Tuesday, 20 May 2014

What to do about car emissions: transport in London

Traffic and pollution are running themes in London:
Futures Forum: What to do about car emissions: from Paris to London... yet again...
Futures Forum: "Sometimes the parched topsoil of the Sahara settles on London and the whole of England": How the results of intensive farming in Africa are felt thousands of miles away

In yesterday's Telegraph, Alex Proud addressed these issues:

I've told you what's wrong with London, now here's how I'd fix it

Alex Proud has railed against the rich for driving the creative class out of London, and attacked neophile hipsters for turning every borough into another Shoreditch. But enough complaining: how would he make the capital better?

London has big problems and I want to see them fixed.
I’ve written about these before. First (and, perhaps, rather frivolously) I looked at the phenomenon of “Shoreditchification", where neophile hipsters eat their way through neighbourhoods like locusts. Later, and more seriously, I focussed on how the rich are driving everyone else out of inner London and destroying the city’s character in the process.
I’ll start with transport in London. Specifically cars. Cars ruin London. They’re dirty, noisy and dangerous for those who aren’t in them. They dominate our streets and reduce everyone else to second-class citizens which is probably why our increasingly venal overclass love their tint-windowed SUVs so much. As the satirist P.J O’Rourke once observed, “When something bad happens in a really big car, it happens very far away...It’s like a civil war in Africa; you know, it doesn’t really concern you too much.”
Londoners regularly visit places like Seville and come back full of praise for its massive, pedestrianised city centre. Yet in our own city only the tiniest areas are given over to pedestrians and cyclists. TfL jumps up and down when it spends £200,000 on a half-arsed solution to a junction where cyclists are routinely mown down. But the sums spent on biking and walking are rounding errors compared to the fortunes spent on roads. Less than 1% of TfL’s budget goes on cycling; if an alien visited London they’d probably conclude that bikes and walkers were the problem, not cars.
What’s more, for most people, there’s no need to drive in London. London has great (if rather expensive) public transport. When I walk to work in Camden I’m struck by just how much of traffic is made of single occupancy private cars. Usually in tail-backs moving at a quarter of the speed at which I walk. Which brings me to the second point. I’m not in there with you sitting on your motorised couch, yakking on your iPhone and quaffing your triple vente, but I am breathing your pollution. Cars are the capital’s single biggest source of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. And we need less of them.
When the congestion charge started, it was a glorious vision of how a low-traffic London might look. So double it or triple it – or consider charging differentially based on the time of day. Ring-fence the money and spend it ruthlessly on cycling, walking and canoeing down the Regent’s Canal. Dare I say it, you could even up the subsidy for London’s public transport system, recognising that Tubes and buses function as a kind of public good. I’d also look at Singapore-style solutions (where cars drive on alternative days). It is beyond bizarre that in a crowded city where air quality standards are routinely breached, imposing your polluting Mercedes tank on everyone else is still somehow considered an inviolable right.
It’s not actually a hard solution at all. But it does require the courage to face down the whiny, selfish and endlessly self-pitying motoring lobby. So c’mon Boris, you’ve already shown that you can do half of what it takes by promoting bike use. Now it’s time to do the other half.

I've told you what's wrong with London, now here's how I'd fix it - Telegraph

How many of these points can be applied to other parts of the country?
> pedestrianisation of town centres
> less single-occupancy private car use
> investment for cycling
> subsidising public transport
> reducing nitrogen dioxide
> congestion charging

See also:
Futures Forum: What to do about car emissions: the West Country
Futures Forum: What to do about car emissions: Exeter
Futures Forum: What transport infrastructure do we want for East Devon?

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