Could the sledgehammer to crack a nut approach by local councils in relation to safety and pollution
Given Islington councils latest plan to potentially prevent cars from travelling through parts of Clerkenwell Road and Old Street, there is now growing concern that beleaguered motorists have had just about enough.
This latest announcement has come in the same month as Tower Hamlets announcing that they are looking to shut off the Wapping loop and prevent vehicles from travelling through it by installing a bus gate, controlled by automatic number plate readers.
These are only two of the schemes which have been announced recently, but there are many more in the pipeline, however this could now be the straw that finally breaks the camels back, and exacerbate an already growing problem, vehicle identity theft.
Let's be clear, nobody wishes to see anybody become the victim of an accident; pedestrian, cyclist or motor vehicle user, we all want to travel safely, and have sensible, viable safety measures in place. It also must be acknowledged that we have a huge pollution problem in the UKs towns and cities, with fines being levied on the government, who in-turn now pass those fines onto local government. However is the continual penalising and demonising of the motorist really the way forward.
Come April, London will see the introduction of the Ultra Low emission Zone, which will run concurrently with the Congestion Charge, add into the mix Electric Only Zones sprouting up around London, as well as the taxation on parking a diesel vehicle, motorists are reaching breaking point, especially those on low incomes. It also begs the question as to why motorists are being charged to enter roads that they can't subsequently use or access.
Segregating cyclists from other vehicles is a sensible solution, giving them priority at traffic lights, and generally giving them time to escape will reduce accidents, but this can only work in tandem with responsible cycling. Not every accident is a motorists fault, and we are now seeing a rise in pedestrians being injured by cyclists, who seemingly bear none of the responsibilities of any other road user.
There are some utterly dreadful motorists on the road, and there are many bad cyclists, who really shouldn't be anywhere near two wheels, with right comes responsibility.....on all sides. The sledgehammer to crack a nut approach that has been adopted by many councils across London simply is not going to work, all it will do is re-distribute the current flow of traffic onto ever-narrowing roads, you only have to look at certain areas of London at 1am, parts of the capital are packed with traffic, even at that ungodly hour, yet whilst both Transport for London and local councils have acknowledged that there is a problem, they are seemingly blatant in their rejection to tackle the problem.
Rather than looking for viable, equitable solutions that will help all members of the community, they insist on shifting the problem sideways, constricting roads, creating congestion and pollution, blocking out road-users and merely shifting accident blackspots away from their own boroughs, straight into neighbouring boroughs, who are then forced into adopting the same approach, creating a ripple effect. However, the whole "Orwellian" ethos of two wheels (or legs) good, four wheels bad, aside from crippling London and potentially stifling its economy is going to end up creating civil-disobedience, ergo a proliferation of vehicle identity thefts and the masking of registration markings, which puts every single person at risk, not just pedestrians and cyclists, but other drivers too. How this is escaping the notice of local councils, TfL and the wider government is beyond belief, ultimately if people feel that a bad law is being invoked, then invariably that law will be broken. This in turn makes criminals out of people who have previously been law-abiding-citizens. People must always challenge bad laws, it is a persons duty to challenge a bad law, obviously breaking those laws is not a recommended course of action, however if people don't know how to challenge those laws, or are being completely ignored or disregarded when challenging a seemingly bad piece of legislation, then that can only breed discontent and ultimately criminality. If the actions of any given council are to simply remove vehicles from any given street then the simplest answer is to ban car ownership in any given zone and make public transport FOR ALL widely available, this includes the disabled, the elderly, the infirm, those with a number of children etc. This therefore means that the taxi industry has to be made a fully integrated part of the Public Transport sector, not some half-way house, which the Mayor or local council can use or discard at a whim.
It must be acknowledged that the taxi industry is the only door to door, fully wheelchair accessible transport service in London. It beggars belief that Sadiq Khan has barely paid the industry lip-service in his transport strategy.
It is true that mayoral transport strategies change and shift all the time, but when you have a mayor stating that taxis are part of the public transport system in London one minute, and then claiming the opposite several months later, you then start to scratch your head and wonder just what is going through the mayors mind. In the meantime, we now as both motorists as well as cyclists and pedestrians, have to be acutely aware that many of the vehicles which may be involved in accidents with ourselves and others, may ultimately be untraceable due to the mess which has now been created, and it is highly unlikely that the police will be able to keep up with the ever increasing number of vehicles with false identities....and my next line is, what price insurance?