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Government fears bus-lane backlash

GOVERNMENT RELUCTANCE to offend car drivers is stalling congestion busting plans to introduce no-car lanes in the capital, according to traffic director for London Derek Turner.

Public enthusiasm for car-free lanes was dampened after the introduction of the M4 bus and taxi lane, said Turner, speaking at a conference on road space reallocation in London last week. This, he added, had left politicians wary of further curbs on cars.

'The stumbling block seems to be the exclusive term 'no-car' lane,' added Turner. 'The Government does not want to be perceived as anti car.'

He added that the alternative description for the lanes - exclusive routes for buses, HGVs, taxis and bicycles - did not seem practical.

So far, only two of the radical new no-car lanes have been introduced in London and no more have been planned since. While so called 'bus lanes' do exist - also open to cyclists and taxis - they are not accessible to HGVs, which, Turner said, are a considerable proportion of inner-city traffic.

Other speakers at the conference highlighted that congestion problems in cities often result from goods and delivery vehicles being ignored in traffic management schemes.

However, it was pointed out that little is known about HGV traffic flow for modelling purposes. The result has been to ban rather than manage HGVs, as in Leeds, where no deliveries are allowed in the city during working hours.

Westminster City Council's planned traffic reallocation scheme in London's Soho district will also discourage HGV vehicles, although according to speaker Malcolm Murray Clark, head of transport and project development for Westminster, this policy is intended to control pollution rather than congestion.

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