Monday, September 6, 2010

Boris's Priorities

Boris was waxing lyrical about the tube strike in the Standard today.
The Dept of Transport has been asked to accept cuts "of between 25 and 40 per cent", he says.  "I cannot and will not accept them", he protests. He makes a reasonable case that the reforms to working practices on the Tube will "take advantage of  new technology" to "maximise ever-scarcer resources" with "moderate and sensible reforms". "Don't let these luddites destroy our Tube's future" is his appeal.
Yet he continues to plough onward with the abolition of the Western Extension Zone to the Congestion Charge. This will cost TfL £50M per year in lost revenue. In effect, when it comes to transport cuts, he is part of the problem. And his roads policy is hardly a paradigm of using technology to maximise use of resources. It certainly won't be if it results in EU fines for excessive pollution. Trying to turn the clock back to the golden age of private motoring is not a recipe for building a transport system fit for the coming age of scarce, expensive oil.
Wouldn't it be great if Boris tried to make more efficient use of the roads? The current level of congestion is in nobody's interest, but the fear of traffic is the major factor that stops people using their bikes instead, or letting their kids cycle to school. Without continuous segregated or low-traffic cycle routes that actually get you where you want to go, and don't end leaving the 12-year-old cyclist in 3 lanes of fast-moving traffic (yes that's you, Wandsworth one-way system), we'll stay stuck with roads fit only for a bygone era when motor traffic was light, oil cheap and plentiful and climate change hadn't been discovered. I suggest that in roads policy, it's the luddites who hold sway at City Hall.

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