Guess what! The CAZ will not need to exclude cars…
The decision has been made by the Cabinet today to choose the recently unveiled option of a Class ‘C’ CAZ, rather than the Class ‘D’. This means highly polluting cars threatened with a charge from 2020 will no longer be, in the mid-term anyway. What a wind up for many of us residents! The link to the press release is here.
I had a long conversation with the project team last week about this and the reasoning, after painstaking clarification, is not spurious. However, if we thought Camden would be 20% quieter and less polluted then think again. Simple observation suggests that most of the traffic on Camden Road is cars which will remain unimpeded by the CAZ.
How have they achieved this bit of apparent magic? The need for a Class D CAZ hinged on two air quality hot spots:
Walcot Parade – which unlike the rest of the London Road is not flat.
The model did take into account the fact that heavy vehicles were restricted here by a sign at Cleveland Place, but the model assumed that downhill heavy vehicles would be equally affected by the gradient as uphill traffic working hard against the gradient. That tweak meant this hotspot would be compliant without requiring charging polluting cars from the CAZ.
Gay Street, north of Queen’s Square.
By introducing some dynamically controlled traffic lights around the square, the model is suggesting that air quality can be kept below the legal maximum. They will stop and go according to the actual air quality. So any journey time using Queen’s Square will be unreliable, particularly during the day and will further deter drivers.
I am assured the infrastructure needed to run the CAZ (cameras and sensors etc) will all be installed and operable prior to go live, so if the model has got it horribly wrong they will be able to revert to the Class D option – easily said, but perhaps rather more difficult to enact well.
All in all, in my view, this is good and bad for Camden.
- Those worried about changing their cars can rest easy
- Those worried about air quality in Camden will possibly see a minor improvement as buses convert to euro6 and as older cars naturally turn over, but the smells, grime and noise won’t change
- Those concerned about traffic levels won’t see any improvement
- Those concerned about visitors parking just outside RPZ 15 to avoid the CAZ should be comforted.
Insidious particulates are likely to be the next target and having the infrastructure in place will make restricting the high polluters easier to achieve when the time comes.
The Committee will be meeting on Thursday to start deciding what to do next for Camden’s sake.