Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Quality of Life in London

London Sustainable Development Commission (no, me neither) recently produced its
London’s Quality of Life Indicators 2008-2009 report

The report covers many aspects of London life, including education, housing and tweety-birds. I’m just cherrypicking the transport stuff that interests me.

Such as this:

Travel to school - a reduction from 50% to 44% in the number of children walking to school and an increase in the number travelling by car,

That’s right, walking continues to be in massive decline. Hardly surprising when councils everywhere, including the London Borough of Waltham Forest, turn more and more pavements over to car parking.

Although London’s air quality has improved, it is still the worst in the UK for most pollutants and has caused the first UK breaches of the EU limit values, which are designed to protect human health.

And what’s the cause of that?

Ground-based transport is responsible for 22% of London’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 50% of weekday morning peak trips are due to “the school run”.

That’s right, while cycling campaigners blather on about a massive rise in cycling, it is equally the case that

In 2006, levels of road traffic in London were 33.0 billion vehicle km, compared with 32.8 billion vehicle km in 200363

Or to put it another way

Traffic volumes in London increased between 2002 and 2006.

What this boils down to is that London is run on behalf of affluent households with multiple-vehicle ownership and use. The kind of households whose breadwinners are managerial – the kinds of people who are passionate about protecting their privileged free parking and indifferent to supplying cycle parking (you know, doctors, head teachers, councillors – people like that).

Car ownership levels in London remain lower than national levels and 38% of households did not own a car in 2006 compared to 25% across Great Britain

That 38 per cent are massively discriminated against at every level. Walking and cycling are institutionally marginalised. Everything in London society favours the car driver at the expense of the walker or the cyclist – from parking to traffic light phasing to transport budgets. The prejudiced car supremacist Metropolitan police is blatantly failing in its duty of care towards London’s most vulnerable road users.

Whilst it is still difficult to judge what Londoners think their neighbourhoods will look like in the future, and whether they will choose to live there, there is evidence that they are becoming more dissatisfied with their local neighbourhoods.

Needless to say, having produced an interesting diagnosis of London’s ailments, this obscure quango comes up with the usual vacuous ‘solutions’

As part of her London Leaders commitment Solitaire set up Broadcasting Green, whose purpose is to promote green behaviour product placement and aims to encourage proenvironmental behaviours by normalising these in the television, film and advertisements that are watched by millions everyday.
It’s beyond parody, is it not?

And there’s the usual car-centric garbage:

Streetcar, Zipcar and other car clubs are expanding rapidly by successfully attracting residents who are environmentally aware and find car ownership inconvenient and expensive. Car clubs bring environmental and socio-economic benefits such as reduced numbers of cars on the roads while providing affordable access to vehicles.

There is not a scrap of evidence that car clubs result in ‘reduced numbers of cars on the roads’. On the contrary, Hackney council regards them as a great way of helping ‘disadvantaged’ households without a car to enjoy the delights of driving.

And then there’s grotesque crap like this:

To achieve lasting change in a complex city such new and innovative ways of working are needed. These include: • inspiring leadership at all levels - making change happen; • capacity building - helping others to change; • partnership - working with others; • community participation - asking people what matters; and • innovation - thinking

Which is nothing but patronising claptrap spewed by managerial types who couldn’t give a toss about what the public thinks about anything.

Read the entire document (PDF format) here.