Enfield Council has revealed its design for the Fox Lane area Quieter Neighbourhood.
We’re delighted to see that this is a true low traffic neighbourhood, with no through route for drivers to use as a short cut avoiding main roads. There are currently thousands of car journeys every day along Fox Lane and many other streets, creating danger, noise and pollution – and preventing all but the brave from cycling or even walking.
Reducing those car journeys to a few hundred (mainly residents’ vehicles entering/exiting the area) will be transformational. We expect fewer collisions, less speeding, a stronger sense of community, and a big rise in all-age walking and cycling, especially on the school run.
Most of all, we look forward to seeing an overall reduction in car journeys – the first LTN in Waltham Forest saw 10,000 fewer car journeys a day (taking into account surrounding main roads). This is why low traffic neighbourhoods in every ward is our number one ask as Better Streets for Enfield.
Exhibition on Tuesday 12 November
There is a public exhibition on Tuesday 12 November in Palmers Green (see flyer above), where residents can ask council officers questions. For anyone who can’t make it in person, the plans will be online at the same time with a facility for asking questions.
A six-month trial
If the trial is approved, the council plan to carry out the scheme for a six-month period starting in the spring. Residents can comment online throughout. The process is explained here.
The council’s plan is to turn the area into two ‘cells’, each with a single entry/exit point for vehicles (see the yellow arrows on the map). One entry point is via the Fox Lane junction with Bourne Hill, where drivers can access all the roads on the west side of the Fox Lane area. The other is the Fox Lane/Green Lanes junction which allows access by car to the east side.
This design mimics a typical post-war housing development where access to all streets is via one road. The difference is that you can still travel directly across the area if you’re walking, cycling or on the W9 bus. A ‘bus gate’ with camera enforcement will allow the W9 to take its usual route through Fox Lane (as well as emergency services).
There are some concerns that having only two vehicle entry/exit points will funnel too much resident traffic onto Fox Lane – although it will be much less than the current 5,000+ vehicles per day. However, the council stress that this will be a trial, using temporary moveable planters, and that they can change the design during the trial period.
Pros and cons
Indirect routes by car
Some people are already objecting to the idea of a more indirect route in and out of the area by car. We think it’s important to wait and see what the trial is like – it’s hard to imagine the benefits of a low-traffic street until you experience it. Being able to walk down the middle of a road, allowing a child to play outside or simply enjoying some peace and quiet is, for many people, worth far more than the inconvenience of a slightly longer car journey. And discouraging very short journeys by car is part of the point of a low traffic neighbourhood. For longer car journeys, a few extra minutes leaving the neighbourhood won’t make much difference.
More safety and greenery on the high street
Putting the closures on roads where they meet Aldermans Hill and Green Lanes also makes it much safer for people crossing side roads on those streets – there will be no vehicles turning in and out at all. That will be a relief for parents of small children or anyone elderly or disabled. And closures make room for parklets. The map shows that Devonshire Road’s closure could allow a ‘public realm improvement’ – hopefully meaning some greenery and somewhere to sit, right next to the high street.
More traffic on main roads?
It’s natural to assume that all the thousands of car journeys which now run through the Fox Lane area will be displaced onto roads like Green Lanes and Aldermans Hill, causing total gridlock. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise. London Living Streets have written an excellent article about this.
“This research shows that low-traffic neighbourhoods do not simply shift traffic from one place to another, but lead to an overall reduction in the numbers of motor vehicles on roads.”London Living Streets on ‘evaporating traffic‘
The experience of our neighbours in Waltham Forest was that traffic did rise on surrounding main roads, but not to unmanageable levels (data here). It then began to subside again. Since that data was published, one main road bordering a Walthamstow scheme was found to be carrying less traffic than it did before.