They're building a pedestrian crossing at the Bow Roundabout. THEY'RE ACTUALLY BUILDING A PEDESTRIAN CROSSING AT THE BOW ROUNDABOUT! Some of us thought this day would never come. TfL are rightly proud, and went to the effort of firing out a press release yesterday. Nobody in the mainstream media seems to have picked up on it - a pedestrian crossing in Bow doesn't have the media-friendly jangle of, say, a new Crossrail station or extended Overground trains. But diggers have appeared under the flyover, pavements and superhighways are being dug up, and the business of adding six sets of pedestrian-controlled lights to a major road junction is underway. Wahey. Expect six months of disruption to traffic, some of it quite serious.
And that's on top of serious disruption to traffic along the upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2. We're now eleven months into the project, and the disruption around Bow is as bad as it's ever been. Now we're being promised ten days of overnight closures for resurfacing, starting next week, according to an electronic sign near Bow Church. The sign says 'A11 closed', which could mean all three miles to Aldgate or could just mean this stretch, there seems to be no way to tell. TfL's traffic disruption website is very good on details of disruption relating to Bow Roundabout works, but uselessly unspecific when it comes to CS2.
A particular focus of construction work at present is the junction at the foot of Fairfield Road. Cones and barriers first appeared when digging began six months ago, and have only increased, now with one lane of Bow Road closed in each direction, chunks of pavement narrowed, a more dangerous left turn into Fairfield Road and a pedestrian crossing completely sealed off.
As you can see, the advice to pedestrians isn't especially helpful. No attempt has been made to indicate in which direction the nearest crossing is, nor how far away, the contractors have simply dumped the sign on the pavement and hoped for the best. And this is clearly policy, because they've done exactly the same up the road outside the Magistrates Court where the crossing is also closed. The underlying planning is better than that - only alternate crossings have been closed, the others remain in operation. But it's easy to understand why on one such sign, in the gap above SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE, someone's scrawled NO YOUR NOT.
This is going to be an unexpectedly complicated road junction when it's finished, with a new filter lane for left-turning traffic and various fresh paths for cyclists passing through. To achieve this a pull-in layby outside the old Town Hall has been eradicated and the pavement drastically shrunk back - that lone wonky lamppost in my photo shows where the edge of the kerb used to be. I'll tell you all about the new Fairfield Road junction, and whether the set-up actually works, once it's finally operational. It's either wasteful over-engineering, a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or an inspired experimental design that finally prioritises the cyclist.
Just up the road, opposite Bow Church DLR, work has finally begun on adding a bus stop bypass behind Bus Stop A. Alas the closure of this stop has been handled with the usual cackhanded disregard we've come to expect in these parts. The 'Bus Stop not in use' cover was added last week, and the timetables below replaced by bright yellow panels reading 'Bus Stop closed'. But only one panel included information on where buses stop instead, and that was a side panel not facing the pavement, nigh impossible to read now the bus stop had been barriered off. And even if you did catch sight, all it said is that you should use the bus stops before or after this one, not where those bus stops are, nor that buses on certain routes stop in completely different locations. Meh.
Here's an example of the inconvenience this shoddy approach to bus stop closures can cause. That white coach is the A8 Stansted Express speeding by the stop, and to the left are two travellers with suitcases wandering forlornly away. Ten seconds earlier they'd attempted to flag the coach down - it's timetabled to stop here - only for the driver to gesture through the window at the 'obviously' closed bus stop, and drive on. These poor airport-goers had no idea what to do, nor where the next stop might be, and could easily have missed their flight as a result. To add to the confusion, this week the pole for Bus Stop A has been completely removed as construction work begins, and there is now NO INFORMATION AT ALL where ten days ago a key bus stop once stood.
And speaking of incompetently managed bus stops, what of Bus Stop M? In good news, they've finally updated the timetables. Just after Christmas a fresh set of seven timetables was posted up, dated 19.12.15, in recognition of the fact that Bus Stop M is no longer located down by the flyover. Except they haven't quite got even this right. The timetables for the 25, 425 and N205 now show the location as Bow Church DLR, which is the previous stop, while the D8 timetable shows the correct location but also a non-existent stop called 'Bow Flyover', which is the stop they extinguished back in October. Still, a good try.
The bus stop bypass still isn't open yet, nor has the lamppost behind the stop been switched on, but I had at least thought that reconstruction work at Bus Stop M was complete. Not so. Workmen returned on Tuesday and started digging up the centre of the bypass island, destroying two sizeable sections of recently-installed kerbline in order to add step-free access. It's a much-needed improvement, but begs the question why did nobody think to add ramps first time round, rather than throwing away money building this part of the bus stop twice. The woes of Bus Stop M are not yet complete, as construction work on Bow Road drags on, and on, and on.