New Congestion Charge – London Living Streets Response

Transport for London (TfL) is currently consulting on the future of the Congestion Charge.

The details are set out here

There is a survey to respond to here

If you could take a few minutes to repond to the survey before the deadline of 6th October perhaps including some or all of the following that would be really appreciated

London Living Streets supports:

1. The retention of the increase in the charge to £15 and the removal of Autopay discount. We wish to see mechanisms for future regular increases in the charge at above inflation levels with the potential to link the CCZ charge to the achievement of the traffic reduction targets set out in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

2. The principle of charging at the weekend.

Overall we believe that if the Mayor wants people to come into the CCZ area to socialise at weekends and evenings, it makes no sense to encourage people to drive in thus creating an unpleasant, polluted and unsafe street environment at the same time that many who have arrived by public transport and active forms of travel are using the streets (as part of the night-time economy). Enabling driving into this part of central London will have the effect of making London more dangerous for people walking and cycling, because of increased traffic volumes. It is vital that we remember that across the Inner London boroughs almost two-thirds of households do not have access to a motor vehicle. While we need to enable access for those who are disabled, in the light of the MTS targets and now the climate emergency, the priority is to support those who make use of active forms of travel (walking, cycling and public transport). To be enabling driven journeys in this way is contrary to transport policy in London.

London Living Streets recommends:

1. That owing to the numbers of people walking, cycling and using public transport in the evenings, that the charge should continue until 10pm on all seven days of the week and that the charging period at weekends should begin at 7am. Overall we believe that ending the charge at 6pm will be a retrograde step that will reduce London’s efforts to a) improve air quality, b) reduce CO2 emissions and c) meet Vision Zero obligations. A specific analysis of the impact of the earlier end to charging should appear in the impact assessment.

2. That the discount for residents is excessive and should be reduced significantly.

3. That a far wider principle of charging for motor vehicles using London’s roads is needed and that for many reasons (inc reducing road danger, improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions) London needs to move on very quickly to a London-wide universal smart road pricing system (potentially as set out by the Centre for London in 2019 in its report

The View from the Street – Katie Harrison makes a personal plea for living, breathing, streets

Pollution – exhaust from cars, motorbikes, vans and lorries – affects us all. But some of us more than others.

I had asthma when I was a very young child, it went away and I forgot about it. It suddenly came back when I was 32, just over a year ago.

I went from being someone who had finally got really fit and cycling everywhere, to struggling to breathe just walking down a street.

I noticed immediately that if I was walking along pavements on busy streets it felt so much harder to breathe – just walking as I normally would, let alone cycle.

This pandemic has been an awful thing, but one silver lining that everyone seems to agree on is how much fresher the air feels, that we can hear birdsong all day, and that people are taking to walking around the part of the city they live in and even getting out a bike for the first time in years.

Some people are scared to cycle in traffic, some people can’t breathe when they are in traffic. And if there’s one thing we could take away from this terrible time is that we can choose to have cleaner, safer streets and have the cleaner air all the time. It has huge health benefits for everyone, not just people with lung disease.

I commend the building of cycle superhighways,  but for people with lung issues, it’s not enough as these superhighways are all placed along the roads with the worst traffic. It’s not enough for children, and it’s not enough for people who feel a bit nervous about cycling.

What we need is a network of car and pollution free roads across London which allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the whole city without breathing in dangerous fumes and being afraid of cars.

As we rebuild our lives after Covid, it seems that there is support for this network to prevent gridlock on the roads and dangerous overcrowding on public transport. Let’s build upon the ideas in the Mayor’s StreetSpace Plan and London Living Streets’ Central London Walking Network to make this a reality.

Central London Walking Network Map
Museum St Bloomsbury Re-imagined

London Living Streets and Covid-19

Deserted New Bond Street

London under lockdown has become a very different place from the one we were familiar with. The need for restricted movement and social distancing has already resulted in the postponement of a huge number of events including the launch of Transport for London’s Strategic Walking Analysis that we were due to host on 16th March.

While we are all struck by the damage that the virus is causing, we have seen a dramatic fall in air pollution as a result of the greatly reduced volume of motor traffic since the lockdown started. However, the need to maintain a safe distance has highlighted just how little of our street space is given over to walking. Narrow pavements and frequent obstructions mean that when we make our essential journeys we are often having to move into the carriageway to avoid passing close to other people. Even with less motor traffic on the roads, this can feel very uncomfortable and unsafe. Detective Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police along with his team of officers is doing a fantastic job to communicate that they have no tolerance for drivers who speed or break the law. We would like to see all authorities re-enforce this with a message that drivers should look out for people on the road and share the space cheerfully and with good grace.

The national Living Streets website has comprehensive advice on when and how to walk with support for those who are wanting to walk to make those vital daily trips.

People on foot and cycles able to move freely on filtered streets in DeBeauvoir Town