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.
We certainly support 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.
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/
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
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