Richmond Ignores 20 Mph Vote, and Wandsworth’s Doubtful Claims

 

The London Borough of Richmond is set to ignore a public consultation where a majority of respondents opposed the introduction of a borough-wide 20 mph speed limit. The almost 10,000 respondents voted 47.9% in favour and 49.7% against. There was even less support for the notion that 20 mph speed limits will improve air quality and reduce car use.

However they have made some changes to the original proposals with more roads excluded from the scheme. See https://tinyurl.com/y2qcfz2m for more details.

Note that the LibDems won control of Richmond Council in 2018 when it had previously been Conservative controlled. They took over from LibDems in 2010 after the latter repeatedly ignored public opinion, e.g. over emission-based permit parking charges.

Comment: It looks like the LibDems are back to ignoring the results of public consultations, presumably because they think they know better. A very dubious decision which they will surely live to regret.

Wandsworth Claim 20 Mph Success, But Is It?

Meanwhile the neighbouring London Borough of Wandsworth have claimed a success for their borough-wide 20 Mph scheme which was implemented in 2017. Analysis of the first year post implementation data indicated a reduction of 9% in casualties although mean traffic speeds only fell by 0.6 mph. On that basis they have claimed it to be a success although casualties actually fell by 28% across all roads in the borough (which includes the Transport for London controlled main roads where the speed limit generally remained unchanged).

The other problem with this data is that using only a one-year post implementation period is known to distort the figures. A three-year before and after period is recommended by road safety engineers to avoid temporary reactions to perceived road changes.

But Wandsworth is claiming it as a success anyway and is looking to impose 20 mph limits on some major roads such as Putney High Street.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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London Travel Trends – Mayor’s Policies Failing Badly

London’s population is still growing rapidly, albeit the rate of growth has slackened slightly of late. That increases the demand for travel in London. A recently published report from Transport for London (TfL) highlights the trends in travel in different modes – see below for a link to the full report. Here’s some of the key points:

The average number of trips per day in 2017/18 was 2.1. That figure has been falling in recent years and is similar to national trends. It probably reflects the difficulties of travel in the UK and in London, the higher cost, the fact that the population is ageing and the increase in remote working and telecommuting.

From 2010 to 2017 the proportion of trips by walking, cycling and public transport in London increased only slightly from 62.6% to 62.7%. The trend to more “sustainable and active” travel modes has actually flattened out in the latest 2 years. In other words, the recent Mayoral policies to get people to change their travel modes to what he wants has been a dismal failure. But the Mayor is not giving up. The Mayor and TfL still believe there is a large scope for mode shift according to the report, but that is surely a figment of their imagination. Based on the data below, the Mayor will no doubt be focussed on getting those who live in outer London to change their ways – you have been warned!

Road traffic in London increased only slightly by 0.1% in 2017. There was no growth in car traffic but LGVs rose by 1.9% probably due to more internet shopping deliveries. The general trend in car traffic levels in London is shown in this chart:

car traffic levels 2017

This probably reflects improved public transport (e.g. more buses that have been heavily subsidised and more underground/rail/tram/DLR services) and the degradation of the road network with fewer and more expensive parking facilities, particularly in central London, in the last 20 years. But note the relatively lower decline in outer London and the fact that since 2013 the decline has ceased in all areas.

The Congestion Charge (a.k.a. tax) in central London is not the cause of the reduction there because inner London has also shown sharp declines to which the Charge does not apply. It might have more to do with increased congestion and hence higher trip times in central and inner London for the reasons given above.

Both bus journeys and underground usage have been falling – bus trips down by 6.5% in 2017 since 2014, and underground trips fell by 1.1% in 2017 although that had grown in previous years. These figures reflect perhaps the high costs of public transport, the overcrowding on the underground and on some bus routes in rush hours and the fact that bus journey times have been slowing due to traffic congestion. It can simply be quicker to walk in central London!

Cycling figures suggest that numbers of trips were unchanged in 2017, but distances travelled were greater suggesting there are more long-distance cycling commuters and more trips in outer London. This might be the result of economic incentives to cycle as public transport fares increased (particularly national rail serving outer London) and more cycle superhighways. Cycle usage as a proportion of overall trips remains low at 2% however despite the massive investment in cycle infrastructure in recent years. Cycling is still relatively unpopular among the elderly, among females and those of a non-white or mixed- race background according to the report.

Walking trip rates have been in decline in London in recent years despite the Mayor’s policies. Young adult walk rates fell by 22% between 2011/12 and 2017/18 for example. The impact of “healthy streets” and “active travel” policies promoted by the Mayor are conspicuously absent from the data in TfL’s report. Free travel passes both for those in education and for the elderly have clearly had a negative impact on walking rates. If the Mayor is serious about encouraging more active travel, that’s surely one hand-out he should cancel.

As an aside, the recent introduction of 16-17 and 26-30 railcards has been promoted as a generous offering to help the young, but is it not just another way to charge less to more impecunious customers and more to the others? Anyone familiar with economics will know that this is a tactic to maximise profits. In the case of railcards, which have time of travel restrictions, it’s also a way to smooth out travel demand and fill those otherwise empty seats at off-peak times.

Another failing Mayoral policy has been that on improving road safety. In 2017 the number of fatalities actually increased to 131 – up 15 on 2016. There were marked increases in pedestrian and cyclist casualties. Overall KSIs also rose in 2017 (by 2%) although that figure might be distorted by changes in casualty reporting. The roll-out of wide area 20 mph zones financed with many millions of pounds of funding from TfL and which was supposed to have a major impact on pedestrian casualties has clearly been very ineffective.

In relation to improved public transport capacity to serve the growing population, that simply did not happen in 2017 – “place kilometres” remained unchanged. That’s surely another Mayoral policy failure and resulted in higher public transport overcrowding. But service reliability on buses and London underground plus DLR/trams did improve. Surface rail was patchy though.

The full London Travel Report Number 11 can be read here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/travel-in-london-report-11.pdf . It looks like it’s been written by public relations consultants as it presents a positive spin on the data when any detailed reading tells you a very different story.

But in summary it shows how the policies pursued by Transport for London, and by both the current and previous Mayors, have been a dismal failure. Lots of expenditure on the promotion of cycling and walking have not influenced travel behaviour much while expenditure on road safety has been misdirected with negative consequences. Improvements in public transport infrastructure have failed to cope with the increase in population which has been promoted rather than discouraged.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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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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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Bromley LIP – Better But Not Good Enough

My previous article was on the draft Local Implementation Plan (LIP) for Transport published by the London Borough of Lambeth. I suggested their past policies have been a failure both to improve road safety and provide an efficient transport network. The adjacent Borough of Bromley has now published their LIP and opened a public consultation on it. This article explains in brief some of the key points.

You would expect that Bromley’s LIP would be more sympathetic to vehicle users, and so it is to some extent, but it’s far from perfect. Bromley is a large borough with very high car ownership levels and some parts of the borough, such as Biggin Hill, have relatively low public transport accessibility. Poor orbital connectivity of public transport is also a problem that encourages car use. It is also hilly in parts which mitigates against cycling. But the future transport policies are to a large extent by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – indeed I suggest that this LIP kowtows too much to the Mayor’s desires.

But Bromley’s population is growing like most London boroughs so traffic congestion is getting worse. The Mayor would like 80% of trips in London to be taken but Bromley is proposing targets of 47% by 2021 (1% change) and 60% by 2041. These figures will be achieved by encouraging more walking and cycling and by public transport improvements. To encourage cycling it is proposed to develop the Strategic Cycle Network and expand Quietways.

As regards road safety, Bromley has a good record – reducing KSIs from 230 in 1999 to 50 in 2014. This has been done by concentrating efforts on accident hot spots and good education programmes. However there was an increase in the last couple of years even allowing for adjusting to the change in accident recording. As in Lambeth, there is a disproportionate casualty incidence for pedal cyclists. Yes cycling is dangerous. This was made clear by a recent press release by a road safety organisation which said that people on two wheels face a 63 times higher risk of being killed or seriously injured (KSI) per mile travelled than car drivers. But the Mayor still wants us to cycle which might be good for your health in other ways but is clearly risky.

As regards safe speeds, the borough suggests that removing entre line markings can have a significant impact on traffic speed. But does it make the roads safer? And this is what they have to say on 20 mph limits which is more sensible: “With regard to 20mph speed limits and zones, the Borough does not believe that a blanket approach is the most effective means of improving road safety. Too often such schemes do nothing to change the characteristics of the street and lead to only quite insignificant reductions in speed and the cost of a Borough wide approach would also mean that resources would be diverted from schemes that tackle actual hot spots and priority areas that require more significant engineering measures. There is also a concern that borough wide approach could lead to an element of driver fatigue with the result that the key areas for driver attention are no longer prominent. The Borough will therefore adopt a targeted approach to the introduction of 20mph speed limits or advisory limits…..”. An eminently reasonable approach and which accords with the evidence on 20-mph schemes just published by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Apart from relieving traffic congestion by “mode shift”, they propose to promote the use of car clubs and various approaches to reduce van deliveries such as central consolidation centres with local cargo bike provision.

Air quality is not a major problem in Bromley but there are some “hot spots” that need improving. These will be tackled by specific measures – details to follow in the Borough’s Air Quality Action Plan, but the measures look relatively harmless such as encouragement of electric vehicles and anti-idling measures.

There are many initiatives proposed to improve access to public transport such as to buses and train stations which are positive, but they also wish to improve bus journey times. One proposal to assist is to extend the hours on some bus lanes. The ABD believes bus lanes should be removed not extended. They create congestion for other vehicles and do not necessarily assist with improving total people movement.

Many of the proposals do of course depend on funding from Transport for London (TfL) as local boroughs have very little of their own funding for transport programmes. This is evident from page 91 of the LIP. That means, the Mayor is dictating where money is spent, with the result that there is too much on cycling and pedestrian encouragement and too little on improving the road network for other users.

Will the draft Bromley LIP get past TfL and the Mayor, who have to approve such documents? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime you should respond to the on-line consultation here: https://www.bromley.gov.uk/localimplementationplan where you can also download the full LIP document to read if you wish to do so.

DO TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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No Road Safety Benefit from 20 MPH Schemes

The Department for Transport (DfT) have released a report that shows there is no road safety benefit whatsoever from signed-only 20 mph schemes. In addition they have negligible impact on modal shift or on traffic speeds.

This is the long-awaited evidence that enormous amounts of money are being wasted on implementing 20 mph schemes which could have been spent instead on more effective road safety measures such as road engineering or education. In London alone, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds have been spent on 20-mph signed-only schemes to no effect and nationwide it must run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This disappointing result is very similar to the result of a study of driver education courses now being used by the police to generate funds. Both that and 20 mph schemes have been advocated by those who know little about road safety and have not studied the evidence. The Alliance of British Drivers has long called for “evidence-based” road safety policies. Let us hope this latest evidence will not be ignored.

There will no doubt be calls for more enforcement of 20 mph limits but that ignores the basic issue – namely that reducing traffic speeds simply has little impact on road casualty statistics because excessive speed is one of the lowest contributory factors to road accidents – in reality less than 5% according to police reported statistics.

The DfT report can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/20-mph-speed-limits-on-roads . Key paragraphs from the report are:

“The evidence available to date shows no significant change in the short term in collisions and casualties, in the majority of the case studies (including the aggregated set of residential case studies).”

“Journey speed analysis shows that the median speed has fallen by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre areas.”

“The majority of resident (about two-thirds) and non-resident drivers (just over half) have not noticed a reduction in the speed of vehicles, and do not perceive there to be fewer vehicles driving at excessive speeds for the area.”

Roger Lawson

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Lambeth – A Failure of Road Safety and Transport Policy

The London Borough of Lambeth have published their draft Local Implementation Plan (LIP) for Transport. As previously reported, all London boroughs have to prepare one to accord with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. Lambeth is a notoriously anti-car borough and the document shows how past policies have failed in many respects. That includes on improving road safety and providing an efficient transport network.

Lambeth claims that their road safety policies have been successful in reducing accidents. This is the chart showing KSIs (Killed and Seriously Injured) in the borough since 2005 from their report:

Lambeth KSIs 2017

The report suggests the last two years data (coloured in orange) should be ignored because there was a change in the definition of a “serious accident” which has not yet been factored in. But slight injuries increased from 1,173 in 2005 to 1,301 in 2015 which rather suggests that there is some other explanation. That increase has occurred despite the fact that a 20 mph speed limit was imposed on all but a very few borough roads – the result was a really big reduction of 0.8 mph on the average speed of traffic on borough roads!

Indeed if you look at the KSIs broken down by type of road user, the figures for 2016 and 2017 show substantial increases in accidents involved pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists as a proportion of all accidents. In other words, encouraging people to use cars less and cycle more is likely to have increased overall casualty numbers.

Lambeth is one of the most densely populated London boroughs with significant immigration over many years. Population growth is expected to continue. The public transport network is under severe strain. Average bus speed in the borough is only 8.3 mph and train services severely congested – for example on the Northern Line there are 4 standing people per square meter in the AM peak through the borough!).

What does the Council propose in its LIP to improve matters? This includes:

  • More enforcement of the 20 mph speed limit which is widely ignored, including the wish to obtain powers to do it themselves, and more physical measures (road humps, road narrowing, etc, no doubt).
  • Putting 20 mph speed limits on TfL roads (i.e. all the main roads through the borough except for the South Circular).
  • An aim to reduce car ownership in the borough from 65,600 to 62,400. How will this be done? By ensuring all new housing and other developments will be “car-free”, i.e. no parking provision and by many other measures to discourage car use and make it more expensive, e.g. more bus lanes, more cycle lanes, more permit parking schemes, etc.
  • They will also lobby to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the whole of London so that all parts of the borough are included within it (the South Circular bisects the borough).
  • They also want “stricter liability laws” to protect vulnerable road users – this sounds like a big threat to all vehicle users.

So it’s going to be more of the same with no attempt to improve the road network or tackle road safety in a way that will likely have a substantial impact.

You can read Lambeth’s LIP and respond to their on-line consultation here: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/consultations/have-your-say-on-lambeths-draft-transport-strategy .

DO TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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