Anger over council’s low-traffic plan

A 'modal filter' in Walthamstow that blocks motor traffic for entering a road
A ‘modal filter’ in Walthamstow that blocks motor traffic from entering a residential road

Former boss of Cycle Enfield among those critical of latest scheme, reports James Cracknell

Enfield Council has extended a public consultation on its latest cycling proposals after a furious backlash from local residents, councillors and parliamentary candidates.

The local authority last month revealed its plans to create a series of low-traffic zones across the borough, closing dozens of roads to motor traffic to try and stop rat-running and reduce pollution by persuading people to leave their cars at home for short journeys.

An area in Palmers Green will be used as a six-month trial for the scheme as soon as next spring, but residents living in roads now dubbed the ‘Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood‘ reacted with fury at a public exhibition – with one branding it “a disaster”.

It was only after several election candidates for Enfield Southgate began writing to the council demanding more time to consider the scheme that a public consultation was extended, until Sunday 22nd December.

Residents fear plans to block 16 road entrances – only allowing cyclists and pedestrians to enter – will funnel traffic into surrounding roads, worsening congestion and pollution in shopping streets such as Green Lanes. The council argues overall car use will decline, as happened in Walthamstow where a similar project saw total traffic fall 16% after the first year, despite increases of up to 11% on surrounding main roads.

Mel Kirkland from Derwent Road told the Dispatch: “It’s a disaster. My wife shops at Morrisons but now she’ll need to drive almost up to Southgate and back to get there.”

Eleanor Grey-Parsons, another Derwent Road resident and cyclist, said: “I appreciate the sentiment on climate change but I think they need to look at this properly. I don’t want to live in an enclave.”

The quieter neighbourhoods scheme is the latest proposal from Cycle Enfield, the council’s ‘Mini Holland’ project that won £30million from Transport for London (TfL) in 2014 and has so far seen several miles of cycle lanes installed in the borough, including those on Green Lanes which have been nominated for a top transport award.

However, a previous attempt to reduce traffic in the Fox Lane area was abandoned earlier this year. The former boss of Cycle Enfield, Southgate Green councillor Daniel Anderson, admitted large ‘planters’ previously installed at road entrances had failed to deter drivers – and now says he also is sceptical about how the new road closure plans will work.

“There are major concerns,” Cllr Anderson told the Dispatch. “If there was a simple solution we would have done it before – the reality is it’s very complex. I am not opposed to the principle of it but you have to have more evidence and support from the community to make it work.

“The plans were published only a few days before the exhibition and ward councillors weren’t even invited. That’s not the way to bring people with you.”

Fox Lane is the first of eight low-traffic neighbourhoods set to be introduced across Enfield. Other zones include streets surrounding Connaught Gardens in Palmers Green; Fernleigh Road in Winchmore Hill; Bowes Park; streets around Bush Hill Road; the Firs Lane area; plus parts of Edmonton Green and Enfield Highway.

Not everyone is against the plans, however. Tom Parry lives in Old Park Road, part of the Fox Lane neighbourhood, and told the Dispatch: “We get cut-through traffic and by blocking one end you can stop that. I think, ultimately, this will make life slightly less convenient for car drivers but my main concern is for my young children.”

Deputy council leader Ian Barnes says the upcoming road closures trial will only become a permanent change if it “improves the situation for local people and works for local businesses” and that feedback from the consultation will be taken on board.

Cllr Barnes added: “This is not a cycling scheme, it is about improving quality of life. Residents in the area have long complained about the volume and speed of traffic. Low-traffic neighbourhoods are part of our long-term strategy to reduce traffic overall which should lead to environmental improvements. We are currently receiving valuable feedback and anticipate revisions to this proposal; a key theme so far being concerns around entry and exit points for Lakes Estate.”

The new deadline for submitting views on the plans is Sunday 22nd December. Find out more:
Visit letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/foxlaneQN

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