My response to the Mayor’s draft Environmental Strategy

 

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Dear Mayor of London,

There is much to admire in the Mayor’s draft transport strategy and it is very comprehensive. Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to address the strategy in minutiae of detail, so I will be responding in a more open way.

My over arching concern is that short-term carbon targets have been cut.

I believe we need to move more quickly to reduce London’s carbon emissions. As I understand it, the strategy deletes the target of 60% reduction in carbon by 2025. The explanation for this seems to be the wider context of national policy. Central Government is not acting quickly enough to de-carbonise energy, which makes it difficult to meet these targets?

But there is more than one way to skin a cat…

I am also concerned that the promise to divest the London Pension Fund from fossil fuels has not been kept?

The momentum for change is currently too slow

The UN Environment Programme has said in its annual emissions gap report, that government commitments are only a third of what is needed.  

Many cities have been slow to prepare “situations in which climate changes are considered within the scope of planning’.  This can lead to everyday climate change denial. We need the strongest possible determination, leadership, responsibility and urgency to deal with the current unpredictable and escalating crisis. This must be Top down and Bottom up if we are to save millions of people from a miserable future. We need policies throughout planning and governance that reflect this urgency.

Yes we must build flood defences, and adapt to global warming but avoiding runaway climate change is vital. Mitigating against global warming has never been important.

The combination of a very real potential for runaway climate change with the shrinking and degradation of the last bastions of a bio-diverse natural world for profit, means we are facing a very serious situation.

Meanwhile there is an alarming reduction in flying insects and aquatic life; whole food webs could be under threat as our assault on nature continues unabated. Lastly, pollution, be it agricultural run-off, airborne or plastic waste in our drinking water, rivers and oceans is an imminent threat to life on this planet.

 

The head of the UN Environment Assembly for 2017, Edgar Gutierrez – Espleta warns ‘We face a stark choice; up our ambition or face the consequences’. Adding that there is a ‘catastrophic gap between what needs to be done, and what Governments are actually doing’. This is procrastination on a global level.

A new enlightenment

London Coffee houses of the 17th and 18th century were ‘engines of creation that helped drive the Enlightenment’ I believe the challenges of Climate Change and addressing the environmental externalities of our current London model need the most creative, deeply considered and enlightened debate and social interaction. A radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles.

Only by engaging residents, businesses, unions, activists, campaigners, educators and creatives to take steps individually and organisationally to improve the environment for the common good, will we turn this grave situation around. Again, I reiterate, this must be a top down and bottom up approach.

“Only when the last fish is gone, the last river poisoned, the last tree cut down…will mankind realize they cannot eat money.”

A deep love for our children. For our nieces and nephews. For our godchildren. For our grandchildren and children that we encounter whilst going about our daily life. And for the children we will never meet or who become climate refugees. They are our Future. And we owe it to them to bring all our collective resources to the fore.

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Fundamentals of life

I believe we need to move from the current nihilistic approach to reaffirming what we value. Investing in what we value. Acknowledging what is vital to life. What are our priorities? Humans and life on this planet, do not survive very long without air, water and food. What is common to us all for a good life, for the common good.

  1. Good air
  2. Good water
  3. Quality food
  • Food security
  • Access to sunlight
  • Freedom to roam by foot or cycling
  • Biodiversity
  • Trees
  • Soil quality
  • Children
  • Economics of the common good
  • Equality
  • Active health
  • Education
  • An active engaged democracy
  • Shorter working hours
  • Basic Income
  • Police that are responsive to the common good
  • Equality of Public space or the commons
  • Housing that is fit for purpose
  • Peace and quiet for down time and reflection
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Circle of Ducks – the commons on Hampstead Heath

 Public Health Crisis

Climate Change not only hurts the planet, but is a public health emergency. this is the clear message from doctors:

When the doctor tells you that your cholesterol is too high, you tend to listen and change your diet. When the world’s climate scientists tell us that temperatures are rising to dangerous levels, we should heed their advice. It’s time to give up climate change, it’s bad for our health.

Air pollution and carbon emissions are inexorably linked. Reducing air pollution will save lives and help slow the pace of climate change.

Meanwhile the UK is the most obese country in Western Europe. We have engineered an obesegenic environment, every time a car is used or parked, we have less safe space for walking and cycling. Obesity could bankrupt NHS if left unchecked

Stranded Assets and stranded jobs

In a remarkable speech at Lloyd’s of London on 29 September 2015 Mark Carney said that a carbon budget consistent with a 2°C target “would render the vast majority of reserves ‘stranded’ — oil, gas and coal that will be literally unburnable without expensive carbon capture technology, which itself alters fossil fuel economics”. Echoing CTI’s warnings about the risks of a disorderly transition to a low-carbon economy, Governor Carney added that ‘a wholesale reassessment of prospects, especially if it were to occur suddenly, could potentially destabilise markets’.

Mark Carney believes London is a Carbon Bubble.

“The exposure of UK investors, including insurance companies, to these shifts is potentially huge.

In their comment on Nature, International weekly journal of science, Anthony J. Webster and Richard H. Clarke suggest that 

‘Insurance companies can and should do more. They are central to the global climate challenge, helping to redress its consequences. Now they need to lead.

Here we propose that insurers collect a levy from energy producers according to the carbon intensity of their products. The funds generated should be invested in climate adaptation and low-carbon energy. This would be fair — polluters should redress the problems they create. The biggest beneficiaries of fossil fuels would then pay for the benefits they have derived at the expense of others, including future generations.’

At the end of the day, it’s what works. And it may be multi-pronged strategy that works best.

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No jobs on a dead planet

I believe unions want to be involved in job transition, and be essential part of an open public discussion on sustainable jobs. The  Green Collar Nation  gives voice to the Unions who understand they have a pivotal role to play.

This is something that CLASS (Centre for Labour and Social Studies) are interested in debating in an open and inclusive way. As their president Samuel Terry, National Policy officer TSSA said at their 5th Birthday party, there are ‘No jobs on a dead planet’.

Dagenham, which was an industrial centre for car production, is an interesting point of reference. Cars defined the area, but now the Film industry and even food growing or market gardening in Growing Communities are giving it a new identity with new more sustainable jobs.

Menders, gardeners, rail workers, carbon accountants, cycling engineers, food growers, sustainable builders, educators, carers are some of the job growth areas that may be needed. The idea that high carbon, high tech robots will replace these vital labour intensive areas is bewildering.

The German car manufacturers and their illegal cartel, locked into diesel and petrol cars are what stranded assets and jobs look like.

In 2014, before dieselgate broke, 184 were employed as car lobbyists in Brussells, at a cost of £18.5 million. Their aim, to keep the diesel car industry churning out its toxic merchandise. The dieselgate cheat  was prepared to perpetuate that business model at the expense of human lives and the environment. These may well be crimes against humanity.

Carbon Omissions

‘Like a Swiss finishing school, corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams are very adept at delivering environmental messages in a manner acceptable at the Court of King Carbon – a media-centred circus where ‘green’ appearances are often more important than ‘green’ realities.’ – Richard H. Clarke Predicting the Price of Carbon

When Google makes claims that it is Carbon Neutral? or Renault claims in its adverts its Electric cars are ‘zero emission’ We need real and independent scrutiny and oversight. We don’t want another ‘clean diesel’. I was happy to see this more in depth carbon accounting of ‘zero emission’ vehicles in the Financial Times.

I would be even happier if there was more scrutiny of Automation which adds a hefty ICT carbon footprint to products and services. And is a high energy user. Autonomous vehicles are currently being described as ‘Green’ or ‘sustainable’. I believe this ‘greenwash’ is not being transparent on the additional ICT costs of data processing or the extra infrastructure needed to support this technology.

This is why we need independent carbon accounting that digs deep into the carbon embedded in a ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ product. A whole new generation of carbon accountants, trusted and verified, would be a wonderful new career choice for young people in London. We don’t want to invest a limited carbon budget  and become locked -in to a carbon infrastructure that is environmentally damaging. We want to invest wisely and with insight.

I am dismayed how much time is given to lobbyists for high carbon and polluting products at City Hall London Assembly committees. These so-called ‘experts’ giving ‘evidence’ are paid to sell stuff. Quality, independent evidence is needed for real democratic scrutiny.

We need mechanisms and political scrutiny that are sensitive to measuring the environmental and health externalities of products and services.

Economic vision

What does economic success look like? A secure and healthy environment must be at the core of an economic vision.

So how do we get there?

I would urge the Mayor to take leadership on Carbon pricing, rather than playing catch up with potential big losses in stranded assets and stranded jobs. We need a road map.

Carbon pricing is the method favoured by many economists for reducing global-warming emissions. It charges those who emit carbon dioxide for their emissions. That charge, called a carbon price, is the amount that must be paid for the right to emit one tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Carbon pricing solves the economic problem that CO2, a known greenhouse gas, is what economics calls a negative externality, a detrimental product that is not priced (charged for) by any market.

carbon price not only has the effect of encouraging lower-carbon behaviour (eg using a bike rather than driving a car). With a carbon price in place, the costs of stopping climate change are distributed across generations rather than being borne overwhelmingly by future generations

‘An effective carbon price is an essential, if insufficient, part of a policy package that can lower emissions and drive the economy towards  a low carbon, resilient future’ – says Rachel Kyte, Vice president World Bank group. ‘It makes pollution more expensive, incentivises efficiency, and helps business leaders and investors understand the long-term direction of travel’.

But as Olivier Coispeau of Maverlinn says, it must also be qualified by the common good. Polluting because you can pay to do so is not enough.

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The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries (2017)

  • Imagine if everyone had a real Carbon credit card?
  • Is Doughnut economics the most suitable sustainable economic model to follow?
  • How do we decouple economic growth from carbon emissions?
  • What is the metric for investment?
  • What is the carbon price for adaptation and mitigation?
  • What is the real price of 1 ton of carbon?
  • Is Dieter Helm right to call for a Universal Carbon price?

Recycling?

I would like a more sophisticated conversation on recycling. When is it better to ban plastic packaging and engage with plastic free shopping as illustrated here?

Recycling is not always the best solution. It should not be automatically the default position. I understand that rubbish collection for a growing population would add many more motor vehicles to our roads. We need to stop consuming rubbish in the first place. I have cut my rubbish significantly by shopping plastic free.

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Bulk Market Dalston

 

Education

I believe the Mayor has a vital role as an educator. The Mayor is essentially lighting the road.

Children absorb and get it very quickly and pester power will indeed have some effect. But role models, be they parents, teachers, politicians or other adult citizens provide the authentic do as I do rather than do as I say.

To be frank, it is adults that need education on how to live sustainably and within their personal carbon budget.

Education could have been provided in a meaningful way by mainstream media but vested interests, as we now know, have provided disinformation and the vital message has not reached consumers. You could say that a whole generation has been brainwashed into consuming stuff, giving absolutely no thought to how its degrades our environment, and all that is vital for health and wellbeing.

Voting with our consumer feet is a major part of the move toward a more sustainable model. This is backed up by my conversations with eminent Economists who want to work for the common good or ‘Good growth’.

Educating citizens on personal lifestyles will help cut London’s carbon emissions:

  • Eat less meat
  • Walk and cycle and take Public Transport whenever feasible
  • Dry clothes naturally where possible
  • The high carbon cost of flying on holiday
  • Use water more economically
  • Buy locally grown food
  • Don’t buy new things you don’t really need
  • Buy vintage or 2nd hand goods
  • Switch to renewable energy provider like Good Energy
  • Use ICT more economically

ICT emissions and energy use are much overlooked. Prof Erol Gelenbe is an expert  in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at Imperial College,  who thinks we need more education on ICT and Autonomy. Some seem to treat ICT and Data as an endless resource? There is the Silicon Valley version of the world versus what is actually healthy.

 

Investment priorities

  • Climate budget that operates alongside the traditional budget
  • We can not expect a low or zero carbon future, if we keep building infrastructure for high carbon transport…locked-in carbon.
  • Transport is central – Cycling walking public transport prioritised
  • Thames solar corridor – solar boats
  • Aviation a 10% increase in air fares generates a 5-15% reduction in demand. Potentially levying 9 billion in extra taxes.
  • Water fountains, economic water use and systems
  • SUDS
  • Urban Food growing could supply 20% of London’s needs
  • Resident allotment permits could replace resident  parking permits. Growing greens outside your home cuts high carbon imported perishable greens
  • Green biodiversity
  • Trees,  fruit trees
  • Plastic free shopping
  • Reclaiming public space from motor vehicles

Low Tech V High Tech

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Phil Hale

 

In Houston, the recent hurricane claimed half a million cars. Cycling proved far more adaptable. Less high carbon replacement value equals more resilient cities.

Strategic solutions don’t cost the earth, they require political interventions.

Car free Fly free days are one solution to escalating global warming. Down tools. And have a day of rest.

Leaves are gold

I’m writing this on a fine Autumn day as COP 23 kicks off in Bonn. Collecting leaves which make rich compost are vital to maintaining soil quality. By putting value on things that are worth collecting, sourcing, returning to the earth. We understand the cycle of life.

Response to Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy

Dear Mayor of London,

I applaud and support the direction of travel of the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy.
The ambitious plans to improve the health and well-being of London’s citizens by reducing the need to use cars is exactly what we need to reduce congestion, air and noise pollution, road danger, community severance, carbon emissions, obesity and inactivity. Your bold and visionary document sets the agenda for real political leadership as our city. country and planet face unprecedented challenges.
As this graph from the European Environment Agency shows, CO2 emissions are falling in most other sectors, by 24 per cent between 1990 and 2014. But road transport emissions rose by 17%. Since Cities are responsible for 70% of world emissions but make up on 2% of global land, it is imperative that London plays its part in mitigating
catastrophic Climate Change.
graph

The three most obvious questions presented by the document are:

  1. Can we do this faster than 2041?
  2. And is the ambition of 80% of Londoners trips by foot, cycle or public transport enough to hit desired reductions on inactivity, obesity, air pollution, carbon emissions, congestion, and road danger?
  3. Can we make cycling and walking accessible and safe for all Londoners, from 4 years old to 104?
  • My answer would be yes we can do this quicker. I will try and set out some solutions
  • Yes we can be even more ambitious on reduction in car use. A ‘Spring clean’ of London’s roads is well overdue.
  • Yes it is essential that we make our streets available to all Londoners to cycle and walk so that they can access the ‘miracle pill’ of active travel. But we need 1 billion  investment ASAP.
It would be ideal if London’s Mayor had more devolved powers over the whole road network. The patchy response of boroughs to the strategic needs of Londoners can be frustrating. But given that you, the Mayor,  have the ability to extend the Congestion hours of the current CCZ, I would say that is a quick win. And increasing the charge too.
I have received  24/7 data of all vehicles entering Congestion Charge Zone from Transport for London in April 2017. It clearly shows surges in cars at 6pm when the CCZ hours finish in the week and throughout the weekend.  Also cutting CCZ exemptions for vehicles like Private Hire Vehicles and Taxis, which are private journeys too, will curb congestion. The new night tube is providing a valuable service that can replace many of those private car journeys late into the night. The availability of apps like pedalmeapp provide a real sustainable option to private car journeys, be they Taxi or PHV or privately owned cars or car club.
So called ‘cleaner’ motor vehicle exemptions must also be reviewed immediately. Professor Frank Kelly has advised that private car trips by polluting diesel and petrol must not be automatically replaced by Electric and Hydrogen. He believes car journeys must be replaced by walking and cycling wherever feasible. This supporting evidence shows why: 75% particulates come from road tyre and brake wear.
As a quick, emergency measure, I believe it is possible to raise the CCZ charge on high air pollution days?
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Extending the Congestion Charge zone to apply road pricing to the whole of London will ensure that car use is never cheaper than cycling or public transport. Making walking and cycling the most comfortable, enjoyable and convenient modes will require a sea change in attitude to prioritising these modes. This is deeply embedded at Transport for London and in the current culture and algorithms used in traffic modelling. This needs root and branch culture change.
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Road Building

I understand there will be significant and intense lobbying by a well funded and organised motoring lobby to build more roads, tunnels and bridges for motor vehicles as a way of curbing congestion. May I point to the new  Queensferry Crossing at the Firth of Forth:
‘The first cars drove over the bridge shortly before 2am on Wednesday after traffic was diverted from the Forth Road Bridge. A long procession followed police vehicles, with many honking their horns and blowing whistles as they crossed the bridge. However, by rush-hour drivers were facing long delays in both directions.’
£1.35bn spent  but not a solution. Merely induced demand.
My understanding is that the cost of road pricing infrastructure across Greater London would be in the region of £200 million. Meanwhile the Silvertown Tunnel is eating into the budget by approximately 1 billion. The most cost effective and effective way of reducing motor traffic must be road pricing whilst providing healthy alternatives for all ages.
Central Copenhagen currently has a 91% share of journeys by walking, cycling and public transport. With an increasing population, I believe this 91% figure to be a more realistic target for the appropriate transformation of streets across London.

Children

We used to make space for designated play streets in London. Unfortunately these have disappeared as cars have made inroads into our most precious of public space:
‘London authorities recognised the value of children being able to play safely in their neighbourhoods in 1938 when they passed legislation preventing traffic from entering designated roads for certain periods of time. The popularity of play streets then spread throughout the capital until the popularisation of car ownership in the 1950’s and 1960’s.’
Common Law sets out the duty of Councils to protect people when creating, designing or maintaining highways. Discriminating against Children, inadvertently or knowingly is a breach of that duty of care.
Cars have assumed and consumed children’s space more than any other group. Children’s ability to travel independently in their local environment has been significantly impeded by infrastructure design that is dangerous and intimidating. Speeding, aggressive motor vehicles, parked cars and shared space bring specific dangers for Children.
However this was not always the case. In Islington I have met many older people in their seventies who cycled independently across London and beyond as 11 year olds. One gentleman described cycling to Southend and back as a twelve year old. We infantalize older children by restricting their accessibility to safe, independent active travel.

Outdoor activity is a crucial component in the growth and development of the child’s brain, body and intellect

The importance of outdoor activity cannot be overstated; instead of sitting on a couch watching cartoons, children learn how to ride a bike, roller skate, kick about a ball.
Physical activity develops social, emotional and cognitive competencies. It is also essential for healthy bone development and exposes children to natural vitamin D, sunlight.
Children acquire knowledge experientially through play, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Learning by doing creates more neural networks in the brain and throughout the body, making the entire body a tool for learning. The more neural pathways, the larger the brain.
Physical activity activates the brain much more than doing seat work because moderate to vigorous movement feeds oxygen, water and to the brain, optimizing performance. Sitting, on the contrary,  increases fatigue and reduces concentration.
Activity helps children develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as dexterity and balance, all through exploring, risk taking and having fun. This enhances their anticipation and prediction. In short it helps them become streetwise!
Independent travel by bike or on foot is the perfect way for children to make choices, plan and expand their creativity. It is also necessary outlet for reducing stress, allowing the brain to recharge.
The shocking statistics of
must be a wake up call.

Here are my recommendations, specifically but not exclusively aimed at London’s children:

  • We need road pricing across London to reduce motor traffic to ‘essential’. This will decrease road danger, air pollution and congestion that impedes children’s access to outside play and independent travel.
  • We must remove car parking strategically to reintroduce dedicated play streets and a car-free cycling network across London. Children need to see and be seen.
  • The Healthy Streets approach needs to include cyclists from all walks of life as well as pedestrians from all walks of life.
  • Staggered crossings are not acceptable design, leaving children stranded in the most polluted part of the road.
  • No child should be severed from school or parks through lack of safe crossings
  • We need 20 MPH speed cameras or police enforcement. 20 MPH London streets are worthless without appropriate enforcement.
  • We need weekly car-free Sundays in Central London and Town Centres for families to enjoy.
  • Cycling infrastructure must be suitable for children cycling independently, as a minimum requirement. NB Bus lanes are not appropriate cycling infrastructure for children.
  • Children’s health and wellbeing must be prioritised over car use and storage.
  • Transport for London must be open about how it uses data and algorithms in traffic modelling that can discriminate against children’s human rights.
  • We must ban and price polluting cars, whether petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric or hydrogen by real world emissions. Our children’s future must not be burdened by our failures on emissions, including  air pollution , water pollution and greenhouse gases.

Bus safety

Road safety is a major issue for buses on London’s streets. Pedestrians and cyclists are being killed and injured in tragic numbers.
Safety must be prioritized and rewarded over timetables. The hierarchy of pedestrians first, cyclists second and buses third must be upheld if we are to encourage Healthy Streets.
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The unethical approach that suggests cyclists be used to calm traffic in bus lanes is simply bizarre. Nobody wants their cycling kids or granny to be used like ‘speed humps’ to reduce bus speed.
This 2014 report by Darren Johnson says that Buses are as dangerous as lorries for cyclists, but not as fatal
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Working conditions of bus drivers must be legal, ethical and considerate. Safer bus working conditions make streets safer for all Londoners. I support their Bill of Rights.
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The introduction of Automated brakes and cruise control in motor vehicles has an unfortunate alignment with a 5% spike in UK road traffic KSIs in 2016. Reliance on new technology with little scrutiny is a cause for major concern. The correlation between automated tech and increased KSIs has not been proven but we must investigate to see if there is a connection between the two before considering automated brakes in London buses. Automated brakes can be hacked.
Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is a no-brainer for safety. The Elizabeth line, opening in 2018,  will provide completely accessible transport. Exiting pedestrians will flood Oxford St and surrounding areas in large numbers. Again the pedestrian, cycling, bus hierarchy must apply.
Transport modelling rather than traffic modelling that counts pedestrians and potential cycling routes must be considered when deciding if buses present unacceptable dangers and areas need to be cycling and walking only. This must be part of the Vision zero.

Bus Efficiency

At Living Streets Walking Summit in March 2017, Janette Sadik-Khan said ‘road traffic reduction is a priority bus measure’. Road pricing or banishing non-essential motor traffic from our strategic road network and bus routes, will ensure more reliable bus journey times.
Motorbikes, Taxis, private cars are private motor traffic journeys that are not part of your ambition to achieve 80% Londoners journeys by walking, cycling and public transport. They should not be allowed to use bus lanes.
Removing all parking and other motor vehicles from bus lanes and bus routes 24/7 is paramount to prioritising this public transport mode.
Creating separate dedicated cycling lanes with well designed floating bus stops will avoid entangling of inappropriate modes. Buses and Cyclists 4-104 yrs are not suitable partners. Separating out modes of traffic has proved to be more efficient in New York.
Orbital bus routes with dedicated bus lanes in Greater London are welcomed. These can produce real alternatives to car use. Linking to hospitals and other community services is vital.
Bendy buses, responsible for twice as many injuries are not welcomed.
I support moving Buses to as cleaner technology as soon as possible, whilst accepting they will never be ‘zero-emission’ but only zero-emission capable.

 Commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles have become a real danger and major cause of congestion and air pollution on residential streets. Thanks to apps like Waze and Google maps, speeding and rat-running are now the norm.
The gig economy like Uber and Deliveroo encourage speeding as part of their business model where drivers are rewarded for timed delivery. This business model must change. Profit at the expense of lives and health is unacceptable.
In Islington, the first Borough to introduce 20MPH, drivers show contempt for the safety of residents.   In 2011, research by Royal Holloway College, London University  revealed that children ‘cannot detect’ cars travelling faster than 20MPH. This report was concrete evidence for introduction of 20MPH throughout urban areas.
However there seems to have been little thought given to how to enforce this progressive initiative. This is vital if we are to make Healthy Streets for all Londoners and hit Vision Zero targets.
  • Police must be apportioned and suitably funded if we want to enforce this and other motoring offences.
  • Speed cameras may provide some deterrent if used wisely.
  • Residential roads need to be closed to rat-running by suitable bollards.
Another useful tool might be the development of an app, available to Londoners to monitor speeding on their streets. I recently mooted this idea at a Citizens Power data meeting at Bartlett School of Architecture and technically it seems it would be possible.
According to Val Shawcross, two thirds of online deliveries fail. All that extra congestion, air pollution, carbon and road danger for such little commercial success is crazy. How do the economics stack up when drivers or delivery companies feel this waste is economically viable? Let’s make sure we make it wholly economically unviable. Our streets and roads are too valuable to be used in such a reckless way.

Freight

  • Safer design regulation on HGVs faster
  • Consolidation centres and smart rationalisation
  • Road pricing to encourage efficient economic use of vehicles

Rubbish collection

Recycling, composting and Packaging reduction. Plastic can only be recycled three times. More efficient to ban plastic packaging.

Delivery

  • 2/3 online deliveries fail. Make it economically non-viable to pollute and congest our streets
  • Road pricing
  • Transfer deliveries where feasible to cargo bikes and cycling
  • Close roads to stop residential rat-running
  • Develop an app to empower citizen reporting and mapping of speeding.

PHVs and Taxis

  • Private, inefficient journeys need to be capped and road priced
  • Transfer to truly zero-emission pedicabs and new apps like pedalmeapp

London Airports

I agree that there should be no Heathrow expansion. In fact I believe Heathrow should be contracted to meet air pollution, noise pollution and carbon emission targets.
Whole swathes of West London residents are blighted by air and noise pollution. Are their human rights being violated? I would say there is evidence to support this.
However there is also a notable absence of strategy on City Airport. This also blights large areas of London. I wonder why the health and well-being of residents of East London affected by noise and air pollution are not in the draft Transport Strategy?
I believe it is wholly inappropriate to have an airport within the heart of East London. We can use this land to improve the health and well-being of local residents. building housing and beneficial green infrastructure.

Drones

Drones have been involved in a series of near misses with flights at Heathrow. The number of near-misses keeps growing every year. There were 70 drone near-misses at Heathrow in 2016. 
Do we have to wait for a catastrophic crash over the capital before these are banned?

Driverless vehicles

Driverless vehicles are presented in very simplistic terms, as futuristic saviours, solving congestion, making streets safer and even saving the planet. Like Uber, they claim to work for the good of the community but in reality
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such companies are not actually interested in genuine change, for all their bluster about “radical disruption”. Self-driving cars are a sticking plaster over existing conditions.
My year-long research reveals a complex, darker and more disturbing picture that mirrors the uncertain times we are living in. I believe that if we accept this Trojan Horse through our city gates, we will be more vulnerable to cyber attack. We also become easier prey to a dystopian world where our public space can be controlled by outside forces. This is a very serious threat to our national security.
These ‘mobile couch potatoes’ in no way provide a solution to the inactivity crisis enveloping our city. In fact they will impede progress on this public health emergency.
Replacing the current dangerous motor vehicle technology with an equally or potentially more dangerous tech does not make logical sense. Blowing our limited carbon budget on tech that does not provide real solutions is dangerous and reckless.
Money, resources, time and energy are being sucked into a sci-fi fantasy that should remain on the silver screen. At one meeting I suggested it might be a scam? The answer was revealing ‘It’s a bubble, people will lose money’ said professor George T Martin, Montclair State University.
An algorithmic organisation of society that takes out the human element can only lead to a dystopia; systematic dehumanisation and marginalisation . We must embrace our humanity, become closer to nature and ourselves. Building a more sustainable society is building a more human one, feeding our senses not sensors. Human happiness, creativity  and wellbeing are algorithmically unquantifiable.
Kind regards
Rosalind Readhead

Londoners: Beware the Driverless Trojan Horse

We’ve been Ubered!

Driverless vehicles are presented in very simplistic terms, as futuristic saviours, solving congestion, making streets safer and even saving the planet. Like Uber, they claim to work for the good of the community but in reality

image

 

 such companies are not actually interested in genuine change, for all their bluster about “radical disruption”. Self-driving cars are a sticking plaster over existing conditions. 

My year-long research reveals a complex, darker and more disturbing picture that mirrors the uncertain times we are living in. I believe that if we accept this Trojan Horse through our city gates, we will be more vulnerable to cyber attack. We also become easier prey to a dystopian world where our public space can be controlled by outside forces. This is a very serious threat to our national security.

What’s in the code?

What does the dieselgate scandal tell us about the algorithmic transparency of driverless vehicles?  It took a year for researchers to find and identify the dieselgate code responsible for an estimated 38,000  global deaths per year from extra air pollution. Tracing illegal and unethical code is very difficult.

Many experts believe that corporations and governments are taking advantage of conceptual control gaps or lack of computer literacy, meaning communities become unable to understand and thereby scrutinise new technologies like drones and automated vehicles.

However Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum believes it goes even further :

“Transparency is the great challenge. As these things exert more and more influence, we want to know how they work, what choices are being made and who is responsible. The irony is that, as the algorithms become more complex, the creators of them increasingly do not know what is going on inside the black box. How, then, can they improve transparency?”

Blurring of military and commercial driverless technology

Both Elon Musk and Steven Hawking have been warning about an Artificial intelligence ‘arms race’. Leaders in robotics and artificial intelligence from around the globe are calling on the United Nations to protect humanity from what they say is a developing threat: killer robots.

Unlike many technology bosses, Musk has been a vocal AI sceptic, warning that the potential consequences could outweigh benefits like self-driving cars.

The crossover between corporations working for Military and Commercial operations makes this scenario even more worrying. For instance Siemens, Google and Volvo all work for the US military. I have asked for clarification on the cyber security, algorithmic transparency and accountability of driverless vehicles at public meetings and have been quickly closed down on grounds of ‘sensitivity’.

The main players, China, Russia, US and Israel all have automated weaponry.

  • The US military has ‘Zombie trucks’ and drones,
  • Russia has its killer robot ‘Iron Man’ and a driverless vehicle programme
  • Israel operates driverless patrols of the Gaza strip

Military automated technology has the potential to be used in civilian public space and commercial autonomous vehicles may well have some form of automated weaponry algorithms embedded in their programmes. In the labyrinth of Artificial Intelligence, the lines between commercial and military are not clear.

An obvious question is who wants this killer technology? The answer is stark and chilling:

“They are going to go to tyrannical dictators who often have trouble convincing their militaries to attack their own people, which we saw in Egypt….The military refused to attack people in Tahrir Square.”

The question of who is to be killed in an ‘accident’ also remains problematic. There are so-called “algorithms of death”

Would some commercial operators prefer to save their valued paying customer over a non paying pedestrian or cyclist? Would that algorithm be transparent and accountable? And are there facial recognition algorithms that can even identify targets for assassination, as used by military drones?

A totalitarian state may not be concerned about this kind of algorithmic transparency and accountability, but a democracy like London must be aware of what it is unleashing onto its streets.

Stuxnet: the worm that turned

Wikipedia states that Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm, first identified in 2010 but thought to have been in development since at least 2005, that targets industrial computer systems and was responsible for causing substantial damage to Iran’s nuclear program. Although neither country has admitted responsibility, since 2012 the worm is frequently described as a jointly built AmericanIsraeli cyberweapon

Stuxnet was originally under the radar, not to be detected but able to be significantly disruptive to the nuclear programme. Targeting

  1. The Windows operating system,
  2. Siemens PCS 7, WinCC and STEP7 industrial software applications that run on Windows and
  3. One or more Siemens S7 PLCs.

With its release and subsequent discovery, anyone can download and manipulate the Stuxnet code for their own purpose, targeting industrial facilities, computer systems or driverless vehicles.

This has opened a can of worms. Criminals or foreign powers can demand ransomewear in bitcoins as in the recent NHS cyber attack. They can also attack by disrupting infrastructure, putting lives at risk and blackmailing Governments or corporations.

When is an accident really an attack?

Under the radar hacking means that a driverless ‘accident’ could actually be a cyberattack. Accountability and transparency becomes impossible when there is no identifiable, traceable perpetrator.

Dr Lisa Collingwood of Kingston University believes that driverless vehicles are not ‘safer’ but  ‘just dangerous in different ways’ . At a recent meeing at London Cycling Campaign, she told the audience that autonomous vehicles could be used as ‘weapons of mass destruction’

I understand Transport for London are looking into automated brakes for buses. Whilst I support greater bus safety measures,  they may take caution from this episode, where a team of Chinese hackers took  remote control of Tesla Model S brakes from 12 miles away.

Charlie Miller who  remotely hacked a Jeep Cherokee via its internet connection sparking a 1.4 million recall says ‘Securing autonomous cars from hackers is a very difficult problem’

“Autonomous vehicles are at the apex of all the terrible things that can go wrong,” says Miller, who spent years on the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations team of elite hackers before stints at Twitter and Uber. “Cars are already insecure, and you’re adding a bunch of sensors and computers that are controlling them…If a bad guy gets control of that, it’s going to be even worse.”

Anything that can be built can be hacked: The difference is that we are not normally driving around behind our computer on a busy London Street. If vehicles can be hacked and operated by remote control , they can become weapons of mass destruction, or used for targeted assassinations and no trace of the perpetrator may ever be found.

And then there are glitches and malfunctions. Machines go wrong more than we like to think. The minefield of who bears responsibility for injury and death is a very difficult problem too.

Human Streets not Robot Streets

The Mayors draft Transport Strategy sets out a direction of travel where London’s streets become more liveable and healthy. Prioritising active travel like walking and cycling seeks to address the urgent public health crises of obesity, inactivity, air pollution, diabetes type2 and climate change.

Wellbeing, health, social cohesion and equality are at the heart of a liveable city. It is very concerning then that some driverless advocates are suggesting all citizens carry ‘beacons’ or are radio-tagged to stop them being victims of driverless technology. Maybe they would like children to be micro-chipped at birth too?

The reason for this is that ‘pesky cyclists’ are difficult for self-driving cars to detect. Or pedestrians might get smart to the driverless algorithms and override their physical advantage. Tom Cohen of University College London has warned that we must be wary of attempts by autonomous vehicle lobbyists to alter the Healthy Streets hierarchy of pedestrians and cyclists first.

original

Equality of public space

Self-driving advocates have plans for an elite tiered system, where paying customers can go faster on certain roads. Hyperlanes might see driverless vehicles reaching 100 miles per hour.

Anyone who is interested in the equality of public space, must be worried about the carving up of our public space into elite, robot superhighways. The business model that annexes public space to operate a motor vehicle product for the few is unfair. If it operates for everyone then we have stagnant congestion which is untenable and debillitating.

Active travel, like Walking and cycling, provide the most social cohesion and equality of public space. They can be accessible to children for independent travel, for older people, women and people with disabilities. But we must build the appropriate, accessible and safe infrastructure.

Closer to nature

One of the more bizarre meetings I attended, in the process of this research, was a presentation on Climate Change that rightly urged us to move closer to nature. The twist was that the answer to ‘moving closer to nature’ was robots and robot cars. I was astonished at this disconnect.

Faceless vehicles with the human component of eye contact removed, are intutively less engaging and unnerving. How do you communicate with a metal box machine? But the environmental claims are plainly not true.

Neo-environmentalists believe that we don’t need to worry about climate change because technology will save us. They even have their favourite Cedric Price mantra:

‘Technology is the answer. But what is the question?”

Unfortunately the ‘shiny new toy’ is more valued than deep strategic thinking.

I am completely on board with technology that has been scrutinised and found to be the best solution. I believe many renewables fall into this category.  But the fake ‘zero-emission’ claims of Electric Vehicle manufacturers remind me of the ‘clean diesel’ lobby.

Just the manufacture of an electric vehicle produces a massive carbon belch. Add on new electric infrastructure, the source of the electric grid etc and the embedded carbon is enormous. And of course 75% particulates come from road tyre and brake wear, meaning that EV are not a solution to air pollution and water pollution either.

The other carbon element, often ignored is the carbon footprint of data. Artifical intelligence, used by driverless technology, is a voracious consumer and producer of data.

At present the energy consumed by the worlds data centres puts an enormous strain on energy supplies Data has the same carbon footprint as the aviation industry. This is set to rise exponentially with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, like driverless technology. Electric vehicles and data centres are a big risk for energy demand and yet autonomous lobbyists are making ‘sustainable’ ‘green’ claims?

Basically driverless advocates are lobbying for high carbon infrastructure for a high carbon product. 

Strategic solutions

At a White Paper presentation on Autonomous Vehicles, I asked whether minimising motor vehicles to essential traffic would be an alternative, strategic solution to reduce congestion, parking,  road danger and unlocking space. The answer was yes, and a genuine smile.

These ‘mobile couch potatoes’ in no way provide a solution to the inactivity crisis enveloping our city. In fact they will impede progress on this public health emergency.

Replacing the current dangerous motor vehicle technology with an equally or potentially more dangerous tech does not make logical sense. Blowing our limited carbon budget on tech that does not provide real solutions is dangerous and reckless.

Money, resources, time and energy are being sucked into a sci-fi fantasy that should remain on the silver screen. At one meeting I suggested it might be a scam? The answer was revealing ‘It’s a bubble, people will lose money’ said professor George T Martin, Montclair State University.

An algorithmic organisation of society that takes out the human element can only lead to a dystopia; systematic dehumanisation and marginalisation . We must embrace our humanity, become closer to nature and ourselves. Building a more sustainable society is building a more human one, feeding our senses not sensors. Human happiness, creativity  and wellbeing are algorithmically unquantifiable.

 

 

 To be continued….

 

 

Are Children’s Rights addressed sufficiently in the Draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2017?

School’s out for Summer!

Many children will be heading out of London for the Summer holidays but a large proportion will be here for all or part of the six week break. We used to make space for designated play streets in London. Unfortunately these have disappeared as cars have made inroads into our most precious of public space:

image

‘London authorities recognised the value of children being able to play safely in their neighbourhoods in 1938 when they passed legislation preventing traffic from entering designated roads for certain periods of time. The popularity of play streets then spread throughout the capital until the popularisation of car ownership in the 1950’s and 1960’s.’

Common Law sets out the duty of Councils to protect people when creating, designing or maintaining highways. Discriminating against Children, inadvertently or knowingly is a breach of that duty of care.

Children’s ability to travel independently in their local environment has been significantly impeded by infrastructure design that is dangerous and intimidating. Speeding, aggressive motor vehicles, parked cars and shared space bring specific dangers for Children.

However this was not always the case. In Islington I have met many older people in their seventies who cycled independently across London and beyond as 11 year olds. One gentleman described cycling to Southend and back as a twelve year old. We infantalize older children by restricting their accessibility to safe, independent active travel.

Outdoor activity is a crucial component in the growth and development of the child’s brain, body and intellect

New York has provided play streets for over 100 years

The importance of outdoor activity cannot be overstated; instead of sitting on a couch watching cartoons, children learn how to ride a bike, roller skate, kick about a ball.

Physical activity develops social, emotional and cognitive competencies. It is also essential for healthy bone development and exposes children to natural vitamin D, sunlight.

Children acquire knowledge experientially through play, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Learning by doing creates more neural networks in the brain and throughout the body, making the entire body a tool for learning. The more neural pathways, the larger the brain.

Physical activity activates the brain much more than doing seat work because moderate to vigorous movement feeds oxygen, water and to the brain, optimizing performance. Sitting, on the contrary,  increases fatigue and reduces concentration.

Activity helps children develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as dexterity and balance, all through exploring, risk taking and having fun. This enhances their anticipation and prediction. In short it helps them become streetwise!

Independent travel by bike or on foot is the perfect way for children to make choices, plan and expand their creativity. It is also necessary outlet for reducing stress, allowing the brain to recharge.

The shocking statistics of

must be a wake up call.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN convention on the rights of the child sets out some basic principles. I have selected a few that might be appropriate to the Mayors Transport Strategy:

  • Article 4 (implementation of
    the Convention)
    Governments must do all they can to make
    sure every child can enjoy their rights by
    creating systems and passing laws that
    promote and protect children’s rights.
  • Article 6 (life, survival and development)
    Every child has the right to life.
    Governments must do all they can to
    ensure that children survive and develop to
    their full potential.
  • Article 27 (adequate standard of living)
    Every child has the right to a standard of
    living that is good enough to meet their
    physical and social needs and support
    their development. Governments must
    help families who cannot afford to
    provide this.
  • Article 31 (leisure, play and culture)
    Every child has the right to relax, play and
    take part in a wide range of cultural and
    artistic activities.

Are Children being airbrushed from the planning system?

Our public space is so unwelcoming for children that George Monbiot believes they have been ‘airbrushed from the planning system’.

For the last 20 years, traffic modelling has used secret algorithms to prioritise cars over children’s rights to play, roam and travel independently on our streets. This has meant children have been effectively chased off our streets with what I call Pied Piper algorithms. There has been no debate or democratic transparency on how software is used in making these decisions. Accountability has been avoided with lack of tech scrutiny.

In New York, James Vacca, Deputy leader of NYC Council and Chair of Committee on Technology is trying to introduce a bill whereby secret algorithms making Governmental decisions are accountable and transparent to the public. I would like Transport for London to be open about the algorithms it uses, and how that affect the lives of London’s children in profound ways. Secret prioritisation of the right to drive over the right to life, health and safe housing of children is unethical and could be illegal.

I sit in on many Transport Committees at City Hall, where the interests of business and needs of adults are listened to at length. But rarely do I hear the interests of children raised and debated. The absence of representation in the halls of power creates a system where children are essentially ‘prisoners of bad design’

Jay Griffiths describes starkly how children are penned in and marginalised in her seminal book Kith: The Riddle Of The Childscape:

“Today’s children are enclosed in school and home, enclosed in cars to shuttle between them, enclosed by fear, by surveillance and poverty and enclosed in rigid schedules of time.”

These metal boxes that shuttle children from brick box to brick box bring their particular dangers. Air pollution is ‘nine to 12 times higher inside the car than outside’. They are effectively ‘pollution boxes’.

Children’s special needs must be taken into consideration when designing streets

In 2011, research by Royal Holloway College, London University revealed that children ‘cannot detect’ cars travelling faster than 20MPH:

‘children’s perceptive limitations place them at greater risk of stepping in front of cars travelling at higher speeds’

Meanwhile their lower height puts them more at risk of ‘backovers’ because they cannot be seen in the blind zone behind a vehicle.

This picture illustrates how children cycling can’t see and be seen through a solid wall of parked cars. It has also been pointed out to me by Isabelle Clement, director of Wheels for Wellbeing, that Londoners in wheelchairs, hand cycles and recumbents face similar issues with parked cars. This is an equality and accessibility issue.

Range Rover bonnets meet the shoulders of an average 8 yr old. Small children are shorter so the car bumper more likely to strike them in the pelvis or torso. Armoured 4X4 vehicles designed to ‘protect’ children are ironically weapons against their potential independence.

How will our children meet the daily level of activity vital for health?

Lucy Saunders, one of the key architects of the Healthy Streets approach, embedded in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy Draft, writes:

‘Our efforts to tackle childhood obesity have focused on modifying diet, but the other side of the ‘energy in/energy out’ equation deserves careful consideration for the many co-benefits we can reap. A study by Mackett and Paskins (2004) assessed children’s energy expenditure during different activities and found that children burned the most calories when playing outdoors unsupervised or travelling actively. Neither activity is a routine use of time for the majority of children in the UK. Unlike past generations, most children in the U.K. do not spend several hours a day drifting around the streets looking for adventure and opportunity. Instead a car ride to organised activities, playing computer games and watching tv are more common.

There is good reason for this, over recent decades cars have filled our streets in ever increasing numbers. Now more affordable, convenient, comfortable and faster than ever their ubiquity means we don’t think to question their right to line our streets when parked and take precedence over other uses and users of the streets when they are moving. As a result many parents are reluctant for their child to walk with their friends to school, the park, the community centre or library and the sight of a child kicking a ball around in their street is rare. While many children living in urban areas live within walking distance of parks their ability to access them is constrained by the availability of an adult to accompany them. If we are to address inactivity amongst children then this is the issue we must face head on: how we will create street environments which are safe enough for children to travel on foot or by bike unsupervised.’

My response to the Mayor’s Transport Strategy Draft

I support and welcome the radical direction of The Mayor’s Transport Strategy Draft. Minimising motor traffic is the only strategic solution to London’s congestion, air pollution, inactivity and obesity crises. And of course Climate Change. But I want children to be at the heart of redesigning our streets too.

So here are some of my early recommendations, specifically but not exclusively aimed at London’s children:

  • We need road pricing across London to reduce motor traffic to ‘essential’. This will decrease road danger, air pollution and congestion that impedes children’s access to outside play and independent travel.
  • We must remove car parking strategically to reintroduce dedicated play streets and a car-free cycling network across London. Children need to see and be seen.
  • The Healthy Streets approach needs to include cyclists from all walks of life as well as pedestrians from all walks of life.
  • Staggered crossings are not acceptable design, leaving children stranded in the most polluted part of the road.
  • No child should be severed from school or parks through lack of safe crossings
  • We need 20 MPH speed cameras or police enforcement. 20 MPH London streets are worthless without appropriate enforcement.
  • We need weekly car-free Sundays in Central London and Town Centres for families to enjoy.
  • Cycling infrastructure must be suitable for children cycling independently, as a minimum requirement. NB Bus lanes are not appropriate cycling infrastructure for children.
  • Children’s health and wellbeing must be prioritised over car use and storage.
  • Transport for London must be open about how it uses data and algorithms in traffic modelling that can discriminate against children’s human rights.
  • We must ban and price polluting cars, whether petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric or hydrogen by real world emissions. Our children’s future must not be burdened by our failures on emissions, including  air pollution , water pollution and greenhouse gases.

 

Review: Evidence supporting Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2017

The key conclusion is that for London to grow and thrive, it is essential that London’s residents, workers and visitors do more walking and cycling and use public transport more to improve their health and the environment, to make streets work more efficiently & keep London moving.

image

Car use

The car mode share is highest in the evening and overnight, at weekends and lowest in the daytime interpeak. The car mode share is highest for middle distance trips (2-5km), with longer trips more likely to be made by public transport. Nevertheless, a third of jobs are in outer London, with a 56% car mode share for commuting. As London grows, we need to ensure more sustainable commuter patterns for travel beyond the centre.

Health

The life expectancy of Londoners has been increasing but adults are living more of their lives in poor health. This has major repercussions for the NHS and adult social care.Adults need at least 150 minutes and children 420 minutes of physical activity a week to stay healthy and reduce their risk of common, preventable diseases. Building physical activity into your daily routine by walking or cycling is one of the best ways to stay active and healthy. Currently, a third of Londoners achieve their recommended level of physical activity from active travel alone.

Mode shift

Inner Londoners walk more than outer Londoners, women walk more than men, and
adults aged 17-44 walk the most whilst older people walk the least.

Cycle travel grew by 133% London-wide and 221% in central London between 2000 – 2015. There is considerable opportunity to deliver growth in cycle travel, with more than nine million journeys currently made by a motorised mode every day that could be cycled instead. 77% of Londoners believe that cycling is enjoyable and people continue to cycle in London because it is fun, quick, convenient, cheap and a good way to keep fit.

People that don’t currently cycle in London can be concerned about safety and worried that cycling may not be a convenient option for them – to help them start cycling means overcoming the following barriers:

• Fear and vulnerability
• Lack of infrastructure
• Whether they identify with cycling and
how attractive it is to them
• The physical effort of cycling
• Access to a bike
• How cycling compares to the alternatives
• Lack of confidence

Over 8 million trips could feasibly be cycled but aren’t now. Over 1 million stages as part of a longer trip could feasibly be cycled but aren’t now. More high quality, safe and pleasant routes, supported by plentiful and secure cycle parking.

Road danger

  • Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are most at risk of being KSIs by road user type
    involved in a collision.
    • Londoners from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups suffer a
    disproportionately high number of road casualties.
    • Pedestrians in the most deprived areas are more than twice as
    likely to be injured as those in the least deprived areas.
    • Between 2005/09 and 2015, child pedestrian KSI reduced by
    52% and child car occupants by 72% showing more needs to be
    done to increase child pedestrian safety.

Space economics

At present, 57% of London households own a car, making 6.8m car trips per day. Car
ownership is the strongest determinant of inactivity – 70% of people without a car do
some activity compared to 50% with one car. Since its invention, the car has provided
welcome connectivity and opened up new opportunities. Even in a densely populated
city such as London, some journeys can only reasonably be made by car. But the amount of space that can or should be taken up by private road transport is limited, and the population is growing.
As well as prioritising more space-efficient and sustainable modes, research suggests that most people agree that the limited remaining space should be prioritised for
‘essential’ traffic.

Private cars, taxis and private hire vehicles take up three quarters of the road space used for personal travel in central London but account for just a fifth of the personal
distance travelled.

93% of car journeys under 2km have an alternative available, but just 16% of trips over 8km. Shorter trips are also more likely to have more than one alternative available.

 

Air pollution

Under the most recent government plans, London will not comply with
legal limits for NO2 until 2025, 15 years after the original deadline.
About 25% of London’s roads are forecast to be non-compliant with
NO2 levels in 2020. Of these, about a third require reductions of
between 25% and 50% of road transport NOx emissions, and a tenth
require at least a 50% reduction.

Transport is the biggest source of emissions damaging to health in
London: around half of emissions (NOx and particulate matter
(PM)) in Greater London come from road transport. London is in breach of legal limits on NO2 and while there is no safe level for particulates, does not meet levels recommended by the World Health Organisation of PM smaller than 2.5 micrograms.

The communities suffering most from poor air quality are often the
most vulnerable. 360+ primary schools are in areas exceeding safe
legal pollution levels.

Without further action, London is expected to exceed World
Health Organisation levels of PM2.5 until well after 2030. 75%
of road transport PM comes from tyre and brake wear. There
are limited technological solutions so only a reduction in road
traffic can effectively tackle PM in the medium/long term.

 

Carbon Emissions

Climate change is a serious threat to global quality of life. Carbon dioxide concentration is 40% higher than in pre-industrial times and between 1880 and 2012, the earth’s surface warmed 0.85O Celsius. London’s transport providers must play their part in delivering reductions in carbon emissions. The Mayor’s ultimate ambition is to make London a zero carbon city by 2050.

While transport CO2 emissions are projected to have fallen by more than 2 million tonnes by 2025 from 1990 levels, they will still be 2.35 million tonnes above the target previously set for 2025. Meeting this would require a reduction in emissions equivalent to a 40% reduction in road traffic.

Technological advances will reduce vehicle emissions but this will be made quicker and more feasible if the distance travelled by car is reduced. London’s bus, taxis and private hire fleets are on a pathway to reach zero emission.
London’s rail services are primarily electric so CO2 emissions will decline with the decarbonisation of the energy supply. Need the government to electrify all remaining
diesel lines. Emissions arise from the taxiing, take off and landing of aircraft at Heathrow and City Airport. Plans to expand Heathrow’s third runway are unclear on what this would mean for meeting the UK’s climate change targets.

Private Car problem solved in Central London? Not according to new 24/7 data 

 

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Why we urgently need to review the Congestion Charge

When the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone brought in the Congestion Charge Zone on February 17 2003 it was a brave and radical new policy for London and a timely birthday present for me.

In those intervening 14 years our economy has changed markedly. Anecdotally many Central London residents and visitors have become aware of increased congestion in the day time, evening and at weekends. People complain of increased road danger, air and noise pollution, slower bus journeys and more sirens disturbing sleep as emergency services struggle to move efficiently through stagnant evening and night time car traffic.

In Fitzrovia, 70% of residents live car-free lives. This is in line with the majority of Central London residents. It begs the question where is this extra traffic coming from?

Reasons for Freedom of Information request

When I stood as an Independent London Mayoral Candidate in 2015-16, I asked Transport For London why the Congestion Charge only covered a third of the week, when there was clearly a problem 24/7?

I was also incensed when TFL  waived the Congestion Charge during a spike in air pollution over Christmas and New Year 2016/17. This meant all residents, workers and visitors were exposed to higher air pollution in Central London. It is highly likely this build up of particulates contributed to the black alert in January 2017.

Current and historical TFL data releases have only showed motor traffic composition for the Congestion Charge hours, which is one third of the calendar week. I believe this is not giving the whole picture.

Reasons for data selection

In February  2017, I made a  Freedom of Information request  FOI- 2560-1617 for 24/7 data of motor vehicle composition entering Central London.

I have extracted data for cars, Taxis and PHVs because they are the least efficient use of public space and contribute more proportionately to road danger, air pollution and congestion.

24/7 data gives us a clearer picture of the car problem

The  data I received for April 2017 clearly shows a marked escalation in cars from 6pm Monday-Friday and at weekends. On Sunday alone, 137,461 cars are entering Central London.

This is my my initial interpretation of the data:

  • The wave of cars triggered at 6pm, doubles the car traffic facing commuters trying to make their way home.
  • This inevitably impacts on road danger at junctions and crossings for commuting pedestrians and cyclists.
  •  It results in slower journey times for pedestrians and cyclists who are held at controlled signals as TFL prioritises ‘traffic flow’.
  • It increases exposure to air pollution at a time when many people are out on the streets, coming home from work and studies.
  • It increases bus journey times for commuting Londoners, stuck in toxic traffic.
  • It increases exposure to road danger, air pollution and journey time for those visitors coming into London to enjoy the evening and night time economy.
  • It disturbs residents sleep at night time and in the evening, with wailing sirens of emergency vehicles stuck in car traffic
  • it increases emergency vehicle attendance times
  • If ever there was data to support car-free Sundays, this is it
  • Every car journey contributes to carbon emissions, we can count the carbon released and carbon costs to our environment.

Mike Brown, head of Transport for London said at the London assembly Transport Committee this year that “anyone bringing a car into London has got the wrong end of the stick”. He is absolutely right. This is echoed by Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. She commented recently at the Living Streets Summit 2017 that reducing motor traffic IS a bus priority measure. It is a priority measure for walking and cycling too.

 

The Mayor of London and Transport for London have a duty of care to protect Londoners, workers and visitors and increase quality of life and health. Prioritising cars over the well-being of residents is an equality, social justice and moral issue. I hope that the new London Transport Strategy will address this seriously and urgently.

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24/7 data: Car, Taxi, PHV entering Central London for a whole calendar week April 2017

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The data is broken down day by day for a single weeks sample in April this year. Typically the cameras at Transport For London’s CCZ cordon are unable to detect all vehicles. Each vehicle type within the camera data is ascribed a mode attribute based on a look-up-table that has a combination of an extract from the DVLA database, TfL’s registration details of private hire vehicles and TfL’s registration details of buses. It remains our best view of the mode mix entering and within central London.

* Note Congestion Charge only operates Monday-Friday 7am – 6pm, which is 55/168 hours out of a calendar week, approximately one third of the week

* PHV are Private Hire Vehicles like Uber, Minicabs

Source: FOI- 2560-1617 (previous FOI ref 1885-1617)

Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Monday 3rd April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 2766 1143 3083
01:00 1693 834 2361
02:00 1158 486 1578
03:00 1097 326 1208
04:00 1229 349 1264
05:00 2153 527 1579
06:00 3968 957 2140
07:00 3193 1613 2363
08:00 3806 2340 3082
09;00 3513 2817 3152
10:00 3563 2898 2875
11:00 3492 2957 2714
12:00 3726 3385 2735
13:00 3877 3483 2798
14:00 3593 3612 2778
15:00 3599 3595 2688
16:00 3797 3674 2983
17:00 3784 3684 2998
18:00 7535 3661 3684
19:00 6147 3573 3538
20:00 5338 3198 3734
21:00 5204 2935 4102
22:00 4586 3022 4488
23:00 3445 2323 4243
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Tuesday 4th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 2555 1482 3326
01:00 1497 862 2555
02:00 1088 523 1644
03:00 975 347 1237
04:00 1236 417 1250
05:00 1919 535 1497
06:00 3855 1018 2190
07:00 3217 1783 2325
08:00 4002 2927 3357
09;00 4038 3389 3630
10:00 4042 3566 3285
11:00 3957 3689 3033
12:00 4157 4125 3156
13:00 3964 4205 2955
14:00 4009 4253 2981
15:00 4073 4545 3261
16:00 4126 4547 3319
17:00 4283 4656 3511
18:00 7936 4561 4144
19:00 6628 4245 3979
20:00 5542 3671 4285
21:00 5300 3559 4594
22:00 4621 3733 5315
23:00 3554 3069 4988
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Wednesday 5th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 2576 2045 4160
01:00 1704 1168 3204
02:00 1228 639 2050
03:00 1135 448 1500
04:00 1322 423 1361
05:00 2113 560 1651
06:00 4014 1103 2275
07:00 3251 1828 2491
08:00 3744 2575 3055
09;00 3952 3136 3505
10:00 4110 3427 3303
11:00 3916 3559 3167
12:00 4062 3885 3247
13:00 4005 3917 3061
14:00 3995 4079 3024
15:00 4013 4286 3252
16:00 4174 4349 3309
17:00 4232 4520 3460
18:00 8251 4607 4085
19:00 7128 4414 4404
20:00 5900 3966 4634
21:00 5541 3679 5012
22:00 5610 4121 6127
23:00 4190 3656 6309
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Thursday 6th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 2905 2301 5002
01:00 1836 1307 3718
02:00 1276 756 2423
03:00 1211 484 1742
04:00 1450 481 1607
05:00 2052 571 1784
06:00 3977 1123 2381
07:00 3265 1826 2559
08:00 3845 2637 3168
09;00 3934 3134 3554
10:00 3961 3447 3431
11:00 3916 3476 2947
12:00 3962 3938 3110
13:00 3817 4211 3001
14:00 3905 3649 3094
15:00 3801 3907 3067
16:00 4046 4611 3379
17:00 4238 4647 3695
18:00 8319 4467 4454
19:00 7273 4421 4563
20:00 6527 4093 4897
21:00 6441 4028 5542
22:00 5555 4130 6618
23:00 4711 3861 7102
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Friday 7th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 3323 2920 6080
01:00 2305 1845 5187
02:00 1710 1120 3747
03:00 1596 705 2526
04:00 1519 507 1914
05:00 2180 580 1910
06:00 3874 1068 2329
07:00 3181 1629 2533
08:00 3606 2339 3220
09;00 3905 2695 3660
10:00 3803 3025 3197
11:00 3725 3123 3079
12:00 3877 3571 2866
13:00 3807 3607 2804
14:00 3906 3748 3146
15:00 4042 3887 3062
16:00 4092 4065 3490
17:00 4348 4030 3830
18:00 8852 4183 4699
19:00 8256 3992 4847
20:00 7227 3671 5144
21:00 6892 3396 5749
22:00 6264 3487 6361
23:00 5616 3096 7264
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Saturday 8th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 4411 2592 7161
01:00 3345 1981 6699
02:00 2487 1421 5419
03:00 2104 985 4294
04:00 1681 656 3054
05:00 2017 493 2293
06:00 3264 637 2128
07:00 3819 816 1872
08:00 4149 1213 2037
09;00 4925 1763 2305
10:00 5440 2441 2617
11:00 5932 2765 2801
12:00 6406 2925 2956
13:00 6774 2909 3074
14:00 6486 2712 2987
15:00 6525 2918 2963
16:00 6924 3024 3154
17:00 7274 3027 3493
18:00 8955 3025 4100
19:00 8840 2805 4885
20:00 8062 2692 5299
21:00 7461 2635 5542
22:00 6836 2671 5836
23:00 6058 2504 6346
Car, Taxi, PHV entering central London Sunday 9th April 2017
Hour Car Taxi PHV
00:00 5072 2112 6548
01:00 3876 1731 6495
02:00 2742 1277 5595
03:00 2116 970 4373
04:00 1660 671 3232
05:00 2092 467 2304
06:00 3219 514 2079
07:00 3599 640 1713
08:00 4054 924 1745
09;00 6078 1360 1981
10:00 7173 1790 2429
11:00 7577 2099 2684
12:00 8032 2300 2755
13:00 8217 2264 2795
14:00 7677 2295 2884
15:00 7382 2153 2816
16:00 7517 2113 2935
17:00 8198 2226 3001
18:00 9050 2194 3248
19:00 8515 2073 3261
20:00 7527 1884 3360
21:00 6495 1743 3447
22:00 5479 1629 3444
23:00 4134 1301 3180

24hr data: Car, Taxi, PHV entering Central London on Sunday April 9th 2017

If ever there was data to support car-free Sundays in Central London, this is it.

Hour

London_congestion_charge_zone_map

Car

images

Taxi

download

PHV

londontraffic

00:00 5072 2112 6548
01:00 3876 1731 6495
02:00 2742 1277 5595
03:00 2116 970 4373
04:00 1660 671 3232
05:00 2092 467 2304
06:00 3219 514 2079
07:00 3599 640 1713
08:00 4054 924 1745
09;00 6078 1360 1981
10:00 7173 1790 2429
11:00 7577 2099 2684
12:00 8032 2300 2755
13:00 8217 2264 2795
14:00 7677 2295 2884
15:00 7382 2153 2816
16:00 7517 2113 2935
17:00 8198 2226 3001
18:00 9050 2194 3248
19:00 8515 2073 3261
20:00 7527 1884 3360
21:00 6495 1743 3447
22:00 5479 1629 3444
23:00 4134 1301 3180

Source: FOI- 2560-1617 (previous FOI ref 1885-1617)

Cycling Infrastructure Shopping List

Many thanks to Paul Gasson, Waltham Forest Cycling for providing these costings for cycling infrastructure. It is very useful for campaigners to have figures associated with local spends.

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Copenhagen (or blended) crossing: £15-25k

Modal filter using bollards:

  • bollards: £2k
  • bollards plus 2 buildouts to protect parking: £10k

Sinusoidal hump: £2.5k

Tree pit & tree: £500

Planter
flush with footway: £500
in box container: £4k (via Marshalls), potentially cheaper if sourced elsewhere

walt