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Mayor unveils measures to ease London road congestion

Boris Johnson today unveiled a series of traffic boosting measures aimed at easing congestion in London.

The London Mayor announced the measures as he visited Transport for London’s traffic control centre in Southwark to see how it is trying to ease disruption in the capital through the £4bn Road Modernisation Plan.

Johnson said: “Each day 80% of trips in the capital take place on the roads and TfL is pulling out all the stops to help make those journeys as efficient as they can be.”

Boris Johnson TfL control centre

London mayor Boris Johnson at the TfL traffic control centre

TfL’s traffic improvement measures include:

  • A new generation of digital road signs that will provide road users with real-time information on journeys into London. The signs, which are being used for the first time, will initially be trialled on the A12, A13 and A40.
  • Remote controlled temporary traffic lights that can be operated from the TfL traffic control centre allowing their phasing to be changed centrally.
  • A London 2012 Games-style social media campaign to keep road users updated with travel advice online in the coming months
  • The expansion of Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) road junction technology to optimise traffic light timings in outer London. TfL says almost 4,000 sites will be using this technology, which reduces delays by up to 12 per cent, by May 2016.

For the measures to be most effective, TfL chief operating officer Garrett Emmerson told NCE that road users needed to be encouraged to act upon the real-time information that it is providing.

“On the Tube network, people are now really used to checking for the travel information and planning their journey. On the road network people are much more reluctant to divert off their known route,” he said.

“We have nearly half a million followers on our Twitter feed, which I think is the biggest one in Europe, I think it’s more than all of the Highways England feeds put together and that’s pumping real-time information about the network. In the future we’re going to be putting it into cars, it’s the same information but the means of getting it to the driver will change.”

Emmerson added that TfL is encouraging sat-nav companies to use TfL’s data feeds to update their systems with real-time traffic information. “If you’re using an older sat-nav that’s prioritising your route down the fastest roads, it will take you down the busiest roads,” he said.

The measures were announced as the programme to build the North-South Cycle Superhighway and the upgrade of Cycle Superhighway 2 passed the halfway point.

“We’re at a peak level of [construction] activity for the next few months,” said Emmerson. “Traffic has been easier over the summer period because traffic levels are lower but we’re now coming into the busiest time of the year between now and Christmas.”

The substantially segregated lanes will be complete by summer 2016 as will a major redesign of junctions at Stockwell, Oval and Apex Junction in Shoreditch to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

To ease congestion TfL has pioneered the use of a ‘lane rental scheme’ that charges those who dig up the roads at the busiest times. The fees raised from the scheme go into a pot to be redistributed on other traffic enhancement measures. The remote controlled temporary traffic lights were funded in this way.

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