Thursday, May 11, 2017

Traffic Khanage Part 1: ... By Dave Davies.

The GLA Transport Committee issued a statement acknowledging the serious issues of congestion which in turn creates toxic air pollution.
The simple common sense information which has been sent on a regular basis to The Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Transport, Assembly Members, Politicians and Parliamentary Select Committees by the Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry for many years has been completely ignored.
It is not rocket science or even science to understand why there is congestion ; it’s simple common sense.
There are now 117,197 Private Hire Licensed Drivers in London.
Private hire driver licences - 117,197: a decrease of 102 on previous week, 102 licences are new.-May 7th 2017
What has not been reported is how significantly those vehicles contribute to congestion and therefore toxic air pollution which causes cancer, heart and lung disease and thousands of deaths each year.
The sheer numbers of Private Hire vehicles causes massive congestion.
However there are further facts which need to be considered.
Firstly it needs to be acknowledged that the average vehicle is on the road for just 4% of the time according to RAC Foundation figures. This equates to just under an hour each day (24 hours x 4% = 0.96 of an hour)
A5) The average car spends about 80% of the time parked at home, is parked elsewhere for about 16% of the time and is thus only actually in use (ie moving) for the remaining 4% of the time. 
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However Private Hire vehicles are often on the road for 10 hours a day or more, which means that the time Private Hire Vehicles are on the road is 10 times that of normal drivers.
The 117,000 Private Hire Vehicles are the equivalent of  1,170,000 normal drivers of London’s roads every day
TFL have issued Private Hire Licenses at the rate of up to 2500 a month for a long period of time without proper checks or regulation to the point that there are now 117k Private Hire drivers in London.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that in the Private Hire industry that once a license has been issued it is often shared with others who are not licensed , sometimes a group of drivers will share a license meaning that a vehicle is on the road 24/7. TFL are not carrying out any enforcement checks of  significance which means that the unlicensed driver situation can continue unchecked, a fact that is proven by recent accidents where this has been exposed.  This means that there could be double the number of drivers that are actually licensed , a staggering 240k vehicles on the road.

But it is not just the fact that there is a massive number of vehicles on the road which is causing congestion. It is the fact that TFL have issued licenses to drivers without checks or without enforcement which means that people who have a less than basic understanding of  the English Language and therefore cannot understand road signs and traffic signs and who do not even have adequate basic driving skills are able to be given a Private Hire License and drive a vehicle in London.

The result is a massive number of traffic incidents ranging from serious accidents causing deaths to incompetent drivers ignoring all traffic regulations by parking on red routes , yellow lines, pedestrian crossings, taxi ranks  or absolutely anywhere they feel like. They ignore No Entry Signs and One Way signs all of which can completely stop hundreds of vehicles. Traffic flow has been reduced by the tens of thousands of improperly licensed drivers who don’t care that they have broken the rules because they have nothing invested in actually obtaining that license. Easy come easy go.

Because there is no proper regulation or enforcement they either do not get reported or prosecuted for breaking the rules or if they are reported they are probably not even traceable; how do you prosecute someone who has used fake documents or details to get a license in the first place or if the person driving is not even licensed?

Every single time that an unqualified Private Hire Driver blocks traffic by ignoring all regulations or Parking in the middle of the road or is involved in an accident it causes massive traffic congestion.

All of this confirms that TFL have failed in their Duty of Care to protect the Public and failed in the basic principles of Public Law.

The MOST IMPORTANT principal to understand is the amount of pollution caused by congestion.

The graph at the below shows that more than 90% of pollution is caused when vehicles are stop starting .

If you can halve the amount a vehicle is stop starting then air pollution of all vehicles can be reduced by 45% instantly.

This is far more effective than small incremental changes which take place over a long time suggested by other policies.
There are many other suggestions from the Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry which have also been ignored for many years.
1/TFL Ignored the proper planning process for the Cycle Super Highways. Despite the fact that they were changing the use of the road space from vehicles to cycles they claimed that this was not a change of use and therefore did not need to comply with Planning Permission. The Planning process is in place to ensure that any change of use is carried  in  a proper way and ignoring this has meant that the CSH have used road space which has resulted in massive congestion and air pollution.

It benefits all road users if the cyclists can be separated from vehicles, especially the cyclists themselves.
There are many ways to have proper and safe cycle routes without using the road space which is causing congestion and pollution.

There are many cases of cyclists ignoring road regulations which puts themselves and others at harm , but there is no mechanism for enforcement action to make sure cyclists use the roads safely.

It should made easier for cyclists to cycle to their local station, take their bike on train, cycle to their destination on a safe cycle route and then store their bike securely when they arrive there. There are many disused railway tracks and tunnels in London and other spaces which could be easily used as cycle routes.
2/ A ban on peak time deliveries-HGVs are some or the worse polluting vehicles on the road and they cause the most pollution when they are stop starting in traffic. If they are banned at peak times this means that they will then be operating at a period when they will be stop starting much less and therefore the most polluting vehicles  will be polluting much less. 
It also means that the remaining traffic (including buses and taxis) will flow more freely and therefore also cause less pollution.
3/ Improved enforcement of Red Routes- there are restrictions already in place which should stop vehicles stopping on a red route. However these restrictions are not rigidly enforced which means that Uber /Improperly Licensed Private Hire driver, delivery vans and trucks and also individuals often park with hazards on blocking traffic. This is inexcusable and severe enforcement needs to be implemented; perhaps an increased fine of £1000 for anyone caught obstructing traffic in this way and motorcycle enforcement teams co-ordinated by CCTV Operators to enable rapid response (most drivers do this knowing that if they are parked for 10 or 20 minutes the chances of being caught are slim ).
4/ Improvement of Traffic Light Signalling. Pedestrian crossings do not function properly so there needs to be an improvement in pedestrian traffic light signalling.
One solution for which the technology already exists would be to fit buses with transponders so that as they approach traffic lights the signal remains green.
It is quite often the case that a pedestrian will push the button to cross the road and then cross when there is a break in the traffic , which means that traffic then has to stop needlessly when the lights subsequently change.

A simple solution for this problem would be to change how pedestrian crossing traffic lights operate. Instead of the lights changing to red when the button is pushed a better option may be that the lights flash on amber for 30 seconds or a minute. It could be stipulated to drivers that if they see the amber lights flashing and there is a pedestrian waiting to cross they are obliged to stop allowing the pedestrian to cross, in much the same way that a Pelican or Belisha crossing works already. If the amber lights are flashing and there is no pedestrian then drivers can proceed at a slower rate with caution which will mena that they do not come to a stop and would reduce their emissions significantly. A separate operation of the button (perhaps holding the button for several seconds) could allow the lights to change to red for pedestrians with disabilities, the elderly or children.
5/The addition of footbridges and elevated walkways at high footfall crossing points- It could improve traffic flow significantly if pedestrian footbridges were installed at locations where very high footfall happens .

The configuration of these footbridges could vary at different locations. In Oxford Street in London for example perhaps an elevated pedestrian walkway could be constructed each side of the street with crossing points at intervals. This could create another level of store entrances for shopkeepers in much the same way that happens in a shopping mall. It could also free up  space at ground level which may enable cycle routes without further restricting traffic flow. Existing traffic lights could be left in place to enable crossing for those with disabilities. Advertising on bridges and walkways could fund the cost of building them. 
6/ Better management of Road Works. It is quite often the case that when road works occur they are not carried out around the clock. A better method for road works could be implemented by making sure that road works are carried out in a way which allows traffic to still flow at peak times. This could be achieved by temporary steel road panels being used at peak times and then lifted out of place to allow for road works to continue at off peak times. It could also be a requirement that debris from road works  which is often left in place (because it is needed to backfill) could be loaded into skips and positioned so that it does not restrict traffic flow.
7/Many cities have implemented Park and Ride schemes, however in London this has not happened. Car Parks near the M25 with fast train connections or shuttles to central London could significantly reduce the number of vehicles in Central London.

8/Cities like Manchester have a clean electric tram system. In London there are thousands of diesel Buses spewing out toxic pollution; more than any other vehicles on the road. It begs the question why doesn’t London have a clean electric tram system instead of thousands of Buses? Is it because the Directors of TFL have a vested interest in Buses?
At the same time as creating a dangerous situation for all Londoners (including cyclists and pedestrians) they falsely claim to be taking measures to protect the very people they have put at risk.