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Enfield Council's plans for cycle lanes along main roads and quieter neighbourhoods in residential areas moved a little closer to completion this week, when a High Court judge refused an application for a judicial review of the Cycle Enfield consultation arrangements and ordered that the Save Our Green Lanes campaigning group should pay the  Council's costs.

The judge dismissed claims by the anti-cycle lane campaigners that there were  serious flaws in the way the consultation was carried out, in particular regarding the availability of information and its accuracy.  Save Our Green Lanes has stated that it intends to appeal against this decision.

Well, that's an issue above my pay grade that will be resolved in due course, hopefully very soon and in the Council's favour.  But I want to look at Cycle Enfield in a much broader context.  Is it just 99 per cent of residents being inconvenienced for the sake of the one per cent who cycle?  Is the scheme really being "bulldozed through by a Council that is determined to ignore the damage the scheme will cause to residents and businesses"?  Why does the Council claim that it would create "a better Enfield for everyone"?

The answer to these questions can be found in a briefing for local authorities published earlier this year by Public Health England under the title Working Together to Promote Active Travel>.

This is a clearly written and jargon-free document, with all its points carefully reasoned and supported by evidence, explaining the importance of reducing the current over-reliance on private cars and increasing the amount that people walk or cycle.  Its primary focus is improving health - not just physical health, but also the mental health of individuals and the healthy functioning of society.  But it also concludes that there shifting away from motorised transport would have significant economic benefits (and svings for the NHS, whose financial situation is not exactly rosy these days).

The document is detailed but flab-free and I've had to struggle to resist quoting whole passages from it.  I've just extracted the graphic and summary box below, and strongly recommend reading it in full.

Key adverse links between motorised road transport and health

Key adverse links between motorised road transport and health

Box 2: An agenda for action on active travel

Key tasks – policies:

  • active travel should be enshrined in transport policies
  • ensure that safe, convenient, inclusive access for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users is maximised and is prioritised over private car use in the movement hierarchy
  • focus on converting short car trips to active travel and public transport
  • ensure that policies and budgets demonstrate how maximising active travel can benefit health, the economy and the environment
  • encourage new developments (and retrofits) to maximise opportunities for active travel with appropriate infrastructure (eg cycle lanes, cycle parking)
  • ensure that travel plans for new developments (including schools) prioritise and support active travel over car transport as part of designing safe and attractive neighbourhoods

Key tasks – implementation:

  • consider how to minimise car parking as a way both to support local economies (eg local high streets) and to promote sustainable modes of transport
  • ensure that new developments don’t adversely affect capacity and safety of surrounding cycling networks
  • support 20mph speed limits in residential areas, and promote road safety in urban and rural settlements to complement school policies on safe and active travel
  • promote local ‘street play’ initiatives
  • ensure monitoring and evaluating the use of travel plans

Key tasks – social infrastructure:

  • develop and strengthen cross-sectoral working both within local authorities as well with other key local agencies
  • involve and take account of the needs of different members of the community (eg people with disabilities, children and young people, older people) to create local solutions that address possible conflicts of interest and meet local community needs
  • work with schools and workplaces on travel planning to promote safe modes of active travel to and from settings on a daily basis
  • work with local enterprise partnerships to ensure that the economic value of active travel is considered in local developments, and demonstrate how it contributes to the functioning and prosperity of local areas – for example, developing local cycling and walking investment strategies.


Conclusion?   Cycle Enfield isn't just the brainchild of a bunch of Labour councillors showing the borough's residents who's in charge.  It's not about banning driving or forcing people to cycle, as some people seem to think.  It's a perfectly rational and essential first step to a healthier relationship with the private car, part of a national strategy to improve everyone's wellbeing.  There may be teething troubles if enough drivers don't get the message, but the choice is between, on the one hand, doing nothing and suffering from ever increasing congestion and pollution and, on the other hand, making a start on modal shift.

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Karl Brown posted a reply #2252 28 Aug 2016 14:40
Basil concludes the “controversial” cycling investment opportunity won by Enfield Council as being part of a national strategy and not some crazed in-house Civic Centre scheme to disadvantage some.

It didn’t take the common sense report from the Public Health England to reach such a conclusion. Instead you needed to look no further than the government’s own strategy for cycling:

• "We want to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey regardless of age, gender, fitness level or income."

Or National Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport, which seeks to integrate transport and planning at the national, regional, strategic and local level with objectives including to:

• promote accessibility to jobs, shopping, leisure facilities and services by public transport, walking and cycling; and
• reduce the need to travel, especially by car

This Planning Guidance is specific in its instructions to Councils, such as Enfield, to:

• give priority to people over ease of traffic movement and plan to provide more road space to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport in town centres, local neighbourhoods and other areas with a mixture of land uses

And so this theme of people / active travel at the expense of a future purely car-centric outlook goes on through London’s own Transport Strategy, the London Plan itself, findings from eg the Roads Task Force and ever more comprehensively researched publications.

What is sad given this level of inevitability is the lost two years or so while parts of western Enfield have been riven by micro level debates over the odd parking space, whether people can walk short distances (or even at all it seems at times), whether cycles are more or less polluting than combustion engines and more. Yes, change inevitably brings winners and losers, but collaboration and understanding through sensible communication with understanding and respect is the means to facilitate achieving the best future path for all. Sadly that approach has too often been missing, too often seemingly deliberately so.
Colin Green posted a reply #2259 05 Sep 2016 23:14
From an ethnographic perspective, it is interesting to watch people so determinedly marching backwards into a rapidly changing future. Unfortunately, when they fall off over a cliff, they will pull me down with them. The argument would be helped if each side presented what they envisage will be the immediate future, that in 20 years’ time, both what they believe will be drivers and what they want that future to include. And hence, what they believe should be done.

There are strong technological and other change drivers both on the High Street and the transport side. Bloomberg predicts that electric cars will be cheaper than fossil fuelled cars by 2022 and they will take a 35% market share by 2040. So where will the charging points be? But since driverless vehicles are also anticipated to quite rapidly replace conventional cars perhaps this is less of a problem than would be the case if the current rate of car ownership were to continue. Given an ageing population in which an estimated 6.5 million people in GB already suffer from a mobility impairment, there should be a very large increase in the number of mobility scooters. Presumably the non-disabled will have to sacrifice both road and road space currently taken by car parking to accommodate the space needed for these scooters. There are other technologies which might also have a significant impact including deliveries by drone and 3D printing.

What will happen to the High Street? The latest govt. retail statistics report that in July 2016 14% of all retail sales were over the internet, 2% up on the previous year. What forms of retailing will then be sustainable on a High Street? What will it be only possible to do on a High Street or better to do on a High Street? And what will be the necessary characteristics for a High Street to thrive in these conditions? The Centre for Retail Research anticipates that the number of retail stores will fall by 22% by 2018 and that share of sales taken by online sales will have risen to 21.5%. Adapt or die seems to be the message.

Conversely, does anyone remember Colin Buchanan's 1963 plan to accommodate increased traffic. London would have become roads with the occasional traffic obstruction in the form of a building.