Disabled protesters share concerns over Islington's People Friendly Streets
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Disabled protesters shared their concerns that Islington Council’s People Friendly Streets have not made things "fairer for all" at a rally outside the Town Hall at the weekend.
The demonstration was the ninth held by the group Ludicrous Road Closures (LRC) since the council introduced the traffic calming measures in July.
Protesters believe their grievances are falling on deaf ears as the council stands resolute in insisting the changes are positive.
Bollards, planters and cameras have been installed to reduce rat running in St Peter’s, Canonbury East, Canonbury West, Clerkenwell Green and the Amwell area, and two more neighbourhoods are planned for Highbury by the end of the year.
Though welcomed by many for their eco-credentials, the schemes have attracted objections from those who say there should have been a proper consultation before they were introduced, rather than in a year's time, and that traffic and pollution has become worse as cars are channelled onto main roads.
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The council claims it "has been listening to local people, who have long been calling for safer, greener, healthier streets".
But many disabled people are concerned that the council has not spared a thought for the difficulties they face in their daily lives.
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One of them - Christine Eisen - who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and spinal problems, spoke at the protest.
She can't walk more than a few steps, and needs her carer to be able to park outside Christine's home in Drayton Park and drive her to doctor's and hospital appointments and to the shops.
Christine is worried about what the future might hold once the Highbury West traffic reduction scheme is introduced in her neighbourhood this month, and that she might become a "prisoner in her own home".
"The council should be helping people with disabilities, but people are becoming more and more isolated," Christine said.
"To say it will make Islington more pleasant is insulting. To say 'you'll be healthier, and you will enjoy walking more' when you can't walk, that doesn't make you feel any better.
"They have a duty to make things better and not worse, and when they say it's fairer for all, it's not fairer for all."
She continued: "Disabled residents are being discriminated against and they are disproportionately disadvantaging us.
"There aren't any concessions for us - in fact the council has a disregard [for us]. They could solve a lot of people's worries and concerns by having vehicle registration cameras instead of the ones they are putting in, which issue fines."
A spokesperson for the council said the need for People Friendly Streets is highlighted by the 72 per cent increase in traffic on London’s roads in 12 years.
They claim that People Friendly Streets will bring benefits for many people, "including many disabled people".
"Many people who use walking aids, wheelchairs or mobility scooters will find the streets quieter, safer and more enjoyable," said a spokesperson.
The council's transport chief, Cllr Rowena Champion, added: “We know some people, including some disabled people, rely on vehicles for travel.
"All homes and businesses in Islington can still be accessed by car."
She continued: "People Friendly Streets will also bring benefits for some disabled people, including making it easier to use their local streets because of reduced traffic danger, pollution and noise.
"We carefully consider all feedback received and, where necessary, have made and will continue to make changes to improve accessibility in individual People Friendly Streets neighbourhoods."
However, a formal consultation will be held in 2021, when the measures have been in place for a year.