Traffic speeds are now below 10mph


A couple of months ago, workmen put up a Congestion Charge sign at the end of St John Street. I checked the map, which shows that Pentonville Road and City Road are not in the zone, but St John Street is. Ironically, of the four roads which meet at Angel (Upper Street being the other) St John Street is easily the least busy, but it will be the one in the charging zone.

Today as I walked up to get some lunch, there were two workmen marking a rectangular area on the road at the end of St John Street, and on my way back they were using a blowtorch to fix a large CC logo onto the tarmac. Charging starts in just over six weeks, so it looks as though all they need are some CCTV cameras and they're done.

I read recently that some companies, including BT and Royal Mail, asked for exemption from the charge. Good on the GLC for denying their request. The Royal Mail are now claiming that they will have to make some deliveries within the zone on foot rather than by van.

But isn't that the whole point of the charge? I thought the aim was to discourage unnecessary journeys into central London in order that, for those people who have to use the roads, London is less congested.

Opponents of the scheme claim that it will merely displace the congestion to roads outside the zone. I'm not sure this is a problem. In order to get to central London, cars would have to travel on those same neighbouring roads anyway. If unnecessary car journeys are being reduced, there will therefore be fewer cars on these roads.

Vehicles wishing to get across London are more likely to be using the orbital routes already, which again means no extra cars on those roads. Roads away from the centre of town are precisely where the traffic should be encouraged to go. If I had to get from, say, Kings Cross to Clapham, even before the congestion charge is introduced, I would prefer to give the centre of town a wide berth precisely because it is congested.

The closer to the centre of London you go, the narrower the streets become, and therefore less suited to heavy traffic. Diverting traffic away from these streets and onto larger roads further away is the only sensible option.

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About this page

This is an entry in Stephen Wettone's weblog, published on 3 January 2003.

Summary of this entry

The Congestion Charge is great. Isn't it?

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