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Granny’s in need of a few egg-sucking tips

A Transport Select Committee member has suggested that “loss of tarmac” for cycle lanes could be a major cause of London’s congestion problems. Rob Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, was speaking to announce the launch of a government inquiry into urban congestion yesterday.

“In recent years, road users have been driving fewer miles yet their journeys are taking longer thanks to shocking congestion.  I want to know why,” he said.

“There’s clear data from successive reports of the National Travel Survey to show that car mileage per adult has fallen significantly over the past twenty years and is actually 10% lower than it was in the mid-2000s. In spite of that, average traffic speeds in many towns and cities are actually falling.  Transport for London admitted recently that the stately progress of traffic in the centre of the capital dropped to a horrifying 7.8mph last autumn. My fear is that a lot of it might be because of an increase in the impact of roadworks and the loss of tarmac for vehicles from the introduction of cycle lanes.”

Tarmac has not been lost, Rob – it has been repurposed for a form of transport which uses space more efficiently.

You could argue that Flello is just asking the question and hasn’t yet reached any conclusions. However, his comments seem to make it clear that he sees motorists and cyclists as separate groups who are somehow pitted against each other.

“The roads are going to stay crowded and we need to find ways of sharing them more effectively.  The same thing is true of cycling. Of course it’s a good thing to get people onto bikes in terms of health and environment. Currently there’s a row going on between bike users who say they’re making things better, and road groups who believe cycle paths are crowding other vehicles out. I want to know if anyone’s done any credible research on the subject so we can get to the truth rather than constantly slinging mud. It’s in everyone’s interests to know what’s really happening.”

Car traffic and overall traffic

Most of us recognise that any given journey can potentially be made by an alternate form of transport. Oddly, Flello goes on to indicate that he is almost certainly capable of the thought process necessary to recognise that.

Referring to possible causes of congestion, he draws a connection between the increases in van and Uber traffic and the drop in car journeys.

“The motoring connectivity company, Inrix, looks towards Amazon deliveries from vans (7.7% up from 2012) and roadworks (up 362% in the same period) as being significant factors, while others have cited the proliferation of Uber drivers.  What I don’t get is that if people were buying books or going out for a drink, wouldn’t they be going by car to do these things anyway?  I don’t see how Uber or Amazon can actually be creating more traffic than there otherwise would have been.”

In much the same way, car journeys can become cycle journeys. So, to repeat ourselves, tarmac has not been lost – it has been reallocated to a more efficient form of transport.

As what was then CTC (now Cycling UK) said in 2011: “It is the most efficient way to use a single carriageway lane – 14,000 cycles per hour can pass compared with just 2,000 cars.”

That CTC quote is taken from written evidence supplied to Out of the jam: reducing congestion on our roads – a government inquiry into congestion.

That report might be something worth taking a look at, Rob.

London traffic on the rise

Flello – who concludes by saying, "traffic down but congestion up, we need answers” – would also do well to read the rest of the INRIX report.

The organisation’s Chief Economist, Graham Cookson, points out that London traffic has grown considerably over the past four years, even if car traffic has been in decline.

As cycling campaigner Mark Treasure tweeted:

Cookson says that while the £15 billion Crossrail programme and Transport for London’s £4 billion Road Modernisation Plan have been responsible for an increase in roadworks, they are long-term improvement projects.

In a blog on the INRIX website, he concluded: “Taken together INRIX predicts that these improvements will ultimately reduce congestion by 20%, whilst completing the projects will obviously stop the temporary congestion caused by their construction.

“In summary, it’s short term pain for long term gain. A key aim of the improvements is to make London’s roads safer and to reduce road traffic accidents by 40%. This would also have a substantial impact on congestion as up to 30% of congestion is caused by accidents.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

24 comments

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STiG911 [255 posts] 7 months ago
7 likes

Mileage per adult may have fallen, but adults per mile has shot up because so many idiots are doing shorter and shorter journeys by car.

The only way to reduce congestion is to reduce the number of vehicles. It boils my piss that people honestly think that creating more space for vehicles will ease congestion. Er no - you'll just have more vehicles on the road.

And all this with daily pollution numbers going from scary to plain dangerous. Bonkers.

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Ramuz [289 posts] 7 months ago
6 likes

Labour need to get themselves sorted out.

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ktache [560 posts] 7 months ago
13 likes

12 miles.

12miles of cycle superhighway in the whole of Londons massive road network.

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KarlM77 [24 posts] 7 months ago
8 likes

That graph really does show how insignificant car users are in London, compared to their percieved hardship.

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Rapha Nadal [544 posts] 7 months ago
11 likes

When I read comments such as this, and when they come from folk with, one assumes, a degree of education and in a role of some responsibility, I really am lost for words.

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davel [1484 posts] 7 months ago
6 likes
Quote:

What I don’t get is that if people were buying books or going out for a drink, wouldn’t they be going by car to do these things anyway?

If only London had other modes of transport...

I understand that the inquiry hasn't started, and there may well be more questions than answers at the mo, but surely there should be serious reservations about someone with this level of critical thinking and car-shaped worldview being qualified to head a meaningful inquiry.

Philomena Cunk would be a marked improvement.

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hawkinspeter [759 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes

Middle-aged cyclist asks whether 'loss of clues' for MPs is causing the country's problems as Government launches yet another pointless inquiry to pretend they give a sh*t.

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wycombewheeler [1100 posts] 7 months ago
8 likes

the roads are carring more people per hour - yey, but metal boxes are mOving slower. O well that's unacceptable metal boxes are more important than people.

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therevokid [1013 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Middle-aged cyclist asks whether 'loss of clues' for MPs is causing the country's problems as Government launches yet another pointless inquiry to pretend they give a sh*t.

 

Don't forget the over-inflated costs for said inquiry will be cyclists fault too ...  3

 

Wonder what they would make of it if all the current non car commuters decided to go

by car instead. can you imagine the chaos !!!

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ktache [560 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes

To look on a bright side, if the report says that the cycle routes are not contributing to congestion, and in fact are having an effect on reducing it, then that would be a fine arguement to the spittle filled rant of the LTDA and the NIMBYs.

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davel [1484 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes
ktache wrote:

To look on a bright side, if the report says that the cycle routes are not contributing to congestion, and in fact are having an effect on reducing it, then that would be a fine arguement to the spittle filled rant of the LTDA and the NIMBYs.

Absolutely it would, but I don't think it's overly cynical to read the above comments and assume that the report's conclusion, or at least elements of the inquiry's scope, has already been written.

That could be unfair and Flello could run a completely objective inquiry. But littering the launch with ill-founded opinions doesn't fill me with confidence.

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kitkat [455 posts] 7 months ago
9 likes

No need for an inquiry, a picture should do it...

//lh3.ggpht.com/_9F9_RUESS2E/S7tbclwxiPI/AAAAAAAACmw/uI1bCpNuKNA/s800/picoftheday0012-space-60people.jpg)

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Yorkshie Whippet [605 posts] 7 months ago
6 likes

Why don't they dig up the tube and turn it into underground roads? There must 250 miles of road that cyclist will not want to use. The stations could be turned into parking areas and people could just pop up do what they need to do and pop back down and go in their way. 

Job done

 

Oh sorry I forgot MP's use the tube incase someone runs over them whilst cycling.

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Velomark [26 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

"Currently there’s a row going on between bike users who say they’re making things better, and road groups who believe cycle paths are crowding other vehicles out"

Do any intelligent road users actually believe this? Even amongst the minority of car drivers that dont like the idea of cyclists the main sentiment seems to be that its an irritation rather than something intrinsically slowing down motorists.

I live in Greater London and only use the roads at the weekend so cant comment on commuting to central, but for me over the past 20 years every single indicator points to there being more cars on the road from more being parked in the street, to more per front drive, more front drives converted for parking in general, taking longer to find a parking space, the same journey taking longer now than a few years ago, the list goes on...  I can say without a doubt that the handful of cyclists on these suburban roads at the weekend has no effect  as like me they probably avoid these roads like the plague and head out to the country hills!

 

 

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StoopidUserName [308 posts] 7 months ago
11 likes

A few points (from a Londoner):

 

1. The majority of car drivers in central London do not live in London (possibly same for cab drivers)...yet they believe they have a god given right to worse the environment there (would they like the same problems in the village or town they come from?)

2. Delivery vans (not just Amazon) - there's been a massive increase, an increase that'd be a lot less if say, they was a single outfit co ordinating deliveries and ensuring the vans are full and delivering in an efficient manner. I don't know, some kind of post office?

3. Uber drivers. Big increase in numbers again.

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Duncann [1046 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes
Velomark wrote:

"Currently there’s a row going on between bike users who say they’re making things better, and road groups who believe cycle paths are crowding other vehicles out"

Do any intelligent road users actually believe this? Even amongst the minority of car drivers that dont like the idea of cyclists the main sentiment seems to be that its an irritation rather than something intrinsically slowing down motorists.

I live in Greater London and only use the roads at the weekend so cant comment on commuting to central, but for me over the past 20 years every single indicator points to there being more cars on the road from more being parked in the street, to more per front drive, more front drives converted for parking in general, taking longer to find a parking space, the same journey taking longer now than a few years ago, the list goes on...  I can say without a doubt that the handful of cyclists on these suburban roads at the weekend has no effect  as like me they probably avoid these roads like the plague and head out to the country hills!

There's a contrast between inner and outer London. London car ownership has been falling - but inner London had far fewer to begin with (26% lower ownership rate). Outer London is much more reflective of the rest of the country - higher car ownership and use.

Overall, there were 3% more (licensed) cars in London in 2015 than in 2005. For Britain as a whole the figure was 10% more (DfT table VEH0204).

Car use has fallen on a %share basis - but only from 50% to 47 % (2000 to 2015) in outer London, against 26% to 21% in inner London (TfL Travel in London #9). Rising population will mean that's not really many - if any - few actual car trips though.

Interesting also to note in the TfL report that "Car owners are 2-3 times less likely to achieve minimum recommended physical activity levels"...

 

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FluffyKittenofT... [1639 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes
KarlM77 wrote:

That graph really does show how insignificant car users are in London, compared to their percieved hardship.

Be interesting to see it accompanied by a graph showing the area of throughfare space taken up by each mode over the same time period. Might be hard to work that out precisely, historically, but it would probably be clear that those cars are taking up a hugely disproportionate share. Which would surely suggest the obvious way to reduce congestion.

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Roberts Clubman [11 posts] 7 months ago
6 likes

Where to start? I know we live in a post-fact world, but if Flello had spent 30 seconds on the internet he could have avoided such inane conjecture and obvious bias. Eg: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

and: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

A few more facts: 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016 up from nil in 2011; 35.6 million vehicles on UK roads compared to 26 million 20 years ago - they've got to be parked somewhere for the 95% of the time they're not being used; 310 billion vehicle miles driven in 2014 up nearly 20% in 20 years; fewer HGV trips but big increases in light van traffic. And as for those efficient load carriers: "Vans are relatively poorly-utilised – 39 per cent are less than one-quarter full with an average payload of just 300 kg" TFL Roads Task Force – Technical Note 5.    My tandem is more efficient on a road space per kg basis!

London office space construction is also undergoing a relative boom at present https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/real-estate/articles/crane-survey.... meaning more road disruption and more construction traffic.

Cycling and  motorcycling down from 14% of traffic in 1952 to 1% now. But, bloody cycle lanes! That's got to be the problem innit?

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Housecathst [592 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

“The roads are going to stay crowded and we need to find ways of sharing them more effectively.  The same thing is true of cycling. Of course it’s a good thing to get people onto bikes in terms of health and environment. Currently there’s a row going on between bike users who say they’re making things better, and road groups who believe cycle paths are crowding other vehicles out. I want to know if anyone’s done any credible research on the subject so we can get to the truth rather than constantly slinging mud. It’s in everyone’s interests to know what’s really happening.” 

 

The classic "sharing" of the roads, meaning get out of the way of my car. 

Fuck Rob Flello's and Fuck the useless Labour Party. 

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ktache [560 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Not that the right honerable gentleman is the brightest button in the box, but I was wondering if he had noticed the increase in the size of the average car, most private cars are pretty much useless in the middle of London, but those massive SUVs take up a great deal of space.

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Duncann [1046 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
KarlM77 wrote:

That graph really does show how insignificant car users are in London, compared to their percieved hardship.

Bear in mind that the graph is only one destination at one time of day. IIRC, car is still the single most used mode for London trips as a whole (except maybe walking, can't remember).

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LastBoyScout [234 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, as I think he might have a point - at least when applied outside somewhere like London, where density of cyclists is much lower.

For example, a couple of years ago my local council installed painted cycles lanes all along one of the main roads as part of their re-surfacing and improvement works, despite the pavements on both sides being generally wider than average and already designated as shared use.

The road is quite wide enough to take them for the most part, but they fizzle out in many places where there are pedestrian islands and other junctions, meaning you have to either jump onto the pavement or re-join the main traffic to get to the next section.

One side effect of them is that the traffic is pushed out towards the centre of the road, which has basically wiped out the filtering gap I used on the motorbike for much of the average commute. Another side effect is that if someone in front of you is turning right, they are now blocking the road, as there is no room to get around them without crossing the solid white line and going into the cycle lane.

Given the amount of people I actually see using them, they seem to be a bit pointless. Most of the school kids are still in packs on the pavements, quite a few other adults are, for whatever reason, still using the shared pavement and the people that are using them would probably be perfectly happy on the road without them.

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alexb [162 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Most of my commute takes place on residential roads, lined on both sides by parked cars.

Remove those cars and the amount of road space would nearly double. Imagine the upset if you suggested banning on-street parking though!

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ktache [560 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Smart phones.  Smart phones contribute to congestion.   Those people who when momentarily stopped in queing traffic and have to look at their phones, only stop looking when the vehicle in front is already moving (I'm not saying they put it down).   They are invariably staring at their groin, so they have to look up, remember they are meant to be driving and then set off.  It can add 3-5 seconds onto the person behinds time waiting.  For every one of these it's one or two cars less through the lights, and you can have 2 or 3 of these scroflaws in a small queue.  Smart phones contribute to congestion.