Are the Public Concerned About Cyclists Behaviour?

The public in London are certainly concerned about cyclists’ behaviour. Below are some of the comments noted in the Transport for London (TfL) document just published on “Response to Issues Raised on Cycle Superhighway 4 (Tower Bridge to Greenwich)”:

Cyclist behaviour – Attitude and compliance

Some respondents said they were concerned that cyclists disobey traffic lights. Others raised concerns about aggressive cycling, lack of awareness towards other road users, including pedestrians and disregard to the Highway Code.

Speed

A number of respondents expressed concern over speeding cyclists posing a danger to other cyclists, with some suggesting a cyclist speed limit or physical measures to reduce speeds. Others raised concerns over pedestrian safety due to the speed of cyclists.

Policy

A number of people raised policy issues around cycling including suggesting cyclists are licenced, insured, should pay tax, follow the Highway Code or take a test. Others said it should be compulsory for cyclists to use cycle lanes and that bells on bicycles should be mandatory.

See https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/cs4/user_uploads/cycle-superhighway-4-response-to-issues-raised.pdf for the full report, and TfL’s answers to those concerns.

These concerns will surely only grow as electric cycles become more common, enabling cyclists to achieve higher speeds. The other concern is the use of “cargo bikes” that are often very heavy and often also electric powered. A pedestrian being hit by a cargo bike is much more dangerous than being hit by a car at the same speed because they are not designed to protect pedestrians in collisions.

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Life Expectancy Data Says There Is No Air Pollution Health Crisis

There have been many scare stories published about how air pollution in London and other major cities is shortening lives. London Mayor Sadiq Khan certainly believes there is a major public health crisis that he needs to tackle by aggressive measures against vehicle owners. But data published by the Office of National Statistics simply contradicts these claims.

If such claims were true, one would expect to see shorter life spans for people living in those parts of the country where air pollution was known to be bad. For example some of the central London boroughs such as Camden, Westminster and Kensington & Fulham. But in fact the opposite is true. Residents of those boroughs have longer life expectancies than most of the rest of London, or the rest of the country. The Daily Mail has published an article that covers this subject in depth and even suggests that rather than retiring to the country, you can live longer if you move to central London – see link below.

Women born in the London Borough of Camden have the highest life expectancy overall at 86.5 years, with Kensington & Chelsea at 86.2 years. That’s longer than women who live in the outer London borough of Bromley at 85.3 years. Males live somewhat shorter lives but there is a similar advantage to living in the more polluted boroughs.

London as a whole has a life expectancy of 84.3 years for women and 80.5 years for men and expectancy has been rising until very recently – see ONS statistics link below. That compares with 84.0 years and 80.6 years for the wider south-east of the country. Both London and the wider south-east are much better than all other UK regions apart from the south-west. For example, in the north-east the figures are only 81.6 years for women and 77.9 years for men, perhaps negatively affected by working in former heavy industries in that region.

The Daily Mail article contains a useful interactive map so you can see what the figures are for where you live.

Now there are clearly other influences at work on life expectancy such as the quality of local healthcare and the wealth of the local population (wealthier people are known to live longer) but this data demonstrates that air pollution has no measurable impact on life expectancy at current levels even in the most polluted London boroughs. If it did one would expect to see this revealed in the data recently published by the ONS.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is more about raising taxes on long-suffering vehicle owners than improving the life expectancy of the population.

Daily Mail article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6487389/Women-Camden-longest-lives-UK.html

Office of National Statistics Life Expectancy Data: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/datasets/lifeexpectancyatbirthandatage65bylocalareasuk

Roger Lawson

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National Press Waking Up to ULEZ Impact

The Daily Mail ran a story on the 9th December spelling out the enormous impact that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will have on drivers in London. They suggest a million motorists will be paying £12.50 every day once the ULEZ zone is expanded to within the North/South Circular. This could generate as much as £700 million to £1.5 billion a year in revenues for Transport for London (TfL) they also suggested. See the Mail story here (it was also covered by the Sun and the Times newspapers): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6476639/Londons-new-ultra-low-emission-zone-force-million-motorists-pay-12-50-day.html

But their figures probably do not take into the real impact because TfL have been misleading people about which vehicles will be exempt – see our previous blog article here on that: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/12/07/press-release-uk-drivers-sleepwalking-into-macron-style-taxes-on-eco-hatchbacks/

Roger Lawson

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Crossrail – Late and Over Budget As Forecast

Crossrail, that mega-project to link east and west London, is running late and needs more funding to cover the cost. It was supposed to open as the “Elizabeth Line” this week, but it was announced in October that it would be delayed until at least Autumn 2019 and according to a report in the Financial Times: “a number of people close to the project now believe it may not be ready until late 2020”.

After an extra £590m in July and a further £350m was granted to the project in October the cost of the scheme is now expected to be £15.8 billion. But it looks like even more money is probably going to be required.

It’s interesting to look back at what I wrote about this project in October 2004 – yes I have been writing on London transport issues for that long. This is some of what I published then when the forecast cost was only £10 billion, give or take a few billion: “The project review document [from the DfT] actually suggests the real “Net Present Value Cost” may be somewhat less at £8 billion after taking account of contributions from the business community of over £2 billion and other adjustments but that is still an enormous cost. In other words, instead of showing a positive return on the investment, it will show a gigantic loss. To give you some idea of the scale, assuming Londoners are primarily going to pay for it one way or another (through higher public transport fares, as is one suggestion, or through taxes), that means that it will cost London households as much as £3,000 each after taking into account the benefits they gain – so the real cash cost is even higher.

Of course it also ignores the risk that such large projects typically overrun on costs, and that fare revenue is often less than forecast, so the chance of the budget being adhered to is also fairly remote.

One reason why it loses money apparently is because only about a third of trips on the new line would represent new public transport trips – the rest are simply diversions from other rail or bus journeys so there is little financial advantage. But the costs above take into account the time saved by passengers on more convenient trips.

Only Ken Livingstone could have sold this financially disastrous project to the government. Anyone who is familiar with basic economics and capital project evaluation would immediately see that it is fundamentally financially unsound. Any project with a negative Net Present Value like this one would never even be looked at in a commercial environment. One can understand exactly why previous governments over the last 30 years have consistently shelved such a project).”

Well at least I forecast the likely failure to meet even the enormous budget then planned. But it just shows what typically happens with rail projects where construction is very expensive and complex when compared with building roads.

Note that Members of the London Assembly have accused Sadiq Khan of misleading them and the public over the delays to Crossrail and that the delays are due to his mismanagement. He only announced it at the end of August when it is alleged that he knew about it earlier. I wonder when a new opening date will be announced. He’s probably hoping it will before his re-election campaign commences in 2020.

Postscript: A KPMG report has suggested that as much as an extra £2 billion will be required to complete the project. When the Mayor was asked on television if he could give assurances as to when it would be complete and for how much, he said “no”.

Roger Lawson

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Borough Enforcement of Speed Limits – It Could Be a Big Money Spinner

At present only the police can enforce speed limits in London by the issuance of fines and penalty points to drivers who offend. The fines resulting from prosecutions are generally paid to the Treasury, although the police can obtain some money by using “waivers of prosecution” and diverting drivers to speed awareness courses. The ABD believes the latter is illegal (see our AMPOW campaign).

London Councils is the representative body for all 32 London boroughs. At a recent meeting of their Transport and Environment Committee the issue was raised of the lack of enforcement of speed limits, particularly 20-mph limits which are widely ignored. Could it be that they are inappropriate on many roads? Or that the police have decided they have better things to do with their limited resources?

It seems some boroughs would like to acquire the power to enforce speed limits and effectively take over the role of the police. London Councils have commissioned their staff to “explore the feasibility of undertaking such enforcement”. That will include options “for the use and retention of any income from speeding fines”. Note that new legislation would be required, similar to the decriminalisation of parking offences.

You can see just how attractive this could be to local boroughs in that it would enable enormous numbers of speeding fines to be issued, with only the poor appeal system that we have at present for parking fines. This could be an enormous money-generator for councils who would be imposing 20 limits (or even 15 limits as proposed in the City of London) on all their roads, with thousands of hand-held speed cameras in use irrespective of whether there is any road safety benefit. Financial motives would take priority of whether this is rationally going to have any road safety benefit and we would see yet another step in the direction of making the use of cars so difficult that people will give them up – just what the anti-car fanatics would like to see.

Readers should make sure they oppose this proposal by complaining to your Member of Parliament and your local councillors.

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Press Release: UK Drivers Sleepwalking Into Macron Style Taxes On Eco Hatchbacks

The ABD reveals that modest three years old ‘eco branded’ family hatchbacks will soon be effectively banned from inside the London North and South Circular roads. That approach will likely be copied in cities and towns across the UK:

Owners of many just over three years old top selling diesel hatchbacks branded ‘eco’ or ‘blue’ will soon wake up to a shock as huge charges will effectively ban cars from towns and cities including some 2015 registered ‘Eco’ or ‘Blue’ branded Fiestas, Focus, Golfs, Corsas, Astras etc (see list below). When these charges are imposed owners will see their cars plummet in value.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments: “Many people think that as they don’t drive in London, or that they drive newish ‘eco’ cars, this won’t affect them.  They are wrong. The UK Government have given powers to local authorities to introduce emissions-based charges pretty much at their whim and with no justification.

Councils all over the UK are looking to copy Sadiq Khan’s lead, Manchester being well advanced in its plan.  Values of the many affected cars, and even some that are not currently affected, will fall due to fear of future charges long before they even happen. If the government wish to avoid ‘Yellow Vest’ style protests they need to act now, remove such powers from local authorities and ban all such schemes.”

The ABD searched the London ULEZ site (applying within the congestion charge zone from 2019 and spreading beyond from 2021) using genuine registration numbers of a number of modern family hatchbacks taken from online car sales websites.

Check your car here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/vrm-checker-ulez

Here are just some of the cars falling foul of ULEZ charges:

2015 Citroen C3 Edition 1.6 Bluehdi 100 Edition 5dr 90bhp
2015 Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi Airdream VTR+ Hatchback 5dr Diesel 115bhp
2015 Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic Style 5dr  94bhp
2015 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr  113bhp
2015 Fiat Panda 1.2 MULTIJET POP 5d 75 BHP
2015 Fiat 500 Lounge1.3  Multijet 3dr 95bhp
2015 Nissan Juke 1.5 ACENTA DCi 5 DOOR 110 BHP
2015 Renault Clio 1.5 dCi ECO Expression + 5dr 90bhp
2015 Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Excel (s/s) 5dr 90bhp
2015 Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex Design 94BHP
2015 Vauxhall Astra 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Elite 163 bhp
2015 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 16V Ecoflex Design 5dr 108bhp
2014 VW Golf 1.6tdi estate 89 bhp and 108 bhp
2015 VW Golf hatch 1.6tdi Bluemotion tech S 104bhp
2015 VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6tdi estate 108bhp

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Unblock the Embankment and City Transport Strategy

A campaign named “Unblock the Embankment” (see https://unblocktheembankment.co.uk/ ) have published a report that says the Cycle Superhighway on the Embankment is costing the capital £5.3 million per year. The Embankment was reduced from two lanes to one on some stretches to accommodate the Superhighway (CS3) in 2016. Not only did that create enormous traffic congestion due to the necessary road works, but ever since there has been increased congestion on that route which has added very substantially to journey times on this key East-West route. The increased congestion has also made air pollution on that route substantially worse when Upper/Lower Thames Street was already one of the worst pollution hot-spots (which of course cyclists have to breathe).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are few viable alternative routes for the many commercial vehicle users which affects thousands of businesses. The route is used by cyclists but their numbers are only significant during rush hours and alternative routes could have been devised for them. This was one of the most damaging changes to the road network in London ever devised. But Sadiq Khan thinks it’s a great success which just shows you how misinformed he is.

Please support the “Unblock” campaign.

The Unblock campaign has also pointed out that the City of London’s Transport Strategy which aims to reduce traffic within the City will cause more vehicles to use this key East-West route through the City. I attended a meeting in the City on Friday 30/11/2018 to complain that the Corporation’s officers do not seem to be listening to our objections to their proposals. They still refused to listen on the basis that many respondents to their consultations supported their proposals. Indeed the audience present was hardly typical of the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the City, or those who have to service them. There is an on-line consultation which you can respond to here: https://www.citystreets.london/questionnaire/age-check but bearing in mind the way such surveys are designed to get the intended answers, it may be better, and simpler, to just send your comments directly to this email address: strategic.transportation@cityoflondon.gov.uk

But will the consultation results be honest? It is possible to submit multiple responses to this consultation from the same IP address so it is likely to be manipulated by pressure groups. Likewise multiple emails could be sent to the above email address (many people have more than one).

Here are suggestions for submissions on the “Key Proposals” (focussed on the consultation survey questions):

Proposal 2. There should be no prioritisation of transport modes. All road users are equal and provision for different modes should be based on rational cost/benefit analysis and the demands of different users, i.e. provision for pedestrians should not automatically take priority over other road users.

Proposal 11. There should be no general policy to reduce road traffic which is essential to the working of the City and for the convenience of the public. Road traffic is already quite low in the City during most of the day due to past restrictions on access. It is not necessary to reduce it further.

Proposal 14. I am opposed to reduction in parking. Parking provision is essential for many vehicle users and reducing it just causes them to drive around looking for a space creating more congestion and air pollution.

Proposal 17. Keeping pavements free of obstructions is a laudable aim but does drinking outside pubs really cause a problem when it is a long tradition in the City?

Proposal 20. Vision Zero sound like a good objective but in reality is unlikely to be achievable. Limiting vehicle speeds to 15 mph is particularly objectionable as it is both impractical and won’t be adhered to. Even if enforced it will be no more effective than the 20-mph limit has been. It will also slow traffic and increase journey times. There is no cost/benefit justification for such a proposal.

Proposal 24. Too much money is already been spent on cycling provision as opposed to the needs of other road users (e.g. vehicles and pedestrians).

Proposal 29. I am opposed to a Zero Emission zone as it will impose enormous costs on vehicle owners and have very little benefit in terms of reducing air pollution. It is also impractical for some vehicle owners to purchase such vehicles, e.g. for HGVs because they are simply not available.

Proposal 38. Reducing freight vehicles is not possible without imposing very high costs on businesses. Where is the cost/benefit analysis? Where are the practical alternatives? Cargo bikes are not a practical solution for most purposes.

Proposal 41. Reducing the impact of construction is a laudable objective but this has been proposed in the past with no great result.

MAKE SURE YOU RESPOND TO THE CITY’S CONSULTATION NOW!

Roger Lawson

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