Here are some more comments on the proposed road closures in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham which we covered in a previous article (see https://tinyurl.com/scxyymu ). A local resident had this to say:
LBHF plans to send workers, who should be at home, to build a new traffic scheme when there are no cars on the road!
There is a saying about good times to bury bad news – it refers to the cynical timing of announcements by people wanting to take action that will be embarrassing or unpopular and doing so when journalists and others are least likely to notice. Of course, at a time when we are all preoccupied with COVID-19 and when the roads are empty, we are not likely to notice a new traffic scheme! However, this is the moment the council chooses to introduce one, when it should be focussing all its efforts on tackling the COVID-19 crisis.
With that in mind, please have a look at this from the council: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/share-your-views-sw6-traffic-reduction-plans . It is a proposed new traffic scheme that takes selfishness and NIMBYism to new lows. (NIMBY stands for not in my back yard.) The title of the page says “Share your views – SW6 traffic reduction plans” but I cannot see anywhere on the page giving a link to share your views! That, in itself, looks to me like a ruse not to get any public feedback but to be able to claim it asked for it! Furthermore, was there a consultation? If so, I didn’t see it and I would have thought that as a LBHF resident, I should be consulted. In my books, such practice is manipulative and deceitful.
However, I have not yet explained what the plans are. In brief, the idea is to install number plate recognition cameras and traffic measures on the roads leading between Wandsworth Bridge and the New Kings Road, and to fine road users if they use any other route than Wandsworth Bridge Road. Since Wandsworth Bridge Road is (outside COVID-19 lockdown restrictions) normally very busy this will inevitably gridlock it even more than it is usually and, no doubt, will result in increased takings in traffic fines at the notorious yellow box junctions close to where the New Kings Road and Wandsworth Bridge Road meet. And if you have a doubt about that motivation, ask yourself why the article itself says: “92 per cent of traffic fines (PCNs) issued at the Bagleys Lane/New Kings Road junction were to vehicles registered outside of the borough.”
This traffic scheme has unusual rules. In addition to allowing emergency and other public service vehicles to use the side streets; it also allows local residents to do so and it is explained as a “traffic reduction plan” based on the premise that it will reduce traffic in the side roads because much of it is from non-residents. No doubt the council thinks it is a great wheeze, as they can issue fines, fill their coffers and the residents will like it; but it is evidently ill thought through, prejudiced and likely to be massively congesting once we are allowed again to leave our houses. For example, what happens to customers for shops in Wandsworth Bridge Road who come from outside the area? How will they avoid having their number plates read and receiving penalty charge notices if they try to park in the side streets?!
Apparently, there is a scheme for visitors but how will that work and how much bureaucracy will be involved? Also, how would it be for society if every borough behaved in the same way, forcing all non-local traffic onto a few highly congested roads and issuing fines for diverting? Of course, it would bring chaos and gridlock.
What we are seeing on London’s roads is a vicious circle of increased congestion that has a clear pattern, but people don’t really notice or understand it. It works like this: TfL or the local council introduces new measures that have the effect of slowing or jamming traffic on the main arteries; examples are new traffic lights, widened pavements, new cycle tracks, etc. In response, traffic seeks alternative routes through residential streets. That is met by resident complaints and councils introducing measures to reduce through traffic in the back streets, with the effect that congestion further increases. Local residents are disproportionately inconvenienced because they are the biggest users of the back streets. Because traffic speeds are falling and congestion is worsening, road users mistakenly believe that the problem is caused by increased traffic but that is wrong. The problem is caused by these counterproductive traffic management measures.
The proof of this hypothesis is that vehicle usage on London’s roads has been falling consistently since the turn of the century and with less traffic on the roads, it should flow faster not slower! If, like me, you think LBHF’s traffic camera scheme around Wandsworth Bridge Road is cynical, anti-social and congesting, I encourage you to pass the word on to your friends and family and to email your local councillors, your MP, Greg Hands or Andy Slaughter, to object. The main councillor responsible for traffic is Wesley Harcourt and the leader of the council is Stephen Cowan. Here are their email addresses: Cllr Harcourt Wesley: H&F firstname.lastname@example.org Cllr Cowan Stephen: H&F’ email@example.com Greg Hands firstname.lastname@example.org Andy Slaughter MP email@example.com
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