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Technology must not undermine London’s health ambitions

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Advances in vehicle technology and the rise of new car-based and other low-occupancy transport services must not set back efforts to encourage mode shift in London. So emphasises the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s new draft Transport Strategy which was published for public consultation this week.

If poorly managed, developments around car sharing and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) could undermine recent and envisaged increases in walking, cycling and public transport, the strategy warns.

“If the city is unprepared, new ways of accessing cars could reverse mode shift, increase congestion and emissions and worsen public health,” it says. For example the introduction of CAVs could make car travel a convenient option for those who do not currently drive.

As a result the Mayor is pledging through Transport for London to manage new transport services in the capital so that they support his ‘Healthy Streets Approach’.

“With the right mix of measures London can make the most of what new technology and services can offer – enhanced public transport options and faster adoption of cleaner and safer vehicles for essential motorised journeys – while continuing to reduce overall levels of car use,” the strategy says.

Also on connected and autonomous vehicles the strategy highlights a range of potential benefits including making travel easier for older and disabled people and reducing road danger.

Furthermore the technology could improve how efficiently road space is used, such as through route choice that avoids congested areas, optimising gaps between vehicles or simultaneous acceleration at junctions.

The Mayor also pledges to ensure provision of information and payments platforms to London’s travelling public take account of technological advances and evolve to remain fit for purpose.

Photo by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons