The Council has informed us that the Inspector’s Report is expected in January or February. It will be published by Camden once it has been ‘fact checked’.
The experimental traffic order has been extended to 30th April 2018 to allow time for the Inspector to write his report and for Camden to make its final decision.
Note: most of the links below are broken because LB Camden created a new website in January 2019, But they have now reinstated the material at:
Day 13 (Thursday 2nd November) Closing submissions from objectors and supporters
Objectors went first and then supporters, finishing with David Smith for Camden Council.
CCC’s closing submission is here.
Closing submissions from other parties will eventually be posted on the Inquiry page on Camden’s website.
The Inquiry closed at 6pm. The Inspector will send his final report to Camden Council.
Day 12 (Tuesday 31st October) Completion of evidence from Objectors
We had spent Monday afternoon polishing our questions for the next day’s objectors. Then at about 5:30 pm the Programme Officer sent us a batch of 25 supposedly new documents containing BRAG’s PoEs. The first we looked at (PoE 5) had been completely re-written so we then were diverted into checking the new documents against originals. Eventually we received another email stating where the changes had occurred.
Andy Warrender Confederation of Passenger Transport presents his evidence:
- Complained about increased distances for coach journeys (and consequent pollution) but not journey times.
- Kerbside access is important for hotels which are competing for business from groups. If a group has to carry its luggage any distance that hotel will not get the business.
No one cross-examined him.
Ray Alleeson RMT presents his evidence:
Not opposed to such schemes. But “I’ve noticed a marked increase in journey times.”
His verbal presentation was not recognisable as his documented PoE (e.g. 600% increase in ped “accidents” in Gt R.St).
George interrupted (a brave move) and opened up this problem for discussion.
George pointed out that the deadline for PoEs was 22 Sept,
David Smith, counsel for Camden, said all parties are having difficulties with RMT’s new evidence.
The Inspector asked Alleeson to provide the new evidence for circulation and to stay until after lunch until all parties had time to study the new evidence. When we saw the papers, we decided they were not worth any effort at all.
— after lunch —
David Smith, counsel for Camden Cross examination of Ray Alleeson:
Smith distributed an extract from the table in Simi Shah Appendix 3 and asked Alleeson whether he has picked out the roads with the highest changes. Alleeson said he picked roads he knows with figures that were too big.
Smith referred to an email from Ms McBride about “extensive modelling”. Alleeson said these details should have been in the consultation.
George Coulouris (CCC) Cross examination of Ray Alleeson
George questioned Alleeson about his use of Strava to say 3000 people had raced through the corridor, suggesting that he had not understood that many people keep Strava on to record their journeys and note the total distances they travel. Alleeson maintained his position that they are racing.
George questioned Alleeson’s reference to cycling speed as a factor in the occurrence of collisions, pointing out that cyclists crossing junctions have priority over turning vehicles. Alleeson agreed collisions were due to poor judgement but attributed it to both cyclists and drivers. He proposed signalising more junctions.
John Hartley (LLS) Cross examination of Ray Alleeson
John questioned Alleeson about his suggestion that at Tavi Square pavement widths on the north side should be increased by reducing those on the south side. JH gave some facts from the Ped Comfort Guidance. Alleeson said it could not be done here and those are just recommendations.
BRAG present their evidence
The confusion over the apparent extremely late submission of dozens of PoEs (yesterday afternoon) was largely resolved. But there were 3 new submissions:
· Bob McIntyre’s PoE 5 re being a local cyclist. BRAG eventually agreed to withdraw this.
· Scarrott’s revised version of PoE 5 (with new data and graphs) BRAG eventually decided to withdraw this.
· Radcliffe’s revised Summary of her PoE 5 re being a local cyclist – was merely some minor rewording so accepted.
Coates PoE 1. Displaced Traffic
Jean questioned the meaning of: “Tavistock Place was a key westbound vehicle route” as to whether this is also a key two-way cycle route across the borough. Pointed out that their route across the borough fails to use SRN/TLRN, suggesting that the motor vehicles should move onto the SRN or TLRN. But they would not agree that would be better.
Jean then tried to get Coates to agree that the proposed changes at Brunswick Square and Midland Road would reduce motor traffic in Judd Street and Hunter Street but didn’t really succeed.
Video presentation (Bob McIntyre)
John Hartley (LLS) pointed out that regardless of the length of a queue, two large vehicles would struggle to pass each other on a road that width, with a line of parked vehicles (whether or not they are RNIB vehicles). Judd Street is really only wide enough for 2 lanes and yet it also has a lane of parked vehicles.
Scarrott PoE 5 – “Accident” stats
Jean pointed out that with the high stats for 2011 & 2012, Camden were justified in doing something. Scarrott “Now, something very interesting happened in 2011. It even got mentioned in the press. There was an increase in the number of accidents. There was a spike. Accidents are, thankfully, rare events. Not a long-term safety issue.” But she did, reluctantly agree that Camden should attempt to bring down the no of accidents.
Foley PoE 5 – being a cyclist
He prefers cycling alongside traffic going in the same direction. Doesn’t feel safe with traffic coming towards him (as now on S side of Tavi). He feels safe cycling in with the traffic.
Richenda Walford asked: What street do you live in? Judd Street. Do you feel safe cycling on the track on the Embankment? He doesn’t know that but knows Blackfriars Bridge, but did not really answer whether he felt safe there, just repeating that he feels safe in traffic.
Radcliffe PoE 5 – being a cyclist
She spoke loudly and enthusiastically. Lives in Judd Street.
Richenda Walford asked her about the membership of BRAG and whether they have any members who are in favour of Tavi. She fudged the issue of what membership means (button on website generated 65 members but lots of other contacts such as the petition). RW said “I know of two people who are in favour of Tavi and who joined BRAG” she interrupted and said “that’s you and John” and said something like that email did not mean we were accepted as members. RW said but at the time you said we were members, you’re saying that we are not?
Aled Rees PoE 10 – Local businesses
His evidence was partly about his use of roads for business (a hotel) but he also complained that driving his children around the area to Coram Fields and Brownies was taking longer.
Smith picked up “rat runners” asking what that means. They agreed that it meant locals using other routes.
Shonfeld PoE 5 – being a cyclist
Repeated the misinterpretation that all Strava records are people ‘racing’. No Questions
John Camacho PoE 8 Practical problems for residents and businesses
Lives in Judd Street. Described how he takes other routes in order to make his journeys now. Smith, referred back to the question he’d asked Aled Rees “are you one of the rat-runners Rees referred to?” Answer was “well, yes, I suppose so”.
Scarrott – PoE 8. Journey Times
Said there are various ways of estimating journey times: Google Maps; look at map and count number of traffic lights. Regarding the estimates given in the PoE by people at UCLH, she’s not sure how reliable they are. The range of variation is large. She questioned the journey times given in Mr. Bexon’s letters. She did two taxi rides herself. A journey which, reportedly, used to take 20 mins took 10 in the taxi. Another one went from 20 to 13. Smith asked her to agree that therefore we should treat Bexon’s figures with “utmost caution”. She asked for brownie points for this! And kept repeating that journeys are now more complex and do take longer.
George changed his prepared Questions into a ‘thank you’ for her candidness and agreed with her that we need to compare like with like, need to clarity on whether all the getting in and out of the vehicle at start and end of journeys are being included in UCLH timings, or not.
Scarrott – PoE 9 Problems for people with impaired mobility
Richenda asked. In your proof, you write: “But generally, picking up and dropping off is now impossible on the south side.” Are you aware that it is still perfectly legal to stop for as long as necessary to set down or pick up passengers? Scarrott’s responded that taxis don’t do what the law allows.
Richenda: you write: “The difficulty is worse on the north side because cars and other vehicles cannot get to the kerb at all, in an emergency.” Are you aware that the kerb on the north side, separating the cyclists from the motors will be removed? Scarrott confirmed that she knows that kerb will be removed but residents are very annoyed with how badly Camden has responded to their difficulties.
McDermott-Spencer PoE 3. FoI requests
Presentation on the flaws in the consultation and Camden’s rejection of all his FoI requests. He has reported problems to the Information Commissioner who is examining how the consultation was run and Camden’s failure to provide raw data when requested. At the end of speech Smith announced that hot off the press he had a hand-written note that the IC has upheld Camden’s decisions.
Coates – PoE s 2,3, 11 to end
Coates queried why the standards which we all insist should be applied so stringently to Tavi were not being applied equally to Judd.
Jean asked a few questions but Coates is very good at not answering and saying what she wants to say. But when Jean pressed home on the question about a “fair share of the space”. [Before the trial cycles had a 43% modal share with 13% of the road width; and motors a 16% modal share with 43% of the road width.] Coates was unable to reply.
Jean questioned unbanning the left turn at Marchmont when this was for safety reasons. Coates referred to Simon Munk’s comments about attention to junctions and said that since things had changed since the ban this junction should be looked at again.
Jean asked how we could return to 14 years ago now that there are now so many more cyclists. Coates managed to confuse this with the doubt over the 52% increase during trial and so failed to answer question about whether it would encourage new cyclists.
Coates PoE 13
The Inspector stopped John Hartley from asking his prepared questions because, she was just presenting info not a PoE or something. None of us could understand why/
Day 11 (Thursday 26th) Witness for LTDA and evidence from one local group
Richard Massett: 14/2 LTDA presents his evidence:
Mr Forrest led Mr Massett through his evidence, covering the following:
❡1: Massett used to work as cabbie, works with TfL and boroughs concerning taxi ranks, major schemes, HS2; LTDA has 10,500 members, very aware of needs of disabled, who need black cabs as other PHVs are not as well equipped; 25,000 black cab drivers, 21,000 cabs.
❡2: before the trial, the corridor was a major artery for cab routes (he didn’t mention it’s also a major cycling artery!). Destinations include all the hospitals in the area: GOSH, UCH, Queen Sq, Huntley St, EGA, etc and 20 major hotels.
❡4: Human rights of disabled violated w.r.t accessibility (i.e. crossing the road).
❡5: Criticises Camden for counting only Camden holders of Taxi Card.
❡7,9,10-12, 13 : Effect of longer and costlier journeys on low income families; elderly and disabled; refers to ambulances and increases in journey times (doesn’t mention those that were quicker).
❡8: All about the taxi bay at the Hotel: Massett managed to drop in ‘dangerous behaviour of cyclists’ before a long description of deploying wheelchair ramps etc and their projecting into cycle track. Claimed that off-loading a wheelchair user takes 7 minutes. Same time for pick-up; All the aids (ramp swivel seat) are on near side.
Opposed to having taxi bay on N side of TaviPlace.
Seeing cyclist when pulling into a taxi bay? Massett claims safer with cyclist on near side than when facing the driver (! again);
Use of Bedford Way for put down: customers expect door to door service and drivers would risk ticket if they took them to the door. And driver would not be able to explain to foreign ones where the front door is;
Opportunities for disabled to cycle? His wheelchair customers and those that use stick are unlikely to cycle.
Pollution: Drivers have been complaining for a long time about the AQ in London .
❡14-15: defined ZEC (zero emission compliant) taxis must be able to drive at least 30 miles without using the petrol engine (but most can do about 70). From 1st Jan 2018 all newly registered ones must be ZEC
Right turn from Euston Road into Melton Street: has been discussed with TfL, HS2 and will not be agreed.
❡16-18: LTDA preferred solution: put cyclists into narrower lanes to slow them down and make the road safer.
With HS2 development where will the Euston Stn rank be? Next year at west end of Euston Square Gardens, then at east end, then Cobourg St, then in final position over a 15 year period.
- Prefers the BRAG solution (narrow footways and cycle lanes and two way motors in narrow lanes).
- Reversing flow would help journeys to Euston Station;
- Prefer 2-way motors in mid section to (2).
Camden Council (David Smith) Cross examination of Richard Massett
Smith’s questions and our comments in italic. All questions and responses paraphrased and abbreviated.
Who wrote your SoC, PoE and PoE summary? The association’s lawyer.
Did you work with Unite and ILHL? Worked with Unite and had one discussion with ILHL 3 weeks ago.
Unite wants to revert to pre-trial layout, ILHL wants reverse scheme (WB), LTDA want the BRAG scheme, or 2nd best would be just the mid-section 2-way motors: the case is based on the needs of protected groups
❡18 your concern is all about getting to Euston Station, not the mobility-impaired: That is very important.
SoC p2 Taxi rank issues – why did hotel reject rank on northern side?: it would avoid some difficulties but the passenger would need to cross the road. And much better outside hotel. No statutory obligation to help passenger to destination.
How many wheelchair users come to hotel?: Even if only one, should provide facility to drop off.
How many wheelchair accessible rooms in hotel? I don’t know (understandably). But numbers are not the issue. I have never seen the concierge (who Russell claimed would help people come into the hotel).
There’s a similar issue with wheelchair access to taxis at other points along the route and could be a problem anywhere? Yes.
There’s always scope to set down/pick up at nearby kerb? But at door is better.
Some PHVs have ramps at rear?: Yes
Proof page 9 says it takes about 7 mins to put down/pick up wheelchair user. Smith showed a video of driver deploying ramp and wheelchair entering cab (2.5 mins). Massett says time is from when passenger hails taxi and explains destination or for putting down includes paying. Also that the driver in the film looked as though he does it all the time. He then said something along the lines:
”Not many taxi wheelchair hirings take place” and “driver may not carry a wheelchair for several years after training”.
In your claims about timing and in your video of the driver dropping the passenger in Herbrand Street you have overstated the situation…. It was not intended to be exaggerated.
When you put down in the old layout, could motors pass your cab, even when there was a queue on the other side including HGVs? Yes, I don’t recall any problems even with large lorries.
LTDA’s separate consultations don’t have identical questions to Camden’s and has leading questions so responses can’t be included with Camden’s consultation? Consultation unfair and taxi drivers and passenger’s views should be taken into account.
LTDA say ‘patient’s views should be taken into account’ yet 91% of hospital patients who responded were taxi drivers or passengers: 49% of hospital patients travel in taxis as passenger or driver.
What are your issues with cyclists? Cycling should be made as safe as possible but on this route they should not be given such priority over over others. The vast majority are able-bodied.
Is Camden ignoring cyclists in protected groups? Cyclists are not a protected group (he probably didn’t understand).
You think protected groups are not using the tracks? Cyclists are generally being given preference.
What about cyclists in the protected groups? There’s a very small number of disabled cyclists.
But numbers are not really the issue , as you said earlier?
App C of consultation report shows 134 responses from cyclists in protected groups: as a group, I think of ‘cyclists’
You favour certain options because they improve access to Euston Station. Your second preference is for a two-way section in the middle of the corridor (to improve access to Euston Station). This will not provide scope for widening footways: I don’t know
The width is about 16m with 3m motor lanes and 2m cycle lanes: the design is by the Hotel’s traffic consultant.
George Coulouris (CCC) Cross examination of Richard Massett
I speak as a 79 year old cyclist, a member of one of the protected groups who has benefited from the improved facilities.
Your Statement of Case (doc 14/1) gives your membership as 10,500 black cab drivers in London. Do you represent any PHV drivers? No, only black cab drivers
We note that there are no PHV operators represented here, not Uber, not Addison Lee, none of them. Their businesses use the same road network that black cabs use. And you claim that the scheme is causing substantially longer journey times on that road network. If the operators agreed surely they would be here too? I imagine they have the same experiences but they tend not to get involved.
Do you support Mayor/TfL aim (as in MTS) to take steps to improve conditions for cycling: Yes, but not at the expense of other modes that need to be there.
Section 36 – In Section 36 you list your preferences among the alternatives listed by Camden in CD 6-2-D. Your preference for this scheme has reduced provision for pedestrians and cyclists; do you think it would encourage people to take up cycling and walking? The reduction in road capacity has gone too far, and the BRAG scheme is an improvement over the two-way track.
Forrest re-examination of Richard Massett
Massett suggested shared space as a solution to the lack of room for his two-way in middle section.
Mark Nash: Guilford Court Residents presents his evidence:
Issues include congestion, air quality, travel times, he had no problems with the previous two-way track; environmental impacts.
David Smith: Before and after flows in Guilford Street actually show a reduction.
Day 10 (Wednesday 25th) Witness for Unite (Cab branch) and evidence from local groups/individuals
David Marchant: Russell Square RA presents his evidence:
David Marchant’s introduction referred to taxi journeys being twice as long and costing twice as much, taxis to hospital having to use the congested Euston Road.
David Marchant’s main points referred to the junctions of TaviPlace with Woburn Place and Bedford Way: he wants the signals to give more time to N-S traffic and the left turning cycle lanes to be narrowed.
Camden Council Cross examination of David Marchant
David Smith pointed out that Simi Shah’s evidence as well as subsequent discussions with the ILHL witness had fully covered these points: if the scheme is made permanent, the signals will be optimised and the traffic lanes improved.
Richard Walker (independent) presents his evidence:
Richard Walker spoke at length about small details of which the placement of tactile paving was the most prominent. Others referred to the original metal bollards (which were swiftly taken out), the orcas and the stop line at Judd Street being so far back.
Camden Council Cross examination of Richard Walker:
David Smith pointed out that the orcas will go when the scheme is made permanent, that some were removed where footfall is high and then went on about how commonly they are used – he’s seen more than I have. As to the tactile: he gave far too much time to this.
Peter Rose : Unite the Union (cab section) presents his evidence:
Peter Rose covered many topics including bus lanes, congestion, West End project.
He says that TaviPlace is not traffic management or infrastructure.
Camden has turned down having a cab rank in Endsleigh Gardens.
Camden Council Cross examination of Peter Rose:
David Smith noted that Camden has objected to having a cab rank in Endsleigh Gardens but that it was not their decision.
He then asked whether a return to two-way working was Unite’s final position. Peter Rose stated that the trial scheme should be scrapped.
John Chamberlain’s Cross examination of Peter Rose:
John’s questions in italic and answers normal text.
Does your witness statement have the support of the Executive Council of Unite the Union? Only the cab section.
Is the Cab Section’s opposition to the Torrington Place — Tavistock Place scheme shared by the Union? Only the Cab Section.
Does the Cab Section support TfL’s Healthy Streets initiative? Yes, we want everybody’s needs taken into account.
Do you agree that a lot of taxis currently use Endsleigh Gardens and Gordon Street as a route to Euston Station from the South and East? That would be the only way. Passengers would complain if you go via Euston Circus (or by Hampstead)
On page 8 you discuss taxi ranks at Euston Station during HS2 work? We are involved in the planning and there will be a temporary rank in Euston Square Gardens.
Are you in discussion with TfL and Camden about access to the “garden” taxi rank and does this include either access from Eversholt Street or a right turn off Euston Road? The right turn is currently denied. A rank nearer to Eversholt Street will be coming at a later stage.
Simon Elmore gave testimony on behalf of The Bedford Estates
After introducing himself and his organisation (they are the largest private landlord in the Bloomsbury area, owning many residential and other properties as well as Russell and Bedford Squares) he read an updated Proof of Evidence which turned out to be significantly different from the one that had been originally filed. However, after some clarification, it was established that their position was similar to that of the Hotel, viz:
- They support the West End Project (‘WEP’)
- They do not like the current scheme on Tavistock-Torrington Place
- Their preference is for the direction of motor traffic flow to be reversed, i.e. to become westbound
- They support the need for adequate provision for cyclists in both directions
- They do not have an opinion on whether the cycle tracks should be uni-directional (one on each side of the road) or bi-directional (sharing a wide lane). In this they differ from the hotel
- They ask for more comprehensive AQ monitoring
They suggest that a westbound trial be introduced but asked that this should be done after the completion of the WEP so that the full effect of WEP could be determined.
Day 9 (Tuesday 24th) Cross-examination of Witness for Imperial London Hotels and evidence from local groups/individuals
Most of the day was taken up with the remaining evidence and cross-examination of the evidence of John Russell, (summary here) highway and traffic consultant to the Imperial London Hotels Limited (ILHL), the proprietors of the Tavistock Hotel and several others. He was ILHL’s main witness and he appeared to speak for the company, so his evidence and cross-exam answers are important. His additional evidence included:
Since Camden decided not to use a detailed modelling package (micro-simulation) but use a trial instead they should have done the following:
- Collect sufficient data before and during to assess impact. The council has not collected data, so they can’t properly assess
- model alternatives (reverse and two-way motors), or
- run a 2nd trial with westbound motor traffic flow
He considers that micro-simulation is more appropriate for this complex busy inner city area.
Cross examination of John Russell by David Smith, counsel for Camden:
- agrees guests have always been able to arrive and leave by any vehicle at the front
- agrees hotel doesn’t oppose cycle lanes outside the entrance but the changes do cause difficulties e.g. non-black cabs can’t access
- does evidence include benefits of active travel modes?
Sees advantages in both WB and EB schemes but concern about displacement to other roads.
- considering all turn movements, which is safer WB or EB?
Cross examination by John Chamberlain for Camden Cycling Campaign
On being questioned about the benefits of the segregated tracks, Russell reaffirmed his written evidence that there were benefits to cyclists from the proposed scheme (improved version of current layout). He endorsed those benefits and confirmed that to deliver them there must be two segregated cycle tracks of appropriate width according to LCDS guidelines. He agreed that this can only be achieved with a single lane of motor traffic (along most of the corridor at least), though he flagged up issues with safety at junctions. On being asked about the direction of motor traffic flow, he repeated that it should be westbound, not eastbound as in the current trial.
There followed a long discussion about taxi access to the hotel for wheelchair users and other mobility-impaired people (who don’t require a ramp to exit the taxi). This is a key motivation for ILHL’s preference for westbound motor traffic because the westbound direction makes wheelchair access from a black cab straightforward via the standard on-board ramp.
Further discussion led to a discussion about safety when taxis enter the taxi rank. Russell agreed that whether the motor traffic goes eastbound or westbound, taxis will have to cross the westbound cycle track to reach the taxi bay, but held to his claim that it would be easier for a cyclist to see and avoid a taxi crossing the track when the taxi was travelling in the same direction (westbound) than if it were travelling eastbound, facing the cyclist (as in the current layout). We expressed our surprise at that and agreed to differ.
He was asked whether he considered it entirely the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid the taxi and replied that he did not. When asked to consider the position from the taxi driver’s point of view he claimed that the driver would be ‘more aware’ of a cyclist on his/her left flank than one approaching from in front. A long and deliberate pause followed!
There followed a lot of discussion of the traffic impacts of the westbound versus the eastbound option, too detailed to reproduce here with Mr. Russell sticking to the view that there would be less displaced traffic (agreed). He agreed that this was partly because the option moves westbound traffic to Tavistock/Torrington Place. But he denied that it would produce a lot more traffic on Torrington Place.
Other witnesses today
Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee (BCAAC) (Tony Tugnutt)
Friends of Tavistock Square (Keyvan Lankarani)
Tamar House and residents of 11 Tavistock Place (Peter Riach)
An Islington Resident (Michael Gwinnell)
Their objections were about inconvenience for residents (Lankarani, Riach), intrusiveness (Tugnutt), displaced traffic and lack of a westbound route for Islington motorists (Gwinnell).
Day 8 (Friday 20th) Witnesses for Imperial London Hotels
Professor Duncan Laxen continued to be taken through his evidence on his interpretation of the Air Quality data. Overnight Camden had prepared additional data and this was reviewed. Cross-examination followed – Camden chose not to cross-examine, we cross-examined on a few points.
John Russell (Traffic Consultant) then testified on the traffic implications of the scheme and also an alternative scheme proposed by the Hotel where the motor traffic flow is reversed, i.e. travels westbound. He agreed that the Camden traffic model was fit for purpose.
To be continued – we will be cross-examining again on Tuesday.
Day 7 (Thursday 19th)
Morning – Camden Witnesses
Jason Strelitz (Deputy Dir. For Public Health, Camden and Islington) gave evidence on the heath benefits of the scheme, particularly as it related to active travel, and its consistency with Camden and London policy. He was cross-examined by the barrister for the Hotel but not the LTDA barrister. BRAG asked a number of questions about traffic displacement onto neighbouring streets.
Following this, Adam Webber (Senior Sustainability Officer) gave his testimony on Air Quality. He was heavily cross-examined by both opposition barristers on perceived inadequacies in the methodology used by Camden to evaluate air quality before and during the trial and by BRAG who focussed on displacement to neighbouring streets. The Russell Square association also asked a number of questions about monitoring and traffic levels in the Square.
Afternoon – Witness for Imperial London Hotels
Professor Duncan Laxen (Managing Director, Air Quality Consultants Ltd) was taken through his evidence on his interpretation of the Air Quality data. He had been involved in major projects including the Baker Street/Gloucester Place 2-way scheme and numerous construction projects.
Day 6 (Wednesday 18th, Supporters of the Scheme)
Jean Dollimore (CCC) – Jean presented her evidence regarding the cycling grid and traffic levels on Judd Street and was cross-examined as follows:
Forrest (barrister for LCDA) agrees that it is still feasible to get to UCH. But according to Mr Carter (who gave evidence for Camden) Google is not an accredited source of data for journey times is it? Jean said she’d rather cover this point when she presents George Coulouris’s evidence later today. Have the opposition exaggerated journey times? Jean resisted having words put into her mouth and said she had no opinion on that.
Coates (BRAG) quoted the Dept of Transport as saying that the way to assess journey times is to travel the journey. Jean said that she thought that may have been written a very long time ago. Q: why were the journey times taken on 1 August, was it because that’s when the colleges break up? Is traffic lower then? A: Jean said that that’s when the first set of reading were collected because that’s when it was done, but there are other readings done more recently. And yes traffic probably is lower then. Q: Judd St – how much is thru traffic? Jean agreed that this information seems not to be available but a trial would be a good way of finding out. Jean referred to some Aldred research that indicates that on streets with no thru traffic numbers are about 1,000 a day. This would obviously vary with the length of the street and the number of flats etc. That compares with Judd having about 7,000 per day. Jean also referred to the traffic lights being the cause of the jams.
John Chamberlain (re-examination) asked whether Google data is better than anecdotal evidence. A: Yes. And will Coulouris evidence have more journey time information? A: Yes.
Rachel Aldred, Westminster University presented her evidence on the importance of high quality walking and cycling schemes and was cross examined as follows:
Forrest: what does “very scary incident” mean. A: People were asked to classify on a scale, 0 = not scary at all. 3 = very scary. While criticizing the 2-way motors alternative Rachel referred to “dynamic envelope” Forest asked what this meant and summarised Rachel’s explanation as “wobble-room” but the real point is that due to the dynamic envelope cargo bikes etc. cannot be expected to pass each other safely on a track where they apparently might fit side-by-side.
Coates: Is safety a key factor for whether the trial should be approved? Rachel would agree was that it was a key factor but there are many others such as active travel.
John Chamberlain: Is junction safety also critical? Yes and needs to properly analysed and measured. Would the 2-way motors lead to more turns and so more junctions? Yes. And to more traffic? Yes and that would lead to more risk of injury to peds and cyclists.
George Coulouris (CCC) Evidence on measured journey times from Google (given by Jean Dollimore). No questions from Forrest. Coates queried the tool. They have read https://traffictool.rgp.me.uk/ and pointed out that it has been designed for use by cycle campaigners; that it may be used to “Opportunistically collect data while a road is partially or totally closed” and that “the estimate can’t take account of extra congestion caused by re-allocated traffic”. This all got a bit lost and was not properly discussed. Jean pointed out that most people use Google estimates for journey times all the time and that Camden at this PI have also used Google to provide journey times. Coates tried hard to get Jean to criticise their witnesses (who have not yet given their evidence) for providing false journey times. She claimed that real life differs from Google data. Jean replied that Google data is real life and is not based on modelling. She re-iterated that she did not want to cast aspersions on their witnesses.
Chamberlain gave Jean an opportunity to make it clear that Google “estimates” are generated by the analysis of real time active measurements.
Inspector asked whether the data in GC’s report was just for car journeys. Yes. Inspector: Google can differentiate between cars and bikes? Yes.
Jeremy Till (Head of Central St Martins) testified about the importance of safe cycling routes for students.
Forrest asked about reduction in numbers in hols. Till said not much reduction.
Coates: is safety one of the main reasons, etc (same question). Till’s response was very powerful. They have lost 2 students lives through cycling collisions including one promising fashion design killed at KX gyratory. This loss of life is very hard for the head of a college and he has to come and appear at this PI, it’s his duty to be here and do what he can to get safe cycling provision. Very powerful testimony.
Gareth Mayer (Local Resident) presented evidence on support from local businesses
Forrest queried the leafleting used in the campaign, specifically how many were handed out and to whom. With John Hartley’s help the questions were answered. Forest tried to say that obviously those you leafleted were cyclists so of course they signed up. Gareth pointed out that they were not just given to cyclists and in any case the leaflet recipient then had to speak to people in his organisation and get it discussed, etc. before any senior person would send a letter of support. This was not a consultation? Agreed. Forest and Gareth jointly agreed that petitions would always tend to generate responses in support.
Richenda Walford (CCC) presented her evidence on the former two-way cycle track with a viewing of the video we made in 2013.
She then listed the drawbacks illustrated in the video.
Coates: BRAG agrees with the problems of 2-way tracks and does not want to revert to it.
Richenda: understands that it is the inspector’s job to decide whether to keep it or not.
Richenda then presented her evidence on one days observations of the level of congestion in Judd Street. She made the point that the inspector should be warned of any witness who shows videos that fail to show that Judd Street is congested only occasionally.
Isabelle Clement (Director – Wheels for Wellbeing) presented her evidence on the use of cycles by mobility-impaired individuals and was cross examined as follows:
Forrest (LTDA): Q: Section 2.3 of PoE quotes 2.5 m width for one-way cycle track. Isn’t that an aspiration rather than a requirement? A: I imagine this judgement was made by planners as a way of future-proofing the scheme.
Q: Section 5. Taxi access to the front door and to adjacent streets is not the same. A: I’m sure everyone would like access direct to their front door but that’s just not practical.
Q: Do you not agree that as much accommodation as possible should be made. A: See previous answer. And the quality of the pavement is very important.
Q: Official inclusivity guidance suggests rest spots every 50 metres. If this can’t be provided would you still support the scheme. A: Hypothetical question – cannot answer. Q: Repeated. A: It will be important to look at overall provision.
Coates (BRAG) Q: We have people who cannot walk more than one or two metres. Shouldn’t provision be made for the least mobile? A: Not always possible. Anyway, people using bikes can frequently get closer than people in motors and equipment is available for all levels of disability.
Q: What about people who have no capacity to ride? A: WfW provides for all.
Helena Azzam (Local Resident) testified about her personal experience of cycling the route on a recumbent trike before and after the scheme went in. There was only one question:
Coates: Q: Are you saying you would not want to revert to the old scheme? A: Absolutely not!
Day 5 (Tuesday 17th, Supporters of the Scheme):
Will Norman (TfL Walking and Cycling Commissioner) presented his evidence, linking the scheme to the Mayor’s Transport Plan and pointing out the more equitable distribution of road space with the scheme in compared to before.
Forrest (barrister for taxi drivers) asked questions about other options and also about funding. Good answers from WN.
Nicky Coates of BRAG raised issue of displaced traffic making longer journeys and so creating more pollution. WN says evidence shows otherwise and that TfL are addressing strategic issues through measures such as the ULEZ and T charge.
Walker (independent) asked about the split of budgets for pedestrians vs cyclists? WN: not split so can’t answer.
Coates: If the evidence proved that the trial did not bring the desired benefits re safety and pollution would you still support the trial? WN: mainly refused to address this hypothetical question, the nearest he came was to say that TfL would review the scheme and enhance it. NC asked this question (call it Q1) of WN many times and asked it of most of the other witnesses today
John Bailey (University of London, Head of Sustainability) presented his evidence based on three surveys of staff, all very supportive of the scheme.
Forrest: Questions on student numbers and the extent to which they drop during hols. A: Significant
Coates: Asked Q1 (see above). Bailey said he would find it surprising and would be concerned for the safety of the staff and students.
Prof. Andrea Sella (UCL) stated that the changes had been ‘transformational’ and was ‘wildly popular’ amongst students and staff.
Forrest: Questions on student numbers and the extent to which they drop during hols. Answer: they go down in the hols by about 35%.
Coates: Qs about how Sella decided to support the scheme – based on Camden’s data wasn’t it? But this started a trend whereby Coates asked a question and the witness took it as a springboard to either restate their own points or, even better, bring in new evidence supporting the trial. Sella was excellent: active travel mind-set needed; benefits of active travel outweigh the disbenefits of air pollution.
John Hartley (London Living Streets) gave the pedestrians’ point of view, emphasising Walking to School, countering air pollution, pavement parking, safe crossings and 20 mph zones. The scheme supports all of these.
Coates: She used to take a child to Collingham Nursery and the route included Judd St so the pollution on that route has got worse not better. A: can’t comment on that route. Q: the displaced traffic is now stop-start in Judd – doesn’t that make it more dangerous to cross the road? A: it’s faster and easier to cross a road with slow moving traffic than one where you have to wait for a gap in fast moving traffic. Q: do you support alternative schemes? Hartley referred to the Inspector only having the choice of old scheme or the trial with minor modifications WB would bring more traffic so not supported. Coates said that local residents should be the most important consultees. Hartley pointed out that if all decisions on transport in London were made by the residents in small local areas then there would never be any improvements.
Walker: Asked for more info on pavement parking in Tavi before the trial. Hartley gave it. Expected question re….. tactile paving! Hartley said he was no expert and thought LLS would defer to RNIB. Walker pointed out that Hartley’s quote from Camden’s evidence of 0 collisions has been corrected because there had been 1 pedestrian casualty.
Clive Henderson (Gordon Mansions RA)
Argued in favour because it reduces traffic on the west end of Torrington Place especially once two-way traffic on Gower Street comes in under the West End Project (“WEP”).
Forrest asked about the WEP and their opposition to it. Henderson believes the trial came about in response to the locals objections to the increase in traffic in Torrington Place.
Coates: asked a few questions including that stand Q1 but achieved nothing.
John Chamberlain gave the CCC opening statement and introduced our witnesses. The first three gave evidence today:
Simon Munk (Infrastructure Campaigner, LCC) emphasized the importance of the scheme and the problems with all of the alternatives, none of which had had any junctions evaluated.
Forrest asked about one alternative – 2-way motors, bikes each side. Munk disagreed that this would be improvement on old scheme. Widths too narrow for cycle track & pavements too narrow. Would not boost active travel. Also discussed bidirectional tracks pointing out that they can be made safe but width and junction treatments are crucial. In response to question about partial two-way motor working Munk said the design of the track is important for both perceived and real safety and that any scheme needs to be continuous and coherent else the benefits on part of it can be worthless.
Coates: You say you represent cyclists but cyclists have different points of view. Munk replied yes, but he would really like to be representing the people who don’t yet cycle at all because the facilities are not there for them. He understood that the Q was about the fact that yes, some cyclists claim to prefer to cycle in with the traffic but he and LCC are promoting what has been hugely successful elsewhere and is international best practice – dedicated cycle tracks. Q: did LCC advise Camden prior to the trial? Munk said this was before his time. Discussion about modal shift to active travel. Munk said large potential for shift. Coates said that inner London was different to the suburbs and people here needed to use their cars on all sorts of journeys. Munk agreed the shift opportunities vary across areas but there are always lots of opportunities. Discussion about whether traffic in Judd is through traffic. Munk said yes of course it is. Munk said that we have to aim for “low traffic neighbourhoods”. This is the direction London is going, and has to go. Discussion referring to Brunswick and Midland closures and how residents might object to these. Munk raised Waltham Forest and it being a balance. Coates referred to the BRAG petition. Munk said he’s run lots of petitions in his time and of course you get the answer you want, that’s what they are for. Brief mention of suggested westbound motor traffic scheme. Munk said more traffic just makes for a hostile environment. Thru traffic should be removed completely to main roads, with an area-based approach. Close the other routes so all the residents in the area benefit. Q: What is a safe speed for cyclists on Tavi? A: With the old scheme there was no safe speed because it was too crowded. Collisions are extremely rare and those that do occur normally involve motors. Q about the Strada app and its league table: Munk said yes some cyclists do use this and most roads in London appear on it. The high speeds are often the result of gaming the app. Those that use it tend to be the fit, fast and fearless and what the trial aims to do is change the profile of the people who use the route, to be more like that in Europe. We need a more diverse profile. Q: Camden and LCC approve of cyclists overtaking each other which means you are encouraging fast speeds. A: Providing the ability to overtake actually allows for the route to accommodate a more diverse range of people and increases the capacity of the route. To assess whether the route is safe or not what counts is collisions.
Matthew Chico, (LSH&TM) resident who uses bikes to transport children
Gave a succinct but inspiring account of cycling with children on bikes and in a cargo bike.
Forrest: how wide is your cargo bike? 89cm, 3ft. this together with the weight means Chico cannot go fast so he needs the width to allow others to overtake. It was much more dangerous before.
Inspector: your 2nd paragraph suggests you’d like all traffic removed. A: It would be much nicer if it was like Lambs Conduit St.
Tabitha Tanqueray, Cycle Islington
Inspiring account covering use of the route for commuting to work, delivering children to school, countering inactivity and many other issues. Excellent collection of comments from Islington and Hackney residents who cycle.
Forrest – no questions.
Coates: What is the result if a cyclist feels it is safe and actually it’s not safe? TT queried this odd question and said that it seemed safe because it was safe. Question re network of routes for emergency vehicles. A: many 1st responders are now using bikes. Roads are gridlocked anyway regardless of cycle tracks. Blue light vehicles have been seen using Cycle Super highways and that works – the bikes just get out of the way.
To be continued…
(Richenda Walford, John Chamberlain)
Day 4 (Friday 13th, half day):
David Carter of SYSTRA in the witness box for Camden. Continuation of tough, detailed questioning from Imperial Hotels’ counsel (Tim Comyn).
Mr Russell (the hotel owner) wants to see the results of the modelling carried out in late 2016, but Carter says this modelling was intermediate, no report was produced and so there is nothing to show other than what is in his PoE. Similarly debate about 2017 modelling. Better modelling has been done since.
Question: When was your ONE model fit for purpose?
Answer: It was fit for an initial assessment in late 2016, and has improved significantly since.
Questions regarding whether the model required calibration and validation, and whether this was done:
Calibration was done but validation not, which is normal for an intervention of this scale. For example King’s X gyratory would probably justify the expense of validation. TfL are happy that the model is fit for purpose. Independent traffic count date is currently being used to validate the model.
Questions about reports of queues on Woburn Place. This is all anecdotal apart from a one-day survey paid for by Imperial Hotels with no measurements prior to the trial.
As evidenced by Tony Dichev yesterday, the bus actual journey time data does not support this anecdotal evidence.
Forrest (for LTDA) then questioned Carter, mostly about queuing on Bedford Way and Woburn Place making it unsafe for taxis to drop off.
Trevor Shonfeld of BRAG then spent 25 minutes questioning Carter. Much of this was unrelated to Carter’s PoE and even the Inspector queried whether Carter was the right person to answer many of the questions. These included:
- The extent to which the corridor is residential. TS reported 22 thousand on the electoral roll. Carter admitted that his modelling did not differentiate between residents and non-residents.
- Whether Carter has used the data generated by the consultation. Carter could see no way in which he could have used that data in his modelling.
- Had Carter used journey time surveys? No. Had Carter used queue length surveys? No – because traffic queues are notoriously difficult to analysis since they are so volatile. Had Carter used number plate survey (to differentiate between local and passing through)? No.
During David Smith’s (Camden’s barrister’s) re-examination a few points were clarified. Carter re-iterated that the model was fit for purpose and met the calibration requirements.
Day 3 (Thursday 12th):
Cross examination of Simi Shah, Design Team Manager, LB Camden by Nicky Coates of BRAG followed by re-examination by Camden’s counsel, David Smith continued until 11:30. Important points that emerged:
- the Fire Brigade had stated that the trial layout causes no problems;
- the West End project report just suggested ‘bring the trial forward’ rather than doing the trial;
- university staff and students don’t all disappear during vacations;
- there never could be any advantage in designing to a level lower than the best level of service and that consistency is very important;
- in Judd Street, the intermittent occurrences of congestion are most likely caused by SCOOT (the TfL adaptive traffic control system) in action on the signals at the Judd Street/Euston Road junction.
This was followed by evidence from Tony Dichev, Lead Modelling Specialist at Transport for London (TfL). He stated that SYSTRA’s model was developed under his guidance and is ‘fit for purpose’.
During questioning by Tim Comyn and re-examination by David Smith the following points emerged:
- TfL aims to keep journey times stable only on the TLRN and bus corridors;
- when any scheme (e.g. the trial) is already running, you can see the impact and that micro simulation is unnecessary and inaccurate;
- TfL said that modelling peak hours only is normal and that if, unusually, there was some negative impact outside those hours then TfL would know (ILHL’s John Russell criticises modelling only at peak hours);
- displacement of traffic is normally through traffic, not local traffic;
- TfL constantly monitor bus routes crossing the corridor and that a slight impact can be seen but it is hard to attribute to the trial.
In the afternoon session David Carter of SYSTRA gave his evidence. His report is about modelling work commissioned by Camden in April 2016. He gave a presentation of figures in his report showing a graphical representation of the changes of traffic levels in streets in the area predicted by the models for a variety of scenarios including removing the trial and reversing the trial.
Comyn’s questioning took up the remainder of the afternoon and at the end, he said he would need another hour on Friday. Comyn’s questions were mainly with reference to statements in Mr Russell’s evidence on behalf of ILHL, seemingly with a view to discrediting the modelling work, for example by constant referral to ‘errors’ in the model while ignoring David Carter’s very clear statement that models are rarely calibrated from Day 1 and that calibrating a model is an ongoing activity.
Day 2 (Wednesday 11th):
Cross-examination of Louise McBride, Head of Transport Strategy, LB Camden continued for an hour, mainly by a representative of the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee. He made assertions that revealed amazing anti-cycling prejudices – e.g. he proposed a 10 mile an hour speed limit for cycles because ‘they are more manoeuvrable than cars’ and ‘Bloomsbury is one of the most important conservation areas in the country’.
Most of the day was occupied with evidence and cross-examination of Simi Shah, Design Team Manager, LB Camden. She made many valuable points, setting out what is involved in designing a safe and attractive cycling and walking route. She stood up well to relentless cross-examination from two professional counsels. Tim Comyn, counsel for Imperial Hotels sought to pick holes in her statistical evidence and some details about the hotel taxi rank. Then tried to get her to agree that Westbound motor traffic would be fine. She rejected that on the substantially higher traffic levels it would induce, especially on Torrington Place.
Comyn also tried to pick holes in the advice given to Councillor Phil Jones before his decision to agree the experimental scheme. He persuaded her to accept that a reversal of the motor traffic would be ok ‘on geometric grounds’ and that the inspector might therefore recommend it. The counsel for Camden immediately objected to that because the answer was ‘a matter of law’. The Inspector appeared to support the objection though he didn’t say he would ignore that interaction.
Mr Forrest (for LTDA) than went on at length about the fact that universities have holidays and that the cycle counts on Tavi Place were taken only in term time. He argued that the entire student and staff bodies of UCL (50,000 people) would disappear for 140 days a year. Simi correctly argued that the provision for cycling and walking should address the normal peak demand, not the annual average. He repeatedly demanded that she agree with his point of view, so many times that eventually the inspector intervened say ‘I think Ms. Shah has given you her answer’.
In the response to several suggestions that the cycle track and footway widths could be modified in some sections to accommodate the oppositions proposals Simi Shah made the important point that to make the scheme attractive enough for people to change travel modes to walking or cycling the levels of service for pedestrians and cyclists must be maintained at the same high level throughout the corridor.
The PI is already well behind its anticipated schedule.
Day 1 (Tuesday 10th):
Occupied with the evidence and cross-examination of Louise McBride, Head of Transport Strategy, LB Camden. Cross exam was 2 hrs of tough, detailed questioning from Imperial Hotels’ counsel (Tim Comyn), about an hour from the LTDA barrister (Mr Forrest) and another 45 mins from BRAG spokesperson (Nicky Coates).
- the opposition spokespeople are well-briefed – as was to be expected with the huge document base (almost all available online). They go into details that may not appear very relevant, but its all building up a barrier to sensible thinking that the inspector must see over.
- We need to counter with plenty of evidence from sensible people, equally well-informed and with carefully-prepared cross-examination material to confront the opposition.
- Imperial Hotels are pushing very hard on the ‘reverse the scheme (i.e. to motors should go westbound)’ line, with the typical barrister’s method of gaining ground inch-by-inch. They may have gained a bit today.
- LTDA are pushing hard on disability rights and taxis’ ability to satisfy them.
- BRAG are arguing that it’s the locals who matter and are questioning evidence that motor journey times remain reasonable despite the scheme.
The Public Inquiry on the future of Camden’s Tavistock Place cycling scheme opened at 10 am on Tuesday 10th October at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, London WC1H 9LP and is expected to run for 3 or 4 weeks. The Inquiry will be held in the Council Chamber and attendance is open to the public. It will sit between 10 am and 5 pm Tuesdays to Thursdays and 10-1 on Fridays for 3 to 4 weeks.
The Inquiry promises to be a key event in the campaign for safe and attractive infrastructure for cycling and walking in Camden and throughout London. We welcome the presence of cycling campaign supporters, especially when our own witnesses are giving their evidence (probably for a couple of days beginning about the middle of the second week). The evidence to be presented for the other supporting parties promises to be very valuable and interesting too, especially that of LB Camden.
Mr Martin Elliott, BSc FIPROW, an independent inspector, has been appointed to conduct the Inquiry. Camden Council is maintaining a web page to hold the voluminous documentation that has been prepared by the Council, the other supporters of the scheme and the objectors.
The Inquiry will have a quasi-legal format with each supporter and objector stating their case and then calling witnesses to provide detailed evidence in support of their case. All supporters and objectors are required to produce a written Statement of Case and those can now all be found on the Inquiry web page. The witnesses are also required to produce Proof of Evidence documents. Nearly all the Proof of Evidence documents now seem to be on the Inquiry web page (Sat 7 Oct).
The primary supporter is London Borough of Camden and their evidence is expected to occupy the first week of the Inquiry. Camden will be represented by David Smith, barrister, with these witnesses:
- Louise McBride, Head of Transport Strategy, LBC
- Simi Shah, Design Team Manager, LBC
- David Carter, Market Director, SYSTRA Limited
- Tony Dichev, Lead Modelling Specialist OMV Team, Transport for London
- Adam Webber, Senior Sustainability Officer, Air Quality, LBC
- Jason Strelitz, Deputy Director for Public Health, LBC
Camden’s Statement of Case and Statements of Evidence are all on the Inquiry web page and are well worth reading. The first two witnesses set out the policy and engineering arguments that led to the scheme in convincing detail and the remaining four discuss important aspects of traffic modelling, air quality and the public health benefits of cycling and walking.
The other supporters of the scheme, in likely order of appearance are:
- Transport for London – whose case will be presented by Will Norman, Walking and Cycling Commissioner
- University of London
- University College London
- London Living Streets
- Gordon Mansions Residents Association
- Camden Cycling Campaign – we plan to call these witnesses:
Tabitha Tanqueray, Cycle Islington, Matthew Chico, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Jean Dollimore, CCC, Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner, LCC, Rachel Aldred, Westminster University, Richenda Walford, CCC, George Coulouris CCC, Gareth Maeer, Independent, Jeremy Till, Head of Central St Martin’s, Isabelle Clement, Wheels for Wellbeing, Helena Azzam, Independent
The objectors to the scheme are:
- Imperial London Hotels Limited
- Friends of Tavistock Square
- Tamar House RTM Company Ltd, 13 Tavistock Place Freehold Ltd and Residents Of 11 Tavistock Place
- Guilford Court Residents
- Bloomsbury CAAC
- Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group (BRAG)
- 54 Russell Square Residents Association/Commissioners Of Russell Square
- Michael Gwinnell
- Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA):
- Confederation Of Passenger Transport
- Unite The Union
- National Union Of Rail, Maritime Transport Workers Taxi Branch (RMT)
The outcome of the Inquiry seems likely to have wide significance for the future of cycling provision throughout London and more widely. We are determined to do everything we can to persuade the Inspector to come to the right decision.