LTNs, railways, trees and design a stamp
- Credit: Andre Langlois
Pioneering schemes have positive impact on young
Simon Izod, Low Traffic Barnsbury and St Mary’s, writes:
One of the things that recently has brought me a huge amount of pleasure is regularly seeing young people cycling on our streets.
For many years this was a very rare sight due to the dangerous conditions. With the arrival of People Friendly Streets and protected cycle tracks along Liverpool Road, it is now safer for a growing number of young people to express their independence by making their own trips, and without needing to be escorted by their parents in a car.
However, the majority of streets in Islington are still not safe for young people and the decision to make People Friendly Streets schemes permanent is yet to be made. The youth climate strikes have shown that our children demand all of us to act now in face of the growing climate and ecological emergency. Reading the comments of those against these schemes it often seems that for those who do have the opportunity to use alternative means of transport, their personal convenience is of far greater value than the lives of our children.
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In fact, if rolled out across the borough, these pioneering schemes would have huge positive impacts on the lives of our young people today and the young of the future. It will allow them to have the freedom to feel safe to meet their friends and to visit places independently. It will reduce the pollution that currently stunts their lungs and they will be living in a borough that is committed to reducing carbon emissions so that they can live in a climate that supports life.
Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a chance for adults to review the candidates in five local by-elections and the mayoral elections and determine whether these candidates are truly committed to our future generation. How we vote will have the biggest impact on those who are currently too young to vote or are not yet born. We know that with dangerous levels of carbon already locked into the planet’s atmosphere and the rate of decline in our ecosystems, that life is going to be very different and very difficult for them. Given our contribution to these crises, we owe it to them to make life as better for them as possible.
Let’s keep this in mind when we cast our votes in a couple of weeks and ask ourselves who we wish to serve. For more information about People Friendly Streets see barnsburystmarys2020.ghost.io
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Traffic hotspots because closures
Sue Hubbard, Islington, writes:
I am absolutely disgusted by the behaviour of Islington council - these new road closures are a disaster.
The traffic hot spots on Highbury Corner, St Paul’s Road and Holloway Road are constantly gridlocked and the cars belch out fumes.
Older people and those with infirmities or children cannot cycle.
What is more, the road signage is complicated and confusing. So many roads have been blocked off or partially blocked off that it is not at all clear where you can drive. I
have unwittingly driven where I should not have done without realising this was the case. I am a 73-year-old woman with a bad back (have been receiving treatment from UCH) as well as shielding from Covid, who often has to use my car. I have got caught in new road systems that were not at all clear and now, as a pensioner, have to pay huge fines. This is just a callous way of Islington raising revenue.
What is more, it now adds a half hour to my journey each way when I have to drive from Highbury to pick up my grandson from primary school in Highgate.
Motorists are part of the problem
An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
It continues to be a depressing characteristic of the LTN debate that we have letters and social media moans from individuals who typically reference a particular family-specific issue on which they appear to base their demand for the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) to be completely reversed.
And they want all residential streets to be reopened without regard to the welfare of other residents who live within an LTN.
In addition we now have individuals with absolutely no expertise proselytising about, amongst a number of other things, pollution levels and questioning the credibility of independent consultants engaged to review the impact of LTNs.
The Covid vaccine was developed by the work of science and medical professionals. And just as the pattern and incidence of Covid has been modelled so to can traffic flows be modelled. The decisions relating to the LTNs were not done on a whim; there is a well established body of professional practice relating to road planning and management.
This might not be a popular view but it is the reality and it is about time that residents of Islington recognised that the LTN measures have been introduced to benefit this and future generations and not just to annoy those drivers who complain about the LTN and who do not have the self-awareness to recognise that they themselves are part of the problem.
Should we invest in rail changes?
Florence and Ivor Kenna, Compton Street, Islington, write:
We generally agree with all that the Islington Green Party representatives write in the Islington Gazette.
The Scottish Green Party is proposing to spend £22bn on a package of improvements to the Scottish railways as part of its Rail for All plan for better community transport links and emissions cuts. New stations would be opened up across Scotland alongside faster links between cities. And 16,800 jobs would be created in the construction of new rail infrastructure.
Further operational jobs would be created on the expanded network. What do Islington Greens think of the Scottish Greens’ plans?
Are they in favour of similar plans for England, taking account of England’s greater population?
Let’s celebrate our tree canopy
Cllr Dave Poyser, chair, Islington Council environment and regeneration committee, writes:
As the green shoots of spring combine with the slow end to severe Covid restrictions, perhaps now is the chance to take stock of Islington’s successful tree canopy.
We are an inner London borough (the most densely populated in England and Wales), not blessed with the massive parks of our neighbours in Hampstead Heath and Finsbury Park, yet we still have 25 per cent tree canopy cover, above the London average of 21pc, and well above the England average of 16pc.
New planting is happening ever more rapidly. We had 174 new trees in 2016/17 and 127 in 2017/18, but since 2018 there has been a significant uplift in annual planting figures with almost 1,000 new trees across the borough since 2018/19, with a further 400 to come by 2022. These additional trees are richly varied to best support biodiversity and their urban setting – as of March 26, 2021, 78 different species of tree had gone into the ground in 2020/21 alone. Gazette readers will be aware that trees serve as a ‘carbon sink’ - Islington’s existing trees already remove more than 18,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from Islington’s through-traffic laden streets .
I have been a councillor for six years, and perhaps nothing makes people as irate as trees. I also love trees too (though, like many Islingtonians who have experienced subsidence caused by trees, it is not simple - they need to be in the right place!) We have some way to go, and we will strive to go further, but as spring turns to summer let’s celebrate what has been recently achieved in London’s smallest borough.
LTNs risk trapping disabled at home
An Islington resident, full name supplied, writes:
I have just read in last week’s letters page how wonderful someone thinks LTN’s are.
I would like to give the view of a disabled person. I rely totally on a Motability car, I can’t walk very far, ride a bike or use a mobility scooter. I like everyone else like to go out and have a coffee with friends, do some shopping and generally be independent. The LTNs have put a stop to this for me, many of my neighbours and hundreds of disabled people across the borough.
In Grant Shapps last statement he stated that it is essential that Blue Badge holders were allowed through LTNs this isn’t happening. Why? Because according to the Street Space people it was “too difficult to add Blue Badge holders to the camera system”. Those of us with Motability cars are already on the congestion charge system so I know it wouldn’t be difficult to add us.
A large proportion of disabled drivers only travel short distances as our disabilities stop us from going far but Islington council would rather trap us in our homes isolating us than letting us have a bit of freedom. This is also the case for many of the elderly people in the borough.
So for those younger people out there, enjoy it while you can and don’t get old and for god’s sake don’t ever become disabled!
Life is tougher because of LTNs
Jo Sargent, Islington, full address supplied, writes:
As a single parent and full time carer to a 12 year old son with severe medical, emotional and physical needs, my ability to drive freely and time efficiently around Islington by disability adapted car is critical to my son’s quality of life and independence. Since the introduction of the LTNs in Highbury, this has been taken away.
As a direct result of the LTNs I now have to drive longer distances spending longer time in traffic which has been forced onto fewer roads. In real terms this means I can fit less into my day, my son is now spending longer in the car, and I am paying support carers extra time to sit with us in traffic from my son’s hard fought-for personal budget, not to mention the cost of the car which is all of his mobility benefit but is becoming more and more useless to us. Since the implementation of the LTNs, his school bus journey has increased from 20 minutes to an hour. This is very difficult for him to tolerate and comprehend and as he has incontinence issues, this length of journey now means he arrives at his destination wet.
Life is physically challenging for my son. He tires quickly and cannot walk very far, or alone. He is very sensitive to sudden or unexpected noise and can become anxious which can lead to challenging behaviours that put him and those near- by at risk. Travelling by adapted car is not just quicker, it is physically and emotionally less challenging, safer, and allows us to access exercise that is adapted to his specific needs. The LTN diversions are jeopardising this. A previously 10-15 min journey, is now a minimum 30-40 minute journey. This is not only disruptive and upsetting for him, but compromises maintaining his physical fitness.
So, these “minor road layout changes” and “small additional journey times” to which our lives are being subjected, are neither minor nor small. The council has imposed something which means I have to make major adjustments to already complicated and critical routines.
For my son and me, our car is our lifeline to the outside world, his health, his well-being, and his future independence. I can’t wait until May 2022 for these schemes to be adapted.
The council’s “people friendly streets” needs to be renamed “able bodied people friendly streets”. I want my independence and freedom back. These LTNs have taken away my freedom of movement, our home has been effectively ghettoised and our independence compromised.
Stamp design competition
David Gold, director, External Affairs and Policy, Royal Mail, writes:
I hope parents will encourage their children to take part in Royal Mail’s stamp design competition, to honour the heroes of the pandemic.
The competition is open to children, aged 4 to 14. Eight designs will be chosen to become stamps which will be on sale across the UK.
Children may choose to illustrate frontline workers in health or social care. They may want to celebrate other key workers who have kept the country going, such as refuse collectors, cleaners, teachers, supermarket workers, public transport staff, delivery drivers or, indeed, postmen and postwomen.
The competition is open until Friday, May 28. A special panel of judges will select the winners. As with all Special Stamps, the final eight designs will be sent to The Queen before they can be printed and issued as stamps. The winners will be announced in the autumn.