Wednesday 3 November 2010

An interview with Peter Hendy

There’s a very interesting Dave Hill interview with TfL bigwig Peter Hendy here - provoking this excellent comment:

• (Smoothing the traffic flow) "We've had a number of technical people working really hard to see what it is that we can achieve .. This is nothing to do with the volume, this is just about how you manage what's on the road".

It always amazes me that Hendy doesnt understand that if you create more roadspace either by building roads or adjusting traffic signals, volumes of traffic increase and the original congestion returns. Most people sitting in cars, particularly politicians, dont understand this, hence the wont achieve anything construction job creation, road widening schemes, announced in the CSR.

The technical people he quotes have a professional interest in not understanding it, but Hendy is a bus man and most bus people I have come across know that you need dedicated road space for buses, which is not subject to increasing motor traffic flow, to maintain bus journey times.

Down here in lovely Lambeth, about 8 years ago TfL altered the pedestrian signals, reducing pedestrian crossing times, at the junction of Cedars Road and Clapham Common Northside to improve traffic flow in order to improve bus journey times (345). The roadspace created for motorists has, of course, filled up with new motor vehicle journeys causing the traffic once again to stop flowing and again Bus Journey Times have gone back up . Despite it not working previously TfL have recently altered the traffic signals again to (yawn) improve bus journey times, this time causing problems for cyclists in the forward stop line at the junction.

Similar alterations to traffic signals across London may in the technical people's computer model and in the short term, improve flow , but as with the Cedars Road junction, will in the long term only increase the volumes of motor traffic, congestion, pollution, community severance, ho hum roll on Peak Oil.


Cycalogical also has a very good analysis:

TfL have it wrong. They think that distances longer than 5 miles are not cyclable. This is factually incorrect, because thousands of people commute distances far longer than that in London every day. When you cycle, you start to think of travel in terms of cycling. If cycling is your preferred mode of travel, 5 miles is not a big deal.

Hendy clearly things of the world in terms of motorised travel, where short distances such as from home to the bus stop are walked, and longer distances are motorised.

He can see cycling being used for journeys that are too long to walk but where there's no direct public transport, but he can't conceive of a world where people voluntarily cycle longer distances in preference to public transport. Anyone who cycles in London even in today's conditions knows that most journeys are quicker by cycle than by public transport. Hendy's view of the world is clouded by the smoke of motorised transport.

Hendy says we may "see more cycling" as if this will happen without intervention. You won't "see more buses" if there are no roads and you won't "see more trains" if you have no railways. Developing the infrastructure to support cycling is as important as upgrading the Tube,
but it doesn't sound like Hendy understands this.