Social Studies 10

Traffic Management

Imagine you work for the complaints department at Manchester City Council. How would you explain to the driver of a car that has been damaged by raising bollards why the bollards had been installed in the CBD?

The bollards were installed in the CBD for safety after the council found the area to have an extremely high number of accidents. The bollards use sensors to sink into the street when buses pass, then rise again to bar other traffic. The Manchester City Council has placed many signs and warnings to make it clear to drivers that they are in place, so the council is not responsible for any motorists’ car damage. If any driver were to deliberately ignore the signs and warnings, their actions would be illegal and the police would prosecute them.

Produce some notes on “Park and Ride Schemes” (what are they? how do they work? how do they reduce urban traffic congestion?). Give detailed examples of a “Park and Ride” scheme from one urban location.

“Park and Ride Schemes” are car parks with connections to public transport. They allow people to leave their vehicles in a special parking space and transfer to a public bus or train to travel into city centers. The cars they leave behind are stored during the day, and they can retrieve it whenever they return. This facility is usually located in suburbs or on the outer edges of cities.

One important benefit of “Park and Ride Schemes” is that they reduce urban traffic congestion. This system allows people to avoid the stress of driving on traffic congested roads, and encourage them to switch to public transport instead. A great example of a “Park and Ride Scheme” is in Norwich, England. Norwich has the biggest “Park and Ride” car parks and bus services in the United Kingdom (approximately 5000 parking spaces available), operating from six different sites around the city. In 2006/2007, 3.3 million people used the service, and 940,000 cars were kept out of the city center. This data shows that “Park and Ride Schemes” work in reducing urban traffic congestion.

Copy the news article “A year on, the cycle experiment has hit some bumps” and then with three different colours highlight the following:

  1. How the bicycle scheme in Paris works?
  2. Any negative elements to the scheme in Paris.
  3. Any positive elements to the scheme in Paris. 

“A year on, the cycle experiment has hit some bumps”

As Paris marks this week the first anniversary of the appearance of public bicycles on its streets, other cities are watching ever more closely a hugely successful experiment in self-service public transport.

Since Bertrand Delanoe, the city’s Mayor, took the gamble of putting 16,000 vélibs, short for vélo liberté, or bike freedom, at the disposal of Parisians, the stately grey machines have been taken out for a spin a total of 27 million times. To the pleasure of the left-wing council and the frustration of drivers, cycle traffic has jumped by 70 per cent as Parisians take advantage of the almost-free service.

But as Boris Johnson, a regular cyclist, ponders a similar scheme for London, he may well consider the downside. Paris’s vélibs are used for 120,000 trips a day, each one averaging 22 minutes. However, the pedal boom has been attended by a jump in cycle deaths and injuries. Three vélib riders have been crushed under the wheels of heavy vehicles and about 70 have been injured since January this year. After a 35-year-old violinist was killed by a municipal bus in a bus lane in May, her father called on the Mayor to suspend the vélib scheme.

The authorities are blaming the cyclists as well as the city’s notoriously aggressive drivers, although the overall accident rate has declined by 20 per cent. Many accidents involve inexperienced riders or careless tourists.

Police are handing out football-style yellow cards this week to cyclists, drivers and pedestrians who commit minor but potentially dangerous offenses. Last year 7,000 fines were issued to cyclists, double the previous year. Yet few riders of the vélibs bother to wear helmets or high-visibility attire and more than half do not stop at red lights.

The bikes, which are free for the first 30 minutes and are available from 1,200 high-tech docking zones, have proven more vulnerable than expected to thefts and vandalism and less robust than they were supposed to be.

JCDecaux, the firm which operates the bicycles in return for concessions in display advertising, acknowledges that it found the scheme tougher than it had expected. About 3,000 of the €400 (£320) bikes have been vandalised or stolen, it said. Hundreds have vanished, and Parisians are sighting them in Romania, Casablanca and more exotic spots in Africa. Last month Le Parisien published a picture of a boy showing off his vélib in a Romanian village. Rumours fly that port customs officers are discovering containers loaded with vélibs. Albert Asseraf, the strategy director at Decaux, said that London should consider a few rules for the scheme: “Install a dense network with docking stations every 350 metres; keep the hire cost minimal; base it on credit [payment] cards, and make sure the maintenance system is up to scratch.” A spokesman for Mr Johnson said yesterday that the Mayor “has already had very productive discussions with Transport for London regarding plans to create a bicycle hire scheme in London, along the lines of the hugely popular vélib scheme in Paris.”

Vélo city:

Paris’s vélib scheme is by far the biggest in the world. The total number of bikes will reach 20,000 by the end of the year.

1,500 bikes are repaired every day, most at the docking stations.

The fee system is designed to encourage short hires. A day ticket costs €1 (80p), a weekly one €5, an annual one €29. The first half-hour is free, with an additional cost of €1 per half hour.

The city of Paris has made about €30 million profit in the first year but JCDecaux, the firm that supplies the bikes, is reported to have spent millions over budget because of greater than expected wear and tear, theft and vandalism.

London’s Congestion Charging Scheme: A Case Study of Urban Congestion Management

Produce a detailed case study of the Congestion Charges scheme in London, UK.

By producing your case study you should develop your understanding of the following:

  • How the scheme actually works – how is money collected? How are cars monitored?
  • The geographical scale of the scheme.
  • The successes of the scheme.
  • Any negative impacts about the scheme.
  • The future of the scheme.

Congestion costs money. According to by BBC News, if nothing is done about congestion in London now, it will cost an additional £22 billion by 2025. This is why the city of London introduced the Congestion Charges Scheme in central London on 17 February, 2003.

In this system, a fee is charged on almost all motor vehicles operating within the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) between 7 AM and 6 PM, Mondays through Fridays. The standard charge is £10 each day for each vehicle that drives within the CCZ. If a driver fails to pay, they are charged a penalty of between £60 and £187. The money is collected using a method called automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), which is a surveillance technology that reads vehicle registration plates using optical character recognition on photographs taken by special cameras. The ANPR monitors each vehicle that drives in the CCZ, and the correct amount of money is withdrawn from the drivers. Transport for London is responsible for all charges.

The map above shows the geographical scale of the scheme. The boundary for the current congestion charging scheme covers the area within the London Inner Ring Road, which includes the City of London (main financial district), and the West End (primary commercial and entertainment center).

Studies have shown that the congestion charging scheme is a great success. Traffic has been cut by 18% and delays are down by 30%. Other reports showed that the level of traffic of all vehicle types entering the CCZ had decreased 16% in 2006 compared to 2002 when the scheme was first introduced. Overall, the system has had significant positive effects on urban traffic congestion in London.

However, according to a 2007 poll by Manchester Evening News, the majority of Londoners are against the congestion charging scheme. 80% of people believe that the scheme will have an overall negative effect on business and the economy of Greater Manchester, and 63% believe that it will have a negative effect on the area they live in. When the people protested against the scheme, Boris Johnson, mayor of London, began legal procedures to remove the toll. However, his decision was called “foolish” and “backwards” by the Labor Party – they stated that it would lose Transport for London about £70 million a year which may lead to higher fares for drivers to make up for the lost revenue, and increase traffic and noise pollution in the city as well.

Even with the negative reaction from the public, the congestion charging scheme has had many positive effects on reducing traffic congestion – the main point of the scheme. It has successfully cut down traffic and improved air quality and even road safety. Because of this, the city of London plans to extend the CCZ in the near future.

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