Mini Holland: Translating the bid into bike lanes
Enfield Council's Cabinet has now agreed the governance arrangements for the delivery of the £27m Cycle Enfield project, formerly known as 'Mini Holland'. They have appointed Ringway Jacobs, highway infrastructure engineers to undertake detailed planning and modelling of the cycle routes, a process which has already started, but will take a number of months.
Ringwood Jacobs must advise on where the North – South Route will run. Whether this will be along Green Lanes, or "an alternative alignment that leaves the A105 somewhere south of Green Dragon Lane and uses quiet residential roads to Bounds Green".
There will be a public consultation, but there is concern that what is proposed by Enfield Council is insufficient, given the magnitude of this project, despite the Council’s assurances that it will consult widely. The consultation will be undertaken via Cycle Enfield Partnership Boards, one for each project. Here is who the Council is proposing to invite to participate.
Areas of Concern arising from the above proposals
Residents are not being fully consulted
Inviting ward councillors and local residents groups to represent residents is insufficient. Whilst residents associations do an excellent job, only a minority of residents actually belong to them. Schools, parents, groups like Age Concern, The Over 50s Forum should and must be consulted. Some of the proposed changes, such as removal of bus lanes in favour of cycle lanes, could make it much harder for parents with young children, the elderly and people with disabilities to access buses.
All residents who live along the routes and who live in Palmers Green, and Winchmore Hill must be given the right to have their views considered during the design process.Surely the residents should take precedence over cycle groups who cater for a tiny minority of residents/rate payers?
The assumption, stated in the bid document, that all residents should be able to undertake journeys of up to 8 miles by cycle, just doesn't stack up with how we live our busy lives, our desires and capabilities or the needs of anyone wishing to purchase anything larger than can be carried in a backpack or cycle pannier.
Insufficient consultation with businesses along the proposed routes
Enfield Council is proposing that Enfield Business & Retailers Association represent local business interests. Yet EBRA is directly funded by the Council, so is not fully independent. The phrase "not wanting to bite the hand that feeds you" springs to mind. The Council's document claims that "The Mini-Holland project will contribute to the growth agenda by regenerating the town centres that the main cycle routes pass through". At this stage it is unclear how the cycle scheme will achieve this.
It is unclear what additional risk assessment – if any - the Council intends to undertake to assess the economic impact on the business base along the routes of the proposed continuous cycle lanes. Should the designs result in cycle routes which hamper customers' access to local businesses, this could result in a significant reduction of turnover of many of the businesses along the routes, leading to degeneration not regeneration.
David & Teresa Colman of The Only Place For Pictures in Palmers Green have written an open letter to Enfield Council explaining thier concerns, which you can read here
Improving the health & wellbeing of Enfield residents
Enfield Council has suggested that the cycle highways will "significantly improve the health and wellbeing of Enfield residents". However, it could be argued that the benefits that will be derived from the cycle network are being overstated. The target is to get 5% of journeys undertaken by cycle (currently 0.7%). Therefore, only a very small minority of residents are expected to utilise the new bike routes. They are unlikely to include residents whose health is most at risk, such as the obese and those with multiple problems associated with deprivation.
Moreover, if the flow of traffic through the borough is restricted, because of the reductions in carriageways, traffic congestion could worsen air quality and hence health of residents in the areas affected.
Local people must be involved during the design process.
Residents and business owners not fobbed off with a one-off consultation once detailed plans are drawn up.
Enfield Council has a history of ignoring the outcome of other public consultations, so local communities must be given a real say in the planning. This must not be a tick box consultation. This is a major project which represents an opportunity to improve the quality of our streets, get more people to cycle and help to regenerate many of our local high streets, by making them more appealing to local people.
As yet there is nothing about the next steps for the project on the counil's own Cycle Enfield website, to quote
"We will rejuvenate these town centres and create much improved environments not just for people who cycle, but for everyone".
We hope so, yet there is still a significant risk that whilst Enfield Council's proposed scheme is removing barriers to cycling, they are actually be putting up barriers, preventing people from having easy access to places they want to visit, along these routes.
Planning work is now underway to get Enfield cycling