600,000 People Sign Road Pricing Petition
The petition against road pricing, set up by Shropshire ABD member Peter Roberts on the Prime Minister's website (1), has now been signed by over 600,000 people, dwarfing all other petitions.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has previously stated (2)
"Doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing means that in 10 years, congestion will be 25 per cent worse."
Whilst the ABD disputes the figure of 25% which Mr Blair seems to have conjured up out of thin air, we wholeheartedly agree that doing nothing is not an option.
Let us first examine what Mr Blair's government have done in the past to "reduce" congestion:
- Cancelled bypass schemes --- forcing traffic through towns.
- Cancelled major road upgrades like the A40 into London even after land and property has been purchased and demolished
- Installed bus lanes --- halving the capacity of dual carriageways, so doubling the length of the traffic jam.
- Closed side roads --- preventing traffic dispersion.
- Removed parking spaces --- forcing people to drive round and round looking for one.
- Splashed red, green, and white paint everywhere --- narrowing roads and thus reducing capacity.
- Increasing parking charges everywhere, including those car parks associated with public transport facilities.
- Closed subways and replaced them with surface crossings, increasing hazards for pedestrians and obstructing traffic
- Massively increased the proliferation of traffic lights in urban areas and on roundabouts leading to stop start motoring and traffic being halted when there is nobody to give way to.
So, Mr Blair intentionally makes congestion worse, then tells us we have to have a road pricing scheme 'to solve the problem'. He obviously thinks the British public is stupid. So far, over 600,000 people have pointed out to him that they are not.
The ABD has many proposals for constructive ways of reducing congestion, including:
- Completing the motorway and bypass network that was planned 40 years ago.
- Stopping the practice of building inadequate roads such as the A14, and the A42 between Tamworth and Nottingham, both of which should clearly have been built as 3 lane motorways in the first place.
- Improving existing roads, for example by completing the flyovers and underpasses for which space was left when roads were constructed.
- Removing all bus lanes on dual carriageways.
- Forcing councils to reopen side roads that have been closed off at one end, or have had access restricted in some other way.
- Providing more parking spaces rather than legislating for less.
- A return to the policy of separating pedestrians/cyclists from heavy traffic where possible by construction of proper facilities for both groups, rather than using vulnerable road users as cannon fodder to justify the obstruction of motorised traffic.
- Free parking at all park and ride schemes for bus users.
- Free parking at all rail and tube stations for train users, and a big reduction in restrictions on parking in side streets nearby.
- Better marketing of bus and train services. The train advertising hoardings on the M1 approaching London are a good example of this.
- Better facilities for carriage of bicycles on public transport — it couldn`t be much worse.
- Secure well-lit parking for bicycles at all railway stations. People are not going to cycle to stations if their bike keeps getting stolen.
- Incentives to encourage bicycle hire companies to operate at railway stations.
- Co-ordination of development to ensure that people can live close to their place of work and have proper transport links instead of the piecemeal approach that takes the road network for granted.
- Incentives to encourage or oblige companies to adopt homeworking practices. Technology now means that many office staff simply do not need to commute into a city centre every day. If all such staff worked from home just one day per week, their commuting needs would be reduced by 20%.
- Incentives for moving closer to places of work. For example, reduction of stamp duty on houses for employment relocation purposes. This could relate to the distance moved, for example someone moving 60% nearer to their place of work would get a 60% reduction on stamp duty.
- Large scale studies into people`s transport needs and habits, done with the intention of facilitating people`s lives rather than justifying anti-car anti-transport policies.
The ABD's Director of Policy, Mark McArthur-Christie, said
"The issue of road pricing and vehicle tracking is clearly one of the most important to the British public, and they seem to be vehemently opposed to the idea. The petition runs until the 20th of February, and continues to grow by thousands of signatures each day. If the prime minister decides to ignore the wishes of such a large number of people, he will regret it at the ballot box."