More School Streets, Streetspace Consultation, MPs on TV and Travel Statistics

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, is promoting the installation of even more “School Streets” where roads are closed during rush hours to cut pollution. Such closures are typically enforced by cameras, providing another source of revenue to local councils.

Already 430 have been funded with 300 now installed. By 2019 there were actually very few schools remaining where there were illegal levels of pollution. Were these reductions down to the implementation of school streets? Probably not because air pollution blows around and it’s more likely that general improvements in vehicle technology and the ULEZ scheme made the biggest impacts. 

The ABD certainly supports the encouragement of drivers on the school run to use other transport modes (such as children walking to school) but closing roads actually prejudices other road users who have legitimate reasons to be on the roads. Some roads where there are good alternative routes might be closed without too much prejudice but in other cases they are unreasonable. They have been introduced in boroughs such as Lewisham without proper consultation with local residents.

See Reference 1 below for details.

Streetspace Consultation

Numerous “Streetspace” schemes are being installed across London in boroughs such as Bromley, Camden, City of London,  Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. They typically involve reallocating road space as the name suggests, with road closures, and more cycle lanes being common aspects.

Transport for London (TfL) have now launched a public consultation on these schemes that anyone can respond to. See https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/streetspace-for-london/consultation/

PLEASE RESPOND.

MPs Debate Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

On the 12th November ITV ran a programme called the “Late Debate” which included Janet Daby (M.P. for Lewisham East) and David Simmonds (M.P. for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner). They covered the controversy over Low Traffic Neighbourhoods but did not take a strong position against them unfortunately despite the many complaints they have generated. They both ducked the problems they create to a large extent. But you may want to watch it to see what your M.P. is saying if you live in those constituencies. See Reference 2 below.

Cycling Revolution Not Happening and the Impact on TfL

The Department for Transport (DfT) have published some statistics on travel mode usage since the Covid-19 epidemic hit – see Reference 3 below.

It shows there was a significant increase in April this year and during the summer months, but has now fallen back to more normal lower levels.

It also shows how transport on the Underground and Buses in London was decimated in the early stages of the epidemic and remains at very low levels. Hence the financial difficulties of TfL.

But the Government is about to throw another £175 million at active travel schemes (i.e. more for cycling). The only caveat is that local councils will have to do more consultation or they may lose future funding.

Reference 1: Mayor’s Statement on School Streets: https://tinyurl.com/y3eu5ck4

Reference 2: ITV London Debate:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=421993052295871  

Reference 3: DfT Travel Statistics: https://tinyurl.com/yd9xoqss

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Update on Lewisham and Other Boroughs Covid-19 Transport Responses

As in many other London boroughs, Lewisham Council have developed a Covid-19 Transport Plan which is in response to the epidemic where social distancing is required. This involves widening pavements, providing more cycle lanes and possibly road closures, much to the anger of local residents. More details are now available in a report to Councillors (see Reference 1 below). I’ll summarise some of the key points:

  1. It includes proposals to create more pedestrian space, quieter residential streets (I think they mean without traffic), safer space for pedestrians/cyclists (i.e. more and wider cycle lanes and wider pavements) and creating safer space outside schools (i.e. road closures called “School Streets”).
  2. Council officers will be given “delegated powers” to create the necessary traffic orders, parking suspensions, temporary barriers and other infrastructure with enforcement via camera technology.

In other words, council officers will be able to implement the kinds of proposals previously put forward in the “Safer Neighbourhoods” proposals without further public consultation or even input from Councillors. The Council has gained additional powers to do these things under new Statutory Guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps) – see Reference 2. Effectively the new Guidance drives a coach and horses through local democracy and enables Councils to do what they want without any restraint or input from local residents.

The Council’s initial proposals include restricting parking on such roads as Deptford High Street, Luxmore Gardens, Coulgate Street and Hither Green Lane (see report for full list). These proposals are not unreasonable in some of these roads.

They also propose as a second project to introduce “modal filters” to create quieter and safer roads. This is just a euphemism for closing roads to all traffic except cyclists which has been so vigorously opposed by many residents. There are also proposals for School Streets. They propose to use Temporary Traffic Regulation Notices followed by Temporary Traffic Orders. We believe this is a misuse of the regulations as we have said before and made plain in a letter to the Council.

The closure of roads using the epidemic as an excuse makes no sense. Closing roads does not help social distancing. It just favours one category of road users over another. And it is clear that there is the intention to make these closures permanent in due course. The proposals also ignore the requirement to take into account the needs of the elderly and disabled under the Equalities Act.

In regards to “public engagement” the Council has set up a web site called Commonplace – see https://lewishamcovidtransport.commonplace.is/ where more details will be provided. Some is already there, although it seems to be a work in progress at the time of writing. You can potentially add your comments, or suggest additional locations.

Will the Council have the money to implement these proposals? This is doubtful. This is what Councillor Sophie McGeevor said in a recent tweet (‪@SophieMcGeevor): “You know that £250 million investment in walking and cycling that the government have been going on about? Well London boroughs will each only get £100k of that. That would only cover about 20% of our initial COVID-19 transport proposals in Lewisham”.

Let us hope that this will stop them from doing the road closures and just stick to the sensible parking restrictions.

But make sure you send any comments to Sophie McGeevor who is responsible for these plans – her email address is CllrSophie.McGeevor@lewisham.gov.uk

Note that a number of London boroughs have already drawn up plans and submitted proposals for funding under the Covid-19 banner, and some money has already been granted. Bromley’s proposals were covered in a previous blog post.

Streetspace and School Streets Guidance

TfL has also published guidance on how boroughs should implement their “Streetspace” proposals – see Reference 3 below. And they have also published guidance for “School Streets” which are being implemented by many boroughs – see Reference 4 below.

School Street Sign

See photo above of a sign that can be used to enforce School Streets.

Reference 1: Lewisham Council Report – Implementation of Temporary Measures…. (see item 3) https://tinyurl.com/y7ojhtxw

Reference 2: Government Funding for Cycling/Walking and new Statutory Guidance: https://tinyurl.com/y9yry8wz

Reference 3: TfL Streetspace Guidance: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/lsp-interim-borough-guidance-main-doc.pdf

Reference 4: TfL School Streets Guidance: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/appendix-8-supplementary-guidance-on-school-streets.pdf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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