Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Lessons from elsewhere

It's been a while since my last post, but that's probably for the best.

There has been a lot going on over the summer in terms of real progress to humanise our streets, with the work on Embankment and around Oval being front of mind. As the naysayers are keen to point out, there isn't the space to implement these kind of solutions on every street.

That is true, one size doesn't fit all, but fortunately there are other options.

The Loughborough Junction experimental scheme started the other week, and whilst in Lambeth, should provide interesting lessons for other urban areas in the UK. It is interesting to see how the engineers/officers at the council have been able to already rapidly respond to the situation on the ground. It is also worth noting that local politicians have been open minded enough to allow the scheme to go ahead.

It is no secret that this approach is one that I feel has considerable merit, and that Wandsworth Council should be able to adopt. The barriers to that are political, no more, no less. At present both Labour and the Conservatives in Wandsworth have been resolute in their opposition.

A little further south, we have seen the Norbury Avenue scheme take place. Another trial, which has been contentious to say the least. It is sad that some of those opposed to the scheme have seen fit to vandalise the temporary measures inhibiting the ability to gather robust data. There was a lively discussion at Croydon Council regarding Norbury Avenue last Monday. Again, the outcome here will be an interesting one to watch out for.

Back in Wandsworth, the council has done a survey looking at the possibility of reincorporating Dr Johnson Avenue back into Tooting Common. Again, it will be very interesting to see how the council responds to this. My party has suggested that adopting a trial approach would be a good way to proceed to take into account the views which will have been expressed in the survey.

The approach taken to street management raises the important issue as to how councils reconcile their public health responsibilities against listening to local residents. Particularly when local residents may not believe the public health case, even when the evidence base is very strong.

For all those who believe that removing car access one one road will definitely cause further congestion, this post on the mathematics behind how that isn't always true is well worth a read.

Food for thought. As to if our local politicians are listening, well, we live in hope.

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