TfL Consultations – Make Sure You Respond

A few months ago Transport for London (TfL) launched a new “consultation hub” – see https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/ . I advised our blog and newsletter readers to register on the site so they get notified of new consultations. But I registered and have never received any notifications.

The photograph above taken from the web site shows TfL’s vision of the future – queues of traffic stuck behind cyclists!

The web site also just contains a list of TfL Projects with some description of them and people can add their comments on each. The result of course is that there are no doubt a wide variety of comments some of whom support the proposals and some of whom do not. Such arrangements are open to exploitation by pressure groups.

This is one comment I added on the topic of lowering speed limits: “This form of ‘engagement’ is a good way to get a biased set of responses from ill-informed sections of the public which TfL can then use to justify more attacks on motorists by picking out selective comments. It’s not even a proper survey with random responses from anonymous contributors.  This is a disgraceful way of claiming that this can be a fair way of consulting the public. It’s another example of TfL trying to justify their policies by manipulation of consultations”.

You can see all the active projects by going here: All projects: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/projects

Ones that may be of particular interest are:

Euston Road: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/euston-road . Greatly increased traffic congestion due to introduction of cycle lane.

Park Lane: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/park-lane . Pointless cycle lane reducing road space for vehicles when there is a parallel cycle lane in the Park. Has Created traffic congestion.

Bishopsgate: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/bishopsgate . Bus gate that bans all vehicles for most of the day except buses and cyclists. Closing a key road in the City of London effectively.

Trafalgar Road and Woolwich Road (A206): https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/greenwich-woolwich Limited turns inconvenience road users and cycle lane reducing road space.

Lowering speed limits: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/lowering-speed-limits . There is no evidence that reducing speed limits actually reduces road casualties. The published evidence shows no benefit from 20 mph signed-only limits for example. 

But there are many other projects covered that are spread over the whole of London. Please go to the web site and add your own comments on any that are of interest.

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LGO Spineless Over LTN Complaint

There was an interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph on 10/10/2021 over a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). This was a complaint on how two Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) had been installed in Hounslow without proper consideration of the impact on older residents. The complainant who is aged in his 70s said he relied on his car to take shopping home and road closures obstructed the route.

The LGO upheld the complaint to the extent that the local Council had failed to produce evidence to show they considered the potential impact of the proposals and criticised some aspects of the decisions by the Council. But it appears that the only result might be an apology from the Council to the complainant although one of the road closures complained of was subsequently removed.

Comment: This is a typical example of the outcome of any complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. I advise people not to waste their time on such complaints but to threaten legal action. From past experience the LGO seems to favour councils and rarely upholds complaints in full or gets action taken. The LGO is a very ineffective organisation probably because many of its staff are former local government officers.

Roger Lawson

Telegraph report: https://tinyurl.com/ju5kt898

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TfL Closing Station Car Parks – New Petition Against

I have reported before on Transport for London’s plans to redevelop station car parks into housing. For example at Cockfosters and Arnos Grove – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2020/01/19/building-on-station-car-parks/

There is now a new petition on Change,org against the removal of this valuable facility. Although there may be a demand for more housing, this is surely more about TfL crystalising the value of the land and increasing their profits while ignoring the needs of their customers.  

The new petition emphasises that car parks are essential resources for women to get back safely at night to their home in the quiet suburbs of London. Likewise, the station car parks are essential for older people and people with disabilities (not just blue badge holders, but also the many hundreds of thousands of people that have disabilities, but do not hold a blue badge) to be able to access London’s transport network.

Please sign the petition here: https://chng.it/J5sFCNgt28

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Eco Mob Blocks London Main Roads

This morning Insulate Britain protestors blocked the Blackwall Tunnel, Hangar Lane, Arnos Grove and Wandsworth Bridge, causing chaos during Monday’s rush hour. It resulted in angry scenes with motorists – see https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/insulate-britain-london-a12-chaos/

This is yet another selfish action by such demonstrators. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said this over the weekend: “Recent weeks have demonstrated that the police need stronger powers to tackle those who illegally block motorways. Conservatives will introduce new laws to lock perpetrators up for 6 months, and face unlimited fines. We will not stand by while motorists are held hostage”.

The sooner such laws are introduced, the better, But clearly they need to cover all roads, not just motorways.  

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Latest Road Casualty Data

The Government has published the latest annual road casualty data for Great Britain. This does include of course periods (April to June and November in 2020) when the country was in lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic and when travel of all kinds was reduced. So the figures may not be typical – they do include a separate analysis of the impact of lockdown.

There were 1,460 reported road deaths and 23,529 KSI (Killed and Seriously Injured) which are substantial reductions on prior years – see chart above of fatal trends. Fatalities reduced by 17% over the prior year and KSIs by 22% when road traffic reduced by 21%, i.e. there was no significant difference assuming accidents directly relate to traffic volumes although anecdotally increases in traffic speed were reported during lockdowns.

Total casualties, including slight ones, were down by 25% although that might be due to less reporting and changes to the way data was collected by the police using Stats19 forms. Although adjustments were made to allow for the latter, people may have been less willing to visit police stations to report slight injuries during the pandemic.

Cycling casualties rise

One anomaly in the data is that there was a substantial increase in the number of cyclist deaths – up by 41% to 141 from 2019. Presumably this might be because of encouragement to cycle during the pandemic or more inexperienced cyclists on the roads. Other data suggests there was some increase in cycling in 2020 particularly during the summer months although whether that continued into 2021 is not clear.

Politicians and civil servants should be aware that encouraging cycling does lead to more deaths and injuries to cyclists, i.e. it’s not a risk free move. Cycling is still very much a minority interest for most journeys but as more people worked from home and had more leisure time for cycling this may account for the change in numbers.

Bus casualties fall

Another significant change during 2020 was the reduction in bus casualties by 51%. Many such accidents are caused by the elderly or disabled falling over in buses and as they were probably being wary of using public transport during the pandemic that may account for this change. For similar reasons there were greater reductions in casualties in those aged up to 16 and over 60 as they travelled less.

In summary, there was a welcome reduction in overall casualties last year but that was almost certainly down simply to reductions in travel on our roads.

See https://tinyurl.com/j3wr9ccr for more details.

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Blog Readership survey

Note that I have now been writing this blog since 2010 – how time flies. But it would be interesting to get some feedback from readers so here is a survey you can complete: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sv/q6q1Z29

It should take less than a minute to complete as it only has three questions in it. It can be completed anonymously but there may be a summary of the results published in due course.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Electric Cars – Government Encouragement and User Experience

The Transport Secretary has issued an announcement encouraging drivers to go electric. It includes the release of a new app that helps UK drivers see which electric vehicles would best suit their lifestyle. In addition there will be additional support to small businesses and renters to install EV charging points. See Reference 1 below for more details.

The free app is named EV8 Switch and I downloaded and tried it out. It is not exactly clear how to install it and after ten days usage and driving several hundred miles in total there was no apparent data to analyse even though it was clearly recording data. But it was obvious that it was consuming a lot of cpu cycles and running down the phone battery so I deleted it. If anyone else tries it with success, please let me know whether you found it useful.

Coincidentally I happened to meet up with a couple of people who I used to work with but had not met for 20 years. One had bought an electric bike plus a Jaguar XKR recently. The other had bought a Tesla Model S five years ago. He was exceedingly happy with it.

As a company car user he saves on tax and charging is very low cost – in fact although he can charge at home he does not do so because he can charge it for free at a Tesla Supercharger facility (free charging seems to be something only on offer for limited periods of time). He has never run out of power while driving it.

No doubt some readers will say that they cannot afford a Tesla – current list price of a Long Range Model S is £73,990 and a Model 3 is from £42,500. But prices have been falling and there are of course cheaper electric cars on the market (but new ones might be on long lead times). You do save on running costs even if the capital cost is high.

It is very clear that electric cars are perfectly practical for most car users and with shortages of petrol/diesel at filling stations because of the recent panic over fuel deliveries, they can have distinct advantages!

I will certainly be considering an electric vehicle when my current diesel car is due for replacement. I don’t switch vehicles very often because depreciation is the major cost of any car so it is best to only replace them when they become unreliable or expensive to maintain.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/transport-secretary-encourages-uk-to-switch-to-electric-vehicles  

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How to Stop the Protestors on the M25

This morning (20/09/2021) the M25 was again disrupted by eco fanatic protestors. The Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered the police to get tougher but there is not much sign of that happening except that they do seem to be moving quickly to remove the demonstrators.

But they could do a lot more. The Daily Mail covered some of the possibilities in an article which you can read in the link below.

Daily Mail article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10004241/Son-reveals-mum-left-paralysed-getting-stuck-SIX-HOURS-M25-eco-mob.html

It suggests that “senior officers from Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Essex and the Met are considering charging the activists with more serious crimes to ensure they are deterred from further protests.  Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, is thought to be one of the punishments considered”.

So far although the protestors have been removed, they have not been remanded in custody or even charged, i.e. they have not appeared in court. So they can effectively carry on regardless.

Their activity is a danger to life as was covered in another part of the Mail article where they reported on a person probably having a stroke being held in the jams for several hours. A stroke or similar medical incident needs medical attention in minutes not hours if long-term effects or death are to be avoided.

London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has led the weak response to demonstrators in London and now it has spread wider. She should never have been appointed to the post after her involvement in the death of Jean Charles de Menezes – an innocent person shot by the police in 2005. Cressida Dick has recently been reappointed to her post thus extending her job for another two years.

The Home Secretary needs to consider some emergency legislation to stop these demonstrations, particularly the closures of the major road network such as all motorways. That has now become essential.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Spend, Spend, Spend – Andy Byford’s Solution to TfL’s Financial Problems

An article in the Financial Times this week (17/9/2021) spelled out how the London Transport Commissioner is looking to solve the financial problems of Transport for London (TfL). Andy Byford who heads TfL called on the Government to provide £17 Billion of funding over the next decade.

TfL has certainly been badly affected by the pandemic with a big reduction in income as people have avoided travelling on the Underground and on buses. They have already had several temporary bail-outs to keep operations running although the Government imposed a number of conditions on their financial support. Usage of buses and the tube is increasing but it may be a long time, if never, before it returns to the same levels as seen before the pandemic as working from home (WFH) or hybrid office use has become adopted.

Mr Byford hopes to achieve financial stability by the financial quarter ending in March 2022. But that is a hope rather than a certainty. That will not include funding for replacing diesel buses by electric ones, the purchase of trains for underground lines nor any major new projects. It is also dependent on Crossrail opening on the long-delayed schedule and providing extra income. Mr Byford suggests that without extra “investment” (i.e. spending money he does not have), London’s transport network could enter a doomsday scenario of managed decline.

In other words, instead of using profits from existing operations to maintain and improve the network, he wants the Government to donate large sums of money out of our taxes to help him implement grandiose plans. This is surely no way to run a business – and make no mistake TfL is a business not just a public service.

Mr Byford seems to want to follow the typical socialist mantra of spend, spend, spend to solve his financial problems. Surely there is a better way.

FT Article:  https://www.ft.com/content/60e63984-dad6-4fed-ae9c-9c0888b74bb6

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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M25 Blocked by Protestors – Cost: £1 million and More

Yesterday (13/9/2021) the M25 was blocked in several places by protestors claiming to be from a group called “Insulate Britain”. This is a new group wanting to persuade the Government to pay to insulate all Britain’s homes but they look very much like a front for Extinction Rebellion (XR) . For example they are not doing it to save residents money by cutting heating bills. Their web site says it is “part of a just transition to full decarbonisation of all parts of society and the economy”. In other words it’s an organisation that is focussed on CO2 emissions and alleged global warming. They presumably think it is more palatable to the general public, particularly those who live in social housing, to promote this rather than the normal XR agenda.

This demonstration was well organised in advance with media representatives in attendance. It closed several sections of the M25 for several hours before the police managed to remove them. Over 90 arrests were made but will they be charged and significant penalties imposed? It seems unlikely.

The M25 takes as many as 200,000 vehicles per day and Monday morning is one of the busiest times. So this hold up could have delayed 100,000 people as well as having a wider impact on the road network as drivers diverted. At a cost of £10 per hour that could mean a cost of over £1 million imposed on innocent people. Plus of course the cost of the police time involved in the events. Surely the culprits should be made to pay that and more? See Reference 2 below for Daily Mail coverage of the demonstrations.

Some people stuck in the traffic queues attempted to remove the protestors but were stopped by the police from interfering. Yet again the police are shown to be toothless in preventing obstruction of the highway which is against the law. See Reference 1 below for previous comments on why the police do nothing.

There is currently a Bill passing through Parliament (see Reference 3) which will make it easier for police to take action to prevent similar demonstration. It is surely long overdue.

But will it solve the problem? Not if the penalties for causing such disruption are so trivial. As financial penalties are no deterrent to the type of people involved in these events, a lengthy spell in prison (and not suspended sentences) are surely the only answer.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2018/12/19/demonstrations-blocking-roads-and-why-the-police-do-nothing/

Reference 2: Daily Mail article on the M25 demonstrations: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9984953/Motorists-clash-Insulate-Britain-climate-activists-blocking-M25.html

Reference 3: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-protest-powers-factsheet

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