Notes from West London

Everywhere has gone 20

For the last few months most of our local streets – not just side streets, but main routes, used by buses and trucks – have had their speed limits reduced to 20mph. When was this announced? I don’t recall anything, locally or nationally, announcing the change. I can understand the new speed limit being imposed in side streets, narrow residential streets where cars are parked both sides of the road, but I would have liked to know that it was coming. I can’t yet see the point of imposing it on main roads, like those followed by the E3 bus in this part of town.

I have never understood why the speed limit on the Westway, the part of the A40 that connects West London with Marylebone Road and the rest of Central London, was reduced from 70mph down to 40mph, at all hours of the day. 20 years ago I could drive to Baker Street station in under 15 minutes. Back then you could also use any of the three lanes along Marylebone Road, but for at least 10 years now the inside lane has been a Bus Lane, 24 hours a day. These changes have increased journey times to Baker Street by at least 25%, and the reduction on local roads from 30mph down to 20mph is, by definition, increasing any free-flowing local journeys by up to 33%. This must be imposing a financial penalty on cab drivers, for whom all journeys now take longer.  Maybe the drivers are increasing their fares to cope with the change, in which case it’s imposing a financial penalty on passengers.

There are many aspects of traffic and parking controls that I do not understand, and haven’t yet been prompted to investigate. Parking meters have been mostly replaced with pay-and-display ticket machines. The possibility of finding a meter with unused time on it no longer exists. Most times when we buy a ticket from a pay-and-display machine, we pay for more time than we use. We drive away, the bay becomes free and someone else parks there, and pays again for the use of the space that you have just vacated. I have often wondered if that was one of the guiding principles behind the switch. If it costs £2.40 per hour to park on one of these bays, and the hours of parking restrictions run from 9am to 7pm then, theoretically, the daily take per bay, if occupied continuously, would be £24. In practice the daily take per bay could easily exceed this. Is there anything publicly available which investigates these calculations, or which explains the thinking behind reducing speeds on main roads to 20mph?



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