20 MPH Speed Limits in London on Major Roads

20 MPH SignTransport for London (TfL) are pushing ahead with their proposals for “Safer Speeds” in central London – which means 20 MPH speed limits enforced by cameras and many major roads in London. They have published the results of their fake public consultation on this subject which we have previously criticised as a consultation “in name only” including a refusal by TfL to provide key information on the proposals such as any cost/benefit analysis.

The public consultation used leading questions and was a complete distortion of how consultations should be performed – see https://tinyurl.com/y3gqh5hh for more information on how TfL ignores public opinion and does fake consultations.

You can read a report from TfL on the Safer Speeds consultation here: https://tinyurl.com/y3gqh5hh . On this very important topic to all road users, of which there are millions in London, they received less than 2,000 responses. Thirty nine percent of the responses came from cyclists which just shows how that pressure group dominates such consultations and are unrepresentative of the general public.

TfL propose to implement the 20 MPH limit on key roads in central London by 2020, and then in phase 2 they will extend lower speed limits to the inner ring road, and high-risk roads and town centre roads in the rest of London by 2024. In other words they will be coming to TfL controlled roads (i.e. main roads) even in outer London. Raised tables will be used at pedestrian crossings and elsewhere to slow traffic and all speed cameras will be recalibrated to the new lower speeds. Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) will also be used to ensure drivers are aware of the new limits.

What is the likely impact on road casualties? From the experience of the City of London where a 20 MPH limit has been in use for some time, the impact will be negligible. But it will make life more difficult for drivers and result in many more speeding fines as the police will be stepping up enforcement measures. This is one more step in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to deter people from using cars in London.

London is becoming a ghetto of anti-car fanatics. These proposals are being advocated in the name of road safety despite the fact that TfL refuse to give any estimates of the alleged benefits, probably because they know they will turn out to be false. The proposals are likely to be an enormous waste of money and contribute further to TfL’s budget deficit.

We are still pursuing a FOI Act request to obtain TfL’s internal reports justifying these proposals which in their usual anti-democratic approach they have refused to release. We suggest readers complain to their local MP and Greater London Assembly Member about this matter.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Road Closures Halted Due to Public Pressure

Local Transport Today (LTT) have reported that two road closure schemes in London have been halted due to public objections.

In the Borough of Newham a trial closure of Browning Road Bridge to almost all vehicles except buses was halted after a demonstration by 80 local residents opposing the scheme. See this article in the Newham Recorder for more details: https://tinyurl.com/y64e63x4

This closure was part of the Liveable Neighbourhood policy implemented by the Council and funded by TfL. It was alleged that people were using the bridge as a “short-cut”. Only a very few local residents would be granted permits to use the bridge.

In Tower Hamlets a trial on Antill Road, Coburn Road and Tredegar Road of another “Liveable Neighbourhood” scheme was halted after a few days. A Tower Hamlets spokesperson told LTT that “There was a small minority of people vociferously objecting to the trial and some staff on site did feel intimidated by their actions”. Apparently taxi and PHV drivers were among the objectors.

Comment: Road closures can cause enormous difficulties to residents and disruption to the road network. They create congestion elsewhere and additional journey times. But these are part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to deter and reduce vehicle use when most people do not support such policies.

It is good to see that just a few residents can stop such schemes being implemented by some local activism. Councillors and council staff frequently have an agenda that is very different to what most of the population want, and are being encouraged by the Mayor and TfL to bring in such schemes. But it just takes a bit of opposition to halt them.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Biased Reporting by the BBC on the Silvertown Tunnel, including Paedophrasty

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

A queue of traffic on the approach to Blackwall Tunnel

Yesterday evening an item on the BBC London evening news covered the announcement of London as a “National Park City” and the new Silvertown Tunnel. I have sent in the following complaint to the BBC about the bias in this programme and the use of children to promote an agenda:

“In the BBC TV London Evening News on 22/7/2019 BBC Transport Correspondent Tom Edwards reported on the “National Park City” and also covered complaints from schoolchildren at Thomas Tallis School and their teacher about the new Silvertown Tunnel. They complained about the possible air pollution from HGVs and the contribution generally to air pollution and global warming. There was no representative giving an opposing opinion except for the Mayor of London briefly explaining that HGVs would not likely use the new tunnel because it would be expensive for them to do so. There was nobody else who supports the new tunnel which will be of major benefit to many people and will not make air pollution worse in the area.

This programme followed on from a similar item by Tom Edwards in the previous week where a hysterical campaigner against the tunnel was interviewed, but again there was no contrary view represented of the substantial merits of the new Silvertown Tunnel.

Complaint 1: The BBC is not providing an independent and unbiased view of the merits of the Silvertown Tunnel as against those who oppose it.

Complaint 2: The BBC should not be using ill-informed schoolchildren in this way who had clearly been encouraged by their teacher and rehearsed in what they should say.”

The Silvertown Tunnel is essential tor relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel which has long queues of traffic most days and where even a minor incident causes massive traffic jams. As a result of the often stationery or very slow-moving traffic, air quality is poor in the vicinity and may be actually improved by the new Tunnel. Air quality was reviewed carefully in the planning process and charges on the new Tunnel, and the ULEZ zone charges/restrictions, will reduce traffic and air pollution. It is unlikely that many vehicles will divert from the Dartford Crossing to use the new Tunnel.

Note that Thomas Tallis school is very near the A2 – the road that leads to the Blackwall Tunnel. It was probably an unsuitable location for the school when it was built. The solution is obviously to relocate it which in comparison with the cost of the Silvertown Tunnel would not be expensive.

If you wish to make your own complaint to the BBC over their biased reporting on this matter, go here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ . You could also complain to Tom Edwards via Twitter: @BBCTomEdwards . These reports were typical of the environmental coverage by the BBC which never represents contrary views to the extreme eco-terrorism of such groups as Extinction Rebellion.

Using school children to promote the agenda of their parents or teachers is of course unethical and is a favourite ploy of Mayor Sadiq Khan. In this case it was used against him though.

Here’s a new word for you: paedophrasty – “An argument involving children to prop up a rationalisation and make the opponent look insensitive and uncaring. As people are defenceless and suspend all scepticism in front of suffering children, nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.”

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Highway Robbery and Leaving London

Highway Robbery CoverGareth Bacon, Conservative Leader on the Greater London Assembly, has published a most interesting document entitled “Highway Robbery – The Case Against Road Pricing in London”.

He makes the case very well and argues that Londoners should have a wide choice about the modes of transport that they use and that car journeys are quite essential for many trips in outer London. He highlights that Mayor Sadiq Khan may be looking at road pricing simply as another way to fix his TfL budget problems.

But it would undoubtedly lead to much higher costs on vehicle owners – perhaps 70% more than they pay in taxes at present very little of which is spent on the road network. Meanwhile public transport users in London are subsidised by over £1 billion per annum. Mr Bacon suggests the Mayor should rule out road pricing in London while committing to spend more on London’s roads. In particular he supports the Mayor’s claim that some of the VED tax paid by London’s drivers should be given to the Mayor but only on condition that it is hypothecated to spend on road maintenance.

The ABD has opposed Sadiq Khan’s stated wish to grab some part of the VED tax take as it might give him control of it and lead to higher tax rates for no benefit. But if it was strictly controlled by the Government on the suggested basis it may be more arguable. But will central Government and the public accept that less money is thereby available to spend on the national highway network?

Surely it would be better to cut out the excessive bus subsidies and the over-generous concessionary fares (payable to everyone even when they can afford the cost) which would easily pay for improved maintenance of London’s roads?

You can read the “Highway Robbery” report here: https://www.glaconservatives.co.uk/uploads/1/1/7/8/117899427/highway_robbery.pdf

Leaving London

Record numbers of people are leaving London according to a report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). In 2018 some 340,000 residents left London while 237,000 moved in meaning a net loss of 103,000. The national press attributed this to high house prices and a fear of crime. No doubt they contributed but perhaps the congestion on the roads and on public transport is also making London a less pleasant place to live while car owning and public transport costs are rapidly rising.

Sadiq Khan seems to be making matters worse rather than fixing them. The report mentioned above shows some of the negative aspects of what he has done and what he is planning to do. That is surely contributing to Londoner’s giving up on the capital for a better life elsewhere.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Rotherhithe Bridge – A Bridge Too Far

Work on the proposed pedestrian/cycle bridge at Rotherhithe is being “paused” which is probably a face-saving admission that it is being cancelled as being unaffordable. With costs rising above £400 million it was always a ludicrously expensive way of providing another river crossing east of Tower Bridge. The alternative of supplying a ferry will now be examined by TfL.

The bridge was strongly opposed by the ABD and by an active local pressure group. See these previous blog posts for more information:

https://tinyurl.com/y3ddvgzr

https://tinyurl.com/y5sgglzh

https://tinyurl.com/y3a9gll9

At least the Mayor has stepped back from what would have been yet another example of his financial profligacy, but one has to ask how this project ever saw the light of day. Such projects, rather like HS2, gather their own momentum when they should be killed off as soon as the cost/benefit ratio is obviously inadequate. No doubt we may learn how much money has been wasted on this project sooner or later.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Heathrow Airport Expansion, M25 Diversion and HS2

Heathrow Airport has announced a public consultation on its plans to expand by building a third runway. This will require diversion of the M25 into a tunnel over which the new runway will be built.

The western side of the M25 is one of the busiest sections of the national motorway network and has regular congestion at present. The additional traffic generated by the airport expansion plus the construction traffic and the disruption caused by the diversion is surely going to make congestion worse both in the short term and long term.

In addition the additional planes flying in and out of the airport will add to air pollution in the area which is already one of the worse such spots in London. The airport plans “no significant increase in parking at the airport despite the scale of growth” which seems somewhat unrealistic. But they plan to deter people from driving to the airport by introducing a ULEZ charge for most visitors. Effectively folks using vehicles will be targeted as a way to offset the additional emissions from planes.

As regards the general merits of expanding the airport, the ABD has no official stance as there are differing opinions on the subject. But the impact on the M25 and surrounding roads will clearly be negative and should be opposed.

For more information and to respond to the consultation, go here: https://aec.heathrowconsultation.com/

HS2

Boris Johnson, our potential future Prime Minister, is drawing up plans to have an independent review of HS2 which many people oppose. But it is likely to be run by Douglas Oakervee who chaired HS2 between 2012 and 2013. This looks like a future “whitewash” and a sop to those who oppose HS2 on economic and environmental grounds.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Royal Parks Movement Strategy

Some of the Royal Parks in London contain roads that go through the park, e.g. Regents Park, Hyde Park and Richmond Park. These roads are sometimes used by people visiting the park in cars/taxis, but are also sometimes used by vehicles crossing the park to get to the other side, as has been the case for very many years. Indeed the fact that they were designed for use by vehicles is given away by the fact that some of them are named “Carriage Roads”. But the Royal Parks organisation is now developing a “Movement Strategy” which will potentially limit the use by vehicles on park roads – for example by “commuters” as they call some users although how they differentiate between those and other vehicle users is not obvious.

The strategy includes a policy which states: “Park roads are primarily for the use of park visitors coming to the parks, not for commuters travelling through the parks. Over time, we will discourage the through-movement of motor vehicles within our parks”.

They make no mention of the use of some of the roads, such as the circular road around Regents Park, by cyclists who as the Evening Standard put it “use it for fitness training”. The volume of cyclists and vehicular traffic can now make it difficult for pedestrians to cross the road at certain locations, although crossing points have now been provided at some locations.

Greenwich Park is one example of limiting the use by “commuters” which has been in operation for some years. The through road is only open from 10 am to 4 pm, and not at weekends. Closing other parks to through traffic would be exceedingly inconvenient though for some users.

You can give your views on this subject by going to their consultation page here: https://tinyurl.com/yyzmr4q7 before the 14th July.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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