TRAFFIC PROPOSALS for London Fields have so far succeeded only in polarising views.
Hackney council might have been expected to know that changes to car, bicycle and pedestrian flows would need delicate handling and careful consultation.
Instead, it has announced that the proposal to will go straight to trial.
Loving Dalston here tries to summarise the long statements sent to it by the campaigners for both sides:
Campaigner Mike Hood:
* A London Fields ward meeting at the Queensbridge centre was taken over by frustrated local residents. This month a letterbox flyer announced that the council would, without prior public consultation, hold a live trial to close 16 streets/junctions around London Fields from January 2016. Few local residents or businesses knew about the plan;
* The flyer asked readers to sign a petition;
* The proposed experimental traffic order has been altered several times and bears little resemblance to the one shown to the public at the July 2015 London Fields ward meeting, or the one published in the 2 November 2015 Hackney Today or in the council press release subsequently posted on the Hackney website.
* No detailed evidence of the traffic surveys carried out in relation to this proposed experimental traffic order in April have been published or even made available to the press, yet the proposals are being driven by the threat of “rat-running” – something that the council and Councillor Feryal Demirci have cited in public, yet seems to bother only a few residents in Middleton Road, Hackney officials and staff, and cyclist pressure groups.
* The reality is that the proposals would drive traffic into other roads;
* In the 1994-2010 period Hackney showed an about-2% average fall in traffic density. We have seen no evidence that this figure is increasing;
* The proposal seems an attempt to create a kind of gated community to the benefit Middleton Road residents and cyclists. The needs of the other 11,750 residents and businesses in the ward should also be considered;
* Emergency services will be forced to identity the best route to an incident. No alternative routes exist, which would put homes and businesses at risk.
* The process of this scheme has been undemocratic. We are told that the scheme was being advised by only two residents from Middleton Road and pressure groups London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets.
Brenda Puech, Living Streets:
* Hackney council has agreed to hold a public meeting before the start of the trial, which is now due to be on January 2016;
* The Queensbridge centre meeting marked the first time many residents had heard of the scheme. For others who had been campaigning for or against it, the discussion had begun at two ward forum meetings earlier this year, which had low attendances. Both supporters and opponents had leafletted homes in the scheme area and pro and anti petitions were competing in numbers;
* We were encouraged to hear Councillor Demirci telling objectors: “It’s my duty to keep my residents safe from pollution, and to improve the quality of life. If I don’t explore this option, then I’m failing in my duty.”
* Car ownership in Hackney stands at 35% so most motor traffic is through traffic;
* In De Beauvoir, the traffic-filtering scheme installed in the 1970s, there was initially huge opposition to the scheme. All the three current mini-Holland schemes in London at Walthamstow, Enfield and Kingston have had 60% support at the consultation stage;
* We look forward to the trial and to demonstrating to all residents that it will be “fantastic for the entire neighbourhood, reducing motor traffic noise, speeds and volumes, reducing pollution and allowing children, older people and cyclists to get around without fear of danger, noise and pollution”.
Mike Martin, London Fields User Group (Lfug) chairman:
* We seek further discussion instead of the council’s just going ahead to chop up the area;
* The publicity tells us the beneficiaries would be “some mythical pedestrians and cyclists”. The opposition, however, derives from long-term residents, who have devoted much time to improve Hackney.
* The scheme will not cut pollution which, around London Fields is mixed with the wind and comes from all over, not just from local traffic. Remember, too, that Hackney should realise that Hackney has some of the highest area of green space in central London;
* The proposal will increase traffic in Richmond Road, Lansdowne Drive and Queensbridge Road. And if you look at all the cars parked outside the many houses in the area of a night you will realise that it is not only outsiders on rat-runs who drive cars here.
* Lfug gets many complaints about the (minority of) cyclists racing through the park;
* When London Fields park is just around the corner, why is it necessary for children to play in the streets? This does not mean we should not control rat-runs. We need to discuss the problems. We need to stop heavy vehicles using our streets for through traffic. We must support better public transport and the growth of cleaner transport.
David Altheer 181115
* Backstory: Hackney council takes on drivers
* Pix: kindly supplied by campaigners
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.