Why Cycle Tzar Andrew Gilligan thinks local knowledge is important when planning road schemes
In December 2009, Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor of London’s cycling tsar wrote an article for a local Greenwich website, vehemently criticising Greenwich Council’s plans to reconfigure Greenwich Town Centre.
In the article, he argues that:
“any close examination of the proposals shows them to be damaging, if not indeed unworkable”
He goes on to argue that:
“the suggested changes will only remove traffic from a relatively small part of the centre.
But they will impose extra traffic on the rest of the centre and across a far wider area”
Isn’t this exactly what Mr Gilligan is proposing to do in Enfield?
In this article Mr Gilligan also expresses concern about the impact on bus services in Greenwich. To quote:
“Most options proposed will also devastate Greenwich's bus service, hardly conducive to a carfree future.
The only one which doesn't do this will, as the council admits, lead to extra congestion”.
So Mr Gilligan how come this isn’t acceptable for bus passengers and residents in Greenwich but acceptable for the residents of Enfield?
Under the Cycle Enfield proposals, bus passengers in our borough will be adversely affected in many ways. Bus stops are to be removed, with passengers forced to board or alight from a bus across a bike lane. There will be delays to bus passengers and other road users because of the removal of bus lanes entering Palmers Green and Enfield Town. As the A105 (Green Lanes) is narrow, buses will have to stop on the carriageway whilst passengers get on or off, resulting in a build up of traffic behind buses.
Would Mr Gilligan accept this level of disruption for bus passengers in Greenwich?
The "victims” – Mr Gilligan’s choice of words “will be local residents and nontourist businesses".
So if Mr Gilligan can understand the problems for residents and businesses in Greenwich, why is he so blinkered to the problems that his cycle lane scheme will create for residents and businesses in our local area?
Mr Gilligan pours scorn on:
“a loaded questionnaire”
“a public exhibition lasting all of three days, tucked away in a room down a back corridor of a building accessed via a path leading off a side street”
“no data to back up their claims”
“They say some of the pedestrianisation options would reduce overall congestion and pollution, but the people at the exhibition admit that no modelling has in fact been done on how the proposals will affect traffic flows”
This is all starting to sound awfully familiar. Mr Gilligan do you think that these accusations could also be levelled at your cycle lane proposals for Enfield?
The people of Enfield have likewise been ‘sold’ cycling as a panacea for the problems of congestion and failing high streets. We have been told that the proposed cycle lane schemes will reduce congestion and pollution, without a shred of evidence to back up these assertions.
Mr Gilligan clearly has an in-depth local knowledge of Greenwich and can see few advantages for the proposed road scheme. He argues strongly against pedestrianisation.
“Pedestrianised streets can be bleak, particularly at night. Pedestrianisation would probably lead to a rise in Greenwich's already growing problem of drunken antisocial behaviour”
Yet Mr Gilligan seems perfectly happy to “pedestrianise” Enfield Town. If you take away parked cars and through traffic from Church Street (except for buses and cycles) almost certainly there will be a worsening the problems with antisocial behaviour and lack of footfall that already exist.
As the Enfield reader peruses the article (see link below), the parallels between Greenwich and Enfield become ever stronger. Mr Gilligan can forsee:
"additional traffic congestion"
“because buses turning right at St Alfege Church and stopping on Nelson Road to pick up passengers would significantly slow down the traffic flow through the town centre, causing major jams”
With his detailed local knowledge of Greenwich, he can also predict that:
“traffic and pollution would be spread over a wider area. Even if the total number of vehicles does not change, most drivers coming from the east and south will have to use more roads and drive significantly further to pass through the area. This means more pollution for everyone, and more traffic for many”.
Mr Gilligan can envisage that:
“there will also be traffic jams in new places”
“many local journeys will become very long and convoluted”
“more rat-running by locals”
If Mr Gilligan can understand perfectly the problems that these proposals would cause for Greenwich, why does he choose not to understand that these are EXACTLY the problems that will result from installing segregated cycle lanes along Green Lanes, (from Enfield Town to the North Circular), Southbury Road and around Enfield Town.
Perhaps he believes that it is acceptable because it is not in his backyard. Our local area (not his) can be sacrificed for this ill conceived Mini Holland scheme.
Mr Gilligan’s conclusion?
“ Unsatisfactory as it is, the status quo remains the least worst option. The latest proposal seems yet another of the council's ill-thought through Olympic related schemes. Its benefits are modest and its drawbacks far greater”
Ditto the Cycle Enfield proposals!
Enfield Council, TfL and the GLA must call a halt to these similarly ill-thoughout proposals before they inflict the problems that Mr Gilligan can so clearly envisage in his own locality.
Is hypocrisy Mr Gilligan's middle name?