Going into London by car, and finding my way round the centre on foot, I have to run the gauntlet of large amounts of public spending. I kept a mental note one day last week. On the way out of Crowthorne I had to wait whilst four vehicles with more than half a dozen men closed the road in the direction I was heading in order to tidy the verges. Further on, there were more works on the A322. The M3 still has a long section of 50 mph restriction with various roadworks being undertaken. In Richmond there was another missing lane for roadworks. It was not possible to work out what they were doing. Along the Cromwell Road there are restrictions on the carriageway to allow a complete rebuilding of the pavements. Along the Embankment by Millbank they are putting new wide pavements in to the middle of the road with aggressive kerbs. The roadspace is similarly being reduced along Pall Mall, with a pavement being put in the middle of that road. In other locations around the West End there are works putting in expensive granite paving where once there was tarmac road.
It does not feel as if there is a spending squeeze on when you see this kind of work proceeding. We have managed without a wide pavement in the centre of the Embankment or Pall Mall for many years. Why is it suddenly urgent to spend money on this right now, in the middle of a spending crisis?
I also noticed a profusion of relatively new signs, freshly coloured paint on the roads and plenty of sets of traffic lights, some of them fairly new. I did not notice many new features which would help keep traffic and pedestrians apart to improve safety, nor junction changes to make them freer flowing and safer. There are still plenty of sets of London traffic lights where they have red in every direction phases for cars. I rarely see someone wanting to cross both ways at the same time taking advantage of this. I am mainly a pedestrian in London. As such, I can say it does not usually help me to have all red sequences.