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News and Comment August 2021

Index: 20202021

16 August (Part 2) - Blinkered thinking

I don’t think it is actually written in statute that only left leaning people are allowed to write blogs but somewhere there must be hidden an unwritten rule. How else does one explain that I nearly always disagree with on-line opinion pieces written by amateur hacks? Nowhere are the differences more apparent than in the realm of transport policy. Few seem to realise that transport infrastructure is a main driver of prosperity. We knew it in the 1960s when motorway construction got into its stride but it has been long forgotten.

The Conservative Government unforgivably funded Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in 2020 and Councils everywhere took advantage of their new found freedom to Jack Boot over those affected without consultation. Academia has found a ready source of income by advocating 20 m.p.h. speed limits, narrowed roads and cycle lanes and writing reports eagerly lapped up by Councils looking for new ways of exerting power and extracting money. Counter arguments from traditional transport researchers are ignored because their particular science is no longer fashionable.
TRL report

Extract from Transport Research Laboratory report on bus lanes.

Locally the media has suddenly woken up to driverless cars in Greenwich, a project announced in 2014 and now heading into its final phase. Criticism is tinged with misinformation.

The responsible company, DG Cities based at the University in Penrose Way is closely linked to Greenwich Council and employs eight people with a Councillor on its board. A limited company listed at Companies House. I suspect that Greenwich Council is claiming more credit for the autonomous car project than it deserves. Greenwich was one of four towns chosen for the trials and primarily because the relatively empty roads surrounding the O2 were seen as a useful test bed. Greenwich Council readily agreed and cooperated fully.

The UK is attempting to take a leading role in the development of self-driving vehicles and testing is proceeding in Bristol and Milton Keynes as well as in Greenwich. It is why some privately owned vehicles will be allowed to go hands-free in limited circumstances in just a few months time. The Government’s ambition is to attract global players, something that is surely well beyond the ambit of Greenwich Council. It must be sheer nonsense to think that Greenwich Council and its pen pushers have the expertise to have run this project. It is the Transport Research Laboratory, insurance companies and vehicle manufacturers which are involved with driverless vehicle development not a Council with a reputation for transport ineptitude.

“DG Cities reports directly to the [Council} Chief Executive.” Can that be more than a courtesy call? What does he know about the science of autonomous cars that TRL and Ford doesn’t know? My information is that Greenwich has a publicity and marketing involvement.

Driverless cars will be safer or they will not be licensed after the testing phase. They will not be driven by the sort of loons who were infesting the roads of Greenwich at one o’clock this morning. Enraged by bus lanes and 20 m.p.h. restrictions and me doing well under 30, every roundabout however small became an opportunity for those wary of the bus lanes to overtake law abiding motorists. The same happens on Gravel Hill, Bexleyheath where the same standard of road design is favoured.
My London

If people are frightened of autonomous cars what will they think of the autonomous bus on test in London or the lorries on test elsewhere. Will the Luddites get the better of them too?

 

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