Thames Water: Marcel Duchamp lives on

Thames Water have a comprehensive Environmental Policy, including a Transport Policy (pdf). As policies go, it’s certainly impressive. Admittedly, it has no actual measurable commitments, deadlines or named people who are responsible for its implementation. However, it is filled with reassuring promises about “taking account” of information and “looking for creative ways of working” which only the most cynical of onlookers would find unsatisfactory.

A policy promising creativity is one thing, but can they fulfil such ambitious targets? I have to admit, I’m impressed. Their latest work on Lupus Street, SW1 has to be one of the most striking art installations I’ve ever come across. These photos were taken yesterday:

Approaching an obstacle like this would leave most cyclists floundering...

Aha, instructions! Cyclists Dismount...

Regular readers of this blog are likely to be aware Cyclists Dismounts signs have long been resented, with some particularly ridiculous examples becoming quite well known.

The fact that a national company like Thames Water has opted to use graffiti as part of what is clearly a caustic take on the traditional usage of these signs is laudable. While current discourse ruminates on whether graffiti is an acceptable form of political statement, industry-leading Thames Water are willing to produce this pungent satire in what I can only describe as one of the most impressive examples of social responsibility seen by a national corporation.

We can be sure that this is Thames Water making a stand because their Transport Policy specifically outlines their commitment to:

Developing innovative and environmentally efficient approaches to network maintenance and installation to minimise vehicle and fuel use, and traffic disruption.

Which is a relief.

The genius of such a seminal piece by Thames Water is that they have literally hundreds of simultaneous works taking place in London. (In 2008 it was 580. If you search the London Register of Roadworks for Thames Water at the moment you are simply told, ‘Your search has returned too many results. Please refine your search criteria.’)

Is anything bolder, more impressive, than the willingness of such a stupendous force on London’s streets to, in one prodigious work, put their hands up and say with spray paint, “actually, it’s our inconsiderate presence in the urban environment which should really be considered vandalism”?

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2 Responses to “Thames Water: Marcel Duchamp lives on”

  1. livinginabox Says:

    In the light of the fact that the ‘War on the Motorist’ has ended. This should be reflected by treating motorists the same as other road users. To achieve this, I would like to recommend that a new sign be introduced. It’s the ‘Motorists: Get out and push sign’.
    In line with fairness and parity, numbers of such signs must exactly match ‘Cyclist Dismount’ signs.

    I’m sure that all motorists would appreciate and understand the benefits of such fair and balanced treatment.

  2. Thames Water Contact Says:

    Wonderful write-up, it surely could make clear the notion of the niche effectively.

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