We are a community group with the ambition to reimagine the streets in the Bowes/Bounds Green area. We want a better balance on our streets between cars, bikes, pedestrians, and public transport users, to make them safer, healthier and more people-friendly. Not many of us cycle and most of us drive – but we all agree that streets dominated by cars don’t work for anyone.
- Our aims
- How does it work?
- What’s a bus gate?
- Doesn’t Brownlow need to be a through route?
- Won’t traffic be pushed to other roads?
- What about vulnerable and disadvantaged groups?
- How will I get to my home by car?
- What can I do to support?
- Sources and evidence
We support an area-wide low traffic neighbourhood, including appropriate traffic reduction measures on Brownlow Road, eg. a timed bus gate, so that:
- Residential streets are communities rather than conduits for traffic
- Through-traffic is minimised, reducing air and noise pollution so we can all breathe cleaner air and enjoy more peaceful streets.
- Travelling by bike is a safe and convenient option for all ages and abilities.
- Children can walk or cycle to school, for better health, wellbeing and independence.
- Fewer short journeys need to be made by car, leaving more space for those who really need to drive.
- We can lead healthier, more active lifestyles, saving money for the NHS.
The area has been uneven in its distribution of vehicle traffic. Some roads have previously been filtered, or do not suffer through traffic; others have become ‘rat-runs’ or heavily used, for example Warwick Road, York Road, Palmerston Road and at certain times Highworth Road.
Most notably, Brownlow Road and Warwick Road have been carrying massive levels of through-traffic, resulting in noise, air pollution, road danger, delays of buses, and obstacles to active travel. Yet this is a residential neighbourhood. The way the roads have been designed makes these streets the unfortunate shortcut for drivers cutting a corner off the A406. We don’t think that’s fair; A-road traffic should stay on A-roads.
In West Bowes, for example, the through-traffic has been shown to account for 60% of vehicles in non-peak hours, and as much as 80% in peak hours. That’s why removing ‘rat runs’ between the North Circular and Bounds Green Road is fundamental to any low traffic neighbourhood in Bowes, ensuring that a low traffic environment can be enjoyed by all residents.
Low traffic streets reverse the pecking order: kids can play, people of any age can walk or cycle, neighbours can socialise – and cars are ‘guests’.
A low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) is a whole residential area, bordered by major roads, that allows vehicles in, but not through. Bollards or planters can be used to filter off streets at strategic points, preventing traffic using the area as a cut-through to the North Circular. Such filters prevent rat running, but allow people to walk and cycle through. Every street can still be accessed by vehicle.
A bus gate is not a real gate but rather a point on the road with signs and cameras that you can’t drive through without receiving a fine. Buses, bikes and emergency vehicles can all pass through, and cars can still enter the road on either side of the gate to access the area. Bus gates often operate part-time, eg peak hours only.
Bus gates have been introduced in areas where it would be inappropriate for a high volume of through traffic, such as residential areas.
Brownlow Road has been identified by TFL as a strategic cycle route. A bus gate would improve bus services and make it safe for cycling. A bus gate would open up the street for families to cycle to school as well as commuters to cycle to work, forming the backbone of a healthy low traffic neighbourhood that prioritises sustainable transport.
TfL would ideally need to reinstate the right turn from Bounds Green Road onto the A406.
Yes – but not primarily for cars. Brownlow Road’s narrow design and overwhelmingly residential status make it completely unsuitable to carry its current levels of up to 10,000 vehicles a day, often clogging up the entire road. At the heart of a low traffic neighbourhood, Brownlow Road will continue to be a through route – but one that prioritises active travel and public transport. We hope to see hundreds of school children walking, cycling and scooting along it every day on the school run to Bowes Primary, Bounds Green School, and other schools in the area – as well as hundreds of commuters cycling instead of taking the car.
People tend to think that traffic is like water – block one route, and it will flood another. But traffic is the result of human choices. When walking and cycling are made more safe and convenient, and driving slightly less convenient for short trips, fewer people choose to get in their cars. Some people will stop making particular trips, combine multiple trips into one, change destination, travel at a less congested time, or switch to public transport, walking or cycling. This is known as ‘traffic evaporation’ and has been documented in similar situations all over the world.
We expect to see traffic build-up in the early weeks of a trial, followed by a steady decline in traffic as drivers adjust back to similar levels as before.
Initial figures from the Walthamstow Village area show traffic levels on main roads have increased by between 3% and 11%, but the number of vehicles in filtered roads has decreased by 56%. This means that across the overall area, there are around 10,000 fewer vehicles every day, an overall reduction in traffic of 16%. Since the schemes went in, traffic levels have started to fall on main roads back to previous levels too.
A Kings College study of the same area suggests that there has not been a decrease in air quality on main roads following the introduction of LTNs (see pages 8-9 of this report). Main roads are usually better suited to absorb traffic than residential neighbourhoods.
For more information, see Evaporating traffic? Impact of low traffic neighbourhoods on main roads.
Residential streets full of impatient drivers cutting-through or lines of idling traffic are hostile not only to children and their parents, but to grandparents and the elderly and infirm too. With limited mobility, many elderly residents (or those with disabilities) spend their lives more locally – and they deserve clean air and safe streets as much as anyone. The streets will be much safer for a frail or disabled person to cross a road at their own pace, and for those who want to use a bike, trike or mobility scooter as a mobility aid.
Anyone who needs to travel by car or taxi will still be able to. Mobility scooters will be able get through the filters that stop cars. Since vehicles can still enter every street, there is no problem with retaining designated disabled parking bays.
Reducing traffic has been shown to boost communities in neighbourhoods; low traffic means more people are likely to consider their neighbours as friends (Donald Appleyard has famously studied this). The elderly could especially benefit from a stronger community on their street.
Across Bowes and Bounds Green, between 40% and 50% of people do not own cars, either by choice or because of expense. They suffer the damaging effects of excess traffic without contributing to the traffic – and we believe their rights to enjoy a low traffic environment must not be forgotten.
People with disabilities
Most people with disabilities don’t have a mobility disability, and most people with a mobility disability can’t afford to drive. Many people who can’t walk can cycle or wheel. Active travel is a right all are entitled to. Lower traffic, better crossings and walking routes, and safe wheeling and cycling give disabled people more choice. The increasing use of electrically-assisted “e-bikes” means that physical strength is even less of a barrier.
For many people with disabilities or medical conditions – for instance, blindness, epilepsy and many others – driving isn’t and option at all (DVLA List of conditions affecting driving)
For some disabilities or medical conditions, non-motorised wheeled transport is the easiest way to get around, door-to-door. There are people for whom an e-assist bike, recumbent bike, hand cycle, or trike is an ideal mobility option.
This applies to many people with chronic fatigue, back injuries, ankylosing spondylitis, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy for example. But these people need a safe place to ride – they need proper infrastructure for non-motorised, wheeled transport.
For people who do need motorised transport, there are options beyond the car. Electric wheelchairs are one. Birò – tiny electric cars – are another. Both use cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands – a safe place to travel, away from cars.
And if a car is the best option – a better transport system serves essential car use too, because it gives people who don’t need a car more appealing options. This means reduced traffic and parking demand, leaving more space for those who really do need it.
Every street will still be accessible by car, emergency services, delivery vehicles and refuse trucks. To stop through-traffic, some residents’ car journeys will be more indirect and may take a few minutes longer. Other journeys might well be easier as there will be no through traffic on our roads. Also, residents in LTNs often choose to make fewer short journeys by car. For many people, some driver inconvenience is a price worth paying to have a quieter, safer neighbourhood, and cleaner air.
Do you agree? If so, feel free to share far and wide. Make sure you also tell your ward councillors. Let them know you support a Bowes LTN, even if you’re not sure which design would work best. A list of addresses is below.
Also, we need your help! Are you able to leaflet, put posters up, brainstorm ideas with us, take photos, design a poster, draft a letter, do some tactical urbanism, or spread the word about the benefits of low traffic amongst your friends? (Not all at once 🤪).
If you have even half an hour a week to spare, and any of the above tasks sound like your thing, please let us know. E-mail: lowtrafficBG@gmail.com
For Enfield, Bowes Ward, write to:
Yasemin Brett – email@example.com
Katherine Chibah – firstname.lastname@example.org
Achilleas Georgiou – email@example.com
- Low Traffic Neighbourhoods: an introduction to policy makers
- A Guide to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (for more nitty gritty detail)
- Evidence from Waltham Forest
- Disappearing traffic: the story so far
- What’s up with that: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse
- Surprise: Bike-friendly Netherlands named best place in the world to be a driver
- Evaporating traffic? Impact of low-traffic neighbourhoods on main roads
- Wheels for Wellbeing: publications and research
- Fairness in a Car-dependent Society – Sustainable Development Commission