Silly Season News – Cars Banned in London

In the UK the “silly season” is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media. This was exemplified by an item on BBC London TV News this evening.

Leo Murray from an organisation called 10/10 Climate Action was interviewed about his proposal to ban all private cars in London. Mr Murray is an eco-warrior of the extreme kind and why the BBC should give a platform to such a person to promote such views is beyond me. They certainly must be desperate for news stories.

When challenged on how the disabled would get around, he suggested they would be given free taxi rides subsidised by paying taxi users. That of course leaves all the other people who find cars essential for some trips banned. But he would not ban goods deliveries or buses so the impact on air pollution would be negligible and taxis would grow in numbers offsetting the benefit altogether.

I have suggested to the BBC that they interview me on a proposal to ban all buses, HGVs and LGVs to improve the air, plus of course all planes that fly over London. I can make out a good case for that proposal. Those who use buses would need to walk or cycle, but we know that’s good for their health so there are clear benefits. That would solve the traffic congestion problem at a stroke. That’s surely a good enough story for the BBC to cover? It’s just as daft as Mr Murray’s but if one is short of interesting news…….

But if you think the BBC should not provide a platform for such eccentrics as Leo Murray, here’s where to go to if you wish to complain: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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More Uber Competition and Scooter Mania in Paris

We reported last month on the launch of Uber competitor Kapten in London. But there is now another called Bolt (formerly called Taxify) that has just launched. The company is backed by SoftBank and claims that it will offer lower fares to passengers and better pay for drivers. More competition might well help consumers of such services but it will no doubt contribute to the traffic congestion in London.

Another likely competitor is Ola who are in discussions with TfL over a licence. Surely what we need is an App that tells us which service is the cheapest, or which will get the driver to us soonest. Now there’s a business idea for someone to take up!

Go to https://bolt.eu/en-gb/ for information on the Bolt service.

Meanwhile in Paris electric scooters are all the rage, but there are many complaints about their use on pavements and about them being abandoned all over the place (several companies offer low cost rentals). The French call them “trottinette”. They are as much a danger to pedestrians as cyclists on pavements as they can go at very fast speeds and are silent. At least one death has been reported.

But they are also dangerous for users. The death of a scooter user was reported yesterday after being hit by a truck.

Paris is looking at regulating their use, but surely we also need such regulations in London?

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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Silvertown Tunnel Goes Ahead

Transport for London (TfL) have named the Riverlinx Consortium as the preferred bidder for the Silvertown Tunnel. This is the new tunnel to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnels, something that has been desperately needed for some years.

The Consortium is a private finance project backed by several investors. They will get the build costs and the initial maintenance costs from a toll on the users of the both the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels. Some vehicles will also be paying an additional ULEZ charge because the tunnels will fall within the expanded ULEZ area.

TfL say they do not have the funds to finance such major projects despite the Mayor of London having an annual budget of over £18 billion, one of the largest for any municipal organisation in the world. Relying on private finance initiative funding has been shown to be one of the most expensive ways to provide public infrastructure in the long-term so this is probably another example of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s financial ignorance. Perhaps it’s a case of TfL being unable to borrow the money to finance the project as they are beginning to look like a basket-case of the first order.

The new tunnel should substantially reduce congestion and cut air pollution from the queuing or standing traffic that happens most days at present. The build contract should be formally awarded in the summer, with completion by 2025. But the Green Party are still opposing it.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Uber Competitor Kapten Launches in London

Uber

Even those of us who own a car occasionally use Uber, other PHV (minicab) services or conventional taxis. Uber has become the dominant player by not just having a slick service with low charges but by spending a lot on promotion. Indeed they have been very successful at consistently losing money despite avoiding local taxes and they still managed to recently list the company on the stock market at a valuation of US$82 billion!

Lyft is one competitor they have in the USA, but there is another one launched in the UK named Kapten (see www.kapten.com/uk ). This is a French company backed by Daimler and BMW. One of their advertising themes seems to emphasise that they will be paying VAT in the UK, unlike Uber, but is that a good idea when that surely means customers will be paying more as a result? But Kapten is still claiming to be cheaper than competitors and they are offering some 50% discounts to attract initial business.

They are also looking for drivers to support the new service with some promotional offerings.

So far as users of such services are concerned, having more competitors, and having services where the supplier loses money doing so can’t be bad for the consumers. So we salute Kapten for wanting to join the traffic jams in central London.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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City of London Corporation Ignores Representations

We reported previously on the consultation by the City of London Corporation (effectively one of the London boroughs) on their future transport strategy – see https://tinyurl.com/yd3qne6c . The ABD opposed several aspects of the proposals including a City-wide speed limit of 15 mph and a zero emission vehicle only standard for the whole of the City. The “Unblock” body also made representations to change the routing of the East-West Cycle Superhighway from the Upper/Lower Thames Street route.

The Corporation has now reported on the results of the consultation and its proposed decisions. Although there were many individual objections by organisations and individuals, no significant changes to the proposals, including the points above, are being considered.

The reason is because there was overall support for reducing road traffic and putting walking first – as most of the respondents to the consultation will have been City workers, that may not be surprising. But it totally ignores the needs for those who have to service business activity in the City, and the practicality of these proposals. It seems that the City Corporation has been captured by the irrational anti-vehicle fanatics.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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The Most Congested Roads in the UK

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The BBC has reported on congested roads in the UK and rates the North Circular Road (A406) as the worst. Needless to say, other London roads such as the A23, Kingsway/Strand and the A1203 (The Highway) also rate highly.

The report is based on information from Inrix who estimated that London drivers lost about 227 hours each on average to congestion. London is by far the worst city in the country for traffic congestion. For example in Leeds only 143 hours are lost. Is it surprising that many companies have expanded operations in Leeds as opposed to London?

What have the current and past Mayor’s done about traffic congestion in London? Basically done nothing but make it worse. The Congestion Charge scheme has been an abysmal failure and the growth in PHV (minicab) use and internet deliveries have contributed more recently. Schemes such as cycle superhighways on the Embankment which reduced 2 lanes to 1 on a major east-west route have also made congestion worse – that is why The Highway is congested as traffic backs up from Lower/Upper Thames Street all the way there.

Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor Sadiq Khan think they can reduce congestion by encouraging modal shift – persuading people to cycle or use public transport – but that simply does not work. They need to rethink their approach. The current Mayor’s Transport Strategy is already proving to be an abject failure.

You can read the BBC report here: https://tinyurl.com/yyrv44cz

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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