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Something strange has happened in London recently

posted 15 Aug 2012, 14:26 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 15 Aug 2012, 14:37 ]
August 15th 2012
Britain has rediscovered a pride and self-belief to regain the title of GREAT Britain. The Mobot has become the latest (shortlived) craze. Londoners have even been smiling and talking to perfect strangers!
But strangest of all, London has come to love the “Zil lanes”. These are the dedicated routes, installed at the behest of the International Olympic Committee, to speed Games Family traffic around the Capital. Before the games these priority lanes, prohibited turns and closed pedestrian crossings were the source of much negative comment, amid fears that the road system would be gridlocked causing massive inconvenience to the daily lives of Londoners whilst the pampered Olympian visitors would speed by in their sponsored BMWs.
However, the worst fears were not realised. London’s daily life continued. The sun shone, the road network – indeed the entire public transport system - coped remarkably well, traffic seemed to flow better, helped it has to be said by a moratorium on roadworks. People were happy.

And now the games have gone. The Games Lanes markings will be removed and the forest of signage will be taken down. But amidst all of this there has been sea change in public opinion…

The Games Lanes were actually good for London. They showed that the motor vehicle does not have to be king, that the City can cope with restrictions placed on the mighty car.

This provides us with an illuminating lesson for Transport Planning. If we are daring enough to reassign road space, for the benefit of public transport (including taxis), and/or cyclists, co-ordinate traffic signals and get to grips with the indiscriminate digging up of our roads, the end results can be truly astonishing.

Communities will benefit, traffic might actually move more easily, accidents will be reduced, air quality will be improved. People will begin to enjoy their towns and cities again.

One of the objectives of the London Olympic Games was to deliver a legacy. Its motto has been “inspire a generation”.

Will any of our city authorities be inspired to adopt a similar bold strategy?

Now that would truly be a legacy!