Transport for London has welcomed a new report calling for major investment in the capital’s roads to help reduce congestion and encourage more Londoners to walk and cycle.
Published by the Mayor’s Roads Task Force, the report suggests diverting car traffic into new tunnels, removing gyratories, introducing more 20mph zones and making streets greener by planting more trees and using low-energy lighting.
Other proposals include providing more parking spaces for al road users, including cyclists and Blue Badge users and encouraging firms to deliver out of peak hours as they did during the Olympics.
The Task Force was set up by Mayor Boris Johnson last year with a remit to bring forward solutions to the challenges facing London’s roads and streets.
David Quarmby, Chairman of the RAC Foundation and a RTF member, said the report “is a remarkably successful attempt to deal head-on with the massive and conflicting demands for space on London’s roads and streets.”
Mr Quarmby described its recommendations as an “ambitious vision to keep London’s traffic moving while improving the quality of our public spaces for living, working and shopping”.
The report’s recommendations have been welcomed by the Mayor and transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy.
Sir Peter said the report “rightly recognises that delivering the vision requires major and sustained investment in London’s road and public transport networks and we will continue to work with partners to make the case and develop innovative funding solutions.”
Implementing the recommendations will require TfL to work with local councils who own and operate most of the capital’s roads and public spaces.
Some councils have previously expressed dissatisfaction with TfL’s approach to joint projects.
Concerns about TfL’s willingness to listen to outsiders have also been cited as one reason for Kent politicians lobbying against it and the Mayor taking control of the Southeastern rail franchise.
Asked if he was confident TfL was capable of working collaboratively to deliver the report’s proposals, Mayor Johnson said: “I do think it’s been changing between TfL and the boroughs.
“People understand that we need to work together and I’ve been very clear with my officials that we’ve got to be flexible and listen.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly, said the report was “an attempt to please everyone” with “a rag bag of ideas”, some of which “are outdated, impractical and harmful for London’s environment.”
Although Ms Pidgeon said she backed proposals for “more traffic free events and extending 20 mph zones”, she branded the report as “ultimately flawed” for suggesting that roads be buried under new tunnels.
She added: “To suggest that large stretches of the South Circular can be put in tunnels is simply fanciful.”
“In the short term building these tunnels would create immense inconvenience during their construction. In the long term they will just generate more vehicles on our roads. Throwing billions of public money at projects that will just help generate more traffic is the last thing that London needs.”
Labour’s Val Shawcross said the report’s proposals were “more pie-in-the-sky fantasy projects from Boris Johnson”.
Ms Shawcross said the number of accidents on roads TfL controls had increased three times faster than on roads controlled by local councils and called on the Mayor to “concentrate on using his existing resources and powers to make our roads safer for all vulnerable road users, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.”
Green party AM Darren Johnson said: “The roads task force has come up with some innovative proposals, but the Mayor should focus on the changes which can be done quickly, such as the 20mph speed limit and repeating the success of the Olympics in reducing traffic on our roads. I hope the Mayor takes forward the recommendation for a pay as you go driving scheme to reduce traffic and to generate the income to cope with the huge increase in population.
“In the short term, the Mayor needs to focus upon sorting out the dangerous junctions and pot holes which dominate our existing road network, as well as putting clear plans in place to reduce overall traffic levels and ensure our streets become better for pedestrians and cyclists.”