impatience among car drivers compared to previous generations which sees waiting for a pedestrian once the lights are green as an affront which requires a point to be made by gesticulations or heavy acceleration.
16.06.12 @ 03:38 PM CST [link]
Friday, April 13th
overcrowding creeps northwards
A couple of new experiences have become common in London in the last few years. One is not being able to physically get on to a tube train, since it's immediately apparent when the doors open that it's as full as it can get. Another is trying to get off a tube train in London and having to thread through a dense wall of people on the platform. The Tube is desperately overcrowded, and Londoners no doubt have similar experiences using mainline trains in the rush hour.
The redevelopment of New Street in Birmingham is now well underway, and this means ongoing loss of platform space: platforms are seeing the central area boarded off, forcing those waiting to crowd at the platform edges. When a full service arrives, and particularly where doors are limited to carriage-ends (Pendolinos for instance), the London experience of alighting passengers having no obvious dispersal route at the back of the platform has unfortunately become a Birmingham one.
13.04.12 @ 12:38 PM CST [link]
Monday, February 27th
what else could use the High Speed 2 coridoor?
A utilities company has drawn up plans for a giant water pipe to run alongside High Speed 2 to move water south and westwards. That raises the point that, should the rail scheme go-ahead, it would represent a unique opportunity to move things other than trains around the major population centres of England and maybe the UK, and, assuming the pipe is to go underground, it would be great to see full consideration of what else might go in a such a hole to make it more viable.
27.02.12 @ 06:00 PM CST [link]
Tuesday, February 7th
First for high fares
As of early February 2012, the bus fare for a single ticket on the airport bus to each of the 3 major airports in Scotland is as follows: Aberdeen (operated by Stagecoach): £2.50. Edinburgh (operated by Lothian Buses): £3.50. Glasgow (operated by First): £5. All the journeys are of very comparable length.
FirstGroup plc is Britain's largest bus operator, and therefore would have the most resources to target competition if it chose to do so.
07.02.12 @ 05:48 PM CST [link]