Sunday, 19 June 2011

Paris, London, and meaningless consultation

Stabiliser has visited Paris, and his write-up of the state of cycling there contrasts somewhat with mine posted here not long ago. His study was clearly more extensive than my brief impression, and shows considerable development in conditions for cycling in certain places, with well-designed segregated tracks on some streets, and part-time closures to motor vehicles on others, which seem to be boosting cycling. I am happy to admit that I was wrong on how cycling is developing in Paris.

Meanwhile, in London:
The Corporation of London's assistant director for planning and transportation, Iain Simmons said "On some roads such as Cheapside cycles account for more than 50% of the traffic and these numbers are going up and up every year. 
Cycles account for up to 42% of traffic on Southwark Bridge, 35% on Blackfriars Bridge and around a quarter of all traffic entering central London in the morning peak hour according to TfL monitoring.
This reinforces an opinion I have put forward before, that if we are going to have a "cycling revolution" at all in the UK (and the word "revolution" can be taken in either of two possible ways, as "dramatic change" or "uprising"), it's going to start in the Square Mile, as unlikely as that may have seemed a few years ago.

At the moment, Transport for London, despite its ludicrous hype on cycling, is actually doing everything it possibly can to make cycling in London more dangerous, prompting complaints direct to transport minister Norman Baker. He sounded terribly neutral when he spoke to the Parliamentary Cycle Group:
The government wants to provide the framework to allow local authorities freedom to provide for the transport choices of all people.
But we need some clarity about that framework from the government. LCC is absolutely right (except they get details wrong) to say that:
DfT ministers should make it clear that the Transport Management Act [they mean the Traffic Management Act 2004] should no longer be used to block local policies aimed at reducing road danger and increasing cycling. In London hundreds of proposals to reduce danger for cyclists on the London Cycle Network and the Cycling Superhighways [they mean Cycle Superhighways] have been over-ruled in order to maintain motor vehicle capacity.
That's it. Many cycle activists have essentially given up responding to TfL's and their borough's meaningless "consultations" on cycling schemes because, in recent years, everything they have suggested has been met with the response: 

Sorry, that's not possible because of capacity constraints – capacity has to be maintained because of our duty under the Traffic Management Act to keep the traffic moving.

This argument has rendered the Mayor's Cycle Superhighways programme lame and purposeless, though it continues to limp on pathetically, wasting millions of pounds of public money on a combination of pointless consultation and the laying of blue surfacing that wears off after less than a year due to being driven all over by cars, taxi and buses

But this is not just about TfL. Many, if not all, London boroughs, and local authorities round the country have been interpreting the Traffic Management Act to mean that "motor traffic must be given as much space and priority as possible". And yet, arguably, the original intention of the Act was totally the reverse, as the Act was at pains to specifically recognise as "traffic" pedestrians and cyclists. 

Quite honesty, what the original intention of the Traffic Management Act was is not clear to me, but its effects have been very damaging. The government needs to sort it out.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see someone admitting they are wrong! If only all those advocates of vehicular cycling would be so gracious in the light of the overwhelming evidence against them.