Archive for May, 2011

How TfL’s Blackfriars bluster is undermining their public face

May 31, 2011

TfL are an optimistic organisation. They believe things can be better for everyone. They might build infrastructure which is actively hostile to cyclists, recently for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and of course here. But this is no obstacle to bombarding us with material endorsing cycling as the provocative choice of the insouciant, the glamourous and the ever-so-slightly seductive, like in this image promoting June 2011’s TfL Cycle Challenge:

I would.

TfL’s claim that they can cram as much motor traffic as possible on to our streets, while still effectively promoting cycling and walking, is perhaps crystallised in this quote:

It is imperative that the road network functions effectively both as a set of corridors for traffic movement and as a collection of places in which people live, work and play.” – p4, TfL Draft Network Operating Strategy (pdf), May 2011

I wonder whether the authors of this strategy (TfL Directors Garrett Emmeson and Ben Plowden) really imagined this was persuasive. I doubt even estate agents would try it:

On the A406, North Circular Road, Nr Wembley, London

“The cosy upstairs property is situated by a charming traffic corridor for when little Jenny starts to toddle…”

Smoothing traffic flow and accessibility for pedestrians cannot both be priorities – this is not controversial. It is why parenting groups spend time campaigning for traffic reduction. Even the relatively regressive City of London Local Implementation Plan accepts that decisions favouring a particular group are necessary:

The City of London intends that its streets are safe and accessible for all road users… There is however not the capacity to give all road users the space and facilities that they may want.

Choices that are made about street design are political ones – in the sense that they inevitably privilege the interests of one group of road users over another. For a more insightful analysis of this than I could hope to provide, read this fantastic blog post.

So, what does this have to do with Blackfriars?

The interesting thing about Blackfriars is that at first TfL pretended that there was basically no decision to make. When we found out in February 2011 about the plans to redesign the bridge, we were told that they were set in stone and had been agreed upon last year. They were initially only willing to “consult” about one right-hand turn on the bridge, which was sent out on a Friday to “interested parties” (i.e. almost no one) with a response required in 3 working days. (The current government’s Code of Practice suggests that consultations should normally be open for at least 12 weeks. They’re also meant to be accessible to those who are being consulted.)

That TfL expected to be able to get away with this can be understood when we look at the other projects that they have managed to pull off, for example this extraordinary campaign:

I'm convinced.

(Six cyclists have been killed by freight vehicles in London so far this year.)

Yes, at Blackfriars TfL were planning to reduce the number of cycle lanes, reduce the width of cycle lanes, remove a pedestrian crossing, increase the number of motor-traffic lanes and increase the speed limit. But who cares? Why should this actually affect cyclists or pedestrians? We can all share the road together. It’s certainly not a political decision which might have negative consequences for anyone.

Of course this is obvious nonsense. Thankfully, Val Shawcross got involved and the media and political scrutiny eventually forced TfL to consult on the proposals for the entire bridge.

And that’s where things became interesting. It was only at this point that TfL came to accept that there might be a conflict between the needs of motor traffic and other bridge users, issuing a letter at the end of February which defended the plans for Blackfriars Bridge due to the need to,

develop a scheme that provides the best balance between the needs of all modes; including pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.

And then finally, in TfL’s May 2011 response to their consultation on the new proposals, they begin to admit reality:

Reason for reducing the current cycle lane width (2m) to 1.5m: It is not possible to reassign carriageway space to cyclists, or to reduce the number of traffic lanes, without significantly worsening conditions for bus passengers and general traffic.

Reason for scrapping the Watergate pedestrian crossing: Our modelling showed that retention of the temporary crossing opposite Watergate would further reduce the capacity of the junction beyond the point that could be accommodated… through marking out of additional traffic lanes that allow motor vehicles to ‘stack’.

And there’s the rub: TfL are prepared to accept that there are competing interests as a justification for not allocating street space to cyclists and pedestrians.

The myth is shattered. TfL have admitted that street design has winners and losers. No longer can they continue to widen motor-vehicle lanes, demolish pedestrian crossings, bus lanes and cycle lanes, and pretend that they are an organisation which encourages anything other than travelling by car.

So sign the LCC motion before Friday’s debate. And remember: this is just the beginning. Blackfriars is about fighting the dirty, noisy, unpleasant and dangerous car-culture entrenched in our streets and in the minds of our city’s transport policy-makers.

If we win at Blackfriars, it can affect a lot more than just one bridge.

Henly’s Corner: A walker’s paradise?

May 25, 2011

TfL have always been in favour of walking. Rarely do they release a marketing publication without several paragraphs explaining how pedestrians will benefit from the newest scheme designed to maximise the amount of traffic on London’s streets.

The current “improvement works” at Henly’s Corner in Barnet are, it seems, primarily being undertaken in order to “improve crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists”. This is a populous, residential area sitting roughly at the centre of a trapezium bounded by the following tube stations: East Finchley, Golders Green, Brent Cross, Hendon Central, Mill Hill East and Finchley Central.

The works have been running from February this year and are set to continue until February 2012 (details on p76). Let’s take a look at how TfL has left the conditions for their darling pedestrians during this time period:

Take a hike: the footpaths are closed for a year

Fair enough. Pedestrians are already selfless enough to choose not to use their cars. It’s a safe bet they’d be willing to go several hundred metres out of their way to assure the convenience of their neighbours taking the Range Rover to Waitrose.

(Well, either that or they don’t actually own cars, in which case they’re obviously alfalfa-eating freaks with no political clout who TfL and the Mayor would be wasting their time on anyway.)

Let’s have a look at how the junction on the map manifests itself in reality:

Photos courtesy of the East Finchley Beth Din

Note that the “You are here” sign on the above map is on Finchley Road. This picture is taken on the south side of Falloden Way, travelling west. From this direction, there is no warning for pedestrians that the footpath stops dead (or for cyclists – this is a shared use path).

Well, maybe it’s all worth it? What’s a year of being unable to walk or cycle if at the end of it a sustainable transport utopia is produced? Will the A406/A598 junction become the new Camino de Santiago?

Here is TfL’s CGI projection of what the completed junction will look like:

The A406 ramble? The Henly’s Trail?

Ah. Let’s see:

  •  Bus lanes: 0
  • Cycle lanes/paths:  1 “shared use” path running east-west (i.e. pavement with a white line down the middle) which disappears as soon as there is a conflict with an actual road. 0 running north-south.
  • Buses: 1
  • Goods vehicles: 6
  • Cyclists: 2
  • Cars: 25
  • Pedestrians: 5

And remember, this is the marketing image – the aspiration for this £8m junction. The reality is that no one who can avoid it is going to walk down this 8-lane turbohighway which requires pedestrians wishing to cross the road to do so in four separate stages.

So who is to blame for spending twice the entire budget of the Biking Boroughs entrenching infrastructure so deeply hostile to anyone not in a car?

In 2002, then mayor Ken Livingstone was pushing plans for this junction to be redesigned, with bus lanes and cycle lanes. However, Barnet’s then Cabinet member for the environment, Brian Coleman, led the council’s effort to block these plans under the premise that they were “inadequate to deal with the issue of endemic congestion.”

As we know, Ken was ousted by the Conservative contender in 2008 and true-blue Mr Coleman went on to become the mayor of Barnet in 2009. The bus and cycle lanes were subsequently removed from TfL’s plans, which were then agreed with Barnet, and as you can see the work is now underway.

Never let it be said, however, that Mr Coleman has forgotten the little people. He, too, is unhappy about the way that the works are being carried out. Writing to the mayor earlier this month, he complained that,

These road works are chaotic, causing huge problems for motorists and massive tailbacks.

So, while underway the works are causing problems for pedestrians, cyclists and apparently motorists. When completed, as far as pedestrians and cyclists are concerned, they won’t be much better.

So why go to all this trouble?

The important works at Henlys Corner will bring huge benefits to all road users along the A406 North Circular Road, and deliver smoother traffic flow along this key arterial route. – David Brown, Managing Director, TfL’s Surface Transport

Sounds remarkably familiar.

Whether it’s at Blackfriars or Brixton, Fulham or Finchley, Marylebone or Mitcham, TfL’s current priority remains the same: make travelling in cars easier and quicker at the expense of all other transport.

Except, in outer London, the situation is considerably worse. While people who opt not to drive are numerous and vocal enough to make a difference on Blackfriars Bridge (how much difference remains to be seen), cycling modal share in the outer London Boroughs currently sits at 1%.

Or forget modal share: TfL’s recent Analysis of Cycling Potential calculates that 250,000 trips a year in Barnet could be made by bike. How many of just those quick wins are actually cycled? Around 3% (page 27).

It suits TfL and the outer London boroughs to pay lip-service to cycling and walking while continuing to build motorways in the middle of residential areas (while closing bus lanes, cycle lanes and footpaths).

Will cheery copy and self-satisfied soundbites be enough to persuade the residents of Finchley and Golders Green to take a pleasant stroll or cycle through the new Henly’s Corner?

Flash ride: a couple of hundred people say no to lethal junctions

May 20, 2011

No time for analysis, but a few quick pics I snapped this morning. Sorry for the awful quality – I was moving at the time. Anyway, I blame HTC.

So the only question now is: were we wasting our time or will TfL listen?


Blackfriars Bridge Verdict: “It is not possible to reassign carriageway space to cyclists” – TfL

May 18, 2011

Update 19/05/2011, 17.55: As everyone else is reporting, flash ride tomorrow at 8.30am, south side of the bridge by Doggett’s pub. Be there.

This afternoon, TfL wrote to stakeholders with details of their updated plans for Blackfriars Bridge.

There are a number of welcome changes in the revised plans. To read more about those, see Cyclists in the City.

There is one detail of the plans so callous, and so dangerous to people riding bikes, that for the moment I find it an insurmountable obstacle to focusing on any of the positives.

Look at the junction at the north end of the bridge:

Now: two traffic lanes, a cycle lane, an advanced stop box

Looking forward: Three traffic lanes, no advanced stop box

We know that 4 out of 5 crashes involving cyclists are at junctions. So why reduce the cycle lane from 2m to 1.5 metres and add an extra traffic lane just where it counts?

The comments on the relevant area (Section D) in TfL’s accompanying written document enlighten us:

It is not possible to reassign carriageway space to cyclists, or to reduce the number of traffic lanes, without significantly worsening conditions for bus passengers and general traffic.

This is yet another example of TfL’s duplicity when discussing Blackfriars Bridge. There are currently two traffic lanes for cyclists at the junctions to contend with. Asking TfL not to add another one is simply not “reassigning carriageway space to cyclists”. It just isn’t.

There are positive details in the new plans, as well as other objectionable ones (e.g. TfL are still getting rid of the pedestrian crossing opposite Westgate, and still raising the speed limit from 20mph to 30mph against the advice of their own Road Safety Unit).

But examples like this demonstrate that TfL are living in a fantasy world, where they continue to pretend that not destroying infrastructure which is less dangerous than average should somehow be seen as actively assigning road space to vulnerable road users.

London Assembly members Val Shawcross and John Biggs are heralding this as a triumph for cyclists (and themselves). But this just shows they’ve swallowed the same fallacy: that TfL not making a road significantly more dangerous is a victory. Feels rather hollow to me.

Westminster Parking Policy Review: traffic “counts” don’t count cyclists

May 17, 2011

The City of Westminster are currently conducting a review of their parking policies. Deadline for responses is June 23rd.

It is clear that one of the groups most affected by parking and loading policies are cyclists.

blue superhghway van stockwell.jpg

Direct and continuous… into the back of a van or the path of an HGV

When cyclists encounter a parked car, they are often forced to take various risks trying to integrate into a fast-moving lane of motor vehicles. Despite the best efforts of people riding bikes, the possibility remains that drivers may not be anticipating such a manoeuvre, willing to allow the person sufficient space, or even (dare I say it?) devoting their full attention to what is happening on the road in front of them.

Barry Smith, the Operational Director of the City’s Planning Delivery Unit, has submitted a report about the parking review to the council’s Cabinet noting that,

The council has carried out a range of research and consultation exercises… including Automatic Traffic Counts and video traffic counts to monitor traffic levels. (Point 5.1)

This excited me. TfL’s screenline data for 2010 shows that on, for example, Waterloo Bridge during rush hour, cyclists far exceed other modes of transport:

TfL Screenline data for 2010. Waterloo Bridge, northbound, 7-10am.

I was very much looking forward to seeing how this traffic, arriving in Westminster, translates into modal share in other areas of the borough.

The results of the traffic counts undertaken for the parking review can be found (if you look hard enough) in a document entitled, Seven Day Traffic Counts in Westminster, dated April 2011.

Page 6 of that document glibly informs us that:

Please note that Automatic Traffic Counters (ATC) do not record cyclists.

Waterloo Bridge

Zero cyclists crossing Waterloo Bridge

I find it astounding that Westminster are considering how they allocate street space without bothering to count a highly populous and vulnerable groups of road users upon whom any changes will significantly impinge.

The address to email with your views is parkingreview2010@westminster.gov.uk.

How did TfL build a junction, brag about it, and demolish it within a year?

May 14, 2011

This post exists to demonstrate how TfL are unfit to be designing cycling infrastructure. It will do this through examining the design, construction and subsequent destruction of a junction in Lewisham, built at the end of 2010.

It is not the claim of this post that no one in TfL knows how to make safe infrastructure. However, it will become clear that the process is so convoluted, subject to so many (often conflicting or erroneous) guidelines, principles and stakeholders, that any resulting type of sensible infrastructure would be miraculous.

Some might find this post confusing – I found it confusing to write. This is a symptom of the labyrinthine manner in which directorates of TfL’s Surface Transport division are expected operate. To clear this issue up, I have added a timeline of events at the end of the post.

The Kender Street Triangle is one of TfL’s flagship “improvement” works in South-East London. In November last year Kulveer Ranger, then the Mayor’s Transport Advisor, gleefully informed us that,

The Mayor is committed to making London’s streets more accessible through his Great Outdoors programme and Kender Street Triangle is a perfect example of that.

If the junction is a ‘perfect example’ of anything, it is how TfL are so internally divided about cycling that they cannot even decide what safe infrastructure might look like.

The junction, built towards the end of 2010, now looks like this:

It seems clear that this advisory cycle-lane leading straight into a pinch point could be hazardous to cyclists. How could TfL fail to notice that?

The original plans for the design were drawn up by London Streets, part of TfL’s Directorate of the Road Network. They sit on the 4th floor of TfL’s Palestra offices. A Safety Audit was then conducted by a different part of the same directorate, the London Road Safety Unit (LRSU), who sit on the 7th floor.

Apparently, moving up three floors provides a completely different perspective. Look at the following comment in the LRSU’s Stage 2 Safety Audit:

So the safety audit did raise an issue with the cycle lane (counter to what I was told by TfL when I initially complained about it). Why, then, did TfL’s London Streets allow the junction to be built?

To find out, let’s draw our attention to the Safety Audit Response Report, published by London Streets to address the issues raised in the LRSU’s audit:

Aha! London Streets feel that LRSU’s perceived danger is acceptable, because it is outlined in the London Cycle Design Standards (LCDS).

And to be fair to London Streets, if we go to Appendix C, p180 we find that it is in there:

Click image to enlarge

So, TfL finds themselves facing a problem. On the one hand, the Road Safety Unit thinks that the pinch point is hazardous. And yet their London Streets disagree – and this is backed up by the TfL’s LCDS.

Quite frankly, the London Cycle Design Standards are dire, and rather alarming. I think the above case speaks for itself. Let’s look at some other examples:

Cyclists in this example are at risk of being "doored" by a parked car. Those who cycle outside of the lane will incur the wrath of impatient drivers. (p183)

And the following example, forcing cyclists between two lanes of motor traffic, is shockingly similar to the lane on Blackfriars Bridge which was replaced overnight after Vicky McCreery was killed in 2004 (this link contains a picture of that lane).

Best practice (p184)? These guidelines were published over a year after Ms McCreery's death

The LCDS were (rather ironically) published by the Cycling Centre of Excellence, another (now defunct) part of the Surface Transport division. They appear to have been subsumed into the Better Routes and Places directorate, headed by Ben Plowden, who are responsible for the much more general task of “delivering the mayor’s vision of urban realm improvements” on TfL’s road network.

This lack of focus on cycling clearly has detrimental effects. Better Routes and Places conducted a post-construction safety audit of this scheme in February 2011, where they found no issue with this cycle lane.

Interestingly, Mr Plowden, at this week’s Surface Transport Panel meeting, submitted a report bragging about how the Kender Street triangle program is being “progressed” (pdf, point 4.4).

Which brings us back to to the junction in question.

Pinch me

Despite works only having been completed in the summer of 2010, TfL’s complaints division informed me in April that,

Having discussed this with internal colleagues and cycling experts we believe a modification to the markings would be desirable. “

Rather oddly, none of TfL’s pages for the public exclaiming the success of Kender Street improvement, nor their publicly available internal communications, seem to mention what is at best a flip-flop, and at worst a callous waste of public money.

So what to take from all of this? Let’s recap the events over time:

Date Action
Before March 2009 Plans are drawn up for a new junction.
March 2009 TfL’s Road Safety Unit describes the plans as hazardous.
April 2009 London Streets says that the plans are fine because they’re consistent with the London Cycle Design Standards, published by Cycling Centre of Excellence, a vision of Surface Transport which no longer exists).
Mid-end 2010 Construction takes place
Feb 2011 TfL’s Road Safety Audit Team in conjunction with Better Routes and Places produces a post-construction safety audit where they find no issues with the cycle lane in question.
Feb 2011 I email TfL Surface Transport complaints with my concerns about the advisory cycle lane (I did not know at that time about the above audit).
March 2011 I escalate the complaint to London Travel Watch as TfL have not responded within the time limit set it out in their own policies.
April 2011 TfL email me to say that they are going to remove the cycle lane by the end of June 2011.

TfL’s departments can’t agree what cycle lanes should look like, and cycling is so down their list of priorities that they lack a strategy to deal with this fact.

Infrastructure is built that London Streets has been told is a risk, and when the public start to notice then they scrap it. Designing streets like this increases the risk of injuries and fatalities, as well as reducing the number of people who are willing to get out their cars and on their bikes. And cases like this one are not just dangerous: they’re also an obscene waste of time and money.

TfL are a public body. They should be held to account.

TfL wastes £5m of central government cash trying to launder London’s air

May 8, 2011

Note: This post is a little policy-ish and maybe not for everyone. However, it reveals TfL’s extravagant and astonishing attempts to cover up their failings on air emissions. The main points are as follows:

  1. The UK is failing to meet the EU’s air quality standards in London.
  2. In March 2011, the Department for Transport gave the GLA £5m to deal with the problem of emissions in London. The project is being delivered by TfL.
  3. TfL have devoted this money entirely to tricking the EU emissions counter on Marylebone Road, and to “power cleaning” the dirty air by repeated visits which cost up to £5k each.

Read on for more detail…

Garrett Emerson, the Chief Operating Officer of TfL’s London Streets department, is due to submit a report to the Surface Transport Panel on Wednesday this week. The report is entitled,

UPDATE ON DELIVERY OF THE MAYOR’S AIR QUALITY STRATEGY – CLEAN AIR FUND

Its main purpose is setting out to the Panel how the Mayor is adapting said strategy now that the daily concentration of particulate emissions has consistently been above the limit set out in the EU Air Quality Directive.

Less road traffic emissions

Oh, really?

The report notes that, in March 2011*, the European Commission exempted Greater London from EU air quality standards until June 2011. This was on the condition that “the UK adapts its air quality plan for the area, setting out the steps to achieve compliance by 11 June and detailing relevant abatement actions.”

After this was granted, the GLA had the audacity to write to the Department for Transport (DfT) asking for funding so they might actually have a chance of meeting the targets. Obviously all the money originally in the budget had been allocated to projects more important than air quality targets, like anti-walking and cycling “improvement” works and schemes designed to maximise the number of cars on London’s streets (pdf).

Astonishingly, DfT acquiesced to the tune of £5million. (Or perhaps it’s far from astonishing that the current government does not want the Conservative mayor to face headlines about being fined for air quality a year before the next mayoral elections – it’s certainly not the place of this blog to hypothesise.)

Photo the property of JJWillow

So, what are TfL actually doing to achieve this aim? Essentially, the entirety of the £5m is being wasted on two things:

  1. Repeated, “cleaning” visits of air at “priority locations” which cost up to £5k a piece,
  2. Trying to reduce the emissions of taxis and buses specifically around the Marylebone Road air quality measuring station.

In detail: Tfl have agreed with DfT 6 priorities (point 3.5 of the report), which can be split into two categories:

  1. Prevention of emissions on Marylebone Road – more on these in a second
  2. Attempting to clean the dirty air – this is a range of measures from “power cleaning” tunnels (£3-£5k per tunnel) and flyovers (£1250 per visit), applying dust suppressants, and installing green infrastructure (don’t get excited) which means “green walls” and “vegetated barriers” (i.e. total greenwash).

The preventative measures are the following:

  1. Reducing idling of taxis near the air quality measuring station (or as the report puts it, “at priority locations” which just happen to be along the Euston/Marylebone Road where the station sits).
  2. Applying Diesel Particulate Filters to 71 buses on route 205, which travel along the “priority location” of Marylebone Road.
  3. Working with businesses to reduce their air quality emissions at, you guessed it, “priority locations”.

It is scandalous that £5m of DfT money is being squandered in this manner,  especially while other transport budgets are being cut to the bone. With Cycling England gone, the total budget for all of London’s ‘Biking Boroughs’ is £4m.

TfL’s report even goes as far as to admit that:

Road transport is the dominant source of PM10 emissions within central London, contributing around 79 per cent in 2008, 80 per cent in 2011. (Emphasis mine.)

And yet after being given £5 million to potentially deal with this, TfL’s plan does absolutely nothing to reduce road traffic.

Their paltry, reactive measures guarantee that London will fail to meet future targets. And no doubt, when we do, we will either be bailed out by central government (costing us money) or fined (costing us money).

And meanwhile, London’s streets will continue to be the same dirty, noisy, traffic-infested rat-runs and racetracks which deter simple, sustainable transport like riding bikes and walking. Good work, TfL.

*TfL’s report says that this happened in March 2010 but this is an error.

Reason #457 to love on-road cycle facilities

May 8, 2011

Hammersmith Road, Friday 6th May around 12.30pm. The HGV is (double) parked:

Maybe the entire lane was in the driver’s blind spot?

Boris’s new transport team

May 5, 2011

One of the key pieces of news I managed not to cover while on holiday is Boris’s massive transport team shake-up. However, this post feels timely as Freewheeler has just written a piece declaring Ken Livingstone an obstacle to mass cycling in London.

Do Boris’s changes make him any more attractive to those of us in favour of well-designed, segregated cycle facilities in London? Kulveer Ranger will finally be going from his post as Director for Transport Strategy, ostensibly “promoted” to the role of Director of Environment. Meanwhile, Isabel Dedring, the current Environment Advisor, is being actually promoted to shiny, newly appointed role of Deputy Mayor for Transport. As some have perhaps cynically noted, “two people can’t change jobs and both have a promotion”. Far be it for this blog to speculate whether the transport or environment brief is a more politically significant issue in London…

The other critical change is that Daniel Moylan, the Conservative Deputy Leader of Kensington & Chelsea Council who currently works 2 days a week as Deputy Chair of TfL’s board, is having his hours doubled.

Photo credit: London SE1

Isabel Dedring (left). Photo credit: London SE1 blog

Well, what does this mean for those of us who would like more people in London to cycle, and more journeys to be made by bike? One might be tempted into thinking that Dedring is a good choice. After all, someone who has held the environment post must at least be aware of some potential benefits of getting more people on bikes.

Having said that, since she took up the role in 2008, London has repeatedly failed to meet EU targets on air quality. A study commissioned by the Mayor’s office estimates that this has “an impact on mortality equivalent to 4,267 deaths in London in 2008″.

What else do we know about Isabel Dedring? Well, she is deeply ensconced she is in TfL culture. Prior to her environment brief she held the role of Director of TfL’s Policy Unit (2003-8) and before that she was Chief of Staff to Bob Kiley, TfL’s Transport Commmissioner.

OK, so simply working for TfL is not necessarily enough to incriminate someone. Let’s have a look at some of her policy work. In 2006, she was responsible for an illuminating document entitled Tackling Climate Change: How London’s Transport Sector Can Help (pdf) (section 4, pp8-35).

The document is a bit of a mixed bag, although overall far from impressive. On the one hand:

  1. The document notes that private motor vehicles are responsible for half (49%) of emissions in London (p31) and that this must be reduced.
  2. It is argued that “behavioural change measures are critical”. This is half the battle.

On the other, there are some negatives.

  1. Some of the claims seem to be deliberately misleading. It is repeatedly said that, “adding in London’s aviation emissions triples London’s total transport emissions.” (e.g. p8, p9, p24). This may be true, but the relevant measure for TfL is not London’s total emissions – no one holds them responsible for aviation emissions. The Mayor of London and TfL are repeatedly lambasted by the EU for failing to hit targets which will reduce the number of PM10 particles in the air. In 2006, when this document was published, road transport was responsible for 20% of these emissions. Air transport’s share was 0.07%. (Source). I find this kind of statistical sleight-of-hand highly irritating.
  2. On the point of behavioural changes, they simply do not go far enough. On page 9 the “opportunities to reduce emissions by mode” are listed for cars. What is listed is congestion charging, driver education, use of biofuels, hybrid vehicles and lighter vehicles. The document points out, “a Vauxhall Corsa emits 1/3 the CO2 of a Range Rover”. This is all well and good – but it’s the infrastructure, stupid. Any mention of this is notably absent.

Ok, so Dedring accepts that there are some problems, even if her solutions aren’t quite up to scratch. But perhaps trusty Deputy Chair Daniel Moylan’s increased hours will allow him to whisper words of wisdom in her ear?

Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly for someone in his position, when it comes to Surface Transport Mr Moylan only seems to have one policy idea: Shared space.

Shared space kruispunt (gelijkwaardig kruispunt)

In 2007, Mr Moylan wrote an article for The Guardian extolling the virtues of such an approach. In it, he says, “Coercive measures like 20mph limits are the wrong approach to road safety.”

It’s odd, but that’s the exact opposite of what the data from TfL’s own London Road Safety Unit data demonstrates. There is a strong positive correlation between lower speed limits and a reduction in deaths and serious injuries, particularly of vulnerable road users.

In any case, there are already examples of Shared Space in London. And look how well they work.

So, the depressing conclusion? Boris’s new clique might look greener, but peel back the foliage and find the familiar, regressive roots of the old set.

What the London Cycle Network looks like in Westminster

May 4, 2011

The City of Westminster’s deeply hostile attitude to cyclists and pedestrians is no secret. But today I came across an example which exemplifies car-centric thinking so much, I simply had to blog about it.

I was travelling in the north of the borough, along a marked cycle route, which as you can see on the LCN+ map is part of the London Cycle Network.

Image from LCN+ map - click it for the location on map

The road is a backstreet which runs north-south directly between the A5 (Highways Agency managed trunk road) and the A41 (TfL managed trunk road). The junction that I have photographed is respectively 0.1 and 0.4 miles from each of these roads.

Let’s take a look at some photos and some problems:

1. Someone at Westminster has taken the extraordinary decision that the optimal design for users of this very wide, residential street is to shove a lane of cars down the middle of it:

Even with the extraordinary decision of allowing cars to park down the centre of the carriageway, it is clear from this photo that the lanes are still much wider than a car-width and unmarked, encouraging high speeds.

2. There is actually considerably more potential space that could be used. Let’s accept for a moment that, for some reason, it is essential to the lives of the residents of Maida Vale that they own enough cars to take up both sides of the road and the centre of the carriageway. There is still easily enough space for some sort of cycling infrastructure:

3. Finally, at this wide, busy rat-run with no speed cameras, bumps or any other type of speed reduction or enforcement, Westminster are not even good enough to provide a zebra, pelican or other pedestrian-focused crossing (this is a residential street within 1 mile of three primary schools):

Oh wait, hang on a second. Westminster have thoughtfully added some provision for pedestrians:

Advice that perhaps Westminster City Council could do with taking on board.


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