Professor Phil Goodwin, the foremost expert on traffic reduction, has expressed his view that projections of increased traffic and pollution due to Option 1 were not 'fair and accurate'.
A report commissioned by campaigners against the scheme used the very worst case scenario to project increased traffic on nearby streets, figures that were seized upon my the campaigners, with Robert Kelsey declaring them as 'fair and accurate'.
In contrast, Professor Phil Goodwin declared his belief that the report's predictions were not 'the most realistic scenario', and stated (as Option 1 supporters have said throughout), that we cannot know what the impact of a scheme will be until after a trial period.
Professor Goodwin, Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy at UCL, and the author of the principal research into traffic evaporation.
Robert Kelsey is the author of a self-help book.
While the atmosphere in the country seems to be against giving heed to the experts, perhaps the events of the last few days suggest that we should start paying a bit more attention to what experts have to say.
So what does the expert say? He says that a) traffic evaporation is a common and significant occurrence, and b) a 'catch-all' rate of evaporation must not be used, but rather it needs to be assessed on a case by case basis, preferably using a real world trial.
Much of the debate of the traffic reduction scheme has been centred around the idea that changing the infrastructure of the area will lead to a reduction in the amount of motor traffic - otherwise known as 'traffic evaporation'. Supporters of Option 1 have highlighted the likelihood that Option 1 would reduce traffic levels overall and therefore reduce pollution overall. Those against change disagreed, arguing that motor traffic would simply cause increased congestion on nearby streets and therefore increase pollution.
Fortunately, there is research on the impact of traffic evaporation, and that it is well recognised and common occurrence. Unfortunately those against trying out whether it would occur decided to misuse the evidence to their own ends.
The main research on the subject was conducted by Professor Phil Goodwin et al (1998), which showed that motor traffic reduced when road conditions were changed. There was good evidence to show that changes to road conditions led to changes in people's transport behaviour such as increasing the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport, but also through changes in trip frequency, time of travel, or changes such as combining two trips into one. While the scale of change differed from place to place, the vast majority saw significant levels of 'evaporation'. The median percentage drop was 11% (although several other - higher - figures could have been used if someone wanted to use a default figure). However, the researchers explicitly advised against using their research to justify using any figure to assume a particular level of evaporation. The research showed that evaporation was a real and common phenomenon, and that the extent of evaporation could only be assessed on a scheme by scheme basis.
Claims of traffic increases
Despite the explicit warning of the researchers, opponents of the scheme commissioned TTHC to write a report to analyse the impact of Option 1. The report predicted that Option 1 would lead to increased pollution on Queensbridge Road and Richmond Road.
The commissioned report bases its judgements from an evaporation figure of 11% - a figure that the researchers explicitly warned against using.
The TTHC report used the very worst case scenarios for their projections. Professor Goodwin has written why the report's conclusions are the very worst case scenario, and therefore extremely unlikely to be accurate. He states that there is "very extensive experience that expected excessive traffic problems on alternative route nearly always turns out to be exaggerated, because travel patterns are more flexible and adaptable than assumed". He concludes that we cannot know, and should not make judgements on, what the scale of evaporation will be, until after an experimental period.
Using a trial:
Matters of pollution, health, quality of life and efficiency of transport are too important to be impacted by people with a vested interest in keeping the status quo. A trial, using as much data as we can reasonably be gathered, must be used to implemented in order to arrive at the best solution.
Hackney have stated that they will recommend to the Cabinet that the only change they make is to narrow Middleton Road - Option 4. The consultation asked for responses in different ways, so there are different figures that can be used to draw different conclusions. Just about the only conclusion that is unambiguous is that there is very little support for Option 4. Here are some reasons it would be perverse to go with Option 4:
1. Option 4 is supported by 12% of responders, Option 1 by 58%.
2. 79% of responders want a more significant scheme than Option 4.
3. Option 4 goes against Hackney Council's transport strategy and their manifesto commitments to reduce through traffic - and would solve none of the problems that their transport strategy purports to address
4. Middleton Road is part of a key route from east London to central London. Hackney and TfL need to be able to stand up to a few vested interests.
5. Option 4 would not reduce motor traffic to the levels required for a Quietway, and fails to address any local problem.
6. 88% of responses to the consultation were from Hackney residents and workers. How can the Council justify not taking those responses into consideration?
1. Option 1 has by far the greatest support, including of London Fields residents.
The graph below shows the support for Option 1 from all responders (59%), and from those within the boundaries of the scheme (39%). Option 4 has the support of just 12% and 18% respectively.
2. 70% of responders wanted a bigger scheme than Option 4
Option 4 is the one option that does not have a significant impact on reducing rat-running, reducing motor traffic, encouraging active travel, reducing pollution and improving the environment. The consultation responses show that there is overwhelming support for a scheme that offers more than the minimal, including 54% within the London Fields ward.
3. Option 4 goes against Hackney's transport strategy and their manifesto commitments to reduce through traffic
Improving the situation for walking and cycling is a key Hackney Council commitment; Option 4 would manifestly fail to improve the situation. Going against your own stated goals and objectives is a major step and one that would require strong justification. The results of the consultation do not provide strong justification, as shown by the graph above.
Hackney Council has tried to position itself as a cycle-friendly borough, a position that is being challenged by some excellent cycling provision that is now being built in other areas of London. Failing to implement even a modest cycling-friendly scheme such as the Quietway route will undermine Hackney’s ability to claim leadership in supporting walking and cycling, and the Council’s reputation in this area will be severely undermined.
4. Middleton Road is part of a transport route from east to central London. Improvements to a route should not be vetoed by a group with vested interest in the status quo
Quietway 2 goes from Waltham Forest to Bloomsbury. Yet any responders outside of the immediate London Fields area have been disregarded in the reading of the consultation report. 88% of responders were Hackney residents or workers, yet a veto seems to have been given to those who live along one small section of it, over others those who will use it daily.
Many of those who opposed Option 1 live in already quiet or filtered streets. It is very disappointing to see people who already benefit from living on quiet streets wanting to stop others from enjoying that benefit. It is even more disappointing that they seem to have succeeded in stopping others from benefiting. The residents of Scriven Street, Lee Street, and significant parts of Lansdowne Drive and Middleton Road showed support for Option 1. These are the residents who suffer from the current situation and will continue to suffer if Option 4 goes ahead.
5. Option 4 solves nothing, and doesn't even create a Quietway
A Quietway has the objective of being a route with fewer than 2000 motor vehicles a day. Middleton Road currently has over 5,000, and Option 4 will not see that number reduce to anywhere near the levels required by a Quietway. In fact, TfL rejected width restrictions on Middleton Road previously as it would not sufficiently reduce vehicle numbers[i]. Not implementing a solution that achieves the Quietway standards undermines the whole route. If a route through central Hackney cannot succeed, the whole quietway concept is undermined and under threat.
Narrowing Middleton Road could well make the route worse for cycling by creating a pinch-point. It will not solve any of the issues that have been raised during the debate. Not a single motor vehicle journey will be reduced, there will be no reduction in pollution suffered by children in schools, and the junctions will be no safer. Traffic issues along Richmond Road is now further away from being addressed adequately because, as we argued previously, Option 1 is a necessary prelude to reducing traffic on Richmond Road.
6. 88% of responders were Hackney residents and workers.
Those against doing anything in London Fields say that the responses were from around the world. In fact, 83% were Hackney residents, with a further 5% as Hackney businesses and workers in the borough.
Thank you for your support in the campaign to implement Option 1. We now await the report of the consultation responses which will be written by the independent market research company. We expect that the report will be completed sometime in May, after the Mayrol elections. The Council will then take a decision on the scheme taking into account the consultation responses.
We hope of course that a majority of consultation responses would have been in favour of Option 1. Other ideas to enhance the scheme have been suggested during the process, so we look forward to see how these may be incorporated into the final decision.
In the meantime, we encourage you to consider who of the Mayrol candidates have the best transport policies to improve the city. Please join LCC's Sign for Cycling campaign, and Londoners on Bikes also keep a keen eye on how the candidates are doing. Like in the London Fields scheme, what is good for cycling is also good for pedestrians and for the environment ie for everyone.
Whatever is decided for the scheme we look forward to working with our neighbours, including those who we have disagreed with, to make the area as pleasant and safe for the largest number of residents and visitors.
The Hackney Green party have joined their London Mayoral candidate, Sian Berry, in supporting Option 1. They say that:
"In terms of the current consultation, of the four options available Hackney Green Party believe Option 1, which would trial traffic filtering on the streets just west of London Fields, is most likely to lead to improved quality of life in the area. Similar schemes in areas such as de Beauvoir have led to an improvement in quality of life for residents and a better walking and cycling environment without a big impact on traffic."
Option 1 will reduce car traffic in the area, and as such as gained the support of Play England, who say:
"Car traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children's independent mobility and play. Play England supports measures in residential areas that enable more children to play out, more often. There is increasing concern about the sedentary lifestyles of our children. Fewer than one in five children meet the recommendation activity levels of one hour a day in Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. Studies have shown children are more physically active when they are playing outside with other children than they are engaged in organised sport. Most parents would like to see their children playing out but are concerned about their safety. Reductions in traffic speed and density have an impact on children’s ability to play safely on their own streets. The number of children playing out should be a quality-of-life indicator. Children playing outside is the sign of a happy, vibrant community".
And we're not done there. We also have the backing of Playing Out, who say:
"The biggest barrier children face in their daily lives is traffic. It prevents them being able to play, be physically active and get around their streets and neighbourhood freely, safely and independently. And there is clear evidence of the harm this is causing for their health and wellbeing. Making streets safer by reducing traffic danger, and allowing them to be used in a shared way, will bring huge benefits for children as well as adults."
Option 1 is all about creating spaces and neighbourhoods that are more enjoyable to live in and be in. The purpose isn't to have a single Quietway - that could be achieved in different ways. The purpose is to create neighbourhoods and communities that are better connected, cleaner, safer and that are more conducive to play, enjoy and for active travel. We are delighted that the three organisations share our vision to improve our streets. The fact that they join Hackney Play Association, Living Streets Hackney, Hackney Cycling Campaign and Sustainability Hackney is a demonstration of the proof of the broad consensus being built about the benefits of de-prioritising cars on residential streets.
On 2/2/16 we held a fantastic evening talking to locals about the scheme, why we supported it and showing examples of where similar schemes had worked successfully. Some of the videos that we showed are posted below.
The London Fields scheme is known as 'filtered permeability', where bikes and pedestrians are not affected, local vehicles can access their properties, but through traffic is reduced. Here are some examples of where other filtered permeability schemes have worked successfully in the UK and beyond.
'But London isn't like Holland' is a common objection to any traffic improvements that are suggested in London. Holland in 1970s wasn't like Holland now, either. It only happened through a conscious determination to make it happen.
This is the story about how East Harlem residents fought for improvements to their streets. While the layout is very different to London Fields, many of the social issues are similar. Once the New York was in place, the benefits have been overwhelmingly clear and it is no longer controversial, but it had to overcome fierce opposition at the beginning.
The final film of the evening was this delightful film from Hackney, showing what our streets should be - places to enjoy, rather than places to pass through (or more pertinently, for others to pass through).
Thank you again to all our speakers who made the case for the scheme persuasively, and to www.streetfilms.org/ for creating many of these films and allowing us to use them.
Thank you to everyone who attended last night; it was great to meet you. We hope the event gave you some food for thought and that the speakers showed what can be done to make our streets better spaces. As Claudia Draper said in her talk, streets are the largest public spaces we have; let’s work together to make them the nicest spaces they can possibly be.
Valid concerns were raised, as always, and we hope that at least some of them were answered. We’ll try to put up a more complete report of the discussion over the coming days. Some very practical ideas and improvements were shared by the audience. We are really keen to take those ideas, throw in some of our own, and to include them all in our own consultation responses.
So, if you’re keen to see improvements on Richmond Road and Queensbridge Road, we are completely behind you. Let’s set up a meeting, agree what we want to ask for on those streets to improve them, and present a united front to the Council. Let’s just get it done!
We're organising an evening to encourage discussion on the scheme, and to show why we support Option 1. You might already by sold on the benefits of Option 1, still weighing up the options, or support another option - if you are keen to discuss constructively please join us.
We will show short films that show examples of where similar schemes have worked successfully (often after sharp disagreements over whether they were needed). We also have a fantastic panel who will give their opinions, and a chance for you to ask questions and have discussion. Confirmed speakers include Claudia Draper (Hackney Play Association), Andrew Gilligan (Boris' Cycling Commissioner), Dr. Rachel Aldred, Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster, and Paul Gasson who has worked tirelessly on improvements to streets in Walthamstow.
Tuesday 2nd Feb, 7-9pm, at St Michael's and All Angels Church Hall, Lansdowne Drive, E8 3ER.
Hackney Play Association have announced that they support Option 1. Hackney Play Association supports residents to run play streets across Hackney, and they do great things to make our streets nicer as this clip shows. Up with this kind of thing!
So, the consultation papers arrived on residents' doormats this morning, and so begins a three month period of encouraging residents to complete their responses. If a scheme is then implemented, it would be on a three month trial period.
We've updated the website in response to the information set out in the consultation papers and have set out our views on the various options. As previously stated, Option 1 is our preferred option and the option that we think would bring the greatest net benefit to the area, and to the greatest number of people.
We'll update the site as discussion and debate takes place. For example, there may be some changes to Option 1 that would be worthwhile analysing further such as the precise location of some of the filters. During the consultation period and the trial period we will be keen to discuss opinions with as many residents as possible and we know that many will have diverse views. Here's to a busy and interesting 2016!
At the town hall meeting last week the Council set out a number of options that will be consulted on in January.
The original scheme was presented as Option 1. However, the original scheme has been expanded to include bus only filters on Lansdowne Dr & Pownall Rd. It is by far the most comprehensive option being put forward. The other options are outlined in the full presentation see the below link:
We will be campaigning for Option 1. Although some of the other options would bring overall benefits, Option 1 is by far the most comprehensive and the one which will benefit the greatest number of people.
Over the Christmas period we'll update the website to reflect the various options now on the table, and try to outline what we see as the pros and cons of each one. I'm sure that the new year will bring a good level of debate and discussion, and we look forward to that, and to seeing the best possible solution for London Fields to be implemented later in the year.
Supporting the scheme has been an interesting ride over the past few weeks. We certainly did not expect, before the consultation process had even started, for the scheme to feature in the Evening Standard and the Telegraph (with follow up posts highlighting the shocking journalism here, here and here). Neither did we count on being subject to the intimidation that is outlined in the Evening Standard article. A lot of misinformation has been spread, which we have answered the issues in the FAQ page and on the Loving Dalston article.
Our aims are to make the area safer, cleaner and more pleasant. We will continue to campaign for a scheme that achieves these aims. We will engage in the consultation and encourage our neighbours to so too. We will meet Council officers and Councillors when invited to. We will attend meetings. We will talk to journalists. We will engage in constructive discussion with opponents of the scheme. We will not stand for being intimidated.
Join us – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are a group of local residents who walk, drive and cycle. We support Hackney's traffic and pollution reduction plans. We firmly believe this scheme will help make London Fields a better place to live. We look forward to working with all of our neighbours and the council to make this scheme a success.