Global Road Safety Week

Image courtesy of the World Health Organisation.

From today, the 17th May, until the 23rd May, is the sixth United Nations Global Road Safety Week when we are urged to lobby our elected representatives into pressing for a 20mph speed limit. We are told:

“Low speed streets save lives and are the heart of any community. 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits where people and traffic mix make for streets that are healthy, green and liveable, in other words, streets for life.

We’re calling on policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30 km/h (20 mph) where people walk, live and play.

Join the #Love30 campaign to call for 30 km/h speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.”

You can sign the open letter here.

Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy

Artist’s impression courtesy of Connecting Leeds.

The Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy web page contains links to the various parts of the proposed Strategy. These allow you to make comments. The introduction to the Strategy states that it has “Six Big Moves.” These are:

  • Thinking about transport differently
  • Transforming the city centre
  • Opportunities for mass transport
  • Enhancing public transport
  • De-carbonising transport
  • Creating healthier streets, spaces and communities.

You can read more about the proposed mass transit system in this Yorkshire Evening Post article. The council intends that work on the mass transit system should take place between 2030 and 2035.

Sunday the 11th April will be the last opportunity to “have your say” on the Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy.

Planning approval frozen

LCC’s permission for a new terminal has been frozen.

This evening’s 6pm news on Radio 4 reported as follows:

A bid to expand Leeds Bradford Airport has been put on hold by the government. The plan, which has been approved by Leeds City Council, was referred to the Communities Secretary for a final decision. There’s been huge opposition from environment campaigners. This afternoon, Robert Jenrick said he needed more time to decide if another terminal was justified. The decision has implications for other airports, as our environment analyst Roger Harrabin explains: “Leeds council aspires to be one of the greenest in the UK. But when faced with a planning application to build a new airport terminal, it concluded that carbon emissions from aviation are the government’s concern, not the council’s. So it approved the scheme. Environmental protesters urged the government to overturn the decision. And today, an email has informed protestors that the application has now been frozen, until the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has had time to consider it further. No final date was given. No reasoning was given either. But it’s probable that the decision will wait until after the government publishes its decarbonisation strategy for all transport, which is due in coming months. Seven other airports want to expand. And ministers have been told by their advisory Climate Change Committee that there should be no overall increase in flying. By in effect kicking the Leeds decision into the long grass, Mr Jenrick has spared himself the sort of bruising he received recently when he decided not to block an application for a coal mine in Cumbria. After an international outcry, he was forced into a u-turn.”

Highway Code consultation

Image courtesy of Living Streets.

The government is consulting on proposals to change the Highway Code to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. The main alterations being proposed are:

  1. Introduction of a hierarchy of road users.
  2. Clarification of existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements.
  3. Making it clear that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
  4. Establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when cars are overtaking cyclists and horse riders.

Further details and how to make a consultation response are given on this web page.

The consultation closes on the 27th October 2020.

Living Streets is making its own consultation response. You can read about how you can contribute to this response on this web page.

Driverless cars (autonomous vehicles)

Image courtesy of Automobile Italia

From page 91 onwards of volume 24.1 of the World Transport Policy and Practice (March 2018), Professor John Whitelegg reviews Christian Wolmar’s book, “Driverless Cars: On a road to no-where.” Whitelegg is the visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute. Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster specialising in transport.

In his book, Wolmar claims that our streets, roads and cities would have to be re-organised to make them friendly for driverless cars and to stop pedestrians and cyclists getting in their way. He quotes former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn who in 2017 said, “One of the biggest problems (for driverless cars) is people with bicycles. The car is confused by [cyclists] because from time to time they behave like pedestrians and from time to time they behave like cars.” Wolmar also claims that whereas the case for driverless cars is strengthened by the untested, evidence-free assumption that they would produce safer roads, they still take up space and move at speeds that kill children.

In his review of Wolmar’s book, Whitelegg concludes: “It is very clear indeed that the new technology on offer is a very simple extension of a very old technology and a deepening of a very old ideology. It is all about making us all even more car dependent, transforming cities so that they give top priority to cars and eliminate any obstacles to that prioritisation which will include making absolutely sure that pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to get in the way. It is a rejection of several decades of intelligent and ethical thinking that has been going on to make our cities and regions safe, secure, clean, green, healthy, child-friendly places. It is a rejection of Copenhagen’s success in getting 50% of all trips every day for work and education accomplished by bike, a rejection of Freiburg’s achievements on modal split (<30% of all trips every day by car), a rejection of Oslo’s car free strategy, a rejection of wide-area congestion charging."

Covid-19 leads to increased home working

During a speech given today by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries stated that 41% of the workforce are now working from home, compared with 12% a year ago. Dr Harries showed a slide to support this statement (see above). And in a recently published survey commissioned by O2, respondents predicted that the increased level of home working is likely to become permanent. Leeds City Council and Metro need to consider the impact of home working on the A660’s traffic levels and on their plans to alter the A660 to deal with a traffic problem which may no longer exist.

Large parts of central London to become car-free

Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Image courtesy of Kaustav Bhattacharya

Today’s Guardian reports on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement that large parts of central London are to be permanently closed to cars. The measure is designed to facilitate social distancing by walkers and cyclists. All the main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn will become accessible solely by buses, pedestrians and cyclists. Work on the road closures will begin immediately and should be complete within six weeks.

Many other cities around the world have already announced plans to improve walking and cycling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but none of these plans are as ambitious as London’s. The measures announced by the mayor have had an enthusiastic response from environmental groups. Doug Parr from Greenpeace commented, “Not only will transforming our streets in a way that prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, and makes it safer for people to move about as lockdown restrictions are eased, but by permanently restricting car use we can keep toxic pollution from filling our air once again.”

Leeds Bradford Airport planning application

An artist’s impression of what the new terminal will look like

Planning application 20/02559/FU is to add a new terminal and new parking provision at Leeds Bradford Airport. It also seeks to extend the airport’s daytime operating hours. The application was submitted to Leeds City Council on the 4th May 2020. Currently, the deadline for commenting on the application is the 4th June 2020.

The application also involves building additional infrastructure to support the new terminal, re-configuration of the existing car parking, a new meet and greet building, a new bus terminal and taxi drop off point.

Currently, the airport’s daytime operating hours are from 7am to 11pm. If the application is successful, the daytime operating hours would be from 6am to 11.30pm. Daytime operating hours are in addition to the “night quota.”

The new terminal would cost £150 million and would open in 2023. It would enable the airport to handle 7 million passengers per annum by 2030. Currently the airport is handling 4 million passengers per annum.

The airport’s owners claim that the current terminal, which opened in 1965, is outdated and inefficient, and needs to be replaced by a terminal with a smaller environmental footprint. 

You can access the documents that were submitted with the application and comments that have already been made by clicking on this link. You can make a comment on the application by clicking on this link.

GALBA (Groups Against Leeds Bradford Airport) was formed to co-ordinate resistance to Leeds Bradford Airport’s proposed expansion. You can read their bulletin about the current planning application here.

Wireless charging for cars

Image courtesy of Garry Knight

On the 9th July 2019, the government announced that it was investing £37 million into electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Twelve projects are to receive a share of the funding, including wireless charging projects. Wireless charging would mean that electric vehicles could re-charge their batteries without the need to plug in a cable. The name for this technology is “inductive charging.” Although slower than conventional charging using cable connections, inductive charging is often considered more convenient.

In an article published this January, Car magazine, reported that Nottingham had won a £3.4 million government grant to trial inductive charging for its fleet of taxis. Initially, just ten taxis will participate in the trial, which involves induction loops and other infrastructure being installed at selected Nottingham taxi ranks, so that cabbies can charge their taxis whilst waiting for their fare. The trial is being run by Cenex, which describes itself as a low emissions vehicle research consultancy. Trials elsewhere in the country are being conducted by “Connected Kerb.” You can read more about these trials here.

New Chinese study suggests Covid-19 linked to air pollution

Image courtesy of Prachatai

A new Chinese study covering 324 cities has found that places with modestly higher levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (10 micrograms per cubic metre) in the five years before the pandemic began had 22% more Covid-19 cases, whilst higher levels of small particle pollution saw a 15% rise. Another Chinese analysis of 120 cities also found a significant link. These studies are in addition to studies in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, which also suggest a link between Covid-19 and air pollution. Full details are available in this article published in today’s Guardian.