BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘failure’

#365daysofbiking Failed dreams

Wednesday February 3rd 2021 –  It was a wet, cold and intense commute home – and I had to go somewhere I rarely do – Bentley Mill Way, which bisects old industrial land beside the M6 motorway, between Junction 10 and Darlaston.

This is a place where there’s a faded showcase cinema, some of the usual out of town outlet formula stores, a restaurant, and the derelict remnants of an odd attempt to create a night time economic centre here.

At one point there was a pub and a couple of night clubs, and the council were trying to expand it as a leisure area. But the nightclubs closed: When drunken revellers emerged into the cold night onto what was a remote, barren trading estate with no transport and little distraction, there was regular trouble. Development stalled. The project died.

So now the road is a hinterland, lined by scrub, factories, the remnants of the leisure and retail dream, and some dereliction. And now the burghers are trying to get industrial investment here, so have thrown money at improving the local road system, including the odd scheme of lowering the road beneath the 1700s canal aqueduct that limits large vehicle movements to the south.

The millions spent have so far yielded nothing, and the lights under this unusual aqueduct cycle most of the day unwatched by anyone.

But at night, it’s got that wet sheen and urban light thing going on, and it’s strangely captivating.

And there’s always this grimly fascinating, faint smell of failed dreams.

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#365daysofbiking Lit for nobody in particular

Friday December 18th 2020 – I had to pass through Walsall as I headed home from work. I had an errand to do, and I left as night fell. I thought I’d take a look at Town Wharf, the canal basin at the top end of town that was always intended to be the heart of Walsall’s millennial rebirth that wa in reality a slow developing child that 20 years later is still immature.

The Wharfingers cottage, rebuilt after it’s accidental demolition (!) is a good example: Empty for pretty much 15 years, it was finally occupied by a restaurant. Sadly, as we are in lockdown, they are confined to take-away only.

The lighting though, is gorgeous, and makes for a lovely photo. I always find this area bittersweet: It photographs beautifully but there’s always the vague smell of lost horizons here.

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#365daysofbiking Suffocation

Thursday, October 29th 2020 – I had to visit a store at Walsall’s Crown Wharf shipping Centre – a peculiar, strip parade out of town centre that was curiously built in the town centre.

Crown Wharf is awful: Like all parade malls, it surrounds it’s own car park and seems isolated from the town outside, and has sucked the life and larger stores from Park Street a hundred yards away, which is the town’s Main Street.

It’s incredibly brightly lit at night, and the trees on the Wolverhampton Road frontage have lights in all year around, giving a night-time feel of the worst kind of Christmas shopping all year around.

Crown Wharf is one of those odd, turn of the millennium regeneration projects that didn’t regenerate anything much, and seems cursory and contemptuous of it’s host town and environment, almost as if the architects and designers had learned nothing from Merry Hill twenty years before: A mall surrounded by industrial decay that only served to further suffocate the small towns around it.

I did what I had to, and left. I hate this place.

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#365daysofbiking Not a great place to break down

December 18th – On the way to an important breakfast meeting in Brum’s Business District, 7:30am. Half way up Moor Street Queensway, one of my brake pads disintegrates in use.

I had thought the calliper had burst, but luckily, the pad just delaminated.

Nothing for it but to effect a running repair – in rubber gloves on the central reservation. In the rain.

The view was good, though.

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#365daysofbiking Waiting for a train

October 31st – Some seasonal traditions are always more welcome than others.

One I hate to see but recurs every autumn is the half term failure of the rail system in Birngham and the Black Country.

No matter who seems to ‘run’ the local franchise – after all, we’ve had three operators now Central Trains, London Midland and West Midlands Railway – a combination of staff shortages and mechanical failures always makes for a miserable week on local rail with delayed trains and cancelled services. This week has been no exception and rail travel has been awful.

This evening I was coming from a meeting in Birmingham and needed to be in Shenstone before six. I was so suspicious of the services leaving New Street that I caught the earlier train that terminates at Four Oaks, resolving to catch the onward train if it was still on time behind.

This gave me a few minutes to appreciate the really lovely late night feelings vibe of this surprisingly large suburban station.

I love this places at night.

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#365daysofbiking Stark, bollock naked

October 28th – Telford’s new footbridge linking town and railway station – built to replace an older one rendered unsuitable for wheelchair users – is still plagued with standing water, despite attempts to alleviate it by drilling holes in the bridge deck.

In a total admission of design failure, large diameter holes have now been cut into the floor with grilles like plughole in them. I guess this has to work, if they’re in the right place.

Sadly there is no guttering or drain on the whole structure, and to put it bluntly the drained water will piss onto the commuters standing on the platform below.

Quite how a council and railway management company can allow a huge structure – getting on for 10 million pounds worth – to be built and commissioned with no rainwater control whatsoever is utterly beyond me.

Recently there were posters around the station begging passengers to vote for this ill thought out, awful bodge in some or other architecture competition.

A lot of Telford seems quite fond of this dysfunctional mess.

Telford, your emperor is stark bollock naked.

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#365daysofbiking Washed out, wet and sad – a wasted journey

September 22nd – I’ve always enjoyed Tipton Canal and Community festival, and while at work on the Sunday morning, I decided to visit that one rather than Huddlesford as it was closer when I finished work around lunchtime.

The weather so far had been grey, but as I left Darlaston with a friend, it was only spotting with rain – and hey, we had waterproofs and enthusiasm. After all, I went last year on the Saturday. It pissed down all the time I was there but the atmosphere had been great and it was actually really fun.

I’d checked with the organisers online that all was still happening.

And then we arrived. What a disappointment.

Most of the boats had gone, or were closed up. Most of the stallholders were either packing up, or were not there. The rain was steady, but not terrible. There were few folk around. I have to say – and any reader here for more than 5 minutes knows I’m a positive person – It was bloody awful. It was barely 1pm – halfway through what was specified as an all afternoon event.

We bought ice creams from an almost apologetic ice cream man, listened to singers on the live stage with only their parents and us watching. We mooched around the few stalls and rides left. We were thoroughly dejected – we’d wasted a journey here.

The only really bright spot was the Master Butchers, a duo playing determinedly and with good humour to a tiny number of fans. I so felt for them, like the folk on the stage.

I know the forecast was bad. But where was the Black Country, British spirit of damn the weather? At several events this year I’ve felt that all of a sudden this country can’t do bad weather and the first bit of rain sees people go home. So sad. Tipton is a town I love and care for, and this event is a highlight of the year. What on earth went wrong?

As we stood deciding what to do next, the rain petered out. We shrugged, checked the online weather, and made for Birmingham and a bit of canal exploration to make the best of a sad afternoon.

So far it had just not been my weekend.

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#365daysofbiking Lip service

March 12th – I noticed a couple of weeks ago there seemed to be new bike parking at WalsalL Station, but only got around to investigating it this evening.

It’s in a curious, newly built compound off platform one, and isn’t like the secure hubs at other stations, which are lockable and really deter the casual thief. This is a decent enough stacking stand, with a tethered tool station nearby which is, I guess, a nice touch.

It clearly isn’t secure though, despite the claims it’s monitored by CCTV. A new looking bike lies in one station, stripped and trashed.

I’d rather leave my bike locked on Park Street – and the disclaimers are very off-putting too.

This is nothing more than lip service by West Midlands Trains, a company I’m rapidly coming to dislike.

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#365daysofbiking A sign of failure

 

February 25th – Telford station, Monday morning.

I notice we now have an ‘Official Procedure’ for when the lift on the new pedestrian bridge breaks down.

‘Complimentary’ taxis will run the stranded passengers from one side of the station to the other.

If you spend nine million pounds on a new bridge to fix disability access issues, then omit a ramp and replace it with an unreliable lift meaning punters can become stranded if it breaks – you have failed as a designer and actually made the problem you set out to solve worse.

This is an idiotic disgrace. Those that allowed this to happen should be ashamed.

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#365daysofbiking Disasterous design

January 17th – It’s rare I’m negative about anything over much, but the new footbridge at Telford Station is an utter design failure and in my opinion, a fiasco.

Still very much unfinished, the build quality in places is very poor, the finish terrible and when I arrived mid morning, both lifts had failed.

With no lift on the westbound side, and the utter design failure of no ramp, I had to shoulder my bike and carry it up the steep steps.

The old bridge had no lifts – but ramps both sides. Although not good in a wheelchair, they at least were continuously available. If the westbound lift fails here now, wheelchair uses are stranded.

The situation is so bad there is now a hastily drawn up plan for calling for help if  the lift fails.

The powers that be have spent 10 million pounds to make the situation far, far worse for wheelchair users than it was before they started, ostensibly to improve things for them.

Telford and Wrekin Council and Network Rail should hang their heads in shame.

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