Friday 18th September 2020
London council fining ‘rat runs’ on public roads

A scheme has been running to prevent motorists from using five residential streets in order to make “roads safer, more pleasant and to reduce air pollution”.

RAC reports:

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has expanded a first-of-its kind scheme to reduce ‘rat running’ by banning drivers from using five residential streets.

The camera-enforced system began as a trial on three streets earlier this year and sees motorists fined £130 for travelling in the neighbourhood without a permit.

Residents must purchase a permit for anyone who wishes to visit them in the controlled zone, though they can be bought on the spot or after the visit.

Delivery drivers, motorcyclists and local tradesman have been stung by the new measures – part of Hammersmith & Fulham’s ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ scheme designed to make “roads safer, more pleasant and to reduce air pollution”.

Harwood Terrace, Bagley’s Lane, Broughton Road, Hazelbury Road and Imperial Road all use Automatic Number Plate Recognition to scan details of cars driving near the congested Wandsworth Bridge Road. 

The £6 million refurbishment of the major route has reduced traffic speeds in the area even further, after the indefinite closure of nearby Hammersmith Bridge.1

Mail Online reports that some people believe the council has forced motorists to take an alternative route through a box junction that’s estimated to generate £1.9 million in revenue over the next year. However, the box junction is not included in the scheme and there is no link to it from the affected roads.

A spokesperson for Hammersmith & Fulham Council said: “Our sole aim is to reduce rat running through our streets, not make money.”

But Arban Hida, 41, who runs a café in the affected area, said: “First we were hit by coronavirus and now we have this ridiculous scheme. It's affected my business and the number of customers is dramatically down.

“The council introduced it without properly consulting us and the way they've behaved is a disgrace. They're just being greedy and trying to make as much money as possible by fining drivers.”

Increased cycling and walking infrastructure has already seen many roads being closed or narrowed, with parking spaces suspended to help pedestrians socially distance as lockdown rules continue to ease.

Electrician Tom Roberts said: “It's very sneaky. A local resident told me about it but if it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't have known because there are not that many signs up telling you about the scheme.”

It's possible that other local authorities may use similar schemes to reduce congestion on residential streets in their areas.

The London council’s spokesperson added: “The scheme follows consultation with hundreds of residents, including a cross-party working group including local residents.

“Traffic is down in the scheme area and fines at a local box junction have dropped by over half. The congestion on Wandsworth Bridge Road is due to the work on Wandsworth Bridge, which is cutting road capacity by half.”

The £130 fine is reduced to £65 if paid within 28 days.

It appears that there has been a lot of thought, planning and testing around this scheme to better the streets of London and reduce air pollution. If successful, this type of traffic control could be utilised by further local authorities which would be interesting to see.

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