I’m not sure if Alex Proud is correct in his main argument (but then, he still might be), but he nonetheless makes a number of convincing points in his article in the Telegraph. Too many motorists clog the roads of London and if they wish to continue to do so, they must pay heavily or find alternative (and greener) methods of transport, goes the argument.
The main counter arguments in the comments following the article are often along the line of “it’s not too many cars, it’s too many people”. That’s a good point. You could say you’re just shifting the problem of over-population from one mode of transport to another.
However, even if no extra space is gained on the roads (there would indeed be more space) you would still have a situation full of other benefits, such as fewer emissions, fewer serious accidents (from fewer cars), and a healthier and more active population. You’re still winning.
And, even with the same population, there would indeed be more space. As a crude example, let’s say you half the number of people driving. Of that, a third take the tube, a third take the bus, and a third cycle or walk. You would need to do some serious work on the underground to accommodate the extra load, but as for buses, you would simply run more of them as required. With half of the cars off the road there would be more room for buses, and as a bus takes well more than the 1-2 people usually found in a car (how about up to 87?) but with maybe only 3 times the footprint, it is still an enormous net gain of space on the roads. Assuming on average buses are half full (which they wouldn’t be at peak hours, when there would be more of them), cars cary 1.5 people each, and a bus takes the space of 3 cars, that’s approximately 10 cars per bus no longer on the road (someone correct me if I’m wrong). Finally, and of most interest here, there would also be more room for safe and efficient cycle routes throughout the city, which in and of itself encourages more use.
So, while overpopulation is a hugely damaging reality across pretty much every aspect of modern living, perhaps Alex Proud isn’t barking up the wrong tree after all. Doesn’t sound all that crazy to me.