De Beauvoir Town has some of the loveliest streets in London. Since the 1970s, half a dozen roads have been accessible to pedestrians and people on bikes – and blocked to rat-running drivers. Now, residents have the chance to extend this area of safety and tranquility to cover almost all of De Beauvoir. It’s not yet clear whether they will take it…
When planning for ‘Cycle Superhighway’ 1, Hackney Council and Transport for London decided not to tackle the A10 – the main North-South route through the borough, the road on which most shops and services are located, and the current main site of casualties for people on bikes.
Instead, the route was put along the existing ‘London Cylce Network’ alignment through De Beauvoir. They may be safer than the A10, but these roads attract a lot of rat-running drivers, and certainly do not meet the criteria for a safe and desirable route on which ordinary people, aged 8-80, will willingly cycle. Hackney Cycling Campaign and Hackney People on Bikes requested filtering to create a worthwhile route which met the needs of people who cycle, and who might in future.
Separately, a large number of residents organised themselves to petition their councillors calling for filtering. These streets can be very busy with fast-moving drivers and are not fit for pleasant residential use.
The result from TfL and Hackney is an admirable and thorough plan to remove through traffic from the area. Building on the existing excellent filters in the bottom left of the map below, this area would see through traffic only on the main roads along the edge, and through Englefield Road in the middle.
While the money has come from TfL’s ‘Cycle Superhighway’ 1 pot, it is primarily a neighbourhood improvement project: cutting out through traffic, reducing noise, pollution and danger. This is an area which has seen a number of crashes over the last ten years, shown below – a danger and an unpleasantness which local people now have the chance to avoid.
When I attended a Ward Forum on the topic of the closures, I was disappointed to find that many of those attending were hostile to the closures (they numbered perhaps thirty-five or forty, but made up in heat what they lacked in numbers). While almost almost everyone seemed to recognise the negative effects of large number of outsiders driving through the area, many seemed minded to object to the proposals. In a meeting which was at times exceptionally unpleasant as attendees shouted over one another, council officers (and me), a number of strange arguments were made: the dangers of people cycling were brought up, ‘Will the council put a police officer on the junction of Culford Road’; the undesirability of restricting rat-running drivers, ‘it’s better to have ten cars go down ten roads than down one’ and of course ‘road tax’.
There were many strong, positive voices too. Local residents attended who had knocked on one another’s doors to gather support for the plan. One lady noted that she was on crutches and wouldn’t be able to cycle, but we must do more for people who do – and that she can hardly get her car out of it’s parking place on Ardleigh Road owing to the weight of traffic. Another lady noted that she was willing to be inconvenienced by a slightly longer route when she needed to drive, because it would be good for the area and for local people.
I very much hope that those in favour of these excellent proposals will make their voices heard too. If you want to see a safer, nicer De Beauvoir, be a good citizen and respond to the consultation – you have until the 18th November. All you have to do is click this link, choose ‘yes’ and write your name on the next page. You can add a reason and additional details about yourself if you like.