Central London Motorists

Published on 30 August 2002 in , , ,

It’s been nearly three years since I moved to London. Whilst the

place has many down-falls (an abundance of rude, manner-less people,

huge amounts of litter, smog etc) it has many benefits (thriving

cultural scene, plenty of unique bars in Covent Garden, comprehensive

transport infrastructure).

The one problem it does have is traffic.

London probably has some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen in the

UK. Couple this with one of the most best public transport

infrastructures in the UK and it makes you wonder why on earth people

decide its sensible to sit in their own metal box in a traffic


Before you say anything, don’t get me wrong, London’s public

transport isn’t as good as it should be, but when you have lived

outside the Capital and tried to relay on public transport, then you

really appreciate what you get in London.

I doubt most of the people who moan about the London Underground

have ever tried to get back from Manchester to a town seven miles away

after 11:30pm, or travel around Cornwall without a car. Yes the tube

is creaking at the scenes, but it runs fast, reasonably reliable

services from early in the morning until after midnight.

There are large numbers of night buses – a 15 minute service from

Central London to Ealing with a journey costing a pound. How often

does that happen? The buses are even nice!

So despite this, why on earth do people insist on sitting in their

car clogging up the roads?

Don’t be a BEEP, get the bus!

We’re never going to get rid of motor vehicles from London – some

people need to be driving round. A fact that’s not going to change.

But many people don’t need to be in a car. And those that do venture

into central London, often aren’t the most considerate drivers you’ll


Working in central London, I have much experience of people in

cars. Even trying to cross the road outside the tube station is

taking your life in your hands. Red lights mean nothing to some


I once saw a car have the misfortune to break down at that

crossing. Well that was it. Everyone sat behind it shouting and

beeping their horns, cos obviously would make it move again. (Not one

person considered that it might be sensible to help push the poor car

out of the way…)

Let me cross!

However what has really been getting on my nerves is the

self-righteous attitude of some of these drivers.

Transport For London, the body which oversees transport in the

capital, has recently re-timed several sets of traffic lights with the

aim of giving pedestrians more time to cross. This has naturally got

the ‘poor’ motorist in uproar.

However as a poor pedestrian who has to suffer at the hands of

these drivers, I’m all for it. There are probably more people who are

pedestrians in the capital than any other place in Britain, and for

them, crossing the road is a torment.

The amount of time given to cross the road isn’t actually the

issue. On most pedestrian crossings I’ve used, the time has been just

right. The trouble is, we don’t get to use it.

Barely a day goes by when I’m trying to cross the road near work at

Aldwych, that someone doesn’t zoom through deliberately when the

traffic lights are on red, and the green man showing. And lo, that

means it takes us longer to cross the road.

If drivers in central London actually took notice of traffic

signals (and it sounds such a stupid thing to have to say!), hey guess

what would have happened? Well for starters, us pedestrians wouldn’t

have needed the red lights lengthening!

You Bring It On Yourselves, I Have No Sympathy.

So the motorists are in indignant rage thanks to a problem of their

own causing. So they sit in a traffic jam and moan about it.

Constantly. It’s all apparently a conspiracy against the motorist.

Well if it is, good for the conspiracy. Us pedestrians deserve

some respect and recognition for once. If you’re stupid enough to

drive in central London just because you have a car, then you get what

you deserve all you get.

I have no gripe with people having a legitimate reason for driving

in London, but so many people don’t. The trouble is, they’re a very

small minority, but ridiculously vocal.

Well moaning about it whilst sat in your car in a traffic jam isn’t

going to do anything. You know what would? Leaving your car and

going by the excellent public transport network would help.

Think Of A World…

Just think what would happen if everyone who needlessly drove into

London, didn’t.

The buses would be able to run faster and more reliably, the

emergency services could respond faster, the air would be less smoggy

and the capital less grimey. The fares collected by the extra

passengers would help pay for more transport improvements.

Well I can dream. Cos lets face it, if you’re stupid enough to

drive in central London, you’re too stupid to see the bigger picture.

Maybe congestion charging will help. Hit these people in the

pockets. But whatever you do Transport for London, you leave those

traffic light timings in the favour of pedestrians.

Pedestrians and public transport users are the majority in this

town, and central London drivers should never forget it. Next time

you get stuck in a jam at Holborn, don’t look to me for sympathy.