In case a week of Olympic posts wasn't too parochial for you, here's...
Five Annoying Items of Street Furniture within Three Minutes Walk of My House
The postbox outside Bow Post Office
It's been almost a year since Bow's Post Office moved to Bow Road, but only recently has a post box followed. Previously if you wandered out of the Nisa supermarket with a freshly-stamped letter you had a walk on your hands, either up the road to the old town hall or across the road to Stroudley Walk where the Post Office used to be. Each only a minute or two distant, assuming your mobility's fine, but an unnecessary slog across a busy road if not. Now finally the Royal Mail have got round to shifting one of the existing post boxes, the box previously outside the Town Hall, from one side of Fairfield Road to the other. This would be great but for one annoying thing. I mentioned last year that this particular box had been transformed into one of the Royal Mail's minor postboxes, with last collection times unhelpfully scheduled for 9am (and 7am on Saturdays). Ridiculously these collection times have been maintained at the new location, so that if you walk out of the Post Office during normal supermarket shopping hours the last post has most likely already gone. Meanwhile the larger postbox outside the former post office still maintains its 5.30pm deadline, because nobody's thought to swap the schedules over, nor shows any signs of doing so. Thanks for that.
The pedestrian crossing outside St Mary's Church
Bow's parish church is on a traffic island, you'll remember, so getting across the road here requires the use of two pedestrian crossings. And it's the southern one of the pair, round the back of the disused urinals, that's developed a minor niggle. Normally at a Puffin crossing a small red light illuminates to show that someone's pressed the button, and then stays lit until the man turns green and it's time to cross. This is useful if you're the second pedestrian to turn up, because it means you know whether or not the first person's pressed the button or not, and hence whether you should step in and press it yourself. Alas this crossing's small red lights no longer function, that's all four of them, which means that nobody now knows whether anyone arriving before them has pressed the button on not. Step in and press again and the waiting pedestrian will assume you didn't trust them, which would be true, and therefore embarrassing. But the alternative is not to press, in which case you run the risk of everyone standing there like lemons while the traffic never stops because nobody asked. It's so happened to me, several times. Surely it wouldn't take much for someone to come along and fix the broken signal, assuming they've noticed, but maybe they can't be bothered because it's imminently doomed. Within the next few months this crossing is due to be swept away by the upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2 and relocated on the other side of Bromley High Street, so why fix it now? Yeah thanks for that.
The pavement on the southern edge of the Bow Roundabout
Work began on the upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2 back in February, and the project involves some major roadworks too. Ploughed up pavements and coned-off lanes have caused some mighty tailbacks at times, notably along the stretch between Bow Road station and Mile End, which during peak hours can be well worth avoiding. TfL have done their best to warn traffic from the east by erecting a great big yellow information sign beside the A11 exit from the Bow Roundabout. Two things. When they installed it it was February, but since then the adjacent tree has grown leaves and now you can't read all of what the sign says. More importantly it's a big sign and they installed it on the pavement, completely blocking it. They left the adjacent Cycle Superhighway clear, because they're nice to cyclists like that, but this means everyone on foot has to walk onto the blue stripe to get past. Mistime your passage and a bike can whizz in off the roundabout causing a potential collision, or even be forced to stay on the roundabout because you're blocking its way. It's a prime example of a sign for a cycle safety project that makes actually cycle safety worse, installed without thought, whilst simultaneously reducing pedestrian safety too. So thanks for that.
The yellow sign at the end of Fairfield Road approaching Bow Road
There's another Cycle Superhighway upgrade warning notice at the end of Fairfield Road, though this time it only blocks half the pavement so isn't an obstruction. What it is is entirely unnecessary. All traffic arriving at this particular road junction has to turn left, then proceed several hundred yards down to the Bow Roundabout, and there are absolutely no Cycle Superhighway roadworks along this stretch at all. There will be from August onwards as the project moves into its next phase and a major assault is made on pavements and carriageways at the Bow end of the A11, but for now there's bugger all. Indeed you can't drive to the existing roadworks without passing the sign I mentioned in the previous paragraph, which means this one's currently superfluous, and has been since 9th February. It will be important eventually, maybe even soon, but by then it'll have been crying wolf for six months and drivers will have totally blanked it. Plus there'll only be 30 weeks of potential disruptive misery, not 58, along the stretch of road immediately ahead. But why think before you install a sign, why not just plonk a generic message at the entrance to a long-term worksite because what the hell? And thanks for that.
The diversion notice at the Bow Flyover bus stop outside McDonalds
Back in March it was decided to reroute the 25 bus over the Bow Flyover rather than round the Bow Roundabout. Disruption due to the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade (yes sorry, that again) was slowing down buses so much in the Whitechapel area that they needed a boost to get services back on timetable. The diversion was initially badly signalled on board, but rather better proclaimed at the affected bus stops. Alas that's now changed. Initially a yellow poster at the Bow Flyover bus stop said that the diversion would end at 1600 on Friday 26th June, but June 27th came round and number 25s were still trundling merrily over the flyover without stopping. Last week a new sign appeared, hastily handwritten, announcing a diversion from Tuesday 30th June until further notice. This was due to "service requirements" and passengers should instead attempt to catch the 25 "at previous or next available stops". Yeah, thanks for nothing. But now we have a new printed sign which declares that the diversion was always from Monday 26 March "until further notice", and what this effectively means is that the 25 will never stop here again. As part of the Cycle Superhighway upgrade this stop is due to be permanently deleted next month (because routing a bus stop bypass round the back isn't possible), so everyone'll have to walk up to the previous bus stop by the church instead. As for the next bus stop at Marshgate Lane, it's not clear when (or if) the 25 will return to serve it again. This is the busiest bus route in London, serving an entire corridor from Oxford Circus to Ilford... apart from half a mile near the Bow Roundabout which it skips, because we're less important passengers than everyone else. And one further inadequacy, because whoever's put up the yellow diversion sign really hasn't thought this through. Apparently if you're travelling to Ilford and want to catch an eastbound 25 then the nearest alternative stop is at the Bow Roundabout, except there isn't a stop with that name, this being the nearest, and oh look there goes another 25 sailing over the flyover. No thanks for that.