Mayor of London and Parking Control

The Mayor of London, via the GLA and TfL, are asking for an amendment to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill that is currently going through Parliament. He is asking for new powers over the installation of electric charging infrastructure and parking bay designations on local borough roads as well as the TfL controlled roads. Currently local boroughs have sole control over all roads other than the main ones designated as TfL controlled roads. But the Mayor and TfL feel they are not moving fast enough with installation of charging points. Perhaps they are put off by the high costs and low level of use?

The new powers would enable TfL to not just bypass the local authority but also the planning process and associated consultations and would give them powers to create and re-designate parking bays.

London Councils which represents the boroughs are objecting and surely quite rightly. This is yet another attempt by the Mayor to take more powers and erode the independence of the boroughs. Dictators always seem to want more power it seems.

Petition on election of the Mayor.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is going to have a devastating impact on many people who live outside London if he manages to push through his Transport Strategy. After all many people use the road network to visit parts of London, or travel through it, even though they live outside the GLA area. A petition has been launched suggesting that everyone should have a chance to vote for the Mayor of London as he has just a wide influence. To sign it please go here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/205912

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

 

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Cycle Superhighway 4 – Consultation Results Again Biased by Cyclists

Transport for London (TfL) have published the results of the public consultation on their proposals for Cycle Superhighway 4. That is to run from Tower Bridge to Greenwich.

This is what the report on the consultation says:

“We received 3,265 direct responses to our consultation, of which 83 per cent supported or strongly supported our proposals. 14 per cent did not support them, while 3 per cent said they neither supported nor opposed the proposals. An additional 1,350 template emails were received via the London Cycling Campaign website which strongly supported the overall proposals and made suggestions for further improvements. An additional 80 template emails were received from Sustrans which supported the proposals.”

The consultation report is present here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/cs4/user_uploads/cycle-superhighway-4-consultation-report.pdf

If you look at the age profile of the respondents on page 24 the vast majority are under 40 years of age, with almost nobody over 60. That is not the typical profile of London residents and rather indicates that they are likely to be cyclists. Likewise if you look at the “mode of transport” they usually use on page 25, the highest mode frequency by far is cycling which is very untypical of London residents even in inner city areas.

We have complained to TfL about the bias in the consultation report on CS9 where similar lobbying was apparent (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/cycle-superhighway-9-consultation-results-biased-by-cyclists/ ). TfL have not conceded any fault. An interesting report on that consultation is present here on the Hammersmith & Fulham Forum with some good comments added from David Tarsh: https://hammersmithfulhamforum.com/2018/03/20/its-time-for-information-and-openness-on-cs9/

The consultation on the proposed bridge across the Thames from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf (for cyclists/pedestrians only) shows a similar bias. See https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/rotherhithe-canarywharf/

TfL seems not to want to correct this bias in their consultation results. Ever since Ken Livingstone was Mayor, TfL have been designing consultations to get the answers they wanted. The ethics of their approach are deplorable.

One problem is that those opposed to these schemes are simply not aware of the proposals until it is too late. The ABD maintains a newsletter contact list to whom we promote such consultations. Make sure you join it so you can respond – see here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/register.htm

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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The Real Profits from the ULEZ

In January we published a note on the likely profits that Transport for London (TfL) would make from the Ultra Low Emission Zone. That was based on our own estimates of the income they would receive (based on TfL data) as TfL had disclosed some information on budgets in response to an FOI Act request but it seemed to be grossly misleading.

We have now received more information which is given in this note: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/ULEZ-Profits.pdf . This shows that the income they would be receiving after extension to the North/South Circular would be over £125 million per year which is even higher than our own previous estimates.

However, the profits after operating costs would be lower than from the central London Congestion Charge zone alone presumably because the operating costs over the wider area, with many more vehicles affected, would be higher. We do not yet know the implementation cost for the wider area. Can TfL afford the capital cost is one question yet to be answered, bearing in mind that they are heading for a deficit of £1 billion per annum.

But the key point is that the £125 million will be taken out of the London economy every year, plus there is the cost to vehicle owners in upgrading their vehicles to be compliant with the ULEZ which we previously estimated at over £200 million (see our previous note on the cost/benefit ratio of the ULEZ here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Cost-of-the-ULEZ.pdf

We also pointed out in that note that so far as NOX emissions go, which is one of the main concerns, that these are rapidly falling anyway. Is the ULEZ, particularly the extension to within the North/South Circular, really justified? Despite what the Mayor says, there is no major public health crisis in London from air pollution. There are some localised problems which can be fixed by local measures. But extracting hundreds of millions of pounds in what are effectively taxes from Londoners for the ULEZ when it would be better spent on other useful and productive public health measures makes no sense.

The ULEZ will just move money from Londoners pockets to the scheme operators (private organisations) and the bloated bureaucracy that is TfL.

However one looks at it, the economics of this scheme and the justification for it in relation to the benefits to be obtained, when there are surely better solutions to the air pollution problem in London, seem dubious in the extreme. Both the Conservative Party and FairFuelUK have suggested alternative policies to tackle air pollution – you can see the latter’s stance on it here: https://www.fairfueluk.com/Survey-Background.html

Please make sure you oppose these irrational policies.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Emirates Cable Car, Bike Hire and TfL Finances

The London Evening Standard recently ran an article that suggested the Emirates Cable Car might be sold off or scrapped. The Cable Car runs across the Thames at Greenwich, cost about £60 million to build and opened in 2013. Passenger numbers have been lower than forecast with it mainly being used by tourists. I used it once but it’s a very slow means to get across the Thames at that point, even allowing for delays at the Blackwall Tunnel.

Does it lose money? According to the information provided by a recent FOI Act request, the numbers are as follows for the 12 months to Jan 2017: Income £9.2 million, Operating Costs: £6.0 million. But £3.3 million of the income comes from Emirates Airlines sponsorship under a deal that runs to 2021, so it barely breaks even ignoring the sponsorship money. Why an airline would wish to subsidise this slow and unreliable mode of transport (it frequently breaks down or has to stop in high winds) was never very clear.

On break-even if they don’t renew sponsorship it might be argued it is worth retaining, but obviously the construction cost will never be recovered, and even exceptional maintenance costs might be unaffordable. The Mayor and TfL have some tough decisions to make on this one.

The Standard also suggested that the Santander Bike Hire (formerly Barclays) might be scrapped to save money. It costs £21 million per year to run, of which TfL pays £3.6 million according to the Standard article. It might have encouraged more cycling in London, although users of these bikes are some of the worst behaved cyclists from my observations – perhaps because tourists unfamiliar with London traffic and road rules tend to use them. However, there are now some commercial alternatives who operate a “dockless”, pick up and drop off anywhere system. It might must be that after just a few years the technology is obsolescent.

Both subjects are of course under the spotlight because of the pressure on the Mayor’s Transport Budget where he has seriously miscalculated the funding needs and the impact of his past promises to his electorate. Another aspect that TfL are examining according to an FT article is the exemption from the London Congestion Charge (a.k.a. “tax”) for taxis and PHVs (mini-cabs). The latter have proliferated with such operators as Uber creating a lot more traffic congestion. Why they should be exempt was never very clear, although the argument is perhaps that they offer a public service similar to buses. But it’s not very clear why buses should be exempt either, particularly as they create a lot of congestion.

Bearing in mind the need for the Mayor to raise money, and the fact that he is threatening to cancel Uber’s licence, the expected outcome is surely going to be something like this: Yes we won’t cancel your licence after all but you’ll need to pay the Congestion Charge, or a specially large annual licence fee. Is that a deal?

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Silvertown Tunnel – Air Quality Should Be OK

Transport for London (TfL) have published an “Updated Air Quality Assessment” for the Silvertown Tunnel. This is the tunnel proposed to run alongside the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames in East London – it is urgently required to relieve traffic congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel.

There have been concerns that the additional vehicle capacity might worsen air pollution in Greenwich and also north of the river. It’s already bad because of the queues of traffic that form every morning and evening. But the report’s conclusions are that the Silvertown Tunnel will “not lead to a significant impact on air quality” and nor affect the ability to achieve compliance with the Air Quality Directive.

The Silvertown Tunnel was included in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy but is still subject to a Public Inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate and a decision to go ahead by the Secretary of State which keeps on getting delayed. We might get one in May, but there is still vociferous opposition to this sorely needed new transport link. The earliest date for completion, if given the go-ahead, is likely to be 2023.

More information here: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/silvertown-tunnel where you can see a “drive through” simulation.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Cycle Superhighway 9 – Consultation Results Biased by Cyclists

Transport for London (TfL) have published the results of the public consultation on their proposals for Cycle Superhighway 9. That is to run from Kensington Olympia to Brentford Town Centre.

They got 5,295 public responses, and 93 “stakeholder” responses (typically organisations including the ABD). In terms of overall support for the proposals, they got 59% in support, 38% opposed and 2% undecided. That alone tells you that there was very significant opposition.

But I believe these figures have been distorted by lobbying by cycling groups. Page 22 of the TfL report gives a breakdown of what modes of transport the respondents claim to usually use. It shows 67% used the Tube, 65% Cycle, 50% use a Bus and 56% use a Private Car. These are very high figures for cycling.

In reality, you can see how many people actually cycle in this area by looking at traffic count data published by the Department for Transport. The figures are as follows for two of the boroughs in west London in 2016:

Kensington and Chelsea: Cyclists: 5.8%, Cars/Taxis: 73.4% of all traffic

Hammersmith & Fulham: Cyclists: 4.5%, Cars/Taxis: 74.8% of all traffic

You can see that these are very different figures, and rather demonstrate the likely bias in the results of this consultation. Indeed, TfL received 941 representations alone from supporters of one of the activist cycling organisations, the London Cycling Campaign. TfL makes no attempt in recent consultations to “normalise” the data so that responses are not manipulated and biased by unrepresentative pressure groups.

This is surely one such example.

You can read the Consultation Report here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/cs9/ . TfL is currently considering the results but if it is like other similar consultations the scheme is likely to proceed with few changes.

Roger Lawson

Richmond 20-mph Speed Limits – Democracy Abandoned?

The London Borough of Richmond is considering changing its policy on wide-area 20 mph speed limits. Currently it has a policy whereby any area in the borough that desires a 20-mph limit has to submit a petition to the Council, signed by more than 50% of relevant residents. An eminently democratic and sensible policy one might think.

However, a recent council report says that the 15 such petitions submitted since 2014 when the current policy was adopted have consumed a considerable amount of officer time, and that “the requirement for a majority threshold can be difficult to achieve”. Does this not simply mean that it is minority pressure groups that advocate such limits and that the general public (including non-drivers) do not support them?

Regardless the Council is proposing to introduce a 20-mph limit on all roads except the TfL network. Part of the justification is to avoid confusion with neighbouring boroughs such as Hammersmith, Fulham, Wandsworth and Ealing who already have just limits. Note: some of these boroughs do not adjoin Richmond. They also justify their proposals on the grounds of improvements in road safety while being selective in the statistics they use to support this claim.

The cost of this proposed change is £600,000 for new signage, plus £50,000 for a borough-wide public consultation on the proposal. Money to fund both would likely come from TfL grants. Is this a cost-effective use of road safety budgets? Such expenditure has not proved to be worthwhile in other locations and the money would surely be better spent on other road safety measures.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

 

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