Residents questions - Cllr Wayne's remarks
"Under the current social distancing rules a double decker bus that could take 87 passengers is restricted to 30 passengers. Figures from the most recent TFL bus user survey indicate that only 14 out of the displaced 57 passengers would have access to a car (about 25%). 43 would have to walk, cycle or get a taxi."
"A consequence of restricting through traffic is that for some residents some journeys may be slightly longer. If that means that there is behavioural change leading to more journeys being by active transport rather than cars then that is a huge public health gain."
"Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use."
Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use.
Cllr Wayne's opening remarks to our community zoom meeting 19 August
There are two questions that I have been frequently asked. Why are the council restricting through traffic along some residential streets, and why now?
The two questions are linked. But before I answer them, I want to scotch a few myths about the scheme. Roads are not being closed. Nobody is being banned from using cars. At all times of the day residents will be able to drive their cars. At all times of the day deliveries can be made to the door of your homes. Taxi’s, minicabs and Uber’s will still be able to drop off and collect from outside resident’s doors at all times of the day and night.
So what are People Friendly Streets. People friendly streets are streets that are safer for walkers, cyclists, buggy users, wheelchair users and scooter users. They are streets with reduced motor vehicle traffic, and therefore streets with lower pollution. How do we achieve reduced motor vehicle traffic? By stopping rat-running and by encouraging residents who might get in their cars to make a short journey, perhaps to the shops on Essex Road to pick up a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, to walk, cycle or use some other form of active transport to go there.
The only way to stop rat-running is by placing physical barriers, or camera filters to stop cars from rat-running. A consequence of restricting through traffic is that for some residents some journeys may be slightly longer. If that means that there is behavioural change leading to more journeys being by active transport rather than cars then that is a huge public health gain.
As Claire and John will touch upon, People Friendly Streets have been on our radar as a council for a couple of years. I was part of a delegation that visited Waltham Forest last year to see the transformational work there and I came away convinced that People Friendly Streets had the potential to improve the street environment, improve the local economy and improve public health.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Covid 19 outbreak. The 2004 Traffic Management Act places a statutory duty on all highway authorities to manage their road networks. On the 23rd May statutory guidance was issued to all highway authorities of which Islington council is one. It is worth reflecting on the foreword to that guidance , drafted by Grant Shapps “The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens, as well as severe economic consequences. But it has also resulted in cleaner air and quieter streets, transforming the environment in many of our towns and cities.
And millions of people have discovered, or rediscovered, cycling and walking. In some places, there’s been a 70% rise in the number of people on bikes - for exercise, or for safe, socially distanced travel.
When the country gets back to work, we need them to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more. With public transport capacity reduced, the roads in our largest cities may not be able to cope without it.
We also know that in the new world, pedestrians will need more space. Indications are that there is a significant link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness. Active travel can help us become more resilient.
That is why towns and cities in the UK and around the world are making or proposing radical changes to their roads to accommodate active travel.
We recognise this moment for what it is: a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities. According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017-18 over 40% of urban journeys were under 2 miles – perfectly suited to walking and cycling.
Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits.
The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel. I’m pleased to see that many authorities have already begun to do this, and I urge you all to consider how you can begin to make use of the tools in this guidance, to make sure you do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport.”
So what was the guidance?
Local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use should take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing during restart (social distancing in this context primarily refers to the need for people to stay 2 metres apart where possible when outdoors). Local authorities where public transport use is low should be considering all possible measures.
Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.
Two specific measures were
Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets. This will enable active travel but also social distancing in places where people are likely to gather.
Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers. Often used in residential areas, this can create neighbourhoods that are low-traffic or traffic free, creating a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle, and improving safety.
Come September London will face particular problems with the return to school and a reduction in home working. Under the current social distancing rules a double decker bus that could take 87 passengers is restricted to 30 passengers. Figures from the most recent TFL bus user survey indicate that only 14 out of the displaced 57 passengers would have access to a car (about 25%). 43 would have to walk, cycle or get a taxi. Taxi’s don’t come cheap. That is why TFL are planning for a five-fold increase in the number of journeys made on foot, and a ten-fold increase in journeys by bike. Quite simply if nothing was done to accommodate this many more pedestrians and cyclists would be killed or seriously injured.
So we are doing this to save lives. We are doing this because it needs to be done. As Professor Knight, an eminent cardiologist and the Chief executive of Barts Hospital put it in a letter to the council leader in may, responding to the statutory guidance “We need to make active travel a real option for everyone, not just the young and fit and use cars and public transport only for those who have no other option.
Infrastructure for active travel enables people to exercise as part of their daily routine and being physically active is an effective way to reduce rates of various chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The WHO and Public Health England has highlighted the importance of increasing the proportion of journeys made by bicycle or by foot.
The Prime Minister has told regional leaders to encourage people to commute on foot or by bike to help avoid a dramatic increase in car use after lock down. We welcomed the Secretary of State's announcement on Saturday and we very much hope that these initiatives will be installed borough wide without delay.
One final remark at this stage. I am acutely aware of the level of anger that some have about the scheme. I was made aware that my home address was distributed to a nationwide group campaigning against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. I’m bound to say it doesn’t scare me. But one of the councillors whose address was disseminated is a colleague of mine who is seriously ill with cancer. I am sure that nobody on this call had anything to do with the dissemination of the addresses. I am sure we can have a reasoned and rational debate about the merits of the scheme, and how it can be improved. It is an experimental scheme, and embedded in it is a full consultation before it can be permanently implemented. Some will feel the scheme doesn’t go far enough. All that I can ask is that everyone comes in with an open mind.