A NEW REPORT from the London Assembly Transport Committee has suggested radical new measures be taken to curb traffic in London. The report’s been welcomed by London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross. She wants to see City Hall being “smarter in how we use our roads” (for which read “we want to clamp down on how YOU use London’s roads).
The new report confirms that the average speed vehicles achieve is still falling, which is put down partly to the ever increasing volume of traffic on the road. Most of this increase is coming from delivery vehicles and private hire vehicles rather than from private cars (the use of which has actually fallen). There is also a problem with how much road is left for vehicles, as ever more bits of road are hived off for bus and cycle lanes.
As well as the general problem of how long it takes drivers to get to their destinations, there is also now a real problem of traffic density at peak times – causing bottlenecks and long tailbacks, which then increases the amount of air pollution the traffic causes. The report found that traffic delays in the capital went up by nearly a third over the last two years and “cost” £5.5 billion a year.
The new report proposes to tackle the problems with punitive measures – for London’s drivers and non-drivers alike. Its recommendations include the following.
•Charging all London’s driving for using all London roads – in effect, expanding the congestion zone to include all of London and removing concessions for people who live in the zone. This could cover travelling just at peak times of day – or could operate 24/7.
•Varying the congestion charge so that it would be more expensive to drive into the congestion zone at peak hours of the day and more expensive for vehicles which cause more pollution
•Banning people who work in London from receiving personal deliveries (ie, stopping online shopping being delivered to people at their office), though perhaps allowing “click and collect” depots at Tube stations
•Adding even more space for cyclists (presumably in the hope of driving people away from using their cars and on to bicycles instead)
•Planning road works more efficiently and improving warnings to drivers about problems ahead.
Congestion on London’s roads is indeed a problem – but turning London into a giant network of toll roads would make them accessible for the wealthy by removing the less well off drivers. And that’s not how you expect a Labour Mayor to behave.