Shaun Bailey’s Policies on Transport

The Conservative Party have selected Shaun Bailey as their candidate Mayor of London in 2020, when Sadiq Khan comes up for re-election. He has served on the London Assembly since May 2016, and previous to that was a youth worker and advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron. He gave a rousing speech at the recent Conservative Party conference.

But what are going to be his policies on transport? His campaign web site ( www.backbailey2020.com ) spells them out. We give a summary here. He intends to:

  • Invest in London’s transport to make sure there is more capacity and increased frequency of public transport to meet the needs of our growing city.
  • Put driverless trains on tracks – he will put driverless trains on tracks, so that hard working Londoners are no longer at the mercy of militant unions.
  • Protect the Freedom Pass – he will protect the Freedom Pass (no sensible politician would say otherwise surely).
  • He will get a grip on road maintenance, and will fight for more control over vehicle taxes to help fund the boroughs and get a grip on London’s potholes and road maintenance.
  • He will scrap the suburban driving tax, i.e. the costly expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and use the money instead to fund a clean bus fleet, saving Londoners money and cleaning up the city’s air.

This looks a vote-winning agenda although I am not convinced that the Mayor should have control over vehicle taxes. This should be a national prerogative.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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City of London Becomes Paranoid – It’s 15MPH Everywhere

The City of London Corporation, who govern the square mile, have published their proposed Transport Strategy. It is surely one of the most paranoid attacks on all forms of transport vehicles ever proposed. It includes the following proposals:

  • A City-wide speed limit for all vehicles of 15 mph, with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) being used in all buses and public service vehicles to enforce it.
  • Priority given to pedestrians, even over cyclists, in most of the City’s streets.
  • Encouraging the Mayor of London to implement a central London zero emission vehicle zone, or if he does not doing it themselves for the City, i.e. only electric vehicles would be permitted.
  • Reducing vehicular traffic by 25% by 2025.
  • Expanding the City’s cycle network with wider cycle lanes.

As I said in my previous report on consultation meetings for the development of the Transport Strategy: “The road network will be degraded in the alleged interests of cyclists, pedestrians and environmental dogma”. See https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/07/01/degrading-the-road-network-in-the-city-of-london/ . One of the “key themes” that the Corporations officers say came out of these events were that motor traffic levels on the City’s streets are too high. That’s not how I recall the meetings. There were more concerns expressed about dangerous cycling than road traffic. There was of course no mention of a wide-area 15 mph speed limit in any of their consultations or meetings.

Bearing in mind that the vast majority of City workers do walk to work from main line or underground stations, and that some locations are overcrowded, improvement in pedestrian facilities does make some sense. But ignoring the needs of vehicle users is wrong. Very few people drive in the City unless they need to. The City is even going to discourage taxis and PHVs and it is going to work with TfL to reduce the number of buses. Likewise there are proposals to reduce the number of service and delivery vehicles in the square mile.

The proposed 15 mph speed limit is surely not going to be complied with, and that applies to pedal cyclists as much as vehicle drivers. It is very difficult to drive a car at 15 mph or less consistently if for no other reason than vehicle speedometers are not accurate or easy to read at very low levels. The only reason it might be complied with is because of traffic congestion which reduces vehicle speeds already to below that level for much of the time. But I would also question whether such a limit is legally enforceable. Signs to indicate that limit would be required but there are no legally approved signs of that nature (only 20, 30 etc.). Driving vehicles at less than 15 mph will of course increase air pollution so it’s also contradictory to their other transport policies.

The City Corporation will be undertaking a public consultation on their Transport Strategy in November. Readers are encouraged to respond to it. You can read the draft Transport Strategy document here: http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s102969/Draft%20TS%20Local%20Plan%20Sub%20091018%20combined.pdf

In the meantime, the City’s Planning and Transport Committee confirmed that the closure of Bank junction will be made permanent despite that fact that numerous vehicle drivers are clearly not aware of the restriction and collect a fine from driving through it.

Roger Lawson

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Bus Network Reduced and Shared Space Schemes

Transport for London (TfL) have published plans that will reduce bus services on 33 routes in London. This will particularly apply to underused services in central London which are alleged to contribute to traffic congestion and poor air quality.

The 33 routes represent only 6% of London’s bus routes and in some cases the route is simply being shortened. Another reason for the reduction is that bus usage has been dropping lately and there is the issue that while the deficit on TfLs budget is rising, buses are still massively subsidised. This is surely a sensible step to rationalise the bus network. If you might be affected by these changes, go here for a public consultation on them: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/central-london/?cid=central-london-bus-consultation

In July the Government announced a moratorium on new “shared space” schemes. That followed concerns in the responses to a public consultation on the Accessibility Action Plan. However they have now made it clear that this ban was not intended to apply to new housing developments or streets with low traffic levels.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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National Road Pricing a Step Closer, while NO2 Impact in Doubt

The likely proliferation of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in many of the UK’s cities with many of them introducing charging systems for non-compliant vehicles will lead to the widespread adoption of camera systems for enforcement. That is how the London Congestion Charge and the expanded ULEZ which will cover most of London is being enforced. In other words, cameras everywhere.

One inconvenience for drivers would have been the complexity of paying the charges if local councils all operated their own systems. This is already a problem in London where there is no common registration and auto-payment system for the Congestion/ULEZ system and the Dartford Crossing on the M25. But the Government have already anticipated this according to a report in Local Transport Today who were told that the Government is setting up a central payment system to support the local authorities. It seems that local authorities will still have a role in enforcement however – that probably means they will be able to retain the profits they can make from fines which will of course make such systems even more attractive than they would otherwise be.

As the ABD said in our recent press release announcing the publication of the truth about air pollution and vehicles (see http://www.abd.org.uk/air-quality-and-vehicles-the-truth/ ), the prime objective [from attacks on allegedly polluting vehicles] often appears to be simply the desire to extract money from car drivers and other vehicle users. Local authorities will perceive this as a godsend to solve their budget problems.

A national system of collecting payment for local CAZs does of course mean that introducing a national road pricing system would be very easy – just need to put up lots of cameras. Indeed with most of the major conurbations covered by CAZ and charging systems, that’s what we will have in place and ready to use for wider purposes.

There is strong public resistance to road pricing. But you can see the way the wind is blowing on this subject. You’ll know when it happens when the current air pollution legal limits are met but the enforcement stays in place or is extended to lower emission vehicles. Anyone wish to take a bet on that?

NO2 Impact in Doubt

One of the reasons why the Government has mandated CAZs for many cities is the failure to comply with current legal limits on NO2 (nitrogen dioxide). That gas was judged to have a major impact on life expectancy from past scientific studies even though it is difficult to separate out the impact of NO2 from other pollutants such as particulates. Now COMEAP, the Government sponsored authority on this subject, have published a report that questions the impact of NO2 with committee members taking varied views on whether it has any impact on health at all. The committee settled on an estimate that reducing NO2 by 1 μg/m3 would increase life expectancy by around 2 to 5 days, but some committee members fundamentally disagreed on even that calculation. See the COMEAP report here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/734799/COMEAP_NO2_Report.pdf for details.

It would seem that Government policy is being driven by dubious or uncertain science. But drivers on the roads of major cities will be facing big cost increases as a result.

Meanwhile Birmingham’s CAZ is shown as being poor value for money based on an economic appraisal by the local Council. Even taking into account the health and environmental benefits of £38 million over ten years, the costs imposed on drivers and vehicle owners results in overall negative costs of minus £122 million as a “net present value”. So just as with the extended ULEZ in London, we are seeing decisions being taken to pursue hopelessly unjustifiable attacks on air pollution.

Roger Lawson

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Lewisham 20 MPH Limit Failing

The London Borough of Lewisham introduced a borough-wide 20 mph speed limit in 2016 – apart from a few major roads. But not surprisingly it is failing to change drivers’ behaviour who continue to use their intelligence to drive at what they consider an appropriate and safe speed. As a Council report says “As the general look and feel of the roads has not changed many drivers continue to drive at the old 30 mph limit”.

The Council report also says that speed “reductions have been relatively small” which is similar to other signed-only schemes. So they now want to spend £1.2 million on a number of measures to enforce the 20 limits. That may include speed humps, chicanes, build-outs and speed cameras, although they have not firmed up exactly what measures would be used and on which roads. Roads likely to be targeted are Downham Way, Brockley Road and Southend Lane.

They intend to progress those proposals despite the fact that they only have preliminary figures for speed reduction and no data at all on the resulting impact on personal injury accidents. Nor are they bothering to wait for a Government commissioned study of the effectiveness of 20 mph speed limit zones.

Neither is there any cost/benefit justification for these proposals. Slowing traffic costs money in the wasted time of vehicle drivers/passengers. It also creates more air pollution because vehicles driven at slower speeds cause more.

Lewisham are clearly one of those boroughs dominated by anti-car policies and without any consideration of what is rational or sensible. You can read the Council’s report here: http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s59363/Lewisham%20borough%20wide%2020mph%20speed%20limit%20update.pdf

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Woolwich Ferry Closed

The Woolwich Ferry has been closed pending replacement by two new ferry boats. The piers need adapting to take the new boats which have more capacity than the old ones. It was clear that the three old boats needed replacing because they used to regularly break down after many years of service. It is hoped the new boats will be in service in the New Year.

The alternative ways to cross the Thames are the Blackwall Tunnel, the Dartford Crossing or if you are walking the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (cycling not permitted).

I do recall taking the kids for a trip on the Woolwich Ferry on a boxing day many years ago as a change from using the Blackwall Tunnel. The driver of a car in front of me accidentally locked himself out of his vehicle, as one could easily do in those days. I envisaged being stuck on the ferry for some time as vehicles were crammed in as tight as possible. But another Ford car driver on the ferry tried his car key and it unlocked the vehicle. Car security systems have improved somewhat since then!

Roger Lawson

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Air Quality and Vehicles – The Truth

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has been very concerned of late with the misinformation that has been spread by the national media about the impact of air pollution from vehicles on the health of the population. We believe it is not a major health crisis but simply a major health scare fed to a gullible public by a few politicians and by journalists wanting a story.

The promotion of such stories has also led to Government over-reaction and a number of local councils proposing “Clean Air Zone” schemes aimed at restricting some vehicles from entering some roads, or charging them extra to do so in the name of reducing pollution. London is in the forefront of charging drivers using pollution as an excuse (e.g. from the ULEZ), but many other cities are planning similar schemes.

The prime objective often appears to be simply the desire to extract money from car drivers and other vehicle users.

The ABD has now published a full analysis of the issues that actually gives the truth about the claims made for air pollution, and rebuts many of the allegations. It can be downloaded from here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Air-Quality-and-Vehicles-The-Truth.pdf

Is there actually a public health crisis? The simple answer is NO. The evidence does not support such claims.

In reality air quality has been steadily improving and will continue to do so from technical improvements to vehicles. Meanwhile life expectancy has been increasing. There is no public health crisis!

Life expectancy might be improved slightly, for example by a few days if all air pollution was removed. But air pollution does not just come from vehicles but from many other sources of human activity such as heating, industrial processes, farming, building, cooking and domestic wood burners. Only about 50% comes from transport. The air outside is typically cleaner than in people’s own homes or in offices and that is where they spend most of the time.

Removing all air pollution would be economically very expensive and leave us with no transport (buses, trains, aeroplanes or cars) and also stop all deliveries of food and other goods. You would not want to live in such a world.

We give all the evidence on our claims above in the aforementioned paper.

But the ABD does accept that air pollution does need to be improved, particularly in certain locations, and we recognise public concern about it. However we argue that measures taken to improve matters should be proportionate and cost effective. There needs to be a proper cost/benefit analysis before imposing restrictions or charges.

There are many measures that can be used to reduce vehicle emissions without restricting motorists or imposing major extra costs on them.

There is certainly no need to panic over air pollution!

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