Sunday, 23 June 2013

Getting consensus on a solution to deal with rat-runs

As we hopefully approach the  first implementation of this scheme in Tooting, and having already started to share the concept with other campaigners it was about time I shared the approach more widely. With a bit of luck we should have change on the ground within 18 months of the petition being presented to the council.

Last year I ran a petition looking to make the streets I lived on safer. My petition was different from the ones which had been before it.

100% agreement on the problem

Over 10 years, 3 sets of petitions, 3 sets of public consultations had resulted in little tangible change on the ground. One lady whose house is on the corner of two residential streets, has the wall around her front garden rebuilt regularly as drivers crash into it.

Old approach => no solution

Each of the previous public consultations had proposed solutions devised by the officers. Then they were passed by key stakeholders before finally being presented as a take it or leave it option to local residents.

This type of approach resulted in people choosing to stick with the devil they know, as whilst wanting a solution to the problem, the proposed solution didn't appeal enough for them to support it.

New approach => trial a solution

243 people signed my petition. Whilst some have concerns about the proposed solution, given the recognition of the problem, giving something a go as a solution is very low risk for local residents.


If it works, we can keep the solution. If it doesn't we can roll it back.

Concerns raised:
Where will the traffic go?
I believe that the proposed trial will result in traffic evaporation. (see links below)
Are those who support the petition fully aware of the traffic issues and how this may affect them?
Yes, getting people to sign a petition with a specific ask like this needs explaining. People don't just sign up to things by magic.
How would the emergency services be affected?
All the streets in question are residential. Other boroughs in London have significant filtered permeability schemes in place with which the emergency services work in.
How would the success of the scheme be measured?
By a drop in the volume of motor traffic, and a qualitative survey with local residents.

Technical details:
An Experimental Traffic Order is perfect for this new approach. In the paper the officers highlighted:


“Experimental orders should not be seen as a way of quickly making an order without going through the normal procedures for permanent orders of consultation, consideration of objections and, where required, the holding of a public inquiry before the order can be made. To avoid the possibility of a successful challenge in the High Court, an authority must be able to demonstrate where the element of experiment or uncertainty lies as an experimental order can only be made for the purposes of carrying out an experimental scheme of traffic control.”

The authority must provide a statement explaining why experimental powers are being used, and the Committee should scrutinise and seek approval for such a statement.

I believe that 'traffic evaporation' will take place. Officers and indeed traffic models from the Department for Transport / TfL do not show that traffic evaporation occurs. Indeed, their models show that we will experience growth in motor traffic volumes even when the evidence of the past couple of decades shows their model to be broken.

Using experimental powers are therefore totally justified as until we change our local streets, we don't know how local people will adapt. In trialling we can see and experience how people adapt and see if it results in improving the local environment or not.

In each case there may be local mitigating circumstances which may result in the proposed scheme being successful or not as the case may be.

What can you do?

Use/tweak the template provided for your local streets.
Have a chat with local friends/neighbours to see if they would be keen to try something like this. It's much easier to go out and collect signatures if there are a few of you.
Contact your local councillor and the cabinet member for transport. Check with them how many signatures you need to get. In my case I was told around 25% of local households. This may vary depending on your local council.
Go out and ask people if they'll support it.

Links:

Rat-running time for a different solution (previous blogpost)
http://traffikintooting.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/rat-running-time-for-different-solution.html

Reclaiming city streets for people. Chaos or Quality of life?
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/pubs/pdf/streets_people.pdf

The concept of traffic evaporation - reallocating road space and 20 mph zones
http://www.hernehillforum.org.uk/campaigns/ruskin-park-area-road-danger-reduction-campaign/concept-traffic-evaporation-reallocating-r

Disappearing Traffic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearing_traffic

Traffic Evaporation (examples from the USA)
http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-increasing-bicycling/115-traffic-evaporation

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