REOPEN OUR ROADS Another fine mess from TfL and Enfield Council
THE FOX LANE LOWER TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOOD TRIAL
CONSULTATION IS NOW OPEN
It is now four years since Enfield Council first announced plans to build its first 'mini Holland' cycle route, along the A105, from Enfield Town to Palmers Green. Funded by TfL, this route was intended to encourage local cycling and provide one of the spokes of the wheel of cycle routes into central London. Promises were also made that the scheme would be transformational and enhance our local high streets.
Four years on – has it fulfilled its objectives?
There are more cyclists using the cycle lane, espcially during lockdown but in percentage terms the shift in travel mode has been well below the targets, especially on the more northerly stretches in Winchmore Hill, up towards Enfield.
Has it benefitted the local economy? Most definitely not, even though more people are shopping locally. The damage to local businesses was confirmed by research commissioned by Enfield Council, the disruption to traffic flows, ongoing problems with congestion and the reduction in on street parking has had a massive negative impact on the A105 economy, resulting in numerous business failures. However despite frequent requests for promised support from Enfield Council nothing has materialised.
Now fast forward to 2020 and Enfield Council's new 'win' from TfL – funding for so called low traffic neighbourhood (LTN)
Local Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)
Funded by the Department for Transport Emergency Active Travel Fund, following on from lockdown LTNs have been implemented across London utilising 'emergency' traffic managment orders which do not require prior consultation, before a trial implementation for a period of six months. Like the Mini Hollands and cycle superhighways, the schemes are designed to discourage travel by private transport, to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. Creating enclaves of residential roads (lower traffic/quieter neighbourhoods) with limited access, vehicles are forcing instead to use main roads - even though the majority of these are also residential.
The result: traffic chaos, congestion and pollution; with delays not only to private citizens and businesses but also emergency services and buses; including school buses. Following the closures adjoining roads are having to cope with up to 50% more traffic; many people are reporting that their journey times are taking significantly longer – how can this be good for the environment?
People who are travelling across their local areas for perfectly legitimate reasons from A to B are being demonised, described as 'rat runners' – vermin to be kept out of the neighbourhood. Whilst some residents are apparently enjoying the absence of traffic, others are struggling to get out of their roads and are having to drive three sides of a square to get to their destination.
Not surprisingly there has been a huge backlash from people across London, with local petitions, public demonstrations, media articles both pro and against (mostly) and thousands of social media comments, summed up by this comment "the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many".
Across London people are coming together to campaign for the reversal of these discriminatory, sometimes dangerous road schemes which are having a negative impact on people's ability to move around their home area. As a result, a number of councils including Wandsworth and Lewisham are curtailing their Lower Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, recognising the problems (which could have been anticipated) have been caused.
LTNs in Enfield
The first two in the borough were implemented in Bowes Park, where residents can only get into their residential 'enclave' via the North Circular (A406).
The second is the Fox Lane scheme, which bars vehicles from entering the 'Lakes estate'. It has created an enclave bordered by Southgate High Street/Cannon Hill, Aldermans Hill, Bourne Hill and Green Lanes.
Roads have been closed off so that there is only entry from one direction even for residents who live on these roads and even though they are established routes connecting Southgate, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill they are no barred to all traffic, except for cyclists and pedestrians.
Winchmore Hill councillor Ian Barnes (Deputy Leader of Enfield Council) who is heading up Enfield's LTNs argues that the schemes are a necessary response to the climate change crisis and will improve air quality.
This is a short video produced by Cllr Barnes, with a response from residents living in the afflicated Bowes LTN questioning the validity of his arguments.
Here are a sample of stories that local people have shared on social media. (Names withheld but can be verified)
"I one of the disliked daily car users. My day – 8.15 – 8.30 disabled child picked up for school. 8.45 school with younger child. 9am at my desk or in the community using my car as a key worker – who never has lunch and dashes around trying to carry out my role. Remember then that I have two children finishing at 3 and then continue to do full time hours working all hours. Sorry I don't have time to walk my children to school sorry I have to ern a living but I am most sorry for the lack of infrastructure and how we are blamed for making the traffic worse. Please put things in place before tking away we will all no doubt have a miserable traffic COVID winter 2020 thanks to those who contributed to it".
"If I drive from my home to my destination through Fox Lane, the most direct route it does not make me a rat. My wife and I are hard working, taxpaying people with a difficult commute. If we save ten minutes from a long journey by going through Fox Lane it does not make us bad people. We are using the public road network, funded by the public and road users, as it was designed to be used".
"Four children at different schools, my school run begins at 7.15am and yes if Covid wasn't around the two older ones would take the bus, but I also have to take into account my elderly parents especialy my mother in hospital for nine weeks with Covid"
How can gridlocked traffic be anything other than damaging? According to Cllr Barnes, given time these traffic problems will evaporate. Yet how is going to happen when most of these journeys are necessary?
Families with young children, the elderly & disabled who can't simply walk or get on a bike are especially disadvantaged. It is flawed thinking that many people have to option to travel outside peak times as they have to get themselves to work, their children to school and other important appointments.
It is insulting to infer that their travel isn't 'essential'.
Without wanting to appear sexist, a lot of the travel hold ups will fall on women disproprortionately, as they are more likely to be taking short journeys
with few other options;
taking their children to school, managing childcare, have responsiblity for elderly parents,
running the household and volunteering their time to help other people in the community.
Emergency services are reporting longer response times;
this ambulance turned back as it seems the driver was uncertain
as to whether it could legitimately proceed.
It is understood that emergency vehicles don't carry a key to unlock the bollards
such as the one at the top of this article - forcing them to make long detours,
often through heavy traffic.
This fire engine was photographed in Bowes, unable to proceed due to the locked bollard. Have the emergency services been consulted about this scheme?
FOI requests have revealed that the emergency services told the council that they preferred a number plate recognition scheme which wouldn't impede their vehicles, not bollards.
Carers are reporting that they cannot reach as many patients in a day because their journeys are now much longer and have less time to spend with these often vulnerable people, whose medication may be delayed.
Pharmacies are reporting that they are struggling with prescription deliveries.
Should a patient press their alarm button, response times are being delayed.
The emergency services face longer journey times on calls within the LTNs or the surrounding area. It is compounding the problems which are already being caused by the cycle lane wands on Green Lanes which prevent drivers pulling over to allow ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles to manoeuvre through traffic.
Local business owners are losing customers
and facing extra travel costs. Extra travel
time by tradesmen for instance will have to
be passed on to the customer.
Taxis are having to take longer routes and
some are finding that certain routes are no
longer financially viable. How can this be
How can this benefit our already compromised local economy?
This article explains the problems faced by one local business Winchmore Hill Dog Walking
Removing the bollards, blocks and planters are vital to reconnect our communities
especially during the difficult months ahead when travelling by public transport is once more being discouraged.
Many residents resent being corralled, limiting access to their own homes, as well as for deliveries, tradespeople and visitors.
What is the economic cost of this unprecedented gridlocked?
Are you a resident or business fed up with Enfield 's road closures?
If so, please participate in the consultations which are now open