On Tuesday 31st October RMT reps attended the Tavistock/Torrington public inquiry in support of Ranks & Highways officer Ray Alleeson who was giving evidence on behalf of RMT as an objector to the scheme.
Below Ray gives his summary of the evidence presented to the inquiry.
RMT TAVISTOCK PLACE OBJECTIONS AT PUBLIC INQUIRY
- There have been traffic increases North, South, East & West of the trial since the scheme was introduced.
There has been a significant rise in traffic on Great Russell Street. This street is home to Britain’s most visited attraction ‘The British Museum’ which attracts 6.5 million visitors every year.
Despite Camden knowing traffic would be displaced to this road they failed to do any air pollution monitoring before or during the trial. Pedestrian accidents have also increased over 5 times since the trial began.
Accidents at the junction of Gordon Street and Euston Road have also seen a sharp rise since the scheme began.
- No pollution monitoring was undertaken on roads where Camden identified traffic would be displaced.
As there are clear traffic increases we can only presume air pollution has risen comparatively.
- In 2013 HS2 published clear indications which roads would be affected by construction traffic resulting in congestion and increased air pollution.
These are the same roads, as identified by Camden, where traffic from the scheme would be displaced to. This is a strong indicator that the scheme should not have been considered until after HS2 works had been complete.
- We pointed to the fact that from our own observations, and the cyclists use of STRAVA, that cyclist speeds were dangerous.
STRAVA is a challenge app where cyclists try to better their personal best times and those on the leader board.
The increased cycling speeds have led to an increase in cycling accidents. Our suggested solution would be to reduce cycle tracks to a minimum width of 1.5m.
- We also highlighted some pedestrian safety issues and the view that better signage would encourage pedestrians to use much better desire lines. The signage currently in place is poor and encourages pedestrians to adopt longer routes.
- In conclusion we felt that there are alternative options on the table along with other options that can be explored. We feel that if all parties were to sit down and partake in reasoned debate a solution can be found that pleases all parties. This scheme seems to favour a disproportionate lobbying group, if it is put in place it would lean towards an undemocratic strategy known as ‘Elite Capture’.
- Camden asked if I had looked through the traffic monitoring and picked out the roads with the highest increases
My answer was that I had picked the roads where as a working Taxi Driver I had experienced congestion.
- Camden Cyclist Campaign (CCC) suggested that I had misunderstood the STRAVA app and that some cyclists use it to measure distance.
I noted he had used the words some and replied that ‘some’ use it for racing. I also noted that the app clearly states it is a challenge app.
- CCC questioned me on London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) and Cycle Level Of Service (CLOS)
I replied that both LCDS & CLOS were recommendations that should only be adopted in the right environment. This was not the right environment.
- London Living Streets questioned me over pedestrian widths stating extracts from the Pedestrian Comfort Level Guidance (PCL)
Again I pointed to the fact that this guidance was recommendations that should only be adopted in the right environment. I also stated that the particular footway being discussed was subject to no pedestrian counts or PCL assessment.
The inquiry has now closed and we await the findings of the inspector.
Camden’s infamous councillor Phil Jones addressed the Camden Cycling Campaign at a meeting in 2013 where he stated that;
‘The councils approach is that the street determines the design and not that we seek to impose ideas rigidly on places that are not suitable’
Let’s hope that Camden council adhere to this approach.