Temporary traffic measures ‘doing much more harm than good’

12.39 | 12 October 2020 | | 4 comments

A new parliamentary petition is calling for the removal of temporary traffic measures introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councils across the country have been implementing schemes to promote active travel at a time when capacity on public transport is limited, as well as to help people maintain social distancing and reduce vehicle use.

Many of these schemes – which include new cycle lanes, School Streets and low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) – have been funded by the Government, as part of a £2bn package announced in May.

The petition has been posted by a private individual, David Tarsh, and is supported by the Alliance of British Drivers.

The promoters of the petition – which has nearly 15k signatures – acknowledge that the ‘experiment’ was well-intentioned; but say it is now clear that the temporary traffic measures ‘are doing much more harm than good’.

They are calling for the measures to be ‘removed immediately’ to ‘improve the travelling experience for the vast majority of road users’.

The survey reads: “Road closures, School Streets and new cycle lanes are creating severe congestion, long traffic delays and severe frustration across the country. Although well intentioned, the experiment has failed.

“Government guidance supporting such measures, and funds for them, should be withdrawn immediately.

“Many councils have introduced schemes touted as encouraging walking and cycling, but their real impact is gridlock.

“They’ve been built without proper consultation, illegitimately justified by the Covid crisis and backed by central government direction and finance.

“Congestion and pollution have increased, people are inconvenienced, local businesses have lost trade and lives jeopardised with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”

The survey needs 100,000 signatures to be considered for a debate in parliament.

David Tarsh, who posted the petition, said: “Where I live, the temporary cycle lanes around Hammersmith are a source of huge frustration.

“The traffic is frequently gridlocked whilst the cycle lanes alongside are often empty. They are dangerous; several people have complained about near misses at junctions and many experienced cyclists won’t use them as they feel the road is safer.

“Ambulances on emergency calls have been badly delayed and they are causing unnecessary pollution because crawling traffic is more polluting than flowing traffic. Worst of all, despite clear evidence now that they do more harm than good, our council wants to make them permanent!”

Roger Lawson, campaign director for the Alliance of British Drivers, added: “We welcome this petition. It has been most unfortunate that central Government has supported these irrational measures and permitted some local councils who have an anti-car stance to introduce schemes without public consultation that have increased traffic congestion, increased air pollution, blocked emergency services and increased journey times for all.

“The sooner these schemes are abandoned, and we can return to normal, the better. The opposition to such schemes, particularly to road closures, as we saw in Lewisham where we are supporting a campaign by local residents against them, is enormous while local councillors just ignore the complaints.”



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    I will try to apply Rod’s views to the temporary traffic scheme in St Albans. The main part of the scheme is the closure of the High Street , A4183, Roman Watling Street, and diversion of all traffic straight through the City Centre via St Peter Street.This has significantly increased both congestion and pollution on the busiest shopping street in the city, making life less comfortable for all the pedestrians who use St Peters Street, and increasing pollution in the open air market. Meanwhile High street, closed to traffic, has very little pedestrian traffic. It is not a popular shopping street. the closure is not needed to allow the few pedestrians to follow social distancing, whilst St Peters Street is busy with pedestrians, many not following social distancing and being polluted by extra traffic added as a result of the closure of High Street.

    Rod refers to children walking or cycling to school. High Street is not a main school route although children do visit the whole City Centre for socialising after school.

    I would take issue with Rod’s view of the private motor vehicle. In my view it is the most efficient way to get from A to B, its pollution rate has been significantly reduced over recent years and it is likely to become even less polluting , and it has an excellent safety record. Finally it is not used only by people who can drive, many people who cannot drive rely on private motor vehicles (including taxis) as an essential means of getting around. For many families the car is Grannies Taxi

    Robert Bolt, St Albans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    More motor exceptionalism from the people who only “think for themselves”. The view from inside my safe motor vehicle rather than any attempt to understand the concerns of the public who may choose to walk and cycle rather than jump in their car.

    No concern for the many pedestrians on local roads who conduct their social distancing and have to walk in roads. No concern for the children walking or cycling to schools. Its just me, me, me!

    These aren’t anti-car stances, they are pro-people stances. Councils and government are recognising that the private motor vehicle as a primary mode of transportation is inefficient, polluting and dangerous. That does mean it should be banned, but it does mean that every effort should be made to make alternative modes of transport as safe and convenient as possible.

    If they could be a little less paranoid it might be possible to have a decent conversation about how to share the public spaces between our buildings that we call streets for the 20m people in UK who cannot drive rather than solely those who can.

    Rod King, Lymm, Cheshire
    Agree (9) | Disagree (37)

    Councils keep moaning how strapped for cash they are then this govt wastes 2 billion on barmy traffic measures that benefit a tiny minority and create havoc for everyone else. The tax payer funds all these banana schemes and the Councils defraud the Council Tax payer again. There should be public consultation before stupid projects are approved. There are more pressing needs like housing the homeless and why so many people depend on food banks to live.

    Bill Pike, Sheffield
    Agree (59) | Disagree (14)

    A fine example of pressure group rhetoric. Let’s hope the government sees that for what it is.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (15) | Disagree (36)

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