5/24/2008UK: Boris To End Anti-Motorist Policies in London
London, UK Mayor Boris Johnson lays out agenda to undo the anti-motorist policies of predecessor Ken Livingstone.
London's new mayor, Boris Johnson, vowed Wednesday to end transportation policies he described as anti-motorist. In his first Mayor's Question Time before the London Assembly, Johnson laid out his agenda citing strong electoral support for his campaign promises. His changes will undo the policies of his predecessor, "Red Light Red Ken" Livingstone, who promoted the use of traffic delays as a form of traffic calming. Johnson, instead, will synchronize intersections for maximum flow.
"What I want is for traffic to flow smoothly," Johnson said. "It is a green measure. There is absolutely no doubt that vehicles stopped at traffic lights emit two-and-a-half times more pollution than vehicles that are flowing smoothly.... The queuing policies are solely designed to ratchet up the pain on the motorist."
Although many London motorists see the congestion tax as a similar attack on drivers, Johnson is bound by a contract Livingstone signed with IBM, the private company that operates the complex tracking and collection equipment. London would have to pay an amount equal to twelve month's worth of profit if it decided to end the charge. Instead, Johnson canceled Livingstone's environmentally friendly plan to charge the owners of SUVs, sports cars and family vehicles £25 (US $50) to enter downtown London.
"Of course, the £25 charge on gas guzzling as proposed by Liberal Democrats would have made not a bean of a difference in London's overall emissions," Johnson said. "If you imagine a small herd of cows in Havering and then drove that herd of cows outside of Havering you would achieve exactly the same in reducing London's CO2 emissions over a year as by introducing the £25 gas guzzling charge. It was introduced entirely to spite certain sectors of the population. We should be pursuing technological solutions."
Johnson also set his sights on eliminating the double-size articulated or "bendy" buses that often create gridlock on London's small streets.
"I think this is one of those subjects that achieves global understanding," Johnson said. "There are people in America and Australia who understand perfectly the argument about bendy buses. The articulated bus is not suitable for the streets of London. It's sixty feet long. It's dangerous to cyclists and I think we should phase it out."
Riders on the shortened London buses will no longer be able to console themselves with alcohol. As a public safety measure, Johnson ordered a ban on the consumption of adult beverages on public transport.