Walthamstow’s ‘Four Villages’ Low Traffic Neighbourhood Case Study
Last night was the second of four big transport events in Bath taking place over three weeks or so. Next week involves a three day incubator event which includes a three minute profile of the Camden predicament on video and ends with a one day tram conference where Camden will be on the final session panel representing the Federation of Bath Residents Associations.
If it’s a blow by blow report on what was said last might then Bath Newseum’s expertly written and illustrated article is a great start.
If you want something a bit more Camden LTN-centric then read on. Camden residents were there in profusion which is a great sign – and thanks for making it. Here are the initials of those I definitely saw (JL, AM, CR, BW, CS, GG, JF, JA, CG, GG, ML, RL, NS, JS, Mal) – so that’s at least 15. If you, who were there, have anything to add or correct then please do comment at the bottom of this blog post.
Cllr Joanna Wright, Joint Lead for Transport warmed us up with some ambitious targets:
- Radical rethinking of the relationship between motorised transport and residents, so that we reset the preference from car assisted travel into and around Bath to ‘active travel’ on foot or bike, or public transport. This is not tinkering – its life changing
- Low Traffic Neighbourhoods would be implemented across Bath in the next two years
- To do this will require “direction, belief and stamina”.
Next up was the highly charismatic Clyde Loakes who gave us some hilarious comedy stand-up as well as some invigorating observations and ‘home truths’ on what has been achieved in Walthamstow’s Four Villages, the centre bit of the small London borough of Waltham Forest. Not only did he get a lot of laughs, he also got spontaneous applause at some of the points he was making.
First a bit of background – the area in question is tucked inside the north circular and is a potential rat run for car drivers from Hertfordshire and Essex trying to get into London from the M11, A10, A12.
There’s also significant bit of social justice behind all this which is relevant to Bath too – returning these four afflicted neighbourhoods back to their residents at the expense of car users.
He called it civilising our roads
This enables people to get out and meet on the street, businesses open and thrive by serving local residents.
The forlorn belief that businesses thrive on through traffic hurrying to work has proved to be a complete myth. It is just the opposite.
To make this happen requires three things:
- Make the top speed for all traffic in the city 20mph. Camden Road has that, but we know 67% of drivers don’t comply. Were it ubiquitous across the city then it is less likely to be forgotten and easier to enforce.
- Make parking in these villages dedicated to residents. We’re nearly there in Camden but adjacent areas aren’t and they will remain as daytime free car parks for commuters unless this is extended.
- Employ modal filters to stop rat-running. This would be new to NE Bath – think of the ‘bus gate’ outside Waitrose – this would allow through walkers, cyclists and buses – all the modes of transport which we want to see if you want a quieter, healthier and safer neighbourhood. Any motorist would have access to every property but they would not have an uninterrupted route along the whole of the NE Bath rat run (from the Gloucester Road to the London Road or Lansdown Road). Any ‘active traveller’ however would have a much quietened, pleasant and enticing journey. I picked up my e-bike, loaned from the council, this morning and can now do an average of 10 mph down into and around town, and back up again, loaded with shopping, without standing on the pedals. Click here for details of how you can be next!
Walthamstow is so successful in its modal shift away from the use of private cars that:
- tired shopping streets are now revived with quirky new businesses which serve residents – the Claremont, the hairdresser and the pharmacy could do with some complementary company, as could we and Fairfield Park
- training to ride a bike is available for all – from 3-80, and is booked out all year already
- cargo e-bikes are easy to hire to bring deliveries and big shopping loads home. Three Bags Full get heavy consignments of the Bath Magazine up the hills with ease
- converting a bike to ‘e’ need not cost more than £500 – probably less if you DIY it
- ‘bikehangars’ which occupy only 50% of a parking space and accommodate 6 bikes securely and cost only £20 per year per bike to hire. There are 350 of these and many more on the way. No hauling bikes up and down our front steps
- Muslim ladies are feeling empowered to engage much more easily and independently in the community. If anything getting out of our cars makes us much more flexible in our journeys and in touch with our neighbours
- their shocking level of air pollution has been reduced to nearer where we are in Bath – this would only get better for us
- buses run unimpeded by through traffic moving in the opposite direction. So for Camden: no more hooting and pavement encroachment and an even better bus service than we have now. Did you know that on Camden Road there is a bus in each direction every 15 minutes throughout the main part of the day?
The first reaction of many is “It won’t work for me – I’m totally against it”. Lots of communities have now been through the process of getting used to the idea and eventually embracing it. Walthamstow is on a roll after initial mass protests and Clyde Loake’s council administration remains extremely popular in local elections. Here’s a link to his presentation on the day.
How many non-smoking zealots do you remember who thought they could never give up? There’s something very powerful about the newly converted – like me! I hope you’ll join the clamour for an LTN for NE Bath by signing our campaign here and leave us a message of support or your ideas too. Or, see the campaign links at the top of every one of our web-pages. There’s a campaign group which now has signed up 100 of us, as of today – we’d like 200 to make a really strong statement to the Council.
Jeremy, Chair of the CRA.