The Vauxhall Society

London Plan Sub Matter 5a: Transport, Strategy and Priorities

Written evidence from the Vauxhall Society
The civic society for the north of Lambeth (from and including Stockwell)and adjacent parts of Wandsworth and Southwark.
20 Albert Square London SW8 1BS

5.1 Does the draft Plan contain an integrated strategy for transport and land use? Should the draft Plan do more to reduce the need to travel?
5.2 Are the transport priorities consistent with the draft Plan’s strategic aims? Can they be more specific?
5.3 Does the draft Plan strike an appropriate balance between strategic heavy rail and local schemes and between radial and orbital dispersed movement?

SECTION 3C Policies 3C1-19 and 3C21
The Vauxhall Society strongly favours reducing private car and lorry use of roads in Greater London, especially commuter cars, improving and increasing public transport provision and making it accessible to the disabled , the less abled and the burdened, and transferring freight to rail and river as much as possible. We are concerned that the freedom which a car gives to some at some times imposes great costs and restriction of freedom to all who do not or cannot use one: not just those without a car, but children up to 16, many of the old, those who do not have first use of their household’s car or are temporarily or permanently physically unable to drive, and everyone when they are walking or cycling.

Free public transport travel for all schoolchildren should be introduced and the Freedom Pass preserved.

Public transport is expensive, overcrowded and increasingly unreliable, unpleasant and dirty, and there are significant gaps in provision of passenger and freight rail and inadequate use of water. We support efforts to get action on this and to reduce the need to travel. This should have preceded or at least accompanied measures to discourage car and lorry use. The general aim of the Plan is good, but not ambitious enough. The positive effects of congestion charging scheme. if achieved, will not be nearly enough, will ration roads to the wrong people and have been designed without any serious attempt to deal with the damaging effects of displaced traffic on to the areas around the zone and the divisive effects of imposing the boundary through the middle of communities, cutting them in half. More attention should be given to reducing public and private parking provision for commuters to Central London (MPs should also give up their car park.). A good scheme for reducing private motor traffic should be capable of being extended wider and should rely not on prohibition of driving in some roads altogether (which increases problems elsewhere) but on education of drivers to accept a lower place in the road hierarchy and their duty to take care of the safety of others. Road safety should be the responsibility of those who are in charge of a potentially lethal machine, not of walkers, especially children.

Provision for walkers and cyclists on central London bridges should be made safer, and enlarged by reducing the space allocated to motor vehicles.

The Mayor’s plans for London’s transport network appear to disregard the need for orbital journeys – much of the congestion on public transport is due to the need for many journeys from suburb to suburb to be routed through the centre. Completing the outer rail circle (which needs very little new track and a little opening of freight lines for passengers as well) should be part of this, as well as tube, bus and tram routes. The Plan calls for a 50% increase in the capacity of public transport, it will be very difficult to achieve it quickly. The most urgent requirement is to reduce the need for travel – schools, shops, libraries, sports facilities and entertainment should be localized so that more of these can be reached on foot, and more still by one or two stops on bus or tube. Provisions for walking should be given greater priority, and routes made direct, at grade level and along desire lines. Provision for cyclists should be improved so that they have safe direct routes including over junctions and are not tempted or scared on to pavements which do not have separately designated cycle paths on them. Powered cycles should not be allowed in cycle lanes: they are frightening and dangerous to cyclists and do not mix well with them, and they produce significant pollution and noise. Consideration should be given to making them pay the congestion charge, possibly at half rate for the less powerful ones. Public transport must be improved, with escalators and lifts providing access without stairs from street to tube platforms, and with more conveniently sited bus stops, beside where people want to go, not further and further from street junctions for the convenience of cars and lorries. Connections and access should be planned not to suit a fit, youngish transport planner carrying only a small briefcase, but for everyone who sometimes takes a small child or a heavy load, and for everyone at the less fit stages of their lives as well as when they are a young, fit adult. Don’t let’s make people effectively disabled by bad, inconsiderate design.

In the short term, it should be required that any significant public transport improvement schemes incorporate ‘access for all’: proper disabled and less abled access, ie access which does not necessitate use of stairs or an attended/keyed lift. The Vauxhall Cross transport interchange currently being constructed would need more escalators down to the tube platforms and improved access with escalators from the rail station down to street level and then down to the tube to achieve increased capacity and access for all. It is already crowded even before St George’s current development at the Effra site on the river is completed. The interchange scheme is actually making the access from outside the station to the tube worse, with the alternatives of a ramp and stairs at present being replaced by stairs and a single lift which requires a key to open it, so that there is not only less access, but it is being made more difficult for anyone burdened, inform or with a pushchair. Standards and requirements such as we propose would have prevented this.

Para 3C.11 Land needed or potentially needed for public transport, especially rail, should be protected. It would be almost impossible to get it back once allowed to go. However, medium rise development of an appropriate kind should be encouraged above transport nodes such as tube and bus stations provided it does not restrict current and future transport use.

POLICY 3C.5 Change this to read ‘The Mayor supports a sustainable and balanced London area airport system, and recognises that no further runway capacity is desirable in the South East. London’s needs and its economy as a whole, including regeneration of the Thames Gateway will be better served by transfer to rail and increasing rail provision. Night flights should not be allowed.’ Train travel and rail freight to and from the rest of Europe should be improved and increased rather than air travel and air freight as it is environmentally a much less damaging way of catering for economic growth. Much air travel passes through London anyway merely as a stepping stone to the continent: the environmental and other costs of this vastly outweigh the benefits. Aviation fuel should have its tax advantages removed. Air capacity is already too heavily concentrated in the South East.
Port capacity should be increased (para 16)

POLICY 3C21 Use of helicopters should be restricted to emergency use. Omit the middle paragraph of this policy

POLICY 3C.8 Change ‘up to’ to ‘at least’

POLICY 3C.9 Major improvements. Add ‘Improve orbital services including the rail circle.’

POLICY 3.C11 Work should start on the new Central London tram at the same time as the West London tram and private (City) finance should be sought for this. Routes should not duplicate existing public transport but serve nearby areas which need closer public transport. Routes should share space with other traffic rather than excluding it.

POLICY 3C.12 Add ‘The crossings should all serve public transport and rail freight and give priority to these over private cars and lorries.’

POLICY 3C14 Add to the aims:

This would encourage public transport use during the day even by those who had driven in.

POLICY 3C15. 20 mph limit should be applied throughout the congestion charging zone and in all but the most main roads (ie A roads and above) in the whole Greater London area. There should be no 40mph zones. The 20mph limit should gradually be extended to all roads including main roads, first in Central London and then wider.

POLICY 3C16. Continue the use of zebra crossings away from road junctions. These allow walkers to cross when they want to and other traffic not to be held up unnecessarily. Moving to exclusive use of crossings with traffic lights tells motor traffic that it owns the road most of the time.

Para 3c.41 Remove all barriers to pedestrian movement on the public highway especially kerbside railings, which increase danger by making motorists think they own the road and do not deter many pedestrians from jumping over to avoid massive detours. Replace all bollards with D cycle locking things.

POLICY 3C19 Amend point 2 to read ‘ensure that routes and crossings are segregated from pedestrians as far as practicable, including by separating paths with white lines, but are not isolated’

_(the Vauxhall Society Website, permission for reproduction being sought)_