I mean, there can’t have been THAT many ZEBRA CROSSINGS back when this photo was taken. The intervening years have seen our great city afflicted by what can only be described as an epidemic of ZEBRA CROSSINGS. Pedestrians continue to insist on walking around the city, often forming themselves into herds of marauding sheep, and they also continue to insist on crossing the road. Cars, and Taxis in particular, just aren’t given the respect they are due and have to play second fiddle to the great unwashed that are roaming around getting in the way of London’s best drivers.
This was playing on my mind as I sat in a queue of traffic that snaked around Russell Square earlier this week, as I tried to get a punter from Bloomsbury Way to Euston. A short and pretty straightforward journey when you look at an A-Z, but take into effect the Pedestrian factor and a fiver fare ended up nearly £7. Get through Bloomsbury Sq and you might think you are well on your way, but you just know that the zebra crossing in Bedford Way is going to screw things up. You could avoid it, but the traffic going the other way doesn’t look a lot better and your punter is likely to scream blue murder. So you sit there waiting for a) the constant stream of pedestrain to end and b) the constant stream of muppet drivers who think their journey is more important than yours and cut in the queue of cars. Once you’ve got through that, the traffic by Gordon Sq can be a bit sticky as the ZEBRA CROSSING by Byng Place is slowing things down, then turning right into Gordon Sq you have to be really careful as you turn across the cycle lane, only to be presented with another ZEBRA CROSSING, just before the Bloomsbury Theatre that at the wrong time presents another human wall, thankfully mainly students and therefore expendable if you really do lose the will to live and steamroller your way through. And there you are eventually at Euston, with a punter wondering why the hell he didn’t walk. So as I queued at Euston to get my next fare, I asked on Twitter “Can we start a list of most annoying zebra crossings in London? I’ll kick off with Bedford Way.”. And, as expected, I got a wonderful response, mainly from my cabbie colleagues. In all there were 13 crossings nominated and I will reveal the top 5 below. But “honorable” mention must go to, of course, Bedford Way itself (which I’m sure would have received more votes if I hadn’t nominated it in my original Tweet); Anderson Street (as you enter from Kings Road), Great Russel Street (outside the British Museum); Long Acre (outside Covent Garden Tube); Terminus Place, Victoria; Chiswell Street (by the junction of Bunhill Row); Bernard St (outside Russell Square tube); New Cavendish Street (junction with Marylebone High Street). All, I’m sure you’ll agree, supremely annoying crossings. But the crossings with the most votes were;
- 5th – Abbey Road – the temptation to mow a few tourists down is pretty difficult to contain at times, but your mood is often lifted by seeing some divs taking their iconic photo on the crossing further north by Abercorn Place.
- 4th – St Paul’s Churchyard (or is it still Ludgate Hill there??). I tolerate this crossing because of where it is. But only for the view.
- 3rd – Bow/Wellington/Russell St, Covent Garden. Yes, of course, right by the Royal Opera House, and a junction where cabs are are constantly trying to turn into the main flow of traffic. Let’s have a crossing where tourists, who don’t even know how the things work, loiter looking like they have barely evolved since the missing link.
- 2nd – Endell St/Bow St/Long Acre. Genius. Within a few hundred yards of our 3rd placed entry let’s have a new crossing right by another hugely busy junction that wasn’t perfect before but worked a hell of a lot better than the new “improvement”.
- 1st – Great Marlborough Street. In reality not that much traffic goes down this street, certainly not so much since the “dirty dozen” is closed off and most of Soho has just become a car park. But, if you are forced to travel down there at pretty much any time of the day or night, you just know you are going to be stopped at this crossing FOREVER, only to finally get moving once your previously pre-school children have left home.
Yes, yes I hear you all cry, you cabbies aren’t the most important thing in London. Ha! Well I’ll have you know, I can find at least 25,000 others that will agree with me……..