Or why TFL’s latest initiative spells trouble!!!


·       In July 2013, a long set of documents was released under the heading Mayor’s Roads Task Force (RTF) reports (The key document proposing action is the TFL Response).

This page provides a further look at the main concerns on the management of road space. Watch out for consultations and lobby your elected reps.




TFL warn that an ever-growing population and greater travel by sustainable modes will produce an inevitable squeeze on road space.


This is a bit of a half-truth, as TFL are actively pushing the Mayor’s ambitious targets for cycling to represent 5% modal share in London by 2025 and 1 million extra walking trips a day by 2031.


The proposed approach is to bias and restrict the use of road space away from drivers. Some of the squeeze in recent years has been caused by officialdom, gratuitously removing road space or parking space for political aims.


TFL believe congestion can be addressed by encouraging transport modes that make efficient use of road space, such as the bus (‘the most efficient’), cycling, walking and powered two-wheelers (P2W). Cue increased provision for these modes, and initiatives to manage demand through ‘behaviour change’.


The assertion of ‘efficiency’ is questionable, as it may ignore overall efficiency in terms of journey time and speed, particularly on split and longer journeys, space wasted (under-used bus lanes) and cost effectiveness.


TFL are working with the GLA to shape London Plan policy towards car-lite development as the basis of planning decisions; by default ‘car-lite’ lifestyles are dictated by prescribing walking, cycling and public transport as the natural and default choice for people living and working in these areas.


Interestingly, this does not rule out car club expansion, which makes you think if the exercise is an attack on private ownership.




Just as local authority ‘car-free’ days seem to be dying out, TFL are pushing Orwellian measures under the dissembling heading Fun and active streets:


[encouraging] “- more informal use of our roads and streets as public spaces with a programme to allow temporary, traffic-free events for public enjoyment in some of London’s iconic locations, such as Regent Street in summer and the Embankment. If successful, we will look to manage these as regular events”.


Elsewhere, London boroughs are to be ‘supported’ in delivering local events requiring the temporary closure of roads or high streets and associated public transport provision


This is just a vanity project aimed at denying drivers the use of the road. The recent example of RideLondon had a severe impact on car and bus users and hit some local businesses. The examples given are likely to deter shoppers and tourists.


TFL are also pushing longer term uses of road space in central London - wider pavements and more pedestrian space, and places where children can play. The latter sets a dangerous precedent for playing in the street?


Meddling with road space has seen some negative experiences. Trafalgar Square pedestrianisation saw traffic tailbacks for miles despite assurances from TFL that all would be well. At King Street, Hammersmith. the former council’s removal of a road lane affected traffic around the Broadway, aggravating  a busy arterial route while roadworks created dangerous tailbacks on the eastbound A4. The wider pavements created served no useful purpose.


TFL claim that they can ensure residents and visitors are able to access and enjoy town centres, high streets and other destinations “currently dominated by private vehicular traffic”.


Several existing gyratories will be removed by 2021/22, and there is the prospect of reduced speed limits. The potential impact of losing thoroughfares on shoppers and businesses might not have been thought through nor might the dangers of “being dominated” by polluting buses, as seen in Putney High Street. So much for “sustainable transport”!


TFL also hint at “better targeted enforcement” with the rules of the road, but the wording “[where] there is potential conflict between road users and competition for road space” might indicate ulterior motives.




TFL seek to increase space for what they call ‘living’ functions. Examples include unlocking new development areas, or areas for pedestrians to meet and congregate. TFL will consider relocating space for motorised traffic to enable this, maybe leaving the old space for walking and cycling access.


Will the ‘relocated space’ count as ‘new infrastructure’, with charges for use?


Measures might include floating roundabouts for cyclists and pedestrians, bridges over arterial roads and roofing over or tunnelling under particular locations. (The replacement of the Hammersmith flyover by an A4 tunnel may be a salient example).


There could be an agenda to remove roads in sites where prime property might be developed? (The Hammersmith tunnel might be paid for by prime property development in the space freed up. Other areas to watch might be around the Inner Ring Road, A205/A406.)




This is the second of four pages outlining the proposals. The first covers:


  • Extending the Congestion Charge (road pricing)
  • Measures towards discouraging car use


The third covers.


  • Gratuitous restrictions on parking space provision
  • Banning current vehicles from Central London
  • Depressed speed limits
  • An expansion of lucrative box junction and speed cameras
  • Big Brother technology in cars (codenamed ‘ITS’)


For balance, there is also a fourth page on measures that sound beneficial, but need to be qualified.


TFL seem to have practically accepted the proposals from a task force loaded with vested interests (such as IBM, promoters of congestion charging and ‘smart cities’, road pricing lobbyists ‘London First’ [sic] and CILT; ‘green’ lobbyists, etc.


Drivers were apparently ‘represented’ by David Quarmby of the pro-road pricing RAC Foundation (RACF) and a former RACF man AA President Edmund King.


Where were the objections from the latter pair?, It is interesting that they are the former and current Chairmen of the DFT Motorists’ Forum that is supposed to champion drivers’ interests!.




On balance, TFL’s response is of concern, given the persistent anti-car flavour. Their commitment to conduct customer satisfaction and attitude surveys to further improve service sounds rather hollow when related to drivers.


During 2013, TFL will be working closely with boroughs and other stakeholders to run a communications campaign. The aim is to ensure that their overall approach gains widespread acceptance in London.


TFL hint at “changing the processes by which decisions are made and how people are involved in these decisions”. This needs explaining, and could be an opportunity or a threat.







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