diamond geezer

 Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bow Roundabout update

Good news. Highway works at the Bow Roundabout are now substantially complete. The workmen have finished most of their digging and relaid all the paving stones across the centre of the roundabout, so hopefully they'll be off soon, job done. Bad news, the job they've been doing has nothing to do with cycle safety. They're from the gas company, and all they've been doing for the last month or so is digging up pipes and replacing them. In the process they've fenced off all the pedestrian spaces beneath the flyover, making it officially impossible to cross from one side to the other without a long detour. Lanes of traffic have been closed, creating queues of traffic... all sorts of hassle over and above the ordinary. But there's been absolutely no progress whatsoever towards making the junction safer for cyclists. Instead the gas board will leave the roundabout renewed and pristine, just in time for TfL to announce the cycling improvements they intend to make before the Olympics and dig it up again. Bike safety nirvana remains some months, and yet more roadworks, away.

When Cycle Superhighway 2 was introduced, one of the safety improvements at the Bow roundabout was the installation of some special mirrors. Two red Trixi mirrors affixed to the traffic lights, to give greater blindspot visibility of any cyclists waiting alongside. They weren't enough to stop two cycling deaths last autumn, one on each entry slip, but they did provide some element of additional protection. A couple of weeks ago a rogue vehicle mounted the pavement and knocked over the traffic signal outside McDonalds. Thankfully it missed Brian Dorling's ghost bike chained to the no entry sign alongside, but the jolt did cause all the glass in the Trixi mirror to fall out. The traffic signal's since been uprighted but the mirror's now useless, just a red ring on a post. You'd hope someone from TfL might have noticed and arranged a replacement, but there's no sign as yet. Cycle safety at the Bow Roundabout a priority? Doesn't feel like it.

Something else changed at the Bow Roundabout last summer, not just the appearance of a blue stripe on the road. The traffic lights were re-phased, utterly and completely, altering the ordering and the amount of time each slip road was on green. Now, for much of the day, traffic entering the roundabout from Bow Road gets only eight seconds to pass through before red reappears, which is causing noticeably longer tailbacks than before. Smoothing the traffic flow, I believe it's called, which is an improvement coming in from the A12 but much less good from the A11. I'm fearing more for the summer as a result. Once the Olympic Route Network embraces this roundabout, I can't see cars and buses along Bow Road going anywhere fast.

Someone's erected another billboard by the Bow Flyover. We've already got a row along the river and two elevated towers broadcasting sponsors' messages to the surrounding area. Now there's another erupting from the carwash on the Newham side, making a double decker advertorial barrier where previously there was sky. And it can't be a coincidence, but the two posters here are both for Olympic sponsors - BP up top and Visa down below. Four months to go, and there's already a block booking of corporate advertising around the perimeter of the Olympic Park. Expect this creative desert to extend until September.

On the eastern tip of the Bow Roundabout lies a yard full of Calor Gas. It's at one end of an industrial zone leading down to the District line, complete with warehouses, low rent businesses and a lonely nightclub. The lower end is destined to become Britain's first Tesco Town - originally due to open this month, but they're years behind schedule. And the upper end will become Bromley-by-Bow North - a new mixed-use zone of mostly flats, with a handful of commercial premises thrown in for good measure - and is already semi-demolished. A one-off exhibition was held yesterday to explain the new B-by-BN development to the local population. Those who turned up at the Miller's House viewed a cluster of information boards, chatted to various staff and discovered what improvements had been made to the masterplan since a similar exhibition last year. Fewer storeys in the flats for a start, plus a larger gated greenspace and a huge car showroom where the Calor Gas yard now stands. The apartment block architecture has been "simplified", a word used repeatedly, which I took to suggest it would be cheaper and less interesting. Meanwhile the existing towpath along the river thankfully survives, but the walk will now be past an endless succession of front doors. I expect the contractors would describe their event as a "consultation", but they weren't going overboard to seek any feedback. View the latest plans here, and expect them to get built no matter what anyone local thinks.

On the opposite side of the river, again rolling right up to the roundabout, an even bigger development is planned [photo]. This is Strand East, sponsored by no lesser company than IKEA, which is due to cover a former industrial zone with 1200 new homes. There'll be shops, but not, I understand, a Swedish furniture warehouse. There'll be 15-storey blocks, as well as a significant proportion of family-sized houses. There'll be a 40 foot wooden sculpture resembling a power station chimney, which workmen are midway through installing and should be up soon once they've put the two halves together [photo]. There'll be a proper restaurant (a Graysons, whoever the hell they are), in a neighbourhood where there's been nothing more exciting than egg and chips for years. And we should even expect a 350 bedroom Marriott hotel, which is the surest sign yet that the rundown area in which I live is being yanked headlong by the Olympics into yuppified gentrification. If you want to live in a characterless box, come to the Bow Roundabout in a few years time, and we'll have plenty for you to choose from.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream