A number of London Boroughs have issued a joint statement condemning the proposed expansion of the ULEZ scheme. This is what they issued:
Bromley Council were particularly vociferous with comments that included this comment from Councillor Colin Smith: “The ‘scheme’ isn’t actually about air quality in the final analysis. The stealthy, unstated and cynical intention remains, under the guise of ULEZ, to erect a network of traffic cameras across the whole of the Capital which can then be used at the flick of a switch to introduce road price charging for all”.
The London Borough of Richmond has also come out against the ULEZ expansion and according to a report in the Daily Mail the borough of Sutton will refuse planning permission for ULEZ signs and other services such as electricity cables. They will not co-operate with TfL in any way.
Meanwhile central Government claims to have taken legal advice on blocking Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion and deny they can do this. But they have two options: 1) Change the Greater London Authority Act 1999 which is alleged to authorise this, or threaten to do so; or 2) Withdraw any further funding to TfL, or threaten to do so. No more financial support would kill off any expenditure by TfL to install the cameras and other equipment for the expansion and put the Mayor into an impossible financial situation.
The Government ultimately has the power to change legislation that covers London and that includes the power to remove the Mayor if necessary! So they should stop hiding behind legal sophistry and take some action.
It is difficult to understand why the Government is not taking action on this. Are they hoping that if Sadiq Khan proceeds he will become so unpopular he will lose the election in 2024? But that is simply too late. We need less playing at politics and more immediate action!
At Prime Minister’s Question Time Rishi Sunak said Sadiq Khan should “listen to the public” and scrap the planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all of London. He also said that it is the “overwhelming” view of London residents that the levy should not be expanded.
My response on twitter was “Rishi Sunak and the Government have the power to stop the ULEZ expansion so why don’t they do so?”.
But it’s unlikely to help many people. Only those car owners receiving social security benefits or are registered disabled will qualify and the maximum grant is £2,000. You can’t buy a new car, or even a decent second-hand one for that money!
It may help sole traders, small businesses and charities with old diesel vans and buses where the allowance is higher.
There is also a mention of some vehicles which might qualify for a “retrofit” that will make them compliant but it seems unlikely to be of use to most owners of older diesel cars. However you can register an interest in a retrofit solution for your vehicle.
The London Borough of Bromley have published a document summarising the Councils Traffic and Road Safety Policies written by Angus Culverwell, Director of Traffic and Parking. It will be discussed at a Committee Meeting on the 22nd November. I have picked this out for review because it is a good example for other councils to follow. In essence a rational and logical policy within the financial resources available.
You can read the complete policy in Agenda Item 13e of the meeting (see link below), but I highlight a few points here:
The cost of various road engineering measures is given as follows (which those proposing such measures should bear in mind):
Example costs to install traffic engineering measures are set out here:
a) Zebra crossing – £25k to £50k, depending on location, necessity for anti-skid road surface, kerb realignments, presence of statutory services etc.
b) Signal controlled crossing – approximately £75k to £100k, depending on location.
c) Mini roundabout – £10k to £100k, depending upon location, need for deflection, existing road surface etc.
d) Full size roundabout – £120k+ according to size and location.
e) Speed table – £20k to £100k, depending on junction, need to raise or change footways etc.
f) Speed hump – £4k.
g) Traffic island or pedestrian refuge – £7k to £15k, depending on size.
h) Bike lane – these can vary hugely in cost depending on if they are set out simply with signs and road markings or are segregated from traffic, requiring changes to the infrastructure and possible relocation of utilities.
i) Flashing warning sign – £3k to £10k depending upon size, vehicle-activated or timed etc.
j) Road marking – £50 for a small one.
The presence of utility providers equipment, usually under the footway or carriageway, can greatly affect the cost of a scheme and may render it unviable. For example, relocating one telecommunications chamber can easily cost over £100k.
It’s worth pointing out that even if TfL are financing a review of the war memorial traffic lights in Chislehurst to see if pedestrian safety improvements can be made, you can see that any change to such a complex junction could be very expensive.
Other parts of the report worth quoting are:
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) and School Streets
Due to operational restraints, no school street will be installed in the borough unless the school is prepared to organise and operate them through the use of temporary, manned barriers. The Council will not approve LTNs with local roads blocked off and traffic diverted onto other roads. None of these schemes will be enforced using cameras.
As a general rule, the Council will not instal any new 20mph limit or zones. This is because the reduction in speed limit through signs and road markings alone does not seem to have much effect on drivers’ speeds. Since the Council is unable to enforce these speed limits, it is an ineffective use of limited resources. The Council will install part-time 20mph limits at the beginning and end of the school day with flashing lights outside schools, decided on merit. In exceptional cases, full-time 20mph limits may be appropriate in certain locations such as High Streets.
In the past, we have introduced road humps and tables to reduce traffic speeds and improve safety. However, the police, fire brigade, ambulance service and London Transport have objected to the proliferation of road humps and raised tables because of the increase in attendance times for emergency calls and discomfort and possible injury to their passengers.
Road humps and raised tables can also lead to complaints from residents about increased noise and vibration from traffic. For these reasons the council has decided not to introduce any further road humps in the borough and to only use tables as a last resort at a junction with an ongoing collision problem.
There is a range of alternative measures to encourage lower vehicle speeds, such as our vehicle activated warning signs, roadside posters, safer speed campaigns/events and driver/rider training programmes, such as the young driver traffic education scheme and Driven by Consequences.
There is a London-wide ban on parking vehicles on the footway and verges. This is covered by Section 15 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 which came into effect in 1985. However, the Council will consider exempting a road and allowing partial or full footway parking if an absolute minimum of 1m can be maintained on the footway for wheelchair and push chair users (in line with Disability Discrimination Act 1995 guidelines), if the footway is suitable for vehicle over-run and if there is a specific reason to allow footway parking. Parking on grass verges is prohibited.
In summary this is a well thought out policy not dictated by dogma or prejudice against vehicle users as in some other London Councils. But knowing the political climate at present, no doubt some councillors will not be happy.
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
The Freedom for Drivers Foundation has been operating in one form or another for many years. During that period the attacks on the use of private cars have steadily increased. The Covid pandemic has been used to accelerate the trend to close roads, reduce road space and introduce more restrictions on your freedom of movement. This has to be opposed!
That’s not just the case in London which was the initial focus of our activities but across the country more recently.
We now need to improve our communications to supporters and the wider public. A number of steps are proposed:
1. We are improving our social media presence. We already have an active blog which gives you the latest news which might affect you as a driver and which is here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/ . You can now register to “follow” that blog and receive an email of new updates by entering your email address in the box at the foot of any of the recent blog posts.
2. We also have an active Twitter account (see @Drivers_London ) where news and comments are posted.
3. If you don’t wish to see news almost every day by using the above, then we have a condensed newsletter which is issued every couple of months. It is sent out by email as a pdf document for easy reading. You can register to receive that on this web page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/register.htm
4. We also have a Facebook page which is focused on the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy – see https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS . It is proposed to expand our coverage to other regions by setting up other Facebook pages.
5. The Freedom for Drivers Foundation web site (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/index.htm) was originally developed many years ago by me and more recently has been maintained using the WebPlus software. That software is no longer supported by the supplier and the web site is not easy to use on a mobile device. The site needs redeveloping in a new software platform such as Wix.
All of the above, particularly the redevelopment of the web site, is beyond my personal capabilities as I simply do not have the time to do it. In essence we need some funding to do that and also to expand our marketing so as to spread awareness of our organisation.
In summary this is a call for more funding to enable this organisation to improve on what we have been doing and expand our contact base. We already have several thousand email contacts, mainly in the London area. But we need to reach tens of thousands across the whole country to have an effective voice to counter those who oppose the use of private cars.
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”.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have published a report that predicts in stark terms both the historic and predicted changes to the earth’s climate from human activities. This is what they say in the accompanying press release: “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released today. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years”.
However they also say that “strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize”.
Although there are a few people who do not accept the scientific consensus in the IPCC report, Governments are likely to accept the findings and implement policies accordingly. This is already happening with the UK being at the forefront of measures to reduce carbon emissions which are seen as the main cause of global warming. With the UK Government’s “net zero by 2050” policy we are already seeing major impacts and the imposition of enormous costs on many aspects of our life. All of this is reinforced by media coverage of floods and wild fires that are typically blamed on climate change.
Many such reports are anecdotal in nature – they may simply be random events that occur for non-specific reasons, while reporting of such events is now more common in the modern connected world. But the IPCC report does say “It is virtually certain that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe, with high confidence that human-induced climate change is the main driver of these changes”. They also say that heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land areas and it is likely that human-induced climate change is the cause. It has also contributed to increases in agricultural and ecological droughts.
The IPCC report is effectively a call for action and that will no doubt be reinforced by the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow in November where politicians will be promoting their virtuous visions no doubt. Whether they turn into actions remains to be seen – the past experience suggests they may only turn into token gestures. Economic decisions often thwart the best policies.
What happens if we don’t cut CO2, and methane and other carbon emissions? The IPCC report gives a number of scenarios based on scientific models of differing levels of emissions. Under the high and very high GHG emissions scenarios, global warming of 2°C (relative to 1850– 1900) would be exceeded during the 21st century. Global warming of 2°C would be extremely likely to be exceeded in the intermediate scenario and under the very low and low GHG emissions scenarios, global warming of 2°C is unlikely to be exceeded.
That might seem to be good news, but because of the time lag of the impact of changes in emissions, under the high emissions scenario their best estimate is of a temperature rise of 2.4 °C by 2041-2060 and 4.4 °C by 2081-2100. The latter would be disastrous for many parts of the world with increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes (heatwaves and heavy precipitation). The Arctic might become ice free in summer under all the scenarios and sea levels will rise “for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt”. This could mean a rise of 2 to 3 metres in sea levels if warming is limited to 1.5 °C or 19 to 22 metres with 5 °C of warming!
With so many of the world’s cities on seaboards you can see that flood defences may be totally inadequate to cope with such rises and incapable of being built to resist them. Investments in City of London property would be one casualty. The current Thames flood barrier may be overwhelmed in future years even if GHG emissions stop growing. London is already very vulnerable to road flooding due to a Victoria drainage system while people numbers and buildings have grown apace.
The changes will likely affect the Northern Hemisphere more than the Southern, and there is some good news. For example, the reports says that the growing season has lengthened by two days per decade since the 1950s in the Northern Hemisphere. Farming might extend further north and unproductive land brought into use, but droughts might also remove a lot of marginal land from farming activity. These impacts will be greatly affected by the increase in GRH emissions.
Who can really affect the emissions? Only the big emitters such as the USA, China and Russia can have much impact. The UK produces less than 2% of world emissions.
Does the decarbonisation of transport, particularly in the UK, help at all? In reality not. For example, converting users to electric cars is likely to have minimal impact because the energy requirement and associated CO2 emissions to construct the batteries and make the steel for the car bodies offsets most of the likely benefit. The cost of building a network of charging points and enhancing the electric grid to cope will also be high. Investing in electric car makers or buying electric cars is not going to save the planet.
The big problem which the IPCC report does not cover is that GRH emissions are directly related to the size of the human population and their activities. Particularly what they consume, where they live and how they earn an income.
Unless there is a concerted effort to halt the growth in population and to restrict urbanisation, I doubt that the growth in GRH emissions will be halted. More population means more farming to feed the people and that is a big contributor to methane emissions which is a significant GRH factor (this is highlighted in the latest IPCC report). Similarly construction of homes and offices is a big contributor. Nobody has yet figured out how to produce cement without generating carbon. Hence the suggestion that we should revert to constructing houses out of wood. Investing in growing trees for timber might help. but that is a 20+ years project and it can take 50 years to grow to harvestable size for timber, or longer in northern latitudes.
In conclusion, it’s worth reading the IPCC report (see link below) and pondering how you think the Government should deal with these issues. Please don’t fall into the trap of encouraging your local council to declare a “climate change emergency” as some have already done. Their initiatives such as closing roads to restrict traffic and persuading everyone to cycle will have no impact whatsoever. Gesture politics is what we do not need.
Even the UK Government alone will have no impact unless they can persuade other major countries to take suitable steps. But will they is the key question? If they don’t all we can do is to try to mitigate the impacts by weather proofing our properties and the transport network while purchasing air conditioning to cope with the heatwaves.
I am sure some readers of this article will consider that I am being too defeatist and that we can all contribute to reducing the problem by eating less meat, looking at the food miles of what we consume, cutting out long holiday flights, changing your central heating boiler, reducing investments in oil/gas/coal producers and other peripheral affectations. But only Governments can really tackle the problem which we should all encourage them to do.
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Ealing Council are holding a final consultation on the LTNs. PLEASE make sure you have your say. This has to be done by 23rd July!
After this consultation, the LTNs will either be scrapped if the majority want them removed or made permanent if the majority want them to stay in place.
This is your LAST CHANCE to have your say on ALL of these schemes, everyone is eligible and all can express their views on each scheme. Make sure you fill in the reason why you do not want each LTN, those living within/surrounding the LTNs will have more weighting but those who run businesses and work in the area will also be considered.
Below are the all links and the SurveyMonkey link is the actual voting part. It takes less than a minute to complete each survey.
Please share this amongst everyone you know locally, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc.
I have pointed out in previous articles that trains and trams are not just expensive to build and run, but are also very inflexible. They are also vulnerable to breakdowns of individual trains/trams that can rapidly bring the whole of a network to a halt.
A good example of their inflexibility has been given by the halting of all services on the West Midlands Metro system. A fault has been found on the trams so all 21 trams have been withdrawn from services until further notice.
Would this have happened if the service had used buses? No because trams are typically specially constructed vehicles so cannot be easily replaced while buses are more standard and can be rented at short notice.
Many people, including public transport managers and politicians have an irrational love of trams. They forget the lessons of history. Birmingham had an extensive tram network which ran from 1904 until 1953. But it was abandoned in favour of buses which enable routes to be changed very quickly and with much lower maintenance costs. That was why trams were withdrawn in Birmingham and many other UK cities after the second world war.
The closure of the West Midlands Metro service is particularly damaging because the new CAZ in Birmingham starts today (14th June). Car users now face a charge of £8 per day unless they run a compliant vehicle.
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Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has claimed in a tweet that “closing roads around schools to traffic at pick-up and drop-off times has reduced polluting nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23%”. He has also issued a press release saying the same thing and giving more details – see below.
But the study on which this claim is based was only launched in September 2020 so the period covered is one where traffic was much reduced due to the pandemic and when schools were closed. It is hardly likely to be representative of the normal conditions.
The press release also claims that School Streets are popular with parents but those affected by the road closures who do not have children were not included in the survey. The Mayor even claims that “18% of parents are driving to school less during the pandemic, helping to clean up London’s air”. That’s surely hardly surprising as the schools have been closed!
This looks like a good example of selecting the statistics and the surveyed population that suit your argument while ignoring the bigger picture and the truth.
School Streets are allegedly so popular that Lewisham Council have introduced road closures on roads where there are no schools under the name of School Streets, simply to stop people driving through the Lee Green LTN area. The Council seems to think they can fool people into supporting the LTN by such dubious sophistry.