What I want for London: road pricing

londontrafficFotaliaFeb08100This week we’ve launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work. And, at our Greener London hustings on 4 March, Londoners get their chance to quiz mayoral candidates on their plans.

We’ve also asked people from organisations active in the capital to tell us the one thing they’d like to see for a greener London.

Today, it’s the turn of Dr Ashok Sinha, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign.

  1. What do you like about London?

That it’s the whole world getting along in one city. As Ken Livingstone put it after the 7/7 bombings, people come here from the four corners of the globe to “become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential”. If you want to be, you’ll be accepted as a Londoner whoever you are. Then there’s the art, culture, sport, science, food… There is much to be said for a free-roaming, countryside childhood, but I wouldn’t bring up my kids anywhere else.

  1. What’s the one thing you’d do to create a greener London?

LCC had great success with our 2012 mayoral election campaign (Love London, Go Dutch) winning a whole new approach towards cycling from the mayor and TfL. We need more of the same; and, indeed, LCC’s new Sign for Cycling campaign is calling on the new mayoral hopefuls to install more protected space for cycling, initiate a ‘mini Holland’ scheme in every borough, and tackle the dangers presented by lorries to cyclists and pedestrians. More cycling and less driving would make London greener, but I’m actually going to plump for something to underpin this: road pricing.

  1. How would it change the city?

The technology is available to dynamically charge for driving according to time, location, conditions and how polluting a vehicle is. This would reduce motor traffic levels and encourage a switch to cycling by a creating a safer road environment, especially around town centres and high streets (a core part of our Sign for Cycling campaign). It could also catalyse a whole new road ecology, including incentivising the provision of goods and services by bike.

  1. Why’s it such a good idea?

Road pricing would reduce pollution and carbon emissions, and improve the urban realm. And, as well promoting cycling directly, it would help to provide funds to invest in the kind of infrastructure our Sign for Cycling campaign calls for. We’d need to protect those on low incomes, but it has the potential to make Londoner greener and fairer overall.

  1. What’s your favourite green spot in the city?

Having spent my childhood north of the river and studied and worked in other cities, I have now passed 20 years as a south Londoner. My family and I love to tramp around Oxleas Wood, in Greenwich. It’s not big (and not always quiet), but there are bluebells in the spring and blackberries in the summer. Plus, there’s plenty of mud and streams for the kids to stomp in and mini-beasts to track down. It’s a super place to burn off excess energy or blow off the cobwebs.

The Greener London hustings is now full but you can watch it on our livestream from 5pm on Friday 4 March and join the discussion at #greenerlondon.

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