For clean air, reduce traffic

Can’t make it to the Haringey council’s meetings, today & tomorrow, about air quality. I’m told anyway that what they’ve got in mind is getting people to switch to electric cars. That would mean no short-term action on air quality – people don’t replace their cars in a hurry – and, even if it were successful, the electric cars would still clog our streets, discouraging both bus use and active transit, using an unsustainable level of energy (call me about electric cars when the electricity supply is fully carbon neutral), and polluting air (and oceans) with particulates from tires and brakes.

Meanwhile, Living Wightman – a group founded on enthusiasm born of the closure of Wightman Road to through traffic while a bridge was being replaced – alerts me to a plan by Haringey Council to funnel more traffic through their road.  Words about electric cars, action to increase motor traffic, does that sum up our air quality policy? Continue reading

Buses vs. cabs on Oxford Street

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Sadiq Khan promised during his campaign to pedestrianize Oxford Street. That would mean no buses or taxis (black cabs, which is to say traditional London taxis, not mini-cabs or Uber), which are the vehicles allowed there now.

I’ve been ambivalent about this plan because there are a lot of buses on Oxford Street and it’s not clear how they could be re-routed, yet a pedestrianized Oxford Street would be a terrific improvement for central London.

In November, the first installment of the plan was unveiled in a Transport for London (TFL) consultation. TFL proposed changes to 17 of the bus routes that now use Oxford Street, perhaps this year. They calculate that these changes will require, every weekday, 17,200 riders who now ride through would need to change buses – that is if, with that added inconvenience and delay, those people keep riding buses at all. That represents a serious deterioration in bus service, but it’s not close to taking all the vehicles off Oxford Street, and actual pedestrianization remains a few years off.

One might say, well, baby steps. Yes, you’ve got to start somewhere, but why here? The fact is that a large share of the motor vehicles on Oxford Street are black cabs. Many of these taxis are dead-heading, no passenger, to the City or a train station. As buses thin out on Oxford Street, they are simply replaced by taxis – the road becomes a magnet for ever more taxis, a grand rat run through the West End. And the November consultation is all about reducing the number of buses, saying nothing about taxis. Continue reading

Buses at Bruce Grove: lack of grip?

I am careful not to be too optimistic about the future of cycling on London’s roads, but I did have faith that with Khan as mayor, bus service at least was in safe hands. Now I’m not so sure.

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Trump & Putin would break EU to block climate action

The Trump-Putin connection can seem just a lurid sideshow in Trump’s horrific circus of racial and religious profiling, misogyny and authoritarianism. And, when that special relationship does catch our attention, the most obvious thing linking the two men (possible videos and blackmail aside) is their common political language of aggressive nationalism.

But this is no sideshow, and much as Trump would like it to be all about him, it is not his personal foible: the agendas of the Republican Party’s petro-backers coincide perfectly with those of the Russian oligarchy, and that is why Trump’s links to Russia were tolerated even before he was elected. The nationalist postures of Trump and Putin, which might seem to be simply ways of rallying some segments of the aggrieved masses to the banners of the countries’ respective caudillos, are instrumental for reshaping the international order in a way favourable to the oil interests.

The overriding need of the oil interests is to block anything that would cut the demand for oil – which is to say, to stymie any serious steps to mitigate climate change. International cooperation is necessary to fight climate change, and aggrieved nationalism undermines international cooperation. The cohesion of the EU is particularly important for international action on climate, and so European integration has become the enemy not only of Moscow, but also of Republican Washington.

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India’s tax reform: tortoise of regional integration inches ahead

Ajit Ranade in The Hindu
Economist Intelligence Unit
BBC
Concerns of India’s manufacturing states – A Sarvar Allam in Economic and Political Weekly

Regional economic integration is something usually associated with international trade blocs – the European Union, ASEAN, and so forth. But two of the most important cases aren’t international – they are happening within India and China. Both countries are more populous than any international “region” (excluding of course regional groupings which include either India or China), and both have had very poorly integrated national markets, for reasons to do both with internal transport infrastructure, and the protection of sub-national markets by various means.

Global economic integration – quick, and institutionally shallow – is the hare; regional integration is the tortoise.

Anti-austerity is terrible messaging

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Opposition to the UK government’s cuts, since 2010, in all public services – deep cuts in police, transport, hospitals, schools, fire, universities, disability benefits, mental health services, care for the elderly, legal aid for the poor, nursery schools, the army, green technology … everything – has gone under that banner of “anti-austerity”. And every time I hear the slogan, I despair.
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For greener Green Lanes: radical traffic reduction

(Mostly of local interest in a small part of north London)

Until September, there will be no through traffic on Wightman Road.

Many of those who live on Wightman, or on the Ladder roads which normally act as rat-runs between Wightman and Green Lanes, are very happy with the reduction in traffic:

It’s because of a bridge repair, but it raises this question: should it be a temporary measure on just one road, or should Haringey take it as an opportunity to begin seriously to cut through traffic and pollution by private motor vehicles, and a shift to more foot, bicycle and bus travel?
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