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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How to Ensure Councillors Oppose Road Closures

All over London boroughs are closing roads using the Covid-19 epidemic as a spurious excuse. Road closures do not help social distancing, rather the opposite. Councillors in many boroughs are pursuing their own agenda to remove all vehicles using Temporary Traffic Orders which are likely to be made permanent in due course unless you oppose them.

The following is a note you can send to your local Councillors to make sure they understand your views on the issue (their contact details are usually available on the Council’s web site):

Dear Councillor,

In the current Covid-19 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.

<End of Note>

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Opposition to Road Closures in London Grows – Sign the Petitions

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The opposition to “temporary” road closures in London grows daily. These are being put in by a number of London boroughs, using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse. The argument is that road closures help with social distancing but it is very unclear how. Widening pavements and cycle lanes may assist but road closures do not – they just divert traffic onto other roads thereby creating more congestion, or encourage people to use public transport where the risks of infection are very high.

Gridlock is happening all over the place as normal routes used by delivery drivers, social care workers and those elderly and disabled who need to use a car or taxis find the roads blocked. It’s clearly the intention to make these measures permanent in due course in many boroughs, driven by those ideologically opposed to the use of vehicles of all kinds.

You can join the opposition to the closures by signing all the relevant petitions some of which are given below – there may be others in your local area if you search for them.

Lewisham: There is a petition on Change.org created by the ABD which has already collected 1,500 signatures – see http://chng.it/ft4KcrVM . Please sign it if you have not done so already. There is also a petition against the specific closures in Lee Green ward created by a local resident – see  http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=46 and against the closure of South Row near Blackheath – see http://chng.it/PNWJWG57Sn

Lambeth: Opposition to road closures in the Oval Triangle: http://chng.it/wywrxJVmz2 . There is also a council e-petition for Lambeth residents here: https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?Id=478 . And there is a specific petition against closures of Railton Road and Shakespeare Road on Change.org here:  http://chng.it/hf5MdDmX9W . Plus one on the St Matthews Road closure: http://chng.it/YKwqY6tWVH

Islington: Opposition to road closures in Prebend Street, Colebrooke Row, etc, in the St. Peters Ward: https://www.change.org/p/islington-residents-stop-islington-councils-closure-of-local-roads

Waltham Forest:  A petition against road closures in the borough: https://www.change.org/p/cllr-clare-coghill-walthamforest-gov-uk-stop-road-closures

Southwark: A petition against road closures in the Walworth/Kennington area: https://www.change.org/p/southwark-council-no-to-cooks-road-chapter-road-carter-street-closures

Croydon: A petition against the closure of the Southern Avenue/ Lancaster Road Junction, in South Norwood: https://www.change.org/p/croydon-council-reopen-southern-avenue-lancaster-road-junction

Sunbury: A petition against an “Active Travel” scheme including road closures in Sunbury: https://www.change.org/p/surrey-county-council-cancel-active-travel-scheme-in-lower-sunbury

Wandsworth: Opposition to a “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” in Heaver/Balham South: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-heaver-ltn-1

Ealing: Opposition to plans for “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods” and the failure of the Council to disclose those plans: http://chng.it/wncQVWDbsG

There are also road closures taking place in these London boroughs: Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Enfield and Kingston. If you live or work in those boroughs, why not create your own petition against them? It’s very easy to do so on Change.org.  

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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.

<END>

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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City of London Road Closures

The City of London Corporation have issued a note about the road closures and advisory 15 mph speed limits in the square mile. This is claimed to be a response to the Covid-19 epidemic but is consistent with their long-term strategy to remove all traffic from City streets.

To quote: “The City of London Corporation has begun delivery of its transport recovery plan, designed to ensure the safety of residents, workers and visitors as people return to the Square Mile.

The scheme is primarily focused on providing the space needed to maintain social distancing on our streets and to enable safe walking, cycling and the managed use of public transport”.

Key roads such as Cannon Street, Old Broad Street and Leadenhall Street are affected.

See https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/Pages/covid-19-city-streets.aspx for more information and where you can give your comments.

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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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Lewisham Pushes Ahead Regardless in Lee Green

The Alliance of British Drivers issued the following national press release yesterday:

One Metre Rule Makes ‘Social Distancing’ Road Blockages Redundant

Many current and proposed road blockages are now unnecessary argue the ABD.

Spokesperson Paul Biggs explains:

Anti-car authorities all over the UK have relished the chance to obstruct motorised traffic under the guise of encouraging walking and cycling by enabling 2 metre distancing. Most of these schemes have dubious merit and many have simply resulted in making life more difficult for drivers, clogging up the roads whilst the extra space remains virtually unused. With the expected announcement that a 1 metre gap is sufficient, there is even less justification for such schemes. Existing schemes should be scrapped and no further schemes pursued. The roads must be allowed to flow freely to get the economy back on track.

<Ends>

One London Council that is ignoring this in their desperation to get road closures in place is Lewisham. They previously proposed numerous road closures (modal filters and school streets) as part of their Healthy Neighbourhood proposals. This generated numerous objections from local residents which enthusiastic cyclist Councillor Sophie McGeevor proceeded to ignore.

But the Council has just circulated a letter in Lee Green which spells out that they will be implementing almost identical proposals next week using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse. See the letter here which includes the latest map of the proposals: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lee%20Green%20Council%20Letter%202020-06-23B.pdf

The road closures will be implemented using Experimental or Temporary Traffic Orders which have not been published (we will advise the details when known). There will be no public consultation on the proposals – effectively they will be delivered as a fait accompli by Councillors ignoring the views of many residents, particularly those elderly or disabled who cannot cycle or walk far.

These road changes are clearly intended to be made permanent in due course. Residents should object to the Traffic Orders and should bear in mind the names of the local ward councillors at the next local council elections who have supported these plans – namely Octavia Holland, Jim Mallory and James Rathbone in Lee Green.

Postscript: The first road closures in Lewisham have now been put in for Scawen Road, George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Road, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Road and Silverdale. These closures have been authorised using a Temporary Traffic Order – see: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lewisham%20Temporary%20Traffic%20Order%20Phase-1%202020-06-22.pdf

We have sent the Council this letter pointing out that the road closures are unjustified and the wording of the Traffic Order does not justify the closures as it needs to do: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/ABD_Letter%202020-06-26-Web.pdf

The Council seem to be ignoring all the legal niceties including putting in the road closures even before the date authorised on the Traffic Order.

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Lewisham and Westminster Road Closures

The closure of roads in Lewisham continues to generate strong opposition. South Row (near Blackheath) is a particular concern to local residents although the Council has made one change already and has another in motion. This is what one person said on the CommonPlace web site:

“Having read through all the comments I now understand what has happened. A small number of local residents have long been advocating for their own interests to get this road closed through democratic processes, but have previously failed. The council now has emergency discretionary powers due to COVID which it is arguing it is using to enable social distancing. This is clearly wrong (see comments re walking on the adjacent heath). The council has decided to assuage this small number of vocal residents by using these powers for this scheme, enabling them to side step consultation. However, roads belong to everyone, not just those whose house happens to be on them and this is clearly creating so much increased traffic, risk and confusion to legitimate road users including those accessing their own homes, schools and businesses that it should be immediately scrapped – rather than adding further barriers. This is misconceived scheme and really must be a misuse of the powers provided. This is by far the most controversial scheme of all those put forward and should be abandoned immediately”.

That’s typical of the over 400 comments posted to date. The Council is also having to replace the “temporary” planters that closed the roads, and which people have been moving, by “rising bollards” which will increase the cost very substantially. This reinforces our belief that these changes are intended to be made permanent.

You can see all the comments about the closures, and add your own, here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/overview

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ADD SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND “LIKE” THOSE WHO OPPOSE THESE CLOSURES ON COMMONPLACE!

Westminster Road Closures

Another borough who are introducing road closures using the Covid-19 epidemic as a justification is Westminster – more specifically in this case as a way to re-open the hospitality sector in some parts of the borough. To quote from their report: “In order for hospitality businesses to continue to trade whilst social distancing measures remain in place, we want to support them to serve as many customers outside as they possibly can in a safe and responsible manner. To allow this to happen, we will close some roads to traffic at certain times of the day. We will also widen pavements in appropriate areas of the city. This will create the space needed for restaurants, cafes and similar businesses to put tables and chairs outside. Roads will be closed using ‘soft’ measures which can be installed and removed at the beginning and end of each timed period such as barriers and cones”.

The map below shows the areas that will be affected – such as Soho, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, etc. Many of the road closures only apply after 5.00 pm. They may mainly affect taxis, delivery vehicles and local residents.

Comment: These do not seem unreasonable measures to enable more social distancing and allow for more open-air activity by such measures as widening pavements. However the closures in Soho might be considered excessive. But you can send your own comments to: movementstrategy@westminster.gov.uk

See https://tinyurl.com/y84v6dnb for more details.

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Lewisham Road Closures Done?

The first of many road closures in Lewisham have been installed (otherwise known under the euphemism of “modal filters”).  The roads involved are: Scawen Road, George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Rd, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Rd and Silverdale.

The photographs above and below show the closures on George Lane and Bishopshorpe Road, although in the latter case one can still drive through the obstruction and many people are. One of the “planters” has been moved aside – perhaps by disgruntled residents?

On George Lane numerous vehicles are having to turn round when they meet the obstruction.

You can see many negative comments about the closure of George Lane on this web site (and add your own):   https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/overview

This was one comment: “The first few days have just seemed to divert the same levels of traffic down narrower and more residential roads. I now feel less safe walking on my street (Springrice Road) and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable getting on a bike on the same road”. It is very clear that the traffic has soon found alternative routes in nearby roads.

As with the other road closures listed on CommonPlace, the objections of residents have been ignored even before they were put in. The closure of South Row alone has already received 278 comments, mostly negative.

Note that one respondent on Twitter queried the cost of these 30 closures in Lewisham in the short term. He suggested that the cost might be about £1,000. This is totally unrealistic. The Healthy Neighbourhood scheme for Lee Green and Lewisham with some temporary road closures and “school streets” was going to cost nearly £500,000 based on a response to an FOI ACT request we submitted. (Reference FOI- 5602941). To quote from it: “The costs for the trial will be approximately 500k – (Construction 300k, consultation approx 40k, traffic data 20k, modelling 50k. plus Although some of the capital costs for, example, planters, can be reused in other cells. TOTAL 492k”.

Regrettably most members of the public have no realistic view of what the costs for highway changes done by local authorities actually are. In essence this is Lewisham Council wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money to please a few cyclists while ignoring the inconvenience to other residents.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ADD SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND “LIKE” THOSE WHO OPPOSE THESE CLOSURES ON COMMONPLACE!

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