Traffic 'calming' and pollution

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Tessa K
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Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Tue May 25, 2021 11:04 am

Road narrowing and closing sideroads for so-called 'traffic calming' and 'cleaner air' is a disaster. It causes tailbacks and more congestion which increase pollution for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. It's a big problem in large parts of Camden/Islington. It also means that people who are reliant on buses to get to work/school can't predict how long journeys will take. My bus journey to the gym is taking about 50% longer than it used to on some days. Taking bus lanes out and closing stops to put in barely used cycle lanes is another stupid idea.

It may have been a good idea during lockdown when there were far fewer cars on the road but now traffic is back to normal, it's not working.

End of rant.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue May 25, 2021 11:16 am

"Barely-used" is part of the problem there, I suspect. Sounds like an aspirational plan to get more people cycling: the Camden Council Transport Strategy explicitly includes "increasing walking and cycling" and "reducing car ownership" https://www.camden.gov.uk/transport-str ... -and-plans

I'm not sure that reducing the quality of bus services is a great move, though, if it causes more people to use ubers etc.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by lpm » Tue May 25, 2021 11:22 am

Lol. Londoners always complain about public transport, but the complaint is not "there isn't any" like the rest of the country's favourite complaint.

And you only get to complain about traffic in London if you moved there before traffic was a terrible problem, i.e. before 1784.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Tue May 25, 2021 12:24 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 11:22 am
Lol. Londoners always complain about public transport, but the complaint is not "there isn't any" like the rest of the country's favourite complaint.

And you only get to complain about traffic in London if you moved there before traffic was a terrible problem, i.e. before 1784.
Yes, London traffic has been bad for centuries but it has got noticeably worse since this stupid road narrowing project started.

There are some stats being brandished about how so many more people have started cycling in lockdown. What they don't say is whether this is recreactional cycling or commuter cycling. Given that many people were either not working or working at home in the lockdowns, I suspect it was mostly recreational. Not everyone wants to arrive at work sweaty and grimy.

People also appear to be reverting to old habits. The bus in the morning is often full of schoolkids who travel just a few stops because they are too damn lazy to walk.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Beaker » Tue May 25, 2021 1:11 pm

Surely the pollution comes out the back of cars? Isn’t the solution here to motivate less car usage?

Given the the available space is finite, and the population of people who need to get around is increasing, then we have to move to transport methods that are more space efficient than a private car.

There is plenty of data available on this topic, no need to go on suspicion or what seems likely. National and regional information is collated here as a start:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/statistics

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Tue May 25, 2021 2:47 pm

Beaker wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 1:11 pm
Surely the pollution comes out the back of cars? Isn’t the solution here to motivate less car usage?

Given the the available space is finite, and the population of people who need to get around is increasing, then we have to move to transport methods that are more space efficient than a private car.

There is plenty of data available on this topic, no need to go on suspicion or what seems likely. National and regional information is collated here as a start:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/statistics
Well, yes, that would be the ideal. Getting away from the idea of the car as status symbol might help. The idea that anyone using a bus after the age of 25 (or 30 depending on the version) is a failure was wrongly and widely attributed to Thatcher but there is still a tinge of that in some people's thinking.

https://fullfact.org/news/margaret-thatcher-bus/

Someone on Twitter said that they did it in Copenhagen but didn't have much to say when I pointed out that it's a much smaller city with around 1/7th the population of London so their solutions may well not work here.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm

Similar population densities though - wiki reckons 5,666 people/km2 in London and 6,711 for Copenhagen. Amsterdam is 5,135 and it's a cyclist's paradise.

That said, central London has double the density.

I think part of the problem is that London is way behind other north European capitals in terms of cycling provision, which is obviously going to be the thing of the future - but getting to there from here will be a challenge. I expect/hope the expansion of the ULEZ in October will make a difference to overall vehicle numbers.

Plus, Google Maps and Uber and all those gizmos should start re-routing people from the most congested routes.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by IvanV » Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 11:04 am
Road narrowing and closing sideroads for so-called 'traffic calming' and 'cleaner air' is a disaster. It causes tailbacks and more congestion which increase pollution for pedestrians, cyclists and residents.
...
End of rant.
You are far from alone in complaining about this issue. We can call it complaining about less roads. It contrasts with the plenty of people who complain about more roads.

I'm interested in knowing if we think there is much intersection between those who complain about more roads and those who complain about less roads, or do we think they are disjoint parts of society? How should we negotiate between such diverse views? How can we determine the right quantity of roads? It seems unlikely we have landed at just the right quantity of roads just now and should consider no further adjustment.

Earlier today I made a similar post, originating from a comment on the other side of the quantity of roads argument. There I noted how currently in Britain there are unusually consistent and detailed appraisal processes for public investments. Equally traffic reduction schemes have to be carefully appraised.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=777&start=75#p82951

It is perhaps not irrelevant to comment on Camden's habits and conflicts between beneficiaries and losers of road changes. In normal times my daily commute involves using the cycle lanes in Torrington Place, Borough of Camden. There was recently a public enquiry over a change of road layout there, which reassigned road space from motors to bicycles. The road layout had already changed on a "trial basis". (I happen to know the people who did the traffic modelling for it.) Camden lost the enquiry, on a technicality, it could be said, nevertheless the fact is it lost. But it found an excuse not to do anything different from what it had already decided. So we see Camden is pretty assertive about getting what it wants in this area of reducing road space for motors. As someone who has been cycling along Torrington Place regularly for many years, personally I benefited from what Camden did there. But many people felt their interests damaged by it, which is why it went to a public enquiry. The people who opposed it must be very annoyed that they won the enquiry, but it counted for nothing.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Tue May 25, 2021 3:29 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm
Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 11:04 am
Road narrowing and closing sideroads for so-called 'traffic calming' and 'cleaner air' is a disaster. It causes tailbacks and more congestion which increase pollution for pedestrians, cyclists and residents.
...
End of rant.
You are far from alone in complaining about this issue. We can call it complaining about less roads. It contrasts with the plenty of people who complain about more roads.

I'm interested in knowing if we think there is much intersection between those who complain about more roads and those who complain about less roads, or do we think they are disjoint parts of society? How should we negotiate between such diverse views? How can we determine the right quantity of roads? It seems unlikely we have landed at just the right quantity of roads just now and should consider no further adjustment.

Earlier today I made a similar post, originating from a comment on the other side of the quantity of roads argument. There I noted how currently in Britain there are unusually consistent and detailed appraisal processes for public investments. Equally traffic reduction schemes have to be carefully appraised.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=777&start=75#p82951

It is perhaps not irrelevant to comment on Camden's habits and conflicts between beneficiaries and losers of road changes. In normal times my daily commute involves using the cycle lanes in Torrington Place, Borough of Camden. There was recently a public enquiry over a change of road layout there, which reassigned road space from motors to bicycles. The road layout had already changed on a "trial basis". (I happen to know the people who did the traffic modelling for it.) Camden lost the enquiry, on a technicality, it could be said, nevertheless the fact is it lost. But it found an excuse not to do anything different from what it had already decided. So we see Camden is pretty assertive about getting what it wants in this area of reducing road space for motors. As someone who has been cycling along Torrington Place regularly for many years, personally I benefited from what Camden did there. But many people felt their interests damaged by it, which is why it went to a public enquiry. The people who opposed it must be very annoyed that they won the enquiry, but it counted for nothing.
I've yet to work out what has been achieved by making Tottenham Court Road two-way other than slowing everything down even more and making one of the most polluted parts of London even worse. I really wouldn't want to cycle round there.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Gfamily » Tue May 25, 2021 3:39 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:29 pm

I've yet to work out what has been achieved by making Tottenham Court Road two-way other than slowing everything down even more and making one of the most polluted parts of London even worse. I really wouldn't want to cycle round there.
The London Cycling Campaign used to have a small atlas called "On Your Bike" giving cycle friendly routes through Central London and out, that used back roads as alternatives to the more 'obvious' roads . As I recall, for example, cycling from Bloomsbury to Neasden, the route was up Lisson Grove rather than up Edgware Road.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by monkey » Tue May 25, 2021 4:01 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm
Similar population densities though - wiki reckons 5,666 people/km2 in London and 6,711 for Copenhagen. Amsterdam is 5,135 and it's a cyclist's paradise.
Not sure density is the whole story, It's the rush hour changes in density that are relevant to traffic, because that's what traffic is.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by IvanV » Tue May 25, 2021 4:01 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:29 pm
I've yet to work out what has been achieved by making Tottenham Court Road two-way other than slowing everything down even more and making one of the most polluted parts of London even worse. I really wouldn't want to cycle round there.
That was a Transport for London scheme, not a borough scheme. It was part of a broader scheme which also made similar changes to Gower St, Baker St and Gloucester Place.

The general idea that TfL had was that these multi-lane one-way streets were like "urban motorways" that created a hostile environment. These changes would "civilise" the roads and make them nicer streetspace environments for pedestrians, businesses, etc. That's what they said, briefly paraphrased, I leave you to form your own opinion.

As someone who rides a bicycle through the area of all 4 of these streets pretty regularly, I'm aware of both advantages and disadvantages for the bicycle. My overall journey time has gone up, which I am strongly aware of, as I complete my journey on a timetabled train service. I now have to spend longer waiting at traffic lights. There are both more lights, and they have longer sequences as there are more directions of traffic to serve, and some of them provide longer pedestrian periods. TCR was never a very nice road to cycle on before the changes, but at least you didn't get held up much, whereas now you do. I have discovered new ways to avoid it.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Brightonian » Tue May 25, 2021 4:20 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:39 pm
Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:29 pm

I've yet to work out what has been achieved by making Tottenham Court Road two-way other than slowing everything down even more and making one of the most polluted parts of London even worse. I really wouldn't want to cycle round there.
The London Cycling Campaign used to have a small atlas called "On Your Bike" giving cycle friendly routes through Central London and out, that used back roads as alternatives to the more 'obvious' roads . As I recall, for example, cycling from Bloomsbury to Neasden, the route was up Lisson Grove rather than up Edgware Road.
Journo Jon Stone does some good videos of best ways to cycle from A to B in London: https://www.youtube.com/c/LondonCycleRoutes

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by lpm » Tue May 25, 2021 4:44 pm

Traffic speeds on the roads of London (excluding the pandemic era) are the same today as they were in 1900 - despite a massive increase in population.

There's a pollution problem but not a traffic problem, and we obviously already know how the pollution problem will be vastly diminished.

Perceptions are probably distorted by the traffic free roads of Pandemica, the 2019 traffic jams forgotten.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by nekomatic » Tue May 25, 2021 9:51 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm
Plus, Google Maps and Uber and all those gizmos should start re-routing people from the most congested routes.
So that all routes become equally congested? I thought that was part of the problem.

I suspect that what most people want is neither more roads nor less roads, but the same number of roads with fewer other people on them.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue May 25, 2021 10:03 pm

nekomatic wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 9:51 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:22 pm
Plus, Google Maps and Uber and all those gizmos should start re-routing people from the most congested routes.
So that all routes become equally congested? I thought that was part of the problem.

I suspect that what most people want is neither more roads nor less roads, but the same number of roads with fewer other people on them.
Same number of people, but fewer private cars.

Some people need them - deliveries, some disabled people, etc. A lot of them are clogging up public roads and contributing to people's early deaths because they perceive cars as being more convenient. That's not a good way to run a crowded city.

I also wonder if people are avoiding the tube more because of the germs.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by lpm » Tue May 25, 2021 10:07 pm

Nobody cares about more or less roads, we just care about speed.

In a world of self-driving cars, they'd all work together to keep traffic moving and to spread loads from congested roads.

So simply do the same with human-driven vehicles. Batch vehicles together and push them through traffic lights in a lump, work out from destination data where traffic jams are going to appear in 10 minutes, instruct cars to take a route that suits the collective not the individual, etc etc.

It's a bit mad that in the 2021 world of 5G there's no coordination between vehicles and, for example, traffic lights don't know what's coming their way.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Wed May 26, 2021 8:07 am

lpm wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 4:44 pm
Traffic speeds on the roads of London (excluding the pandemic era) are the same today as they were in 1900 - despite a massive increase in population.

There's a pollution problem but not a traffic problem, and we obviously already know how the pollution problem will be vastly diminished.

Perceptions are probably distorted by the traffic free roads of Pandemica, the 2019 traffic jams forgotten.
I certainly haven't forgotten what traffic was like pre-pandemic.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by tom p » Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:14 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 11:04 am
Road narrowing and closing sideroads for so-called 'traffic calming' and 'cleaner air' is a disaster. It causes tailbacks and more congestion which increase pollution for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. It's a big problem in large parts of Camden/Islington. It also means that people who are reliant on buses to get to work/school can't predict how long journeys will take. My bus journey to the gym is taking about 50% longer than it used to on some days. Taking bus lanes out and closing stops to put in barely used cycle lanes is another stupid idea.

It may have been a good idea during lockdown when there were far fewer cars on the road but now traffic is back to normal, it's not working.

End of rant.
Just to say, it's the whole point of it. make it slower and more unpleasant to drive & the people who can do without driving will get out of their cars & find more convenient ways to get where they are going, leaving the roads clear for buses, taxis, ambulances & other vehicles with genuine need.
It will also make cycling more pleasant, and thus more popular in the long-run.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by bjn » Thu Jun 17, 2021 9:42 am

Because of unavoidable reasons, I have to drive in West London from one to four return trips a day. The traffic calming measures definitely slow it down, but I’m fine with that on local roads.

The A4 is regularly totally clogged and has no traffic calming measures (unless you count roadworks and accidents). Too many cars for the quantity of roads we have, and traffic always expands to fill available road space. So making roads nice for cars is never the answer.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Boustrophedon » Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:09 am

Beaker wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 1:11 pm
Surely the pollution comes out the back of cars?
We obviously need to re orient the cars so that the pollution goes the other way outside of the environment1.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Boustrophedon » Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:14 am

The danger is that over the next 15 years or so as electric cars take over, the issue of the pollution that cars cause in the inner city will fade and car use will be allowed to rise.

The fact of the matter is that pedestrianised cities are just so much nicer. If we look at the history of the automobile in a hundred years or so we may reach the conclusion that the car was actually in totality a bad thing that we didn't really need at all.

If we in the UK had gone the other way, rejected Beeching and gone hell for leather for genuinely useful public transport the UK might by now be a much nicer place to live.
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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Jun 17, 2021 10:57 am

There's still the issue of brake and tyre particulate pollution with EVs. It'd be interesting if you had an area that only allowed EVs to compare the levels of pollution to ICE only areas.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Tessa K » Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:11 am

tom p wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:14 pm
Tessa K wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 11:04 am
Road narrowing and closing sideroads for so-called 'traffic calming' and 'cleaner air' is a disaster. It causes tailbacks and more congestion which increase pollution for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. It's a big problem in large parts of Camden/Islington. It also means that people who are reliant on buses to get to work/school can't predict how long journeys will take. My bus journey to the gym is taking about 50% longer than it used to on some days. Taking bus lanes out and closing stops to put in barely used cycle lanes is another stupid idea.

It may have been a good idea during lockdown when there were far fewer cars on the road but now traffic is back to normal, it's not working.

End of rant.
Just to say, it's the whole point of it. make it slower and more unpleasant to drive & the people who can do without driving will get out of their cars & find more convenient ways to get where they are going, leaving the roads clear for buses, taxis, ambulances & other vehicles with genuine need.
It will also make cycling more pleasant, and thus more popular in the long-run.
The traffic in London just gets slower, the pollution worse and people keep on driving.

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Re: Traffic 'calming' and pollution

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:20 am

Sounds like the problem is the people ;)
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