Sadiq Khan doesn’t want to solve congestion problems for London’s car users, the boss of private hire taxi firm Addison Lee has said.
“I just think that definitely the congestion in London should be something we want to solve,” Liam Griffin told City A.M. but “I’m not sure Khan wants to solve it for cars.”
Amid a focus on the introduction of rail, cycling and bus routes, Griffin argues there has been a lack of thought put into the Mayor’s strategy for effectively handling traffic for car and taxi drivers, which is fuelling the capital’s slowdown.
“We’re putting in too many cycle paths in the wrong places. There’s certain places where you can fit a cycle path which is fine. There’s certain places that you shouldn’t. And so I’m not sure that has been entirely well thought through,” Griffin said.
“You go down Strand and you go down Highway, you’ve got ridiculously, unnecessarily wide cycle lanes that have taken away an entire lane available to cars and traffic,” he explained.
London’s busy red routes – which carry up to 30 per cent of the capital’s traffic despite making up only 5 per cent of its roads – are “not world class infrastructure,” Griffin said, and “as a consequence, traffic slows down.”
‘No stopping’ red routes were initially introduced in the capital to prioritise through traffic over local journeys and boost crucial traffic.
However, they have since come under fire for higher levels of traffic amid an absence of interest from policymakers, with a Centre of London think tank report in 2021 raising concerns over a “vacuum in policy to actively reduce traffic on busier roads, especially the red routes.”
Other policies, he said, such as Khan’s flagship Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and congestion charge zones, also suffer from a lack of clarity as to their purpose in reducing pollution or freeing up traffic.
“A proper thought out plan,” is needed, Griffin says, which takes into account concerns from both sides without shutting down options for cars. “If we’re trying to reduce congestion in London, then let’s free up the modes of transport to be available when we’re there.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, said that since 2016, Khan has “delivered the Hopper bus fare, the Night Tube, the Elizabeth line and made TfL fares 12 per cent cheaper than they would have been. “
“London has also enjoyed a huge rise in walking and cycling as more and more Londoners enjoy using sustainable ways to get around the capital – and studies show that areas that are more walkable and cyclable result in an increase in footfall and trade,” the spokesperson said.
“The Mayor is determined to build a fairer, greener and more prosperous London for everyone and will continue to improve transport in our city, which includes promoting safe and environmentally friendly forms of travel to help tackle air pollution, the climate crisis and congestion,” the spokesperson added.
Carl Eddleston, TfL’s director of network management and resilience, said: “Our investment in walking, cycling and public transport has made it easier to choose sustainable ways of travelling that make more efficient use of road space and will help to cut congestion.”
“We also work around the clock to ensure that traffic can move as efficiently as possible on London’s streets, including through our 24/7 control centre, our comprehensive maintenance programme and our work to review traffic light timings to ensure they work efficiently for everyone.”