A New Money Making Wheeze for London Councils

The London Borough of Wandsworth has obtained permission to enforce 20 Mph speed limits by the use of PCN fines. This will be a trial scheme for 8 months using an Experimental Traffic Order. The money raised will go to the Council so this is just another scam to extract money from motorists like the LTN cameras now being used.

Previously only the police could issue fines for speeding and the money then goes to the Government Treasury. Or the police could offer a speed awareness course which is a way they finance their own operations.

Wandsworth Council say that traffic studies found that one in four vehicles broke the speed limit in Priory Lane and one in five in Wimbledon Park Road. But that surely just demonstrates that a 20 limit is inappropriate for those roads or the roads need re-engineering. There is no evidence given of excessive road safety problems.

These were quotations given in the Evening Standard: “The AA has said that speeding should not be dealt with ‘like a parking ticket’. Speeding enforcement should not become “fishing trips” to secure money for councils,’ a spokesman told the Evening Standard. Drivers will be rightly concerned that speeding fines will be more about filling council coffers than keeping roads safe, Joe Ventre, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, also told the newspaper”.

Residents of Wandsworth should submit objections to the Council but this scheme will undoubtedly spread to other boroughs if it is not opposed. It should never have been approved by central Government.

P.S. There is minimal information on this scheme on the Wandsworth Council web site and no Experimental Traffic Order related to it is present on the London Registry as there should be so we have submitted an FOI Act request to the Council.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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LTNs Don’t Work and Lunacy in Oxford

An article in The Times today (24/10/2022) showed LTNs don’t work under the headline “London LTNs: Councils that closed rat runs now have even more cars on the road”. It said “Councils that implemented low-traffic neighbourhoods during the pandemic have seen bigger increases in car use than boroughs that did not, according to government driving statistics”.

The explanation is probably that when roads are closed off the displaced traffic simply takes longer routes and hence does more miles.

Meanwhile in Oxford a group called “Reconnecting Oxford” which represents several campaigns is mounting a legal challenge against the existing LTN and raising money for the fight – see https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-end-road-closures-in-oxford and here: https://reconnectingoxford.weebly.com/

But the Council is fighting back with plans to divide the city into six districts from next August with strict rules on how often motorists can drive outside their neighbourhood. Everybody who owns a car would need a permit and if they drive into an adjacent district more than a few times per year they would get fined.

This must be one of the most extreme anti-car measures implemented anywhere. A YouGov poll suggests that most people support these measures. But like all such polls the questions posed are misleading. Most people, including car drivers, would like less traffic but they are opposed to closing roads, particularly the ones they use.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Fraudulent Traffic Counts and Enfield LTN

The following article has been written by Michael De Haan, a local resident:

Do people enjoy being deceived by Enfield Council ? It turns out that the traffic surveys done by Enfield for their post LTN data applied a filter so that it did not count any vehicles moving at less than 10km per hour. The individual road reports show not a single vehicle on any road doing less than this speed. Given the congestion introduced by the LTNs this is highly unlikely. This means that the figure quoted for the percentage increase in traffic on the boundary roads should be close to double that reported in the Fox Lane Final Report.

These falsely low figures were also the ones used to generate the pollution models. I have been in contact with the manufacturers of the equipment used (MetroCount) and they say the equipment, which relies on two rubber tubes strung across the road, is recommended to only be used in FREE FLOWING traffic. When you introduce congestion, and vehicles stop with their wheels between or bridging the tubes, or they do not travel over the tubes fast enough, the vehicles are simply not counted. Preparing a report with a 10km filter from this raw data increases the number of vehicles not counted. In severe congestion, where cars only shuffle forwards a couple of car lengths at a time you will not count 25% of the cars (that’s one in every four). Even in milder congestion where cars move forwards 10 car lengths at a time you will miss 5% of vehicles (one in every 20). On 6th July 2021 Transport Survey Systems, the company employed by Enfield Council, did what are known as “Turning Surveys” at four junctions on four of the Fox Lane LTN boundary roads. These surveys video the traffic for 12hrs and the number of vehicles manually counted. This was during a week when the same company were also surveying the same roads with the Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) tubes. By comparing the data you can show the ATC tubes didn’t count nearly 3000 vehicles that were manually counted over the 12hr period. This represents 5.4% of the total traffic over this 12hr period that was simply NOT COUNTED. As there was an hourly breakdown of the figures you can show the number of missed vehicles increases in direct proportion to the level of congestion.

Nearly all surveying of LTNs over London use this method. If there is little or no congestion at the count points, pre LTN, the number of vehicles counted will be fairly accurate. If the LTN creates congestion at the count points then the post LTN survey will simply not count a proportion of the vehicles. Maybe this is what is meant by traffic evaporation?

Comment: It is well known that measuring traffic congestion based on traffic counts is a defective method. The only safe way to measure traffic congestion is to time a trip when there is no significant delays (e.g. in the middle of the night) and compare it to the travel time in busier periods. To allow for odd incidents or delays, the average of several trips needs to be taken. This was the method used by TfL when initially reporting on the effect of the Congestion Charge.

That showed that there was no benefit in the Congestion Charge in terms of reduced congestion and TfL subsequently ceased publishing similar reports for obvious reasons. See this web page for more analysis of the Congestion Charge and its impact: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/congestion

Note that a campaign group  against the LTNs in Enfield are going to the High Court on the 25th October as part of a legal challenge. See https://www.gofundme.com/f/stop-the-ltn039s-fox-lane-amp-enfield and here: https://stopfoxlaneltn.org/

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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ULEZ Money Generation

We have always argued that the ULEZ scheme was mainly about generating tax money for the Mayor of London, not about reducing air pollution. And so it has turned out to be based on an analysis by the RAC.

They report that the income from non-compliant vehicles was £112 million in the eight months after the scheme was expanded in November 2021 plus over £130 million in penalty charges from those who don’t pay.

Head of Roads Policy at the RAC said “The expansion of the ULEZ has resulted in a much-increased revenue stream for Transport for London, notwithstanding the costs associated with introducing the larger ULEZ. Londoners living outside the current ULEZ will now be worrying about the prospect of further expansion……While we accept that action is needed to reduce toxic emissions from vehicles, the cost-of-living crisis is hurting drivers in the pocket and there is a risk that further enlarging the zone will be hugely costly for those with older vehicles who can least afford to change them for something newer”.

In April 2020 we said this about the ULEZ expansion: “It would be simply madness to proceed with the ULEZ expansion based on what we now know. But the Mayor is now so desperate for money that he might increase the proposed charge, expand the zone even further, or class even more vehicles as “non-compliant”. See https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2020/04/15/ulez-the-latest-information-including-poor-financial-outcome/ for the analysis done at the time on which those comments were based.

The ULEZ is another example of the financial incompetence of Mayor Sadiq Khan which is imposing enormous costs on Londoners.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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FFDF Web Site Redeveloped – A Big Improvement!

The Freedom for Drivers Foundation web site (www.freedomfordrivers.org) has been redeveloped using Wix (see home page photo below). The content has not been revised but the layout has been improved and it now supports mobile devices much better. After 15 years this is a major improvement and will form a better basis for future marketing activities.

It has been carefully checked out but if you notice any problems with the new site or have suggestions for improvements please let us know by using the Contact tab on the new web site ( https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact ).

We will continue to oppose the unreasonable restrictions placed on law-abiding drivers and the ways local councils and TfL are extracting money from vehicle owners using false arguments.

The new web site is of course supported by news coverage on our blog, and our social media (primarily on Twitter and Facebook). But we also publish a bi-monthly newsletter which you can register for here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/newsletters . Registration means you will be sent emails on any new public consultations to which you should respond and information on meetings we are holding.

The web site development did cost us some money so please make a donation to support this and our other activities – go here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/donate . We need to continue to inform people about the duplicitous activities of politicians on transport issues.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Transport Disruptions and How to Stop Them

In the South-East of England we are suffering from major transport disruptions. First from rail strikes affecting London commuters and second by the activities of Just Stop Oil on the road network.

The RMT union have announced further strikes on November 3, 5 and 7 and are balloting their members on pursuing them for another six months. I issued a tweet yesterday which suggested the way to stop these strikes was to give an ultimatum to employees to either work normally or get fired. The problem is that train drivers are so highly paid that a few days out is affordable.

Rather surprisingly I got a response from the RMT which said “In your haste to sound draconian you’ve not considered who would staff the railway or train the replacements if you’ve fired them all? Nothing would move for years!!”.

My response was “Well it worked when Ronald Reagan did it for air traffic controllers, did it not?”. This refers to the events in August 1981 in the USA. To quote from Wikipedia: “After PATCO workers’ refusal to return to work [over a pay dispute], the Reagan administration fired the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored the order, and banned them from federal service for life. In the wake of the strike and mass firings, the FAA was faced with the difficult task of hiring and training enough controllers to replace those that had been fired. Under normal conditions, it took three years to train new controllers. Until replacements could be trained, the vacant positions were temporarily filled with a mix of non-participating controllers, supervisors, staff personnel, some non-rated personnel, military controllers, and controllers transferred temporarily from other facilities”.

The US airlines continued operations with minimal disruptions and the Reagan move had a significant impact on union activities in other organisations effectively resetting labour relationships in the USA. Strikes fell in subsequent years. From 370 major strikes in 1970 the number fell to 11 in 2010, and it had a positive effect in reducing inflation.

Just as Margaret Thatcher handled the coal miners in the UK, Reagan’s firm resolve on facing up to the unions created a new and better culture.

As regards the Just Stop Oil (JSO) campaign the closure of the Dartford Bridge created enormous traffic jams and delayed people for many hours. The whole of south-east London was affected as many people commute around the M25. The Metropolitan Police tweeted they had “made 404 arrests linked to JSO activity. We have needed nearly 5500 officer shifts diverted from local communities in London, to deal with the serious disruption caused by this activity”. The total cost including the delays to people must be many millions of pounds.

The Police seem to be totally ineffective in stopping the activities of JSO. People get arrested but then released. Fines, if any, are minimal. There is a Bill currently going through Parliament that might assist – The Public Order Bill – see https://www.parallelparliament.co.uk/bills/2022-23/publicorder . It creates a number of new offences relating to “locking-on”, obstructing major transport works and interfering with the use or operation of key national infrastructure. It also confers preventative powers for the police to search for and seize articles related to protest-related offences and provides for a new preventative court order, the Serious Disruption Prevention Order, to disrupt the activities of repeat offenders”. But will it be applied vigorously?

The Police already have considerable powers that are not used and JSO could be proscribed as a “terrorist organisation” as they meet the criteria. Let us hope the Public Order Bill is passed quickly. But it’s really down to the Government to take a lead on this matter even if they may be distracted by financial matters at present.

Peaceful demonstrations are OK but disruption to normal life should not be permitted under any circumstances.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Holborn Gyratory Redesign and Public Consultation

The Holborn gyratory in London has been the scene of some fatal accidents to cyclists so the London Borough of Camden is proposing some changes to improve safety. But the changes proposed are somewhat trivial in nature although they are likely to reduce the capacity of the roads and hence increase traffic congestion and air pollution. There is no information provided on any modelling of traffic flows that might have been done.

The changes include the right turn lane on Kingsway northbound being changed into a right turn only into Remnant Street which is surely a bit odd.

These changes might benefit cyclists but they prejudice all other road users. More substantive changes are surely required to really solve the road safety problems in this area.

Go here for more details and to respond to the consultation:  https://consultations.wearecamden.org/supporting-communities/high-holborn-drake-street-proctor-street/

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Surge in Driving Fines

The London Evening Standard have reported that there has been a big surge in driving fines fuelled by the increase in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Some 7.4 million PCNs were issued in London last year – an increase of 41% on the prior year.

There are only 2.6 million cars registered in London so you can see that the number of PCNs issued per vehicle is very high even allowing for some PCNs being issued to drivers from outside the London area. These enormous numbers of PCNs are of course now being caused by the desire of some local councils to raise money from fines by installing camera systems to monitor LTNs and School Streets.

Boroughs such as Islington, Hackney and Lambeth are the leaders in this unethical practice but Transport for London (TfL) themselves issued 329,000 fines for infringement of bus lanes, yellow box junctions and other moving traffic offences.

The Covid epidemic was used as an excuse to implement LTNs without prior public consultation as temporary measures but have been made permanent as councils realised how much money they could extract from motorists using camera systems.

Standard report: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/driving-parking-tickets-penalty-fines-increase-low-traffic-zones-ltn-b1032725.html

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Park Lane Consultation

Transport for London (TfL) have launched a public consultation on the changes made to Park Lane. This road has always been a key road through central London to avoid more congested areas. But the introduction of bus and cycle lanes has reduced the road space for all other vehicles and caused congestion as a result (see photo above). What used to be a three-lane highway is now only one.

A cycle lane is also unnecessary as there is a cycle path in parallel in the Park itself which would be both more convenient and more pleasant for cyclists. There is no benefit to pedestrians in these changes.

This is another example of the prejudice against cars and vans while cyclists and buses get priority

Please go here to respond to the consultation and make sure you object: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/park-lane

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H&F and Lambeth LTNs Expanding

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are planning many more traffic restrictions all over the borough. See: http://democracy.lbhf.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=7296 (details in item 4).

It’s in the name of creating “Clean Air Neighbourhoods”, but it includes such nonsense as “It will repurpose street space to be used by the community for play streets, community theatre and resident-led events such as street parties”. Roads are for transporting people and goods, not for playing in.

The report claims that “Long term exposure to man-made air pollution in the UK has an estimated annual effect equivalent to 28,000-36,000 deaths”. This is simply a lie. In addition decisions are being delegated on this to council officers so there will be no democratic input on the details or prior consultation before they are imposed.  The crucial words “traffic access restrictions” are buried in a list of measures under the totally misleading title of “Clean Air Neighbourhoods Programme”. It is gridlock by stealth and every ward is affected.

The good people of south Fulham have been, quite justifiably, protesting and have approaching 5,000 signatures on a petition which is here: https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-traffic-camera-exclusion-zone-spreading-across-fulham-without-consultation/ . PLEASE SIGN IT!

London Borough of Lambeth

Lambeth Council will make an investment of over £16 million to encourage residents to give up their cars and make sustainable travel choices. This is part of an “Air Quality Action Plan” (see https://love.lambeth.gov.uk/draft-aqap-consultation/ ).

It includes a comment that “Each year in Lambeth air pollution kills more than 100 Lambeth residents and causes hundreds of hospital admissions”. How do they know? There is no link between deaths from respiratory diseases or hospital admissions and background air pollution from man-made sources or any others.  

The plans include protected cycle lanes, more bike storage facilities, new walking routes, more electric vehicle charge points and implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

Make sure you respond to the above consultation and oppose LTNs.

Islington has already implemented similar policies to the anger of many locals. It is reported that someone who lives there and had a simple journey to take her elderly mother to regular medical treatment now takes an hour, when it used to take 10 minutes! After school activities are rendered impossible. Cab drivers won’t go there and established local businesses have been forced to close.

It’s worth pointing out that all these LTN schemes typically enable the local councils to generate cash from fines on infringements. They are mainly about profit generation and hence the incredible claims made about the impacts of air pollution.

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