The parliamentary petition calling for the removal of recent temporary traffic measures that are creating congestion (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552306), has reached 10,000 signatures in just two days, despite receiving no overt support in the mainstream media.
At this point, the government is obliged to respond.
David Tarsh, the promoter of the petition, has proposed that when the government’s response comes, the Transport Secretary answers the following questions:
Will you now withdraw guidance and funding for all schemes that are evidently creating congestion?
If not, how do you justify funding these measures when it is now clear that they inconvenience people, harm the economy and put lives at risk owing to the emergency services being stuck in unnecessary traffic delays?
A justification has been counteracting obesity. What data can you produce to show that obese people are taking up cycling? How many? In what circumstances? And to what extent are they using the temporary cycle tracks?
What research or professional evaluation has been done to prove that these temporary measures will do more good than harm, from an economic perspective and from a health perspective?
What consultation has taken place with the emergency services on the impact of these measures on journey times?
If people are stuck in traffic, that has a negative effect on journey times, which has a knock-on cost to the economy. Have you sought to quantify this cost? If so, what is it? If not, why has the government not made a proper economic assessment before wasting hundreds of millions of pounds?
If it were shown that removing these measures would benefit the economy, which desperately needs help, would the government now direct the measures be removed?
Will the government now guarantee that if a council decides to withdraw these measures, it will not suffer from any penalties whatsoever for doing so? And, if not, why not?
David added: “The government has dirty hands on this issue: What is not well understood is the pressure being applied by government for these schemes. One local councillor told me that the government instructed the council to build a pop-up cycle lane to link into a London-wide network – or face losing control of borough roads.”
Roger Lawson, Campaign Director for the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “The number of signatures achieved in just a couple of days tells you what the strength of feeling is by residents of LTNs on the road closures and other measures. Let us hope the Government pays attention and quickly so we can return to some semblance of normality.”
The full text of the petition reads:
“Road closures, ‘school streets’ and new cycle lanes are creating severe congestion, long traffic delays and severe frustration across the country. Although well intentioned, the experiment has failed. Government guidance supporting such measures, and funds for them, should be withdrawn immediately.
Many councils have introduced schemes touted as encouraging walking and cycling, but their real impact is gridlock. They’ve been built without proper consultation, illegitimately justified by the Covid crisis and backed by central government direction and finance.
Congestion and pollution have increased, people are inconvenienced, local businesses have lost trade and lives jeopardised with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Cycle tracks are often empty, while the roads alongside are jammed.”
David concluded: “Many people are rightfully very angry about the temporary traffic measures which have been imposed in response to the Covid crisis, for several understandable reasons. First, they are causing an enormous amount of congestion and inconvenience, with journey times massively increased. Second, they have been introduced with no proper consultation, which is an affront to our democratic values. Third, they have been touted as helping people to cycle but the cycle lanes are often empty, whilst the traffic alongside is gridlocked. Fourth, they create unnecessary pollution since crawling traffic is more polluting than flowing traffic. Fifth, lives have been put at risk with emergency vehicles stuck in traffic. Sixth, despite a great deal of local protest, many local councils are failing to acknowledge their residents’ concerns and finally, many councils are planning to make the temporary measures permanent, with their ears closed to the objections of residents.”