Examination of Witness (Questions 440
WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH 2001
440. Clearly, setting a target for the whole
of London, as your answer has just illustrated, is dependent on
the boroughs making a significant contribution.
(Mr Turner) Yes.
441. Which raises the issue of how you are going
to work with the boroughs to implement all of this. Taking "Streets
for All" as an example, what is going to be the mechanism
for ensuring that there is agreement reached between yourselves
and all of the London boroughs on, in this case, what the streets
look like (the street furniture and all of that)? When will that
agreement be reached and what will be the mechanism then for enforcing
that everybody sings the same tune?
(Mr Turner) We have two aspects there. In road safety
the Mayor has already put out for consultation a draft interim
road safety plan for London. That is for the whole of London.
It is interesting that the GLA actually enables the Mayor to take
this wider view for road safety in London and he has picked up
that opportunity. By linking it through to the Transport Strategy,
it means that the Mayor can require the local authorities, through
the local implementation plan process, to provide road safety
plans for their roads in their area. They have to be consistent
with the road safety plan that he has set up for London, and there
are statutory powers within the GLA Act which enables the Mayor
not just to achieve his objectives through funding but powers
of intervention similar to what I had as Traffic Director for
London when I was introducing the red routes and the local authorities
were still the highway authority for part of the red route network.
That is the road safety side. In terms of the environment from
the pedestrian viewpoint, we are, as is said in the Transport
Strategy, preparing a series of guidelines which will be consistent
with "Streets for All" so that we can again use best
practice and, indeed, a flagship status type of approach, by picking
a number of flagship, projects like World Squares, to show the
local authorities what can be done and, indeed, to advocate that
type of approach. One of the other areas for which I am responsible
is all the traffic signals in London, whether they are on local
authority roads or not. That is another way in which the Mayor
can introduce the pedestrian walking facilities he wishes to see.
We have already announced a commitment to reduce the time it takes
for pedestrians to get the green man when they press the button
at a pelican crossing. A programme is being introduced to improve
that. Equally, we are piloting diagonal crossings at a crossroad:
instead of having to walk round two sides of a crossroad, you
will be able to walk diagonally across the centre of the road.
Those sorts of facilities we are able to introduce through, if
you like, the back door, through our controlling of traffic signals.
442. Going back to road safety, do the powers
of intervention you have extend to taking a view as regards the
introduction of 20-mile an hour zones in residential areas?given
what we know about lower traffic speeds leading to a significant
improvement in reducing injuries and fatalities.
(Mr Turner) Twenty-mile an hour zones that are not
on the Mayor's roads, it would be possible for the Mayor to force
that through the statutory process, but it would not be quite
a message of co-operation. He would be braking against the partnership
we are trying to build with the London boroughs in trying to work
with them. The London boroughs have powers to introduce 20-miles
an hour zones anyway and the proposals to introduce 20-miles an
hour zones would be looked at very carefully, as part of local
implementation plans. We recognise the research that speed is
the major cause of accidents and obviously the major cause of
serious accidents for pedestrians. We are on the TLRN (the Mayor's
road network) developing a programme to highlight town centres
to introduce 20-miles an hour zones through a number of town centres
on the main road network, particularly recognising this issue
that, although the town centres may be fairly congested during
the day, the problems are at night times when the traffic is lighter
and there are still plenty of pedestrians around (going to restaurants
and the like) and there are hazards caused by the traffic moving
at illegal speeds.
443. In your written evidence you say that "walking
can help to reduce car use".
(Mr Turner) Yes.
444. In what circumstances can that happen?
(Mr Turner) In the written evidence I explain that
there has been a reduction in walking in central London and particularly
in inner London and an increase in car use, particularly around
these short tripsand short trips in inner London are quite
amenable to people walking. We believe that the barrier that is
created by a number of our main roads is part of the difficulty
in encouraging people to change from using their cars to walking.
People feel unsafe, people are actually taken on detours, as I
was describing at the crossroads. All those sort of seconds and
minutes add up to dissuading people from walking, because obviously
not many people want to walk more than, shall we say, 15/20 minutes.
445. The DETR have questioned whether improved
facilities for walking does in fact reduce car use. From where
do you think that discrepancy between your view and their view
(Mr Turner) I think in urban areas there is no doubtand
I am not talking necessarily just about town centre urban areas,
where a lot of people are visitors and therefore they will park
their cars, but inner London areasthat people used to walk.
People used to walk to school, people used to walk to the shops
and they now go by car. A lot of those people are concerned about
the safety of the walk trip. The Home Zones' initiative, the Safer
Routes to Schools' initiative are all about trying to persuade
people to leave their cars at home and to walk or to cycle. There
is evidence that we have that providing good facilities does actually
result in an increase in pedestrian activityand I refer
in my memorandum to the work that we did on the red routes, where
we provided quite extensive pedestrian facilities and we saw an
increase in pedestrian use along and across those roads compared
to a decline where the red route measures were not introduced.
446. What are the lessons you learned from the
(Mr Turner) I think it is important that we deal with
traffic management in a comprehensive way; that we do not actually
just deal with one particular problem and one particular location
but that you do look at end-to-end journeys. You do not just think
about somebody crossing the road and providing a facility at one
particular area; you try to understand why they are crossing there
in the first place. It may be the only place they can cross safely
or reasonably safely now but actually they would rather cross
further up the road, and, if you provided a facility there, more
people would cross. An example of thatwhich I refer to
in the memorandumwould be what we did at the Angel Islington,
where we moved a pedestrian crossing facility from one side of
the junction to the other side of the junction, much closer to
the Angel station, and we got a considerable increase in pedestrian
movement across that location. Similarly, at Baker Street, where
we provided a safe surface crossing across the inner ring road,
we have 18,000 pedestrians a day crossing the inner ring road
at surface level whereas previously we were probably at about
three-quarters of that, using a rather grotty subway which now
is relatively empty because we have got all these people crossing
at surface level.
447. Does the Mayor have sufficient powers to
make this type of change that he has decided is appropriate?
(Mr Turner) If the Mayor was here, he would have his
own view on that.
448. He certainly would!
(Mr Turner) In terms of control of the Mayor's road
network, yes, because he is the highway traffic authority. In
terms of dealing particularly with walking, there are issues that
a lot of these trips are short trips and they are on local authority
roads. What the Mayor can do is to provide guidance, advice and
funding, and, in terms of traffic signals, he has got the facilities.
There are issues though about local accountability and the local
environment and I think it does need to be a partnership with
the local authorities.
449. We have been looking at pedestrianisation
in some other parts of Europe and we have found that features
like guard rails and staggered cattle pen crossings are not used
in other European countries. Why is it, then, that these features
are still being installed on the red routes and other roads in
(Mr Turner) Primarily for safety reasons. There is
no doubt about that. Indeed, we have removed many kilometres of
guard rails which were introduced previously as a means of preventing
vehicles stopping. If parking controls are properly enforced and
properly designed, you should not need to provide a physical barrier
like that to prevent a motorist stopping. In terms of the staggered
crossing, the work we have tried to do is, rather than to introduce
no crossing, because of the problems it creates for traffic, we
would rather introduce a staggered approach and ensure that the
engineering of that crossing is such that when you have crossed
half of it and you walk in the direction that you are wanting
to, the next half comes up green. That is, indeed, the arrangement
that we have at Baker Street, to which I referred earlier. To
go straight across, which is what we are trying to do at as many
locations as we can, takes more time out of the traffic signal
arrangements. Equally, going diagonally across takes slightly
more time. I was under direction, as Traffic Director for London,
to ensure that all road users benefited and that was quite a difficult
balance to achieve. I think I did that fairly successfully. I
think the Mayor is more inclined to ensure that pedestrians get
a higher degree of priority and we are now critically examining
all proposals to ensure that we get as direct a route across the
junction as we can.
450. The use of side entry treatments of the
kind used on the red routes, should they be made universal throughout
(Mr Turner) I think they have been extremely successful.
They have reduced accidents; they are welcomed by pedestrians
in terms of not having to go up and down the kerbs. In town centres
there is no reason, in my view, why they could not be pretty universally
applied. On the suburban roads you have to look at the problemsbecause
you do introduce an ambiguity, in that the pedestrian feels that
they have right of way and the motoristas I have previously
given evidence to this Committeehas to obey the Highway
Code and give way to pedestrians, because they are turning traffic,
and the physical layout of the sort of hump encourages them to
do that. If it is on a suburban road, the traffic is moving that
much faster and you need to be careful, that in slowing down to
make that manoeuvrebecause we dare not have them going
too fast into a side road entry treatment because they can lose
control and not have the visibility of the pedestrian and not
give wayyou have got a problem where you can end up with
shunts along the main road. We looked at this fairly carefully
and we decided in the Traffic Director's office only to consider
introducing them on 30-mile an hour roads, where the speeds were
at or below 30 miles an hour. In other words, where there was
a 30-mile an hour road, where traffic was consistently above that
speed limit we would not introduce them, because we are concerned
about shunts on the main road. The short answer is that it needs
to be carefully designed, but in urban town centres I can see
no reason why it cannot be more universally adopted. They are
451. Why are the zebra crossings being converted
into pelican crossings on some of the red routes?
(Mr Turner) There are a number of reasons. One reason
will be safety, because, once you improve the smoothness and the
average speed of traffic, you will need to get greater control,
because the pedestrians will need to gain priority at a particular
location. The second reason is to gain control of the traffic
because we can actually manage queue location (which I referred
to in the World Squares' answers) using the traffic signal technology,
which you cannot do at a zebra crossing. The third reason would
be where the flow of pedestrians are such that they can completely
capture the space because they do have right of way at that particular
452. Surely there is a contradiction because
you said at the start of this answer that you need to put the
lights in so that it guarantees the pedestrian the right to go
across; now you have pointed out that they did have the right
of way on the zebra crossing anyway.
(Mr Turner) I did not mean it to be a contradiction.
The distinction, which I perhaps did not make clear, is between
volume and speed. The pedestrian, though they have legal right
of way under all the circumstances at a zebra crossing, if it
is a higher speed road have more difficulty gaining priority.
That is where you would put a pelican in terms of trying to assist
pedestrians. Where you would put a pelican in to try to assist
vehicles is, for instance, outside Victoria Station. With a zebra
you could completely shut down the Victoria one-way system, with
all the impact that would have on buses, just because of the sheer
volume of pedestrians which comes out of Victoria Station for
much of the day. I do not think there is a contradiction there;
I just did not make the distinction between volume and speed clear.
453. When you are looking at this balance, for
all road users that you have talked about, is it not still the
case, Mr Turner, that the balance in all these improvements is
still with the motorist. I walk from my flat to Westminster every
morning, which entails me using the new crossing which is at the
end of Westminster Bridge and Waterloo. The roads have been widened
there to ease the traffic and you have staggered crossings. I
and my fellow pedestrians have effectively two roads to cross
and the reason for that is because we do not want to delay the
traffic any more than necessary. I still agree, therefore, that
the priority in thinking in these schemes is clearly with not
causing more concern to motorists at the expense of pedestrians.
Would you agree with that proposition?
(Mr Turner) I would agree with it in as far as "the
priority has been". What I tried to do as Traffic Directorand
I think with some successis to change the balance, so that
it was much more balanced, not at every location but over the
network as a whole. The record there in the number of facilities,
the increased use, the improvement in pedestrian safety (9 per
cent reduction in accidents compared to two per cent), are sound
improvements in a demonstration of the change in values. What
we are seeing in the Draft Transport Strategy is an intention
further to change that balance. In this particular scheme (Trafalgar
Square), as we have discussed and Mr Donohoe has pointed out,
we are actually changing the balance over quite a large area quite
significantly. There is an environmental issue, there is a walking
issue, but there is also an economic issue. We are a vibrant economy
and we do need to provide for car use, for essential car use,
for delivery vehicles and, particularly, for buses. I do not believe
that we are wise to make step changes. What we need to do is gradually
to move over to a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
454. Could I ask you perhaps to be a little
more specific. You may remember that when you were Traffic Director
for London you came to Carshalton, my constituency. On teh A232
there is a junction, the Windsor Castle Junction, where there
is a clear conflict between traffic and pedestrians, particularly
children going to St Philomena's School which is right on the
corner there. This new approach, what does that mean in concrete
terms? Would you be willing to accept that at that junction there
might be, say, a five per cent increase in the delay that cars
would experience going through that junction? Can you try to quantify
what this new approach actually means?
(Mr Turner) I do not think I would like to try to
quantify it. What I would say is that we are quite happy to revisit
on the Mayor's network, priority between pedestrians and vehicular
traffic. We are particularly concerned, though, that we do not
disrupt bus flows. As we have discussed earlier, pedestrians and
walking is only for a relatively short trip length and people
are accustomed and wish to make longer trip links. Whilst that
need not be in the car, it does need to be provided for, and it
needs to be on the bus.
455. I am sorry, but if you are not able, perhaps
unwilling, to quantify what it means, we just have to take your
word for it that the approach is different and pedestrians are
going to be given a greater priority. I am not totally satisfied
(Mr Turner) Perhaps I need to explain it in more detail.
On pelican crossings, currently, if you arrive at a pelican crossing
just after you have lost priority and the cars have started to
flow, it would be 20 secondseven if you pressed the buttonbefore
the pedestrian demand would be met (not universally, but broadly).
What I have instituted as part of this change in values is that
we are having a programme in outer Londonand that is by
far and away the majority of pelican crossingswhereby that
will be reduced to 15 seconds. We will monitor that to see the
impact it has, with a view to reducing it still further. That
will have an impact on traffic congestionan adverse impactin
that it will increase it. That, I think, is a demonstration of
what I am saying. Does that give you
Mr Brake: Yes, that helps quite a lot.
456. Would it not be better to go back to some
more zebra crossings? I come up to some of these traffic controlled
crossings, I always press the button to get the lights to change,
but then I tend to dodge through the traffic, if I canwhich
is probably not very good for my road safety. Having dodged through
the traffic and started to cross on the other side, I look back
to see the traffic stopped with no-one using the crossing.
(Mr Turner) I entirely agree with you and that is
the reason why we are reducing the time you would expect to wait,
if you arrived just after the previous people had lost priority,
to 15 seconds and I hope to be able to reduce it still further.
I should add that 20 seconds is the lowest that occurs nationally
anyway. We will be at the forefront in reducing pelican crossing
recall time in the country. Your point about zebra crossings is
well made from the pedestrian viewpoint at a single location,
but, if we are to try to manage the traffic as a whole and the
network as a whole, so that we do get a more reliable network
from the point of view of buses and for essential traffic, we
need to control that network.
457. If you are going to control it, then what
you are actually saying is that you want to slow down the change
of lights at certain places in order to let the traffic flow,
so, hoping to cut it from 20 seconds to 15 seconds, if in the
overall plan you want the traffic to flow through you may be pushing
it up to 25 seconds or 30 seconds, may you not?
(Mr Turner) No. We would not do that. Twenty seconds
is a norm in London. Because pedestrians, like yourselfand
I advise you not to do it for your own safetydo cross against
the red man, the balance needs to be changed. We now have the
facilities, because the main road network is under the control
of the Mayor and there is not an objective that I have been given
to improve journey times (reduce journey times) for general traffic,
to move a step further forward on the agendawhich you would
like to see, from what you have saidthan I was previously
able to as Traffic Director for London.
458. I think that sounds wonderful, Mr Turner,
but I think it is the greatest load of nonsense. You have just
told us you do not want to do anything which would damage this
vibrant economyand nobody could disagree with that argument.
On the other hand, you are saying "We want to manage pedestrians
as part of our overall traffic schemes." The reality is that
pedestrians are not manageable. If you have a zebra crossing,
they will cross at that point at which they think themselves to
be safest. On the whole you have demonstrated with your figures
that they are going down rather than up. On the other hand, a
managed crossing does not manage pedestrians, because they ignore
it, but actually changes the flow. How do you balance that between
the speed at which the traffic will approach that particular crossing
and the use by the pedestrian? Would it not be best simply to
return to the zebra crossing and let common sense prevail, if
(Mr Turner) There are two aspects to that. One is
the speed at which the traffic is flowing. I do not wish to see
an increase in pedestrian accidents. On faster roads zebra crossings
have a less good accident record than pelican crossingsfaster
roads. If you are trying, as we were, to improve the reliability
of the network for traffic, that will increase speeds. That is
one reason why we need to be looking at this problem carefully
of turning back to zebra crossings. The second point is that with
zebra crossings we do not have this control of the network. As
you rightly say, pedestrians arrive in a random manner and cross
the road and interrupt the traffic flow in a random manner.
459. Just as they do if they ignore the red
light on a managed crossing.
(Mr Turner) That is entirely right.