Skip to content

Posts from the "Ken Livingstone" Category

6 Comments

New London Mayor Talks Up Buses and Bikes (Updated)


Here's an interview from last year with London Mayor Boris Johnson, who ousted Ken Livingstone last week. It's pretty remarkable in that Johnson spends the first eight minutes talking about buses and bikes.

Read more...
28 Comments

Third Term for Livingstone Looks Unlikely (Updated)

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who introduced congestion charging to the British capital in 2003, has probably been unseated by Tory challenger Boris Johnson, report Reuters and the Evening Standard. Labour lost across the board in UK elections yesterday, and the London mayor's race appears not to have bucked the trend, although the final tally has not yet been announced.

While foes of the congestion charge are already gloating over the prospect of a Livingstone defeat, the pricing mechanism is not in danger of being revoked. Should he gain the mayoralty, Johnson has pledged to shrink the congestion zone back to its initial, pre-2005 area -- before a western expansion that some transportation experts concede was poorly thought out. Livingstone's plan to increase the charge for the most polluting vehicles would also be off the table. However, the charge itself is there to stay no matter who emerges as the victor. It should also be noted that Livingstone successfully ran for re-election in 2004, after the charge took effect.

For those holding out hope that Livingstone will prevail despite the early returns, the BBC is running regular updates on the status of the vote count.

Update: The BBC reports that Johnson has indeed won the election, garnering 1,168,738 votes to Livingstone's 1,028,966.

12 Comments

London Imposes $50 Guzzler Fee on SUVs and Lux Roadsters

london_pay.jpg

London Mayor Ken Livingstone is on a tear. Yesterday he announced a £500 million investment in new bicycling infrastructure. Today, he approved a plan to charge the drivers of SUVs, high powered sports cars and other large engine, high emission vehicles a £25 fee ($48.75!) to drive into Central London's congestion charging zone. Simultaneously, low emission vehicles will become exempt from paying the charge. In a press release, Livingstone said,

The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the "polluter pays" principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount we are introducing for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers in London an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.

BBC News has more:

The new charges come into force on 27 October this year.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates about 33,000 vehicles that will now fall into the £25 charge sector drive into London each day.

It predicts about two-thirds of these will no longer come into the charge zone once the new fee is introduced.

London's transport commissioner, Peter Hendy, said the new charges were likely to bring in £30m to £50m a year, with most of this money going on new cycling and walking initiatives...

...The National Alliance Against Tolls said: "This move is not based on logic but on the whipping up of prejudices against those who use these particular vehicles."

Photo: Bennet Summers / Flickr.

18 Comments

London Announces Billion Dollar Bike Plan

london_bike_network.jpg
Proposed routes for bicycle "superhighways" serving London commuters.

New Yorkers already envious of London's congestion pricing system have a fresh reason to look wistfully overseas. A few hours ago, London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled a £500 million ($940 million) program to build extensive new bike networks and launch a Velib-style bike-for-hire system. Bike Biz has the scoop:

With the introduction of a central London bike hire scheme with 6,000 bikes available every 300 metres, cycling will be accessible to many more Londoners and will become a fully-funded part of the public transport network for the first time. This is not quite a Velib scheme, but it's a start.

There will also be new commuter cycle routes from inner and outer London and cycle zones around urban town centres.

In a statement released this morning, Livingstone cast the program as part of a historic shift away from automobile use, and cited Paris as inspiration:

The aim of this programme is nothing short of a cycling and walking transformation in London. We will spend something like £500 million over the next decade on cycling - the biggest investment in cycling in London's history, which will mean that thousands more Londoners can cycle in confidence, on routes that take them quickly and safely to where they want to go.

The cycle hire scheme in Paris has proved a huge success, and I have now instructed Transport for London to work with the London boroughs and interested parties to develop and implement a bike hire scheme in central London, accessible to all Londoners. By ensuring that Londoners have easy access to bikes in the centre of the capital, as well as making our city a safer and more enjoyable place to cycle, we will build upon London’s leading position as the only major world city to have achieved a switch from private car use to public transport, cycling and walking.

The Independent, Bike Radar, Reuters, ePolitix, and This is London all have coverage of the plan.

There are five components described in the Mayor's announcement:

Read more...
9 Comments

The Battle for Britain’s Roads


Streetsblog reader George Henik directs our attention to the excellent new BBC documentary "Road Rage," a British version of Contested Streets -- minus the advocacy -- that examines the intensifying conflict between motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians in the UK. The Beeb describes the situation as a war of succession: 

For 40 years, Britain's motorists have been the kings of the road, claiming their title through tax discs and fuel duty. But now the balance of power is shifting. There are new pretenders to the throne. Pedestrians and cyclists want equal rights on the road, and this has sparked a war. Our roads are now a battleground.

There are 27 million cars on Britain's roads, an increase of over 5 million in 10 years. But there are also 23 million bicycles fighting with them for road space.

The whole hour is well worth watching, but here are some highlights:

  • 4:21 - Great clips from a pro-biking TV spot sponsored by Transport for London and the Mayor's Office.
  • 8:42 - Hilarious segment comparing a bus load of chatty kids to an SUV-driving, road rage-suppressing father taking his son to school.
  • 16:10 - A bit about cyclists who jump red lights and the bobbies who ticket them.
  • 31:15 - A look at one of London's least pedestrian-friendly intersections, Henley's Corner, and how one elderly man negotiates it.
  • 51:50 - Competitive cyclist Emma Davies-Jones talks about why she moved from Britain to the more bike-friendly Belgium.
  • 52:56 - Critical Mass in London.

And yes, somewhere in there are clips of the World Naked Bike Ride.

Speaking of Contested Streets, Stefan Schaefer's doc about NYC gridlock has been picked up by the Sundance Channel. It will air sometime after April 1st, details to come.

26 Comments

This Holiday Season London’s Streets Are “Absolutely Jammed”

London_Jammed.jpg
London retailers enjoyed a £100 million spending spree as Oxford, Bond and Regents Streets
were closed to motor vehicle traffic for a day

As New York City government issues its usual series of futile Holiday Season "Gridlock Alerts" (Warning to people stuck in traffic: You are stuck in traffic) while Manhattan shoppers have the life squeezed out of them on crowded sidewalks amidst honking, spewing, pissed off motorists, take a look at how London is handling the holiday crush.

Mayor Ken Livingstone declared Saturday, December 2 "Very Important Pedestrian Day," completely closing three of the city's most famous shopping strips, Oxford, Bond and Regent's Streets to automobile traffic from 10:30am to 8pm. Carol singers, artists, jugglers and other performers provided entertainment, and the day finished off with a massive fireworks display. As per the BBC:

"What it will create for the shoppers is a fantastic freedom to move," said Jace Tyrell, from the New West End Company -- which has organised the event. "Shoppers will be able to take over the streets and have a more festive fun atmosphere to enjoy Christmas shopping in the West End."

News reports say that up to a million people descended on the car-free streets to take part in what amounted to a £100 spending orgy (Said one retailer: "The increase in wealthy Russian, Chinese and Indian shoppers around Bond Street has been phenomenal").

As New York City's mayor struggles to explain to New Yorkers how less congested streets will make their lives better, Mayor Livingstone clearly framed the car-free event as a piece of his Administration's broader environmental, quality of life and economic development agenda. The Evening Standard reported

Mayor Ken Livingstone, who opened the event, said: "It has become a major event in London's calendar in the run-up to Christmas [and] shows us all what the West End will be like in 2013 with traffic removed and the streets turned over to the pedestrian." The success of the event has strengthened the view of many analysts that the West End is heading for a record Christmas even if high streets elsewhere in Britain are experiencing lacklustre sales.

Mr Tyrrell said: "There were no problems with the roads closures, everything went really smoothly."

London_Jammed2.jpg 

Columbia University professor and Streetsblog reader Steve Hammer happened to be in London during the event. Here is his report:

Read more...
1 Comment

Livingstone: Businesses Led on Congestion Charge

livingstone.jpg 

Fearing that London's ever-worsening traffic congestion would drive industry to other European cities, business leaders first broached the topic of congestion charging for the British capital, according to plan architect Mayor Ken Livingstone.

At a C40 Climate Summit panel entitled "Beating Congestion & Surviving Your Next Election," Livingstone said Tuesday that the business group London First had estimated the economic cost of congestion to the city at two billion pounds (almost four billion dollars) per year. Contending with bottle-necked auto traffic and "unpredictable" public transportation, Livingstone said, business people could not estimate inner-city travel times to within 40 minutes. It was just a matter of time before industry began packing up for Paris or other urban centers, London employers believed.

Four years after the congestion charge went into effect, automobile traffic is down by 20 percent while commercial traffic has increased, and London's economy is growing at three times the national average. Meanwhile, a proposal to charge the heaviest polluting private vehicles the equivalent of $50 per day is pulling a 78 percent approval rating.

Livingstone referred to London First as a "parallel organization" to the Partnership for New York City, a business group which supports congestion pricing. The Partnership has released a report concluding that gridlock costs New York $13 billion annually.

"The business community does not come forward and recommend a charge on itself unless it recognizes there is a real problem," Livingstone said. He acknowledged that London First was "concerned" about the widening of the charging zone earlier this year, but downplayed the fervor of the opposition. After all, he noted, "Driving in a city like London or New York isn't a life-enhancing experience."

As for the political impact, Livingstone "coasted easily" to a second term. In fact, he said, the congestion charge was more of a problem for his opponent, as many who weren't entirely happy with the plan were even less excited with the prospect of bringing congestion back. If elected to succeed Prime Minister Tony Blair, Livingstone suspects Gordon Brown will move forward with a national road pricing scheme for Britain.

Speaking later at a press conference in Central Park, Mayor Livingstone offered advice for New York as it debates a system modeled on his own.

"There may be one or two people who predict gloom and doom," he said. "Ignore them."

4 Comments

High-Emission Vehicles to Pay £200 ($400!) to Enter London

London mayor Ken Livingstone, whose congestion-pricing plan has served as a model for Mayor Bloomberg's, is expected to unveil today an even more radical measure aimed at reducing pollution in his city. According to the Guardian, Livingstone's proposal would target high-emission commercial vehicles:

Ken Livingstone is expected to confirm that older, "dirtier" lorries and buses will be charged £200 a day to drive in London. London First, a lobby group for businesses in the capital, has warned that the scheme will hit smaller firms that cannot afford modern vehicles that are exempt. Mr Livingstone also plans to adapt the £8-a-day congestion charge so the most polluting vehicles pay £25 a day to enter.

The LEZ will cover all of London's 33 boroughs, rather than the smaller congestion zone, which straddles central and western areas of the city....Fines will be far more punitive than the congestion scheme, with transgressors facing a bill of up to £1,000.

The LEZ has been earmarked for launch next year and will be extended to vans and buses by 2010, in effect giving businesses two years' notice to overhaul their fleets.

Mr Livingstone has commissioned a report on the LEZ and indicated earlier this year that he would push ahead with it. "London suffers from the worst air quality in the UK and the proposed low-emission zone would target those diesel engine lorries, coaches, buses, heavier vans and minibuses which are pumping out the most harmful pollutants," he said.

Transport for London, the capital's transport body, estimates the LEZ would prevent about 40 deaths a year from pollution-related illnesses and avoid up to 86 hospital admissions. Some businesses have backed the LEZ and called for even more stringent curbs.

The Knightsbridge Association called for a more ambitious scheme. "The LEZ should go much further, much faster," it said. 

7 Comments

Ken Livingstone on Congestion Pricing in New York

cc_london.jpg

In his most recent article for the Guardian, London mayor Ken Livingstone applauds Mayor Bloomberg's plan to introduce congestion pricing in New York City:

New York is now to get congestion charging modelled on London's successful scheme. Isn't it about time the naysayers admitted they were wrong?

Retail sales in central London are far outperforming those in the rest of the country. The West End theatre trade is strong. Tourism is growing strongly. Congestion charging has achieved exactly what it was designed to do -- not cut the number of journeys, but shift them from private cars to public transport. It has cut congestion, and cut environmental damage, with the economy continuing to boom.

New York's decision is a final nail in the coffin of the claim by rightwing pressure groups and anti-environmentalists that policies being pursued in London are against the interests of its economy -- for the one thing that cannot be claimed against New York is that it is an anti-business city!

Now that New York is adopting congestion charging, I hope the small, unrepresentative rightwing pressure groups campaigning against congestion charging and, in particular, the Conservative party, will admit they were wrong.

Photo: anthonymaher/Flickr
3 Comments

An English Plan in New York


The once traffic-filled street between Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery is now a thriving plaza.

londonplan-mcmullen_1.jpgClimate change is a greater threat to London than terrorism, one of the city's top planners said yesterday.

Debbie McMullen (right), a one-time New Yorker who heads implementation of the "London Plan," made this matter-of-fact announcement at a Tuesday evening forum, sponsored by the Forum for Urban Design and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and held at the Center for Architecture in the East Village. As New York awaits the unveiling of Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, McMullen outlined the "spatial development strategy" that London Mayor Ken Livingstone has spearheaded during his seven years in office.

Like PlaNYC, the London Plan, published in 2004, is designed to help mitigate the environmental impacts of a predicted one million new residents in the coming decades. Backed by the power of the Greater London Authority (GLA) -- a city-wide governmental structure established in 2000 -- the London Plan integrates sustainable development practices with innovative social and economic policies.

As London becomes "younger, more female and less white," said McMullen, the city wants to build 305,000 new housing units over the next 10 years, spread throughout its 32 boroughs. The London Plan calls for 50 percent of those units to be priced for low- and moderate-income citizens. New construction standards cover insulation requirements, building orientation (to make the most of solar power potential), green (or "living") roofs, and renewable on-site energy.

To reduce CO2 from vehicle emissions -- in addition to congestion charging, which McMullen said has reduced car trips by 50,000 per day -- the London Plan prescribes that scattered "town centres" in the boroughs be linked by public transport routes radiating from the city core, along with other light rail and tram service. The city's canals are to be relied upon for ferrying more freight and waste, reducing truck traffic on the streets.

The plan is aimed at nothing less than making London a "zero emission city," said McMullen, with CO2 reduction targets of 30 percent by 2025, and 60 percent by 2050.

Read more...