28 January 2021
In the middle of a respiratory pandemic, it makes absolute sense to cut air pollution and make our streets safer and more pleasant for walking and cycling by reducing the number of local car journeys.
Barely a quarter of Islington households own a car, so the new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, which came into being in Highbury last week will immediately benefit most people who live in the area. Every home is still accessible for refuse collection, emergency services, deliveries, household repairs and other essential vehicle use, what is not possible is cutting through from one main road to another.
As I’ve walked around Highbury this weekend I’ve been struck by how many people I’ve seen taking their daily exercise, not just in the increasingly crowded Highbury Fields, but also children and disabled people scooting and wheel-chairing along Gillespie Rd, families cycling along Horsell Rd and people of all ages enjoying spreading out walking through quieter less traffic dominated streets.
I have admittedly also seen some drivers confused, missing the signs for camera-controlled filters, perhaps because they are on a regular journey and not looking out for changes, and I am working with fellow councillors and council officers to get more signs up quickly, describing what’s happening and to take down any out of date ones that might be confusing.
The signage at the LTN boundaries was not in place at the start of the week and council services don’t seem to have amended their rounds in advance either, so that drivers of refuse collection, repair and maintenance vehicles, etc, are among the people having to learn their way around the new restrictions. But the council is committed to dealing quickly with these sorts of problems and, with good will and public support, the schemes should soon be bedded in, for the benefit of the whole community.
I’d like to thank Cllr Rowena Champion for bravely bringing forward these transformative public health measures to make our streets more people-friendly, less vehicle dominated, safer and less polluted. And I hope lessons will be learned, so that the next round of LTNs can be rolled out more smoothly, and the rest of the borough can benefit too.
Caroline Russell, Islington Green Councillor