Will traffic-free plan drive cars to residential streets?
Swift moves to change lay-out of London
24 May, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
Sadiq Khan pictured in Camden Town last year
A MAJOR car-free overhaul must not funnel traffic into residential streets for the first time.
This is the warning from people living in the south of the borough where Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s plans to close roads to give more space for walking and cycling amid the coronavirus crisis. The plans include Woburn Place and Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, with six weeks of work beginning immediately.
Jo Hurford, who lives in Grafton Way, off Tottenham Court Road, said: “I wonder if potential impacts on residential streets have been fully looked at? On the face of it, it sounds like a great idea, but without knowing what the impact on surrounding streets might be, I wouldn’t like to say so.”
She added: “Lots of things which are made to sound like a good idea are in fact very bad for Grafton Way residents because we’ll get much heavier traffic below us.”
In other projects, Transport for London said it is working with the council to implement more changes in Kilburn High Road where pavement-widening measures have already been implemented to make two-metre social distancing easier.
Works on cycle lanes are also taking place in Goods Way, King’s Cross, while traffic will be restricted in Savernake Road, Gospel Oak, Sandall Road, Kentish Town, and Clarence Way in Camden Town.
Ray Davis, a London cab driver who lives in Kentish Town, said: “If you shut roads off, in the end the cab driver finds a way around but it is you, the passenger, sitting in the back that have to pay for it. We want to do the best we can for the passengers. “The traffic has got to go somewhere so if they shut those roads, the roads are going to get busy.”
Writing in this week’s New Journal, Green Party leader Councillor Sian Berry said the recovery should aim for a “15-minute city” where work and services were all concentrated in central London, reducing the need for polluting travel. She added that roads needed to be “shared out fairly” more than ever.
Camden’s environment chief Councillor Adam Harrison said: “The Mayor of London’s plans to enable people to more safely walk or cycle along TfL-managed roads from mainline rail stations, is an important part of this work and we are currently in discussion with the GLA to learn further details about these proposals.
Mr Khan said: “If we want to make transport in London safe, and keep London globally competitive, then we have no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people.”