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Dealing with Motor Vehicles for for Business Purposes.
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News and Comments.
HE subject of the public safety, in view of the enormous developments which have taken place in traffic during the last few years, is perpetually being brought forward by the proceedings of the Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to enquire into the matter. At a recent meeting Mr. Fell was recalled, and made some rather ingenuous suggestions which appear to be directed principally towards securing the extension of the tramway system and strict limitation of motor 'bus competition. Some of his recommendations, as reported in the press, appear to be peculiarly contradictory and difficult of execution. For example, he protests that " omnibuses should be prohibited from passing between tramway cars and the kerb, and obstructing the entrance and exit of passengers from the cars at stopping places." As the trams are generally in the middle of the road, it is difficult to see how the omnibuses can avoid passing between them and the kerb, unless they go either over, under, or through them! Seriously, the suggestion appears to be to the effect that omnibuses should never be allowed to pass trams without going on to the wrong side of the road in order to do so. This assumes that the other side of the road is comparatively vacant of traffic, and that no tram is approaching in the opposite direction. Unless both these conditions are fulfilled the omnibus must wait and increase the obstruction due to the presence of the tramcar. The suggestion that buses should not obstruct the entrance and exit of passengers from the trams is reasonable enough, but would be improved by the introduction of the word maliciously.' It is impossible for a 'bus to get past at all without obstructing the temporary footpath of tram passengers across the carriage way to some extent. How Mr. Fell reconciles this recommendation that we have quoted with another which he gives later it is difficult to see. This latter is that "the Board of Trade stopping places for tramcars should apply to all motor vehicles.' How are all motor vehicles, including motor buses, to stop at these spots without obstructing the entrance and exit of passengers from the trams, and in most cases assisting the obstructive
quality of the trams so as in the aggregate to hold up the whole traffic of the street?
If the proposal had been to the effect that on certain routes at least motor omnibuses should stop only at pre-arranged points-such points being properly notified to the public-one would have been inclined to regard it more favourably. To introduce this system throughout London would probably be inadvisable, but on certain routes, and particularly at certain points, we might with advantage borrow this plan from Paris, and go further in the same direction by also adopting the Paris system under which passengers waiting for 'buses take numbered papers which are secured in bunches to the lamp-posts, and are admitted to the vehicles in rotation according to the numbers held. To take one of many examples, there is a regular stopping place for 'buses adjacent to the Edgware Road terminus of the Bakerloo Railway. The number of passengers waiting here at rush hours is naturally considerable, and with a complete lack of system the only way to get a seat at all is generally by the exercise of considerable agility and brute force. If the system of admission to the 'buses by numbers were introduced here, women, children, and elderly men would not have to wait while 'bus after 'bus is filled up by those who have the advantage of them in physical strength. The system works satisfactorily in Paris, and we should be inclined to suggest that the Select Committee of the House of Commons would do well to take and consider evidence on this subject, since we must all agree that the boarding and leaving of omnibuses while they are travelling at speed is a process which is certainly not conducive to the safety of those who indulge in it, or indirectly to that of other road users.
However greatly the high prices of petrol spirit at present ruling are to be deplored, there can be no doubt that the rise has had at least one beneficial effect in stimulating the endeavours of engineers and inventors to produce an apparatus that will enable internal combustion motors to run satisfactorily on paraffin or other kindred fuels. There are at present no indications that petrol will become cheaper--in fact,
the contrary seems more probable-whilst the production of benzol or other alternative fuels in quantities sufficient for present or future needs is still a matter of no little uncertainty.
In view of the above facts we consider the present an opportune time to consider the claims and possibilities of the large number of carburetters and vaporisers now available for the use of paraffin and petrol-paraffin fuels in internal combustion engines, and accordingly propose to publish in an early issue a series of articles dealing in turn with the most suc
cessful of such devices at present on the market. For the preparation of these articles we have obtained the services of an independent expert who has made a long and careful study of the question of the combustion of heavy oil fuels from both its practical and theoretical aspects, and is thus well qualified to judge exactly what progress has been made in this direction. By way of introduction to these articles we publish in the present issue the first part of an article, by the same writer, dealing with the principles that govern the design of paraffin carburating apparatus.
The Motor Traffic Inquiry.
Report of the Proceedings at Recent Sittings of the Select Committee.
Mr. Fell's Further Evidence.
On Thursday, April 3rd, Mr. Fell concluded his evidence by making a number of suggestions by which he thinks the management of London traffic can be improved. Before doing so, however, he dealt with one or two matters, which must be mentioned. He agreed that the tendency is to construct more refuges, but, not unnaturally, has a very strong complaint to make on the question of tramway dead ends, which he feels is seriously handicapping the efficiency of the tramway service as a passenger-carrying undertaking. He drew particular attention to the fact that at present the tramways stop at the very points where people do not want to go, and that the necessity to change into another vehicle at such places as Hampstead Road, Farringdon Road, Gray's Inn Road, and similar places creates a condition of danger which would be removed if tramways were allowed to continue on to the natural points which the population desire to reach. In this respect, of course, his complaint is all against the Standing Orders of the Houses of Parliament, which give the road authority the right to veto any tramway scheme in its district, and in the present condition of Local Government in London, with its large number of road authorities, tramway undertakings cannot look for any relief in this direction; for even if it were proposed to abolish this Standing Order, as was done in the report of the Royal Commission on London Traffic, it would inevitably be strenuously fought by the borough councils, who are the road authorities. It is doubtful whether the abolition of the veto will come before the the abolition of the borough councils themselves, and placing of London under one administrative control. Special emphasis was laid upon the practice of the police authorities in refusing to allow either a tramcar or a 'bus which is involved in an accident to move from the spot until a particular official at Scotland Yard has been sent for, and made an examination. When an accident occurs at the far end of the tramway service, for instance, it is not surprising to hear that anything from one to three hours has been occupied in finding the particular gentleman; and although, we believe, there are now two officials to carry out this duty of inspection, they are still both stationed at Scotland Yard, and the delays occur all the same. Fell's suggestion is that the local superintendent of police should be entrusted with the work of making an inspection in order to facilitate the resumption of the normal traffic conditions. Another objection which obtains in its application to both tramways and 'buses is the police inspection of brakes, which Mr. Fell regards as being quite superfluous, in view of the staff which is maintained by the tramway and 'bus undertakings for keeping the brakes in efficient order.
Among the answers given by Mr. Fell to the Committee on various points raised in his evidence, was one to the effect that in his opinion undertakings owning passengercarrying vehicles should contribute towards the maintenance of the roads which they use.
For Improving Traffic Conditions.
Mr. Fell's suggestions for the improvement of traffic conditions may be summarised as follows: (a) All matters relating to the construction and maintenance of 'buses or trams should be placed under the control of the Board of Trade; (b) regulations should be made requiring slow-moving
traffic to keep to the kerb in all main thoroughfares-a matter, by the way, which is now being dealt with by the L.C.C. in a new Bill which has been approved by the Home Office; (c) omnibuses should be prohibited from passing in between tramcars and the kerb, or obstructing the entrances and exits of tramcars at stopping places; (d) more stringent regulations should be put into force with regard to trade vehicles standing in front of business premises, particularly in main thoroughfares a practice which should be prohibited at certain times of the day; (e) omnibuses should be prohibited from standing in public thoroughfares longer than necessary for picking up and setting down passengers; (f) regulations should be put into force requiring traffic emerging from side streets to give way to traffic in main thoroughfares; (g) police regulations requiring public vehicles to be held up after an accident to be considerably modified; (h) refuges should be provided at all tramway stopping places where there is room for more than two lines of traffic between a tramcar and the kerb; (i) Board of Trade stopping places for trams to be made to apply to all motor vehicles; (j) cab ranks should be abolished in all main thoroughfares; and finally (k) tramways should be extended so that dead ends would be abolished wherever possible. A Traffic Board's Duties.
Captain H. H. P. Deasy, who came before the Committee as representing the Roads Improvement Association, infused a little life into matters by his suggestions with regard to a traffic authority for London, which, nevertheless, so far as his examination and cross-examination went, seemed to please nobody.
His views on this matter are that the greatly increased volume of road traffic of all kinds, the necessity of safe, satisfactory, and reasonably rapid means of transit, and the very regrettable lack of standardisation of regulations and guiding principles affecting road traffic, render it very advisable to appoint a Traffic Board. Parliamentary powers should be given to this Board, which should take cognisance of and consider all questions relating to road traffic in the City of London and the Metropolitan Police area, and matters incidental thereto. The Traffic Board should advise the Secretary of State for the Home Department on all matters regarding the regulation of ordinary road traffic by the Metropolitan and City Police Forces. Regulations governing processions of all kinds, exigencies of traffic on particular occasions, and the action to be taken by the police in cases of fire, serious accident, and when there is anticipated and actual disturbance of the peace, should not be referred to the Traffic Board. It should formulate principles governing the opening and breaking up of roads and the causing of obstructions, other than those of an extraordinary nature, to road traffic. If in any case it should determine that the action, or intended action, of any authority other than the police is calculated unduly to impede or obstruct the traffic, it should have power, subject to such rules and regulations as the Local Government Board may have formulated, and it should be its duty to represent to such authority that such action or intended action is calculated unduly to impede or obstruct the traffic. The authority should thereupon act in accordance with such representation, unless within ten days of the date of receiving such representation from the Traffic Board it should receive from the superior authority, to whom it has