Yesterday morning a consultation letter turned up, asking for my views on a set of traffic lights.
I was interested to see it came from an initiative of the Mayor of London to eliminate traffic light sets that are little used or badly sited, to try to help the traffic flow. He wanted to know my view about a set near Westminster.
I am usually a pedestrian in Westminster. I find walking is the cheapest and best way to get around for most of the journeys I need to do. Given the traffic congestion it is often the quickest for short journeys. As a pedestrian I find there are more crossing points on the roads than I need. I find the all red phases for traffic at some light sets particularly odd, as rarely does a pedestrian need to cross in both directions at the same time. Meanwhile large numbers of buses, cars, lorries and vans are often held up in queues whilst the traffic lights work through their all red phase. I find drivers can get more aggressive in their attitude if they have been held up too often in too much congestion, which is an added hazard for walkers.
The phasing out of the bendy bus has been a big advance for us pedestrians. They can be very dangerous, blocking too much of a road, getting in the way of sight lines to see other traffic. They often wedged themselves across places where you would wish to cross the road.
The Mayor was first elected with a pledge to ease the flow of traffic, to improve safety, reduce congestion, and reduce needless emissions. He still has a lot to do to progress these aims. Ending all the all red phases on traffic lights would be a welcome start. His current plan to get rid of little used or badly sited lights is a good idea and deserves support.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Westminster Council has resigned, following the huge row over the Council’s plans to remove more parking places and to charge for parking at evenings andweek-ends where it is currently free. These plans have been widely condemned by many in business trying to serve the public and by many people who want to enjoy the facilities of central London and are helped by free parking.
If the Mayor of London and and the new Leader of Westminster Council can show us how to make it easier for motorists to drive in and park we will all benefit from the improvements. It does not help having so much traffic endlessly circulating trying to find a parking place, or trying to find affordable parking. City centres including London need all the help they can get to prosper. Taxing people for daring to come in is not a good model.
The message then needs to spread to other shopping and business centres. Clobbering the motorist is not the same as helping the pedestrian. Quite often they are one and the same person in different phases of their journey.