Monday, August 2, 2010

Olympic VIP Lanes

Olympic 'fat cats' (or should that be slim, well-conditioned cats?) are to get their own priority traffic lanes in London for the 2012 Olympics. I wonder if cyclists will be banned from these lanes?

Reported in the Standard, Steve McNamara, spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Driver's Association said "This will cause chaos on the streets and what will it do to pollution levels?"

Sadly, Steve seems to have forgotten a couple of basic facts:
1) Black cabs are responsible for 40% of London's ground-level pollution. The black cab is one of the most polluting vehicles on the road, in terms of particulate, NOX and CO2 emissions. So if these VIP lanes reduce the number of cab journeys, it will be good news for pollution levels.
2) London's streets are pretty much chaos a lot of the time anyway, and it's no thanks to the large number of unnecessary cab journeys.

As I've said before, I have nothing against cab drivers. Taxis are an essential part of the transport system, just not in the huge numbers we have today. Black cabs account for a good 70% of traffic in central London, and a lot of cab journeys could easily and quickly be undertaken by public transport. Many people take a taxi simply because it's the lazy option. They don't have to do any thinking, and their company picks up part of the bill. The other part of the bill is picked up by Londoners, who pay the price of living in a congested, polluted and dangerous city.

I'll be an interesting excercise in finding out whether the city can cope with a reduction in the amount of roadspace given over to general motor traffic. My prediction is that anyone who is sensible and can avoid London roads will do so. People will have to think more carefully about their travel plans, which is no bad thing, but business will likely continue pretty much as usual.

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