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walking cities blueprint for change coverLiving Streets, the "UK Charity for Everyday Walking",  has published a Blueprint for Change, designed as a guide for city leaders to help them create Walking Cities: 

"safe and inviting to people of all ages, where every child can walk safely to school, and communities have quality spaces to thrive. Walking cities mean better cities for everyone."

Living Streets' Chief Executive, Joe Irvin, sets out the charity's rationale:

Our streets deserve to be so much more than corridors for traffic. They are the public spaces in which we play out our everyday lives. How we experience them has an impact on each of us as soon as we step out of our front door.

The negative impact of car-centric lifestyles creates a social burden. The reduction in physical activity and the rise of obesity are two reasons why today’s children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents.

We are also increasingly aware of the devastating cost of air pollution, caused by motor vehicles, to our health and over five thousand pedestrians are killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads each year.

Our cities suffer economic consequences too. Growing traffic congestion is a huge cost to our cities. Modern cities need to remain competitive in a global marketplace where employers increasingly demand to locate in healthier, less polluted cities offering worldclass public transport and public spaces.

The time has come for a more effective approach. Cities around the world are beginning to realise that by encouraging more people to walk, and reducing the number of car journeys, they can create a healthier, more equal society and attract business and investment. The tide seems to be turning in favour of Walking Cities.

The increasing desire to create more liveable, healthier streets across the UK has led to a demand for practical and effective actions to make that happen. Government has taken initiatives. The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England, the National Walking Strategy in Scotland, and the Active Travel Act in Wales. Our Blueprint for Change is our contribution to the debate. We are determined to work with city leaders, businesses and communities to improve our streets and cities for everyone.

Living Streets argue that Walking Cities are not just healthier, greener and create stronger communities, but they are also more economically successful:

Enabling more people to walk, cycle or use public transport can help ease costly traffic congestion whilst creating attractive places to invest, shop and do business. Improving public spaces has also been shown to be a strong catalyst for local economic vitality, regeneration and tourism.

The booklet sets out a 7-step plan based on best practice from around the world.

7 steps towards a walking city

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The parent of a child at Oakthorpe Primary School is petitioning Enfield Council to improve pedestrian safety in the vinicity of the school, which is Tile Kiln Lane, near the junction with Chequers Way.

The online petition, on change.org, reads as follows:

Produce adequate road safety for Oakthorpe Primary School before a child is injured.

My child has been attending Oakthorpe Primary School on Tile Kiln Lane since September 2015 and very early on I noticed that there was a major problem with road safety directly outside the school and the surroundings areas. During school pick up times the roads become chaotic, dangerous and hazardous for all pedestrians in the neighbouring vicinity.  The only safety measures in place directly outside the school are yellow lines and a dropped kerb for pedestrians to cross, many parents have total disregard for these and park on the yellow lines and directly over the dropped kerb on a daily basis, forcing parents and children into the road and hindering the view of oncoming traffic.

The school is situated in a very narrow, dead end lane, with a very small pavement (only on one side) for the entire school to navigate down. Only one car can fit comfortably down the lane at a time but parents still drive down there causing havoc and adding to the already chaotic and dangerous road conditions we endure every day.  Last year the council ran a pilot scheme where only residents of Tile Kiln Lane could access the road between the busy school run hours. Whilst the scheme ran, Tile Kiln Lane was a lot calmer and safer, however there has been no more progress on this since then.

We have a small roundabout near the entrance of the lane, this is also total pandemonium everyday.  There is a crossing adjacent to this roundabout on Chequers Way, but unfortunately when standing at the crossing you can not see the oncoming traffic, and motorists are extremely reluctant to stop, making the crossing totally invalid, as its too risky to cross there.  Most parents who would use this crossing, choose to cross somewhere in the road where you can see oncoming traffic on both sides,  this is also risky, but still safer than using what is provided.

I have spoken to the council who have agreed to carry out a survey on the area, this will calculate how many pedestrians and motorists use the area. This data is then used to work out if pedestrian crossings are needed,  where it is needed and what type (eg . zebra crossing, traffic lights etc). However, even if the data evaluates that a crossing is needed, it then comes down to how it is funded and the priority need for it, in comparison to other crossings needed within the borough. Priority is worked out by how many accidents involving pedestrians have occurred and as there has only ever been one reported collision (where a car hit a bicycle when turning out of a road) that would more than likely not make us high priority.

I want to use this petition to ask Enfield Council to assess the safety issue arising from us having inadequate  safe crossings outside Oakthorpe Primary School and the local vicinity leading to the school. I also feel it is important  to ensure that the local community is involved in the decision making of how this is addressed. I would also urge the council to enforce the pilot scheme that they ran last year or find an alternative, suitable solution to the problem of traffic on Tile Kiln Lane.

This petition will be delivered to:
ENFIELD COUNCIL

Sign the online petition

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The campaign group Living Streets has issued an open invitation to the UK's first Walking Summit, which will be held in Finsbury Square (near Moorgate station) on Saturday 18th March.

Val Shawcross, CBE, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, will outline her vision for walking in London and share her learnings on creating walking cities with the summit.

Ben Still, Managing Director of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, will draw on his experience with WYCA and the Urban Transport Group to discuss how we can work together to create walking cities.

Places are free (including lunch) but limited, so you need to book.

walking summit

Why a Walking Summit?

Our cities should be designed around people not vehicles.

We want to get more people walking more often on streets that are fit for walking.

Creating walking cities will cut air pollution and congestion and at the same time improve health and quality of life for people living and working in towns and cities across the UK.

Now is the time to call for walking cities in the run-up to mayoral and local elections in May 2017.

More information and booking form

Living Streets began as the Pedestrians' Association in 1929 and had early campaigning successes when speed limits in built-up areas were brought in in 1934 (all speed limits had been abolished in 1930, leading to an increase in road deaths) and in 1935 when zebra crossings and belisha beacons were introduced.

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A Winchmore Hill resident has launched a campaign for a 20mph speed limit on two roads which lead to Winchmore Hill Green - Church Hill on the western side and Station Road to the east.

Philip Tsappas held a public meeting to launch his campaign in November and has now released additional campaigning literature (see below).  He is linking this local campaign with the national 20's Plenty for Us movement, which seeks to make 20mph the default speed limit on residential and urban streets.

Logo - 20's Plenty where people live

20's Plenty for Winchmore Hill!

Currently, in the borough of Enfield, 'less than 10% of our roads are 20mph' zones, compared to Islington and Camden council which have adopted 20mph on all borough roads!

Let's bring 30mph zones down to 20mph. Why? Well, if you're...

  • Hit by a car at 40 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed
  • Hit by a car at 30 mph, about half of pedestrians will live
  • Hit by a car at 20 mph, only 1 pedestrian out of 10 will be killed

Roads are the biggest killer of children as pedestrians (5-19 years old), and young adults as passengers or drivers of cars.

deaths of children aged 11 to 16 not attributed to disease

Deaths of children aged 11-16 not attributed to disease

In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%. Imagine a drug which reduced the mortality of a particular cause by just 4.3%, and it was a major cause, one would probably expect the Noble Prize for Medicine.

The campaign 20's Plenty For Us is connected to a national voluntary group where local groups have sprung up to improve their surroundings etc., councillors have begun listening to over 240 local groups from around the country.
Councillors will need to be convinced of evidence that 20mph limits work in other areas, In Burnley, Lancashire, the pilot scheme to introduce 20 mph resulted in this statistical release:

"...the overall figures fell from 46 casualties a year, with six deaths and serious injuries, to 25, with two deaths and serious injuries, and no child deaths and serious injuries."

And at almost the same time in Newcastle upon Tyne it was reported that: "The number of car-related accidents on Newcastle's residential streets has dropped by more than half in some areas of the city following the Council's introduction of 20mph speed limits"

Do remember, it was 80 years ago when there were less than two million cars on the road that 30 mph was implemented on urban roads. Now there are over 33 million. This change of speed limit is long overdue!

To be clear, this is NOT about: Speed cameras! Road humps! The Department for Transport have made it clear in recent guidelines that:

20 mph zones require traffic calming measures or repeater speed limit signing and/or roundel road markings at regular intervals.

It is no longer mandatory to impose physical measures such as speed bumps when adopting a 20 mph limit in residential areas (DfT Guidelines). The one thing we would like done immediately by Enfield council, so as to begin to feel the effects straight away, is to replace the 30mph signs with 20mph ones. Easily done and very cost effective we think!

Also, a traffic island would clearly help with gaining access to St Paul's Church which is in daily use - just as the pedestrians crossing outside Groveland's Park (on Church Hill) has proved essential.

This campaign is looking to bring the 20mph limit to Church Hill and Station Road in Winchmore Hill. We had our first meeting on the 16th of November where we agreed to raise awareness when and where we can.

The campaign 20's plenty For Us aims to save lives and help create a safer, calmer and cleaner environment for all ages.

To get involved and/or for more information please contact Phil:  or 07446 188 307.

Download a copy of the leaflet

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A London Assembly study has highlighted the increasing vulnerability of pedestrians in London and is critical of the policies of the Mayor of London and Metropolitan Police.

Feet First: Improving Pedestrian Safety in London is a newly published report by the Assembly's Transport Committee, which comprises members from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democratic and Green parties.

In their executive summary the Committee set out the current state of affairs:

More pedestrians are killed or seriously injured on London’s streets than any other type of road user. After a decade of progress in reducing pedestrian casualties, there are worrying signs that this progress may be halting.... Increased levels of walking would have significant health and economic benefits for London, reducing pressure on public transport and improving air quality, but fear of road danger is a major barrier to encouraging more people to take to their feet.

Among many points made by the report the following stand out:

  • there is a tacit assumption that a certain level of road deaths is tolerable
  • the Mayor of London's policies have jeopardizeds the safety of pedestrians
  • 20mph speed limits sharply reduce deaths and serious injuries across all road user groups
  • road crime, such as red light jumping, speeding and use of mobile phones, is real crime and should be treated as such.

pedestrian ksisNumber of pedestrians and cyclists killed or seriously injuredThe report notes that up until 2010 there had been a continual decrease in annual pedestrian deaths and series injuries on London's roads. In 2010 rates began to rise, while at the same time deaths and serious injuries suffered by car drivers and passengers saw a significant fall.

The Committee criticizes the Mayor of London's policy with regard to road accidents. The Mayor has set a target of a 40 per cent reduction in total casualties by 2020, which might be seen as a tacit acceptance that a certain level of road deaths is inevitable and "tolerable". They contrast this with the Vision Zero policy adopted by the Mayor of New York, aimed at a complete end to road deaths and injuries in his city. One of the key principles of Vision Zero is that "human life and health take priority over mobility and other objectives of the transport system".

road user typeBy contrast with his New York opposite number, the Mayor of London has pursued a policy of "traffic smoothing", which since 2010 has led to a reduction in the amount of "green man time" allocated to pedestrians at 568 crossings in London. Pedestrian crossings, which ought in principle to be safe for pedestrians, are in fact where a quarter of pedestrian deaths occur. The Committee call upon the Mayor to "look again at policies that have jeopardised the safety of pedestrians in order to benefit other road users".

Until 2010 "green man time" was calculated on the basis of a walking speed of 0.8 metres per second. Since 2010 a speed of 1.2 metres per second has been used. However, research by University College London has established that almost 70 per cent of people aged over 65 walk at a slower pace than this.

The Committee is strongly in favour of 20mph speed limits. It points out that:

In 2012, 147 collisions occurred on roads with a speed limit of 20mph or lower, compared with over 22,000 collisions on roads with higher speed limits. A TfL review of 20mph zones concluded that they reduced deaths and serious injuries across all road user groups by 53 per cent.

The report calls on the Police and courts to take driving offences more seriously. In a list of their agreed priorities, 22 of the Met’s 32 borough safer transport teams listed cycle thefts - but not one listed traffic law enforcement, which is clearly a much more important police role. Evidence from Operation Safeway suggests that visible enforcement measures are highly effective in reducing traffic offences. The members are dismayed by the low prosecution and conviction rates for road traffic offences in which a pedestrian is killed or seriously injured. Merely trying to "educate" drivers is insufficient, effective enforcement is essential. However, even at pedestrian injury blackspots there are no plans to install safety cameras.

Read the complete report.

 

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The Enfield Independent has reported that a campaign has been launched to improve safety for pedestrians crossing Green Lanes at the Fox Lane junction. This is just one of several hazardous crossing points facing pedestrians in Palmers Green.

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Garry Humphreys posted a reply #277 11 May 2014 18:28
Crossing from east to west (Park Avenue to Fox Lane) isn't usually a problem, but crossing from west to east, north of the roundabout, is, because drivers tear down Fox Lane and turn left into Green Lanes completely ignoring the stop-line. These vehicles are behind the pedestrian and invisible until they have almost reached the corner. Use of the stop-line alone would vastly improve this situation!

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aldermans zebraEnfield Council has announced that the public consultation on a new zebra crossing in Aldermans Hill showed that the public were in favour of the plan.  The zebra crossing will be installed near the junction with Old Park Road (see photograph).

Over the past five years eight people have been injured crossing the road near the location of the new zebra.

Work to install the crossing and relocate pay and display parking bays will cost £35,000.

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aldermans zebraEnfield Council are consulting residents about a proposed new zebra crossing on Aldermans Hill.  The proposal is for a crossing just to the west of the junction with Old Park Road - situated approximately where the small black car is on the photograph.  There would be a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.

Residents have until 23 August to respond to the survey. The Council's website has links to a leaflet, a detailed plan and an online questionnaire.

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Proposed Hoppers Road 20mph zoneEnfield Council have published their proposals for a new 20mph zone which would extend from Winchmore Hill Green in the North to the Palmers Green end of Hoppers Road in the South.

Though the consultation documents (available on the Enfield Council website) refer to a "20mph zone in the Palmers Green School area", the proposed zone would be rather larger than that description would suggest.  It would include the whole of Hoppers Road and all roads between Hoppers Road and Green Lanes (though excluding Green Lanes), including Compton Road and Station Road in Winchmore Hill.  The shaded area on the accompanying map is an approximate illustration of the area involved.

In addition to the lower speed limit, the Council proposes installing flat-topped speed humps at either end of Hoppers Road and "speed cushions" along Hoppers Road.  There would also be speed cushions in Stonard Road, Woodberry Avenue, Fernleigh Road, Haslemere Road, Compton Road and Station Road.

Local residents are invited to give their views on the proposals before 5pm on 14th June.  One way of responding is to fill in an online survey.  

The publication of these proposals follow a campaign led by the Enfield Branch of the Green Party and the presentation of a petition signed by 630 local residents.  Details of the case for the lower speed limit and traffic calming measures were laid out in a document which is available online.  The document highlights the very widespread failure of drivers to adhere to the existing 30mph limit along Hoppers Road - when the Green Party monitored traffic along the road, they found that more than half of drivers were driving so fast that the automatic warning signs were illuminated.

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Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #64 27 May 2013 23:40
This is good news for residents of the streets in question, and let's hope that before long we'll get a borough-wide 20mph policy, as already introduced throughout Islington. Haringey, which already has a 20mph limit on all side roads, is about to extend it to main roads, including its portion of Green Lanes - Wood Green High Road is already covered.
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Basil Clarke posted a reply #68 07 Jun 2013 15:56
According to this week's Enfield Gazette , Winchmore Hill ward councillor Martin Prescott is opposing the proposed 20mph zone. He's quoted as saying “I think 30mph is fine as long as it is policed properly, and there is a lot of evidence to say that 20mph doesn’t make things safer.”
It's a pity he doesn't tell us what this "evidence" consists of. All the studies that I've ever read about are quite clear that the chances of a pedestrian surviving being hit by a car doing 20mph are considerably higher than they would be if the car was doing 30mph. Also, with traffic moving more slowly, drivers have more time to react to unexpected situations and to either avoid a collision altogether or brake sufficiently to reduce the effect of a collision.
Anti-speed limit campaigners claim that the difference between injuries when hit by cars doing 20 or 30 is irrelevant, because drivers will usually have braked and thus not be going at 30mph. This is a red herring. There is always a chance when driving along a residential street that someone (in many cases a child) will unexpectedly step out from the pavement at a point when a driver has no time to brake. And a lower speed limit clearly means that the actual speed at collision time will be lower and thus the damage to another car or the injuries to drivers and pedestrians will be correspondingly reduced. Better to be hit at 10mph than 20mph, even if 20mph won't kill you!
There is an immense fuss on the extremely rare occasions when air or rail passengers are injured, but some people seem utterly complacent about the constant toll of road deaths and serious injuries.
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #69 09 Jun 2013 17:48
Writing in the context of the proposed Hoppers Road area 20mph speed limit Basil Clarke takes on the negative approach of Cllr. Prescott and makes some good points about the safety considerations, but the implications of higher or lower speed limits go well beyond accident statistics. Here, because we are talking about an area of streets which are overwhelmingly residential with just the odd school or small shop and no through routes, we are dealing with liveability every bit as much as safety.

This is an area where the street outside is or should be part of home, where people come first, where ‘liveability’ is key, where the needs and independence of children are paramount. For that calm, quiet driving is essential for safety, for parental peace of mind, for children’s independence and health, for quality of life, for making and reinforcing friendships and community – long ago there was a big study in the USA which showed that people meet and greet more often and make stronger communities where traffic is absent or very calm.

Nobody seems to have intended it, but the effect of car culture and the changes made to accommodate it has been to create a mindset where streets are conduits for traffic and places to park rather than part of home. As a consequence speed has taken over, kids no longer meet in the street or walk/bike to school, parents no longer regard streets as community space, trees and shrubs have disappeared creating longer sightlines further stimulating fast driving.

With its essentially residential purpose and many narrow streets which barely need traffic calming the Hoppers Road area is an ideal place to halt and reverse this catastrophe for urban living and quality of life, but much depends on the scheme the council installs. If it turns out to be entirely composed of harsh road structures such as humps and tables, with no attempt to strengthen the liveability with seating, planting and perhaps children’s play space the social/community meaning could well be lost, and another opportunity squandered.

As a matter of history in 2002 Enfield council officers working with local residents secured a promise of £6.25m (remember this is at 2002 prices) over three years from Transport for London to facilitate the installation of a scheme on the Lakes Estate, Palmers Green. Cllr. Prescott was very vocal against it, and the then Conservative administration rejected the funding. This was a scandal of the first magnitude.

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Proposed zebra crossing across Bourne HillEnfield Council are consulting residents about a proposal to create a new zebra crossing on Bourne Hill, close to the junction with Hoppers Road, between the car wash on the northern side and St John's Church Hall on the southern side.  There would be a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.

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Michael Scholand posted a reply #33 16 Apr 2013 18:04
I support the Zebra Crossing across Bourne Hill. I attend Church at St. Monica’s and many times have had to park on the far side of Bourne Hill and sprint across the road with my three children while being chased down by speeding VW Golfs and BMW’s careening down the road at excessive speed. We are always been careful and patient, however we always run even when it seems to be clear because there is a significant blind corner over the railway bridge and people do not obey the speed limit on that road.

I do not, however, think the Zebra crossing is enough. I want the Council to consider installing a round-about at the intersection of Hoppers Road and Bourne Hill. The round-about would give right of way to people pulling out of Hoppers Road over the volume of traffic heading up Bourne Hill away from Green Lanes. It would also serve the purpose of slowing down people coming down Bourne Hill towards Green Lanes because they would now have a roundabout in their path and a driver in the circle would have right of way. This roundabout, located at that intersection would have the further advantage of enhancing the safety of the Zebra crossing.

This is a very dangerous street where pedestrians are regularly put at risk – particularly children, who are going to school, church and cub-scouts. The zebra crossing is a start, but it is not enough to tame the excessive speed at which some drivers travel on Bourne Hill, putting pedestrians at risk.
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Basil Clarke posted a reply #34 17 Apr 2013 00:04
I agree entirely that this is a very hazardous stretch for pedestrians. It seems a good spot for a zebra, as views are good in both directions, though I am worried that some of the drivers that run the red lights at Green Lanes will be driving up Bourne Hill too fast to notice people on the crossing. A mini roundabout would hopefully slow them down, but I suspect that there is some rule about not siting zebra crossings close to a roundabout.

What angers me, though, is the suggestion in the consultation that a zebra crossing here would make up for the absence of any satisfactory pedestrian crossing arrangements at the Green Lanes/Bourne Hill/Hedge Lane crossroads. It would be a very long diversion for someone walking along Green Lanes on the West side to go all the way up to the end of Hoppers Road. The same with the planned new pedestrian refuges along Green Lanes, the far side of St Monica's Church - and they would only be islands in the middle of the road, and pedestrians would have no priority in crossing the road.

I understand that there have been previous campaigns for controlled crossings at the crossroads, but they were turned down because they would cause traffic queues - so delays of a few minutes for car drivers are more important than the safety of pedestrians. For anyone walking along or crossing Green Lanes there are no controlled crossings between Devonshire Road and Barrowell Green, a distance of more than half a mile, so pedestrians have to wait for gaps in the traffic. At the Bourne Hill crossroads there is a "lengthened" period when all lights are red - a full 13 seconds! This would be inadequate for older and slower people, even if it really existed. But in practice cars frequently go through red lights. On one afternoon last week I witnesses two potentially fatal incidents. The first was a car blatantly running a red light and turning left out of Hedge Lane at high speed. This is a blind corner for both drivers and pedestrians and any pedestrian crossing the road during their allotted 13 seconds would have been killed. An hour later two cars coming out of Hedge Lane at high speed and ignoring the red lights nearly ran over two pedestrians crossing the end of Bourne Hill. They were young and ran, an old person wouldn't have stood a chance, as the cars didn't slow down, just sounded their horns.

I think it's high time we restarted the campaign for safe road crossings in Palmers Green.
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David Hughes posted a reply #38 20 Apr 2013 00:27
I am strongly against pedestrian crossings as a matter of principle.

The reasons are these: to make use of them pedestrians commonly have to deviate from shorter/preferred routes which can be time consuming and unfair at the best of times, but is a real abuse of people with mobility problems who should take preference for the most direct/convenient routes; driver and pedestrian should have an equal right to complete their journey by a preferred/most direct route, but fixed crossing points weight the choices in favour of drivers; fixed crossing points backed by symbols such as zebra effects and flashing lights amount to an instruction which lulls drivers into not thinking/concentrating between instructions; knowing that pedestrians are being enticed to specific crossing points drivers have an incentive to driver faster between pedestrian crossings; the right of the three categories of road user (driver, pedestrian, cyclist) to complete their journey on time should be equal, i.e. democratic.

The ideal alternative is a default 20mph urban speed limit which would allow informal negotiation between categories of road user, and enable all three categories to become used to sharing. But failing that a good solution in this spot would be a 20mph limit through Palmers Green and for a couple of hundred metres northwards beyond the traffic lights, and for a significant stretch along Bourne Hill and Hedge Lane. This would make PG a better place, and might enable the removal of the traffic lights with a consequent easing of the bottleneck there.

Before readers react against this proposal they should remember that 20mph limits are spreading like a rash throughout the UK, and that in the Netherlands there are lots of areas, and at least one whole, substantial town, with no traffic lights or fixed crossing points. Car journey times are not longer in these schemes because obstacles like traffic light and fixed crossing points can be removed. Remember too that so-called Shared Space schemes which take this sort of principle even further are being created in Britain (and supported by the government) as in much of the rest of Europe, and that they have much, much better safety records than traditional traffic control schemes.

Wood Green has had a 20mph limit along Green Lanes for years. Why not Palmers Green
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Michael Scholand posted a reply #123 18 Oct 2013 22:32
Hi David - just read your post from April - unfortunately, I do not find myself in agreement with your principles on Pedestrian Crossings. Our transport system has evolved to include trucks, vans, cars, bikes, pedestrians, wheel-chairs, and so on. These are the transport infrastructure users. And, as you know, the frequency of use of cars along roads like Bourne Hill far out-weighs the few pedestrians, bikes, wheel-chairs, and so-on. Rightly or wrongly, the car is the mode of transport chosen by most people.

From my perspective, the absence of pedestrian crossings is dangerous for the non-car users - jaywalking can result in death and most drivers I've seen do not give right of way to pedestrians who take that most direct / quickest route across a road. In fact, I've been knocked off my bike by a driver who wanted to make a point about his right of way at a round-about, even though he was sat in a column of traffic going nowhere.

Pedestrian (Zebra) Crossings in the UK are to me (an American) a fantastic resource because they empower the non-car 'minority' to stop traffic when they are ready to cross - that is convenient and saves time. I don't have to wait for the lights to change and the red hand switching to a green man. These crossings are also a traffic calming measure, creating something that must be navigated by the driver, most of whom pass through with caution.

All that said, I completely agree with your 20 mph suggestion. Much safer for everyone and less CO2 for the atmosphere.

Thanks, Mike.
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Basil Clarke posted a reply #126 20 Oct 2013 23:12
I'm afraid that Mike's right. It would be nice to think that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians could all have regard to one another and have an equitable share of the road, and in a perfect world they would, but we have to start from where we are, and where we are is a situation where many road users treat others with contempt - and that includes pedestrians who walk out in front of cars without warning - even car drivers deserve some respect, and I say that as a non-driver.

I've tried two "shared spaces" in London - Exhibition Road and York Road (Waterloo). In Exhibition Road the car is still king, but pedestrians have little choice but to walk in front of the continuous stream of (admittedly quite slow) cars and hope for the best. York Road is scary if you want to get from the Festival Hall to Waterloo Station. There are absolutely no pedestrian crossings but plenty of cars - but the worst thing is the bikes, which appear round the corner and high speed and would never dream of slowing down or stopping.

Returning to Palmers Green, I'm afraid we don't need to do away with pedestrian crossings - we need many more. There isn't a single controlled crossing between the end of Devonshire Road and Barrowell Green - more than half a mile. And that includes the very dangerous Green Lanes/Hedge Lane/Bourne Hill junction, where cars frequently shoot the lights and turn left into Green Lanes at high speed. It's scandalous that the campaign to install pedestrian lights here was rejected on the grounds that it would delay traffic too much.
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David Hughes posted a reply #127 22 Oct 2013 19:10
I'm going to take Mike & Basil on and widen discussion about this topic, but I've got the mother and father of a cold and brain like porridge, so it's a coming shortly event. Meanwhile I'd make the point that thinking about traffic more or less worldwide has a 100 years of thinking in one direction behind it - it's a mindset. Even in the Netherlands progress has met that sort of problem on a big scale.

On 'Shared Space' - remembering that in the Netherlands there's at least one whole substantial town where that principle is followed and across North-Western Europe there are lots of schemes - I've never heard of a death. Which doesn't mean I'm advocating Shared Space everywhere, only a default 20mph limit and the right of pedestrians to cross the road at a point convenient to them. Why should traffic set the organisational principles? It's not democratic or fair.
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David Hughes posted a reply #130 28 Oct 2013 15:56
If you accept the national sentiment about the need for them, Mike S. and Basil C. made a strong case for pedestrian crossings, but I believe they and the nation are wrong. Indeed, I think the need for pedestrian crossings has been created partially by their use, that they lower driving standards, and that their presence is undemocratic because they force pedestrians away from their most convenient route. A new way of organising the relationship between people and traffic would do wonders for urban liveability.

Of course it will be difficult to make such a fundamental change because current thinking and behaviour are deeply entrenched, but I am confident that, skilfully done, removing trial pedestrian crossings from key places would prompt a call for a wider application of the principle. So here goes; rather than answer Mike and Basil’s points one by one I hope to make my approach stand on its merits.

Discussing what academics call ‘the organisational principles’ of urban streets and social areas like high streets is a fraught business if your ideas differ from the mindset which has been created by 100+ years of the car. Indeed, pedestrians are now so used to giving way to cars, to deviating from the most convenient crossing point for them, that they behave as if it’s ‘right’ to be required to take a longer, perhaps less congenial, route. In fact, by accepting pedestrian crossings, walkers have ceded a democratic right and made their own lives more difficult.

So why has this happened? In my opinion, because - when driver meets pedestrian - the driver has the power conferred by the vehicle. You could call it state-assisted bullying, though I think it’s been accepted because people believe that car journeys matter more than pedestrian journeys. Why? This puzzles me.

Putting aside the power issue for a moment, what other issues should decide who takes priority when driver meets pedestrian? Here’s my view.

• Setting – There’s clearly a big difference between an arterial road like the A10 (Great Cambridge Rd) – which has more in common with a railway line than a street – and a journey on purely residential streets to a school. On the A10 (until someone makes the sensible decision to put more freight and long-distance travel onto the rails) traffic has to take priority. But on a purely residential street, or in a social area like a high street, or near a school or a pathway to a school, or on routes to parks/hospitals, the chosen option ought to depend on the needs, at the moment of contact, of the drivers and walkers involved.

• Need – Drivers/pedestrians can’t read each other’s minds, but even in a split second a lot can be deduced from visual cues or read from body language; we do that all the time. Pedestrians in bad weather conditions, older pedestrians, pedestrians with mobility problems, pedestrians or drivers in a hurry, are all relatively easy to spot and they should take priority other things being equal. For the rest, caution and good manners are enough – no driver, however unthinking or selfish, actually wants to kill someone.

But priority isn’t the only issue which should influence the use or not of pedestrian crossings. The effect on driving skills also matters.

To drivers, pedestrian crossings are an instruction: “Stop for pedestrians at this point”. Well and good, but within that fact there is an implication that between crossings the road belongs to drivers. This has two consequences: the idea that pedestrian’s won’t or shouldn’t be on the carriageway – which is an encouragement to speed – and the implication that the key to good driving is obeying instructions rather than concentration – which is an encouragement to reduce awareness, concentration and thinking. No wonder that people drive too fast, without consideration, and with insufficient concentration.

So what’s the alternative? I’d say three practical measures, plus a strategy which maximises the chance that drivers will begin to think/behave differently. It will take a long time to change the habits of generations, but not as long as the 100 years it’s taken to create the current unsafe, undemocratic and community-hostile situation we have now.

Here are the three measures.

• No new pedestrian crossings - Use speed limits and physical measures to slow traffic if something must be done.
• A default 20mph speed limit – At 20mph there is time and opportunity to negotiate priority, more time to stop if a mistake is made, but less chance of serious pedestrian injury if an incident does occur.
• As many pedestrian-friendly street features as possible – centre of carriageway refuges, pinch points, calming measures, visual cues which emphasize people’s needs, but no instructions to drivers so that their concentration is maximised.

The strategy for bringing about these changes, and the development of a new mindset which responds differently to liveability/traffic issues, could consist of the following or a variant.

• Introducing the default 20mph speed limit throughout the borough with appropriate signs/road markings to replace the current reference point of 30mph (several London boroughs have already taken this decision).

• Choosing priority areas for supporting 20mph limits and removing pedestrian crossings.

• Looking at the streets and carriageways in the chosen priority areas from a pedestrian perspective, and making physical and/or visual changes which support safe and pleasant pedestrian activity ( To a point this is little different in principle, or in the design tools available, to now, but there should be much more attention to the appearance/liveability of places so that people enjoy the experience of being there as pedestrians.)

In no particular order – because it would be wise to choose areas of change as need or opportunity arises and funds exist – the following seem sensible candidates within the scope of point ‘2’ above.

• high streets and local shopping areas;
• around railway, tube and bus stations;
• within housing areas with a cohesive identity and speeding problems such as the Lakes Estate, Palmers Green and the Hoppers Road area in Winchmore Hill;
• around key road junctions, possibly entailing the removal of traffic lights to smooth traffic flow;
• around existing social areas like Southgate Green or potential social areas like the wide pavement adjacent to Palmers Green railway station on Alderman’s Hill;
• along access roads to parks (to encourage independent access for children);
• around schools, and
• along access streets to schools, probably beginning with primary schools.

In my view the practical problems of making the necessary changes are a lesser problem than the party political difficulties within Enfield created by alternate political groups taking power. To the outsider – I vote for neither of the two larger parties – the Labour Party seems most open to reviewing current practice and developing a more people-centred, community-based borough, whilst the Conservative Party, led locally by Cllr. Martin Prescott who is irredeemably opposed to any idea of a 20mph speed limit, seems bent – based on past performance - on reversing any changes Labour makes.

If we want a safer, more liveable area, free from poor air quality (both pedestrian crossings and traffic lights create local areas of traffic-generated pollution), which fosters the independence of children and encourages everyone to improve their health by cycling, we’ll certainly need to fight for it.

And finally. If you’re unconvinced I feel you should have regard to the experience on Kensington High Street when crossings, pavement railings and instructions were stripped out. The traffic engineers forecasted carnage; the accident rate went down. Drivers had been made to think
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #186 06 Feb 2014 17:51
A few months ago I contributed a couple of pieces about pedestrian crossings to this website, and continue to be fascinated and concerned by the clamour for more. Far better to campaign for calmed 20mph speed limits because at that speed driver and pedestrian can negotiate priority, making it possible for pedestrians – most importantly the elderly and people with mobility problems – to cross where convenient to them. Indeed there’s a list of reasons for favouring lower speed over defined crossing points which are well worth revisiting:

• wherever pedestrian crossings are placed there will always be people who want/need to cross the carriageway somewhere else;
• there’s nothing fair or democratic about encouraging pedestrians to deviate from their preferred route whilst drivers remain on their preferred route;
• pedestrian crossings do nothing to enhance the independence and safety of unaccompanied children, but lower speed does;
• a pedestrian crossing is an instruction to drivers which tends to lower their concentration whilst driving between crossings;
• it’s easy for drivers to fall into the trap of regarding the carriageway between crossings as belonging to them rather than a place to be shared with pedestrians;
• ‘accelerate, brake, stop, held-up, accelerate’ driving exacerbates poor air quality (a significant cause of illness and death) in social areas like high streets.

Wood Green has enjoyed 20mph limits and few pedestrian crossings along Green Lanes for years. Why not Palmers Green?

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Enfield Council has indicated its approval for a scheme to install new pedestrian refuge islands at two points along Green Lanes - one near Stonard Road in Palmers Green (close to the Catholic church and Intimate Theatre), the other near Radcliffe Road in the centre of Winchmore Hill.

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