The independent London newspaper

Put people before cars

19 July, 2019

• TRANSPORT is a major area to address. The key task is to end the domination of our streets by motor vehicles whether diesel or electric.

Transport policies claim to put pedestrians first but, in practice, motorists come first although over two-thirds of residents do not have a car.

We know what to do from Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The evidence indicates three proven policies are essential and are the benchmark for judging Islington’s transport policy.

• First, decide what roads are for. It is simple. Classify roads by function into major arterial and distributor roads and residential roads. Then design them according to that function.

For main roads, that means carrying through-traffic; but more road space should be allocated to walking, cycling and buses.

For residential roads there must be an end to through-traffic; they should not be commuter rat-runs. When this is done in London and elsewhere the results for air quality, shop footfall and “active travel” are very positive.

• Secondly, introduce a network of child-friendly low-traffic neighbour­hoods. Low traffic neighbourhoods are area-wide traffic zones that cars navigating by Google Maps cannot cut through. They can be inexpensive, and the benefits are immediate. Within a year walking increases remarkably.

• Thirdly, set an annual target for reducing on-street parking. Parking spaces on main roads take up space which could be used for crossings, pavement or bike lanes. Parking suppresses those modes we want to prioritise.

Transport strategy is essential to many goals councils hold dear. Progress has been made: car-free developments, the removal of gyratories and school streets.

But traffic also needs to be reduced on streets where children live. Progress requires political will and policies which will put people before cars.

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