Previously Posted: Smooth Operators

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

Smooth Operators (11.05.2010)

In a recent consultation document it would appear that our Mayor “Bicycle Clips” Boris has all but given up on trying improving the average speed to transverse London, with an average of 10 mph it has hardly changed since the days of horse drawn transport in Victorian London.

His traffic boffins have come up with an idea called “Smoothing Traffic Flow” which it is claimed can make journey times more predictable but not any quicker. With London’s streets now gridlocked for most of the working day due to roadworks.

Your journey times are pretty predictable now albeit at walking pace.

The scheme has some good initiatives, such as Pedestrian Countdown which is a timer telling pedestrians crossing the road how much green time remains, it is a pity those same lights are ignored by pedestrians already.

Another is lane charging where it is hoped to charge utilities a fee every time they dig up the road, unfortunately legislation brought in when London was given its own mayor 10 years ago, the then (unelected) minister for London, John Gummer, capitulated to the privatised utility companies in their outrageous demand for unrestricted access to the ground beneath London’s streets. That dreadful decision, leading to Oxford Street being dug up 176 times in a single year and the Strand 154 times and has remained to this day. With this situation Boris almost thrown in the towel on his promise to charge utilities per hole in the road.

The Mayor has also ordered a review to identify which, if any, traffic lights may be unnecessary and could safely be removed, which sounds great until you realise that in the last 10 years over a 1,000 additional sets have been installed and that newly planned signals will be exempt from the review, so just to stand still they are going to have to get very busy removing some old ones.

With London’s population predicted by some to reach over 12 million in the next 15 years and with increasing wealth giving many the opportunity own a car, London is set to become as bad as Mumbai.

The majority of roads are not controlled by Transport for London and local boroughs are continually harassing motorists with the zeal of a religious convert. Not content with having a small army of traffic wardens, The People Republic of Camden (a nuclear free zone, in case you asked) is building kerbs out into the road to reduce lane capacity. While the Guardianista’s of Islington are working flat out (sorry for the pun) to ensure they have the tallest road humps in town, and with a mandatory 20 mph speed limit on all its roads, chance would be a fine thing to be able to travel beyond walking pace.

The previous Mayor’s initiatives to improve air quality have, it would seem, come to nothing. Scientists are baffled why despite vehicles being cleaner due to legislation forcing owners to install systems that reduce PM10 particulates. If they had cared to ask me I could point them in the right direction, one monitoring site is opposite Madame Tussaud’s where traffic moves at a snail’s pace along the Marylebone Road, another is located at Tower Hill near where by selling a 3-lane road to private developers they have created a daily 12-hours gridlock.

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