View from the street: Welcome the friendly streets
PUBLISHED: 08:30 22 August 2020
Remember lockdown? Deadly and worrying times, but relieved by daily exercise. Streets empty of cars and, as a consequence, full of people walking and enjoying the many benefits: stimulating the imagination, preventing heart disease, aiding digestion and helping you unwind.
Alas, the cars have returned to our streets and as people go back to work, with reduced capacity on public transport, we are faced with ‘carmageddon’. Residential ratruns will be full of commuters.
There is an alternative, which the government has advocated, known in Islington as People Friendly Streets. Similar schemes are being proposed throughout London from Tory Wandsworth to the City to Newham, and from Dulwich in the south to Walthamstow in the north.
The initiative involves creating safe streets for residents by closing them to through traffic while allowing motor access to every property. It has been running in Walthamstow for several years and has been an amazing success.
Traffic levels in the area are down 15 per cent and people are walking an amazing 30 minutes more per week.
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Bus journey times are unaffected, and emergency service responses can be quicker.
Moreover, the policy addresses some of the great challenges of our age: climate change, air pollution and obesity. It seems only fair in Islington where over 70pc of households do not own a car.
I know Islington Council’s policy is opposed by a vociferous minority.
Some believe they have the right to drive wherever they want, but others have genuine concerns.
I urge them to visit Walthamstow or De Beauvoir and see not dens of crime where the disabled are trapped in their houses, but shops revived, people with mobility scooters and double buggies able to use the roadway and streets full of people walking and children playing.
After 100 years of pro-car, anti-pedestrian policies, let’s welcome the change of heart.
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