Friday, 15 July 2011

City of London politicians ask 58% of people on foot to wait for 2% of people in cars. How car-sick have we become?

Next week, the City of London Streets & Walkways Committee will vote on whether or not to replace the zebra crossing in front of St Paul's with a traffic light.

You can just spot the belisha beacons of the zebra crossing just in front of St Paul's in the picture on the left.

Why are the politicians of the City of London wasting their time looking at this pedestrian crossing? Guess why? It's because a few people in cars want to make this a junction where cars have priority. This is what the report states: "criticism has focussed upon the perceived impact of the crossing in terms of the delay it is thought to cause to motorised traffic due to the pedestrian priority"

In other words, some people who use motor vehicles want to install a signal here because they think they shouldn't face delays and that those delays should be suffered by other people who are not in motor vehicles.

Fortunately, the officers of the City of London have done their homework. They recommend not installing traffic lights here and leaving the pedestrian crossing.

They recommend leaving the zebra crossing because a whopping 58% of people at this junction are on foot. A further 30% are in buses. Only 2% are in private cars, 6% in taxis.

In other words, the politicians have asked their officers consider whether or not to prioritise 8% of people in motor cars (cars and taxis) versus 58% of people on foot.

Installing a traffic signal here would result in the following:
It would be an utter scandal if the City's politicians voted in favour of a signal crossing here just to enable the tiny minority of people in motor vehicles to face slightly less delay.

Frankly, my own view is that it's farcical that the politicians are able to waste their officers time even researching this issue. The junction was last review in 2007. It's obvious to anyone who isn't in a motor car (98% of people) what the reality of this junction is and it can only be someone with no understanding whatsoever of the Square Mile who can think otherwise.

However, at least the City of London has the good sense to hire officers who look at congestion and consider its implications for people as a whole. According to this report, a person has equal right to avoid delays whether on foot, on a cycle, in a bus or in a taxi.

This is the exact opposite of what the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is allowing Transport for London to get away with on London's main road network. On the main roads, Transport for London is doing all it can to marginalise walking and cycling and to give priority to the private motor vehicle.

Let's hope the politicians in the City of London see the sense of sticking with their officers' recommendations and see that a person should not be prioritised just because they happen to be in a private car. The zebra crossing reprsents the best interests of the vast majority of people at this junction and it would be a scandal if the City votes to remove it.