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.
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.