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”.
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 politics.co.uk, 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.
“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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