Back in November 2017 RMT gave evidence to a public inquiry into the planned changes proposed by Camden Council on the Tavistock Place corridor. In the whole RMT support schemes that provide safe cycling and better streets for pedestrians, however it had become clear that whilst in its experimental stage this scheme was creating congestion, pollution and increased journey times especially for patients, staff and visitors who make use of the newly appointed @10hstaxi rank at UCH. RMT liaised with other groups including Imperial Hotels, BRAG (Bloomsbury Residents Action Group) and UCG along with many other individual residents.
The inspector from the public inquiry has recommended that the scheme is reversed. This would mean that traffic would now travel in a one-way direction west instead of east. Whilst this still has to be voted on by Camden’s Cabinet it is rare for a local authority to ignore public inquiry findings.
We feel that the inspector’s recommendations are balanced and offer a pragmatic solution. We feel this solution benefits all road users and should reduce journey times for users of the many NHS facilities within the Bloomsbury area. We also feel this will improve the lives of local residents who have been blighted by the current scheme. BRAG was at the forefront of this inquiry and deserve a little respite from the negative impacts that were bestowed upon them. RMT suspect that the original modelling may have had the Braess’s paradox* somehow built in, which whilst on the modelling may have shown decreased traffic on surrounding roads, in reality the opposite happened.
RMT recognise the difficulty that Camden face in balancing their transport policy to cater for all road users especially pedestrians. We think there are some practical implementations that can be adopted to further improve that environment for all users of the corridor. We will be contacting Camden to share those ideas once we know the outcome of the cabinets vote. RMT feel that by having influence on these schemes at an early stage we can have a positive impact on how these schemes are shaped. Taxis are fully wheelchair accessible and form the connective tissue of the public transport system, sustainable transport that should be recognised as such. We are looking to forge relationships within local street authorities so that any impending problems from these schemes are recognised and acted upon at an early stage. Recently we have had some good contact within Camden and are already sharing our ideas. We are looking to repeat this across London including TFL. We feel that a mixture of traffic modelling and real time evidence could make these schemes the envy of the globe.
RMT would like to thank all parties on all sides for their hard work with regards the public inquiry.
Ranks and Highways Officer
*Braess’s paradox is a proposed explanation for the situation where an alteration to a road network to improve traffic flow actually has the reverse effect and impedes traffic through it.