What could make people support roads prioritising walkers and cyclists?

Woodberry Wetlands, Nicola Baird

Woodberry Wetlands is a beautiful place to go for a local walk - Credit: Nicola Baird

The new low traffic arrangements in St Peter’s, Canonbury and Highbury are a joy for pedestrians. Not so for motorists if they believe their journey along the road that they’ve always taken is essential, or that other drivers are the problem – rat runners, those using in-car navigation, sellers of over-priced electric vehicles etc.

Thankfully, Islingtonians are being well-manneredly angry. But what could make them support road layouts that prioritise walkers and cyclists?

Few people relish their views being challenged as we all saw in the online sharing of an irate parish councillor insisting "Jackie Weaver you have no authority,” before she removed him from the Zoom meeting.

Perhaps residents need to think more like Islington’s school governors who are asked to act as a critical friend. So, instead of rushing to Twitter and petitions as a hater of any new policy, could they learn to challenge constructively with an eye on a communal benefit: Does this work? How do we know?

Founder of the Islington Faces blog and Inspiring Islington exhibition, Nicola Baird.

Nicola Baird hopes that residents will reconsider their car journeys - Credit: Nicola Baird

What can we do better? From a climate change perspective, it’s better to slash emissions and walk more. And then there’s the need for a circular economy. So it’s good that not only do the net zero carbon priorities in Islington’s Vision 2030 (online since Nov 2020) make the route map clear, it’s also inspired a new alliance of community groups created “to support and monitor the council”, with a first meeting promised in March.

Page 16 of the vision states that net zero carbon will include, “emissions from gas boilers and vehicles eliminated” and “residents are net zero carbon literate”. That’s only nine years away – here’s hoping those people complaining about road closures, and especially those with cars, are brave enough to rethink why their journey is so essential.

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