Central London Motorists

Posted on 30 August 2002 in London, Transport (No comments)

It's been nearly three years since I moved to London. Whilst the place has many down-falls (an abundance of rude, manner-less people, huge amounts of litter, smog etc) it has many benefits (thriving cultural scene, plenty of unique bars in Covent Garden, comprehensive transport infrastructure).

The one problem it does have is traffic.

London probably has some of the worst traffic I've ever seen in the UK. Couple this with one of the most best public transport infrastructures in the UK and it makes you wonder why on earth people decide its sensible to sit in their own metal box in a traffic jam.

Before you say anything, don't get me wrong, London's public transport isn't as good as it should be, but when you have lived outside the Capital and tried to relay on public transport, then you really appreciate what you get in London.

I doubt most of the people who moan about the London Underground have ever tried to get back from Manchester to a town seven miles away after 11:30pm, or travel around Cornwall without a car. Yes the tube is creaking at the scenes, but it runs fast, reasonably reliable services from early in the morning until after midnight.

There are large numbers of night buses - a 15 minute service from Central London to Ealing with a journey costing a pound. How often does that happen? The buses are even nice!

So despite this, why on earth do people insist on sitting in their car clogging up the roads?

Don't be a BEEP, get the bus!

We're never going to get rid of motor vehicles from London - some people need to be driving round. A fact that's not going to change. But many people don't need to be in a car. And those that do venture into central London, often aren't the most considerate drivers you'll find...

Working in central London, I have much experience of people in cars. Even trying to cross the road outside the tube station is taking your life in your hands. Red lights mean nothing to some people.

I once saw a car have the misfortune to break down at that crossing. Well that was it. Everyone sat behind it shouting and beeping their horns, cos obviously would make it move again. (Not one person considered that it might be sensible to help push the poor car out of the way...)

Let me cross!

However what has really been getting on my nerves is the self-righteous attitude of some of these drivers.

Transport For London, the body which oversees transport in the capital, has recently re-timed several sets of traffic lights with the aim of giving pedestrians more time to cross. This has naturally got the 'poor' motorist in uproar.

However as a poor pedestrian who has to suffer at the hands of these drivers, I'm all for it. There are probably more people who are pedestrians in the capital than any other place in Britain, and for them, crossing the road is a torment.

The amount of time given to cross the road isn't actually the issue. On most pedestrian crossings I've used, the time has been just right. The trouble is, we don't get to use it.

Barely a day goes by when I'm trying to cross the road near work at Aldwych, that someone doesn't zoom through deliberately when the traffic lights are on red, and the green man showing. And lo, that means it takes us longer to cross the road.

If drivers in central London actually took notice of traffic signals (and it sounds such a stupid thing to have to say!), hey guess what would have happened? Well for starters, us pedestrians wouldn't have needed the red lights lengthening!

You Bring It On Yourselves, I Have No Sympathy.

So the motorists are in indignant rage thanks to a problem of their own causing. So they sit in a traffic jam and moan about it. Constantly. It's all apparently a conspiracy against the motorist.

Well if it is, good for the conspiracy. Us pedestrians deserve some respect and recognition for once. If you're stupid enough to drive in central London just because you have a car, then you get what you deserve all you get.

I have no gripe with people having a legitimate reason for driving in London, but so many people don't. The trouble is, they're a very small minority, but ridiculously vocal.

Well moaning about it whilst sat in your car in a traffic jam isn't going to do anything. You know what would? Leaving your car and going by the excellent public transport network would help.

Think Of A World...

Just think what would happen if everyone who needlessly drove into London, didn't.

The buses would be able to run faster and more reliably, the emergency services could respond faster, the air would be less smoggy and the capital less grimey. The fares collected by the extra passengers would help pay for more transport improvements.

Well I can dream. Cos lets face it, if you're stupid enough to drive in central London, you're too stupid to see the bigger picture.

Maybe congestion charging will help. Hit these people in the pockets. But whatever you do Transport for London, you leave those traffic light timings in the favour of pedestrians.

Pedestrians and public transport users are the majority in this town, and central London drivers should never forget it. Next time you get stuck in a jam at Holborn, don't look to me for sympathy.

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