Lewisham Neighbourhood Scheme – Will Traffic Simply Evaporate?

I visited the Council’s “public drop-in event” for the Lewisham “Healthy Neighbourhoods” scheme yesterday. It was so crowded that it was difficult to get a useful conversation with any council staff (I will be sending them some written questions instead), but I did talk to a few of the other attendees who were all opposed to the road closures and the lack of proper consultation.

Display Panel 3 2020-02-06

There were a number of maps and panels on display, including one with a headline title of “Traffic Evaporation” – see above. If you read the detail of the panel it claims only 11% of traffic disappeared from such schemes, but most of it found alternative routes. In the case of Lee Green this will mean more traffic on other minor routes, effectively displacing the problem and affecting other residents. But there will be a lot more on major roads such as the A20, A205 and A2212 thus creating long traffic queues and more air pollution not less.

One amusing answer I overheard in response to a question about emergency vehicle access was that police cars should be able to just “barge through” the barriers. That sounds exceedingly unlikely. Also some emergency vehicles may be able to get through the camera-enforced “bus gate” on Manor Park but I don’t understand how they will get through the other road closures. Delays to ambulances, fire engines and other emergency service vehicles are a major risk to life – see our recent blog post here which covers that issue: https://tinyurl.com/whzxksr . It is simply wrong for Lewisham Council to put in a scheme that introduces such delays.

Roger Lawson

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Keep LA Moving and the Impact of Delays to Emergency Vehicles

Back in September I mentioned a conference in Los Angeles, USA, focused on “Road Diets” and “Vision Zero” and other negative transport policies under the title “Keep LA Moving”. There is strong opposition to road schemes that increase congestion and remove road space in the USA. You can see some of the videos taken of panel sessions at the conference in October here:  https://www.keeplamoving.com/conferencevids but what follows are some of the key points from presentations shown at the event.

Fire truck

One presentation shown was from Les Bunte, former Assistant Fire Chief in Austin, Texas which covered the impact of delays in response times to medical emergencies – specifically to cardiac arrests. The delays to emergency service vehicles are a major concern to those opposed to increases in traffic congestion caused road space removal. He presented this chart:

SCA Survival

In England there is a target ambulance response time to Category 1 emergencies such as heart attacks of an average of 7 minutes which the country consistently fails to meet, and there are of course many responses that take longer than 7 minutes. In London the times are undoubtedly worse although I could not find any recent data on that subject as the London Ambulance Service does not report against the national target. All they report is that for Category A emergencies, 95% of ambulances arrive within 19 minutes. But you can see from the above chart that any response time of more than 10 minutes means you are almost certain to die.

Another presentation shown at the LA Conference was from the Portland Fire Department. According to the National Fire Protection Agency in the USA, in 2016 there were 35,200,000 emergency calls to fire departments around the country. Almost 22 million of these were fire and medical emergencies. Delays can have fatal consequences.

Delay to emergency response also means firefighters arrive at the scenes of emergencies in more dangerous conditions. In 2017, almost 59 thousand firefighters incurred injuries, and 60 firefighters died – most of which occurred at fireground operations. A number of fire fighters have also been injured from hitting the roofs of their cabs, rushing to emergencies when encountering speed humps.  At least two of these firefighters have been placed on permanent disability

The chart below compares the number of vehicle related deaths – pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers (2018 stats) with the average yearly deaths caused by sudden cardiac arrest (SCA – not considering victims of other medical emergencies) plus fires in the USA. SCA and fires are Class A emergencies, requiring the most urgent emergency response times.

The data shows that a person is nearly 10 times more likely to die from fire and cardiac arrest than ALL vehicle-related accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and passengers of cars. Clearly it is very important to maintain fast response times to medical emergencies.

USA Fatalities

This is quite conclusive evidence of the negative impacts of delays to emergency vehicles caused by road narrowing, speed humps and other traffic calming measures that increase traffic congestion and slow emergency services.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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