Liveable Streets – forget pollution control, it’s all about the money

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Bow resident, Sheila Kelly, has spent the weekend researching bus gates. Here’s what she found.

£7 million a year bus gates. Glasgow Sunday Post 10th Nov 2019
£7 million a year bus gates. Glasgow Sunday Post 10th Nov 2019

A Bus Gate – a key component of the Liveable Streets proposal – but do you know what a bus gate is?

Until the Liveable streets leaflet came through my door I had never heard of a bus gate.  They don’t feature in the Highway Code, but they are springing up all over the country.  A bus gate isn’t a physical barrier.  All you need is a traffic sign, a bit of paint on the road and a camera with number plate recognition.  Every unauthorised car that goes through the bus gate gets a fixed penalty fine.

150,000 fines in 6 months. Manchester Evening News 24th Feb 2018
150,000 fines in 6 months. Manchester Evening News 24th Feb 2018

And what great earners they are.  Bus gates in Glasgow resulted in over 6,000 fines in the first three weeks of operation.  Aberdeen has one (out of ten) that generated £1.34 million in its first eight months. In Manchester bus only lanes have raked in £10million with almost a thousand drivers caught out every day.  In Taunton it’s over £400K.  And these are areas where the fines are around £30 a time. In Wapping the fine is £65 a time if you pay promptly, otherwise it’s £130.

Aberdeen rakes in £7 million from bus gates. Aberdeen Press and Journal 24th Oct 2018
Aberdeen rakes in £7 million from bus lanes and gates. Aberdeen Press and Journal 24th Oct 2018

We are told that there are 13,000 cars a day going down St Stephens Road.  About half stop in the area, so they may be locals who will learn how to avoid the trap but that still leaves over 6000 drivers a day who may not be aware that there is a bus gate or who realise too late to turn back and could be fined.  

The internet shows that many councils are not exactly making an effort to warn drivers.  When the Wapping one was introduced the signage was so low key and the road marking so poor that locals took to the streets to warn unsuspecting cars in time.

With this pot of gold in sight you can see why the council will resist introducing exemptions for residents, taxis, delivery vans and mini cabs and why they will want the scheme to be operational all day not just at rush hours.

Now we know what we are up against.  It is even more important that we all respond to the consultation and support hard-pressed local residents.

Sheila Kelly

Read our previous article describing how the proposed changes will turn Bow into a dead end.


  1. The scaremongering that we are all going to die from respiratory diseases caused by motor vehicles is rather reprehensible.

    The data doesn’t even filter out respiratory conditions caused by smoking or industrial pollutants and doesn’t clearly explain what ‘early death’ is?

    The much vaunted 9k deaths per-year never seems to fluctuate and is never explained in regional differences?

    As for ULEZ the start point for charging is surely arbitrary – there is no magic barrier between one side of the North Circular. Toxic fumes migrate through the air and dissipate accordingly. A third of which is global.

    If pollution remained stagnant, surely those living near the busiest roads would have the highest mortality rates? Kensington & Chelsea have the second longest life expectancy in the country yet they have some of the heaviest urban traffic flows? Even so, this is what the local authorities are proposing – all those that live on main arteries should suffer the impact of displaced traffic? Doesn’t this smack of unconscious bias in favour of the most affluent in society who are afforded the luxury of living in gated enclaves?

    Why is there never any redress. Journey times along the £47million cycle superhighway have increased yet air pollution remains twice the EU’s legal limit and the £25million Elephant and Castle redesign by Transport for London has resulted in a higher rate of KSI’s, not fewer. If we argue against all motor traffic then we cannot ignore the fact that hidden consumption pollution due to cycle lanes is extremely high.

    We do need to plan for the future and reduce – on a global basis – our human detritus but this should be done from a much wider perspective than the one adopted by our local authorities and TfL.

    The Department of Transport need to instigate a review of road and traffic planning in our major cities so that the response is balanced and not the scalpel approach that makes motorists the cancer and blinkered local politicians the scalpel. Creating binaries for taxi drivers, for example, which could economically disadvantage them is hardly an incentive for them to invest in more sustainable vehicles. Where is the sense in that?
    It’s worth remembering that we all need the transport network for everything we consume (including the device we are tweeting from). Waging war on commercial vehicles is akin to sawing off our own arm.

    Ultimately, it is poverty that kills. Badly thought out road closures that make life harder for regular, working-class people – not to mention those with mobility issues – to go about their daily chores is not the way forward and is brought about by a disconnect with residents and an ignorance towards local needs!

  2. Another thing to this “Bus Barrier” thing where outsiders can’t come through into your area is!
    Segregation and other things as this is how Segregation/Racism and other things that split communities up start up/come about.
    Years back we used to have some pretty violent fights between East london and south london along with north “your out of your area” it still goes on with youths stabbing each other to this day so do we want this to prevail more?
    There is already talk about not welcoming Bow end of Roman to BG side heard yesterday.

    Maybe this is what they want to create with this lockdown so you don’t move any further than end of road so go to work come home and that’s it your life? Repeat next day

    Think many should stop and have a deep think on matters before were blindly led down a dead end/one way street and left there.

    As for consultation! they will say consulted residents but omit there just going ahead no matter.
    Did same with Roman road/morpeth street by the square asked about making it an “Exciting”raised crossing and narrow road. Stated consulted Market traders (who rely on passing trade to stay afloat as many used to drive up knew some from bow load car up with Wet fish along with fruit n veg and head home to unload before ruined)Market traders said NO! needed to improve parking not reduce it even more(didnt say wanted a free for all either)but then just went ahead anyway ruined the market square as used to be busy/great place but they drained it.

    Had same thing happen other places with THCC
    Also when they was handing/giving places to Housing trusts etc Gave Cranbrook to one of them till residents kicked off got threatened with legal action so had to do a around n about! and a recount?
    It stayed with council and went to TH homes!

  3. Thank you for the timely reminder to fill in the form, along with my many objections. As a recent transfer from Greenwich I enjoyed – relied heavily – on local sites for information (fromthemurkydepths and 853 being the only viable sources of news in that stagnant borough), so it’s a real pleasure to find such a well-written and equally well researched local news site. Life in Bow suddenly has a little more grounding.

    1. Thank you for the feedback Charles. The more i research this the more i find there is a whole industry working on these traffic schemes. Wherever they are introduced lack of local consultation is a constant complaint. The irony is that Tower Hamlets is a low car owning borough, most residents already walk and pollution around old ford is quite low thanks to the park and canal. With all the problems covid is causing this is hardly a priority.

  4. Since it is inevitable that stricter controls on private cars will come, I feel that we Tower Hamlets residents need vehicle access controls with good technology on-board. A Local ANPR system, invested in by the Council. A vehicle access and exit permit system that recognises issues such as disabled access, along with concessions for certain other layers of necessary access.
    I accept that such a system could come at a cost to resident private vehicle owners. I accept that this cost should be on a sliding- scale and therefore act as a strong incentive for local residents with cars to invest in the future in ULEZ or Zero (at the point of use) Emission vehicles.
    I am very opposed to the way the Council are looking to configure Liveable Streets. I feel that the imposition they are looking to impose on residents,whilst primarily trying to cut-out journeys THROUGH the area, are draconian and counter-productive to some degree. Their ‘idea’ lacks technological finess and therefore consigned resident car owners to an uneccassary, contesting and polluting hell, just to get into and out of their local home.

    In my opinion, if you are a local who really has to use a car then you’d be best served looking to get together in order to lobby to create change that works best for you and others like you. You will, though, have to accept that it will be getting tougher and more costly for private vehicle owners within the city. Don’t shoot the messenger; that is just the way the future is going to be.

    My opinion is that change will come. Private car use will be restricted…even this Tory Government, via Transport Secretary, Grant Stamps, has signalled that absolutely cwrtain eventuality.
    You are really living in the past ( in my opinion) if you vehemently think things should just stay the same as they are. They won’t. Controls on private car use will come in. It is inevitable, and essential. The stats (from Kings College London Air Quality Unit) are clearly there and proven correct; kids Lung Capacity in London is stunted by circa 10% and the reason is down to car congestion. That has to change. Air Quality has to improve. The environment, and safety at street level needs to change in order to be NOT dominated by private vehicles.

    If you oppose change, then carry on opposing any new measures. There are plenty of ways to do that I guess.

    If, however, you do gladly, or, begrudgingly, accept change will come, then feel free to join the group’s below…there are no magic answers within these two small, but growing, groups. But they are there to be a place where residents who do recognise the need to change can discuss ideas.
    If you fancy helping to push for positive change. Change that works best for locals. Then feel free to answer the joining questions and help work on a better future, together..

    There’s a film out there called 2040 that is worth watching since it shows you how great city life could be in 2040, without being tied to and polluted and congested by private vehicles. P.S. I am car- dependant, but I acknowledge change will happen…it’s all about how it happens.

    Bow Residents for an Auto-Entry/Exit System to the Liveable Streets Scheme

    LBTH Residents for an Automated Entry/Exit System to the Living Streets

    1. Thanks for writing in Antony. I moved to Bow 35 years ago because it was walking distance from the underground. Our household car mileage immediately plummeted. For most households in Bow it’s impossible to own an electric car because you can’t charge it if you live in a terraced house or a flat. Putting in 1,000 electric car charging points would make a great positive difference. The Zipcar scheme and others like it are interesting, but you have to bring the car back to more or less where you picked it up. You couldn’t drive one somewhere else and end the hire there.

    2. kids Lung Capacity in London is stunted by circa 10% and the reason is down to?…………………..Lack of Exercise way too many spend most of there time when not at school on Computer tech!
      Barely see any doing physical things many have little muscle development.
      I used to Teach/coach where Olympic park is now.

      But one thing many might notice!!! is the air of late even with increased road traffic due to can’t any anywhere/use Pubic Transport! the air is still ok but one thing that is missing is Aero planes!
      Since planes have been lacking i can see things far out into the sky even in the daylight like satellites/stars etc yet couldnt before when sky was full of planes.

      So even if ban all cars were still going to have dirty air once planes choke the sky up.

      The trouble with the barriers/entry/exit (no you can’t come here) set up is if everywhere else has it and you want to go say cornwall on holiday well you can’t you’d only be able to drive round your square.
      Because each journey has to start somewhere and end somewhere and many places are in between those points so you’d end up with Segregation!

      I used to ride thousands of miles on cycle but then got ill (i used to race also)so found no longer could do so many things.Fibromyalgia.Raynauds which effect so many things one being loss of fat pads on hands.butt.Feet which makes walking for one very painful most times like having toothache in both feet some days not quite so bad but often Dire! Like been run over! plus they think have a connective tissue disease now just having tests.
      I also can’t use tube buses get away with it a bit better?/deal with crowds as deemed autistic/Asperger’s and where had a stroke over P tumour and HRT(T)blood clot found get pretty “agitated” now in places like those so for me to get out further than round corner my car is good as “My space” Don’t use it all the time only for going outside area or unless do heavy shopping as can’t hold/carry things just potter along road or just don’t go outside at all.
      Which after next year with ULEZ crap is a worry as also in the diabetic range(Family thing)

  5. Seems THCC is doing all it can to trash the neighbourhood and think liveable streets is to do with allowing the junkies free rein as not much else for the residents to do/see as shops are dead and dying out.
    Roman road e2 end is dead most of the time many shops are closed or closing and no one new wants to take risk opening.
    Shops can’t get in supplies as get hit by Parking bandits/Restrictions or such limited access with street crap/tat/scrap/no left-right-weight.(try delivering half a tonne/20ft roll of carpet on your bicycle)

    Yet there on everyone for rates like a drug crazed rat!
    We have the old Natwest Bank been empty for long time too expensive/restrictive to rent out.
    Nansons have just gone old lady had had enough wanted to retire and family didn’t want the Hag of it.
    If you want to park anywhere you no have to ring some stupid app then they charge you??? whatever they like with what your reg gives details of!
    Councils full of corruption and always super quick to bang there drum when wanting things like feedback or praise yet vanish moment you need something or poop hits fan.
    Yet if everyone got rid of there cars or never came here they would squeal louder than a pig getting gang banged by a herd of elephants due to no cash and there only meant to use road cash on that not elsewhere but are!
    Most streets now are disgusting never cleaned.grass/weeds left.Trees over grown into lights so can see crossing like one by Natwest Dangerous set up with that tomb down middle Police often driving down wrong side “Counting” Pavement never cleaned there covered in tree slime once wet to slippery!
    We have benches that slats broke but never replaced or others maintained we had a 2nd on corner of morpeth street and square that got removed and not replaced yet they squeal liveable streets don’t seem it to me!.

    The other day they was bleating about traffic just passing through! well how do they expect to get from A-B? Levitate?
    People that live here go elsewhere so pass through somewhere to get to B and so on and others that started at A ended up here.

    Maybe if they want to be underhand we should set up teams to warn people about barriers!

  6. A bus gate was also mentioned in the Liveable Streets leaflet that came through our doors last summer, just in a different location (on Tredegar Road). Roman Road is probably a better choice.

    When the Wapping bus gate was introduced it looked unimpressively low key and even lacked paint on the road, so many drivers drove ignorantly through it. Being part time rather than 24/7 didn’t help.

    Properly implemented, however, a bus gate shouldn’t be a council cash cow., and hopefully this one won’t be invisible.

    1. A speed camera on Tredegar Road (junction of Parnell) would raise a substantial amount in no time. I’ve lost track of the number of boy racers and put-puts with tinted windows who come roaring off the A12 throughout the night. I’ve never had a problem with local council raising revenue – but as with all moneymaking tax vice before virtue.

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