Went to the GLA Hustings organised by Living Streets last night - here's a short report.
The meeting was addressed by four members of the GLA's Transport Committee:
* Jenny Jones (Green)
* Caroline Pidgeon (LibDem)
* Val Shawcross (Lab)
* Richard Tracey (Con)
Questions were asked about the walking and cycling environment, air pollution, public transport accessibility for disabled people, and growing the capacity of the transport network.
There was a lot of agreement between the non-Conservative parties on things such as 20mph speed limits; abolition of gyratories (eg the E&C); the need for the cross river tram; enhancing public control of the overground network; increasing suburban public transport via more trams, light rail systems, and orbital buses; the need to encourage modal shift to less polluting and more sustainable means; and the desire to reintroduce the hierarchy of road users that guided TfL policy prior to the current mayoralty.
The major differences between these candidates was one of emphasis (eg where and how the 20mph zones should be introduced, or the Green proposal to introduce pay-per use for cars).
The Conservative candidate spoke very generally and made few specific policy proposals beyond continued investment in improving the tube network, maintaining the current bus network and introducing 800 new low-emission buses. When challenged on the air pollution that shortens the life of more than 4,000 Londoners each year (TfL figures reported here, he proposed more monitoring.
The main points I remember from the evening were:
* Val Shawcross pointed out that under the current mayor, the congestion charge has risen far slower than public transport and, in particular, bus fares.
* Jenny Jones asserted that Ken Livingstone made a claim on the LBC hustings the other day that he had been in a meeting where Kulveer Ranger (Boris Johnson's initial transport supremo) dismissed a submission by the London Cycling Campaign during the planning of the Bow Roundabout that it was too dangerous for cyclists with the comment that their proposals would slow down motorised traffic too much [two cyclists have since died at this roundabout]
* Richard Tracey suggested that the biggest problem in the walking environment is pavement cyclists - not air pollution, short crossing times at road junctions, nor the blocking of pavements by building works, temporary street furniture and parked cars - but made no suggestions for how to improve the roads to encourage cyclists to use them.
Anyway, sorry for the length of this post - I normally try to be pithy - but I hope it's of interest as we decide how to cast our mayoral and GLA votes.
Interesting, but a short look objectively shows other facts to be taken into account whilst voting, such as: the increase in pollution in certain areas in SE1 due to the introduction of the congestion charge, and the reasons for the greatest number, statistically, of cycling injuries, these have to be taken into account when looking at the transport policies of candidates and their supporters. It isn't as simplistic as less car/business traffic = better candidate. Those candidates who fail to cost the implications of their policies are surely to be viewed suspiciously by the thinking voter. The local taxpayers needs to think carefully of where their money might go, better provision for cycling safety is a good direction definitely, but the vocal and professional nature of their campaigning group should not drown out the majority of SE1 transport users who travel by bus, tube, and on foot and yes even the vehicle drivers.
Jerry - I'm interested in any studies you've got about those issues, too. Can you post links?
Of course, other policies and other aspects need to be borne in mind when deciding who to vote for (eg housing, crime or employment). Since the parties aren't campaigning hard around here, I hope everyone will post up their impressions of what campaigning they do come across.
re Costing improvements in road safety - the Institute of Advanced Motoring reckons the economic cost of a fatal road accident, and claims the UK economy loses £1.79 million every time somebody dies on the roads (reported here). Multiply that by the nearly 200 people who die in road accidents in London each year, and you get a fair pot of money to pay for improvements.
Thanks Pros. That shows that pollution is bad for you, which I would imagine is undeniable (though there's probably some oil company somewhere trying to show it ain't so). However Jerry is suggesting that pollution increased because of the congestion charge, which I'd be surprised by.
I maintain that the introduction of the charging zone has done little to help us in SE1 and may actually be more detrimental to us as a borough.
Loads of facts buried in the official "Impacts Monitoring" reports from TFL, they are all online and make for interesting reading if you dig deep enough. i.e.:
"There is evidence from across the available data that reductions to potentially chargeable vehicles (cars, vans and lorries) have been partly offset by increases to non-chargeable vehicles (buses, taxis and two- wheeled vehicles)." Buses and taxis generally produce more pollution per vehicle than cars.
The reports show that the introduction of more modern transportation technology in vehicles is doing far more to reduce pollution than the congestion charge. They also say that although pollution within the zone may have gone down it is the feeder roads to the inner ring road that have shown an overall increase in pollution since the introduction of the zone. This makes logical sense as there are high concentrations of slow moving traffic at these spots.
As for cyclists, I would like the mayor push for this law: The introduction of compulsory cycle helmet wearing which would save more lives with very little financial downside: I found at least one "DfT-commissioned report in which it was estimated that the universal use of helmets could save between 10 and 15 lives a year"
Hmmmm, you've got some good arguments there, it would be interesting to see some research on it (bus increase versus car decrease. Buses are better than cars though). I personally feel that there is less traffic since the CC was introduced (though I disagree with road charging).
I don't agree on the compulsory helmet wearing though, we want a city where people are safe to cycle. No cyclists died last year in Paris and few wear helmets. They have bike lanes and traffic calming, we have Blackfriars Bridge planned as a duel carriageway.
However, I feel we have gone off topic for the thread, apologies everyone.
(BTW, that 10-15 DfT figure is nationwide, not London).
Thing is, unless you're already getting enough exercise - and most people aren't - the health/risk benefit ratio for cycling is something like 50:1 (to put it another way - you gain a year's life expectancy from the extra exercise for every week you lose to road danger). So an intervention like mandatory helmets only has to discourage cycling by a very small amount in order to do more harm than good.
Basically helmets aren't a bad idea at all, but it should be left up to the individual.
ps - a lot of pedestrian & car accident fatalities are head injury related & some could be prevented by wearing a helmet (especially "rally" style helmets for car drivers & passengers). Should those be mandatory too?