Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two-way working on St James and Pall Mall

One-way systems are one of the biggest problems for cyclists in London. They turn roads into fast, multi-lane affairs that are dangerous and unpleasant and extend your journey unnecessarily. The streets of the whole of Westminster, virtually without exception, are  laid out with motor traffic the absolute and sole priority. The one-way streets have no cycle contraflows, and any spare width is given over to car parking, cab ranks, exta lanes, junction fan-outs, in fact anything that will get the motorist to the next bottleneck a little bit faster.

It's ironic that a lot of the Westminster one-way systems were created to deal with traffic problems. It didn't work. So there's now a £14M project to return Pall Mall, Lower Regent Street, St James and Piccadilly Circus to two-way working.

"The council believes turning the roads into two-way streets will tackle the increase in vehicles which causes congestion and creates rat runs through narrow roads nearby."

An ignorant cynic might suggest that relieving congestion by putting the streets back to how they were before they were reconfigured to relieve congestion...might not actually relieve congestion. That cynic might further suggest that £14M would build a lot of cycle paths, which might encourage a few people to cycle rather than take a car or a taxi, and thus relieve congestion rather more effectively. But such people are not traffic engineers: they have no training in the mystical, arcane arts that ensure London's traffic flows effortlessly. They're just whingers, like Steve McNamara, spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, who said: "We are sceptical because every scheme that's been brought in to central London in the last 10 years has been detrimental to traffic flow." I ask you. What do taxi drivers know about London traffic?

I'll be monitoring the area in the coming weeks to witness how miraculous the transformation is...

Initial impressions are not good...one road user fumed, "utter chaos, and getting worse".

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