Friday, September 29, 2006


This morning was a great ride in. The last two weeks traffic and weather seems to have got worse and wore, but this morning it was bright, but no sun in the eyes, it had been raining, but the roads were dry, the sun had not been up long, but visibility was great! Having whizzed in quicker than most mornings of late, I was looking forward to similar ride home.

Jackie and I left work at 5pm. We planned to get home, and then set out on public transport for an evening of wining and dining.

Before leaving I checked the TFL website for signs of hold ups on our route. Warnings and congestion are well displayed on their new graphic website. It has been in testing for months and have used it almost every day. However, for some reason, today they and the Police let themselves down badly!

On Tuesday in a horrific accident a crane fell near Battersea Dog's Home killing two people, the crane operator, and a man who was cleaning his car.

I arrived on that stretch of the road about 30 minutes after it happened and had a short hold up due to fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles blocking so much of the road the buses could not get past. Every evening since I have passed the wreck of the crane and it has not been pleasant seeing it silhouetted against the skyline.

Today, the crane was lifted. I confesses I was shocked to read that the man who was cleaning his car has been lying under the wreckage for three and a half days!

I knew the wreckage was being lifted today, and was glad for that, but the TFL website made no mention of the resulting traffic chaos they had planned for us.

On leaving the office Jackie and I had a good run from work to Vauxhall Cross, but once under the bridge it was obvious the traffic was at a standstill. The last time I saw anything like this was after the failed bombings in July last year when the Oval area was closed off and traffic crossing Vauxhall Bridge had nowhere to go. There were lots of cars, and they were going nowhere! I had lost Jackie as we turned left past Metropolis Motorcycles and as I was forced to go to the left round the gyratory system to get through I pulled over in the only safe space just before the turn off to Stockwell as I was going to suggest we headed that way instead. Unfortunately, the Stig did not see me, went straight past and back under the rail line towards Battersea. By this time I had a good idea why there was chaos, even if TFL didn't seem to know!

I was worried because if the road was closed at Battersea she probably would not know a suitable alternative route as she has been commuting only a few months and only knows one way to, and one way from work.

I had to proceed down the road to Stockwell a short way before I could turn across the central barrier. Then I had to fight my way through the traffic, including an altercation with a Royal Mail van driver who went through a red light so he could sit on a box junction! Eventually I got heading towards Battersea.

Back on the north side of the rail line there was a sign saying " Follow diversion" but there was no sign of what that diversion was or why. Further on there was also a sign saying "Battersea Bridge Road Closed" - now the road concerned is called Battersea Bridge Road - but it is also called Parry Street, Nine Elms Lane and York Road so unless you know the area, you might not understand that you were heading nowhere! There were loads of traffic wardens all standing on traffic islands at this complex junction, and all doing absolutely nothing to direct traffic! In all the information was rubbish!

I headed towards the area where the crane was because I guessed that the Stig would have done so and would probably find herself stranded with no clear directions as to ow to get home. I headed down the dual carriageway towards New Covent Garden and was soon pleased to see the Stig heading the other way, obviously having turned round when she found she could not get home that way. She saw me and I was able to cross the barrier at a gap and catch up with her before she got back to Vauxhall Cross.

Back at Vauxhall Cross things wre really bad with lots of stationary vehicles. I considered the options and decided to take the line of least resistance and head over Vauxhall Bridge despite long queues to get over, but we filtered our best! We then turned left and had to fight with loads of traffic going west on the north side of the river. Eventually we got to Albert Bridge, turned back across it and found very little traffic going that way. Once back in Battersea there was less traffic than I have ever seen, including on very quiet Sunday afternoons, going towards Wandsworth. Presumably it was still all jammed up back at Vauxhall!

In the end we got home after about 100 minutes, on a journey that normally takes about 45. We were exhausted. It was one of only three trips in three years of commuting that took more than an hour. It ruined our evening. Our plans to go out and eat were abandoned as we found ourselves wanting to just put our feet up, crack open the wine and order a pizza.

The collapsing crane and the deaths is a terrible tragedy, and it is horrific that someone had to lie there for days before their body could be recovered. It is even more horrific that his family knew that outside their home his body was still lying there. But damn you TFL! What excuse is there? This happened days ago so why was it that today there was poor information, no proper signs for the diversion and why was there absolute chaos this evening?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I started this blog when the weather made riding too hot, and too sweaty. Now the seasons are changing, and my working hours are extending. Tonight I got to ride home in the dark and the rain for the first time this winter. Dark and wet - I don't like it. But I never liked Guinness much either!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Commuter Survey

The London section of MAG are conducting a survey on commuting. If you commute in or around london you can complete the survey here -

MAG London Commuter Survey

I don't agree with all of MAG's policies but most of them make sense and are worth supporting.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Today The Stig and I were riding home across the front of St Thomas’s Hospital following a BMW C1 – you know, one of those strange bikes that has roof. The C1 was in front of us by about 100 feet, and The Stig was a little way behind me.

There is a small side turning across the road from the hospital, it leads to a car park I think, and cars often try pulling out of there when discretion would be the better part of valour. Today I noticed a grey sports car edging out from the left as we approached. I began to get concerned in good time and was slowing as the car was rolling forward and I could see the driver was looking to his left, preparing to turn right. At no time did he look to his right to see what was approaching along the lane he was about to cross. I soon spotted that his right hand was holding a mobile phone to his right ear, which is always a good sign of poor attention and poor vision to the side where the phone is held.

Just as the C1 got to him the car started to accelerate out of the turning. The driver saw him just in time and stopped, as did the C1. By the time I caught up with the C1 it was stationary across the front of the car and the rider was giving the driver a gob full. I pulled up behind him and also gave the driver a piece of my mind about mobile phone use, its effect on visual fields and the impact upon cognitive skills of attempting a phone conversation when driving! I may have also made one or two observations about the marital status of his parents and his solo sexual activities.

On the TV there are regular public information films about drivers looking but not seeing. This driver never at any point looked to his right. What he was doing was talking without thinking! I would like to see a TV campaign about mobile phone use by drivers. It is amazing how many cagers I see every day chatting away on their phones without a care for other road users. I am also sick of the number of times I have had to avoid pedestrians who think idle chat is more important than the Green Cross Code! Every day at least one steps out in front of me, oblivious to anything other than what their mate is saying on the other end.

In this case the car driver seemed to think that his phone conversation was more important than the road situation, even after the C1 and myself were sitting in front of his bonnet giving hi ma piece of our minds. Once the Stig caught up with us we all moved off, and the driver didn’t stop taking into his phone even once!

Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You? Or was it Sorry Mate, I didn’t Care?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Fair Weather Bikers

Where was everyone today? Yes, I know it is a Friday, and yes, it was a bit colder then recently. Yes, I wore a neck sock for the first time, but I also wore my summer jacket which is designed to not be wind proof and I didn’t get cold. Other than it only being about 12C during the morning rush instead of the 16C of late, conditions were perfect with clear skies an great visibility.

The number of bikes I saw on the way in was very small. Well less than half of a normal Friday. When I got to work the bike park, which normally is overflowing with more than 20 machines, still only had seven, including mine at 9.45.

So where was everyone?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Birthday Surpise!

I have never really been into customising vehicles. Sad but true – to me motor vehicles have always been devices for getting me from A to B. I even bought the Vespa because it was the ideal vehicle for what I wanted, and not for any reasons of style. Customising for customising sake has never excited me. I remember when I first met the Stig she used to subscribe to Back Street Heros. A mag full of pictures of custom motorcycles. Some of the articles were amusing, mainly because of the pages of paint jobs and incredibly uncomfortable looking riding positions!

I never made any changes to my previous scooter. I bought it standard, and part exchanged it standard apart from the many coats of paint trying to hold together the rusting the exhaust. But there is something about Vespas that makes one want to individualise them. I don’t know what it is. My car is a Mondeo, and I have no desire to make it look any different to any other green Mondeo, although the current drought order means the patterns of filth I am not allowed to wash off give it a distinctive, if unpleasant character.

I can see the point in improving your machine. Ssoon after I bought the Vespa I unscrewed the clear red panels from the top box, stuck down some reflective disks, and screwed it all back together. In less than five minutes I had improved the visibility of my scoot, especially when parked at night.


I also spent £7.50 on Ebay including postage to buy some vinyl panels to protect my scoot when getting it in and out of my property and in crowded parking bays. This time, fitting took less than three minutes. As mentioned below, I broke all previous expenditure records when I splashed out on a screen, but that was a performance part!

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it is the dozens and dozens of other scooters I see every day. Not only do I see a lot of Vespas, I see a lot of my model, in my colour. Something has been calling me to make my bike more distinctive. For some time I have been toying with getting a custom seat cover from Crystal seems to have some excellent designs, and it was the choice of fabrics that always delayed my purchase. I just could never make my mind up.

Then one day, looking at the site I saw that one of my favourite motifs, a blue celestial pattern, had just become available. The Stig pointed out my birthday was coming up and she ordered one for me. Despite being hand-made to order, and having a large ocean to cross, it arrived just over a week later. I fitted it straight away. This time it took only a minute. It looks great and seems very well made. At last, a real convert to customising motorcycles, a real back street hero!

Scooter Seat Cover 1