CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The Tavistock Place/Torrington Place trial has been shown to be a failure

09 November, 2017

• THE public inquiry on the future of the Tavistock Place/Torrington Place trial one-way system ended last Thursday.

The organisations and groups which were opposed to the east-bound one-way system being made permanent were shocked by some of the revelations during the inquiry.

Although Camden Council had heralded the trial as a success, on closer inspection of the facts, it can be seen that the trial had failed to achieve its key objectives of increased cycling, improved safety and improved air quality.

The council’s consultation document on the trial, published in autumn 2016 stated: “There have been significant increases in cycling east-west along the route in the morning and afternoon rush hours (up to 52 per cent)”.

Under questioning in the inquiry the council officer had to concede that this increase of 52 per cent was unsubstantiated and she could only say there had been no decrease in cycling numbers.

Although the consultation document had tried to imply safety had improved by stating that cyclists “felt safer”, the council’s proof of evidence for the inquiry admitted, “…there has been an increase in the number of collisions involving cyclists.” In fact the increase is from seven to 11 accidents.

The council’s document went on to justify this by saying that the numbers of cyclists had increased by 52 per cent – but we now know this is not true.

And so the simple fact is that since the trial started, in November 2015, cycling numbers have not increased, but cycling accidents have increased – by 57 per cent.

The council claimed that air quality had improved since the trial, because it had selectively measured air quality on the Tavistock-Torrington corridor, where one lane of traffic had been removed.

However evidence during the inquiry confirmed that local streets, which had had to absorb the displaced traffic, had become more polluted.

The council chose not to measure “before” and “after” air quality on streets that were likely to be congested because of the trial but had to admit, for instance, “there have been some increases in pollution along Endsleigh Gardens.” This is what residents have been saying for two years.

The inquiry ran for four weeks and many important facts emerged, but key findings were that the trial did not provide evidence that numbers of cyclists had increased, or that the trial route was safer for cyclists, or that air quality in the area was improved.

In short, the trial failed on all its main objectives.

NICKY COATES
Chair, Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group

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