Southwark Ignores Dulwich Objections

The London Borough of Southwark undertook a consultation on the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in Dulwich implemented via Temporary Traffic Orders. Over two thirds of people responding objected and wanted the closures removed. There were particularly strong objections to the closure of the central junction in Dulwich Village.

But the council is now proposing to make the changes permanent with Permanent Traffic Management Orders.

This is a massive abuse of democracy which will be very damaging to everyone who needs to use a vehicle to get around Dulwich. Please make sure you object by sending an email to traffic.orders@southwark.gov.uk quoting the following Traffic Orders:

1.       Dulwich Streetspace: Calton Avenue area (TMO2122-015_DS Calton Avenue area)

2.       Dulwich Streetspace: Champion Hill (TMO2122-016_DS Champion Hill)

3.       Dulwich Streetspace: East Dulwich area (TMO2122-017_DS East Dulwich area)

4.       Dulwich Streetspace: Melbourne Grove south (TMO2122-018_DS Melbourne Grove south)

5.       Dulwich Streetspace: Timed bus, cycle and taxi only routes (TMO2122-019_DS bus cycle taxi routes)

Please note that no. 3 covers Derwent Grove, Elsie Road, Grove Vale and Tintagel Crescent, and no. 5 covers Burbage Road, Dulwich Village, Townley Road and Turney Road.

Objections are best in your own words but clearly these closures will result in longer journeys for many people, causing delays and effectively destroying the road network. They are prejudicial to the elderly or disabled and those who provide services in the area. They are unjustified on any cost/benefit basis and it is wrong to ignore the wishes of the population.

Just make sure you reference the Traffic Management Orders above.

MAKE SURE YOU RESPOND NOW – THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS THE 11TH NOVEMBER!

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ULEZ Expansion – It’s Mainly About Raising Taxes

From today (25/10/2021) the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is expanded to cover everywhere within the North/South Circular. If you drive into it and your car or van is not compliant it will cost you £12.50 per day.

Many people are going to get a big shock because a high proportion of people affected do not seem to be aware of the charges they will suffer – as many as a third of drivers in London and the South-East who will be affected are not aware of the change – see the “This is Money” article link below.

Particularly badly affected are those who bought diesel vehicles a few years ago after encouragement by the Government and will now have to buy a newer vehicle or pay the charge.

We have consistently argued against this unjust imposition of more taxes when the benefit in terms of improved air quality will be both small and of limited duration. See our web site page here for more details: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm

You can see the real motivation for expanding the ULEZ when you read that it could bring in an extra £723 million per year for TfL. With the Mayor and TfL suffering from a major budget crisis you can understand why the Mayor is trying to justify this scheme on health grounds. But the facts do not support it.

To check whether your vehicle is compliant, go here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

This Money Article: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-10112743/ULEZ-extension-Three-five-drivers-London-unaware-changes.html

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Air Pollution in Outer London

On the 20th October, my local M.P. Bob Neill issued this tweet: “In the House of Commons pressing ministers on air quality targets in the Environment Bill again this afternoon. We need to make real progress on particulate pollution now, not just in city centres but in suburban areas like Bromley & Chislehurst too”. You can see his speech and the minister’s response here: https://twitter.com/neill_bob/status/1450832879798439941 .

He expressed concern about particulate pollution specifically in “hot spots” and asked for a hot spot policy. My response was “I’m not convinced that particulates are a problem in Bromley, at hotspots or anywhere else. Seems you have been listening to the eco-fanatics” and “Bromley meets all the national standards for particulates. See the councils air quality action plan….”. It generated a number of comments from other contributors including a claim that only one location is monitored in Bromley (only true for particulates as there are 10 locations for NO2 monitors which provide good measures of air pollution).

You can read the latest Bromley Air Quality Annual Status Report published in July here: https://www.bromley.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/6833/air_quality_annual_status_report_2020.pdf . The report makes it clear that for both particulates and NO2 the pollution is within national standards. It is also clear that pollution levels have been falling substantially in recent years.

Further responses were received from members of an organisation called Fresh Air Bromley (see https://freshairbromley.org.uk/ ) which apparently is a spin-off from the LibDem Party in Bromley. They have installed a number of particulate monitors (both PM2.5 and PM10) in Bromley and published the data on their web site. The reported figures are all very low apart from at Harwood Avenue (the Council’s own monitoring location) but even there the numbers are within national standards.

This data does not show there is a significant particulate problem in Bromley which is no doubt why they say this on their web site: “We are looking for people to host an air pollution monitor! We are especially looking for hosts who live near possible air pollution hot spots (traffic junctions, schools, etc.)”.

This work is a useful contribution to the air quality issue. But does it demonstrate a major “hot spot” problem? I do not believe it does. I am not saying that there are not locations in Bromley where air pollution is a concern – mainly where there is heavy traffic such as on Widmore/Tweedy Road (photo above). Exposure to high pollution levels may be limited though as the duration of exposure of vehicle users or pedestrians is limited and such roads are not generally residential streets (with a few exceptions).

Car exhausts are being cleaned up by legislation although that may still leave a problem with brake and tire wear. But the big culprits are HGVs and buses and the emissions from vehicles at congestion hot spots. Remove the congestion and air pollution will improve.

Fresh Air Bromley have not demonstrated that existing pollution levels are a major health hazard. As regards particulates, a large proportion of particulates blow in from outside Bromley, or even outside London. Some of it comes from natural sources such as dust storms and agriculture. You also have to bear in mind that particulates are generated in the home from such activities as cooking and from open fires – particularly the modern fashion for wood burning stoves. Historically people have lived with high levels of particulate pollution for thousands of years.

I covered air pollution in another outer London borough (Lewisham) in a previous blog post – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2021/09/11/air-quality-in-lewisham/ . It references the Government’s COMEAP reports on the medical effects of air pollution and an FFDF publication on “Air Quality and Vehicles”.

In conclusion, is air pollution a significant problem in outer London boroughs such as Bromley? The answer is surely NO.

Roger Lawson

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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.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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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  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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