Just north of the lovely Broomfield Park in Palmers Green, there is an apparently quiet neighbourhood of substantial houses, mostly located on roads opening onto Aldermans Hill and parallel to Green Lanes. This is a very convenient route, however, for drivers wishing to avoid the congestion of Bourne Hill and Green Lanes, and a quick way to get to the North Circular. Enfield Council is trying to tackle the consequent rat-running, as part of the ongoing Mini-Holland scheme (for which they received funds from TfL). Last Friday I went to have a look at what they have been doing, thinking that it might be of interest to some residents in our neighbourhood who suffer from rat-running. Any Palmers Green residents who are members of this site might like to correct anything I get wrong!
The scheme – named Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood – is gradually being rolled out at the moment (one of several 'quieter neighbourhoods' being introduced by the Council). Its neighbourhood-wide strategy is simple (there are also other location-specific measures), using very large planters as a means of blocking one lane at the start and end of some of the roads. The idea being that residents should only be slightly inconvenienced, but hopefully drivers who want to cut through the neighbourhood to get to somewhere else will be deterred, or at least have to slow down. The intention is to have planters on most of the roads, but for the moment only a few roads are being trialled.
The pairs of smaller planters have gaps between them to allow bikes through. Cars do slow down to check if anything is coming the other way, and I guess this should be still more effective if tall plants are grown in the planters.
A very large planter has been placed on a built-out section of pavement near the start of Old Park Road, rather than on the road itself. At the very start of the road the pavement and road are continuous. This tactic perhaps gives drivers a gentle hint that they should slow down.
I look forward to seeing how the scheme develops. There is a lively on-going discussion about it on the Palmers Green Community website. Contributors seem to be fairly postive about the proposals (after lots of consultation), although with doubts about particular aspects of the placing, colur and shape of the containers, and complaints about there not being enough of them! (Searching for Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood on the site displays links to many other discussions, documents and consultations about it).
At least, the scheme doesn't seem to be fostering the loud opposition generated by the new cycle lanes along Green Lanes – but in spite of the noise over these, most of the opposition seems to have come from people outside the area rather than residents. I'm not a cyclist myself (though might have been if the area were not so hilly, and the traffic so dangerous), and would be interested in how local cyclists around here view this cycling strategy.
I must admit to straying onto the brown cycle lane without realising it – there were few cyclists at that time of day, and the pavement is quite narrow for the many shoppers and others going to local cafes and such (Palmers Green has become so much livelier since I was last there!).
At some points there is no room for a separate cycle lane, so the space has be shared with pedestrians, which could be a particular problem when the space is at a bus stop. Here the paving is a different colour, but I did find all the changes in paving-colour confusing.
In the Netherlands, pedestrians and all the different types of traffic have to watch out for each other – so maybe here it's a problem of transition, and people getting used to new sets of desirable behaviours - ?
There were also attractive flowerbeds at the corners of some side-roads, with tall plants, perhaps intended to slow down traffic turning into or out of them.
Finally, I noticed this lovely sign for Hazelwood School's Walking Bus.