Sadiq Khan Plans Your Life

If you live in London, you should pay attention to the “London Plan” that Mayor Sadiq Khan has recently published. Indeed if you live in other large conurbations you might wish to review it also because the policies he is promoting might spread elsewhere.

What’s the London Plan? It’s a document that sets the “spatial development” strategy for London over the next few years and has legal implications for planning developments, housing construction, transport infrastructure, and many other aspects of our lives.

The Mayor makes it plain that London needs to cope with the rapidly expanding population and business activity. The population of London might reach 10.5 million by 2041 he says (currently 8.8 million). That means a lot more houses have to be built (66,000 per annum he says) and support for more workplaces.

In addition it has major implications for transport infrastructure while at the same time he wants to clean up London’s air. He wants to make London a “zero carbon” city by 2050, although no doubt he will be long gone by then. As part of this he aims to reduce “car dependency” (an emotive and inaccurate phrase disparaging people who have made a rational or personal choice about how they travel when you don’t see this said about those who rely on cycles for their daily travel needs).

Why has the population of London grown so rapidly in recent years and continues to do so? Page 12 of the Plan explains why. It says 40 per cent of Londoners were born outside the UK, and the city is now home to 1 million EU citizens, no doubt attracted by the vibrant London economy. This has put a major strain on housing, transport, social services and other infrastructure (incidentally an unbelievable 1.2 million Londoners are apparently “disabled”).

This state of affairs has come about because of national policies on immigration with no effective policies to distribute that more widely across the country compounded no doubt by a desire by some politicians to improve their chances of being elected.

Specifically looking at transport, the Mayor’s target is for 80% of all journeys to be made by walking, cycling and public transport (that of course includes the 14% of Londoners who are disabled!). It’s currently 64%. This is going to mean an aggressive set of policies to reduce car use – hence our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which supports the London Plan – see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

The Mayor highlights the health inequalities in London, with deprived areas of London having reduced life expectancies (as much as 15 years for men and 19 years for women) surely an astonishing statistic. What is the reason for this? Poor housing conditions are certainly one, but lack of daily activity is allegedly another so the Mayor wants us all to be walking and cycling.

The Mayor does have plans to improve public transport including proposals for Crossrail 2 and extension of the Bakerloo line but these proposals will do relatively little to soak up the increased demand, and with no proposals of significance to improve the road network, hence no doubt the need to encourage us all to walk or cycle.

The Mayor’s plans to support the need for more housing include targets for every London borough (for example over 2,000 new homes every year in Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Greenwich, Hounslow, Newham, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets). This includes high concentration developments in locations with good public transport access levels (PTALs), particularly inner London boroughs. Outer London boroughs might see a relaxation of planning regulations to allow more “in-fill” developments including building on back gardens as the Conservatives promptly complained about. There will be more encouragement for smaller builders, more efficient building techniques and “proactive” intervention in London’s land market (more “compulsory purchase” perhaps).

One aspect of transport infrastructure that the London Plan covers is that of parking provision for new housing, office or shop developments. It wants most developments to be “car free” (i.e. no parking provision), particularly those with high PTAL levels. The details of what this means in practice are not clear, but it looks like the intention is to reduce parking provision substantially, thus resulting in more on-street parking and obstruction.

The Mayor concludes his near 500-page tome on the subject of the “Funding Gap”. By this he means the gap between the public sector funding required to support London’s growth (and his plans) and the money currently committed. In other words, he wants more money, including a bigger share of taxation collected from Londoners. For example, he repeats his call for control of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) which any right-thinking person should surely oppose. Yes the Mayor wants more money and more power. Unfortunately the establishment of directly elected Mayors such as Mr Khan has resulted in empire building of the worst kind. They are effectively dictators within their realms with no effective democratic constraints on their policies and negligible public accountability.

In summary, it is not clear that the building of lots of new homes (which of course will emit more pollutants, particularly during constructions, more than offsetting any reduction from restraining car use), of a fairly low standard in dense conurbations, is going to improve the quality of life for Londoners. It is undoubtedly the case that more new homes are needed in London but building new homes without complementary improvements to the transport infrastructure, which has consistently lagged behind the growth in London’s population, does not make much sense.

As is already seen in the statistics, older London residents are moving out and being replaced by immigrants. Some readers might wish to consider doing the same given the outlook for the quality of life in London. Simply reacting to the population growth in London without trying to constrain it, or divert it elsewhere, is surely a mistake.

You can submit your comments on the London Plan to the public consultation by going here: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/comment-draft-london-plan . Please be sure to do so.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Cycle Superhighways and Motorbikes

Here’s a letter received from a resident of south-east London which is worth repeating:

Hi,

I’m thankful I’m retired now, and only have to visit London when I choose to.

I used to commute by motorbike and that (for the time being) is still my preferred method of transport. I always perceived motorbikes as being virtually negligible in their contribution to congestion and/or pollution, and never thought of them as ‘bothering’ anyone. It actually disgusts me that TfL see them very differently, with the same disdain they apply to any other type of motorised vehicle.

Their pro-cyclist / anti-anything with an engine stance is now going beyond ‘psychotic’ – their latest mailshot was about how they propose to redesign Lower Road / Jamaica Road (which aren’t short of cycle lanes as they are) into yet another Cycling Superhighway, with a whole “boulevard” for them and – consequently – a whole lot LESS space for ‘everybody else’ Never mind the disruption or the cost: it’s so easy to play easy with budgets when they’re using other people’s money to do it!

I actually do count myself lucky to be retired. Where I take myself now (and it usually involves my wallet) is my own choice, and there’s coming a time soon when it won’t be London.

The problem with TfL, unfortunately, is that they’re not just wrecking the road network out of ‘necessity’… they’re actually taking a sneaky pleasure from doing it!”

Roger Wood

<ENDS>

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor’s Transport Strategy – Campaign Report

The formal consultation on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) is over but responses to our campaign against it are still coming in. Thanks to all those who have submitted objections to TfL or the Mayor or have helped in other ways. Here is a summary of what has been achieved. More information on our campaign is present here: AGAINST-MTS

The campaign hasn’t been an easy one. The public consultation on this very important issue was launched in the Summer months and with minimal publicity by Mayor Sadiq Khan. As a result, media coverage was low. In addition lots of information about the proposals was concealed and requests under the Freedom of Information Act frustrated. In summary, a defective public consultation both legally and morally.

Myself and Brian Mooney put in a lot of work on social media, getting circulation on email lists and delivering tens of thousands of leaflets (with the assistance of other volunteers) so as to raise awareness of what Sadiq Khan is planning – effectively an attack on all private transport modes using the “healthy streets” concept and environmental scare stories in support. One way or another, we reached into all 32 London boroughs, despite working against the clock. We got positive responses in support from all parts of London and all sections of the community. You can read some of the comments received here: PUBLIC-COMMENTS

We will wait to see the results of the public consultation in the next few weeks and let you know what is published. But the Mayor may well ignore public criticisms of his plans (he can do that as he is effectively a dictator in London), so we will have to continue to fight on the individual proposals as they are progressed.

For example, allowing local boroughs to bring forward congestion charging plans may provide further battlegrounds and there will be Borough elections in May next year where you can express your opinions. The Mayor has admitted that he is in discussion with unnamed boroughs to bring forward congestion charging plans. This will not just create problems in an individual borough because to avoid being charged traffic will divert into neighbouring boroughs and create pressure for charging in that borough too. This disastrous domino effect has already been shown with CPZs. A similar pattern could occur if boroughs are forced to remove parking spaces.

It is important to communicate your views on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to your local borough councillors, London Assembly Members and even your local Members of Parliament over the next few months. If you don’t know who they are, contact us for assistance (go to CONTACT ).

But we do need more financial support if we are to continue this fight (the campaign has already cost the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) several thousands of pounds and we could have done a lot more with more resources.

PLEASE DO MAKE A DONATION NOW HERE: DONATE

THE ABOVE IS VERY IMPORTANT. TO PUT UP A GOOD FIGHT WE NEED BETTER FINANCIAL SUPPORT AS WELL AS ENTHUSIASTIC VOLUNTEERS!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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New Cycle Superhighways

Transport for London (TfL) have published their proposed plans for two new Cycle Superhighways. These are:

Taking CS4 first, this will add substantially to journey times for both general traffic and buses. For example, up to 6 minutes extra journey time eastbound in the evening from Tooley Street to Surrey Quays Road (i.e. a 50% increase!) although there are some savings at other times and in other directions.

There will be increased traffic on Jamaica Road and more congestion at the Rotherhithe Roundabout (near the entrance to the Tunnel due to reconfiguation). However, TfL have already introduced an extra entrance lane northbound from the roundabout to the tunnel road which should assist.

But reduction in road space on Jamaica Road to accommodate a segregated dual flow cycle lane, plus the introduction of “bus bypasses” will surely cause all traffic to be slowed to that of buses. (Historic note: I objected to the introduction of bus lanes on Jamaica Road which were unnecessary and substantially increased traffic congeston. Jamaica Road became one street to avoid, and the latest proposals will make that even more true).

Anyone affected by these proposals should study them and respond to the public consultation as soon as possible, as the ABD will be doing.

Here’s one comment already received from a member of the public on this scheme: “Since when has Jamaica Road been free of traffic as they pretend to show in their consultation photos when in fact the traffic is pretty much stationary all along that road all day long? This is a major commuter route for people and businesses from the east and south east who use the Rotherhithe tunnel to cross the river – and they want more people to use bikes? Really do they expect people to cycle from Essex and Kent? Why not revert back to horse and carts or why not just pedestrianise the whole of London and open it to cyclists only? This is an utterly disgraceful proposal thought out by people at Tfl that clearly have never been down to Jamaica Road to see with their eyes the reality of the traffic”.  

There are also complementary changes to support CS4 to Tanner Street and Druid Street which there is a separate public consultation on – see: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/tanner-druid-street/?cid=tanner-druid-street

As regards CS9, TfL’s journey time modelling suggests less of an impact than the time increases on CS4, but again some journey times worsen while others improve. London residents affected by these changes should respond to the consultation as soon as possible, as the ABD will be doing. I also hope to publish more detail comments on this blog at a later date, but anyone who has any views on it should let me know please.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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A Vision in a Dream, After Coleridge

 

The following manuscript has recently come to light, perhaps written by an acolyte of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Roger Lawson

<A Fragment>

In London did Sadiq Khan

A stately Transport Strategy decree:

Where the Thames, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and tower blocks girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many a conker tree;

And here were roads ancient as the Romans,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down among the City streets!

A savage place! As Mammon rampaged free

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By women wailing for West End shopping!

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Fifty miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through East End industry and London’s suburbs,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a polluted North Sea;

And ’mid this tumult Sadiq heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying air pollution doom!

   The shadow of the dome of the GLA

   Located nigh the sacred river;

   Where was heard the mingled pleas

   From politicians left and right.

It was a miracle of rare device,

An un-costed Transport Strategy at the behest of Sadiq!

   A damsel with a dulcimer

   In a vision once I saw:

   It was an East European maid

   And on her dulcimer she played,

   Singing of Mount Street Mayfair.

   Could I revive within me

   Her symphony and song,

   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,

That with music loud and long,

I would build anew that dome,

Upon a new democratic model!

With freedom to ride the roads at will,

And all should cry, Beware the wrath of Khan!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

<End>

The ABD’s comments on Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy are present here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm . Please register your opposition.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right.

More Pedestrian Deaths Caused By or To Cyclists

The BBC have reported the death of a 73-year-old woman on Oxford Street after she was hit by a cyclist on Tuesday the 12th September. She suffered head injuries in the collision. A man was arrested at the scene.

The BBC also noted that a 67-year-old woman died on the 9th September after she was struck by a cyclist during July’s RideLondon event. RideLondon is a charity event that attracts as many as 100,000 riders and where many roads in London and Surrey are closed to traffic – which causes enormous problems to many residents. The ABD has objected to such events in the past. However, the roads are not of course closed to pedestrians while many of the cycle riders consider it a race even those in the “non-competitive” part of the event. It is alleged some are using the Strava App to record and compare times – I have previously commented on that use by cyclists in London. In fact all riders in RideLondon get their times to complete the event reported by the organisers which no doubt encourages the competitive spirit. In practice, it means that cyclists are racing on public roads.

There was also one death amongst the riders from medical problem this year, and two deaths in the previous year.

It is surely time these events were reconsidered and the general encouragement of “furious” cycling discouraged, whether in an organised event or otherwise.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Cyclist Convicted in Pedestrian Death Case

To follow on from my previous blog post on the case of cyclist Charlie Alliston who was charged with manslaughter over the death of Mrs Kim Briggs, he was yesterday found not guilty of manslaughter by a jury but guilty of the offence of “wanton or furious driving”. He showed no remorse which the judge commented negatively upon so a custodial sentence may be imposed (maximum 2 years for that offence under the law dating from 1861).

There were some very relevant comments after the trial by Mrs Briggs widower, himself a cyclist, who said: “The current law is outdated and has not kept pace with the huge increase in the number of people cycling and the associated risk of collisions, nor the attitude of some cyclists. We need to change the way the law deals with this. I am calling for an introduction of laws of causing death or serious injury by dangerous or careless cycling, thereby bringing cycling laws into line with the Road Traffic Act”. Those are surely sensible proposals.

Mr Briggs also made some negative comments about “some aspects of our cycling culture”. This case is like many that attract a lot of public attention. Effectively a tragedy arising from a whole combination of unusual circumstances – a young rider (aged 18 at the time), on an inappropriate bike, with a vulnerable pedestrian who might have been on a mobile phone at the time (i.e. not looking when crossing the street). Mr Briggs’ comments are very much to the point, and updating the law in this area would surely be worthwhile. But changing the culture so that some cyclists do not behave so aggressively and consider they have the right of way regardless is going to be a more difficult problem to solve.

Postscript: Mr Alliston was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders’ institution.

Roger Lawson