Archive for the ‘TRANSPORT’ Category


Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher

I have written a series of blogs on various topics since I started up my website in July 2010. I have also had some articles published in various newspapers and I have included them in this section. Now in a move to prompt me I hope to write more blogs on the issues of the day and other subjects of interest (including local history), I have created a dedicated blog page, FisherBelfast’s Blog. I have transferred the blogs from here to the new site, but I will leave the ones for 2010, 2011 and 2012 here for archive purposes. So I am now inviting you to take alook at how I have cast my rod and started fishing for stories on a new page. Thank you to all those who have read my blogs here. Please sign up on my new page for regular emails about fresh stories.




Zebra crossing at Abbey Road studios

Like most of my generation I am a Beatles fan. So I was delighted to find out from my fellow tweeter @EamonnMallie that the iconic zebra crossing at Abbey Road in St John’s Wood, London has received listed status, albeit Grade II. The Liverpool lads recorded most of their output at the studios in Abbey Road. Their final album as a group was recorded there in April 1969.  ’Abbey Road’ became their best selling album and the front cover consisted of a picture of the four members of the group crossing the road at the zebra crossing beside the studios. Zebra crossings in Britain are usually distinguished by belisha beacons on either side, named after a former Transport Minister who introduced them in 1934. These are the flashing amber globes on top of poles with black & white stripes.

Since the Abbey Road photo was taken, zigzag lines at the kerb and in the centre of the road have been added to all zebra crossings to indicate the no-stopping zones on either side. The band Shriekback’s album Sacred City contains an entire song, “Beatles Zebra Crossing?”, about the famous zebra crossing and its status as a tourist attraction (Wikipedia).

The scene is still very much a tourist attraction. When I visited it four years ago I met a group of Japanese visitors waiting to take their turn crossing the road at the same spot and also taking photographs.

There is also a live webcam accessible on the Abbey Road studios web page.

The initiative to list the crossing came from the studios who approached the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. They say the crossing is the first of its kind ever to be listed, reflecting the cultural and historical importance of the crossing and the studios. Some 41 years after the photograph of the Beatles on the crossing outside the studios was taken, it continues to be a must-see destination, attracting thousands of music fans all over the world. Artists have also paid tribute to the iconic image, from the infamous Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album art to Kanye West and Seal. In a statement the general manager of the studios Jonathan Smith said when the Department listed Abbey Road Studios in February, the zebra crossing had been excluded from the listing. As an important cultural landmark and icon of British culture, he said they believed the crossing should receive the same protection as the studios and were delighted this has now been granted.

Abbey Road zebra crossing now a Grade II listed structure



 Returning to London in early September it was interesting to see the Boris bikes in operation. At St Pancras where I had photographed an empty stand waiting for bicycles in July, the docking station now had several machines available and I spotted one man returning his. During the first two months of the £140 million scheme over one million journeys have been made. According to the Mayor of London Boris Johnston only three bikes have been stolen in that period (speech to the Conservative party conference: BBC News).

I have not yet had a chance to try one of the bikes. But they are becoming an increasingly popular form of public transport, it seems. Mind you, this was one area in which Dublin beat London, as the public hire scheme in the Irish capital is now well used. For anyone thinking of using a Boris bike in London, the full details can be found one the Transport for London website, which also has a very useful journey planner  to get you from Wimbledon to Islington or wherever (new window)




Transport for London bike hire scheme

I grew up in London in the 1960s in the era of the trolleybus. The service from Wimbledon literally went out with a bang as the last journey was made and the vehicles were sold off to other operators or sent to a museum. Returning to London over 45 years later I noticed a new form of public transport was beginning to appear. Streaks of blue were evident along some of the city’s main roads (not a celebration of the Tories’ return to government). These are the new cycle routes designed to encourage pedal power. Each has its own marking eg CS7, which stands for “Cycle Superhighway”. The paint was still fresh when I passed one in Colliers Wood. Further into the city, there were more signs of a return to two wheels instead of four.

St Pancras at entrance to congestion zone

Docking stations have been set up at various locations, where people will be able to hire a bike in a new initiative promoted by Transport for London (new window). It’s nice to think that for once, Dublin has been ahead of London in introducing this form of transport. There are plans for up to 400 such stations for bicycles but only 300 will be ready for use next week when the scheme is due to begin.

St Paul's Cathedral

TfL bike hire

Each station holds 20 bikes and only those cyclists who register from Friday will be able to use the bikes next week. According to the Evening Standard (new window) most users will have to wait until the end of August while the docking stations are completed. The first superhighway from Merton to the City was officially launched yesterday. But judging by the state of roadworks at Colliers Wood and at Southwark Bridge at the weekend, cyclists are going to have problems tackling the route, especially beginners. I can recall cycling along some of these roads heading towards the centre in the mid 1960s when there was much less congestion. But the way things are now, I don’t think I will chance it again for the moment! I will leave that to my daughter, who occasionally cycles to work in the centre of London.

Latest: She has now signed up for the scheme, received her key in the post, and has made her debut on one of the TfL bikes!

Bikes outside University College Hospital