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Axing Hampstead High Street zebra crossing would be ‘a big mistake’, former mayor warns

TfL want faster traffic routes through Hampstead

31 January, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Lulu Mitchell at her stall

A FORMER mayor of Camden has joined calls to save a well-used zebra crossing in Hampstead High Street.

Transport for London says the crossing is holding up traffic through Hampstead, but ex-Mayor Lulu Mitchell, who as a flower seller has watched the comings and goings in the street for nine years, has warned that removing it would be a disaster for people on foot.

“I see how often that crossing is used,” she said. “This area of Camden is a village and totally different to other parts.”

The New Journal reported in December how the crossing is under threat in a TfL overhaul aimed at preventing drivers having to stop at both the zebra crossing and traffic lights near Hampstead tube station. It would become a pelican crossing with lights.

Ms Mitchell, who stood down as Conservative councillor in 2010, said: “The traffic lights by the tube station go red so quickly that traffic has to stop anyway. It must be the busiest crossing I have ever known. To get rid of it would be a big mistake. People would just cross at whatever time they could even if it was a pelican.”

TfL insists the crossing is causing traffic congestion and holding up number 46 and 268 buses. Hampstead and Heath Society chairman Marc Hutchinson believes the traffic problems could be linked to delivery drivers on motorcycles parking at double lines.

“It’s a relatively recent problem,” he said last week. “If it were just bicycles it wouldn’t be so bad, but they have bikes with a trolley attached… They shouldn’t be gathering there.”

Amanda Ridley and, below, Keith Fawkes 

Meanwhile, Amanda Ridley, volunteer at Mary’s Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children, in Oriel Place, said: “I’ve noticed there are a lot more deliveries these days and there is often quite a traffic hold-up by the tube station.”

Ms Ridley, who drives to work from West Hampstead, added: “There are also a lot of schools around here with a lot of parents driving on the school run. Traffic is sort of expected.”

Keith Fawkes, who has been running a bookshop in Flask Walk for more than 50 years, said: “The traffic is very heavy here, but that is part of life. It would be a bit of an odd place to have lights [at the crossing].”

The TfL shake-up of Hampstead includes restricting parking and loading on the southern side of the High Street between 7am and 10am and from 4pm to 7pm from Monday to Saturday.

Plans also include the restructuring of the High Street approach to Heath Street, a new pedestrian crossing between Holly Hill and Hampstead tube station, widening of footpaths and a new cycle lane.

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