Why do we need Living Streets discussion pages on Alexandra Park Neighbours?

There is a developing traffic emergency in Haringey, and these pages are designed to explore how we can address it, collect useful information on it, and encourage discussion. Everyone is welcome to join in the conversation (leave a comment below, or add your own post to the website). It is important that it reflects ALL viewpoints in the local neighbourhoods.

The Traffic Emergency in Haringey

What a contrast with our streets during Lockdown!

What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood?

Working with other neighbourhoods

FAQS and myth-busting about Traffic

FAQS and myth-busting about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

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Traffic news in Alexandra Ward

Contact details for local campaigning groups are in the right sidebar - link here for mobiles

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The Traffic emergency in Haringey

Traffic in our neighbourhoods is now back to pre-lockdown levels, and since the start of September increasing numbers of commuters are driving to work to avoid the dangers of infection on public transport. This particularly affects Haringey residents, with their high use of public transport - third highest local authority in the country. Traffic gridlock and increased air pollution results, which, apart from other evils, worsens the outcomes of C19.

The video below explains the situation:

The Great Northern trains coming into the city from Hertfordshire were packed with commuters during rush hour pre-lockdown, as was the underground, and many of these now choose to drive instead, joining the existing through-traffic.

The Government sounded the alarm back in May, requiring local authorities to implement emergency measures as soon as possible to encourage walking, cycling and social distancing, and discourage car use.

[during lockdown] millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, there’s been a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes - for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.

When the country gets back to work, we need them to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more. With public transport capacity reduced, the roads in our largest cities, in particular, may not be able to cope without it.

They have made funding available, as has the Mayor through his Streetspace scheme (TfL).

Haringey Council have been much slower to act on this than some other London boroughs, such as Islington, Hackney, Camden, Lambeth, Croydon ... At present, the lack of 'whole route' cycling infrastructure in Haringey, and the volume of traffic, are major deterrents to potential cyclists. 

What a contrast with our streets during Lockdown!

We had healthier, quieter streets, you could hear birdsong, it was safer for children, and for social distancing when visiting local shops or neighbours. Would it be possible to return to that - without the occasional car that sped at top speed through the neighbourhood, or the motorbikes racing in Alexandra Palace Way?

Crescent Road during Lockdown

These speeding cars are mostly traffic from outside the neighbourhood, seeking a route that they hope is quicker than using main roads. Often they are mistaken - pre-lockdown, narrow roads such as Crescent Road, Winton Avenue and the dogleg of Albert Road (also sometimes Palace Gates road) frequently got gridlocked, because cars coming in the opposite direction cannot pass (see photos in left sidebar, and video below). But still they come, directed by satnavs to use the smaller roads.

This is a situation which has crept up on us over the years and decades, to the extent that it now seems inevitable. Is this true? Can we do anything about it?

Gridlock and confrontation in Winton Avenue:

What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood?

What are LTNs? Here is a short, clear video from Oxfordshire Liveable Streets:

So Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are designed to stop traffic driving straight through the neighbourhood (rat-running) by installing 'filters' (or what they apparently call 'connectors' in Oxfordshire!) - such as planters, bollards or Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras - but allow residents to drive to their homes. They will sometimes have to drive a little bit further to get to their houses than in un-filtered roads. The filters give access to pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, scooters and cargo bikes, and buses will have access on bus routes.

The DfT considers these emergency filters (or what they call 'point closures') as the 'quickest and cheapest' method of 'reallocating road space to cyclists and pedestrians'. Cycle lanes are also necessary, but these are 'more difficult to implement quickly'.

Here is a simple local example of a potential LTN in Alexandra ward and part of Bounds Green ward, in the neighbourhood of Winton Avenue, Blake Road and Woodfield Way. Haringey Council have recently put in a bid to TfL and the DfT to create an LTN in this neighbourhood - we do not know the details, but it is likely to be something similar to the suggestion above. A decision is expected by the end of October 2020.

An LTN benefits most people - see Lambeth council's poster below:

The design of the LTN has to ensure that traffic is not simply rechannelled from one residential road to another in the neighbourhood. If this is achieved, then some of the traffic is expected to evaporate (see FAQs section). It is not like water in a pipe, which has to find a way out - people make choices, and some of these choices will be to walk or cycle instead of driving

Working with other neighbourhoods

This through traffic does not just affect one's own neighbourhood. For example, much of the traffic passing through Palace Gates neighbourhood is the same as that taking a short cut down Winton Avenue before crossing Durnsford into Crescent Rise and Crescent Road, over the railway bridge, before adding to congestion on Hornsey Park Road, Wightman and the Ladder roads, and on into Islington and Hackney. So the introduction of 'Low Traffic Neighbourhoods' in some of these neighbourhoods would benefit others nearer central London by stopping this traffic, while possibly causing problems in others. LTNs linked by cycle lanes make a good combination (research has shown that providing cycling infrastructure on its own will not be successful in persuading many people to take up cycling*).

It is therefore essential that we work with other groups to suggest measures to the Council that will increase benefits and reduce negative impacts for all. We are not traffic experts, but residents are likely to be the most knowledgeable about local conditions in their neighbourhood.

Some of these areas have their own campaign groups. Here are contact details for our local one, and the Haringey Living Streets group.

*S. Melia, Urban Transport without the Hot Air (2015), pp. 224-6 and chap 7

FAQs and myth-busting about Traffic

People need their cars - there is no alternative

As many as 40% of urban car trips are under 2 miles, so very suitable for walking or cycling. If more people walked or cycled, public transport and many car trips could be left for those who really need them.

* * * * *

Most car trips in London are not work-related. 20% of car trips are for work purposes, 60% for shopping, leisure and personal business purposes, and 7% for education (including taking children to school).

* * * * *

Could space on the road be saved? 60% of car trips have no passengers.

 


People in the UK would never take to cycling like the Dutch

But they did back in the 1950s !  Nearly half as many passenger miles were travelled on bicycles as in cars in 1952 (11% and 27% respectively; today the figures are 1% and 83%). People just cycled in those days - they didn't call themselves 'cyclists'.

 

Cycling to work in Oxford 

 


Parents need cars for the safety of their children

Parents in London are more likely to have access to a car (particularly if they have a school-age child) than households without children, at all income levels (two-thirds compared with just over a half, respectively).

Road safety is the over-riding concern - given as the primary reason for not allowing children to walk or cycle unaccompanied.* The average number of car trips is also much greater in households with at least one child than in those without - half as much again.

So there is a vicious circle - road danger causes more households with children to own more cars and use them more frequently than those without, which in turn increase the road danger for children, increasing air pollution with its long-term effects on children's health, and limiting the opportunities for children to have a more healthy and independent life-style of walking and cycling.

If residential streets were safer, maybe children would not need to be carried around quite so much by car ...

TfL Roads Task Force, Tech. Note 12, p.6 (2011)
*TfL Travel in London Report 11, p.121 (2018).

FAQs and myth-busting about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Here is a clear introductory guide to LTNs:-

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: an Introduction

and a more detailed document:-

Guide to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

both produced by London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets.



LTNs cause problems for the Emergency Services

The Chief Operating Officer of the London Ambulance Service, Khadir Meer, publicly stated on 29 September 2020:

"We are not aware of any LTNs that have led to any patient safety concerns or any significant delays".

Councils are obliged by law to consult the emergency services on any traffic scheme, so any potential problems can be ironed out in advance. In general, the reduction in traffic in LTNs makes it less likely that ambulances etc. will be held up in traffic, and they are told in advance of the unhindered routes that they can use.

Source: http://betterstreets.co.uk/emergency-service-access-to-ltn/



LTNs just displace traffic onto main roads, and cause problems for buses

No, some of it - and sometimes all of it - evaporates! See this article on Evaporating Traffic. And this excellent slide show.

* * * * * *

It is also not generally known that in recent years traffic has been displaced from main roads onto smaller roads. The chart* below shows that traffic in London has increased in the last few years (blue line), but this is not because of an increase in traffic on A-roads (red line) – on these, it has if anything gone down. It's an increase on little, residential roads (green line), which suddenly started around 2007-08, about the time that Satnavs were starting to be adopted, sending drivers down little roads to shave a few seconds off their journey:

This change is likely to have contributed to the marked reduction in traffic on Bounds Green Road in recent years starting, again, in 2007-08 (though local factors may also be involved):

Note that Green Lanes has also seen some decrease in traffic since 2000 – the amount varying in different places.

So it could be argued that the issue is not so much what happens when an LTN is implemented, as what happens when nothing is done – traffic on the little roads increases.

Increases in traffic that seem substantial on small roads will, of course, be more easily absorbed on main roads because of their greater width.

* Sources: https://roadtraffic.dft.gov.uk/regions/6 

https://roadtrafficstats.uk/traffic-statistics-haringey-a109-haringey-6638#.X3TFFnV7mid

Note that the first chart - of traffic by road type - does not include figures for motorways or B roads - for both these categories the figures are very small, and have seen little change over the past 20 years (see source above).

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Local examples of traffic problems (and of the changes during lockdown!)

Gridlocked traffic in Crescent Road:

Two lines of traffic contfront each other

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An altercation between drivers

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A car claims the road

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A motorbike claims the road

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Changes during Lockdown!

Cycling in Crescent Road:

Partying in Crescent road:

 

 

 

 

Local campaigning groups for liveable streets

The Alexandra Low Traffic Group seeks to encourage conversations locally about how to make our streets healthier, safer, quieter and more attractive for cycling and walking, and to find ways of getting suitable measures put into effect. If you would like to join the group, or have any other queries, please email aparklowtrafficgroup@gmail.com.

You can also add a comment on the Quieter Streets comment wall.

 


Haringey Living Streets are a local group campaigning for measures to increase walking and cycling in the borough, under the umbrella of the national group. It has local groups, including our Alexandra Low Traffic group, and produces an informative newsletter.

haringeygroup@livingstreets.org.uk

Further info. about low traffic neighbourhoods

A clear introductory guide to LTNs:-

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: an Introduction, and a more detailed document:-

Guide to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, both produced by London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets.