Planters at one end of Old Park Road. How effective have planters been in discouraging rat-running?
Traffic count data recently published on the Cycle Enfield website gives a clear picture of the sheer amount of traffic using residential streets in the Fox Lane neighbourhood and of the prevalence of speeding. The data was collected prior to the start of the phased installation of planters partially blocking the ends of many of the roads that intersect with Fox Lane and will be compared with data to be collected later this month and then after the installation of all elements of the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood scheme.
A car every six and a half seconds
That their streets are used by rat-runners and drivers breaking speed limits will hardly come as a surprise to residents of Fox Lane or the streets on either side of it. But while anecdotal evidence can be dismissed by those who prefer to give car drivers a free rein, the hard data now available has to be taken seriously.
Traffic counts for each road's "worst hour", ie the hour of the day with most traffic, clearly show that these residential streets are being used as through routes. Predictably, Fox Lane had the most traffic - up to 548 vehicles an hour or one every six and a half seconds. Maximum hourly counts for some of the side streets were also alarming:
Meadway: 419 = a car every 8.6 seconds
Amberley Road: 402 = a car every 9 seconds
The Mall: 368 = a car every 9.8 seconds
Old Park Road: 303 = a car every 12 seconds
Speeding cars in nearly every street
Of the 22 streets where baseline data was collected late last year, there were only three where the majority of drivers were staying well below the 30mph speed limit. In all other streets the "85th percentile" readings - the speed at which the data shows 85% of vehicles were travelling at or below - was not far short of 30mph and in ten roads was over 30mph. It follows that 15 per cent of drivers were going faster than the speeds shown in the table below, many of them exceeding the speed limit.
The streets with the fastest traffic were Bourne Avenue, Burford Gardens, Caversham Avenue, Cranley Gardens, Derwent Road, Devonshire Road, The Greenway, St George's Road and Ulleswater Road. We don't know what speeds the law breakers were doing, as we don't have the complete data set as we did for last week's report about Groveland Road, but if the Grovelands data is anything to go by, there would have been plenty of drivers going at more than 40mph and some in excess of 50mph (hopefully, the 70.4mph recorded in Grovelands Road last December was an "outlier".)
Baseline data collected prior to installation of planters
Speed - mph (direction)
No. of cars in a 1-hour period
Old Park Road
St George’s Road
Data taken from a PDF document supplied by Enfield Council. Colour coding has been added by Better Streets for Enfield to highlight the worst streets for traffic volumes and typical speeds. Key: Green – good for all-age walking, cycling and play; Amber – will discourage some from walking or cycling; Red – a hostile, unhealthy street.
The explanatory text accompanying the data is shown below:
The table below provides the baseline data for the Fox Lane monitoring of the planters trial.
Speed Data: People will drive their cars at varying speeds along residential roads, some thoughtful to their surroundings and others less so. When looking at speed data for particular roads, we need to have a system to understand what the typical speed might be. Therefore, the speeds shown in the table are what are referred to as the ‘85th percentile speed’. This is used nationally to determine the effectiveness of the speed limit and is the speed at whichthe data shows 85% of vehicles are travelling at or below. Thisdoes leave a minority that will be driving their cars in excess of the speeds shown. These results are taken from data typically gathered over a 7-day period, collecting information 24 hours a day.
Volume Data: We have reviewed the data over the period of collection and for each road selected the hour of the day which has the highest volume of traffic (i.e. the worst hour). This volume data includes vehicles travelling in either direction.
What happens next?
So far, only some of the planters shown on the diagram below have been installed. Before the remainder are added, "interim monitoring" will be carried out.
The final design of the Fox Lane QN - Click on the image to download the leaflet
Now that the latest set of planters have been installed (w/c 25th Feb), we will conduct some additional monitoring to compare against our baseline data. The phased approach also enables us, as part of this interim monitoring, to gather data to help understand whether traffic is getting displaced from those roads with planters, to those roads without. This all helps build a better picture of the impact of this trial, to help inform future schemes. The interim monitoring will take place during w/c11th March and w/c 18th March (to enable time for the measures to take effect). We will then review this data and can then look to install the final phase after that.
A longer explanation of the council's phased approach to the quieter neighbourhood has been posted on the updated Letter to Residents of the Fox Lane area page, including a commitment by Cycle Enfield lead officer Richard Eason that "we remain committed to trialling other ideas if the data we gather suggests the planter approach is not having the desired effect".
Should this prove to be the case - and feedback from residents (so far only anecdotal) suggests that the planters have had little or no effect on either speed or volume of traffic - the campaigning group Better Streets for Enfield will be pressing the council to trial a more radical solution using the Low Traffic Neighbourhood principles.
This is an updated version of this report
This article was updated on 6th March and several revisions were made:
A new paragraph was added to emphasize that the traffic counts shown in the table were for a one-hour period, not for an entire day.
The colour coding of two streets in the table was corrected.
A link to the Cycle Enfield letter to Fox Lane area residents was added.
I've revised the original article to make it clearer that the traffic counts shown in the table were for a one-hour period, not for an entire day, and show vehicle freqencies as high as every 6.5 seconds.
Additionally, there were a couple of errors in the colour coding of the table and I've added a link to the updated Letter to Fox Lane areas residents page on the Cycle Enfield website.
On traffic volumes, Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner for London Cycling Campaign, told us, “If the distribution of traffic through the day is fairly standard, then anything above 100 [cars in the busiest hour] isn’t going to be great for all ages, all-abilities cycling, anything over 200 is over the LCC and Dutch CROW level for needing protected space for cycling, anything over 500 is over Department for Transport guidance for the ‘Strategic Road Network’. In other words 100ish is good, 200ish is OK for most folks but won’t be a kids paradise, and 400+ is ‘Woah there, Nelly!’, particularly if speeds are also over 20-23mph for the ’85th centile’.”
It’s an interesting snapshot but most likely needs to be treated and considered with a little caution. I’m going to struggle with an 85th percentile at 29.3mph being one to “discourage some walking or cycling”, whereas 29.5 mph is “hostile and unhealthy”. Remember 15% of traffic will exceed the indicated speed so in pretty much EVERY case, with the exception of speed humped Oakfield and The Ridgeway, I’d be looking at “hostile” from a speed viewpoint, ie pretty much 1 in every 6 cars will be breaking the speed limit, and that despite bends, parked cars, pedestrians and other factors the Highway Code indicates should mean you should slow even further for.
It also raises for me a significant aspect: the supporting text gives much weight to the impact on cycling and walking. At the commencement of the process, in two workshops, the focus was on impacts on those living on these streets. So, in all, this work is the objective to make better places to live, from which there will inevitable be benefit to active travellers; or is it focused on active travellers, from which us residents will gain some long needed peace and quiet?
There’s certainly an overlap but we shouldn’t t be fooled into thinking these are necessarily two sides of the same coin. I’d suggest the council started with one and later moved to the other.
As with Lakeside the new strips for Old Park Road which appeared on Friday (?) are monitoring box-less.
On the plus side, the strips are no longer at the elbow and pinch point of the road, rather being in the middle, and so would have given a better reflection of speeds experienced.
Cursing a southbound black Golf on Friday who was evidently aiming for take-off speed I was amazed to see the driver hit the brakes when close to the strips and then release once over them. It was as if they cared about something.