Letters on low traffic neighbourhoods

People Friendly Streets in Highbury Fields

People Friendly Streets in Highbury Fields - Credit: Chris Kenyon

Leading the way in making Islington streets safer through 20mph speed limits

Cllr Caroline Russell, Highbury East ward and Londonwide Assembly member, Green Party, writes:

Islington topped the Healthy Streets Scorecard for 2021. 

This rates London boroughs every year against measures that support public health by the way they manage their streets. The scorecard ratings cover the percentage of streets with controlled parking, 20mph speed limits, low traffic neighbourhoods, protected bike lanes and school streets.

As an Islington councillor and London Assembly member, I spoke at the results launch recently and as I prepared what to say, I was struck by the way that the work that led to this success for our borough has covered at least 20 years and has been supported consistently by the rigorous creativity of council officers and championed by elected councillors of several different parties. 

Some of us will remember the huge controversy surrounding the initial introduction of controlled parking schemes in the late ’90s and early 2000s, where Lib Dem councillor Bridget Fox took much of the heat. Now it is accepted that paying to store a car on the public highway is normal and actually prevents the borough being used by people from outer London as a park and ride carpark to access central London.

Then Islington became the first borough to give all roads a 20mph speed limit, while the council was under no overall political control from 2006-2010 and Green Cllr Katie Dawson persuaded both Labour and the Lib Dems to include the commitment in their budget proposals. 

People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists

People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists - Credit: Archant

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Since 2010 Labour has run the council and several councillors have held the environment portfolio. The implementation of the 20mph limit proposal was overseen by Cllr Paul Convery.

Former Cllr Claudia Webbe introduced the first school streets in Islington in 2018 and oversaw some big projects delivered by TfL to make the hostile, traffic-dominated gyratory systems at Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street safer for walking and cycling.

Most recently the council has ambitiously rolled out pop up bike lanes and trials of low traffic neighbourhoods across the borough under the leadership of Cllr Rowena Champion.

All this change has been influenced by years of campaigning by Islington residents aiming to reduce the numbers of people killed and seriously injured while crossing the road or riding a bike, clean up the air and make the borough a place where walking and cycling are safe and convenient.

Small things like the council’s recent decision to report on the data for people killed and injured on our roads may be making a difference. If you notice the numbers of people sadly dying it really sharpens the determination to improve things.

My challenge to Islington council is to rethink the Roamer parking scheme that encourages short car trips around the borough and my challenge to the Healthy Streets Scorecard Coalition is to find a way to measure and score the accessibility of streets. Streets across London should work for children, older and disabled people whether getting around with a white cane, using sticks, a wheel chair, mobility scooter or adapted bike.

Reduce traffic on McKenzie Road with new LTN

McKenzie Road, Islington

McKenzie Road, Islington - Credit: John Hartley

John A Hartley, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

McKenzie Road, N7, has an excessive amount of traffic for such a narrow, minor road. Drivers, many of whom may be just passing through our borough, are either racing along at a speed incompatible with the conditions, or they are stationary, building up in queues at the lights.

This must be very unpleasant for the residents, but the road also has a lot of people not in cars making their way to work, school, etc. LowTrafficIslington.org was interested to see just how many - so we counted.

At 8.30am on a Friday, for half an hour we counted the number of people - adults and children – walking, pedalling or scooting, on the pavements or on the road. And we counted the motor vehicles, excluding buses and motorbikes. The numbers were very similar: 232 active travellers and 246 motors. Nearly half the total number chose active travel, despite the fact that the pavements are narrow and account for only about a third of the available width – and, of course, much of that width is taken up by parked vehicles, going nowhere.

People who choose to travel in a healthy, active way, or disadvantaged people for whom there is no choice, should not have to share a side road like this with so much noisy, polluting, dangerous traffic. McKenzie Road is a prime candidate to be in a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This would bring clean air, safety and peace to both the residents and the active travel users.