The Enfield Local Plan is a significant council strategy that will take us up to 2036, setting the direction for all types of housing development, transport, high streets and so on. We have until 28 February to comment on it.
Meanwhile, here’s our draft response as Better Streets. Any thoughts to help shape it are welcome. (To keep it short we’ve only commented on Chapter 10 on sustainable transport – but we will send in a response to other chapters as well.)
We welcome the aim in the Enfield Local Plan to promote good growth, create vibrant town centres and allow sustainable movement and transport, as well as many of the measures it sets out to achieve that. We agree that these are all absolutely vital to make our borough liveable as its population grows.
However, it won’t be easy to reduce Enfield residents’ reliance on private cars and see more journeys shift to better forms of transport. There needs to be strong, specific commitments to reduce demand for driving, as well as increasing provision for walking, cycling and public transport. (See the ‘sustainable transport hierarchy’ graph below.) But certain vital measures that are proven to help prioritise walking and cycling over driving – 20mph zones, low traffic neighbourhoods, traffic bans on school streets – are not mentioned in the Plan.
Sustainable movement and transport (Chapter 10)
Find this chapter here.
Modal shift (from car use to walking/cycling/public transport) in Enfield is paramount, as the Plan highlights, as having one of the lowest share of bike trips in London and very high car ownership. But we disagree with this statement:
“10.1.5 Enfield, along with other outer London boroughs, faces the difficult challenge of modal shift given the deficit position of current networks and more spacious and lower density land use. For example, the distance of travel within and through Enfield is higher than inner and central parts of London, which means car ownership in is significantly higher than that of inner London boroughs. Consequently, this provides unique issues and challenges for the borough in not only promoting a longer-term vision of modal shift to more sustainable modes of transport but to also support the short term strategic infrastructural needs of a rising population and new development.”
We do not think that distance is a reason for Enfield’s low take-up of cycling. This same chapter points out that a high number of Enfield’s car trips are distances that could be easily cycled. The problem is Enfield’s street design that prioritises motor traffic over other road users, forcing people into their cars. This in turn has created a culture of car dependency over the years. The need is to make streets safe and joined-up for walking and cycling through bike lanes, safe crossing points and low-traffic streets.
Good public transport is vital (T1)
The proposed rapid transit east-west bus route linking town centres in the borough is very welcome.
Improvements to highways are also welcome – “Seeking localised improvements to the highway network to reduce congestion on the east-west routes in the borough” so long as this doesn’t simply increase capacity for motor traffic, which will simply induce more demand for driving and make it worse. All highway improvements should make improvements for walking and cycling as well.
It needs to be safe and convenient to cycle to and from train stations. This can open up the area that a station serves without car use by up to 5 miles. We were surprised not to see any mention of this in the Plan. At the moment it is not convenient to cycle to many of our stations.
For instance, while the A105 itself is safe to cycle on, the roads between the A105 and Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green stations (Station Road N21 and Aldermans Hill N13) are hostile to cycling, due to speed and volume of traffic and pinch points that squeeze cycles together with vehicles. The few who cycle tend to do so on the pavement. A better design is needed to make the link between the A105 and the stations safe and easy for cycling. For instance, those roads could be limited to 20mph (preferably as part of a borough-wide limit); parking removed; and traffic islands/central reservations removed to make space for cycle lanes. Secure cycle parking would also be needed.
We welcome the aims and direction of the T2 Draft Policy Approach, and agree with the need to create a “more sustainable local travel network”, follow the Healthy Streets approach and “reduce reliance on private motor vehicles”. We also welcome the plans for car club provision, which has been shown to reduce car ownership levels, and car-lite developments.
Is tunnelling on the A406 a good idea?
“10.2.12: The Council supports the Mayor’s A406 Tunnelling project proposals in the south-west of the borough in New Southgate, which have the potential to improve long-term air-quality and congestion issues for residents and business not just within Enfield, but also our adjoining boroughs of Barnet and Haringey. “
Tunnelling is expensive – and will it really help congestion and air pollution? While it’s preferable for the immediate area that the traffic goes underground, it doesn’t tackle the problem at source – too many people driving too many journeys. If it increases the road capacity on the A406, ‘inducing demand’ for more driving, it could ultimately worsen both congestion and air quality.
Why not rather invest in encouraging a modal shift on the A406? We suggest a rapid transit bus lane on the A406, taking one of the lanes on each side to prioritise public transport users, making east-west journeys much faster and convenient by public transport. Clever use of space could also incorporate bike lanes on either side.
Electric cars, while welcome, are still cars – with the associated problems of physical inactivity, congestion, danger, limited spaces for parking, and even particulate pollution – and we need to move away from car use. Car charging points are car infrastructure, and should not take up space on pavements on cycle lanes, but be installed on the carriageway.
Where the Plan aims to “ensure quality public realm, safe road crossings … to create healthy and attractive environments that support and encourage people to choose to cycle and walk” this is welcome, but it will only work if motor traffic is actually restricted. Space and priority must be reclaimed from motor vehicles to give back to walking, cycling and public realm improvements.
Our recommendations for sustainable transport
- Make 20mph the default speed limit in Enfield’s built-up areas. This has been shown to reduce casualties and increase walking and cycling
- Create low traffic neighbourhoods across the borough. These remove through traffic from whole neighbourhoods, making walking and cycling pleasant but driving less convenient for short journeys. Rather than creating ‘routes’, this releases whole areas for safe, direct active travel. Walking increased dramatically in Waltham Forest’s low traffic neighbourhoods, cycling increased and car journeys decreased significantly.
- Making walking and cycling safe and direct for all ages and abilities in a joined-up network across the borough, made up of:
- Low traffic neighbourhoods
- Cycling infrastructure and walking provision on major routes, as we are seeing on the A105 and A1010.
- Safe pedestrian/cycle crossings over main roads and other severance points.
These are the three ingredients of the Greater Manchester Beelines programme, which plan to open up the vast majority of the area to walking and cycling.
This could produce a significant modal shift by increasing demand for active travel and making short car journeys slightly less direct and convenient. It is also vital to make sure that cycle/walking routes link safely with train and bus stations as described above to allow mixed-mode sustainable travel.
- Banning traffic on school streets. The Plan identifies school run traffic as a huge contributor to congestion. Proposing that developers fund some new walking and cycling routes is welcome but this is unlikely to stop people driving to school when it’s convenient. A traffic ban at school run hours discourages driving, encourages active travel to school and boosts families’ safety on the school run. In combination with low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle lanes, it could make any school in the borough easy to reach without a car. This is part of Hackney’s transport plan – why not Enfield’s?