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This piece in praise of the Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood was posted on Twitter by Andrew Broadbent, a resident of the Mall, and is reproduced with his permission.

children in fox lane quieter neighbourhood

'We really do have a neighbourhood' – the effect of the Fox Lane LTN

A quiet lane, with wandering pedestrians, dogs, cyclists, children on scooters, and the occasional bus and delivery van . This is Fox Lane. It is a dreamlike contrast with what used to be a thundering main road, with several thousand polluting and speeding vehicles every day.

We are liberated. Instead of cowering in our separate, dangerous rat-run streets, we are now a 'neighbourhood'. A daily nature walk, a history walk or jog of discovery is a revelation, as you pass kids and mums and dads scooting, walking or cycling from school.

Woodpeckers echo along the Mall, ducks dabble and herons stalk in Conway pond. We have mapped an 8km circuit to jog, walk or run, touching all 20 or so streets with their 2-3000 houses.

Our own road had some 4000 sat-nav-driven through vehicles a day, with the 30mph limit exceeded, and rattling heavy lorries trundling through. People living 25 miles away, half way to Cambridge used our street as their the quickest route to East Finchley. Rush hour was chaos.

Amazing that a Council-would have the foresight, or expertise to implement such an idea – a ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’, even when backed by the government. Yet, after consultation and modifications, and a 6 month trial, many streets are now accessed from only one end rather than being open at both ends for through traffic.

There is vocal, organised and politicised opposition promoting scare stories against the evidence. They are in favour of through traffic and against ‘closing roads’. There has been criminal damage, theft and vandalism to barriers.

The scheme was difficult to contemplate for some people. It could add a few minutes to some local journey times. Were we to become ‘closed to outsiders’? There were lurid predictions of grid locked surrounding main roads, and delays to emergency vehicles.

Initial impressions are that much of the through traffic has gone elsewhere – the main roads often seem quieter, as the original 12,000 through vehicles have rerouted, or made different journeys. At times there are still main road queues. There always were – especially when the A406 closes.

Accumulating research, and ‘before and after’ studies from elsewhere – suggests the scare stories are just that, and that support from residents increases after schemes have bedded in.

Our road was a cart track until 1900. You sense the 1905 vision. ‘High Class Villas from £360 easy for the City and the new electric tram’. They were built on the Taylor-Walker country estate.

Some of the original quirky brick patterned front garden walls are still there. The old stocks on the green, the cattle pound at the top of Fox Lane, the huge cedar near the site of the Cullands Grove home of Lord Mayor Sir William Curtis who entertained the Tsar in the 1700’s, now all belong to us – within a few minutes stroll , in a way they never did.

For 1500 years the area was entirely rural, with shallow valleys and streams, until from 1700 Southgate became a landowner's enclave – only 8 miles from the City, with half a dozen great houses – a rich man’s green belt.

Now we have our neighbourhood back, we can begin to plan to repurpose our shared streetscape, with new planters, ‘parklets’, benches for socialising, children’s play squares, and much more. Liberation indeed.

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Howard Toshman's Avatar
Howard Toshman posted a reply #5975 06 May 2021 05:42
This is a disturbing and biased opinion, common sense dictates that the closure of some roads will push all the traffic onto the remaining open roads which is exactly what has happened, for anyone using or living on those roads rush hour is now a living, polluted, congested nightmare.
Apart from this situation, Fox Lane and the other roads are now a dead zone, a vibeless, barran, dull place pretty much void of life
Yes we need cleaner streets but this is not the way forward
Matthew Stevens's Avatar
Matthew Stevens posted a reply #5976 06 May 2021 08:03
Lol you have a funny perception of life. How does less traffic equal vibless barren and dull. Do you like hanging out at the vibey a406 for fun! Personally I think it's fantastic. But would like to look at the post Statistical analysis to see whats the real impact. If you have a link to some please post or stop making assumptions. But then again this country doesn't like facts or believing the experts as everyone knows best.
John Phillips's Avatar
John Phillips posted a reply #5977 06 May 2021 08:47
This is an excellent article. Who in their right mind wants all the traffic back?
Anne Leonidou's Avatar
Anne Leonidou posted a reply #5978 06 May 2021 11:08
All very nice for Fox Lane but how selfish and inconsiderate not to see the adverse affects on Alderman’s Hill, Broomfield Lane and Powys Lane to say the least. I have never experienced so much standstill traffic throughout the day and evening creating more pollution, aggravated drivers, and disruption to transportation. This is not the solution!
Adrian Day's Avatar
Adrian Day posted a reply #5979 06 May 2021 11:35
On the contrary the Fox Lane streets are buzzing with people walking, cycling, scooting - and now they can actually talk in the street . If you think traffic brings excitement the North Circular is the place to hang out.
Adrian Day's Avatar
Adrian Day posted a reply #5980 06 May 2021 11:39
'Common sense' actually say no roads are closed (every road in the Fox Lane LTN is accessible by a vehicle) and that now it's easier, quieter and safer to cycle, walk, scoot or use a mobility device more people will choose those options - so there will be less traffic on the roads.
John Phillips's Avatar
John Phillips posted a reply #5981 06 May 2021 12:17
I drive every day and use Aldermans Hill and Bourne Hill all the time. There is heavy traffic just as in many other places in the age of Covid, but it actually moves quite quickly.

In recent months I have been gridlocked far worse in Harringay, Muswell Hill, Friern Barnet, Epping, Romford, Woodford, Chingford and Finsbury Park. (As well as Knutsford, Kendal and on the M6!) No LTNs in those places that I know of, just lots of extra Covid traffic.
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #5982 08 May 2021 06:26
Change inevitably has impact(s), as Anne Leonidou alludes to, so it may be worth zooming out and considering her strong view of selfishness and inconsideration to others as they apply to transport. A real example may assist.
In late 2020 an Independent journalist wrote a letter critical of LTN’s. The same journalist had previously written about the benefit of a 1930’s installed LTN plus road filters, but no matter. The zoom-out to explore is his mentioned personal journey, disrupted by the Fox Lane LTN and its impact on local shops.
Living in an effective LTN behind Tatem Park, bounded by the main roads of Hedge Lane and the A10, the mentioned journey to the small shopping parade at Southgate Cherry Tree is roughly two miles. Pre LTN a reasonable assumption would be a (car) journey including Hedge Lane / Bourne and then utilising the Southgate 5 Ways bypass of Amberley / Mall, or alternatively Greenway / Meadway, to reach the Cherry Tree; both residential routes being in the million plus vehicles pa category and long-time full of resulting unhappy residents.
Post LTN, the journey would mean remaining on the Bourne until 5 Ways and then High street to reach the Chery Tree; a little longer, all on main roads and adding to traffic weight to the 5 Ways junction in particular.
Let’s ignore that there are 3 of Enfield’s 4 District Town centres closer than the Cherry Tree parade, as well as a plethora of local centres, as well as home delivery options, and instead focus on the transport hierarchy:
Walking. At a little under two miles, and with an option to enjoy Hazelwood Rec on the way, it’s a distance many would see as perfectly viable;
Cycling. Certainly a valid distance, although the absence of infrastructure in parts may hinder less confident cyclists;
Public transport. The W6 hopper provides a near door to door opportunity;
Private vehicle. Pre and post LTN routes are already mentioned. An alternate would be the movement of one planter and open up an alternate 5 Ways bypass along Oakfield Road to satisfy recent safety concerns related to low traffic levels on that particular street.
The spectrum is from libertarian, drive where you want to irrespective of others, to what about the others and so restricting where you can drive, right through to non-drive options. The Healthy Streets agenda of London’s Transport Strategy – and the investment that goes with it – is focused on this latter range.
The point here is not to point a finger at a journalist who has argued both ways as suits a purpose at the time but to try and draw out from one example journey, which is one of countless equivalent journeys going on all the time, the personal choices we all have before us for many of our journeys and how they may impact others. Within that, where selfishness and inconsiderate behaviour may lie arguably moves to a different orbit.
The letter in question is attached for completeness.