Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Radical Car/Road Agenda Unveiled by CWF

Conservative Way Forward has today published a new transport policy paper titled STOP THE WAR ON DRIVERS. Written by transport expert and former Borough Engineer Malcolm Heymer, it contains some fairly radical proposals each of which seeks to give more power back to the car driver. Unfortunately, its more sensible headline proposals are bound to be obscured by some which, on the face of it, seem to be distinctly odd, to say the very least. The paper calls for the scrapping of...

* Speed cameras (no - only ones that are cash cows)
* Bus lanes that reduce road capacity (only if they directly cause congestion)
* 40mph and 50mph speed limits for HGVs (open minded on this one)
* Tolls on the Dartford Crossing (should have happened years ago)
* Obstructive road calming schemes (yes, but with some exceptions)
* Road user charging schemes (disagree - M6 toll road works very well)
* Maximum parking standards in new developments
* Any form of technology that takes decisions away from the driver (need clarification)
* Urban cycle lanes (disagree, but need to read their reasoning)

In addition they call for...

* A surge of spending on trunk roads and the motorway network (an increase, not a surge)
* An 80mph speed limit on motorways
* A return to the 85th percentile principle in speed limit setting (no idea what this is)
* Vehicle activated signs on the approaches to hazards, rather than speed cameras
* Positive licence points for advanced driver training (open minded)
* Shared-space traffic calming schemes where appropriate (no idea what this means)

Unfortunately the full pdf document doesn't seem to be on their website. I haven't read it in full yet, but I have highlighted in green the ones I would agree with 100% and given further comments in brackets.

I am a particualr fan of vehicle activated signs rather than speed cameras as they are far more effective in persuading drivers to reduce their speed on an approach to a dangerous piece of road or a village.

So, which of these suggestions meet with your approval or disapproval?
UPDATE: The full document can be read HERE.


Anonymous said...

Why is it when most - I won't say all, but most opinion, in all three parties, is agreed that cars are a cause of global warming and that something must be done to reverse the trend, one of the Heinz 57 varieties of Mrs T-worshipper Cameron-blackmailing Tory pressure groups has to pop up and say something embarassing and against the grain?

If it was something sensible, like "We agree carbon emissions are harmful, but things like the C-Charge are just a class war tax - we would do things differently thus eg. incentives for lower polluting cars", fine. But instead it's almost like they want to be the odd ones out - they glory in it. More flights! Higher speeds! Sod the environment, because Gloriana Imperatrix never gave a stuff about it in the 80s, and that's all that matters!

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Millwall tendency, heading "south of the river" in an ICM poll near you.

Flora said...

Love your comments in brackets!

I don't see how you can get rid of urban cycle paths, it's just so dangerous as a cyclist in London at the moment, and we're fairly well provided for

Anonymous said...

The 85th percentile method is a sensible way of defining a speed limit for a particular section of road. It is the speed below which 85% of the vehicles travel. The police favour this method because it gives produces speed limits which are realistic and enforceable.

Anonymous said...

Why not allow left turns on red lights after stopping and giving way? You'll have seen that the idea works well in North America.
It safely speeds up traffic.

Anonymous said...


Studies have shown that the safest drivers, statistically least likely to be involved in accidents when correlated with speed, are those at the 85th percentile (i.e. faster than 85% of other drivers, slower than 15%). It turns out that on motorways in good conditions with moderate traffic that speed tends to be about 85 mph. Thus the safest drivers on the road are criminalised.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the reason the M6 toll 'works' is that you and I like the open road and will pay for it...

But the real, philosophical, reason why we like it is that building it DOUBLED local motorway capacity. So you pay for the extra, faster road.

Other road charging schemes - like London - charge you for the same amount of space. Indeed, 'urban safety management' techniques in London have reduced road space and then added a charge.

It's worth noting that punters aren't paying. The C-Charge made far less than expected and number using the M6 toll dropped massively at the end of last year....

Anonymous said...

faShared Space!


A report from the Transport Select Committee was released last week and it recommended 'shared space' roadscapes as seen in High Street Kensington, for example.

I hoping Boris will take this up and make central London look rather more like Potzdamer Platz...

Ralph Hancock said...

I think that 'Shared-space traffic calming schemes' means what are known as 'naked streets': no pavements, no lights, no crossings, no road signs, so that drivers are obliged to be on constant lookout for wandering pedestrians. Sounds terrifying but a trial in Holland reduced accidents and reduced the time taken by traffic to cross the area. There was a project to try a 'naked street' in London, in the Exhibition Road, but nothing seems to have come of it yet.

Ralph Hancock said...

Anon 7.26: the 'shared space' scheme in Kensington High Street is a pretty diluted try at the idea. Widened pavements that continue as humps across the entrances to side roads, narrowed roadway still clearly separated from pavement, lots of light-controlled crossings.

AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Positive licence points for advanced driver training

This is usually formulated as cheaper insurance for extra training. As the Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) has found, insurers don't buy it. In the USA it has been legally enforced in some states. I've taken one of the courses and it was ludicrously silly, but it did get me a small discount enforced by law and presumably paid for by other drivers.

Formulating this idea with a driver points benefit is a good way to avoid the humiliation of it being rejected by a bunch of pointy-headed statisticians over which the government has no control.

Bayleaf said...

It's good to read a serious alternative to the current regime, an approach in which I discern an attempt to offer common sense and 'real world' solutions. I find it hard to disagree with any of the proposals.

Just as it was at one time impossible to mention immigration without being accused of racism, so anything to do with cars seems now to illicit the views (i) ban them because they cause global warming, (ii) specifically ban 4x4s (see also (i)), and (iii) speed kills so everyone should drive at either 20mph or 50mph.

Tax, regulation and penalties seem to have become the norm when freedom, empowerment and personal responsibility ought IMHO to be the way forward.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Labour hate the car.
I hope this becomes Tory policy as there are many votes in it from the silent majority. But as Simon Heffer said today in his excelent piece in the DT. Camerons Tories just dont get it.

Curly said...

Shared space calming measures appear to be working. The new Westoe Crwon Village in South Shields has been designed without kerbs, pavements, traffic signs, or traffic lights and crossings. There is a large primary school at the heart of it and everyone respects their own space. (There is a slight incline where you would expect a pavement to be).

Drivers proceed at a sedate thoughtful pace, and there is a much greater awareness of what is happening all around you. Pedestrians and children are more coy about wandering into the roads too, and there is a generally better level of consideration for each other.

I'm all for it!

SteveH103 said...

as someone who drives over 40000 miles a year i`d say that a lot of these ideas would make a tremendous difference to road users and improve traffic flow.
Also i think we need to look at some junctions and priorities. In the Channel Islands at a lot of junctions they have a system where everyone takes it in turns to cross and it works. traffic flows and everyone is more alert. Lets have it on the mainland.

Anonymous said...

Flashing amber lights in urban areas after dark.

ie. All the traffic lights are switched to flashing amber (you need to educate people to what this means) throughout the early hours, allowing motorists to drive through junctions etc with caution.

Anonymous said...

I think all drivers should be allowed to drive according to their ability and what they percieve as their ability. This will negate the need for speed cameras, traffic police and indeed the law. However if you hurt one of mine/me/close friend/near friend/anyone I know, by MY definition of bad driving, I want to saw your right leg off at the knee.

Be grateful for what you have.

asquith said...

Johnny Norfolk, I consider this "silent majority" to be a myth. The generic C2 voter that Thatcherites dream of (and Iain Dale explicitly states he wants to appeal to) is dying out. Yes a lot of people share the stereotypical Howardite ideas, but a) less and less every year, and b) many of them are rock-solid Labour voters would never vote Conservative anyway.

People should wean themselves off automatic car use for all sorts of reasons. The carbon emissions, the effects of roads on the natural environment, noise pollution, congestion, etc.

I consider that a lot of people are making pointless purchases on a regular basis, and would be happier and better off if they downsized.

The way forward is proper public transport (I know what exists now isn't much good, that's why it needs more investment), car sharing, and alternative modes of transport such as cycling.

Some people have got to realise that their convenience is not the be-all and end-all of the world. I think you can understand why this idea is bad news. Call me Dave should keep away from it. This is 2008, not 1988.

Anonymous said...


When you eventually get a job...eventually...

You'll find out just how lousy public transport is and how it buggers up your attempts to earn a living.

"Proper Public Transport" is an oxymoron to anyone who pays taxes (unlike you.)

So, it looks like it's one of my German V8s for the drive into work again tomorrow. I'll think about you as I pass every bus stop and remember why I still vote Conservative.

Anonymous said...

Superb proposals and a real vote winner too imo.
Would be great to see the Tories actually espousing common sense policies which will appeal to people who will actually turn out and vote.
Let's hope they also recognise that unlike a few years ago more and more people are realising the harmful effects of Nu Labs crazy immigration policy.
When Call Me Dave has his next chinwag with Mrs T. he needs to ask her about her famous 'Swamping' comments in the late '80's and how this boosted Tory support in key areas such as the Midlands.

Anonymous said...

Iain.. Shurely shum mishtake.. the report actually says on page 14

"but local authorities should
be required to ensure that planning applications include sufficient parking provision for the level
of demand that realistically can be expected. This may require the reintroduction of minimum
parking standards

So CWF are arguing for more not less parking!

strapworld said...

This is a common sense paper and one I agree with. I do hope the Conservatives Adopt it as policy.

It is a vote winner.

Steve_Roberts said...

I agree with just about all of this. For me the point about urban cycle lanes is that, at least in MyTown, they are just some paint on the road, which no-one respects, although it does serve as a distraction, so on the whole they are a slight hazard.

BTW anon 6-41 may care to relect that gas-guzzlers are already more heavily taxed than other cars, on purchase, through higher fuel use (= more VAT and Duty paid) and by higher VED.

Anonymous said...

If you give drivers positive points for passing an advanced driving test you will need:

An Advanced Driving Test Promotion and Facilitation Department: annual budget £30m

A new computer system: projected budget £4m, actual budget £444m.

An Advanced Driving Test Tzar, annual salary £1.5m

Etc., etc., etc. Forget it.

And speed warning signs are an abomination. They disfigure the approach to some of England's lovliest villages.

Anonymous said...

I am all for getting rid of obstructive road calming schemes. In my village (south of Scotland), signs saying "Twenty's plenty" have been put up next to the 30 m.p.h. signs, so now nobody knows whether the speed limit is 30 or 20. (They have done this in many of the villages, and the man who does the signs for the council told me that the highways people did this at the end of the year only because they had to use up their signage budget to stop it being cut the following year.) Next, pavements were put in down the main street, so now everyone drives faster as they think they don't need to slow down for pedestrians any longer. Next, flashing electronic signs were put up telling you you are driving too fast. These come on whatever speed you are driving at, even at 5 m.p.h. (I have tested this). The latest thing is that a sort of ramp has been built across one of the carriageways at one point in the road, and a plastic bollard planted on the top, and signs put up to say who has priority to go through what is now a narrow space. I have known the village for forty years and to the best of my knowledge there has never been a traffic accident there. These roadworks must have cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, and there is a real possibility that they have actually made the road more dangerous.

Anonymous said...

This is all good common sense stuff that we ought to get right behind. It is time to stop the dishonest war on motorists, a war that is waged from the politics of envy and has bugger all to do with environmentalism, even the fake kind as practised by class warriors like Mayor Livingstone.

Johnny Norfolk said...


Well we will find out who is right at the next election.

You run your life and I will run mine.

asquith said...

Anomymong at 9:31, I have now got a job (you need to find a new insult, I suggest calling me a child and other age-related bitchin'), and I travel there by public transport. I agree that it's next to useless. My conclusion is that it should be improved.

I'm not trying to stop anyone driving a car, I'm just saying that too much unnecessary car driving goes on.

If Cameron won an election his policies would be closer to my views than to the views of the far-right blogosphere. Half of you admit that already.

Anonymous said...

Outlawing wheelclamping in England & Wales is long overdue. At its simplest, it is little short of abhorrent that the supposed victim of a trivial trespass can effectively take the law into his own hands - usually via nasty and brutish agents hiding behind PO Box numbers and mobiles - by not only imposing a colossal penalty (having bypassed the courts) but also depriving a driver of the free use of his property, wasting his time and subjecting him to extreme fear and anxiety in the process. CWF ought to add this to their agenda.

Anonymous said...

Outlawing wheelclamping in England & Wales is long overdue. At its simplest, it is little short of abhorrent that the supposed victim of a trivial trespass can effectively take the law into his own hands - usually via nasty and brutish agents hiding behind PO Box numbers and mobiles - by not only imposing a colossal penalty (having bypassed the courts) but also depriving a driver of the free use of his property, wasting his time and subjecting him to extreme fear and anxiety in the process. CWF ought to add this to their agenda.

Anonymous said...

So Iain, you support scrapping tolls on a bridge (Dartford - near to where you live) but support maintaining tolls on a road (M6 toll - near to where I live). Is this another example of a Southerner not caring/not knowing/not understanding the rest of the country? Would you support maintaining or scrapping other tolls for example on the road tunnels under the Mersey (near to where my parents live)? Some consistency in approach please ...

Iain Dale said...

Colin, I support in the principle of the user pays. If a road has been built on the premise that the users will pay tolls that is fine. My problem with the Dartford tunnel is that we were promised by the government that tolls would end once it had paid for itself. Indeed, I think it was in the legislation. However, tolls are still being charged. Obivously the QE2 Bridge has since been built, but I see no case for tolls both ways. Your accusation of north/south bias is therefore not true.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you think you're the brightest commenter on this blog.

Can I have a large fries to go please?

asquith said...

No, Anonymong, I make no claims on my own behalf. Might I suggest that you go and sneer at someone who will actually get upset at, and care about, your comments? I'm afraid you'll get no satisfaction from me.

Anonymous said...

One of these days, Asquith, you'll recognise the difference between somebody winding you up for the hell of it and someone who really is having a go at you.

No offence indtended! I'm sure you're a nice lad, really.

asquith said...

I like to think of myself as a fairly all right person. I wasn't upset or offended, but it does irritate me a bit. I'm just knocking around.

Colin said...

Chester Road , Penyffordd currently has 2000 speeding cars a day. Motorists don't give a fig for village communities. We are trashed every day.
Oh! forgot to say we are a route to school and we have a by-pass.

Airbus and Raytheon workers trash our village three times a day. (Mark Stewart Airbus HR)

My personal thoughts is that they should all be shot.

Penyffordd District

Colin said...

We have 2000 speeders a day through the village of Penyffordd. I think they should all be shot.
Then we won't need the bumps which someone moans about.

Speeders in villages are low life.

Penyffordd District
A Route to School in Taliban Territory

Anonymous said...

Malcolm Heymer isn't "a former Borough Engineer"; he was a Transportation Planning Manager in the London Borough of Havering.

Anonymous said...

And I thought the Conservative Party were going green; boy did I get it wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

The persistent 80mph limit suggestion always makes me smile. It is perfectly useless gesture politics; quite rarely in the course of motorway driving do I see a car travelling below 75mph anyway. If you're going to make it 80 'but more stringently reinforced' you might as well leave it at 70 and largely unenforced, as it is at present. I'd rather see more patrol cars, proper enforcement of lane discipline and something more radical such as a minimum bhp/tonne required for the 3rd lane, or dispensation up to 100mph for those with advanced driving qualifications (they could have a different reg-plate, if indeed the EU would countenance such deviance). While we have all these filthy HGVs, taxis and buses on our roads the incremental environmental impact of driving slightly faster is risibly low; suggestions to the contrary are just religious claptrap.

I see very little reason for speed cameras anywhere except alongside schools, hospitals or extremely notorious 'blackspots' (in which case a reappraisal of the road layout would be more effective against accidents; aside from those, all Gatsos ARE cash-cows. Vehicle-activated signs, in use on the European mainland for nearly a decade now, are indeed highly efficient in reducing vehicle speeds to appropriate levels.

The M6 Toll is a disgusting thing though; perhaps you are happy paying the exorbitant fees Iain, but I still hold the old-fashioned view that motorways with tolls should be 'all or none' - more specifically, none! The road only 'works' because so few people (mainly those who can put the fee on expenses) think it's worth adding even more to the cost of their journeys. The whole M6 Toll project was a farce in terms of taxpayer value, and under the terms of the agreement this can only get worse (and already is).

David Lindsay said...

What's so conservative about cars? They make us dependent on foreign oil, whereas trains can be run on electricity generated primarily by nuclear power, with our own wind, wave and solar resources built around that nucleus.

The road network is not just there, you know. It requires enormous levels of central and local government spending or it would collapse almost overnight.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Malcolm Heymer for a number of years & I'm surprised by his comments about removing traffic calming & other traffic safety measures because he made a very nice living out of designing & installing them for many years !