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Clerkenwell residents’ alarm over “rat run” lorries threatening lives

Councillor George Allan stand with residents at the junction of of Woodbridge Street and Seckforde Street Councillor George Allan stand with residents at the junction of of Woodbridge Street and Seckforde Street

Thursday, April 3, 2014
3:00 PM

Campaigners in Clerkenwell have called for urgent safety measures on a busy street following reports of children almost being run over and multiple cars being damaged by speeding vans.

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Residents in Seckforde Street say commercial vehicles are using the road as a “rat run” to avoid heavy traffic on Clerkenwell Road and are putting lives at risk.

Vehicles have been recorded travelling at up to 55mph along the street and a quarter of all vehicles are breaking the 20mph speed limit.

A petition outlining their concerns and demanding new traffic calming measures be put in place has been handed to Islington Council.

Michael Bardell, a lawyer who has lived in Seckforde Street for 27 years, is leading the campaign.

He said: “There’s too much traffic – it’s too fast and the vehicles are too big.

“It’s dangerous and it’s noisy. Vehicles are using the area like a rat run.”

Mr Bardell said there have been a number of near misses where pedestrians, including children and parents, have 
almost been run over by speeding vehicles, and about a dozen parked cars have also been damaged by through traffic.

Concerns

It is thought a general rise in traffic across the capital, combined with more sat-nav devices which suggest “shortcuts” for drivers, are contributing to the problem.

“There is widespread concern among residents,” he added. “We’d like to see steps taken to prevent through traffic or at least, vehicle width restrictions brought in.”

Last year the council became the first local authority in the capital to introduce a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.

Andy Hull, the council’s executive member for finance and performance, said in a meeting to the full council last week, that vehicles were now travelling an average of one mile per hour slower. However, this was based on monitoring surveys carried out shortly after the new speed limit was rolled out.

A separate week-long survey of traffic volumes in Seckforde Street, carried out in November, showed that out of 3,500 vehicles, 717 were travelling between 25mph and 35mph; 52 were between 35mph and 45mph; and nine were between 45mph and 55mph.

About 75 medium goods vehicles and 16 heavy goods vehicles were counted using the road.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Clerkenwell ward, George Allan, has backed the residents’ campaign.

“The residents of Seckforde Street have shown there is a serious problem with vehicle volumes and speeds and we are now calling on the council to take steps before there are further accidents,” he said.

“Van drivers seem to think that Seckforde Street is a shortcut and have been using it in great numbers.

“We are hopeful this will achieve a good response from the council. We think there is a case and money to take action.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “The council is always looking for ways to improve the borough’s roads.”

She added: “We are investigating the costs and feasibility of traffic calming measures for the Sekforde Street area.”

We have been monitoring the speed limits since and will continue to monitor and review. This has allowed us to work with the police and we have jointly held “stop and advise” sessions on the Principal Road Network to reinforce the 20mph speed limit.

Islington Council spokeswoman said: “The council is always looking for ways to improve the borough’s roads. We are investigating the costs and feasibility of traffic calming measures for the Sekforde Street area.”

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