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Highbury rat run Gillespie Road to be made one way – but neighbours fear it’s not enough

PUBLISHED: 17:30 31 January 2019

Paul Kirk, pictured centre in a blue shirt, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat run. Picture: Dieter Perry

Paul Kirk, pictured centre in a blue shirt, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat run. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Campaigners living in a Highbury street notorious for rat-running drivers have welcomed the council’s decision to ban westbound through traffic – but fear it’s not enough.

Narrow Gillespie Road can cause huge backlogs of traffic at any time of the day, homeowners say. Picture: Dieter PerryNarrow Gillespie Road can cause huge backlogs of traffic at any time of the day, homeowners say. Picture: Dieter Perry

Gillespie Road is a narrow residential street used as a shortcut from Finsbury Park to east London. It’s often gridlocked at the Arsenal Tube station end.

But now Islington Council has announced an 18-month trial to make it one-way by installing a no-entry point just west of the junction with St Thomas’s Road and banning right turns.

The move comes as part of the plans to create healthier streets that are more attractive for pedestrians, cyclists and people who live there.

Work will begin on February 11 and enforcement, by way of a camera, will begin a week later. During the trial officers will monitor traffic data and feedback before deciding whether to make it permanent.

An image of the Gillespie Road one-way trial. Picture: Islington CouncilAn image of the Gillespie Road one-way trial. Picture: Islington Council

Paul Kirk has for years led the campaign for the road to be closed completely to through traffic. He told the Gazette that although the measures would stop the gridlock and fighting regularly witnessed by homeowners, it was now more attractive for eastbound drivers.

“We’ve been putting pressure on the council for a very long time and they’ve finally done something but they’ve kind of done it half-heartedly by just making it one way.

“It will reduce traffic but the majority of traffic will still travel down there. Drivers will think why go down the roads that are meant to take the majority of traffic when we’ve got this fantastic one way street.

“We want it to be closed completely and for all the roads around it to be. This just offloads it onto other roads.”

Paul and his neighbours are also unhappy that car parking spaces on one side of the road will be lost ahead of plans to install a cycle lane connecting Farringdon and Palmers Green through Clerkenwell and Finsbury Park.

Islington’s transport and environment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: “We are committed to creating healthier streets, where people can walk and cycle safely without high levels of pollution, and live healthier and more active lives.

“We believe this will improve the area for pedestrians and cyclists, and encourage more people to walk and cycle.”

Another trial will also launch in March to tighten the weight limit of the lorry ban in Highbury West from 7.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes. It will be enforced with a virtual weight restriction in Drayton Park.

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