Heavy Motor Traffic in London.
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Heavy motor traffic in London was again discussed at a Conference of representatives of the Metropolitan Borough Councils, at Hammersmith Town Hall, on the 23rd March. Delegates attended from oy of the 28 Councils, and elected as Chairman the Mayor of Hammersmith (Councillor S. Bewsher, J.P.), with the Hanunersmith Town Clerk as hon. secretary.
The Chairman thought it unnecessary to urge the necessity of the Conference, presuming that all the boroughs suffered more or less from the daily-increasing volume of heavy motor traffic, and particularly the motor omnibus traffic. He was certain that there was no borough in the whole of the Metropolitan area which was more afflicted than Hammersmith, where the Broadway, during the last twelve months, had become little better than an inferno, and an impossible place to live in or about, and present conditions, he complained, rendered it very dangerous.
Councillor the Rev. R. J. Walker (Hammersmith), whom the Chairman mentioned was a motorist, proposed a resolution, Which was ultimately passed, as follows :—" That the development during recent years of motor and other Mechanical passenger and goods traffic in Metropolitan thoroughfares and the resulting nuisance and annoyance to the public therefrom necessitate the revision and the stricter enforcement of the regulations and conditions under which such traffic is permitted, and prove the urgent need for further legislation." The proposer, having pointed out the enormous amount of traffic which passed through Hammersmith, said that he had recently been on two motor tours abroad, during which he had investigated the prevailing conditions in a number of European capitals, including Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna, Buda
Pesth, Rome, Madrid, and Constantinople. In all these cities, excepting Constantinople, there was a good deal of motor traffic, and especially in Paris, Berlin and Vienna. The world was advancing in this respect ; London did not stand alone, and in other capitals motor traffic was properly regulated. In London there was abuse not equalled in the other European capitals mentioned. No doubt they had the best police in the world, but the police could not do everything without the required regulations. In considering the causes which rendered motor traffic a nuisance they had to take into account what sort of motors should be allowed to run, and he contended that many kinds of motors are allowed to run in the County of London which would not be allowed to run in any urban district, and he did not believe that many of the kinds of motor-drawn vehicles in London would be allowed in any other city of the world. Then there was the question of speed, and the point as to where motor traffic should be permitted, for some streets at present used for the purpose were totally unsuited, and a fourth point to he taken into consideration was that of the hours during which the running of the motors should be allowed. The night traffic in some residential districts was nothing but a nuisance, seriously affecting property, rateable value, etc. It was not his proposal, observed the speaker, to throttle commerce or motor traffic, but it was his proposal to regulate it within reasonable limits. Let them have order out of chaos, Councillor J. S. Rubinstein (Kensington), seconding the resolution, referred to the steps which had already been taken in regard to the motor traffic question, and the sue. ctssful legal proceedings taken by Kensington Council against a firm in respect of heavy motor traffic passing through the authority's streets at night. He said that the police were very much hampered by the present state of legislation on the subject of motor traffic, and he was convinced that it was only in the direction of legislation that they could hope fo,.real assistance in gaining their objects. The question was a thorny one.
The Mayor of Chelsea (the Hon. W. Sidney, J.P.) said that Chelsea suffered very much from the traffic of which complaint was made. He thought that the Chief Commis sioner had not exercised the powers which he had got at present, for, after all, the licensing of the buses was entirely in his hands. He did not wish him to commit himself to any particular type of bus, but surely he (the Commissioner) could say that a particular type was not suited to the streets. Ile thought the Chief Commissioner ought to be urged to use his powers more strictly than he had done in the past. He mentioned that the resolution passed by a previous Conference had been the means of stopping almost entirely the dropping of oil. The public demanded quick locomotion, but they should not have motorbuses of some of the types which now exist. People would have very little of which to complain, if they had a bus like the Metropolitan steam bus.. Councillor H. T. Johnson (Hammersmith) emphasised the increase in the cost of upkeep of roads. It was necessary that Parliament should give its undivided attention to the question of Metropolitan traffic. One of the most vital questions which had to be decided was whether the local authorities were not entitled to more representation in connection with the laying down of the regulations affecting their respective districts. The London Councils had very little control, although they were the highways authorities, and he did not think satisfaction would be gained until something in the nature of a traffic board was established, and until some means was arrived at of imposing upon those interested in the heavy traffic which was responsible for the wear and tear of the roads some taxation to be applied towards the relief of the cost of road maintenance.
Councillor Philip Conway (Westminster), having pointed out how seriously that city was affected, remarked that, in dealing with the question, it had to be remembered that there were at stake very vast interests, private as well as public, and recommendations required very careful consideration. Nothing must be done, or must be considered advisable to be done, which would check what was a very important and a very rapidly-growing industry. The development of the industry had suffered from prejudice and inane conservatism on the part of the British public, and, but for that, present conditions might have been far in advance of those prevailing now in this country or abroad. They must not hamper the industry, and must always remember the question of public facility. If there was a bus conveying a large number of people at a reasonable rate through a large town, there must be a certain amount of vibration and noise and other objectionable adjuncts to the traffic. Alderman G. Howlett (Lambeth) said that they must remember that the traffic had come to stay ; they were not going to abolish it. The motorbus was the people's motorcar. Motorbuses were carrying people in thousands to different parts of the Metropolis. The motorbus was now growing into a big vested interest, and the horse bus was practically dead and buried. He mentioned that, at Lambeth at any rate, the dropping of oil had not been altogether abolished, and he complained of the travelling of the buses along very narrow roads.
Councillor J. Brooke-Little (Kensington) said that the committee to he appointed by the Conference must not en
deavour to adopt too great a stringency. The motor ve hicles were extremely popular with all person § who were not owners of property along the routes, or who were not re
sponsible in connection with the finance to be provided for
road maintenance. They must aim at keeping themselves in touch with popular feeling in the matter, for, if they did not,
they would get less than they deserved. In regard to the Commissioner, the speaker said it was due to him that London had not had many of the old kind of buses. There was a great improvement. Councillor J. Jeffrey, J.P. (Chelsea), complained of prevailing conditions, and said that racing between two companies' buses had commenced again.
Major-General Sir John Moody (Marylebone) said that occasionally one saw a very good motorbus, like one he saw combining petrol and electricity which made no noise. He had seen one or two others hut they disappeared, though whether vested interests bought them up or no he knew not. Councillor Lt.-Col. Maude (Marylebone) moved an amendment proposing to approach the L.C.C. without delay, ask ing their co-operation in the formation of a committee to press Parliament in the matter of legislation, but, after the first resolution given above had been carried unanimously, a sub-committee consisting of one delegate from each Council was appointed to formulate resolutions to be submitted to the Conference at a future meeting.