The Anonymous Widower

Where The City Of London Leads The Rest Will Follow!

The City of London is a unique Local Authotity, in that very few people live in its area.

C and I used to live in the Barbican with our three boys. It was a very different experience to living anywhere else I’ve lived.

It still functions today as housing and many have lived in the Estate for longer than forty years.

It was one of the first high-quality Local Authority housing schemes in London and it showed if you built quality it worked.

From what I’ve seen elsewhere, other Local Authorities and Housing Associations are building high quality homes for rent.

The City is now tacking another problem in a radical way.

This article on the BBC is entitled The Politics Of Pedestrianisation.

Read the article, of which this is an extract.

Next week, the local authority will take another step towards a bold, radical plan to change the streets in the Square Mile over the next 25 years.

Some streets could be closed to motor vehicles during rush hour and there could be zero emission zones.

There will also be a 15mph speed limit across the district.

The local authority wants to cut the number of vehicles by a quarter by 2030.

The City has consulted workers and residents.

The article says this about the survey.

It found 98% of people travel to the area by walking, cycling or public transport, while 84% think pavements are too crowded.

Four in five people think traffic levels in the City are too high, with 67% saying it contributes to poor air quality, while 59% said it creates an unpleasant street environment.

The authority said it listened to workers and businesses and has to deliver what they want to remain competitive – especially in a post-Brexit world.

It also said it must improve the area to appeal to business and wants to change the priority completely, giving more space to pedestrians and cyclists.

But black cab drivers don’t like it. Surprise! Surprise!

Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) says pedestrianisation is being dreamt up by middle-class blokes who don’t realise how the milk for their caramel lattes is delivered.

“They are strangling the best city in the planet and they don’t realise people need to have goods and services delivered,” he said.

He thinks the march to pedestrianisation will kill The City.

But I do like it! Look at these pictures I took in the City at about two in the afternoon.

The banning of all vehicles except cyclists and buses has cleared the area around Bank, where it is now a pleasure to walk.

I was actually walking to and from Bank to Leadenhall Market, where I go sometimes for a pleasant lunch in Leon

A year ago, walking would have required a lot of traffic-dodging!

It looks to me, that in a few years time, the City of London will be a square mile of tower blocks and historic alleys and buildings.

  • It will be criss-crossed by cycle and pedestrians routes.
  • Two or three major routes, will survive for buses and taxis.
  • Around the City will be the ring of stations; Aldgate, Bank, Barbican, Blackfriars, Cannon Street, City Thameslink, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street, Monument, Moorgate, St. Pauls and Tower Hill.
  • The massive Bank and Moorgate/Liverpool Street stations in the heart of the action, will be two of the largest Metro stations in the World.

The City of London will become the Gold Standard for historic cities.

Other UK cities and parts of London like Oxford Street will surely follow.

I do find it strange that the other two big cities in the UK, where walking is pleasant in the centre are Glasgow and Liverpool. Like the City of London, they have underground railways and a river

 

 

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Massive Taxi Queues At Paddington

I took this picture at Paddington in the late morning.

There were masses of passengers with heavy cases queuing for the taxis.

I suspect all had been conned into coming into London on the overpriced Heathrow Express.

Roll on, Crossrail!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

Clean Drivers To Sport Green Numberplates

The title of this post is the same as that as an article on page 11 of today’s Sunday Times.

The first paragraph gives a few more details.

Electric and hydrogen-powered cars, vans and taxis may be awarded green numberplates in a public display of virtue.Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said giving clean vehicles a “green badge of honour” was a “brilliant way of helping increase awareness” ans “might just encourage people to think about” getting one themselves.

I think it’s a good idea and apparently Norway, Canada and China have green plates.

I like it as it would be easier to spot a battery taxi, which are so much nicer than the older models.

Jesse Norman, a junior Government minister is also thinking about tax breaks for e-Bikes and for ecargobikes for “last mile” deliveries.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A First Trip In An Electric Taxi

I took these pictures during and after my first ride in an electric taxi.

I liked the experience.

  • The ride was good.
  • The vehicle was quiet.
  • You could talk easily to the driver, which helped as we had to change route due to a road closure.
  • It’s got USB charging points for phones.

But the best feature must be the glass roof. Although the rain ruined the view.

It wouldn’t be a London taxi without a few strong negative opinions from the driver.

  • He’d just cleaned the taxi and the rain was ruining his work.
  • There are not enough charging points.
  • He didn’t think Uber pay enough tax. Doesn’t everybody think that?

The driver certainly seemed pleased with his cab.

As a perhaps five-times-a-month user of black cabs, I will certainly look forward to having another ride, as they are definitely a better experience.

You can’t write about black cabs without adding a comment about other minicabs, private hire vehicles and Ubers in London.

When will new additions to these fleets of other vehicles, have to be electric?

 

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

First Sighting Of A Battery Taxi

London is getting battery taxis. They are officially called LEVC TX.

I took these pictures from the back platform of a New Routemaster bus.

It certainly looks good from the front. And I’ll try one when I can!

I have a feeling that, because it looks right, the early adopters will do well, as punters will want to give it a try.

If it is reliable and the costs stack up for the drivers, I think it could sell well.

 

This is a review of the LEVC TX.

If it ends up in large numbers on the streets of London and other British cities, it may actually start a substantial move to electric vehicles.

Imagine coming into St. Pancras on Eurostar and then you and your family take an electric taxi home to Hampstead, Kensington or like me, to Dalston! Will your kids, badger you to get an electric car, because it is good for the environment and so cool?

I don’t know! But electric taxis could be the advertising for all electric vehicles!

 

 

 

March 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Electric Taxis Are Coming

London’s new electric black taxis will soon be seen on the streets.

From the pictures, I’ve seen, they could be an interesting ride.

  • There is a panoramic glass roof.
  • They are roomier, than the current black cabs and can seat six instead of five.
  • Wi-fi and charging points are standard.
  • Air-conditioning.
  • A small petrol engine is used to boost range up to nearly 400 miles.

I shall search one out for a ride.

The Times though points out an interesting point about the design. This is said.

The bigger story is LEVC will now use the technology behind the TX to build far greater volumes of hybrid electric vans, the sort that deliver all our online shopping.

That certainly is a bigger story.

A few points of my own.

Geo-Fencing

Will geo-fencing be used to ensure that in central and sensitive areas and those with high air pollution, the taxi will run on batteries only.

This would also be particularly useful with the delivery van, where delivery depots tend to be outside the centre of a city.

Wireless Charging

London’s black cabs use rabjs and only yesterday, I picked up one from the rank at the Angel.

Milton Keynes has buses that can be charged using an inductive system.

So why not install inductive charging on taxi ranks?

Online Shopping Delivery

Parcel delivery companies don’t have the best of images. Electric last-mile delivery would certainly help.

For too long, vans have just been a crude metal box, with a couple of seats and an engine at the front.

So why not design a complete system around the taxi chassis?

  • If the depot was outside the city centre, charging could be done at both the depot and on the journeys to and from the centre
  • The van could also be designed so that containers packed at the depots could be loaded for each delivery.
  • The containers could also be brought into the centre of the city at night into the main station by a purpose-designed train.
  • A sophisticated onboard computer could control the driver and the deliveries.

There is a wonderful opportunity here to develop parcel delivery systems that are truly efficient and as pollution-free as possible.

Service Vans

If I walk down my road of about 150 houses and a couple of tower blocks on any weekday during working hours, I will probably count around half-a-dozen service vans of various types for small builders, plumbers. Most have not come further than a dozen miles.

If the economics of the electric van are pitched right, I think a large proportion of these vehicles will go electric, as they often sit around for large periods during the working day.

Conclusion

I can’t wait to get a ride in one of these taxis.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oxford Street Could Be Pedestrianised By Next Christmas

The title of this post is the same as the sub-title of this article in the Independent.

The aim is to pedestrianise Oxford Street from Oxford Street to Orchard Street by December 2018, which is the date when the Elizabeth Line will open.

It is an ambitious plan and despite substantial backing from the Mayor, Westminster City Council, the West End Company and groups like the British Heart Foundation, I don’t think it will be plain sailing.

Walking Along Oxford Street

In Walking Along Oxford Street, I show various pictures I took this morning whilst walking between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road stations.

Oxford Street looked to have improved, since I last did this. But then it’s a long time since I’ve walked the streets without crowds.

My views are as follows.

Measuring Success Or Failure

The success or failure of the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is very easy to gauge.

The rate of change of turnover is a direct measure.

The Buses

I regularly go shopping in Oxford Street and often used a bus to travel there and back.

I used to be able to get a 73 bus from either 200 metres from my house or by changing at the Angel. But since the 73 has been cut back to Oxford Circus, I’ve tended to use the Underground, often by taking a bus to Bank for the Central Line.

Under Sadiq Khan’s plan all buses will be removed from Oxford Street and only the 139 and the 390  will remain, being rerouted along Wigmore Street.

A lot of people who go to Oxford Street regularly by bus, will lose their direct bus route. How will they react?

Will they use the Underground or the Elizabeth Line or will they go shopping elsewhere?

Since the 73 has been cut back, I think I’ve also gone to Oxford Street a lot less.

Why? I’ve no idea.

But it could be, that regularly, I’d buy something in John Lewis,Selfridges or perhaps in Bond Street and get straight on a 73 bus to the Angel, where I just got off the bus and waited until a bus home arrived at the same stop. As the 73 buses are New Routemasters, they’re a real shoppers’ bus and a lot easier than the Underground.

The Underground And Crossrail

Oxford Street will have the following stations and entrances as you proceed from East to West.

  • Holborn – Central and Piccadilly
  • Tottenham Court Road (Current Entrance) – Central, Elizabeth and Northern
  • Tottenham Court Road (Dean Street Entrance) – Central and Elizabeth
  • Oxford Circus – Bakerloo, Central and Victoria
  • Bond Street – Central, Elizabeth and Jubilee
  • Marble Arch – Central

Between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street, which will be the first section to be pedestrianised, you’ll never be more than two hundred metres from a fully step-free Elizabeth Line station.

Will this be enough to do away with the buses on Oxford Street?

Holborn station is being expanded with a new entrance, so will Oxford Circus and Marble Arch be upgraded?

Cycling

This will be banned. Although the plan envisages alternative cycle routes to the North and South.

Taxis

These will be banned from Oxford Street. Taxi ranks will be provided.

Will this be acceptable to the taxi drivers?

Uber And Mini-Cabs

These will be banned from Oxford Street.

How will these effect the surrounding streets?

Deliveries

How will these be arranged? You can’t get behind all the shops!

The Stalls

There are lots of stalls selling various goods along Oxford Street.

Will the stallholders give up their pitches quietly, if necessary?

Security

I’m no security expert, but after the latest attacks in the UK and Europe, surely keeping out vehicles must remove the weapon of choice from a large group of terrorists.

Local Residents

There are quite a few residents in the area perhaps two hundred metres on either side of Oxford Street.

They could be the biggest losers with traffic cramming  the side streets.

Timing

Crossrail opens in December 2018. Does this mean the 1st, 31st or some day in between?

How do you time the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street to fit in with Crossrail?

Especially, as December 2018 will probably contain Christmas!

Conclusion

There is going to be a lot of discussion about this scheme.

As to my view, I like pedestrianised streets and Oxford Street should have gone this way years ago.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | 13 Comments

The Storm In The Teacup Over Uber

I’ve only ever used Uber once and the guy got lost three times between Walthamstow and Dalston. For the pick-up he had come all the way from Ealing, so how environmentally-friendly is that?

I generally only use black taxis from a rank, as otherwise I use the buses or trains, as I have a Freedom Pass.

What I object to about Uber is a variety of things.

  • How can I be sure that the driver is fully insured and pays their taxes?
  • All private hire cars and taxis should be recognisable. So Uber cars must have an Uber sign on the side!
  • I like to pay taxis in cash!
  • Uber’s database will get hacked soon and I don’t want to lose my details.

But the biggest thing about Uber and the other private hire vehicles is the congestion and pollution, the number of vehicles in London creates.

All new black taxis will have to be zero-emission after the first of January 2018 and vehicles over 15 years old will have to be retired.

Do the same rules apply to Uber and the other private hire vehicles? If not, it’s not a level playing field!

I said it was a storm in a teacup about Uber. TfL, Uber and the other private hire vehicle companies will agree a set of rules, which is fair to all.

And that must cover the important ones of driver suitability, congestion and pollution.

But within twenty years all taxis will be driverless electric vehicles. As one black-cab driver put it to me, if he could buy one of those, he wouldn’t need to suffer the stresses of driving in London and he could retire.

 

 

 

 

September 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

The Adverse Effects Of Electric Vehicles

This article in theMail OnLine has one of those titles which are all you need to read.

UK could need 20 more nuclear power stations if electric cars take over our roads and cause ‘massive strain’ on power network

There is also a similar article in The Times.

The articles are based on research by Transport for London.

The article has a point and TfL have done the sums.

Consider the future.

At present London doesn’t apply the full Congestion Charge for electric vehicles and they get other discounts. So as electric vehicles get more affordable and with a longer range, it will be sensible to purchase an electric vehicle and take advantage of using it at a discount in London.

So will London be grid-locked by electric vehicles?

We may get cleaner air, but how will all those, who depend on buses and taxis get through all this congestion?

Many of these new electric cars will be driverless, which will increase their attraction and just add to the congestion.

All of these vehicles will also need to be charged, so will we see every parking space fitted with a charging point.

Who is going to pay for these points?

And then as Transport for London say, just providing enough electricity for London’s transport, will require two nuclear power stations.

So how about using hydrogen fuel cells to power these vehicles?

But to create the hydrogen you need electricity to electrolyse water. So more nuclear power stations?

So what will we do?

London is lucky, in that compared to other cities in the UK, it has an extensive public transport network that works, that people like to use.

So Crossrail 2 and possibly 3 and 4, if properly designed can take the pressure off London, to allow space for driverless electric buses and taxis, and a severely restricted number of other vehicles.

Just as people are now complaining that they were told by the Government to buy a diesel car and now they are being abused as polluters, in a decade or so, those buying electric cars will be abused as congesters.

Owning a car in the future will become an increasingly expensive and annoying business.

 

February 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Taxis And Bank Junction

The City pf London is proposing to make Bank Junction accessible to only buses and cyclists.

On a personal note, I’m in favour, as my normal route to and from the area of Bank station is to take a 21 or 141 bus. I also use the 141 bus to get to and from London Bridge station, as the terminal stop is on the staion forecourt. They are extremely convenient buses for me as the Northbound stop is perhaps fifty metres from my house over a zebra crossing. Going South, the walk is a little further, but it is no more than a hundred and fifty metres.

However, not everyone is in favour of restricting traffic at Bank Junction.

This article in the Standard is entitled Cycling campaign groups slam black cab protest over traffic ban at Bank station.

This is said.

Cycling campaign groups have slammed a taxi protest over plans to close Bank junction off to most traffic, saying drivers are supporting “the right to poison Londoners”.

Black Cab drivers brought traffic to a standstill on Monday evening as they protested plans to close off the notorious junction to all traffic apart from bikes and buses.

Union members have argued that the proposals to only allow cyclists and buses at the junction are an example of TfL dodging the problem of congestion.

So it would be cyclists on one side and black cabs on the other.

The RMT union blames Uber on their web site.

This is said in the article.

The union claims the congestion is caused by Uber cars which, in turn, leave people turning to cycling out of “desperation”.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: “The decision to close Bank Junction to traffic is a comically inept one, made exceptionally bitter as the Mayor promised greater access to road space for black cabs.”

As I said earlier, all I want is this vital junction to run smoothly for buses.

I don’t use a taxi very often, except on say a busy, wet day to bring my shopping home, as the rank is outside Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsburys. How convenient is that?

The taxi drivers are not happy, but then London’s black cab drivers have rarely been happy in the years I’ve used them, since the 1960s.

  • Getting to my house has  caused a new moan, which is caused by the work that I wrote about in Why I’m In Favour Of Cycling Superhighways.
  • Cyclists are always good for a moan.
  • But their biggest ire is usually reserved for Uber and their lack of regulation.

Surprisingly, I’ve had no moans about moving to low-emission or electric vehicles.

So how do I think the situation will improve in the next few years?

Crossrail

Crossrail doesn’t serve Bank Junction directly, but I will be surprised if the massive double-ended Crossrail station at Liverpool Street and Moorgate, doesn’t attract a lot of passengers travelling to and from the City of London.

Bank Station Upgrade

Under Future Developments, Wikipedia says this.

  • A new entrance on Walbrook, near Cannon Street station, will provide new escalators and lifts to the Waterloo and City line platforms.
  • TfL is also consulting on retunnelling and widening the Northern line platforms.
  • Adding lifts and new entrances on King William Street and Cannon Street.
  • A new tunnel could be built to relocate the southbound Northern line platform.

The work could be completed by 2021 and will boost capacity by 40%, with 12 new escalators and 3 new lifts.

A well-designed Bank Underground station must relieve surface traffic of all types in the area.

Waterloo And City Line

When the new entry at Wallbrook to the Waterloo and City Line,  opens hopefully in late 2017, it will dramatically improve the usefulness of the Waterloo and City Line.

But improvements are also needed at the Waterloo end of the line.

  • Better connections to the new platforms 20-24 at Waterloo will be needed. Are they being provided in the current works.
  • Better connection to Waterloo East station, so passengers can get access to Charing Cross services.
  • Direct access to the street.
  • Step-free access.

The line should at least run seven days a week, if not all the time under automatic control.

It could be a much more important line in London’s transport system.

It could even be renamed the City and South Bank Line.

The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line is London’s forgotten suburban line, as it terminates in a two-platform station under Moorgate station.

One of Crossrail’s collateral improvements will be to give the Northern City Line excellent connections to the following.

  • Crossrail
  • Liverpool Street station
  • Central Line

The deep and dingy station will also have much better connection to the various walking routes in the area.

But connectivity would be nothing without trains and the Northern City Line is getting new Class 717 trains, which could run at up to twelve trains per hour all day.

The original plans for the Northern City Line envisaged the line running to Lothbury station, which would be just to the North of the Bank of England.

If this extension had been built, it would have surely proved to have been a valuable part of London’s railways. But it wasn’t and probably to build it now would be too expensive and impossible.

Walking Routes

The actual City of London is compact and this Google Map shows the Northern part of the City between Bank, Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.

lothbury

Note.

  • How one of the three main stations is within reach of much of the area.
  • I would reckon that the three stations are about eight hundred metres apart.

If you don’t fancy walking, there are bus routes between the stations and the Central and Northern Lines also provide connections.

Uber

Uber is the fox in the hen coup.

It is disruptive technology and I don’t like it for various reasons.

  • I like to pick up my cab from a rank or by hailing it on the street.
  • I feel that apps with credit card details in them will be the next big fraud opportunity.
  • I like a properly trained and regulated driver, who understands the intricacies of London’s streets.

I took an Uber cab once from Walthamstow to home and the driver came from West London and managed to get lost twice. As I wasn’t paying, I didn’t bother.

I can’t help feeling that Uber is very inefficient for the driver and only works if they have a monopoly of taxis on the streets.

Conclusion

I have given alternatives to the use of taxis around Bank Junction.

Taxi drivers will protest, but that area is one, where for most people, public transport will increasingly be the best way to travel.

 

 

January 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment