Locals Revolting Against LTNs and Acoustic Cameras Installed

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are proving to be one of the most divisive political policies in recent years. Brought in without any public consultation, they are creating massive opposition as the road network grinds to a halt. This is happening all over the country as local residents form grass-roots organisations to oppose them, but particularly so in London where there are more such schemes than elsewhere.

With public demonstrations now restricted by the epidemic, and Councillors not listening, people are resorting to other ways to show their anger. That includes death threats to councillors, and vandalism of modal filters and camera systems (for example in Hackney and Lewisham). Modal filters (planters) have been moved aside and “road closed” signs sprayed over.

All this vandalism is to be deplored but when democratic ways of stopping the road closures is thwarted (in London local borough elections are not until 2022) and there are not even any public consultations or other ways of persuading councillors to change their minds, then people resort to other means. This has happened all the way through history. Grievances that are ignored lead to violent revolutions, and that is the way it is headed in London unless policies are reconsidered.

When life become intolerable because people cannot move around, cannot do their jobs, their income is threatened, they cannot visit their relatives or care for the elderly and their health is threatened by more air pollution, then anger rises to boiling point. Councillors and those who are encouraging these defective policies such as the Mayor of London, TfL and central Government need to reconsider before the divisive atmosphere gets worse.

Peaceful Ways of Opposing

There are of course peaceful ways of opposing the road closures and other damaging road redesign schemes. We have listed a number of petitions against them on this web page: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/opposition-to-road-closures-in-london-grows-sign-the-petitions/ and we will update that page as we learn about more. Please sign them if you have not already done so.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Local M.P. Greg Hands in Hammersmith & Fulham has created a petition calling on LBHF to cancel its SW6 traffic scheme and it has received 4,000 signatures to date. But he could do with more – go here to sign it:  https://www.greghands.com/campaigns/SW6petition  

Photo above shows one result of the current scheme in Fulham Palace Road.

Acoustic Camera Pilot to Curb Noisy Supercars

One move to curb anti-social behaviour in Hammersmith and Fulham is the use of new acoustic cameras. Supercar drivers using iconic Sloane Street and the surrounding area as a racetrack could face new punishments, after the Council takes action to curb noisy engine revving in the area.

Chelsea street is a magnet for Lamborghinis and Ferraris, with drivers showing off their cars by cruising the local area, often in convoy. Now Kensington and Chelsea is becoming the first Council to pilot its own noise camera technology to catch drivers who are revving too loudly and disturbing residents and businesses. Persistent offenders will be fined and in extreme cases, on conviction the Council can apply to the Magistrates Court to seize the vehicle.

Lead Member for Transport Cllr Johnny Thalassites said:

“Residents have had enough of drivers using our streets as a racetrack. We have had fines in place for a while now, but this new noise camera technology will make sure we are catching more of the worst offenders. Supercars look good and most drivers are considerate but when they they’re not, it is disruptive and irritating for people living and working in the area”. It has become the first authority to set up noise cameras and run them directly.

Comment: This is surely a sensible initiative to halt this anti-social behaviour that has kept residents awake at night.

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Private Eye Letter and Daily Mail Coverage of Road Closures

A very amusing letter has been published in the latest edition of satirical magazine Private Eye. It read:

“…Looking for a foreign holiday with a nostalgic twist? Then look no further than the Lee area of the London borough of Lewisham. It is East Berlin circa 1975 with road blocks, cameras and nearly motor-free. It is almost impossible to get into and out of, and impossible to go across. And if you have a business – selling ice-creams, doing deliveries, visiting the sick and elderly etc – it is almost impossible to do business.

Rotten Boroughs in Eye 1528 summed up the situation very nicely……..Gerard Pearson”

The Daily Mail ran an article on Friday 11September by Mark Edmonds headlined “The road to madness: How eco-obsessed councils – under cover of Covid – have spent millions of YOUR money to shut roads across Britain”.

It covered very well how road space is being removed resulting in increased traffic congestion. It said “The same pattern has emerged, almost overnight, all across Britain: cities and towns are facing narrowed lanes, closed roads and interminable snarl-ups and pollution”.

Marylebone Road in London was given as one example. It used to be a three lane road. It was reduced to two by the installation of a bus lane and has now been reduced to one lane. The result has been gridlock.

One interesting fact given was that “Figures released this week by the satnav company TomTom showed a 25 per cent increase in London’s traffic congestion alone on this time last year”. Howard Cox of campaign group Fairfuel UK was quoted as saying. “This is a co-ordinated attack on the world’s highest-taxed drivers: they have become cash cows” and he said that dozens of MPs support his campaign against the new measures. Drivers pay the Treasury £40billion a year in taxes — but the war on them is deepening. ABD Chairman Ian Taylor was also quoted in the article, although they got his name wrong.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8724177/MARK-EDMONDS-Eco-obsessed-councils-spend-money-shut-roads-Britain.html for the full Daily Mail article.

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Mayor Sadiq Khan Obstructing London Roads

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has embarked on a steadily intensifying witch-hunt amounting to the complete obstruction of motorised commercial and private mobility, through the misuse (potentially illegally) of Temporary Traffic Orders during the Covid-19 outbreak. These have been used to implement lowered speed limits, carriageway narrowings, superfluous cycle lane widenings, and so-called “Modal Filters” (roadblocks in plain English). This has incensed, amongst others, London cabbies: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1289098/Sadiq-khan-London-news-public-transport-tfl-taxis-disabled-vulnerable .

This policy particularly adversely affects the elderly and the infirm – who often have no alternative to private car use – but also increases congestion, unnecessarily elevates vehicle emissions and wastes precious economic time. This is time that can be ill afforded, as the whole country seeks to climb out of the deep economic well created by the Covid-19 outbreak.

ABD’s London Campaigns Manager, Roger Lawson, is spearheading the investigation of a legal challenge (https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm ) to measures implemented in the borough of Lewisham without adequate public notice or consultation.

COVID-19 was not supposed to bring with it rampant inconsiderate cycling schemes and “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods”.

Abusing emergency powers, Park Lane for example is now down to one lane Northbound. With a pre-existing cycle lane already in the park, there is now a parallel, totally redundant one on Park Lane. Mayor Khan inexplicably thinks that this is effective traffic management.

In the past, local authorities had in place a perfectly good, real consultation process that had to be completed with residents, local public transport AND all three of the emergency services, prior to any road closures, so that public safety and response times could be met. Sadly this approach no longer prevails and people’s lives are being put at risk in a mad rush to slash vehicular access.

If you know of any instances of emergency vehicles being delayed by these (or any other traffic impeding) measures in the London area (or indeed anywhere else) and that have had adverse health implications for anyone, which is a failure in a local authority’s basic duty of care, for which they may be punishable in law, then please send ABD Director a message using the ABD’s main contact page here: https://www.abd.org.uk/contact/ .

What local and national politicians actually need to do is avoid the pitfall of making excessive provision for cyclists at the expense of adequate road space for vehicles. The constraints applicable to the realistic extent of future commuter cycling – i.e., distance, terrain and weather; plus the current imperative of avoiding public transport, indicates that car use will be the primary practical mobility solution for the overwhelming majority of road users. So under current circumstances there should actually be concerted efforts to smooth and ease motorised traffic flow and increased provision for car parking; instead of the very opposite.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps’ incomprehensible call to local authorities “to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians, to help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel” is the root of all the road space reallocation problems currently taking place https://www.localgov.co.uk/Roads-to-recovery/50932 .

In the final reckoning, all politicians are fortunately electorally disposable, and their policies are reversible – as subsequent recent events are already demonstrating locally in London boroughs (see for example:  https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/352786/local-authorities-backtrack-closing-roads-cars ).

The ABD has a rolling campaign to oppose these fundamentally anti-mobility and anti-democratic policies which are all part of Sadiq Khan’s London Transport Strategy which he adopted a couple of years ago but is now using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to bring them in without proper public consultation. See https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for more information and to register your support.

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Streetspace Reduction and A21 Lewisham – Catford Changes

Transport for London (TfL) have launched an initiative called “Streetspace” – see Reference 1 below. To quote they are: “creating more space for people to safely walk or cycle as our city emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. Temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements are among the changes we’re making as part of Streetspace for London”. In reality this means less space for road traffic and in addition it includes creating car-free zones and low traffic neighbourhoods by introducing road closures as we have seen in many London boroughs recently. This is a natural consequence of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm ) which the ABD has consistently opposed since it was adopted. But the Covid-19 epidemic has been used as an excuse to sneak these damaging changes in without any public consultation.

TfL and the London Borough of Lewisham have just announced a scheme as part of the Streetspace progamme that covers the A21 between Catford and Lewisham. It includes:

See map above for the details. For example a right turn from Courthill Road onto the A21 is banned. These changes could make life very awkward for some people. It is suggested that they are only temporary but you can expect them to made permanent unless enough people object.

Note that although this is a TfL Programme (and financed by them even though they are supposed to be short of money), it has clearly been supported by Lewisham Council.

Go to Reference 2 below for more details and for how to object. Or simply send your comments to: streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk

Similar changes are happening all over London under the Streetspace programme and are likely to increase traffic congestion as we are already seeing from such schemes in Lewisham (see Ref. 3) and other boroughs. Make sure you tell your local councillors and MP what you think about them.

But the lack of any proper public consultations on these schemes is totally undemocratic and is undermining public respect for politicians (including the Mayor of London) who are pushing these schemes through.

Ref. 1 London Streetspace Programme: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/streetspace-for-london

Ref. 2 A21 Lewisham-Catford: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/034ec426/

Ref. 3 Lewisham Campaign: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm

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