2014: a Dalston space oddity, the TfL monolith

monolith crner Kingsland Hi St & Balls Pond Rd Dalston Lon E8 2JS 020814 © david.altheer@gmail.com

WITHIN A DAY of Loving Dalston asking the authorities about the monolith that incongruously and dangerously popped up on a footpath in a busy part of Hackney it was being removed.

The monolith, on the west side of Kingsland High Street outside a former bank just north of Balls Pond Road Dalston E8 2JS, was likely to trip up pedestrians rushing to use the 11 seconds they have to cross the road during the green-man time gap.

Today, the day after being asked by Loving Dalston about the monolith, TfL said at lunchtime that it was organising a response to this site’s questions. By the time of writing this report, none had arrived. Orange barriers had arrived, indicating that it was being taken up.

monolithB: crner Kingsland Hi St & Balls Pond Rd Dalston Lon E8 2JS 020814 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Dig this: the monolith is on the way out

Hackney council, which does not own the junction and adjacent main streets, denied having any interest, saying: “This is the responsibility of TfL.”

Resembling a miniature version of the mysterious monolithic slab that floated through the science-fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, the E8 monolith was installed at the junction owned by Transport for London. It is an internal monitor, probably connected to a nearby crossing countdown device.

TfL traffic-infrastructure chief Iain Blackmore told Loving Dalston that the object was a bit of traffic equipment that had been there for several years, next to another, larger piece of street furniture that had been removed.

Unfortunately,” he said, the piece cannot be removed until the phone line connection it provides is transferred. The cabinet will then be immediately removed.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this piece of infrastructure.” It would be surrounded by the temporary range  barriers until then.

Transport for All activist John Thornton, who alerted Loving Dalston to the monolith, said that TfL placed it in the busy Hackney street without consulting interested parties.

He said: “It’s made of hard metal and it has sharp corners.  It is dark, essentially camouflaged and looks as if it has been set at just the right height and in the right position to cause maximum damage to a passing pedestrian’s shins.”

It was worrying that TfL would place such an obstruction on a pavement where blind and visually impaired people were likely to trip over it and where people with brittle bones could be lethally injured.

The service manual for the monolith was comprehensive in all matters, Thornton said, “ except where to safely install it on the footway”.

TfL produced policy documents claiming it was treating disabled people with respect.  The reality, in TfL-run streets, was the opposite.

David Altheer 060814

* Main picture: Hackney community safety wardens show no interest in the danger at their feet, despite their attention having been drawn to it.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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