Friday, September 24, 2010

Critical Mass day?

It is Critical Mass day, but it's lunchtime. Total, utter gridlock. Again, Trafalgar Square, and this time it's totally stationary. No-one's going anywhere - except pedestrians and cyclists.

Above, looking north up St Martin's Place. Notice there's no traffic going north because nothing can get round the Trafalgar Square roundabout.

Above - looking south towards Admiralty Arch...

And finally, above, looking down to Northumberland Avenue. The ambulance you see is stationary because none of the cars can get out of the way. Let's hope it's a stubbed toe they're attending, not a heart attack.

The cause? A broken down bus on Waterloo Place. As I walk back, I see a suited businessman abandon his taxi in frustration. This situation arises because London traffic is usually close to saturation levels, so it just takes one incident to create a domino effect. Congestion fans out in all directions, and as junctions get blocked, you have gridlock. As I've pointed out before, this is in nobody's interest, least of all drivers. Even with the congestion charge, there's still too much motor traffic. It's no use blaming private cars, because they make up a low proportion of central London traffic these days. It's mainly taxis, private hire vehicles and commercials (small and medium-sized vans). Unless journeys involving these vehicles are reduced, we'll continue to see congestion on this scale. But at the moment, there seems to be no political debate about how it might be done. So I'm going to start one...

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