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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More Comments on Hammersmith and Fulham Road Closure Scheme

Here are some more comments on the proposed road closures in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham which we covered in a previous article (see https://tinyurl.com/scxyymu ). A local resident had this to say:

LBHF plans to send workers, who should be at home, to build a new traffic scheme when there are no cars on the road!

There is a saying about good times to bury bad news – it refers to the cynical timing of announcements by people wanting to take action that will be embarrassing or unpopular and doing so when journalists and others are least likely to notice. Of course, at a time when we are all preoccupied with COVID-19 and when the roads are empty, we are not likely to notice a new traffic scheme! However, this is the moment the council chooses to introduce one, when it should be focussing all its efforts on tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

With that in mind, please have a look at this from the council: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/share-your-views-sw6-traffic-reduction-plans . It is a proposed new traffic scheme that takes selfishness and NIMBYism to new lows. (NIMBY stands for not in my back yard.) The title of the page says “Share your views – SW6 traffic reduction plans” but I cannot see anywhere on the page giving a link to share your views! That, in itself, looks to me like a ruse not to get any public feedback but to be able to claim it asked for it! Furthermore, was there a consultation? If so, I didn’t see it and I would have thought that as a LBHF resident, I should be consulted. In my books, such practice is manipulative and deceitful.

However, I have not yet explained what the plans are. In brief, the idea is to install number plate recognition cameras and traffic measures on the roads leading between Wandsworth Bridge and the New Kings Road, and to fine road users if they use any other route than Wandsworth Bridge Road. Since Wandsworth Bridge Road is (outside COVID-19 lockdown restrictions) normally very busy this will inevitably gridlock it even more than it is usually and, no doubt, will result in increased takings in traffic fines at the notorious yellow box junctions close to where the New Kings Road and Wandsworth Bridge Road meet. And if you have a doubt about that motivation, ask yourself why the article itself says: “92 per cent of traffic fines (PCNs) issued at the Bagleys Lane/New Kings Road junction were to vehicles registered outside of the borough.”

This traffic scheme has unusual rules. In addition to allowing emergency and other public service vehicles to use the side streets; it also allows local residents to do so and it is explained as a “traffic reduction plan” based on the premise that it will reduce traffic in the side roads because much of it is from non-residents. No doubt the council thinks it is a great wheeze, as they can issue fines, fill their coffers and the residents will like it; but it is evidently ill thought through, prejudiced and likely to be massively congesting once we are allowed again to leave our houses. For example, what happens to customers for shops in Wandsworth Bridge Road who come from outside the area? How will they avoid having their number plates read and receiving penalty charge notices if they try to park in the side streets?!

Apparently, there is a scheme for visitors but how will that work and how much bureaucracy will be involved? Also, how would it be for society if every borough behaved in the same way, forcing all non-local traffic onto a few highly congested roads and issuing fines for diverting? Of course, it would bring chaos and gridlock.

What we are seeing on London’s roads is a vicious circle of increased congestion that has a clear pattern, but people don’t really notice or understand it. It works like this: TfL or the local council introduces new measures that have the effect of slowing or jamming traffic on the main arteries; examples are new traffic lights, widened pavements, new cycle tracks, etc. In response, traffic seeks alternative routes through residential streets. That is met by resident complaints and councils introducing measures to reduce through traffic in the back streets, with the effect that congestion further increases. Local residents are disproportionately inconvenienced because they are the biggest users of the back streets. Because traffic speeds are falling and congestion is worsening, road users mistakenly believe that the problem is caused by increased traffic but that is wrong. The problem is caused by these counterproductive traffic management measures.

The proof of this hypothesis is that vehicle usage on London’s roads has been falling consistently since the turn of the century and with less traffic on the roads, it should flow faster not slower! If, like me, you think LBHF’s traffic camera scheme around Wandsworth Bridge Road is cynical, anti-social and congesting, I encourage you to pass the word on to your friends and family and to email your local councillors, your MP, Greg Hands or Andy Slaughter, to object. The main councillor responsible for traffic is Wesley Harcourt and the leader of the council is Stephen Cowan. Here are their email addresses: Cllr Harcourt Wesley: H&F wesley.harcourt@lbhf.gov.uk  Cllr Cowan Stephen: H&F’ stephen.cowan@lbhf.gov.uk  Greg Hands mail@greghands.com  Andy Slaughter MP andy@andyslaughter.com

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Another Way to Cut Traffic, and Undermine the Road Network

Schemes where local roads are closed to vehicles to reduce traffic have been strongly opposed in boroughs such as Lewisham and Waltham Forest. They create enormous inconvenience to local residents and worse traffic congestion even though the objective is primarily to stop “rat-running” (otherwise known “as drivers taking the most direct and least congested route to their destination” if one wishes to avoid such emotive language).

Residential roads in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F) have come under extra pressure due to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. The council tried an experimental scheme of closing Harwood Terrace but at a full council meeting on the 25th February it was decided to halt the closure after over 2,000 complaints were received.

But they are now proposing an alternative approach which is to use number plate recognition technology to prevent all “out of borough” drivers from using streets to the east of Wandsworth Bridge Road. In effect they are putting residents first but buses, taxis and delivery drivers plus electric vehicles will be able to obtain a permit to use the roads. More details are available here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/share-your-views-sw6-traffic-reduction-plans

H+F Road ClosuresComment: the ABD opposes all road closure schemes as they destroy the road network. We also do not see why local residents should have any special rights over using a road network that is public property. It will also be an enormously bureaucratic scheme and like many other camera enforced schemes, lead to enormous numbers of fines on people who accidentally infringe the regulations.

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H&F Air Quality Consultation and Surprising News

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have produced an Air Quality Action Plan which is now open to public consultation. In summary, their proposals include:

  • Launching an electric vehicle hiring scheme – with a year’s free membership for local people,
  • Encouraging people to use electric vehicles by extending their network of charging bays,
  • Fining drivers who leave their engines running unnecessarily
  • Becoming the leading cycle-friendly borough in London with cycle quietways, cycle storage and cycle superhighways,
  • Encouraging more walking by tackling congestion, traffic speeds and by providing more greenery,
  • Reducing fossil-fuel boilers by replacing them with ultra-low nitrogen oxide boilers and ensuring energy plants are regulated through the planning process.

Not too many surprises there apart from the last one perhaps. But in the detail of the plan there is some surprising information. For example, it shows that as regards the impact of road transport on PM10, some 76% of them come from tyre and brake wear rather than engine tailpipe emissions.

Even more noteworthy is a statement on page 13 that they estimate that by 2020 emissions from road transport will reduce so much that it is projected that domestic and commercial gas sources will become the largest contributor of NOX in the borough, relegating transport to second place.

So will Mayor Sadiq Khan penalise inefficient and older heating boilers soon by forcing users to upgrade them, or imposing “emission charges” on them in the same way he has done for older car users?

It would be rational if he did, and clearly much more needs to be done to suppress dust on London’s streets. It was interesting watching an old film recently on television, the Blue Lamp, set in 1950, which showed water being sprayed from tankers to do just that. Perhaps we should reintroduce them. Other European cities use them. Or are they already being used in London but I don’t get up early enough to see them?

The H&F Draft Action Plan can be read here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/sites/default/files/section_attachments/hf_draft_air_quality_action_plan_2018-2023.pdf

Local residents should submit some comments.

Roger Lawson

 

20MPH Zone Impact on Traffic Speeds? – Not Much

What’s the impact of putting up 20MPH speed limit signs? Minimal according to a report from the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. A report on traffic speeds after the introduction of wide-area 20 mph speed limits comparing measured traffic speeds in 2015 and 2017 showed an average reduction of just 1.3%.

Across 100 comparable roads, the 85th percentile reduced from 24.83 mph to 24.52 mph. Although some roads showed bigger reductions in speed, others actually showed substantial increases. But the data is difficult to interpret because those with the highest increases reported low speeds in 2015 while those with the biggest reductions reported high speeds in 2015. It’s possible these are statistical anomalies resulting from inadequate sample sizes.

Is there any data on accident impact? Too early to report apparently. But the Council is pushing ahead regardless with extending 20mph to all remaining side roads in the borough and on some sections of main roads.

You can read the H&F report here: http://democracy.lbhf.gov.uk/documents/s93226/20MPH%20Speed%20Limit%20-%20Speed%20Surveys%20Results.pdf

Comment: This surely demonstrates that the likely benefits of such schemes do not justify the cost. The money would be much better spent on other road safety measures.

Roger Lawson

Hammersmith & Fulham 20 Mph Speed Limit

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham are proposing to implement a wide-area 20-mph speed limit across all of the borough with only a few exceptions. This was introduced on an experimental basis but is now being made permanent unless enough people object.

So residents or anyone affected by this proposal need to object as soon as possible. The latest day to do so is the 4th of March so please submit objections saying you would like it scrapped.

See here for more information on how to object: http://www.fairdealforthemotorist.org.uk/object20mph.htm

Roger Lawson

20mph in Hammmersmith & Fulham

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is proposing to introduce a borough-wide 20mph zone. The only exceptions will be two Transport for London (TfL) controlled roads – the A4 Great West Rd/Talgarth Rd and the A40 Westway/Western Ave.

If you live in or work in the borough, please respond by the 31st July to oppose the proposal.

The following page links to the council’s very one-sided consultation document and some counter-arguments, and has a link for responding online: http://www.fairdealforthemotorist.org.uk/saferhandf.htm

(Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be able to respond).

If you are just an occasional visitor to the borough (e.g. to Chelsea FC, the Queens Club (tennis), the Hammersmith Apollo theatre or Olympia), you can still email a personal objection to 20mph@lbhf.gov.uk.