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).

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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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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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City of London Corporation Publishes Draft Transport Strategy – It’s a Stinker

I have commented previously on the proposed Transport Strategy for the City of London Corporation. It is of course a real stinker. It’s now open for public consultation and I hope everyone who works, lives or visits the Square Mile will respond to the easy on-line consultation which is accessible here: https://www.citystreets.london/ . But anyone can respond to this consultation.

It’s also probably typical of the Transport Strategies that will be adopted by local London Boroughs in London under their Local Implementation Plans (LIPs). It just shows what the Mayor of London is forcing onto the London boroughs.

Here’s a summary of the worst aspects of the Transport Strategy:

  • A City-wide speed limit for all vehicles of 15 mph, with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) being used in all buses and public service vehicles to enforce it.
  • Priority given to pedestrians, even over cyclists, in most of the City’s streets. Effectively treating different transport mode users differently instead of equally. Are not all people created equal?
  • Encouraging the Mayor of London to implement a central London zero emission vehicle zone, or if he does not, doing it themselves for the City, i.e. only electric vehicles would be permitted.
  • Reducing vehicular traffic by 25% by 2025.
  • Expanding the City’s cycle network with wider cycle lanes.
  • Closing some roads to make them pedestrian only, or closing them at certain times.
  • Reducing parking, particularly on-street.

Bearing in mind that the vast majority of City workers do walk to work from main line or underground stations, and that some locations are overcrowded, improvement in pedestrian facilities does make some sense. But ignoring the needs of vehicle users is wrong. Very few people drive in the City unless they need to. The City is even going to discourage taxis and PHVs and it is going to work with TfL to reduce the number of buses. Likewise there are proposals to reduce the number of service and delivery vehicles in the square mile.

The proposed 15 mph speed limit is surely not going to be complied with, and that applies to pedal cyclists as much as vehicle drivers. It is very difficult to drive a car at 15 mph or less consistently if for no other reason than vehicle speedometers are not accurate or easy to read at very low levels. Driving vehicles at less than 15 mph will of course increase air pollution so it’s also contradictory to their other transport policies.

In summary this Transport Strategy could have been written by any anti-vehicle lobbyist and smacks of paranoia of the worst kind. This is yet another damaging contribution from the City of London Corporation to the road network in London.

MAKE SURE YOU RESPOND TO THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION AND GIVE THEM YOUR VIEWS!

Roger Lawson

London is Open, But Should It Be Closed?

This article was originally conceived as one being about the latest increases in transport congestion in London. The last couple of weeks seem to have been much busier than normal with high traffic congestion. In addition public transport has been particularly bad, not helped by the recent strikes on the tube which of course Mayor Sadiq Khan promised to put a stop to in his election campaign. He promised “zero days of strikes”, but perhaps he is too busy trying to tackle rising crime levels in London.

But these transport issues are surely the result of too many people in London with no improvements in the road network to compensate for the rising population and “densification” of the capital. Likewise inadequate public transport capacity has arisen because building new capacity never catches up with the growth in demand and available funding. A substantial part of the population increase has arisen from immigration.

Last Friday the Mayor reiterated his “London is Open” campaign by inviting EU Ambassadors to a meeting at City Hall. The meeting focussed on “Brexit and the welfare of EU communities living in London”. How many people have come from the EU to live in London? About 1 million in fact. That’s not even counting the sons and daughters of immigrants.

The Mayor is then going to visit Berlin and Paris where he will reiterate that London is “open to talent”. I guess that means he is happy to encourage more immigration as he has said before. The “London is Open” campaign was launched with this headline: “Let’s say together – me, you, and thousands of other Londoners – that despite Brexit, London will always be open to the world, proud of our diversity and inclusive to everyone”.

If the Mayor wishes to solve London’s transport problems surely he should be encouraging people to move out of London and discouraging more immigration. London is overcrowded already. We don’t need more people here.

Perhaps Mrs May will welcome Sadiq Khan’s interference in the Brexit negotiations which he is also doing of late and in these meetings, but I suspect not. His policies on immigration are certainly not likely to be of positive benefit to most Londoners even if he thinks they might help him to get re-elected. Immigration might provide useful workers in some roles, but they also add to housing demand where there is gross shortage. They also contribute to congestion on the roads and on public transport while requiring more social services to support them. That includes more police when in fact their numbers have been falling which is a contributor to the rising crime rate in London.

It’s surely time for the Mayor to change his spots, or for us to get a new Mayor who can adopt more rational policies.

Roger Lawson

The views expressed in this article on solely those of the author as applies to all our blog posts.

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Borough LIPs and new Facebook Page

London Boroughs have to produce a Transport Local Implementation Plan (LIP) in the next few months. These LIPs have to be consistent with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy or they might not get approved. This is one way that Mayor Sadiq Khan is forcing local boroughs to implement his policies and undermining local democracy.

Local boroughs not only know what is best for their area, but also what it is practical to achieve and what the residents and business will accept. But Transport for London (TfL) are dictating many aspects – for example they are giving specific targets for “modal shift” to each borough.

For example, in Lewisham their draft LIP proposes that 72% of journeys will be made by walking cycling and public transport by 2021 with a 3 to 5 percent reduction in traffic by the same date. By 2041 their target is a 15 to 20 percent reduction in traffic accompanied by a sharp reduction in car ownership. Many people would no doubt also like to see reduced traffic but such targets can only be achieved by draconian steps to change your lifestyle. Instead of improving the road transport network in Lewisham to reduce traffic congestion, their plan is basically to make life difficult for vehicle owners accompanied by such measures as road closures.

Draft LIPs are being issued and many are now open to public consultation. You need to respond to the LIP consultation in your local borough if we are to stop or delay many of the proposed measures. PLEASE DO SO NOW.

To find your local council’s draft LIP and the public consultation, simply search the web for the council’s name and the words “Local Implementation Plan”. Or go to your local council’s web site and search that.

The deadline for responses to public consultations on LIPs may be quite short so do check for its availability and respond as soon as possible. You might also wish to give your objections to aspects of the LIP to your local ward councillors.

Facebook Page Against the MTS

The ABD has created a new Facebook page dedicated to our campaign against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. In addition to posting any news on the campaign on our ABD London Blog we will also post it on the new Facebook page so that Facebook users can easily pick it up. You can of course add your own comments to articles there.

The page is named “Against MTS” – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS/

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New Lower Thames Crossing – Public Consultation Available

The Highways Agency have been developing plans for a new Thames crossing east of the Dartford Crossing. This will relieve traffic at the Dartford Crossing which is often heavily congested even after the introduction of the free-flow charging system. The Highways Agency has published revised plans for a three-lane road including a 2.4-mile long tunnel under the Thames which will be the longest in the UK.

The new crossing will link the M2 near Rochester, Kent with the M25 in Essex and will help to provide better network connections for the growing housing and business developments in Kent and improved access to the Channel ports for the rest of the country.

The proposals include some improvements to the M2/A2 which is often heavily congested although those enhancements seem somewhat limited in scope.

It is also proposed to introduce a free-flow charging system similar to that at the Dartford Crossing which the ABD has objected to because many people fail to pay with such systems and collect a fine as a result. We suggest the crossing should be free (as the Severn bridges have been made recently), as should the Dartford one be, and as all major network routes should be.

There is a public consultation on the proposals here which you can respond to – please do so: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/ltc/consultation/

We also suggest that you should urge the Highways Agency to get on with it as soon as possible (earlier than the proposed 2027 completion date preferably).

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