Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Planner Strikes Back; Es Wheels Horn Blower

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Planner Strikes Back; Es Wheels Horn Blower

Article excerpt

Byline: PAT KENT

IF THERE'S one thing that makes the job of the London transport planner a nightmare, it's being on the receiving end of endless criticism from single groups of road-users - be they motorists, cyclists or pedestrians - who fail to see the bigger picture and the need to achieve balance. Car drivers, who almost never seem to appreciate the problems of pedestrians or bus passengers, are frequently the worst of the lot.

Too often we are accused of "tricking" them out of more and more road space, but if there is a trick involved it's more like the one that Tommy Cooper used to attempt to do but always failed - trying to get a quart into a pint pot.

Road space is becoming more and more congested but not just because councils are taking it away. It's the simple fact that there are more cars vying for the same space and the pint pot cannot get any bigger. Not unless you want to take away the little space that's left for pedestrians and other more ecologically friendly forms of transport.

Hearing the arguments, I sometimes believe some drivers would have us return to the weird and wonderful schemes of the Sixties and Seventies when pedestrians were sent underground or put on elevated walkways similar to the ones that run through the rundown and crime-ridden housing estates throughout London. The majority of motorists are also pedestrians at some point in their journey. How would they feel if at the end of their trip they parked the car and were forced to take the type of walking trip most people, who do not have access to a car, make several times a day?

Last week eswheels editor David Williams said: "No one asked local politicians to do this for us." So who are the "us" in all this? Are they a band of motorists who do nothing but continually drive from A to Z and then back again via every other letter in the alphabet to demonstrate their motoring prowess or to show off their new company car? Or are they the everyday folk in the capital who try to travel responsibly and demand priority for public transport so they can make an informed choice?

If you need to question who is asking for it to be done, you only need to look at London's local newspapers. Judge by how many stories they have run reporting residents clamouring for traffic calming or an end to the problems caused by cars from outside their area. Even the Evening Standard has run stories on the inability of many local councils to supply solutions to the problems of rat-running and residents demanding traffic calming.

Talk to most traffic engineers and ask them how many petitions they receive or how many outstanding schemes they have on their priority lists, which have yet to be implemented much to the chagrin of local residents and parents of children who have been injured or killed in traffic accidents. …

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