Gazette letters: Fossil fuel reminder and Quietway 10

A man sits on the dry grass in the heat. Picture: PA IMAGES.

A man sits on the dry grass in the heat. Picture: PA IMAGES. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

What is there to write of when the sun has turned everything to crisp and dust? writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

London is barely recognisable amidst the beaten lawns and blistered shoulders.

We should be thankful – the scenes in Greece and Japan are a terrible reminder of the wreckage our changed world can bring and of how lucky we are here in London.

Yes, of course, it is true that no single heatwave can be attributed to the man-made climate change we are currently living through. But equally it is impossible to deny that the year after year of record breaking blazing months we have experienced in the last 10 years are down to the fossil fuels we are burning. It is an unfortunate fact that we need to learn to live with this weather – or our future may drive us to the brink.

Fish gasping through the duckweed on Regent’s canal, brightly coloured tiger moths desperately resting along the banks of the Lea, even a couple of squirrels falling lazily out of a branch into my garden. The haze of the past weeks renders wildlife and people incompetent alike. We are all at the mercy of the weather.

How the years ahead of us pan out depends on the ability of companies and government to accept the challenge. They must help move us away from polluting fossil fuels and towards a world where we protect and restore the nature around us and manage our resources in a way that benefits us all in the long term. On the world stage, London is a powerful player, the actions of its assembly speak volumes.

In the letter in the last week’s Gazette , Steve Woods painted a rather gloomy view about Islington’s traffic woes and didn’t think a quietway would help, writes John Ackers, Highbury Grove, Highbury.

Imagine for a second if we held a road map of Islington up in the air, in which each road was represented as a water pipe. We now pour water into the top at, say, Archway. The water would pour along and down through every possible road and eventually onto the ground somewhere in Clerkenwell at the bottom of the map. Now let’s imagine if we then blocked one long, thin vertical pipe, let’s call that a quietway. The result would be slightly less water pouring through the Islington map.

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No one doubts that delivery and service vehicles have to travel by road to/from and through the borough. But contrary to popular myth, there aren’t a similar fixed number of commuters that have to drive to work each day. It’s the other way around: the number of commuters adjusts to match the spare capacity of the Islington road network. According to the 2011 census, every day thousands of people commute by car from Barnet and Haringey to Westminster and the City and we, Islington residents, or more accurately, Islington Council, let them!

If road capacity is reallocated for a quietway, commuters that are able to adjust their driving habits by driving earlier or later or not at all. Or get the Tube. And then the light bulb moment, some of those other Tube passengers that are fed up with jam-packed Tube trains or queuing to enter Finsbury Park station suddenly realise that there is an alternative; it might actually be possible for the first time to cycle from Finsbury Park to central London via the Islington Quietway 10 and the existing protected cycle routes (eg CS6, CS3). It’s no longer scary. And so the virtual circle is created: less motor traffic, less air pollution, less carbon emissions, more active travel, better public health.

We are not all able or fit enough to cycle , writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Quite so, but there is no question that many disabled people can cycle – readers might like to check out the wonderful Wheels for Wellbeing website – and that individual fitness would improve if active travel (walking and cycling) became the norm. The costs to the NHS would be significantly reduced: type 2 diabetes consumes a large slice of public health spending.

For that to happen, our streets must become safe and pleasant places for all. That means traffic-reducing policies such as road closures/modal filtering and removal of parking spaces. An effective Quietway 10 could become a template for TfL’s Healthy Streets. Let’s not forget that just 26 per cent of Islington households owns or has access to a private vehicle, and that the proposed route would be along and adjacent to local overwhelmingly residential roads.

Putting obstacles in the way of a pleasanter, cleaner environment and improved public health through transport planning is unhelpful, and not, I’m sure, Steve Woods’ intention. But there is, for example, no reason why many vital deliveries such as those by Medequip couldn’t be made by cargo-bike. An 18-months Experimental Traffic Order, the design of which would be drawn up by officers in public consultation with residents most immediately impacted by QW10, seems like a positive way ahead.

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