Streetspace Plan for Bishopsgate Overturned in High Court

There has been an important judgement in the High Court after a Judicial Review was launched by taxi drivers. They challenged the blocking of Bishopsgate in the City of London (the A10) to taxi drivers by the use of a “bus gate”. Mrs Justice Lang declared the Traffic Order used was unlawful.

This is the press release issued by the High Court on the judgement:

– The Streetspace for London Plan and associated Guidance failed to recognise the distinct status of taxis as an important form of accessible public transport,

– The Streetspace Plan, associated Guidance and A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order breached licensed taxi drivers1 legitimate expectation to be allowed to use bus lanes to ply for hire effectively across London,

– There was a failure to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty under the 2010 Equality Act and account for needs of passengers with protected characteristics,

– The Mayor and TfL took advantage of the pandemic to push through ‘‘radical changes”’.

– The “‘decisions were not a rational response to the issues which arose as a result of the COVID.

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The Court has now ordered that the Streetspace Plan, Interim Guidance to Boroughs and the A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order be quashed following the judgement. Justice Lang called the measures an “ill-considered response” to the pandemic including radical changes and it was clear that “the Mayor and TfL intended these schemes would become permanent, once the temporary orders expired”.

Comment: The Streetspace Plan was used by TfL to introduce numerous road closures including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and such measures as cycle lanes without prior public consultation across many parts of London. It was very clear that this had nothing to do with the pandemic at all but was simply being used to bring in such measures quickly and without consultation.

Although this judgement specifically relates to the challenge by taxi drivers it could have wider implications as similar legal challenges are being mounted for several LTNs (a hearing is taking place on the 2nd of February in the High Court on those). The failure to properly recognise the needs of the disadvantaged under the Equality Act is particularly significant, and the failure to give due regard to the network management duty imposed by section 16 of the 2004 Traffic Management Act. It seems likely that Mayor Khan will appeal this judgement, using taxpayers’ money to do so of course.

It’s worth saying that the last time I walked down Bishopsgate before the pandemic hit on a hot summer day, the level of air pollution was such as to noticeably affect my lungs. But the main cause was clearly the long queue of almost stationary diesel buses on the road. To ban all vehicles except buses was totally irrational. Bishopsgate is a very important route for traffic to access parts of the City now that Bank junction has been closed.

The judicial review was submitted on behalf of the UNITED TRADE ACTION GROUP LIMITED and the LICENSED TAXI DRIVERS ASSOCIATION LIMITED, and their solicitors were Chiltern Law.

Chiltern Law Comments: https://www.chilternlaw.com/tfl-every-journey-matters-unless-you-are-a-taxi/

Full legal judgement: https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2021/72.html&query=(UTAG)+AND+(LTDA)

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Bromley – Funding Submission for Highway Measures

ChislehurstHighSt1Anyone with an interest in the activities of the local London Boroughs as regards highways measures will know that a revolution is taking place for two reasons: 1) The Mayor and TfL have run out of money so funding by Tfl for previously approved highways schemes has been stopped; and 2) the Covid-19 epidemic has prompted the Government to ask local councillors to bring in measures to promote “social distancing” and encourage walking/cycling to relieve pressure on public transport and roads. Some money is available in grants for such measures but they have to be bid for and soon in a competition that will be judged on merit.

Bromley Council have published what they may submit in a document that explains the process – see https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/documents/s50082088/ES20029.pdf

Many of the proposed measures may be temporary, but some might be made permanent. Plans for “Healthy Neighbourhood” or “Mini-Holland” schemes which include road closures may have lost previous funding, but they might still be snuck in using the new funding measures. It is therefore important if you live in London to keep an eye on what your local borough is proposing because there will otherwise be minimal public consultation. The proposals are considered urgent now because of the epidemic and decisions may simply be delegated to council staff to push them through quickly.

However, I have submitted the following comments to some of the relevant Bromley Councillors and officers (I may try and cover some other boroughs later but it really needs someone with local knowledge of the roads to make suggestions and comments – with 32 London borough I cannot personally cover all of them):

Bromley Funding Submission for Highway Measures

Dear Councillor Harmer,

Here are some comments that you requested on the published “Funding Submission for Highway Measures to Support Social Distancing….”. As you may know, I have taken a strong interest in traffic and transport issues in Bromley for the last 20 years.

Being someone who is considered a particularly “vulnerable” person from the Covid-19 epidemic being a transplant patient, I have a strong interest in ensuring that roads and pavements provide adequate social distancing capabilities. However I also have a strong interest in ensuring that vehicle users are not unreasonably prejudiced by such measures in my wider role for the ABD in London, particularly as the use of cars rather than public transport can be an invaluable resource to the elderly and disabled, of which there are very many in the borough.

In general most of the proposals being put forward for funding seem quite reasonable, so I will only comment on those worth highlighting and where I have particular knowledge:

Temporary measures in locations where walking and cycling schemes have been previously supported by members.

BROMLEY TOWN – Glassmill Lane. I note the proposal to “filter”, i.e. close, the road to southbound traffic with the introduction of a cycle lane. This road is used by a lot of traffic headed from Bickley or Chislehurst to Beckenham (you indicate 15,000 vehicle movements). The reason for this is because the alternative routes, particularly Beckenham Lane where traffic queues up to Shortlands Station for much of the day, are not very viable.

Although the volume of traffic may be temporarily lower, it is clearly likely that any such change would be made permanent. There are also a considerable number of properties to the east of Glassmill Lane (between Mill Lane and Bromley Gardens) who would be severely inconvenienced by this closure. I suggest if nothing else that they be consulted before this is done, irrespective of the urgency of these proposals.

I can well understand this proposal is being considered because the tight bends at the top of Glassmill Lane and the narrow carriageway at that point are clearly dangerous, and not just to cyclists. However, I would suggest that a closure northbound rather than southbound would be better. Traffic travelling from Beckenham eastwards has good alternative routes so would not normally use Glassmill Lane.

CHISLEHURST: Add a refuge at the bottom of Old Hill. I am very supportive of this proposal.

COPERS COPE: A regards the proposed temporary closure of Park Road, I suggest the local residents should be consulted before any such measure is undertaken. The ABD is opposed to road closures unless there are very good reasons to do so.

As regards the suggestion that Temporary Traffic Orders (TTOs) might be used to put in measures such as road closures, they are intended for the use in emergencies and it would be a misuse of the legislation that permits road closures by councils. The latest Government Guidance does not change the wording of the Act that covers such capabilities. TTOs should only be used for such things as emergency road repairs and should be temporary as the name implies. To use them for measures to improve social distancing may be justified temporarily, but that does not support the closure of Park Road, nor the closure of Glassmill Lane mentioned above.

SHORTLAND: Durham Road – Valley Road. It is not at all clear what is being proposed here, and by “filter” I presume a road closure is being proposed. Could you ask whoever writes these documents to stop using a euphemism. A road closure to everyone but cyclists is a closure. What are the alternative routes that might be used around such a closure? Again local residents need to be consulted first. The Covid-19 epidemic should not be used as an excuse to close roads without prior public consultation.

Town Centre Distancing Hotspots.

BROMLEY TOWN CENTRE: I would support the pedestrianization of East Street. As regards keep left and lane signage for pedestrians, I really doubt that this will be adhered to and could be expensive to implement.

ORPINGTON: We would oppose any suggestion of restricting the High Street to buses, cyclists and servicing vehicles only. I doubt any vehicle users who know the area would use this road as a through route, so the vehicles are mainly dropping off and picking up pedestrians. However, some of the parking on this road could usefully be removed.

CHISLEHURST TOWN CENTRE (see photo above).  I completely agree with changing the parking to be parallel with the road between Willow Grove and Prince Imperial Road entirely. Indeed I have supported this ever since I was involved with the Chislehurst Society. This should be made a permanent change. This would provide a wider pavement, possibly even a cycle lane, and smooth traffic flows.

Temporary Measures for Schools in the Borough.

CHISLEHURST: Chislehurst CE Primary – closure of School Road at Royal Parade. A closure at the end of School Road (at the junction with Royal Parade) would effectively mean the closure of Church Row and hence require all north/south traffic to use Church Lane instead. This would put more pressure on Royal Parade which already has stationary traffic for most of the day, on Bull Lane and Manor Park Road. I would suggest alternative closure points would be better, including making Church Row one-way southbound which has long been proposed and would enable wider pavements to be introduced. In summary, I think any changes in these roads would be problematic without a lot more consideration and estimates of the impact on traffic queues. The closure of School Road might be welcomed by the School, but local residents over a wide area might be adversely affected.

Temporary Measures in locations where walking and cycling schemes were being developed.

CHISLEHURST: Improving the footpath between Belmont Lane/Edgebury and Kemnal Road. As a former resident of Belmont Lane, I wholeheartedly support this, although it’s not a “short-cut” that takes you anywhere of interest. However the last time I walked it, it was barely passable on foot and in winter gets very deep in mud and slippery at the Northern end. It would be a useful improvement but far from essential.

I hope you will consider the above comments before deciding where any money that is available might be spent.

Yours sincerely

Roger Lawson

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P.S. Apparently the intention is to make Glassmill Lane, Queensmead Road and Station Road one-way along the whole length thus enabling one phase of the traffic lights at the Shortlands Station junction to be closed, thus improving traffic flow on Beckenham Lane. But it would create major inconvenience for many local residents forcing them onto Beckenham Lane via a circular route.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Using the Covid-19 Epidemic as an Excuse for Road Closures

Lewisham Covid-19 image

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has issued a press release that spells out how the Covid-19 epidemic is going to be used to enable a “Transformation of London’s roads” via a “Streetspace” plan. It will mean giving space to new cycle lanes for example and more space for walking, effectively taking away road space for other users. See the press release below for more details.

This will include new temporary cycle lanes on Euston Road and on Park Lane, two of the main thoroughfares for traffic in London. TfL claims these changes are need to cope with a ten-fold increase in cycling and a five-fold increase in cycling as people avoid using public transport, but these estimates are surely simply incredible. In addition it says these changes may be made permanent.

Another example of using the epidemic as an excuse for measures that discriminate against vehicle users and which will cause even more traffic congestion is that from Lewisham Council. They have previously proposed a “Healthy Neighhourhoods” scheme which included many road closures. It has been strongly opposed by residents in Lee Green and other wards.

Now the Council has published on their web site a Covid-19 Transport Plan  (see https://lewishamcovidtransport.commonplace.is/about ). It explains how they plan to prioritise walking and cycling in the borough during the epidemic. But it just looks like the Healthy Neighbourhoods scheme under a different name. See image above for how “Modal Filters” will be used to stop traffic, i.e. close roads.

They plan to implement these proposals via the use of Temporary Traffic Orders (TTOs) rather than Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs). But this is a misuse of the legislation that permits road closures by councils. TTOs should only be used for such things as emergency road repairs and should be temporary as the name implies. But the Council proposes turning them into ETOs without consultation in due course, and subsequently making them permanent.

The ABD has written to the Council pointing out this misuse of the legislation (see reference 2 below).

Readers who live in London should write to their local Member of Parliament asking them to stop such measures. I would suggest writing to the Mayor of London or the Mayor of Lewisham, but both are very unaccountable to the public and Sadiq Khan can simply ignore any objections.

Note that there is a lot of discussion on social media of these proposals. It would help to counter the activities of cyclist and other pressure groups if you get involved in those media.

Below is the Twitter account of the London ABD which you can follow to pick up the latest news, and there is a national ABD Twitter account also. There are also Facebook pages.

Join us in spreading the word about the opposition to irrational transport policies that favour pampered cyclists and prejudice vehicle users.

Reference 1: Mayor’s Press Release: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayors-bold-plan-will-overhaul-capitals-streets

Reference 2: Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 Section 14: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/27/section/14

ABD London Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

ABD National Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheABD

We also have a national Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/allianceofbritishdrivers/

And a Facebook page dedicated to opposition to Sadiq Khan’s transport strategy here: https://www.facebook.com/AgainstMTS/

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Radical TfL Plan to Remove Road Space from Drivers

When the coronavirus epidemic is over, will transport and traffic in London return to normal? Not if Cycling Commissioner Will Norman of Transport for London has his way.

In an article published by Bikebiz (see link below) he says that TfL is working on a radical solution – a Streetspace Plan. That might include converting general traffic lanes and parking spaces to cycle lanes and installing wider footpaths. Some roads may be restricted to buses and cycles only at certain times of day.

This is not just about providing more distancing space for pedestrians temporarily during the epidemic. It is clearly focussed on what happens after restrictions are lifted with the objective of making permanent changes to the allocation of road space.

In other words, it’s just another attack on the use of motor vehicles led by a cycling enthusiast. There is no justification for such measures and there is no public information available, nor any apparent public consultation proposed.

This is yet another damaging attack on the road network coming out of the Mayor of London’s office. Make sure you oppose it!

Bikebiz article: https://www.bikebiz.com/mayors-streetspace-plan-could-see-cycling-increased-tenfold-post-lockdown/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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