We were naturally disappointed to see the High Court decision yesterday that the Mayor of London and TfL acted unlawfully and look forward to TfL's appeal. In the meantime this should have no impact on current schemes - there is no requirement to suspend or remove any Streetspace changes while the appeal is in progress. Judicial Reviews look at the process of decision making and how it is recorded and we believe, like TfL, that Streetspace is both necessary and justified.
TfL, the Mayor and boroughs should of course consider the needs of disabled and elderly people in every scheme. However, these represent a minority of trips by taxi, and while they are important to consider, it is also imperative that we give increasing priority to public transport, cycling and walking for the sake of all Londoners.
Why Streetspace is so important for London
There has been a particular urgency to enable more people to walk and cycle, and reallocate road space away from private motor traffic, during a respiratory pandemic and at a time when many Londoners are avoiding crowded buses and tubes. TfL’s Streetspace programme has been key to doing this, with the additional benefit of addressing London’s air pollution crisis and the climate emergency, tackling the negative impacts unnecessary motor traffic visits on Londoners, and particularly on the elderly, disabled and poorest among us.
This approach was consulted on and approved in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, and in the guidance on Healthy Streets. Its urgency has been further underlined by declarations of climate emergencies by boroughs across London, and is further bolstered by every new bit of evidence on the climate crisis, and by the output of the government’s scientific advisors and panels.
In other words, the more we learn about the climate crisis, the more clear it is that bolder, more urgent action to cut unnecessary motor traffic and boost walking and cycling is required than has been managed to date.
What LCC wants to see next
Our “Climate Safe Streets” report is clear on what needs to be done going forward, and why. But it is also clear (as are the metrics put out by the Healthy Streets Scorecard coalition) that before Streetspace, neither London nor any individual borough was moving rapidly enough to deliver the current Mayor’s Transport Strategy core targets, let alone a zero carbon roads transport system by 2030, as current Mayor Sadiq Khan has effectively pledged to deliver.
Streetspace schemes have enabled many Londoners to exercise and carry out essential journeys safely when our transport options have been reduced. Similar schemes supporting cycling and walking must continue, not only in response to the pandemic, but the climate emergency, air pollution crisis and to ensure disabled and elderly people have access to a range of mobility options, not just taxis.
This legal challenge is the latest in a long history of the taxi industry opposing any scheme that seeks to cut car use and boost walking and cycling. We look forward to TfL’s appeal of this judgement because it is in the best interests of Londoners, including the elderly and disabled, to reduce motor traffic across the capital. And we urge TfL, the Mayor, boroughs and indeed the taxi industry to work collaboratively to ensure appropriate access for disabled and elderly taxi passengers to their destinations, while also ensuring we rapidly reduce motor traffic journeys, including those in taxis, that could be done by other, more sustainable modes.
LCC Infrastructure Campaigner Simon Munk, livestreamed from Bishopsgate on the subject on Friday 5 February.