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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Another cyclist hospitalised: the inevitable cost of 21st century construction techniques in a 19th century city

Cycling down the Wandsworth Road this morning, the sound of helicopter blades close overhead, then the sight of the red air-ambulance setting down in Larkhall Park, and then all the blue lights flashing further down the road.

Take a detour, across to Stockwell, dreading to read the online headlines.

Reading the online headlines an hour later at work: on the Evening Standard site, Wandsworth Road crash: cyclist trapped under cement truck.

It happened at 8.30am, and one of the witnesses said precisely what I was feeling: "When I saw the aftermath, I thought 'oh no, not again'".

As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, Wandsworth Road beyond this junction has in effect become part of the Nine Elms building site. One lane is closed, and huge trucks line up to have their cargo hauled off by cranes and bolted to the new skyscrapers which are rapidly blocking out daylight from this part of the world.

Traffic coming west along the Wandsworth road includes empty cement trucks, rushing back to Battersea for a refill at the Lafarge depot in Silverthorne Road. At the Lansdowne Road junction they meet diverted eastbound traffic, which is nearly always snarled up. Cyclists try to dodge round. The lights have not caught up with the roadworks. Horns blare.

Cars, buses and vans trying to get to Vauxhall are infesting the backstreets around Lansdowne and Clapham Roads, mixing with the existing school run traffic, cyclists, pedestrians…it is just another south London transport nightmare. But a particularly dangerous one, as today's accident makes all too clear.

This disruption, this violence, and all the attendant pollution, should come at a very high cost indeed to the developers who will be the main ones to profit from the Nine Elms development.

Maybe they could be forced to become the new reluctant  Carnegies, and pay to maintain Lambeth's ten libraries.

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