Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 394 - 399)




  394.  Good morning, gentlemen. May I ask you to identify yourselves and perhaps make some general opening remarks.
  (Mr Lester)  Thank you. If I might start off, I am Nick Lester, Chief Executive of the Transport Committee for London. I have to bring the apologies of Councillor O'Neill, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, who has unfortunately been called away by his work at the very last minute. The only introductory remark I would like to make is to welcome the opportunity to give evidence before this Committee. The Transport Committee for London, which represents all London's 33 local authorities, is committed to supporting the Government's policy for reducing the impact of transport and improving the efficiency of transport within London and the whole concept of integration which is built into the White Paper.

  395.  You have brought with you Mr Turner, have you not?
  (Mr Turner)  Yes, my name is Derek Turner. I am the Traffic Director for London. I am mainly in charge of the development of the `Red Routes' network designed to implement and control the strategic road network. The Government has also asked me to do some work on developing new technology for enforcement, particularly on bus lanes.

Chairman:  Thank you. Mr Olner.

Mr Olner

  396.  Will your boss be the new mayor of London?
  (Mr Lester)  I cannot answer that question. The current arrangement for the Transport Committee is that it will continue to be a joint committee of London's 33 boroughs, with the inclusion of a representative from the Greater London Authority. The Bill as it was published last week provides that we will continue to do a number of functions on a London-wide basis on behalf of London boroughs, but of course we will work very closely with the mayor and with Transport for London and the Greater London Authority. So there will be a co-operative partnership between the London boroughs, industry, the mayor and the Authority.

  397.  Given that one borough's traffic problem is not always another borough's traffic problem, how do you get this strategic role through, particularly on your `Red Routes' and various things like that?
  (Mr Lester)  Perhaps I can leave Mr Turner to talk about `Red Routes'. Clearly there are both local and strategic issues with all forms of traffic. Every road has individual buildings and occupiers who have very little interest in local traffic needs. Those put together are why the strategic needs have to be considered case by case.


  398.  Can I ask Mr Turner perhaps to kick off. Given that the important objective is to speed up the flow of general traffic, how can this be achieved with `Red Routes', whilst at the same time encouraging a reduction in commuting by car?
  (Mr Turner)  It is important to recognise where we are starting from. The existing road network suffers a high degree of congestion caused by illegal parking and ignoring what were existing yellow lines. The `Red Routes' initiative sets about reorganising the whole of the management of the strategic road network, and by removing the illegal parking it actually enables us to re-allocate the road space. Where possible, that road space is re-allocated in a balanced way so that all road users benefit, but trying to avoid increasing the overall capacity for flow of traffic. What we are about is trying to smooth traffic, make it more reliable, slightly quicker, but without actually attracting more traffic. We have now had about four years' experience, and there is no evidence to show that we are actually increasing the flow of traffic through the corridor. On the main roads, quite rightly in my view, we are actually seeing some increase, but that is because we have attracted traffic out of side roads which are rat runs and put it back on main roads where it belongs. To encourage that, we are adopting an integrated approach by actually funding the local authorities to introduce some traffic-calming measures in the adjacent side roads. To respond to Mr Olner, my organisation actually does transfer into Transport for London under the mayor.

Chairman:  Thank you very much.

Christine Butler

  399.  What are you doing to promote cycling in London, Mr Turner?
  (Mr Turner)  Obviously there is a degree of conflict about mixing cyclists on strategic roads. If possible, the government policy is to attract and increase the amount of cycling, but actually to ensure that the cyclists are cycling in safe conditions. On the `Red Routes' network what we have done is that we have promoted safe crossing points to complement the London cycle network which is the boroughs' initiative for local roads. The cycle network intersects at about 306 locations with the `Red Route' network. At these locations I am providing the investment and the technical expertise to get the cyclists across the road. We are also developing a number of initiatives along the main roads to make cycling more attractive and better, by providing advisory cycle lanes, where there is sufficient room, and also cycle advance areas at traffic sinals The cyclists get to the front of traffic queues, which is the safe place for them to be, so they start off in advance of the traffic. Other areas where we are trying to improve and encourage cycling are by creating cycle tracks, particularly where the footway is underused. We can actually segregate cyclists and pedestrians on the footway.

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