Friday, 21 January 2011

City of London: Streets behind Camden as well as Southwark

A bold vision in the City of London: "The 
you what that means on the ground.
Camden is the latest borough to state the obvious. You can reduce congestion on London's main roads by encouraging people out of motor vehicles on to their own two feet or on to bicycles. But that you need to design your streets to encourage people to feel safe cycling or walking. 

Camden transport plan:
"Camden will continue to manage congestion on the road network through encouraging mode shift away from motor vehicles to modes that have less impact on “road space” whilst recognising the needs for reliable and efficient freight and bus services and the role of the strategic road network."
"Enhancing facilities to encourage walking and cycling, which means less vehicles are required in the road"

Southwark 'gets it' too. Southwark points out that it too can improve congestion on London's main roads but that it will do so only by ensuring that facilities are designed with pedestrians and cyclists in mind first and foremost. 

Southwark transport plan:
"We will work with TfL to help smooth traffic across all modes, provided this can be achieved without disadvantaging vulnerable road users...We will support the removal of traffic signals where they are shown to be unnecessary, but at the same time resist any measures that have a negative impact on pedestrians."
"There is a risk that improved traffic flow and greater reliability of motorised modes may increase this mode share and therefore reduce cycling levels. This will be combated by prioritising cycling (as shown in our hierarchy) above all other modes in scheme design."

And then there's the City of London. Totally and utterly fails to get the message. The City politicians have insisted on including clauses in the City's transport plan to ensure that car drivers won't notice any worsening of congestion but that they're not going to alter the Square Mile's roads to encourage cycling - roads will be designed for 'all road users' (read taxis and motor cars). So, the status quo is what we'll get. That means 50,000 taxis a day rammed into the City's streets going on trips to the West End that could be done faster by bicycle if only there was a usable bike route from the City to Trafalgar Square. You could cut taxi journeys in half if people could nip on a bike rather than feel squeezed into insanely congested motor-centric streets. 

The City transport plan has no stated priority for pedestrians or for cyclists. Despite the fact that the City knows full well, cyclists can already make up 30% of vehicle traffic at rush hour on some streets. 

And here's the clincher. While Southwark and Camden realise they need to make things less convenient for motor vehicles, the City is boldly going in the opposite direction:

City of London transport plan

 there will be "no increase in average journey times...for journeys by car drivers on key routes around and across the City"

and this one:

"...the City Corporation concurs with the Mayor that there is a need to maintain a particular focus on improvements for this key mode of travel (cycling). Projects implemented within the cycling revolution programme will nevertheless be designed with the needs of all road users in mind". 

So, if you think the Mayor's "cycling revolution" means you'll be able to cycle sensibly between meetings in the day in the Square Mile, you can forget it. 

If you think something needs to be done about it, then join us by writing to the City authorities while there's still time. Everything you need is here on this page