London City Air Pollution Critical in 2012

The majority of people are aware that London has a poor air quality but few realise how it directly affects their health and what can be done about it.

While in office Boris Johnson should have better publicised these facts to city residents and expedited more extreme measures in pollution reduction. Congestion charging is only a partial success, a few eco buses running at 11.6 mpg are of little help and the cycling scheme inside the pollution zone actually promotes the premature death of each cyclist.

A few important facts:

  • 29000 people die each year from poor air quality in the UK of which 4267 are in London.
  • Life expectancy of those living in affected areas is reduced by an average of 11+ years.
  • The biggest threat to your health is something you can't see or smell - Particulate Matter (PM)
  • PM penetrates deep into respiratory tissue and your blood stream for long term damage.
  • Asthma, heart attacks, strokes and various ailments can be caused by air pollution.
  • Diesel vehicles produce significantly more pollution than petrol. 46% of cars are now diesel.
  • The government promoted diesel use through misguided taxation and regulations since 2001.
  • Road traffic causes up to 70% of air pollution.
  • Children have 20% less lung capacity if they grow up in in air pollution zones.
  • 30% of all new asthma cases are caused by living or working near busy roads.
  • Mass installation of speed bumps in suburbs has caused a significant increase in pollution.
  • A recent test showed a typical 10 mile journey in SE London can contain 100 speed bumps.
  • Air pollution costs the UK up to £20 billion in health and environmental impacts.
  • Walking, jogging, running or cycling in London increases your exposure significantly.
  • Drivers are actually exposed to more pollution than cyclists in a recent study.
  • Face masks do little to protect you from this pollution.
  • Pollution readings can be manipulated by location of sensors, sampling rates and using pollution glue.
  • The government is down playing the severity of the situation by comparing effort levels to other cities.
  • Areas outside of central London appear to be as polluted as the inner city roads.
  • The UK continues to fail EU pollution standards and will pass the cost of these fines on to you.
  • Air pollution is the biggest cause of early death after smoking.

Although the government is taking this seriously and has done much to reduce certain levels, the problem lies in the fact that they need to do more sooner rather than later.

"TfL rules, existing black cabs don't require particulate filters and will only be taken off the road after 15 years." - A good example of too little too late.

Reduction of speed bumps that cause constant acceleration and breaking over short distances would offer some immediate benefit. Replacing them with alternate speed controls would help reduce the PM levels for those who live near these busy roads.

Boris Johnson sniggers when action groups try to get their pollution plights heard as seen in a recent TV debate. He appears to have no time for the people who are trying to do something to help.

"It is a national scandal that thousands of people are still dying from air pollution in the UK in 2011 - and the government is taking no responsibility for this," said committee chair Joan Walley MP.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said, "We are investing significant sums of money to facilitate further reductions in pollution around transport, including over £1bn to promote the uptake of ultra low emission vehicle technologies and to support local transport authorities to deliver sustainable transport measures."

If they took the £1 billion and offered a £15000 incentive on zero emission vehicles there would be 66000 less polluting vehicles on local roads.

Boris Johnson promised all new buses would be hybrid by 2012 but there are only 3.5% on the streets this year. Only 52 of 800 coming into service this year would be hybrid. He wasted £9.5 million on a single new bus that could have replaced 96 regular buses with hybrid technology.

As a final note - I find it completely unfair that only the top 4 mayoral candidates get exclusive TV air time forcing the next generation of better leaders to be hidden by the press. What kind of democracy is this?

Vote for Brian Paddick or Siobhan Benita and offer London a real chance at a better future.

Article References:

PM Air Pollution in London - March 2012 (1=Low, 10=High)

Boris Johnson's past transport failures catch up during his 2012 election

Boris Johnson may be up for election again but few remember how he put a hold on critical road transport links in East London back in 2008.

An amount of £351 million was allocated for the new river crossing but one day this money was swept under the carpet causing a continued traffic nightmare for the people living and working in the South East who are forced to use the congested Blackwall Tunnel. Additionally the £500 million earmarked for Thames Gateway Bridge was also scrapped for environmental reasons.

Boris refused numerous requests for public engagement and eventually it was discovered that he was not  really interested in building a new tunnel or bridge.

So clearly he had bicycles in mind but the fact the of the matter remains that East London needs more river crossings and I am sure if this was West London it would have happened years ago.

And now he wants you to vote for him so that he can correct his own mistakes? What do you think?

Update: 14/03/2012 - Boris admits his failures to ‘level with Londoners’


Mr Johnson told the Standard: “I promised to run the most open and transparent administration in Britain, and that is why, with this brutally honest and unprecedented Progress Report, I am determined to level with Londoners.

Failures include the no-strike deal, a bid to see the Tube open one hour later on Friday and Saturday nights, allowing Londoners to set up a direct debit to renew their travelcards, introducing an automatic one-off council tax rebate to encourage home insulation and seeking to reinstate tidal flow at the Blackwall tunnel to ease congestion.

On a number of these — such as the Blackwall tunnel — Mr Johnson said he had been forced to take a “revised approach” after analysis by experts.


So 'Mr Boris Johnson' - admitting to your failures makes them all better and now that it is re-election time you are willing to change? Seriously don't all politicians pull this stunt? Why should we suddenly believe you will do a better job next time around. If you are really willing to change - give me a call.. You have my number..

In this, he echoed his own 2008 election manifesto, which promised “strong political support” to “promote greater use of the river,” stating that the Thames “offers a remarkable opportunity to relieve congestion on existing transport networks.” The manifesto attacked TfL for “relegating river services far down their list of priorities” and failing to provide “strategic direction to take advantage of London’s river,” a criticism also made by the London Assembly.
Newham Council has expressed disappointment over Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's plans to shelve plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge.
Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: "I'm shocked and disappointed to hear that Boris Johnson has put plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge on hold.
"Boris has turned his back on the people of East London and is choosing to consider the interests of the borough of Bexley above the overall economic development of the whole of London.
Building a new river crossings when £351 million was assigned to the project that was never undertaken.
In November 2008, Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London, formally cancelled the entire £500m scheme.

Travel Warning - Cabbies Against Boris (Update 07/03/2012)

A protest by London Taxi drivers on Monday 20th February at 11am at Tooley Street (City Hall) is likely to cause travel disruption in Central London. (Provided by C.A.B.)

We would like to raise some awareness so that the disruption to the general public can be minimised.
There are many groups of drivers from all over London joining the protest; one group of 50 drivers who demonstrated in Stratford last week are going to attend , a large group of drivers form Heathrow and also from many other areas will be converging on Tooley Street. A significant turn out is expected ; the last taxi demonstration which took place at Trafalgar Square was attended by 2000 drivers.

The main points of the protest are:
1: For a proper taxi and private hire licensing department to be put in place ; TFL do not act correctly or comply with Public Law
2: For a full independent investigation into the improper and unlawful actions of TFL
3: For a proper and effective emissions reduction programme to be put in place. The Mayors own research shows that 4267 people a year are dying form pollution and taxi drivers are sat in it every day of their working lives. Instead of implementing effective strategies Boris has implemented strategies which do not work and target only taxi drivers.

Update 27/02/2012: (Provided by C.A.B.)
The second protest will take place tomorrow Monday 27th February at 11am Tooley Street. Meet opposite Bermondsey Street.

Last weeks protest created significant media interest and we will continue every Monday until changes are made. We have given information to the Mayors Office at a meeting on Friday which outlined the problems with the lack of Private Hire regulation, the Identifiers, the removal of Taxi Ranks across London, the Olympic route lanes and the Age Limit. We are awaiting a response but will keep up the pressure until these issues are resolved.

The ongoing support of drivers is needed and are pleased to see any drivers attend regardless of which trade organisation they belong to.

We want Boris to make changes immediately ; he promised to help taxi drivers in 2008 and this protest is to ensure he does exactly that. With the upcoming Mayoral Election we are sure that Boris will want to be seen as a man of his word.

Update 07/03/2012: (Provided by C.A.B.)
Following feedback from drivers we have moved the weekly protest at Tooley Street to Friday at 5pm starting this week (Friday 9th March)
It seems that our main concern about the ongoing corruption and improper conduct at TFL is now gaining some media interest.
It is a current theme in the media and it seems that the Levison Inquiry is now exposing more corruption with Public Officials, perhaps including TFL.
A full Independent Investigation will expose the root of the problems that the taxi trade is experiencing and if this is done then all of the problems should be resolved (ie lack of Private Hire Enforcement, Age Limit, Removal of Ranks, Identifiers etc etc)
We look forward to seeing all on Friday.

Northbound Blackwall Tunnel safety improvements completed more than a year early

Essential safety works on the northbound Blackwall Tunnel have been completed over a year ahead of schedule. As a result overnight closures will end and motorists will regain full use of the tunnel from 11 November.

The improvements bring the 114 year old tunnel up to date with the latest safety standards, and are designed to significantly reduce the number of incidents which force the tunnel to close.
They include the installation and commissioning of new upgraded ventilation fans in the tunnel's four shafts, improved incident detection as well as installation of new lighting, upgraded CCTV and new communication systems throughout the tunnel.
New safety inlets have been constructed in the tunnel wall with emergency phones and fire extinguishers providing a safe area for drivers whose vehicles break down in the tunnel.
These will allow TfL to direct emergency services to specific incidents, helping them deal with any potential disruption more rapidly.
TfL have also introduced an additional lane for HGV vehicles on the northbound Blackwall Tunnel approach which will enable all over-height vehicles to be diverted away from the tunnel before they reach the entrance reducing unnecessary delays.
Last year over-height vehicles caused the northbound Blackwall Tunnel to be closed 1448 times, leading to a total of 56 hours of avoidable closures.

To allow this lane to become operational, changes to the traffic layout on the Blackwall Tunnel will be implemented on Friday 4 November.
Metropolitan Police Service Traffic-trained Police Community Support Officers will be on site for the first two weeks of operation to direct traffic, minimise disruption and ensure that vehicles adhere to the new traffic layout, which is initially on an experimental basis.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: 'It will be of huge relief to drivers who use the tunnel that we can finally bring the overnight closures to an end and I am very pleased that TfL have been able to do so over a year ahead of schedule.
'One of the reasons the tunnel is a notorious traffic hotspot is due to the number of times over-height vehicles try to scrape their way through. Last year a whopping 83 per cent of closures were for that reason and we hope the new trial over-height lane will greatly reduce the number of such incidents.'
The scale of refurbishment works carried out is such that a similar programme of work within the tunnel should not be required for another 25 years.
Conscious of the inconvenience that such major improvement schemes can cause Londoners, TfL has worked hard with its contractors to change working methods to prevent the need for closures and complete the refurbishment as quickly as possible.
By completing the works 13 months earlier than initially projected, the tunnel will now remain open overnight during the busy Christmas shopping period. 
As with any infrastructure, some routine maintenance will still be necessary.
However, following the completion of these works, TfL will be reducing the planned maintenance closure regime from weekly to fortnightly, and only between 01:00 and 08:00 on Sunday morning.
A new closure regime will be established before the end of the year.
Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for London Streets at TfL said: 'TfL and its contractor BAM Nuttall have thrown everything at this project to get these vital works completed as quickly as possible while ensuring that disruption to local residents and road users was kept to a minimum.
'Completing this project 13 months early and with fewer weekend closures than we originally anticipated is a massive achievement and one that Londoners will welcome.'
Jay Moorhouse, Project Manager for contractor, BAM Nuttall, said: 'BAM Nuttall is proud to have played a major role in the refurbishment of the Northbound Blackwall Tunnel. The success of the project is a tribute to the collaborative relationship between Transport for London, BAM Nuttall, VVB and Mott MacDonald.'

Blackwall Tunnel 2nd Last Closure

You won't be able to travel south through the tunnel on this weekend:

21:00 Friday 10 June - 05:00 Monday 13 June

Blackwall Tunnel closed to southbound traffic next weekend

12 April 2011

Closure to take place across Easter weekend from 21:00 Thursday to 05:00 Tuesday, 21-26 April. Drivers advised to avoid the area if possible. Rotherhithe Tunnel will be dedicated to southbound traffic during closure.

Closure will allow tunnel works to be completed one year ahead of schedule.

The Blackwall Tunnel will be closed to southbound traffic next weekend as part of the ongoing refurbishment of the 113-year-old river crossing.

This will allow Transport for London's (TfL's) contractor, BAM Nuttall, to continue vital upgrade works as well as resurfacing the entire 1.4km tunnel, neither of which can be carried out during the weeknight closure programme.

In order to limit disruption for people during the Easter weekend, TfL has worked hard to put in place a whole range of alternative measures.

These include:

The Rotherhithe Tunnel will again operate two lanes in the southbound direction, only with the Blackwall Tunnel carrying only northbound traffic. This measure was used during previous weekend closures last year and resulted in considerably less congestion overall
Drivers who would usually use the Rotherhithe or Blackwall Tunnel will also be able to use alternative river crossings such as Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge or the Dartford Crossing to complete their journey.
The Woolwich Ferry will also be operating a two-boat service across the Easter weekend (22, 23 and 25 April, 06:10-22:00; 24 April 09:00-21:30).
Since the refurbishment began in February 2010, TfL and its contractor, BAM Nuttall, have made phenomenal progress.

By working with the contractor and using innovative thinking to allow sections of the works to be carried out during the day, the works will now be completed by December 2011, one year ahead of the original programme.

Work completed early

Work completed so far includes the installation of new ventilation fans in the tunnel's four shafts as well as new lighting, upgraded CCTV and new communication systems installed throughout the tunnel.

TfL has also begun installing 26 inlets in the tunnel wall (including emergency phones and fire extinguishers) providing a safe area for any drivers whose vehicles have broken down within the tunnel.

Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for London Streets, TfL, said: 'We are making phenomenal progress on the refurbishment of the 113-year-old tunnel.

'As a result, the project is currently due to be completed one year ahead of schedule, which is a testament to the hard work we and our contractors have put into this project.

'However, despite this progress, this closure over the Bank Holiday weekend is required to carry out further vital works to the tunnel's road which cannot be carried out during the normal overnight closures.

'We apologise for the delays and inconvenience that this closure will inevitably cause.

'Across the Bank Holiday weekend, our contractor, BAM Nuttall, will again be working 24-hours-a-day over the weekend to minimise this disruption.

'However, I would urge drivers to avoid the area if they can.'

Phenomenal progress means only three more weekend closures of Blackwall Tunnel

Project now due to be completed by December 2011 - one year ahead of schedule

Southbound closures will take place across Easter Bank Holiday weekend and the weekends of 10-13 June and 12-15 August
Rotherhithe Tunnel will once again be dedicated to southbound traffic during closures
Transport for London (TfL) will only need to carry out three more weekend closures of the northbound Blackwall Tunnel to complete the ongoing safety upgrade of the 113-year-old tunnel.

These closures will allow its contractor, BAM Nuttall, to continue vital upgrade works as well as resurfacing the entire 1.4km tunnel, neither of which can be carried out during the weeknight closure programme.

Weekend closures

Following discussions with key stakeholders including surrounding boroughs, user groups and key local businesses, these weekend closures have been timed to avoid major events in the area.

The closures will take place at the following times:

  • 21:00 Thursday 21 April - 05:00 Tuesday 26 April
  • 21:00 Friday 10 June - 05:00 Monday 13 June
  • 21:00 Friday 12 August - 05.00 Monday 15 August

During the weekend closures, the Rotherhithe Tunnel will again operate two lanes in the southbound direction only, while the Blackwall Tunnel will carry only northbound traffic.

Drivers will also be able to use alternative river crossings such as Tower Bridge, the Woolwich Ferry or the Dartford Crossing to complete their journey.

Since work began in February 2010, new ventilation fans have been installed in the tunnel's four shafts as well as new lighting, upgraded CCTV and new communications systems installed throughout the tunnel.

Vital improvements

TfL has also begun installing 26 inlets in the tunnel wall (including emergency phones and fire extinguishers) providing a safe area for any drivers whose vehicles have broken down within the tunnel.

By working with the contractor and using innovative thinking to allow sections of the works to be carried out during the day, TfL and BAM Nuttall has managed to bring the project forward to complete in December 2011; one year earlier than originally expected.

Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for London Streets, TfL, said: 'TfL remains committed to do everything we can to minimise disruption to drivers in east London whilst these vital improvement works are being carried out.

'Although these works are progressing even better than we had hoped, there will be additional congestion due to these weekend closures. We therefore ask people to plan their journeys for these weekends in advance and avoid travelling through the area if at all possible.'

Blackwall Tunnel closures prompt new police team

BBC News:

A police team has been drafted in to cover an east London traffic tunnel which has been closed more than 1,500 times in nine months.

The Blackwall Tunnel, which runs underneath the River Thames, is one of the busiest and most congested routes in London.

Transport for London (TfL) is funding a team of police officers to help assist any incidents immediately.

A spokesman said most of the closures were due to vehicles being too big.

'Unnecessary closures'
Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for London Streets, said: "For every minute the tunnel is closed, it stops up to 60 vehicles passing through.

"On an average day, these unnecessary closures, many of which occur at peak time, can stop up to 750 vehicles a day passing through the tunnel."

The Road Response Police Team will be based at the tunnel on a three month trial basis to provide immediate response to any breakdowns.

Figures from TfL show in the last nine months the tunnel has been closed 1,604 times with 70% of those closures due to drivers "ignoring" the height restriction warning signs.

Vehicle breakdowns were responsible for 287 closures, a third of which were due to vehicles running out of fuel.

The Blackwall Tunnel carries around 100,000 vehicles a day across the river.

No tunnel closures from 6am 24/12/2010 to 9pm 4/1/2011

Both the Blackwall Tunnel and Rotherhithe Tunnel will be open in both directions over the following days.

Blackwall Tunnel:
From 6am on the 24th December 2010 (23rd night though to 5am 24th will still be closed).
Until 9pm on the 4th January 2011 (4th night will resume nightly closures).

Rotherhithe Tunnel:
There will be no closures on the 25th of December or the 1st of January.
Rotherhithe weekly closures will resume on the 8th of January.

See for updates and calendar views.

Boris Johnson: 'get a grip' on transport

Boris Johnson: 'get a grip' on transport by Andrew Gilligan (The Telegraph Newspaper)

The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, takes what looks like a swipe at Boris Johnson in today’s Sunday Times. “The level of roadworks in London is completely out of control,” he says. “I don’t think anyone could describe driving in London as a pleasure.”
In the last ten days, amid the snow meltdown in transport and the wretched pre-snow performance of the Tube, even Ken Livingstone has been unable to miss the open goal. He has achieved an historic first, an attack line against Boris that might actually have some traction – “Get a grip.”
Eighteen months before the election Boris is, I think, more or less where he wants to be on most of his issues. After his sacking of Ian Blair, the Met has ceased to be a running sore, and crime is still falling. There are signs, at least for the moment, that the London economy is heading in the right direction, and perhaps more quickly than the rest of the country. Ken’s great hope, government spending cuts, will probably affect London less badly than anywhere else, because its economy is less dependent on the public sector – and Ken has messed up his attack on the cuts anyway.
But transport, the mayor’s biggest issue of all, is the great exception and headache. In the long term, with Crossrail happening, things look all right. But in the run-up to the election, Hammond’s salvo is the latest reminder that Boris hasn’t really “got a grip” on Transport for London, the bloated giant (complete with 231 managers on six-figure salaries) which he inherited from Livingstone.
TfL simply hasn’t adjusted to the new, post-crash world. Its costs are still ridiculous, limiting the mayor’s scope to do new things. How did it manage to spend £23 million on the first two cycle superhighways – which amount to little more than blue paint on a road? In Barking, it has spent £26 million on changing the number of one existing bus route (the 369, which has now become the “East London Transit”) and extending it a mile to the east through an almost totally deserted industrial wasteland in which it virtually never picks up a passenger.
These two projects alone cost about a quarter of the money raised by this year’s fare increase.
Transport is the area where the fewest of Boris’s manifesto promises have been kept. He promised to “make traffic flow more smoothly” and “rephase traffic lights” in order to “cut congestion.” But TfL’s policy is now merely to “review” traffic light timings, slowly, and few of the absurd numbers of traffic lights installed under Ken seem to have been significantly re-phased, or removed. On one road near me, there are 11 sets of lights in less than a mile, controlling even junctions with minor side streets and including several pelican crossings which turn red throughout the day and night even when no pedestrian is near.
The object, no doubt, was to further Ken’s war on the hated motorist – still fervently endorsed inside “Transport for Livingstone” – but bus passengers and cyclists are just as badly affected.
TfL has frustrated Boris’s promise to “promote greater use of the river.” It has quietly removed the high-frequency Thames Clipper commuter service from its new river timetable booklet, given out on piers and at stations and information centres, and now only includes the tourist boats. The only timetable information it now gives for the commuter service is an almost incomprehensible summary sheet, downloadable from its website.
TfL hates things it does not directly control and has been consistently hostile to Thames Clippers, despite the entire service consuming only a twentieth of the subsidy given to one single bus route (the East London Transit above.) Far from being “promoted,” the service is now less than when Boris took office.
TfL has simply refused to reinstate tidal flow in the Blackwall Tunnel, another manifesto promise, and has watered down the mayor’s new Routemaster. Pledges to extend the Tube for an hour on Friday and Saturday nights, and to work for a no-strike agreement, also appear to have been quietly shelved.
But most important, of course, is the Underground’s poor day-to-day service. TfL cannot be blamed for the recent wave of industrial action – which strikes more than one observer as a fairly cack-handed attempt to help Ken’s re-election campaign- and on which the public broadly backs the Mayor anyway. But it can be blamed for the recent serious disruption to the Tube on non-strike days, and the ongoing, endless weekend closures, which never seem to make the slightest difference to the service. My old paper, the Standard, splashed with “Come back Boris and take charge” the other day.

Blackwall Tunnel November 2010 Disruptions

Planned strike action by RMT and TSSA members affecting the London Underground

2nd November the Blackwall tunnel closure will start to be implemented at 23:30hrs

3rd November the Blackwall tunnel closure may be delayed if traffic congestion is experienced but will start to be implemented by no later than 22:00hrs and fully in place by 22:30hrs

14th November the Blackwall tunnel closure will be cancelled due to a combination of a Jubilee Line closure and a concert at the O2 (Gorillaz)

Blackwall Tunnel Weekend Closure Update

Blackwall Tunnel Weekend Closure

Friday 15th October 21:00 - Monday 18th October 05:00

During the closures:

Northbound traffic will be diverted through the (Southbound) Blackwall Tunnel.
Southbound traffic will be diverted to other crossings such as Tower Bridge, Rotherhithe Tunnel or the Dartford crossings.

Please note that Rotherhithe Tunnel will be for Southbound Traffic only. Use both lanes.

So going North use Blackwall Tunnel and going South use Rotherhithe Tunnel. Simple.