Wightman Road closure

I don't think this has been mentioned here but although it is a little off our patch I am sure that some AP Neighbours, and/or visitors, may use Wightman Road when heading south and east from here. Well, you could, but not for the next 6 months whilst the bridge is replaced.

There is a map and some more info here:

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  • Grant, by "through traffic route" I didn't mean a main road, merely a route cars were using to get through the area, not just to access it. (This totally residential neighbourhood was fairly central, an old industrial quarter developed into fancy new homes, transected by a canal, with a main road running parallel with the canal and another crossing - the one with the flower pots).

    And I can vouch for the Dutch, the Danes, the Swiss and the Germans being more considerate drivers then we are. I worked in those countries and had to make my way around, often on foot (and blundering), map in hand (and not just city centres). We fare badly in comparison with each of them in my experience.

    But, seriously, the problem may be that we seek to define 'zones' in traffic and which zone belongs to whom and for what purpose, yet you can't in real life. Cars must go through and short of road pricing there is no way I can see that will reduce their presence on the roads even in residential areas. Pedestrians and cyclists and mobility scooters and mopeds and vans and lorries and buses must all find a way as they go about their business....and people are fallible and someone will do something stupid, so you must pay attention if you are driving a ton of metal or your family car may become a killing machine and you may have to live with it... We do have to be nice to one another in every aspect of our life, including in the street. If we are not, a chaos ensues. That's how I see it.

    • Hi Indijana - I think what Grant means is that 'consideration' can be designed. Through traffic is a blight in Palace Gates - large volumes of non residential traffic has one purpose, to get through as quickly as possible. This can be designed out. The area around Rhodes Ave is a very simple example of how it can be achieved. One barrier creates a calm, quiet, less polluted area where the roads are for the benefit of residents and not through traffic. Incidentally I passed through Wightman Road again today and I saw things that I have never seen before on that road (because of the high volume of through traffic) I saw people. People standing around and chatting, people jogging, people with their dogs, loads of children and even children on bikes! And there were motor vehicles but because the design of the roads on The Ladder now only permits local traffic it was slow, considerate and low in volume. It can be done. There is an alternative to residential roads full of rat runs.
    • Thank you for that Richard. I quite agree about rat runs in residential roads. In Palace Gates Rd, the problem is not just the volume of traffic (in rush hour) but the speed of it outside the rush hour. Revving up a residential street at 50 mph (as one car just did past my window and a score more will do before lunch time)  is just plain bad manners. We apply different norms of behaviour to driving - tolerate queue jumping, aggression, rule breaking (twice I was a victim of road rage here, in our neighbourhood when I stopped the car to allow a pedestrian stranded in the middle of the road to cross). I am of the generation that still remembers the controversy over the introduction of breathalyzers; yet no one would have considered it acceptable for a worker to operate a machine while drunk. I may be labouring the point, but I do feel that changing the culture of driving is part of the solution. We let ourselves off the hook too much when behind the wheel. I couldn't agree more about Whitman Road though. What are our chances of getting a similar improvement here?

    • I've started a new discussion on this here:  

  • Wouldn't it be great if there could be a wider conversation on what is the role of our streets that would not involve angry exchanges between drivers and all others.

    On a visit to Leiden, Holland, a few years back, during one early morning walk, we saw a flower pot placed in the middle of a street and went to investigate. It wasn't an act of vandalism - there were other pots dotted around in a zig-zag pattern in what was a rather wide, but residential street (yet a through traffic route because it led to a canal bridge). Residents had apparently put out the pots as a make-shift traffic calming measure. After we stood in the middle of the street a while marveling at all this and the Dutch in general, we became aware of a car behind patiently waiting for us to allow it to pass. We hadn't heard it approach. How long had it been there, did its driver spare the horn out of the consideration for the people living in the street...? We smiled apologetically and got out of the way, the driver smiled back and carried on, weaving between the pots slowly and carefully. Can you imagine it ever happening here?  I can't. What a shame.

    • Only just seen this reply Indiana, sorry for not replying sooner. You may know this already, the Dutch approach to road safety improvement ('Sustainable Safety') includes the principle that the function of roads cannot be mixed - so roads in residential areas are not used as main through routes for motor traffic.

      There does seem to be a perception that the Dutch are better drivers or more tolerant when behind the wheel than other nationalities, I'm not sure this is really the case. The Dutch themselves often overlook the enormous infrastructural progress they have made, and continue to make, in a relatively short space of time to make their streets feel safe enough for anyone to walk and cycle. There seems to be a belief in Britain that we could have similarly civilised streets just by getting everyone to 'play nice', which conveniently avoids the need for anyone to make difficult decisions about what is the role of streets. 

  • Quick update on this one month in. As far as I can tell the traffic problems predicted by some have not materialised, although there does seem to be slightly more traffic on roads approaching Turnpike Lane. There appears to be less motor traffic on some adjoining roads: Hornsey Park Road for example is much quieter. 

    On the positive side, Wightman Road now has noticeably cleaner air and is a pleasure to walk or cycle down. Parents now consider it safe enough to let their children cycle to school on the road, and there's lots of spontaneous street play going on in the afternoons which is wonderful to see. 

    What remains to be seen is whether the council traffic department learn any lessons from this. It's been demonstrated elsewhere and would appear to be the same with Wightman Road that through traffic can be excluded from a residential area without causing 'traffic meltdown' on adjoining roads, with instant benefits for local air quality, quality of life and active travel. This is particularly important if this borough is serious about tackling the challenges of poor air quality, an inactive population and rising childhood obesity. I hope it leads to a wider conversation about what is the role of our streets, and how people-focussed design can deliver neighbourhoods that are better places to live.

    • I have cycled along Wightman Road quite a few times (on my way to The City) it's amazing. I usually prefer to use Green Lanes as Wightman Rd is very hostile for people on bikes. But now it's a pleasure. I am sure the people who live there are also enjoying the quiet. It will be interesting to see if there has been significant displacement.
    • How wonderful for Wightman Road residents to have a sustained period of peace and quiet.

  • Or, in my case, walking - amazing how much you see when there is no traffic.

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