Finsbury Park-Highbury Fields cycle route consultation

Attention conservation notice: this post is of strictly local interest

Islington borough council is consulting on planned improvements to the cycle route from Finsbury Park to Highbury Fields. This is part of important routes from points beyond Finsbury Park to the City and the West End – I use it regularly. The consultation is open until 15th July 2019 – write your own response here. What follows is cut and pasted from my response.

Q: What do you like about these proposals?

A: Segregated cycle path, much of it parking-protected, along Drayton Park Rd; new roundabout at Benwell Rd.

Q: What do you not like about these proposals?

A: As an adult and a regular cyclist, the route mostly looks good. I think it would be an improvement for all concerned – particularly for air quality, for pedestrians, and for children cycling – if the project went beyond that to make this a low-traffic neighbourhood. There is no conflict between that and what you do propose, however, so some version of the current plan should go ahead.

To be all aged/abilities, segregated cycle track little good if not continuous. What happens on southbound section from Aubert Park to Martineau Rd? Must that perpendicular parking be retained?

On drawing of new roundabout, not clear what’s happening with the N-bound cycle track when crossing Benwell.

Blackstock Rd crossing inadquate for cyclists. Just wait til it’s clear? For maximum pedestrian/cyclist benefit at that crossing, (1) filter motor traffic on Ambler Rd both directions, (2) give way on Blackstock to crossing [cycle] traffic + zebras, allow Finsbury Park Rd traffic out at Brownswood.

Much of the cycle traffic on Drayton Park Rd will still come down St Thomas’s from Finsbury Park, not down Ambler. To reduce congestion on Rock St & rat running thru neighbourhood, suggest filtering both St Thomas’s Rd & Prah Rd at Rock St, giving some visual definition to the shared-space pavement between St Thomas’s & Seven Sisters Rd, and enforcing parking restrictions both on that pavement and on the cycle access to it.



Clawing bigger bits of green back from the asphalt

Parklets, plus.

Lots of people are doing parklets these days – re-purposing a single on-street parking spot as a garden or seating area, usually right in front of their own home or business. But what about places where roads or parking spaces are whittling away larger existing green spaces? You can, unfortunately, find examples of this almost anywhere – here are a few from the London borough of Haringey.



This bit of Oulton Road (above) cuts diagonally across what would otherwise be a green square, within a densely populated residential area and just behind Seven Sisters Primary School, London N15. A completely unnecessary piece of tarmac, there’d be space here for more trees, a basketball court … lots of options for better use.


This little patch of trees is Graham Green (above), a short way from the Turnpike Lane underground and bus station (N22). It’s got parking on all three sides, with parking permits extended to nearby businesses as well as residents. Replacing the parking with planting could extend the green area by a couple of metres on each side – a lot for this small green. Nearby parking structures have surplus space – business parking could move there.

Going now to the other side of the tracks: on Crouch Hill (N8), we find Crescent Road. The road is filtered – bollards preventing through motor traffic to or from the A103. The great walking/running/cycling route of Parkland Walk sits on one side; on the other are one end of Coleridge Primary School and of the strip of greenery between the school and the A103. Joining up green areas can be important for biodiversity – surely this is a bit of tarmac and spaces that could be sacrificed for trees.


A short way off, at the other end of Crescent Road, we find Avenue Road Common. As the name suggests (and see map), it’s more road than common: a tiny bit of grass and trees, paved footpath and then parking all around.


The UK government’s CO2 target calls for far more trees than the country is actually planting; too many street trees, squeezed between footpath and roadway and close to houses, are smallish ornamentals which are anyway not allowed to grow big (and thus not allowed to provide shade or impound carbon) because insurance companies fret about foundations. It is time to join with those who would make London the first “national park city“, by seizing on places like those shown here to push back the asphalt, and let the trees advance.

Why I’m intemperate about freedom of movement

It pains me to see the leadership of the UK Labour Party doubling down on its opposition to continued freedom of movement between the UK and the other 27 countries of the EU. A few impressions:

Westminster politicians don’t understand this issue, because they are typically more inward-looking, less international, than their constituents. British political careers famously begin at university and of course continue within the UK, with the MP being somebody who has devoted years to getting the support first of party members and then of voters, almost all of them UK citizens. The upper levels of the civil service are likewise extremely British. Contrast that with work in most sectors of business, education, or the health service, where an international cast of both co-workers and customers/clients/students/patients is the norm, and where careers often include opportunities for work abroad. My guess is that, relative to other Britons of the same age and education, most Westminster politicians, whatever the party, don’t have a clue of the extent to which freedom of movement within Europe has become a part of the lives – and the identity – of many of their constituents.

The university where I teach, a mile and a half from the Palace of Westminster, might as well be on a different planet.

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Even soft Brexit gives the oil oligarchs what they want

Putin – whose name I use here as shorthand for the entire oligarchy of not just Russia but all major fossil fuel exporters – wants to prevent the emergence of international institutions which would be able to bring climate change under control. That is because the control of climate change would require destroying the oil and gas business, and with it his wealth and power.

To this end, two of the central objectives of the oil oligarchs have been the installation of a US government which is hostile to international cooperation in general and cooperation on climate in particular; and the fragmentation of the European Union. Trump, and Brexit; more broadly, a science-denying Republican party, and resurgent nationalism in every European country and region.

Even soft Brexit will be enough for Putin

I will explain below why these two political objectives, in the US and in the EU, are necessary – and, unfortunately, probably sufficient – for Putin’s ends. But first let me just say that, for Putin’s purposes, any Brexit will do, Hard, No Deal … or the softest of soft, as long as Britain withdraws from the political institutions of the EU. Continue reading

Environmental Economics news items

Accumulating links, for my Environmental Economics module. Numbered backwards, because I’ll add new ones at the top.

4. Even soft Brexit gives the oil oligarchs what they want (a blog post of mine on climate, and collective action among states)

3. It’s Jeremy Bentham’s birthday.

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