Saturday, 8 March 2008

News round-up

A MOTORCYCLIST died after being crushed to death under a cargo truck's wheels, an inquest heard. Phillip Russen, of Elm Road, Walthamstow, was riding home on his motorbike in slow-moving rush hour traffic in Angel Road, Edmonton, when the horrific accident occurred. Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard that a Citroen car touched Mr Russen's bike, causing it to slide into the middle lane of the busy North Circular and under the wheels of a truck. (“Touched” doesn’t seem the appropriate verb: Accident investigator PC Christopher Dunn said that all the physical evidence, including damage to the Citroen's wheel arch, was consistent with a collision between the Citroen and the bike.)

Vehicle clamping in central London is to be phased out. The move is a result of guidance under the Traffic Management Act 2004 which comes into force at the end of March… In recent years a number of London councils, including Islington and Camden, have stopped clamping cars.

This is a sequel to this: Council leader Keith Moffitt said: "Camden Council has listened to residents and is giving them a fair deal on parking. We are stopping clamping those who make a simple mistake…Last year Islington became the first council to abolish clamping following complaints from drivers. As usual the term ‘drivers’ is conflated with ‘lawless drivers’. And illegal parking is rarely ‘a simple mistake’. All this will do is increase the amount of illegal parking, since a small fine means nothing to a well-heeled offender, whereas clamping involves a spot of inconvenience.

Nine sites in London have exceeded the European Union's (EU) legal limit for air pollution, a report by the Green Party at the London Assembly has said. Horn Lane in Ealing, west London, is the most polluted place with 133 bad air days followed by Vauxhall Cross in Lambeth, with 129 bad air days. The EU allows every place to have only 35 bad air days a year. The poor air quality is responsible for the premature deaths of about 1,000 Londoners a year, the report said.

That was last year. And now: London's congestion charge may have delivered a small, unexpected health boost to the capital, say researchers. The charge was introduced to cut traffic, but a study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine says reduced pollution has aided health as well. Scientists from two London colleges calculated that since 2003, 1,888 extra years of life had been saved among the city's seven million residents.

London's plans to hold a green Olympics have been undermined by demands for dignitaries to be chauffeur-driven to the Games every day. The International Olympic Committee wants more than 3,000 cars to take officials and corporate sponsors to the site, despite them having free access to public transport. Dee Doocey, the assembly member who chairs the committee scrutinising the Olympics, said: "You can't tell Londoners to travel by public transport, yet kick them off their roads so that VIPs can be whisked around in limousines. Jenny Jones, Green member of the assembly, said: "I am appalled that so many bigwigs will be chauffeured around on dedicated lanes."

London TravelWatch slams the city’s health trusts:

Too many hospitals have been relocated to places remote from public transport on the assumption that the transport provider, often Transport for London (TfL) buses, will be able to introduce new routes or divert others. Often this is not the case. We know of nine particular hospitals with existing access problems, the most recent being the relocated Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), Orpington, which has ongoing access deficiencies. Other issues include the non-validity of Freedom Passes for reaching out-of-London facilities (Darrent Valley Hospital, Dartford); access issues from local streets (Ealing Hospital); reluctance of hospital authorities to provide the bus stands and stops required (PRUH), and site management issues where hospital grounds have become parked up to such an extent that the bus route has narrowed to barely wide enough for the vehicle to pass and the bus stopping area at the hospital entrance is often congested (St Georges Hospital, Tooting). (More, in PDF format, here.)

A parking warden has been shot at in Edinburgh

Patients, staff and visitors will be able to park free at almost every NHS hospital in Wales by the end of 2011.

The RAC’s road lobbying has become very silly.

Meanwhile Nationally, the Conservative Way Forward group has unveiled its transport manifesto Stop the War Against Drivers. It calls for an end to "unjustified attacks on cars", a freeze on obstructive traffic calming schemes and a review of bus lanes as well as action on poor parking provision.