diamond geezer

 Monday, December 21, 2015

Before the year ends, here's an update on what's been going on at my local bus stop at Bow church. And because this subject bores some of my readers to tears, I'll throw in some additional developments along Cycle Superhighway 2 between Bow and Stratford, in case they find these more interesting.

Only two things have happened at Bus Stop M in the last three weeks, neither of them particularly significant. A proper bus map turned up in the bus shelter, after a two month absence, so passengers can now tell where their buses are going. And some blue paint appeared in the bus stop bypass, but not a lot, indeed only the central section. The other 75% of the surface remains unpainted tarmac, and the bypass remains sealed off by plastic barriers. Five months after construction began, cyclists are still being forced out into a narrower stream of traffic, while litter accumulates in the unused channel behind. Presumably the contractors are waiting until the Cycle Superhighway either side of the bus stop is complete, for health and safety reasons, but opening up the bus stop bypass would be undoubtedly be safer than leaving passing cyclists unprotected.

Also not yet completed here:
a) Bus Stop E still appears on the TfL website, sort of, even though it's been erased in real life
b) Bus Stop G still appears on the TfL website, even though it's been erased in real life
c) Timetables displayed at Bus Stop M stop don't (quite) match times at new location [REPLACED - Over Christmas a whole set of seven new timetables has been posted up, dated 19.12.15. Some are correct, while others still show either an incorrect location or a non-existent 'Bow Flyover' stop]
d) The replacement lamppost isn't functional, so it's unexpectedly dark here in the evening
e) the new bus shelter isn't yet plugged into the electricity supply, so this provides no light either

Perhaps lessons have been learned at the three bus stops on the opposite side of Bow Church, where a bus stop bypass is currently being driven through. Contractors have managed to keep the bus stop open throughout the process, aided by having considerably more space in which to manoeuvre. The original bus stops J, K and L closed only when a temporary alighting point was available, and passengers were swiftly switched back to their new island perch. Rather than combining three stops in one, as proved messy heading east, westbound passengers will continue to enjoy three separate poles. That's J for buses imminently turning off Bow Road, K for buses heading straight on towards Mile End, and L for almost-terminating buses on Route 8.

General bus congestion has been slightly eased by the temporary closure of Bromley High Street, meaning the 108 has to omit its loop through Bow. The end of the road has been blocked for some time, neither aided nor abetted by a useless yellow sign which states This road will be closed on ?/?/2015 for ? weeks, with all the dates and times missing. But there's a lot going on here, including the introduction of a contraflow cycle lane I'll be amazed to see anyone use, and the realignment of the pedestrian crossing by the Gladstone statue. Previously this was staggered, but imminently it'll be realigned to straight across, depositing pedestrians on the opposite side of Bromley High Street to before.

Adjacent to the Bow Roundabout, new segregated cycle lanes have been completed on either side of the main A11, but both remain barriered off. On the westbound that's understandable as the lane feeds into the under-construction bus stop bypass with no means of escape. But on the eastbound it appears officialdom is again being wilfully risk-averse, holding off on opening until the entire section is complete, despite the fact that cycling down this segregated stretch would be hugely safer than remaining in the traffic. Meanwhile a special Idiots Prize goes to whoever positioned the westbound roadworks sign in the cycle lane, forcing cyclists to swerve onto the pavement - I've had a couple of near misses myself.

At the Bow Roundabout itself, something unbelievable has started to happen. Controlled pedestrian crossings are on their way, for the first time in 45 years, rather than we locals having to take our lives in our hands every time we cross. At present only a few preliminary works have taken place, barely perceptible to the casual user. But from Monday 4th January the main works programme will begin, involving occasional lane and road closures, and will continue for six whole months. What with all the roadworks that have taken place at the Bow Roundabout over the last few years for the Olympics, the advanced stop lights, the CS2 extension and the CS2 upgrade, it sometimes feels as if the contractors have never gone away. When this latest reworking of the junction is complete at the end of June, maybe they'll finally leave us alone for a bit.

Further up Stratford High Street, the new road junction at Sugarhouse Lane is almost complete. This dead end street is about to become the main point of access to a hugely significant housing development on former industrial land, and for this to succeed a better connection is required. But only in one direction. Traffic from the Bow Roundabout and Bow Flyover will shortly be able to filter off and turn right into Sugarhouse Lane, but traffic emerging from Sugarhouse Lane will still only be able to turn left, otherwise a new set of traffic lights would be required and things are slow enough along here as it is. It's been coned-off misery here for months, especially for cyclists who (in a familiar tale) have been booted out of their safe lane into the main traffic. But this weekend it looked like things were almost complete, with contractors busy re-laying blue tarmac and barriers primed to go, so hopefully this temporary blackspot will be re-opened soon.

And finally, has the Greenway been reopened as promised? Has it hell. The northward link has been blocked since the Olympics and remains so while Crossrail does its thing. Back in 2010 we were promised that their disruptive engineering would be complete by 'Spring 2015', indeed there's still a sign on Stratford High Street saying so, but no. The authorities have prepared for the eventual reopening by slapping a sign with a disclaimer on the barrier, which reads This path is not a public right of way, but people are normally allowed to use it by permission of the landowner, and at their own risk. This is increasingly the future, alas, as London's shared spaces become private worlds where the public are tolerated but never welcomed.

Meanwhile the Greenway to the south of Stratford High Street remains sealed off as it has been all year. Important works related to the Lea Tunnel are taking place on Abbey Creek, and these were originally scheduled to be completed in December. The other weekend they left the gates open, and the worksite unattended, so I assumed everything was complete and wandered in. I got a long way too, right up to the big holes above the pipes, but no further. Alas the unlocked gates were simply a careless error, and on my way back I spotted the additional Thames Water notice extending possession to 30th April. A lengthy diversion thus still awaits anyone attempting to get through to Manor Road, now extended to a whole year of misery for regular Greenway users.

Sometimes I think it'll be lovely round here on the Olympic fringe when everything's finished. But increasingly I suspect it never will be, as Bow and Stratford's perpetual rebuilding cycle continues.

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