Two cheers for Haringey’s school streets plan

Last month, the Haringey Council was presented with a plan for School Streets. This is where streets adjacent to schools which are closed to motor traffic in the periods just before and after school opening and closing. This has several benefits: it makes the street just outside the school safe for kids coming and going; by encouraging parents to ditch the school run and have their kids walk or cycle to school, it reduces air pollution and motor traffic, which has benefits far beyond the school in question, since the school run is a major source of road traffic.

It may be helpful here to explain the difference between school streets and low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs). The latter are created by simply cutting off through traffic by motor vehicles: modal filters allow people on foot or on bikes (and, if enforced by camera, buses) to pass, but stop most motor vehicles. Low traffic neighbourhoods usually don’t prohibit driving on any of the existing roads, and allow vehicle access to all addresses – it’s just through traffic that’s cut. But LTNs are in effect 24/7.

School streets are both more restrictive, and more limited. They are more restrictive because they do actually prohibit driving on certain parts of certain streets; more limited because they operate only an hour or two each day, and only on days when school is in session. And school streets stop a different kind of traffic. LTNs may reduce the school run somewhat by providing safer places for kids to walk or cycle to schol, but they don’t prevent any particular parent from driving up to the school gate to drop a kid off.

Haringey, until recently, had almost no school streets, putting it in the cellar in a recent ranking of London boroughs (Haringey has had this problem not just with school streets but with active travel – walking and cycling – generally, something I discussed last week in this blog); a few weeks ago it put in one very small one at Chestnuts Primary School. It had received some funding for school streets in London’s COVID emergency funding for active travel, but used this money mostly for footway widening without restrictions on driving – not what would usually be called school streets.

Now, though, we have a real, substantial plan for school streets, with a ranking of projects by the school’s need and the practicality of implementation. An excruciatingly slow rollout (three schools per year, primary schools only) is planned, but with the plans in hand that could be accelerated as opportunities arise. Overall, this is a terrific development, a big step forward by the Haringey Council. I need to say that very clearly because what follows deals with some of the limitations of Haringey’s school street plan.

The plan rates each primary school in Haringey as either suitable or not suitable for a school street; if suitable, some specific measures are proposed. In most cases, the key (and most expensive) measure is the installation of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to enforce restrictions on driving.

Here, then, are the limitations of plan as I see them.

Can’t have a school street here – we need it as a rat run

Consider Devonshire Hill Nursery and Primary School, on Weir Hall Road, N17. The Plan says:

The school is not suitable for a school street despite the ‘medium’ air quality and high car  usage. Weir Hall Road is not suitable for a school street as the restriction of this street would  have significant impact on the operation of the road and surrounding road network as it is the  main alternative connection between White Hart Lane and Wilbury Way instead of the A10.

What is this vital link in our motor transport network? On the map below that’s the road running parallel to the A10 just a bit to the east, from White Hart Lane at its southern end to Wilbury Way in the north. Devonshire Hill School is shown as a yellow patch on the east side of Weir Hall, not far from the Rectory Farm Allotments.

Map 1

The A10 is a high speed dual carriageway. The idea that the smooth operation of the road network requires Weir Hall Road, a simple narrow street running past homes and two schools (the second school is in Enfield, so not covered in Haringey’s report) to serve as an overflow for the A10, shows just dominant the motoring logic is within Haringey’s highways team.

Part of the tragedy – and to say tragedy is not hyperbole: we’re looking here at children’s inactivity and lack of independence, at lungs and brains impaired by particulates, and at a stomping big carbon footprint – is that a non-trivial share of the traffic on Weir Hall Road is to the two schools on it: 24% of the children at Devonshire, a community school, are driven there, probably in large part because its entrance is on a narrow road that many drivers are taking at what speed their little motors can muster, so of course many kids aren’t allowed to walk there, much less to cycle. So we have traffic generating traffic, which is what traffic does.

We see the same thing with other schools. Sometimes the finding is a simple “not suitable for a school street”, as with Devonshire; other times it leads to restricting the school street to a less busy road. I exclude here cases where the busy road is in fact a major thoroughfare. But what is a major thoroughfare, and what is not, may be in the eye of the beholder. 37% of pupils are driven to and form St Martin of Porres RC Primary School on Blake Road in Bounds Green. It is “not suitable” for a school street because

The implementation of a school  street in this location would have a negative impact on the wider road network operations as Blake Road is part of the main connection between A109 and Albert Road. 

“Part of the main connection” seems to mean “a rat run we use for overflow”. On Map 2, below, St Martins is the yellow patch down a long driveway off of Blake Road, just by the railway. The main connection between the A109 (Bounds Green Road) and Albert Road (B106) should be made by turning onto Durnsford Road (also B106) at Bounds Green. If that route is so busy that Google is sending drivers down Blake Road, perhaps Haringey should get behind the Enfield Council’s proposal to put a bus filter (i.e., no motors except buses) on Durnsford, between Bounds Green underground and the North Circular. I hear, though, that Haringey’s Highways Department actually opposes Enfield’s plan; I can only hope that I am misinformed.

Map 2

Schools which are “suitable”, but where the most problematic street is left out of the plan because it’s too important as a rat run, include Chestnuts Primary (Black Boy Lane). Chestnuts had been rated “unsuitable” in an earlier draft of the plan but, after a couple of instances of kids being hit by cars and the intervention of parents who are also involved in an LTN initiative in the St Ann’s Ward, a way was found to make a school street on a side road by one of the school’s three entrances. Yet the real problems remain: the Black Boy Lane rat run; lack of bike paths and lack of a safe crossing on St Ann’s Road. In the same ward, West Green Primary is listed in the plan as a priority but no details are given for it; I understand that the planned school street for West Green, like that for Chestnuts, would be confined to a little side road (Termont, in this case), while the problematic rat run (Woodlands Park Road, which also passes by the Woodlands Park Children’s Centre and Nursery) is left as is.

Map 3

Time now for low traffic neighbourhoods AND school streets. In all of the cases above, and many others besides, the school street solution would be improved by the creation of an LTN. Even with LTNs in those places, you would still want a school street because the LTN just stops through traffic, while the school street limits the use of the school as a destination for car trips. But, while it would be feasible simply to make parts of Weir Hall Road and Blake Road school streets to reduce the school runs there, the school street restrictions would be much less disruptive if drivers didn’t expect to be able to use those roads as rat runs in the first place. Morning school run is the busiest time of day on the roads, so it is feasible to keep non-resident traffic off those roads at those times, it can be done 24/7 with an LTN.

The Weir Hall/Devonshire School and Blake/St Martin’s School situations are relatively simple, because any traffic diverted from those rat runs would go the main roads where it should be in the first place. Cases like Chestnuts/Black Boy Lane, and West Green/Woodlands Park Road, are more complicated because they sit in systems with multiple rat runs, where closing one easily diverts traffic to another. A well-planned LTN can prevent such spill-overs, and encourage an overall reduction in traffic (including, but not limited to, the reduction in school run traffic).

Or consider Rokesly School in Crouch End. The proposed school streets would cut traffic at school run times, which would be a benefit. But the air quality at the school is rated Poor (most schools in Haringey get Medium, which is already not very healthy), and that’s not going to be fixed without filtering the roads around it; these aren’t main roads, but given the structure of the road network in the area filtering will require some planning. That brings us back to finding a way to replace the stillborn Crouch End Healthy Streets project, and to do better than the Council’s subsequent choice (contrary to the balance of consultation views) to go with pavement widening rather than a cycle track on Tottenham Lane. It’s complicated, but the nettle must be grasped.

There are many cases in the School Streets Plan where filtering traffic as part of an LTN plan would make the school street more effective, and probably cheaper. For examples, I’ll return to St Ann’s ward: for a school street on Avenue Road in front of St Ann’s CE Primary School, the School Streets Plan anticipates £26,400 for ANPR cameras and some signage. The LTN proposed by Healthy Streets St Ann’s would include a modal filter on Avenue Road. If that filter were located at the St Ann’s Road end of Avenue Road, the bit of Avenue Road in front of the school could simply be repurposed as pedestrian space, possibly eliminating the need for the camera.

Then, looking just across St Ann’s Road, we find St Marys RC Primary School. Here, the Plan anticipates £55,000, mostly for cameras on Hermitage Road (I’m guessing the difference in cost is because Avenue Road is one way while Hermitage Road is two way, so needs double the cameras). There has long been discussion of a modal filter on Hermitage to improve air quality at that school, eliminate rat runs through a nearby council estate and the adjoining neighbourhood, and improve pedestrian and cycling safety. With a filter on Hermitage, there would be vehicular access tot he school from only one direction, so the school street would not need as many cameras.

As with the Weir Hall/Devonshire School and Blake/St Martin’s School cases discussed above, these are cases where the proposed school streets are currently rat runs. Not all proposed school streets are rat runs, but where they are, the council and the community should always consider whether the rat run needs a 24/7 filter in addition to school streets measures. For St Ann’s and St Mary’s, as for Devonshire and St Martin’s, filtering should reduce driver confusion, improve compliance and reduce cost. Also, if one object is to improve school air quality, the rat run should anyway be closed throughout the school day, which the filter accomplishes.

The long and the short is that much more can be gotten from this School Streets Plan if the borough’s Highways department is on board with a serious program of low traffic neighbourhoods, and traffic reduction in general. Where a highly polluted school apparently can’t have a school street because it’s on a busy road, the solution should not be to label it “not suitable”, but to shift its case to another level of investigation, to ask how motor traffic on that busy road might be reduced. Sometimes it won’t be possible, but in a context of overall traffic reduction, and promotion of active and public transport – the context the Council says we’re in – there will sometimes be ways.

Pavement widening – really?

At two of the schools (Alexandra Park Primary and Bruce Grove Primary), school streets are to be accompanied by build-outs of the pavement “to allow social distancing”. This seems a failure of nerve, if not a misunderstanding of how the school street works: if the school street is functioning properly, the road space in front of the school is a pedestrian zone at the times when children are coming and going. It seems just a waste of money.

In the Alexandra Park case, it may be that the report’s authors recommend pavement widening because they lack confidence in the safety of the school street itself, because of need for access by businesses on Western Road. As far as I can see there are other ways in to almost all but one of these businesses from the other end of Western Road, so I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Pavement widening is a favourite fix by Haringey Highways – it’s a way of doing something for active travel without actually putting in cycle lanes, and indeed sometimes preventing future cycle lanes – and I wonder if the school streets study teams might have been exposed to this virus.

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Map 4 Alexandra Park School

What’s the problem? Parking? Congestion? Pollution? Lack of childhood liberty?

The reports on individual schools were put together by consultants operating under time pressure, during a pandemic, with a new sort of issue to deal with. Haringey has a lot of primary schools. Not surprisingly, there are places where the description of the case and the reasoning for the recommendation don’t really seem to add up. I’ll describe a couple of cases, but before the recommendations are set in stone there really should be a process of school-by-school review.

Bounds Green Primary School has its main frontage on Park Road, with one side of the school facing the very busy Bounds Green Road. About the first of these the report says:

A site visit highlighted that Park Road is a congestion hot spot with parents parking on the School Keep Clear markings, double yellow lines and in the middle of the road and then conducting U-turns, leading to further congestion.

Sounds as if Park Road should be a school street, then? Well, no, because a few lines later:

“The location of the school is not suitable for a school street despite the ‘medium’ air quality.  The majority of parents observed walked or cycled with their children … there were low traffic volumes observed on Park Road and therefore implementing a school street in this location is unlikely to have a significant impact on operations or air quality.”

Granted that most of the air pollution will be coming from Bounds Green Road; but what happened in the space of a few lines of the report to all of the congestion and illegal parking by parents which, if as described, will surely be having some effect on the willingness of parents to let their children walk or cycle to the school independently? It may in fact be that independent active travel by children isn’t in the remit of the report’s authors – it’s not discussed.

Safety improvements which lower the age at which parents are willing to let their children walk or cycle to school independently are important for two reasons: first, restoring to children some of the freedom which has been taken away from them in the past few decades; second, reducing school run driving by parents whose need to both take a child to school and get to work resolves into a car trip.

This is not the only way in which the report sometimes seems to overlook important benefits that school streets can bring. For many of the schools found “not suitable” for school streets, lack of congestion or lack of school-run-related parking problems are given as reasons a school street is not needed. This misses not only the active travel benefits, as just noted in the case of Bounds Green School, but also the school run’s large contribution to road traffic overall – not just in front of the school.

Sometimes, the report misses low hanging fruit. Coleridge Primary School is slated for a school street, someday, which is good. But the proposal ignores Crescent Rd, which runs between the school and Parkland Walk. Crescent already has a modal filter that stops motor traffic from joining the main road, Crouch End Hill, so perhaps it wasn’t seen as a problem. Yet the stub end of Cresenct Road, with no houses or businesses, now serves as a school run hotspot. It should not be a road, but should be made into parkland, joining up the park along Parkland Walk and the strip of park between Crouch End Hill and the school.

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Crescent Road, seen from across Crouch End Hill. Parkland Walk to the left, Coleridge Primary School and another strip of parkland to the right.

Enough for now!

Can Haringey not afford safe streets?

Boroughs to the north, south, and east of Haringey have made far greater progress on low traffic neighbourhoods, school streets, and cycle infrastructure. The excuse sometimes given for this is that those other boroughs had more money: Waltham Forest (east) and Enfield (north) were two of the three London boroughs to get Mini-Holland money from TfL; the boroughs closer to the centre (Hackney, Islington and Camden) have more money from developers. And, then, having had a lot of practice and something to show for it, when it came to COVID emergency funds for active travel, those boroughs with better track records had applications that looked more credible.

I don’t think that washes. Of course the borough has money problems. But, when it comes to active transport, it has simply left a lot of money lying on the table because the borough, as an institution, has not been interested in active transport. Consider these examples:

Tottenham Hale (Haringey) vs. Blackhorse Road (Waltham Forest). Two stations, Victoria Line plus surface train; both sites have large new highrise developments. Councils get money – Section 106 funds – from developers to make improvements in the area and to mitigate adverse impacts of the development. In this way, Waltham Forest got money to put in high quality cycle tracks at the Blackhorse Road junction. There’s little indication Haringey did the same at Tottenham Hale.

Blackhorse Road in Waltham Forest, Tottenham Hale in Haringey

Getting quality cycle tracks at a big busy junction is a big deal – it’s costly, people with specialist cycle track expertise are needed for design and implementation, and invariably it takes something away from motor traffic. Most main road cycle tracks in the UK just sort of give up at big junctions, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves among turning motorists. It’s a key obstacle to the development of useful networks of safe cycle routes.

Try this experiment: starting somewhere in Waltham Forest – maybe at the William Morris Gallery in Lloyd Park – ride your bike west along Forest Road. Most of this road has segregated cycle tracks, both ways (it is currently being extended well beyond Lloyd Park to the east, including first class cycle tracks through Bell Junction, a busy crossing of two A roads). Actually, what sets it apart most dramatically from roads in Haringey is a small bit where the westbound track is not segregated, but on the roadway. The double yellow lines are accompanied by yellow kerb markings, prohibiting not just parking, but loading.

I’ve never seen this on the (rare) cycle tracks of Haringey, where the council is happy to have cyclists pushed out into the motor traffic by any driver capable of turning on the blinking hazard lights. Those yellow kerb markings are the least expensive part of the cycle track, but they’re of critical importance to creating a network that can be used safely by cyclists of all ages and abilities.

At the Blackhorse Road junction, we see the fruits of the Section 106 money from the developers of nearby tower blocks: cycle crossings, and continuing cycle tracks, in all four directions.

Continue now along Forest Road. It passes some large building works (cycle lane diverted briefly, but still safe from traffic, and continuous), then the beautiful Walthamstow Wetlands (good walking and birdwatching on both sides), and on toward Tottenham Hale. You’ll know when you reach the borough of Haringey because the cycle track first loses quality, and then disappears. The photo below shows the bit of green tarmac that’s meant to suggest a cycle track, but there’s nothing to prohibit, much less prevent, the car in front of me from driving in it.

I’m not holding my breath but, maybe, that will all be fixed as the building work at Tottenham Hale nears completion. But even if it is, you continue past the Tottenham Hale station and the big car-oriented retail complex that the council allowed to be built absurdly at a transport hub, sandwiched between high density housing developments (high density even before the new tower blocks) and nature reserves. Why allow a car magnet here? But I digress. Make your way around that car park and rejoin what is meant to be a cycle track along part of Broad Lane, the road from Tottenham Hale to Seven Sisters. This track shares the pavement: here it’s marked separately from the footway; there it suddenly becomes “shared space” where pedestrians and cyclists are expected to spontaneously agree to rules for peaceful coexistence; in part of that shared space a bus shelter sits in the middle of the path with no clear indication of how to proceed; and, at several points, side roads or driveways are given priority over the pedestrian and cycle traffic, with drivers pulling straight up and blocking the path. In Waltham Forest, cycles would be given priority; cross to our side of the Lea, and it’s cars.

Quality cycle track along Broad Lane, Tottenham Hale

The problem with the Broad Lane cycle track is not lack of money: it did not cost less than a good cycle track would have cost. The problem is that Haringey prioritises cars, both moving and parked, over other forms of transport.

Railway bridges. In 2017, Wightman Road was closed to through traffic for several months while the bridge across the Gospel Oak-Barking railway was replaced, at a cost of I don’t know how many millions of pounds to Network Rail. Residents of the area, thrilled with the sudden lack of traffic, rallied to urge that the closure be made permanent.

Now, this was actually a great opportunity for Haringey. The old bridge was perfectly safe for pedestrians and cyclists. The council could have offered to Network Rail the repurposing of the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists only, so that the costly replacement was no longer necessary, on condition that Network Rail share some of the savings with the council. That, in fact, is what the borough of Waltham Forest did in the case of two bridges over the same railway line, helping to create (and finance) two of their early Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Here’s one of them, not far from the Blackhorse Road station:

Pretoria Avenue, Walthamstow: a railway bridge. Also a traffic filter.

Haringey council instead spent a substantial sum on a big study of what to do about traffic on Wightman and in the Green Lanes area overall – roughly, the wards of Harringay and St Ann’s. Many suggestions for traffic reduction measures came from the public and, of those that the council allowed into the questions on the final consultation, steps most respondents favoured included getting rid of through motor traffic on Wightman, making the southbound bus lane on Green Lanes 24/7 rather than just weekday morning commute, and getting rid of parking to make room for a northbound cycle track on Green Lanes. The council decided to do none of that, and to make minor improvements to Wightman. This was not for lack of money, but because the politics of getting rid of parking on Green Lanes were too much for the council to stomach. I wrote some blogs about it at the time: Deference to Traffic, and Deference (again) to Traffic (the titles do give away the ending, though).

By the time all of this study-and-inaction was finished, of course, the millions to replace the old railway bridge had been spent.

The Belmont-West Green-Langham triangle

We could say that’s all water under the bridge, but the fact is these things are ongoing. Right now, boroughs all around us are transforming neighbourhoods so that drivers can’t take rat-runs through them. COVID emergency funds were being given out to help with this process, though Haringey’s applications for such funds were turned down. But sometimes Haringey gets other funds that could be used to create low traffic neighbourhoods, if it really wanted to do so. For instance, it has just received from TfL £80,000 on some road safety improvements in this area:

Belmont Road and Langham Road have been the site of numerous injuries to pedestrians at the hands of drivers. Langham Road is an extremely busy rat-run. Langham has relatively high density rental housing and passes by one entrance to Park View Secondary School. Traffic queuing to turn from West Green Road into Langham further fouls the air, and delays buses. Stanmore Road is also a rat run.

Two or three very simple traffic filters would solve this, keeping the through traffic on the main (A & B) roads, and making both Langham and Stanmore into safe places for kids. Elimination of a few parking spaces would make space for a right turn lane from West Green to Belmont, preventing traffic delays on West Green there. Haringey Council estimates traffic filters cost about £30,000 per junction on average, but other sources put that at about £20,000. Two small low traffic neighbourhoods could be had (or at least tried) at well within the £80,000 budget for the safety project.

What’s the Haringey Council doing with the money? Putting in traffic bumps on Belmont and Langham. The cars will still come, with the SUV drivers hardly noticing the bumps and other drivers producing more noise and pollution than ever with the slow-down-speed-up rhythm that speed bumps give us.

As far as I can tell, traffic filtering options were not even considered by the council. They were not included in the consultation on the project. This will not surprise anybody who has observed the Haringey Council over time: those in the council who make decisions about roads and traffic do not like filters. They can say it’s for want of money, but they find money for speed bumps, which are not cheap.

The same thing seems to be happening with improvements to the amusingly named Cycle Superhighway 1 (a route that roughly parallels the Tottenham High Road, sometimes on the pavement but mostly on back streets). This is one of the bits of COVID emergency active travel funding that Haringey was successful at bidding for. I have not seen detailed plans (as far as I know they have not been published), but it looks as if, again, they are passing up opportunities to use those funds for filters that would serve the dual purpose of making a far better cycle route and at the same time create some people-friendly streets. I’ll get back to that when I have more information.

But while we wait to learn that, we already know enough. Yes, the council is short of funds. But that is not the reason drivers rule our streets and our air is toxic: the reason is that the people who make these decisions at the council don’t make active travel a priority and don’t make clean air a priority; they resist solutions which would confine through traffic to main roads, while making most roads safe again for children and for other people who breathe; and they resist solutions that would reduce parking and loading to make space for cycle tracks. We get a lot of fine words from the council about active travel, clean air and reduced carbon footprint, but actions speak louder, and this council’s actions speak all too clearly.

(When I say “the people who make these decisions at the council”, I’m not being coy in not naming names: I see what the council does, and write about that; who makes the calls is not something I see, and I’m not inclined to speculate.)

Finsbury Park: cycling and safety

Strictly of local interest: this is from my response the Friends of Finsbury Park consultation on park safety. You can give your own response the consultation at this link.

The park safety plan should address the need for selected cycle routes after dark.

After-dark closure of park gates is superficially attractive, but in my twenty years of walking past this park there has never been a time when people weren’t able to get in through gaps made in the fence. Maintaining that fence must be a lot of work! So the question is not whether people who want to be there can get in, but whether people who are in the park (whether through a hole in the fence or because the gates are kept open) are safe.

And, note also needs to be taken of the role of the park as a hub for active transport, both walking and cycling.

When the park gates are open and passage through feels safe, communities on different sides of the park are connected for people travelling by foot or bike. When the park is closed, the connections between those communities are severed, as if on opposite sides of a motorway. Consider here the Oxford Rd/Stroud Green side of the park and the Manor House/Woodbury Downs area, well connected when the park is open, very far apart when it is closed.

The park is also an important hub for cycle longer distance cycle routes, with heavily travelled routes radiating from the park in several directions. Many of the roads bordering the park have heavy motor traffic and insufficient space for safe cycling. This makes the park a useful place to pass through on a bike – and also, for many, it feels like a much safer place than on a road like Endymion, Green Lanes or Seven Sisters in the sections where those roads border the park. When days get short in autumn and winter this leaves many cyclists without safe routes through or past the park.

The present heavy use of the park for cycling through-routes persists despite that fact that the locations and design of entrances, and the paths through the park, are often not well set up as cycle routes: there is no route paralleling Green Lanes, the Oxford Rd bridge is too narrow, there is no good connection from Wightman Rd, and so on. There is good reason to think that cycling provision in the park can, should, and will be improved. For instance:

  • The Mayor and TFL have identified Seven Sisters Rd as a part of a strategic cycling corridor (Tottenham Hale – Camden); unlike many parts of that corridor, the segment of Seven Sisters adjacent to the park is not wide enough to accommodate both cycle lanes and bus lanes. To achieve a continuous bike corridor without compromising bus service, a route through the park seems likely. To shut such a route at night would entirely defeat its purpose.
  • An entrance to the park from Alroy / Wightman roads, to accommodate the substantial cycle traffic coming down Wightman, is proposed in the final report of the Haringey Council’s Green Lanes consultation.

For these reasons, the safety plan for the park should include a small number of well-lit, all-hours routes for both cyclists and pedestrians.

A daylighted stream for the “Haringey Heartlands” (old gasworks) project?

Cheonggyecheon Stream, Seoul (photo Park Ji-Hwan/AFP, via Guardian)

Sometime back I posted a comment on the proposed housing + commercial development of the old gasworks site near Turnpike Lane. That post focussed on parking – I thought (and still think) that the site is handy enough to public transport (bus, tube, rail) and to retail services that it could, and should, be parking free. For reasons detailed below, I didn’t say anything about the failure to open the Moselle Brook (which runs in a culvert under the site) to daylight. It is time to come back to that now, and if you’re a Haringey resident I hope you’ll take the time to address this point in a response to the consultation. Continue reading

Haringey Transport Strategy vs. Green Lanes Report, or, deference (again) to traffic

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading the London Borough of Haringey’s Transport Strategy 2018: Draft for Public Consultation, and also the final report for the borough’s Green Lanes Area Transport Study. Friday 22nd December – tomorrow – is the last day to comment on the draft Transport Strategy. What’s to be said?

The Strategy is full of worthy goals – improved public transport, better walking and cycling environment, reduced traffic, cleaner air. Gotta love it for that. These are all stated in extremely general terms, but a load of implementation plans are promised: a Walking and Cycling Action Plan, a Parking Action Plan, a Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan, and a Local Implementation Plan. Given all the virtuous aspirations expressed in the Strategy, one is tempted to sit back and wait for equally virtuous, but more specific, Plans.

This reverie of a green and pleasant Haringey lifts quickly on reading the Green Lanes report where, to pollute that image, the rubber hits the road. Continue reading

Parking at the gasworks

(of strictly local interest)

This plan (comment deadline today) is for 1,700 flats, 4,000 square metres of retail / restaurant etc., and 7,500 square meters of office space.

1. Car parking

No parking for the retail or offices, because of proximity to transit – so far, so good.

The problem is residential parking. The outline applicaton, approved back in 2009, was for up to 251 car parking spaces. The current application is for 425 spaces. More parking means more traffic and it means higher building costs, and hence higher prices for the flats.

This site is perfect for car free development. Continue reading

Traffic evaporation: are you serious?

Some reflections on shopping, the school run, filters, and the possibility of actual and significant traffic evaporation.

Last night I attended the first of the information sessions for the consultation on the Green Lanes Area Transport Study, and I am afraid I was not always patient. While some people become less temperate when sitting alone at a computer keyboard, but I become more so – I am better able to edit myself. So if any of the project staff who were present at the event reads this, please accept the apologies of the tallish middle-aged American bloke who was exasperated that a large study of traffic has almost nothing to say (except on the one case of Wightman Road) about traffic reduction, and limits its analysis with the assumption that the overall number of car trips is fixed.

I am an economist, and, while economists disagree with one another about many things, our fundamental starting point is that people make choices between alternatives.  Continue reading

But where will the Wood Green traffic go?

Hoisted from comments:

In my post on the Wood Green regeneration plan, I said: “There should be no private motor vehicles on Green Lanes between Wood Green and Turnpike Lane… Traffic along Hornsey Park Road and other N-S routes should be filtered, to eliminate through traffic”. In reply, Joe asks: Continue reading

Green Lanes Consultation: Item by Item

Yesterday I blogged about the severe limitations of the Green Lanes Traffic & Transport consultation. There’s a lot in the consultation, however, much of it pretty good, some of it excellent, and you should answer it. It is long, but comes in several sections (packages), and you only need to answer the ones that interest you. Here are my answers, item by item, with a bit of further explanation.

Package AW: Area-wide improvements

01 Improve streetscape. Support. Mostly simple inoffensive stuff, enforcing rules that already exist. In this spirit, how about also taking out those extra wide new “phone” installations on Green Lanes, which are just Trojan horses for hoardings on busy sections of pavement?

02 Greater provision of car clubs. Strongly support. Makes cars available when needed while discouraging over-use & taking up less space for parking storage. Continue reading