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.


·       PARKING


TFL blandly comment that parking policy decisions are governed by local priorities, missing the opportunity to encourage London boroughs to be more driver-friendly.


However TFL wish to extend the time that drivers can park on its TLRN (major routes) to 30 minutes to support stop and shop. After consultation, most boroughs should see this in 2013. This measure implies increased time but not necessarily increased parking space, and there is no guarantee over parking charges.


TFL want greater use of variable message signs (VMS) for more effective and dynamic roadside driver information by the end of 2018/19, This could save driving around looking in vain for a parking space, however the only example given is for coaches in areas of high demand.


The other main initiative seems to be looking at cycle parking standards in new car-lite ’developments.


TFL warn that possible ‘radical’ measures to further manage Londonwide demand might include parking restraint. They urge that parking policy is fully integrated with ‘intelligent systems’ (ITS), which could open up a Pandora’s box of charging opportunities. In theory, ITS could be used to deny some vehicles parking or even use of the road?




TFL will “be open” to a range of speed limits on main roads in London, including 20mph and variable speed limits.


“Targeted” reductions to speed limits are justified as improving conditions for pedestrians, although the aim of the RTF report is clearly to make central London a blanket 20mph zone, in spite of evidence that blanket zones don’t work. A 20mph speed limit could be introduced on almost all residential roads and high streets in London by 2020, according to the Mayor’s transport advisor.


They will continue to fund the roll-out of 20mph zones by boroughs (At least 19% of London’s roads now have 20mph limits) and trial 20mph speed limits at specific locations on the TLRN [‘main roads’], such as the Waterloo Imax roundabout.


TFL will update, maintain, and make freely available a digital speed limit map of all London’s roads, and promote its use with technology developers and manufacturers, so “enabling a revolution in intelligent speed technology” – in other words, a longer-term threat of mandatory intelligent speed adaptation (ISA).


They will upgrade speed cameras to digital at 600 locations by the end of 2016 to trap more drivers, and consider average speed cameras “depending on casualty history”. They will also engage local communities in monitoring vehicle speeds in their neighbourhoods, presumably to stir up demand for similar measures.




TFL claim that to meet increasingly stringent air quality standards and carbon reduction targets, they might need to restrict both volumes and types of vehicle traffic, particularly in central London. They are considering introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone and restrictions on vehicle access to central London.


Other environmental measures include use of low-noise road surface materials, promotion of electric vehicles and getting drivers out of their cars.


They claim their vision might be of “world-class streets, fit for the future”, but a clue is given that “high-quality public realm and ‘place-making’ are considered essential to attract new development - “Reclaiming the streets for high density housing and property developers” doesn’t have quite the same ring...


The approach may also contribute towards avoiding EU fines (cf. Marylebone Road) and the EU long term aspiration to ban conventional cars from city centres.




TFL seem to love ‘intelligent transport systems’ (ITS). They say they can help to get more out of the road network – improving customer information, journey reliability, and targeting priority for ‘more efficient’ transport modes.


But, technology can be a two-edged sword. Journey ‘reliability’ has been an excuse trotted out elsewhere for both speed restrictions (managed motorways) and pricing vehicles off the road. On balance, targeted priority looks like being another anti-car measure.


In Singapore, ITS have been used to impose a variable road user charge.


On the other hand, good real-time information can help drivers avoid roadworks and snarl-ups, so long as it adds something to what is currently available on traffic programmes and websites like the AA’s.


The SCOOT system enables TFL to adjust traffic signals in real time. It has been praised for speeding up traffic, although extending it for pedestrian crossings and cycling intensity by the end of 2018/19 might lose some of the benefits. One stated interest is in reducing the impact on emissions.




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


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


The second covers.


  • Measures towards discouraging car use
  • Measures to reallocate road space away from drivers
  • Road closures, using flimsy excuses
  • Measures that will actually endanger road safety


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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