Demo Against LTN, LibDem Opinion Poll and Tranche 2 Funding

On Saturday the 3rd October there was a public demonstration against the road closures in Lewisham (photo above). This is a typical Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme funded by the Government and TfL under the pretence of a response to the Covid-19 epidemic. But was originally planned as a “Healthy Neighbourhood” scheme aimed at stopping us from using vehicles, or encouraging “active travel” such as walking and cycling, depending on your point of view. It has proved to be an abject failure with traffic congestion worsening, more air pollution and massive inconvenience to residents who rely on motor transport. Even buses have been slowed down.

There were over a 100 people turned up for the demonstration according to a report received despite the fact that it was legally questionable in the current restrictions on gatherings. But some social separation was maintained and the demonstration went off peacefully. Several police vehicles turned up but the police took no action to stop the event.

Motorists and bus drivers tooted their horns in support. One contact said he did chat to 4 bus drivers who all said the same thing “things have only got worse for them since the road closures were put in place, and what the hell did it have to do with Covid and social distancing?”.

I understand that similar demonstrations may take place on subsequent Saturdays. This writer would attend but as someone with a suppressed immune system and vulnerable to Covid-19 for other reasons, I am avoiding all public meetings. No doubt other supporters were deterred from attending for similar reasons but it shows the strength of feeling about this issue. People want the road closures removed without delay.

LibDem Opinion Poll

The strong opposition is also very evident in the results of a survey of Lewisham residents undertaken by the Liberal Democrats, which has just been reported. See https://www.lewishamlibdems.org.uk/residents_unite_against_lewisham_council_s_traffic_scheme for the details. They got almost 1,000 responses, mainly from Lee Green and Hither Green. What follows is a summary.

The LibDems are usually strongly in favour of environmental measures and the survey questions were not seen as totally unbiased by many. But the answers they got were very clear.

To quote from the report: “The majority of residents felt that the scheme failed in its main objective – to tackle the climate emergency. The scheme, which closes many Lee Green roads to through traffic, has created gridlock in neighbouring streets and the increased congestion has added to air pollution, in areas where air pollution already needed to be reduced.

Residents cite many frustrations over delays, confusing signage and missed appointments but the biggest complaint is over the failure of Lewisham Councillors to engage with local residents to discuss concerns. For many residents there have been unexpected and severe consequences on their lives”; and:

“We expected those against any traffic management to be most vocal but critically this scheme is also being condemned by people who want some form of traffic reduction in the area. There is huge frustration about the appalling consultation and the lack of response from the Council and councillors. The majority of residents have concluded it is not fit for purpose.”

The LibDems recommend that the scheme be suspended.

Question 1c in the survey shows the level of opposition. The question was “Are you happy with the Council’s changes?”. The answers were 771 said NO, 159 said YES and 10 omitted a response. That is very clear cut for these kinds of surveys.

There was some support for camera systems to limit use to local residents (a totally impractical and very expensive solution in our view) but time-limited restrictions were clearly not popular.

Many respondents had contacted councillors, MPs or Council officers but 84% of those who did considered they did not receive an adequate response.

You can read many of the detailed responses in the report where it is clear that they are similar to the ones the ABD has received – see this https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm where you can obtain a file of some of them. The anger stimulated by the road changes is very apparent, with local councillors coming in for a lot of criticism for not listening.

Tranche 2 Funding

The Lewisham scheme, and many others around the country, was funded partly by Tranche 1 of the “Emergency Active Travel Funding” from central Government. Tranche 1 consisted of £45 million of which only £5 million was given to London. But TfL also received £55 million for spending on active travel measures on TfL and borough roads.

But Tranche 2 to be supplied before the end of the year consists of another £180 million of which £25 million will go to London. The second tranche is aimed at enabling “authorities to install, further, more permanent measures to cement cycling and walking habits” to quote from a letter received from the Department of Transport by one of our supporters.

It was very clear that the intention all along was that the “temporary” measures such as those installed in Lewisham would subsequently be made permanent and that is how it is going to be achieved. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

But local boroughs do not have to spend this money on damaging schemes. Councillors can reject schemes that residents oppose. They just need some common sense and some guts to do so.

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Who Is Right About Traffic in London?

Lewisham Councillor James Rathbone is a strong supporter of the newly introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Lee Green ward. He recently issued a Tweet which said: “People are right to be angry that there is so much congestion on their streets but it’s been a growing problem for the last decade”. He also suggested that “Without traffic reduction the number of vehicle miles will only rise”, i.e. that the alleged problem would get worse. He backed it up with some graphs without giving the source or what they actually represented.

My response was that from my experience of living and driving in London for many years, I believed he was exaggerating. I have taken the time to actually locate the relevant data and here it is:

London and Lewisham Traffic Data

Traffic volumes in London, and even more so in Lewisham, have been falling for the last 10 years. If there is any increase in traffic congestion it is the result of new traffic management measures, road narrowing, road closures, new bus lanes, imposition of cycle superhighways and other attempts to impose modal shift on drivers. In other words, poor traffic management is the cause, not increases in traffic volumes. 

I hope Mr Rathbone will apologise for misleading people.

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Does Closing Roads Reduce Air Pollution and Improve Health?

The Alliance of British Drivers has long argued that there is way too much scaremongering about the impact on people’s health of air pollution. We published a paper two years ago (see Reference 1 below) that in summary said that we believe it is not a major health crisis but simply a major health scare fed to a gullible public by a few politicians and by journalists wanting a story. We also criticised the relative contribution of vehicles to existing air pollution. Most air pollution arises from home and office heating, building and industrial activities and from home activities such as cooking and smoking.

Is there actually a public health crisis? The simple answer is NO. The evidence does not support such claims. In reality air quality has been steadily improving and will continue to do so from technical improvements to heating and vehicles. Meanwhile life expectancy has been increasing. There is no public health crisis!

The Covid-19 epidemic has given a great opportunity to see the likely impact of removing cars and other vehicles from the roads as businesses closed down and home working spread like wildfire.

The Daily Mail (see Reference 2) has reported on a study by Stirling University with the headlines: “Decline in vehicle use in lockdown had no impact on reducing toxic particle emissions and suggests traffic is ‘not a key contributor to air pollution” and “It found no significant fall in harmful toxic particulate matter – known as PM2.5” based on roadside measurements. That was despite a 65% fall in traffic.

Particulates are more dangerous than NOX and as people spent more time at home, they may have increased their exposure to them. But it is clear that removing vehicles from the roads does not cut particulate emissions.  Although NO2 levels fell, which mainly come from transport, the Mail article suggests that might cut attributable deaths but in reality there is no certainty about the impact of NOX emissions on life expectancy and it may be a totally spurious claim.

The ABD also recently debunked the alleged claim linking asthma to NOX emissions. There are a number of possible causes for asthma and very poor air conditions (worse than generally experienced) can trigger or exacerbate attacks, but one has to be very careful about a specific linkage – see Reference 3.

Life expectancy data tells us that there is no air pollution health crisis – see another article published by the ABD in Reference 4. But London boroughs such as Lewisham argue we have to remove vehicles from our streets as a matter of urgency – see Reference 5 for Lewisham air quality data.

A lot of published data on air quality and sources of air pollution are out of date as road transport has rapidly changed as vehicles are replaced. Less than 50% of air pollution in London now comes from vehicles and stopping private cars will have minimal impact as most vehicle emissions come from buses and goods vehicles.

Another problem is that much of London’s air pollution blows in from outside the metropolis. According to London Councils (see the report in Reference 6), 75% of particulates actually originate from elsewhere.

In summary, closing roads to reduce vehicles in London generally, and in boroughs such as Lewisham specifically, based on a claimed need to reduce vehicle emission makes no sense at the present time. The recent epidemic impact when vehicles were much reduced shows that there was nil or minimal impact on air quality so it would be a pointless exercise.

In reality the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods introduced in boroughs such as Lewisham has diverted traffic onto main roads and created more traffic congestion. It also means longer routes have to be driven and traffic piles up on residential roads (see photo of Horncastle Road above). Overall air quality has surely been made worse as is clear from residents’ comments on the impact. These “experiments” to cut traffic should be abandoned now!

Reference 1: Air Quality and Vehicles – The Truth: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Air-Quality-and-Vehicles-The-Truth.pdf

Reference 2: Daily Mail article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-8710499/Decline-vehicle-journeys-lockdown-did-NOT-reduce-emissions-toxic-particles.html

Reference 3: Epidemiological Fallacy on Asthma and Nitrogen Dioxide: https://www.abd.org.uk/press-release-scare-pollution-the-latest-epidemiological-fallacy-on-asthma-and-nitrogen-dioxide/

Reference 4: Life expectancy data: https://www.abd.org.uk/life-expectancy-data-no-air-pollution-health-crisis/

Refence 5: Lewisham air quality data:  https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/environment/air-pollution/read-our-air-quality-action-plan-and-other-reports

Reference 6: London Council’s Report “Demystifying Air Pollution in London”: https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/node/33224

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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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Private Eye Covers Lewisham Road Closures

Magazine Private Eye covered the road closures in Lewisham in its latest edition, under the headline “Load of Bollards”. Here’s some of what the article said:

“Anger is growing in London over the current craze for ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ (LTN) schemes which seek to reduce the number of vehicles in residential streets through the use of bollards, planters, ‘pinch’ gates etc. But traffic is like water – block it off in one place and it will find the easiest alternative route.

In the borough of Lewisham, the Lee Green LTN displaces traffic from wealthier east Hither Green to the less affluent, more racially diverse west side. Several formerly quiet west Hither Green residential streets now endure more air pollution and congestion.

Clean-air campaigner Rosamund Kissi-Debrah describes the scheme as ‘a slap in the face’. In 2013 her nine-year-old daughter Ella died of an asthma attack thought to be linked to an air pollution “hot spot” near her west Hither Green home. Ms Kissi-Debrah told the local News Shopper. ‘It’s environmental racism… I don’t just campaign for my children, 1 campaign for all children. But some are more equal than others’”.

Lewisham Supporters News:

This is what we have sent to our campaign contacts on the latest news on Lewisham:

We have submitted the Change.org petition signatures (over 3,500) and all the comments received to date to the Mayor, other Councillors and Lewisham Council staff. So far all we have received is an acknowledgement from the Mayor’s Secretary. Clearly the views of those opposed are being ignored as has been evident from when these “Healthy Neighbourhood” proposals were first put forward in Lewisham.

But opposition is growing – keep the responses coming and get your friends and relations to register here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm  and ask them to sign the petition http://chng.it/RFgW8kFMX2  , plus put their comments on Commonplace here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/

Latest Council News:

The latest news from Lewisham Council is that cameras are being installed at four modal filter locations in Dermody Road, Manor Lane, Manor Park and Ennersdale Road. It will be a £130 fine for infringers of the road closures.

Coulgate Street, near Brockley Station, is now being closed to through traffic from 8am until 10pm each day allegedly “to help create safe space for social distancing and to support the economic recovery of local businesses as shops, cafes and other businesses reopen”.

The Council has complained about the amount of vandalism of the planters and bollards they installed. The ABD does not condone illegal acts but is this any different to the “direct action” of Extinction Rebellion and BLM to close roads, to vandalise statues and other illegal acts? It just shows the strength of local opposition to the road closures. Direct action is only taken by those who feel their political representatives are ignoring them.

Comments Received:

The ABD certainly has no objections to encouraging people to follow a healthy lifestyle, i.e. by getting some exercise by walking and cycling. This writer tries to do so every day. But closing roads is creating enormous inconvenience to many people. Here are a few recent comments received in the last 24 hours:

“Blocking roads will highly affect driving time, produce more congestion and make the journeys impossible but not reduce the pollution. Just wonder what would be those idiots next move. The best would be out of council”.

“I live in the area and recently tried to get from Blackheath Hill through Lewisham, all the diversions caused me to have to go back on myself detouring through New Cross, Through Brockley and Forest hill to get to Downham. It was a complete disgrace, we couldn’t understand why every single road was blocked or closed. It took us nearly 2 hours to get from Blackheath Hill to Downham that day as traffic was everywhere. What fantastic planning and a complete farce!!! Please help me to raise my objections. I see no reason to pay my council Tax, if Lewisham Council won’t do anything to help me. We are going to move away from Lewisham now anyway, I will be giving them nothing from now on, useless bunch of Twats!!”

“As you acknowledged, there was insufficient local consultation and a questionable use of the new Coronavirus legislation to push through these road closures. In addition, as a resident outside the road closure streets and very close to the South Circular, this has proven to be extremely disadvantageous. We have increased journey times, increased air pollution but also no longer have the option to enjoy the local benefits on the other side of the train tracks without a fourty minute round trip walking which, especially with a child under two and two full time jobs to manage, is not always an option. I would also add that Lewisham Council should have taken a more holistic approach to greening the community and improving sustainability in the long-term. The lack of traffic impact modelling of the road closures, the lack of analysis of effective behavioural change, and also the lack of implementing other measures which would better support social distancing (which I agree is spurious) or greening Lewisham compared to road closures; this could have been included”

“I would like to object to all these road closures that Lewisham are doing. It is total stupidity. Would they like to drive their car in all this carnage.”

“I 100% object to this, I am disabled and unable to walk or cycle. I don’t want to spend hours in traffic”.

“For us it means we are now completely cut off, by car, from the area in which we live.  Our only exit out is on to the Lee High Road.  We are also cut off from the borough in which we live, unless we drive round to central Lewisham or drive through Lee Green, the south circular and Catford.  And come back the same way.  We will not be doing these journeys by cycle or walking”.

“Very interested in objecting to this. I am disabled, rely on my car and can’t use public transport because of anxiety and panic attacks”.

“Yes these closures are an outrage. A separate East Berlin – style mini-state has been created. The Covid reason is utter BS. They are in fact spreading Covid since people are stuck in buses and works vans for longer as they held up by increased traffic on surrounding roads. As for the closed off roads being described as “residential” – the A205 is residential, the A20 is residential and so on. Are their residents of a lower order and thus more “pollutable” maybe? I have actually accused the Council of being racist in this respect”.

“We have been affected enormously. A 1 minute drive now takes over 40mins to get home. When schools start in Sept our child will also be heavily affected”.

“Road closures and ULEZ extension charges are punitive let alone in the middle of a pandemic – this will affect small business owners and tradesmen, people who can’t cycle or who are not fit enough to cycle huge distances, we already have a terrible bus service and I don’t want to catch COVID 19 on it and how do we get our shopping home? Typical left-wing council why would I be surprised? Anti business and free movement and pro indoctrination is their agenda. Appalling, as a tax payer and business owner I am disgusted by the arbitrary and arrogant attitude of this council who can’t even manage to take up the weeds from our streets, who replace paving stones with poorly laid tarmac, who cannot deal with rodent infestations which abound in our filthy streets, now this – they are pathetic!!!!!!”

Legal Action:

We have consulted solicitors over possible legal action, at considerable expense, but it is not an easy or straightforward case to pursue. It will require a judicial review which is a costly and lengthy legal process. More information will follow on this and possible fund raising to finance it.

What the Council Should Have Done:

Everyone would like less traffic and it is certainly the case that in areas of Lewisham and in particular roads there are problems because the roads were not designed for the volume of traffic that now uses them.

A typical example is the South Circular, a major road that has not been significantly improved for many years. This is basically a historic failure by Transport for London, the Mayor London and local boroughs to develop a sensible plan to improve the road network in South London. Road closures in Lewisham are actually pushing more traffic onto the South Circular, worsening the already bad air pollution. This is not wise when this is actually a residential road.

But even local roads such as Upwood Road in Lee Green have suffered from increased traffic and excessive parking effectively making it a one lane road and hence conflicts between drivers are common and cycling on the road may be discouraged. This problem could be solved quite easily rather than imposing a road closure which fails to recognise the needs of residents and by those attending the adjacent Colfe’s school.

Installing modal filters is a cheap and nasty solution that should not have been considered, even on a temporary basis. Using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse makes no sense either. The Council should have looked at the local issues and developed appropriate measures that would not inconvenience a large proportion of the population.

There are better solutions available! But will the Council listen?

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Lewisham and Islington Road Closures

The ABD has received a large number of complaints about the road closures in Lewisham. They are overwhelmingly opposed to them. You can see some of them in this document: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lewisham-Comments-Received.pdf   (click on to access).

We also now have over 3,300 signatures to our petition against the closures including many comments which you can see here: http://chng.it/ft4KcrVM  

We will be sending all the comments and signatures to Lewisham Councillors and staff in the next few days.

Do make sure you add your own comments to the Lewisham Commonplace web site here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/  and “like” the comments of others you support. Click on the top right to see the list of roads on which you can add comments. Note that posts on this web site may be used by the council to claim support for their road closures when unfortunately it is clear that repetitive posts by the same people are being added to try and crowd out opposition. It is therefore very important that you record your opposition to the road closures there and give your reasons why.

Note that our campaign web page is here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm  

We are delivering the leaflet you may have seen to wider areas of Lewisham in the next few days – it has received the highest response rate of any campaign leaflet we have delivered in the last ten years. Meanwhile opposition grows to road closures in the rest of London. But you do need to tell your own councillors what you think about what is happening. It would also help to tell your London Assembly Member and your local Member of Parliament.

Opposition to closures in Islington is particularly active and there have been several public demonstrations against them in Islington. A group is raising funds to pay for campaign literature – see https://www.gofundme.com/f/ludicrous-road-closures

Roger Lawson

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More London Road Closures and Another TfL Bailout

Lewisham: The opposition to road closures in Lewisham grows daily with more people responding to our leaflet drop and more people signing the petition against them. We now have 2,700 signatures to this petition: http://chng.it/ft4KcrVM . Please sign it if you have not done so already.

We sent out an update to our Lewisham campaign contacts today and this is some of what it said (you can register to follow the campaign on this page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm ):

We have received numerous complaints about much longer journey times (sometimes over an hour added to a local trip). Residents are the biggest source of complaints by far, not people from outside travelling through the area. We will publish some of them soon.

A few people support the road closures, but most do not. The Council has done a great job of setting one group of residents against another instead of trying to resolve past complaints about traffic congestion, speeding traffic and air pollution. The road closures have made traffic congestion worse and air pollution probably worse also as people spend longer in queues of traffic on the major roads.

Legal Action

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has been consulting solicitors on whether a legal challenge can be mounted against the use of Temporary Traffic Orders to close roads. We believe this is a misuse of the relevant legislation and associated regulations. The needs of the elderly and disabled have also been ignored which is probably a breach of the Equalities Act. The lack of proper and full public consultation before the closures were implemented may also be illegal and is certainly obnoxious.

Note that if we proceed with legal action then we will probably need to raise funds to cover the legal costs. Such actions would almost certainly need to be taken in the High Court and hence are expensive. We will advise further on that at a later date. In the meantime it’s worth pointing out that we have already incurred considerable costs on the Lewisham campaign which have been paid for by the ABD or its Members. If you wish to support us then please make a donation here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/donate.htm

Note that we are extending the area in Lewisham that we covered with our leaflet drop. This will incur considerable extra cost.

Why the ABD is Fighting The Lewisham Campaign

Some respondents to our Lewisham leaflet questioned our motives in undertaking this campaign in Lewisham and suggested we are solely supporting those who drive through the area rather than local residents. This is false.

The ABD is a national organisation that promotes and defends the interests of motorists everywhere they may be. We are not against helping people to cycle or walk, or opposed to improving the environment or reducing air pollution. But we do believe in a rational approach to such issues that does not unreasonably prejudice those who need to use vehicles.

We support local residents against unreasonable impositions by Councils but we also wish to see the road network maintained as a functioning system, and improved where possible, for the good of everyone. Not all people can use public transport for all journeys, or can walk or cycle everywhere. A functioning road system is essential also for goods deliveries, for buses and for emergency service vehicle access.

The ABD got extensive press coverage on our campaign in Lewisham and if we can obtain a legal judgement on the issues this would set a wider precedent. We will continue to fight this campaign until councillors see reason and withdraw the road closures.

Islington: There was a large public demonstration by Islington residents against the road closures in the borough last week. This was outside Islington Town Hall and another is planned for this week. It’s good to see such opposition. A photograph posted on Twitter by AutomaticDog is shown below.

Hammersmith & Fulham: Complaints about the road closures in South Fulham have caused the Council to drop them. But they are replaced by a scheme whereby cameras are used to stop vehicles other than those registered in the area from entering. See https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2020/07/pioneering-new-sw6-traffic-reduction-scheme-launch-20-july . The ABD is opposed to such schemes because it causes problems for visitors and for delivery drivers. It is also administratively complex and undermines the general principle that all roads should be open to everyone as everyone pays for them.

This is what local M.P. Greg Hands had to say about it: “This scheme is clearly designed to be a revenue raiser by Labour run Hammersmith and Fulham Council. On top of the existing million-pound moneybox junction, this scheme will hammer residents, visitors and essential deliveries hard, in addition to increasing traffic on the already congested Wandsworth Bridge Road.

There has been minimal consultation with residents, and Fulham has not reacted well to this money grab by greedy Labour councillors. The Council need to shelve its hastily conceived scheme and consult and involve residents. Traffic in Fulham is a problem, but this is not the solution.”

TfL Needs Billions of Pounds

Transport for London (TfL) is seeking another bail-out in addition to the £1.6 billion already supplied by the Government due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on revenues. They are now seeking another £3.5 billion.

Apart from the epidemic impact, an additional problem has been the further delay in the completion of Crossrail. It was supposed to open next summer but any new date is unknown. This was budgeted to add significantly to TfL’s revenue.

The Government is undertaking a review of TfL’s financing but Sadiq Khan responded by appointing his own “independent” panel to examine long-term funding.

These were my comments on Twitter: “What’s another few billion pounds to keep Sadiq Khan in power? But it would be cheaper to sack him and most of TfL”. Tory Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey said this: “Sadiq Khan wants another TfL bailout. He’s blaming coronavirus again. But the virus didn’t cause 4 years of negligence. £5bn lost on Crossrail delays, £640m on subsidising tourist travel, £56m a year on TfL staff earning £100k+ and Record levels of debt”. That’s a good summary. You can read what we said about the ludicrous finances of TfL in January (i.e. before the epidemic) here: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/01/17/tfl-business-plan-and-budget-for-the-next-5-years-more-of-the-same/

But TfL still have the funds to finance road closures in boroughs all over London!

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Park Lane, Euston Road, Lewisham Road Closures and Note to Councillors

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Transport for London (TfL) have been active in reducing road space in London by claiming an epidemic emergency. They have introduced a cycle lane on Park Lane, and with the bus lane that has reduced what used to be a three- lane road to one lane. This is one of the key North/South roads in London and the result is heavy traffic congestion extending to roads such as the Edgware Road. The new cycle lane is little used though because there is a good alternative route through Hyde Park.

Another road TfL have now damaged is Euston Road, a key east-west route. One lane has been removed and a speed limit of 20 mph imposed. TfL just seem to be kowtowing to the demands of cyclists and other anti-vehicle groups and the result is great damage to the road network. Longer journey times, more traffic congestion and more air pollution will be the result. London is becoming a “no-go” area for anyone who wishes to drive and use private transport rather than risk infection by using public transport.

Local borough councils across London have been following the lead of TfL and are not just putting in cycle lanes and widening pavements but actually closing roads. How that helps social distancing is difficult to imagine. Lewisham Council is one of the leaders of this illogical move. Make sure you sign this petition against the road closures in Lewisham: https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lewisham-stop-road-closures-in-lewisham/

PLEASE SIGN IT!

But if you live in another part of London, or even elsewhere in the country, this is a note you could send to your local Councillors to deter them from following Lewisham’s lead:

Dear Councillor,

In the current Covid-10 Epidemic, the Government is encouraging local Councils to introduce measures to temporarily:

a)       Provide more social distancing for pedestrians – for example by widening pavements.

b)       Encourage the use of active transport modes such as cycling or walking so as to relieve the pressure on public transport where there will be limited capacity in the short term and to encourage people to use other forms of transport than cars where increased use might lead to congestion.

That includes new Statutory Guidance under the Traffic Management Act 2004. The suggestion is that Temporary Traffic Orders might be used to implement such measures, where such Orders are required.

I have no objection to ensuring that pavements are sufficiently wide to avoid close contact, the possible suspension of parking bays to enable wider pavements and some provision of cycle lanes on a temporary basis so long as road space is not permanently removed. However, there is a suggestion that road closures might also be considered.

Closing roads (e.g. by the use of “modal filters” or “school streets” involving timed closures) provides absolutely no benefit in terms of social distancing and should therefore not be considered unless there are very good reasons to do so. Neither do they encourage cycling as roads can always be shared between cyclists and other road users.

In addition road closures delay emergency service vehicles who have to take longer routes or can get delayed by extra traffic congestion on main roads. When ambulances are delayed, seconds can count in keeping people alive.

Could you please therefore ensure that our local council does not close roads, even temporarily, in response to the Covid-19 epidemic. It is extremely important that the road network is maintained in a fit state and no artificial restraints are placed on it. Road closures can very rarely be justified even in normal times and it is particularly important at present not to create longer journey times and more traffic congestion.

It is also important to bear in mind that many disabled and elderly people rely on their motor vehicles and they will certainly not be capable or willing to cycle or walk instead. Regrettably the Government seems to have ignored a substantial section of the population in some of their advice but there is no good reason why you need to go to such extremes.

Please consider my comments above and advise your policy on this issue.

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Councillors details including contact information are usually readily available from a council’s web site.

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Petition Against Lewisham Road Closures

The road closures in the Lee Green area of Lewisham are now being installed. For example Upwood Road, a key local route to avoid the congested main roads and which provides access to many local roads has been blocked by “modal filters”. Drivers have actually been driving around the road blocks, as they have also been doing on South Row on Blackheath. This video on the BBC News web site shows what is happening: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-53261402/cars-mount-pavement-to-avoid-lewisham-road-barrier . It’s just symptomatic of the frustration of drivers but the Council is taking steps to block this dangerous behaviour.

We have set up a petition on Change.org to ask Lewisham to drop these closures and not install more of them. See:

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lewisham-stop-road-closures-in-lewisham/

PLEASE SIGN IT!

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Islington Closing Roads

The London Borough of Islington is using the same tactic of closing roads using Experimental Traffic Orders as some other London boroughs. They are using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to make them “people friendly streets”. They are also using the CommonPlace system as an alternative to proper public consultation – see https://islingtonpeoplefriendlystreets.commonplace.is/

But there is already substantial opposition to the closures which will just force traffic onto other roads. A petition against the proposals has been  created on Change.org – see https://www.change.org/p/islington-residents-stop-islington-councils-closure-of-local-roads?

Please sign the petition. Closing roads is hardly ever justified and particularly so at the present time when an efficient and open road network is so essential for transport of all kinds.

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