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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Next Tuesday, 7 December, the Council’s Cabinet meets to discuss/approve three Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), in Bruce Grove/West Green, Bounds Green and St Ann’s wards. They’re designed to block through routes and traffic across a huge area of the borough, displacing vehicles onto other roads instead. With time-limited money available from the London Mayor’s Office specifically for creation of LTNs, it’s highly likely the plans will go through.

The meeting agenda and officers’ reports on the schemes and local consultations are at https://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=118&am... 

In St Ann’s LTN, traffic will be forced by closures onto the boundary roads (St Ann’s, Green Lanes, West Green). Assessing these knock-on effects, the officers report that “in reality, there is insufficient spare capacity on the likes of Green Lanes and West Green Road to accommodate the scale of increased traffic” predicted, so “traffic will divert to alternative routes” - but there’s no indication as to where these routes are and whether they’re inside the borough (the Ladder, for instance) or outside it. The report also refers to the existing “negative impact” in Bounds Green of the adjacent LTN already introduced across the boundary in Enfield, which has simply displaced traffic into Haringey.

It’s very disappointing that none of Haringey’s published traffic schemes contains any plans to deal with the central problem of Green Lanes, a comprehensive plan for electric charging points across the borough, or any intention to replace the Council’s (and contractors such as Veolia’s) diesel and petrol vehicles with electric ones. At the same time, thanks to the Treasury, TfL faces a huge financial crisis that may force cuts of up to 20% in services: less frequent, more unreliable, more overcrowded and potentially more dangerous buses and tubes. This comes just as Haringey is aiming to get people out of cars and onto public transport that will in any case be slower as a result of increased traffic on roads outside the LTNs, making it even less attractive as a result. Not exactly joined-up thinking.

So where is all the traffic diverted from the LTNs going to go? If the whole of the east side of Green Lanes from Hermitage Road to Turnpike Lane is closed to through traffic (the Gardens, St Ann’s, West Green), and GL itself is going to be even more gridlocked than at present, it’s hard to see many alternatives other than the Ladder and Wightman Road. Unless the Council gets to grips with the over-riding problem of Green Lanes (with new bus lanes, parking restrictions and limiting access to/from the N Circular), Harringay will continue to experience congestion and pollution that makes walking, cycling and living in the area progressively less pleasant. But there’s no sign of this at the moment.

Tags for Forum Posts: low traffic neighbourhoods, traffic

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Hi Don,

The projected impacts on so-called boundary roads are worst case scenarios. The expectation is that these main roads will experience a small increase or decrease in motor traffic.

Where the traffic goes is, some of it goes away. Some locals, given quieter streets, see an opportunity to walk, or use a bike. Some through traffic goes away as the area becomes less permeable to rat-running, short-cuts, whatever you want to call it. People who have to drive should find their journeys a bit easier, even if they may have to go a different way to get home sometimes.

These schemes are in part a response to the impact on of a near doubling of through traffic on side roads in London, not to mention the global climate crisis, and a local health crisis. If other areas experience a dramatic increase in through traffic I would expect council to deal with that as well. We can’t do nothing, or the traffic will keep going up.



You missed the rest of that quote:

If the Option A trial is introduced, we expect some of this motor traffic will divert to the main roads surrounding the LTN (boundary roads) and possibly beyond as they seek alternative routes. This is likely to lead to an increase in motor traffic on the main roads, at least until things settle down.

Experience from other LTN's introduced in London in 2020 has shown that after a few months of 'settling in period', the overall traffic levels reduced. The evidence suggests that some drivers shift to other modes like walking, cycling or using public transport or travel at different times of the day or have stopped/reduced commuting ( e.g. work from home).

Part of the expectation for the LTNs is that as people become used to them the volume of traffic will decrease, settling back to before LTN levels (or possibly lower). Realistically other LTNs have shown sometimes traffic goes up, sometimes it stays the same, sometimes it goes down. They're currently doing traffic counts and, assuming the LTNs are agreed, will continue to do them through the trial implementation so they can actually see what happens.

The obvious alternative to Green Lanes is that traffic will stay on the A10 but I agree that Green Lanes needs sorting out. The trouble is though that there just isn't the budget to do the whole borough simultaneously and so some areas will be done before others and, realistically, it is probably better to sort the surrounding areas first rather than Green Lanes. They could at least start with some possible proposals though.

Andrew - you make my point for me. Even accepting that hugely increased traffic on boundary roads may be a 'worst case' scenario, the Council acknowledges that two (GL and West Green) are already at capacity, yet there are no plans at all to deal with this. Their anecdotal 'evidence' from other LTNs shows that boundary road traffic may decrease by up to 30% - or, there again, it may increase by up to 30%; nobody knows. That's a pretty wide margin of uncertainty for a scheme that will effectively close half the borough's side streets.

My complaint through this whole process has been that London needs an overall cross-borough strategic plan for traffic management and vehicle reduction, not piecemeal changes that just shunt problems sideways. Evidence already shows that an LTN in Enfield has pushed traffic into Haringey; the borough-wide LTNs, St Ann's in particular, will push traffic elsewhere (and I do think the Ladder will bear the brunt, certainly at first - some Ladder residents claim they still suffer from the Gardens closure 15 years ago!), while you're suggesting the A10 will take up the burden. Where does it end?

'Through traffic' is by definition trying to get somewhere and in Harringay's case it's to/from the North Circular and Manor House. So where are the plans to deal with the cause rather than the effect, other than blocking side roads and hoping traffic will magically 'evaporate'?

Until public transport is a safe, affordable, reliable alternative, telling people not to use cars will always be less attractive; we know that buses and tubes are about to be clobbered yet again, so for the Council to simultaneously make moving around more difficult and slow buses even further looks irresponsible. And, if long-term policy is to phase out non-electric vehicles, where is the Council's plan for borough-wide electric charging points and why should they and Veolia be allowed to continue running petrol and diesel vehicles? UPS have an electric fleet, Amazon has ordered thousands of electric vans, but Haringey hasn't said a single word on the subject, even with a policy of taking outsourced services such as rubbish collection back in-house.

Putting in barriers and flowerpots to block roads is a cheap move, bolstered by short-term funding from City Hall and grabbed at by cash-strapped councils that want to be seen to be doing something without it costing them anything. But it's all stick and no carrot unless there are viable alternatives. Pushing cars out of Haringey just makes it somebody else's problem, when the fundamental difficulties - deteriorating public transport and the specific geographical problem that funnels traffic onto GL because the railway is a barrier on the west and it links two arterial roads - aren't even being considered, let alone solved. 

Hi Don,

the evidence for traffic evaporation isn’t anecdotal. There’s so much data on how they work, some of it dating back to the 80s; https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/disappearing_traffic_c...

Here’s some from this this year; https://news.hackney.gov.uk/traffic-down-in-london-fields-after-low...

Electric vehicles don’t solve the problem of congestion, but people not being able to charge them outside their homes is not my problem, it’s certainly not a council problem, I don’t get how you get there. We never asked a council to build petrol pumps in our gardens.

As for the diminution of our public transport, again, not a council problem. It’s a problem, for sure, enabled by the government reducing subsidy on one of the least subsidised public transport networks in the world as we’re plunging into a climate crisis.

Low traffic neighbourhoods are a proven solution and they’re on the table. They will be trialled, people will whine, hopefully council holds their nerve. You can characterise them as the all stick no carrot approach, but that ignores the benefits to everyone not trying to drive through our neighbourhood on the way to somewhere else, so bring on the sticks I say.

Itsjono -- Thanks for the links. I'm not convinced Hackney's figures, given lockdown, are necessarily typical, even making allowances for the overall diminution of traffic, but time will tell; the first link appears to be as much about presentation as it is stats, but I appreciate that this may be an important part of implementation. In a previous briefing paper, Cllr Hakata gave examples from Islington showing a 30%+ increase in traffic on one boundary road (and a 30%+ reduction on another), but cited 'anecdotal' evidence to explain the former rather than accepting that it might have been a bad outcome. This seems to suggest that actually nobody knows what will really happen.

What we do know is that the Wightman closure for bridge works massively increased congestion in Green Lanes, stalling traffic and seriously compromising bus routes; that the Crouch End closures were a disaster for local residents and were entirely based on forcing through traffic onto Wightman Road instead ("displacement" or "evaporation"?), even if the Council now tries to disown the experiment and the relevant officers have left; and that the Council accepts that GL and West Green Road have no spare capacity but nothing is being done there to help public transport or reduce congestion.

In St Ann's, there are two roads that cause major problems, and even a local councillor concedes that, in a ward with among the lowest car use in the borough, most streets are quiet enough to walk down the middle of almost all day. Both the crtical roads could be tackled by chicane barriers and cameras to enforce tidal flow: no southbound traffic in the morning peak, no northbound in the evening peak. It works in other boroughs (and has the added benefit of generating fine income if cars ignore the signs). In contrast, boundary road Green Lanes has a massively higher accident rate, but there are no plans at all to tackle this.

On electric charging: if government policy is that petrol vehicles will become illegal, isn't it incumbent on central or local government to provide infrastructure for the alternative? Nobody's saying the electricity should be free, but the delivery mechanism should be, and many other councils already have lamp-post charging networks. My point about the council's vehicles remains: if private owners are told to go electric, why isn't the council leading by example? If UPS can do it, why not LB Haringey? This and charging points would at least edge towards "carrot" and away from "stick".

On public transport: you reinforce my point entirely. Piecemeal, isolated, borough-led changes are predicated on shifting problems somewhere else (eg Enfield's Bounds Green LTN; did they think or care about Haringey when they set it up?). What's needed is a London-wide strategy that covers roads, public and private transport, utilities and 'last-mile' delivery companies. Yes, it's lunatic that government cuts risk devastating buses and tubes, but that's exactly why Haringey should a) think again and b) work with the Mayor's Office, TfL and the Department for Transport to sort out the Green Lanes problems, prioritising buses and reducing the 'through traffic' which currently spreads to side roads because GL is so often impassable.

Don, you make several good points above, however I'd like to comment on the congestion that resulted from the closure of Wightman Road, and during the Crouch End experiment. In both cases no mitigating measures were taken regarding parking, 1) on Green Lanes, & 2) on Topsfield Parade & Crouch End town centre. Had parking been completely banned and deliveries made outside rush hours during the closure & the experiment, I contend that the congestion would have been far, far less. Why the planners did not forsee this, I do not know.

You are quite right to point out that Green Lanes in its present configuration is a disaster for everybody, but it is because it is used as a car park, especially at peak traffic flow in the evenings. Utilising the eastern side of GL during the evening peak as a car park removes a whole lane, and when illegal parking & deliveries takes place at the same time on the Ladder side, where is the traffic bound to go? As you know, it doesn't, & sits there belching out fumes to the detriment of the residents in the flats, & those who attempt to travel in an active way.

I agree with you that its high time that the Green Lanes operation in Harringay underwent a major re-appraisal so that it works in a more inclusive manner for all who wish to use it at various times of the day & night. Some 'outside the box' thinking is necessary to change the status quo, and current behaviours where the motor car is allowed free rein. As a major strategic highway it's primary purpose should be to provide free-flowing movement for mass transit in a North / South direction, it's secondary purpose is that of a district town centre, and definitely not a car park.

If Green Lanes was used for the purpose for which it was designed with the strengthening needed to accommodate heavy vehicles and high volumes of traffic, the side /residential roads which are constructed to a lower standard as they were originally meant for access only, should, but for sat navs. etc be a great deal less used.

Peter — I completely agree with your analysis of the Green Lanes problems, which is why I think Haringey is at fault in not even mentioning it in any of their traffic schemes. In conversation with a local councillor they said that there was a problem in that the road is not under Haringey’s control (both TfL and DfT have a say, though I’m not sure if ultimately the DfT ‘own’ it) — but this is precisely the point I was making anout the need for collaboration and joined-up thinking on a broader (ultimately London-wide) scale.

If, as you say, no thought was given to the knock-on effects of the Wightman and Crouch End closures — and evidence shows it wasn’t — then where are the plans to deal with what I suspect will be enormous pressure on Ladder roads and Wightman, as well as Green Lanes, once all alternatives east of GL are blocked by the new LTNs? None of the Council’s published plans show any mitigating measures.

I don't think anyone disagrees that in an ideal world there'd be London, or at least borough,-wide plans.

That isn't going to happen though. In terms of London-wide there are too many disparate interests, boroughs like Kensington & Chelsea are very pro-car for instance. In terms of borough-wide there simply isn't the budget without support from the government or TFL and that isn't going to be happening any time soon.

As such, it's only going to be implemented piecemeal. Personally I don't think we'll get anywhere if we constantly reject schemes because they're not perfect. There's the plan of implementing all of these LTNs

which ultimately is what you're asking for but there's no chance of that happening if the initial ones aren't implemented. The council aren't going to keep on trying to push ahead with a borough-wide plan if nothing gets approval.

You're right in that the traffic can't be fully predicted. That's why these are being implemented on a trial basis. We can stand on the sidelines and wring our hands and say this might happen or that might happen so we'd better not do anything or we can actually give it a try and make a final decision based on real data, not guesses.

Agreed. I have no doubt council have assessed and forecast the impacts good and bad, but it's time to put spades in the ground. We can show what happens when we build more roads; more people drive, congestion re-occurs, and that's what sat-navs have done for London, by enabling residential roads as short-cuts, available to any driver with a smartphone, yet journey times by car are still the least reliable compared to other urban transport modes.

Logically the same outcome occurs when we reduce the supply of roads, and that's what the data tells us. It's way past time to act on it.


Spot on Andrew. We can't just constantly object to council efforts to tackle the rat running and pollution problems we're suffering. Action has to start somewhere - and trialling things in the way that is being proposed at least will tell us once and for all what actually happens (with real outcomes data) rather than all this nay saying and fear monguering which is based on conjecture and opinion of what people fear will happen. Short term pain for longer term gain - let's give it a try. 

“Real data” would be an excellent start. So far, the Council hasn’t published any figures for actual vehicle numbers in most St Ann’s streets, despite their assertion of “rat-running”, or those for the boundary roads. How is ‘experimental’ closure going to be monitored if there’s no transparency on the starting point and what are the benchmarks against which failure or success will be measured? 

I agree that major London-wide funding is unlikely to be available soon — after all, we have a national government that’s reducing air passenger tax for domestic flights, failing to increase petrol duty for the 11th year running while increasing rail fares by over 3%, and deliberately starving TfL of money so that it faces having to make 20% in cuts to buses and tubes. So, in the circumstances, why do we not see Haringey’s council leading by example in cutting its own carbon footprint through vehicle electrification, and making changes — such as sorting out Green Lanes — that would make things better for residents before imposing cheap, badly-informed road closures that — by any reckoning, including the Council’s own projections — will make traffic worse on remaing roads?



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