• A bit of a catch-all thread prompted by this initiative:


    “We don’t want a solution that’s just about restricting the amount of traffic on the main routes and driving it into the residential side streets. We need to reduce, not divert.”

    This is a very important point. However, as so often, the term 'traffic' confuses the message. What the West End actually wants is more traffic, not less--just not motor traffic.

    Traffic is people out and about, getting from A to B, whether they're walking, cycling, using cars or buses, railways, or are parkouring or pogo-sticking.

    The term has, unfortunately, been colonised in English by the idea that it's only motor vehicles that are traffic. This always has to be challenged. Traffic is actually a good thing--it means people getting out of the house to do stuff.

    However, and it's a big 'however', London's pre-eminent traffic problem is caused by the concentration of more and more activity in the relatively small area of Central London. While it's completely understandable that West End business interests want to make more space for walking (and, presumably, cycling, although, as usual, that's not mentioned explicitly)--because walking, in combination with public transport, delivers far more people to shops and businesses than any other mode--, this would require even more immense investment in public transport to reach Central London. If you already thought the cost forecast of £16bn for Crossrail was a bit steep, and perhaps tried not to think of what could be done overground with so much money, future investment would be even more than this. (Crossrail is certainly not going to come in on budget, despite all the good news about this that you may have been reading.)

    Central London is already overcrowded and despite a reduction in motor traffic would only become more so under proposals like the above. I think that the only real solution is to even out activity across London--not reducing activity in Central London for the sake of somewhere else, but to (re-)develop other parts of London for the kinds of uses that people go to Central London for, e.g. to go to department stores, which used to exist everywhere but have vanished in many parts of London.

    This would not be 'decentralisation'--which would not be possible in Central London, anyway, and caused considerable problems for any number of cities where it was attempted--, but development with the potential to shorten trips for people so that they don't always have to travel into the centre, be it for work, leisure, shopping, or other purposes.

    As London's population is increasing, apparently even faster than in the 19th century, the potential to locate businesses and other things closer to where people live, is also increasing, there being more potential customers within reach of more widely-spread locations.

    Without such a strategy, I don't think London will ever get to grips with its traffic problems. To reduce the need to travel, it is is first necessary to shorten potential trips, and only then think about mode choice. Shorter trips are more likely to be walked or cycled. These modes will continue to be less impactful than any other mode even if the predicted (and heavily-promoted) 'driverless' car 'revolution' happens, which threatens to increase the need to travel even further than today, and is essentially techno-fixing greenwash.

    (If everybody came to rely on being whisked to wherever they want to go without having to pay any attention, perhaps playing with their phone all the way or doing work on a portable computer in the way that people right now do it on a train, all the while separated from others, we would end up spending even more time just 'travelling', but not in the positive sense of the word.)

    What sort of London do we want? Liveable areas in which people are able to interact and to build local connections, or one in which they are constantly on the move in anonymous capsules, and in which only a very few landowners in Central London cream off all the profit?

  • This is very important:


    In Paris, this is a consequence of the successful 'Paris Plage' experiments. In London, we're far behind. Ken Livingstone was planning a 'London Beach' years ago for the Embankment as part of a 'pedestrianised loop' with the South Bank for one month (August) every year.


    (Amazing that that's still on-line, see p. 12 for the relevant bit.)

    However, without this experiment, it is unlikely that we're going to see a similarly ambitious project as that in Paris anytime soon. We'll need to see whether the Paris project makes similar waves as its other innovative steps have done*.

    * I'm very much aware that much of this is/has been accompanied by extensive road-building on the outskirts, and also that the structure of Paris differs from that of London in many aspects.

  • This is quite spectacular, a three-month closure (to through motor traffic) of the A1 Holloway Road for bridge works:


    Expect local rat-running but also a good deal of motor traffic evaporation. As with Wightman Road, I hope they do some monitoring. The situation is different than with Wightman Road, of course, as that's a secondary alignment to Green Lanes, and also roughly parallel, whereas Holloway Road is the primary alignment and no comparable secondary alignment exists.

    I'd expect that cycling and walking will still be allowed across the bridge, except perhaps for a short period.

    It could also take longer than expected, as bridge work is complex and can throw up all sorts of surprises.

  • A fairly typical article that only uses superficial information on existing traffic levels:


    London has immense traffic capacity, it's just that it's very unevenly distributed, and, of course, driving should be reduced far more than with the current 'strategies'.

  • I reckon this is all RPM's fault:


    Love this obligatory bit to suggest there's no bias:

    The prince, who is a cyclist, motorcyclist and driver

  • The "give way" on red seems like a very reasonable idea to me. The current illegal behaviour whereby a lot of people already do this leads to very few injuries and deaths. Traffic signals are for cars and lorries, cyclists being much more vulnerable should be much better at negotiation and compromise at junctions.

  • Here's an interesting development that has been brewing for some time, complete with a great picture:


    Through motor traffic in London has always been limited somewhat by the fact that at the really busy times, the vast majority of people want to get into the centre, and people used to know only relatively few routes there. They would also avoid them simply because they thought they'd be congested, and switch to other modes.

    While this mechanism will continue to function, is is also the case that London has immense 'unused' motor traffic capacity if one includes the whole network. I put 'unused' in quote marks because ordinary residential streets should not be used as rat-runs. Obviously, with modern apps this is now happening increasingly. The only way of preventing the trend is to filter such streets very consistently, leaving a fine-meshed network for cycling and walking and a wide-meshed network for motorised modes. (As is well known, many moped and motorbike users can fit through gaps in filters, but while this is an intractable problem, their number is still relatively small. There is certainly a danger that their use could be increased by such measures, but it's early days for this.)

    I haven't seen up-to-date stats on how motorised mode use might be affected by these developments, so that would be interesting to study. There probably isn't anything reliable around yet.

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London traffic, traffic management, and relevant strategies

Posted by Avatar for Oliver Schick @Oliver Schick