For some of you it might seem a bit odd for LCC to be supporting the ULEZ expansion, for others it even risks LCC being seen as waging a ‘war on cars’ or motorists. Here’s why we think the ULEZ expansion is vital for all of us, and why we are asking you to support its expansion today.
Just about every inch of London is covered in illegal and/or unhealthy air pollution levels. Kids walk to school, shopkeepers spend all day, and many of us cycle in a toxic stew of pollutants that kill over a thousand Londoners a year early. If we want this to end, we desperately need to support measures to reduce air pollution fast – not delay action.
It is simply unfair for ULEZ to stop at the north and south circular roads. This means that outer London boroughs have effectively been divided, leaving the outer edges of London to stew in worse pollution. Opportunist politicians have also seized on narratives to suggest that drivers in outer London are being ‘cut off’ from other parts of the city, hospitals etc. But the reality is instead we need to encourage all drivers in London to shift to other modes and less polluting vehicles.
We’ll keep saying this – TfL analysis suggests that a majority of London car journeys, outer London car journeys also, could be done relatively easily by other modes. It is not a war on cars or motorists that organisations like LCC are promoting – but a fight against unnecessary motor vehicle use. We know the impact of so many motor vehicle journeys that could be walked, cycled, wheeled or done on public transport is huge. It means those journeys that have to be done in cars and vans and lorries are inevitably mired in congestion; and then there’s pollution, inactivity, road danger and climate.
The Mayor has a team to model pathways to emissions reduction for the climate crisis. Their recommendation is we need to cut (at least, realistically) 27% of road km driven by 2030 or we’re in serious climate trouble. And that’s on top of electrifying much of the remaining motor vehicles on the road. Again, if we don’t urgently start to cut the unnecessary use of motor vehicles London is in real trouble.
The consultation explicitly showcases the natural next step after the ULEZ expands. To reduce unnecessary motor vehicle use, every expert agrees it’s a matter of time before we move to SRUC. And there’s good reason to embrace it. SRUC would mean bringing in a unified charge that could scale by the emissions and/or pollution class of a vehicle, by time of day, by location, by journey length and other factors.
There is a section in the consultation specifically on SRUC. And our 2 minute action includes this. Click here to take the action now. You can also read our CEO Dr Ashok Sinha’s thoughts on the ULEZ and SRUC here.
SRUC should be a powerful lever to flatten out the ‘peak’ or ‘rush’ hour, but also discourage short car trips for those who don’t need to do them, and mean necessary motor vehicles can get around in less congestion. But that’s not all…
ULEZ expansion and its successor, SRUC, don’t just mean less pollution and congestion – which are both good for the planet and all Londoners – regardless of whether you cycle, walk, wheel, use public transport or drive. But in freeing up space on our roads by discouraging unnecessary motor vehicle trips, these charges do two more vital things. Firstly, they deliver vital funds to TfL.
TfL right now faces a future where central government simply refuses to long-term subsidise its operations year in, year out. Now, this stands in stark contrast to the public transport networks of just about every other major city in the world. In other words, we have a bus and tube network the envy of the world – but it’s increasingly not going to expand but contract and fall into disrepair unless TfL can find a way to replace the shrinking revenue it gets from government. And fares alone will not cut it.
TfL calls the current scenario of government underfunding “managed decline”. And in it, we could see a total freeze on all walking and cycling highways scheme fundings – including to boroughs. And a reduction in up to 20% of bus routes, near 10% of tube services. That is a nightmare scenario for London. So TfL urgently needs to find alternative ways of raising funds. ULEZ and SRUC are part of the toolkit. And for those drivers, doing unnecessary journeys, suggesting this is a ‘war on cars’, it is perhaps time to consider given the scale of cuts or funding needed, where we should wage ‘war’? On unnecessary driven journeys? Or on buses and cycle tracks?
Not only will the funding that these schemes generate be vital to ensure London’s public transport system works, they’ll also go to more ‘Healthy Streets’ schemes – cycle tracks, bus lanes, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), cycle parking, bus gates, wider pavements, safer junctions etc. Without the funding, there is no action on climate emissions, no cycle tracks etc.
More, by reducing unnecessary car use levels, that also frees up ‘capacity’, space on our roads, for such schemes. Every cycle track in London has been hard fought for on several levels. Not only does LCC have to campaign and battle against hardened professional drivers, determined to cede not an inch of roadspace to safe and inclusive cycling, but against politicians who often view cycling as something not worthy of funding, lower priority than pothole repairs or parking enforcement, and even when we move schemes past these issues, we face a lack of money, but also concerns over and over again about capacity.
We see cycling schemes lose out to ‘network assurance’, the need to keep private motor traffic moving at more than snails’ pace, to not impact bus journey times at all (while everyone turns a blind eye to cars parked in bus lanes all over London etc.). Again, the answer to these issues is ULEZ expansion then SRUC – that not only means more funds for cycling and other sustainable transport modes, but also it means more space for schemes, less junctions already over ‘capacity’, less need for Buses and cycling to fight for space.
Hopefully this is a comprehensive look at why you should support ULEZ expansion today, in London, to help make a better city, and to help roll out more and better cycling schemes. Please take 2 minutes to take action, today…
Support ULEZ expansion today
2 minutes, support ULEZ expansion for more cycling, more TfL funding, fewer unnecessary motor vehicle journeys as well as less pollution...