Environmental columnist: ‘Sadiq Khan is keeping to his word on tackling air pollution’

News Desk (02 November, 2017)

Donnachadh McCarthy has been an environmental campaigner in Southwark since 1992 and is author of “The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought” www.theprostitutestate.co.uk. He is also an independent environmental consultant www.3acorns.co.uk @DonnachadhMc

14507Environmental columnist Donnachadh McCarthy (Elizabeth Mischler)

Help! We have 16 days to help make a better Southwark. Finally, a politician is keeping their word to make Southwark safer for kids and adults cycling to school or work.

Mayor Khan has released plans for a protected cycle-lane from Tower Bridge, along Jamaica Road to Deptford. It includes measures for safer walking. 72 people walking or cycling are hurt in collisions every year on this route! 3,500 people are already cycling along it with no space or protection currently.

Khan’s proposal will:

  • Provide safer cycling route to schools for local kids
  • Enable more residents cycle safer to work
  • Finally allocate road space for the 81% of Southwark residents who do not own a car
  • Reduce need for polluting mini or black cabs, which make up 60% of car-traffic in cczone
  • Help tackle Southwark kids’ obesity crisis
  • Help Southwark’s 66% of adults who fail to take even 20 minutes exercise a day
  • Will reduce Southwark’s carbon emissions, which threaten to flood all of the borough’s north
  • Protect pedestrians from pavement mounting car-crashes
  • Help many local businesses, as more people will walk and cycle to them, when area is safer
  • Reduce pollution breathed by kids walking on adjacent pavement, due to being farther from exhaust pipes

Nearly all parks and schools used by kids in north of borough break EU pollution safety levels.

Rotherhithe doctors wrote to TfL backing the cycle-highway due to their patients’ car-pollution and inactivity diseases. Southwark has almost the highest rate of obese people in the UK. 56% of adults and 43% of children classified as overweight.

We need urgent solutions to these health and environmental crises plaguing us. For too long local politicians blocked all protected cycle-lanes.  It is good to finally see some supporting them.

BUT a small number of selfish noisy driver and cabbies are trying to block CS4. Please help ensure they do not win, by emailing support to consultations@tfl.gov.uk. Full details at: consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/cs4/.

Yes We Can!

Contribute
Brendan Delaney says:

Dear Donnachadh,
Thanks for mentioning us. I’m a GP at Albion Street Group Practice in Rotherhithe, and I wrote, on behalf of our practice in support of the proposed CS4. The current Jamaica Rd situation is a nightmare for our patients, both in the problems of air pollution and obesity that you mention, but also in the ‘siege’ that the peninsula is placed under when the traffic inevitably clogs up on Jamaica Rd, preventing buses getting down the road, and patients missing their after-work appointments. It does this because the road is poorly designed allowing (completely unnecessary) private vehicles to squeeze in and block the bus/cycle lane at junctions. There is insufficient pedestrian space at the Bermondsey tube station crossing and rat-running traffic still cuts through school and residential streets along the riverside. All of these issues will be alleviated as a useful by-product of the scheme (individually signalled bus lanes, a filter for Rotherhithe-bound buses avoiding the tunnel queue, a wider pedestrian crossing at the tube station and no exit from Cathay St. We simply have to face the fact that there isn’t a place for polluting vehicle traffic in London, there are too many people and too little road space. The solution is to prioritise other road users by providing safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians, and better access for public transport (I don’t class Uber and black cabs as public transport).

So lets turn to cycle safety on Jamaica Rd…… I have been cycling up and down that road commuting, and on home visits for 8 years. In that time, I’ve been ‘punishment passed’ and sworn at by a taxi driver, who, having passed me so close as to brush my sleeve at 30mph+, insisted I was a ‘pest’ for not riding in the potholed, glass-strewn kerb. I’ve been forced off my bike onto the pavement by a coach pulling in sharply at a traffic island he didn’t seem to notice when he started to overtake me. I’ve also had to attend a seriously injured cyclist, hit straight on and bounced off a car windscreen at the roundabout, by a driver who didn’t see him, when he was coming directly from her right on the current badly placed cycle markings. When cyclists have to put up with this type of threat, danger and injury on a daily basis, its no wonder that people want to get in their cars or pack on the overcrowded Jubilee line.

Cycling is cheap, makes you loose weight, get fitter (giving you extra years of healthy life and saving resources in the NHS), doesn’t contribute to air pollution or global warming and makes you feel better. We need to make the roads safe for the old, children, families and all the kind of people that you see cycling in the Netherlands. That means carefully thought through segregated space on major thoroughfares like CS4. It will be better for all local residents to reduce the car traffic. Yes that means some people who currently drive through the area being discouraged from doing so. Yes, that means people getting on a bike or walking rather than taking a cab or an Uber. Maybe our less physically able patients will be able to rely on the bus for once? Maybe people will be encouraged to visit the local shops as the road will be less unpleasant?

Please support CS4. Its the best thing to happen in the area for a generation.

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