Mayor’s new road schemes ‘will leave motorists worse off’

One of the people who wants to replace Boris Johnson as Mayor of London has described his road-building proposals across the city – which include the £87 million Waddon flyover to the Croydon Flyover – as “laughable”, “fanciful” and “damaging”.

Fiveways on the Purley Way: £87m of new roads will not solve the problems

Fiveways on the Purley Way: £87m of new roads will not solve the problems

Christian Wolmar is the renowned transport journalist who was the first to declare himself as a candidate for selection by the Labour Party to stand for election as the London Mayor in 2016.

Wolmar was responding to the latest Boris Johnson grandstanding earlier this week, when the Mayor was visiting the United States and announcing proposals to build a series of tunnels under London to accommodate main roads. The words “vanity project” never seem far away when discussing Mayor Johnson’s pronouncements, and in an article for, Wolmar described the tunneling schemes as “just the latest in a series of fanciful futuristic concepts that do not contribute meaningfully to the transport debate”.

Wolmar dismissed Johnson’s funding proposal for the latest scheme as “simply laughable”.

Earlier this week, Wolmar addressed the consultation on proposals for the A23 Purley Way in Croydon as having transport policy being driven not in the broadest public interest, but in the narrows interests of big developers. “Croydon is already one of the areas of London which is most oriented towards the car, despite the success of Tramlink,” Wolmar told Inside Croydon.

“Future development should be geared around sustainable modes of transport, and not attempting to meet increases in car use stimulated by local planning policies.”

It is a theme for London’s transport policy which Wolmar believes should be followed by the Labour Party.

“Transport policy has been moving in the other direction for years,” Wolmar said. “Plans to build urban motorways through the heart of cities as was widely proposed – and sometimes carried out – in the 1970s have been largely rejected. Instead, we now have bus lanes, cycle paths, restrictions on parking and even the congestion charge.

Christian Wolmar:

Christian Wolmar: new roads clog up streets, leaving motorists no better off

“These are all attempts to limit the number of cars coming into city centres since it is recognised that allowing motor vehicles free-rein in built-up areas is a recipe for congestion and environmental degradation.”

The comments might have been made with Croydon specifically in mind.

New road schemes, such as the Transport for London proposed tunnel under the Thames at Silvertown, Wolmar said, “… will generate much increased traffic, clogging up local streets and leading to pressure to provide more road space. It has been widely shown in academic studies that newly created urban road space fills up remarkably quickly, leaving motorists no better off”.

Wolmar said: “Mainstream political thought in transport has moved to a widespread acknowledgement that providing extra space for cars in cities… is counterproductive. The sheer economics dictates that: the externalities created by every single car on the road are greater – and consequently more damaging – than the benefits to the individual user.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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2 Responses to Mayor’s new road schemes ‘will leave motorists worse off’

  1. Mr Wolmar has been an advocate of public transport – rail, in particular – for many years.

    He seems to be edging towards a policy that minimises cars in built-up areas; a good idea too. But he is not prepared to advocate road pricing as the most effective way of achieving it.

    We could clear central Croydon of congestion at a stroke if we introduced a scheme similar to the one operating in central London, but Mr Wolmar and his fellow Mayoral hopefuls are too conscious of the number of voters they would annoy in the process. So they build more roads instead.

    Oh for a bunch of politicians who understand the need to lead from the front!

    • Chetas Patel says:

      Congestion charging in central Croydon. Your off your trolley. Purley way sees more congestion and thats because shoppers go to shop there. If you want no traffic, just close down all the shops. Central London has enough other attractions that people might give their cars up for. Croydon does not.

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