Debate over cycling scheme continues

Waltham Forest’s ‘Mini Holland’ project continues apace in 2016. Here two residents on opposite sides of the debate give their view. David Hamilton, from […]By Waltham Forest Echo

David Hamilton, from Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign:

We just can’t go on like this. There are many new residential developments going up around the borough, driving a massive 32 percent projected rise in Waltham Forest’s population over the next 25 years.

I live near Markhouse Road and work in Camden, so I cycle to work down Lea Bridge Road. Every morning and evening I pass lines of stationary traffic and buses full to bursting. So unless we do something radical, an additional 120,000 residents will result in a huge increase in congestion, air pollution will get worse, and our streets will become increasingly unpleasant and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.

Currently many people who could cycle in Waltham Forest are unable to because they do not feel safe on the roads. Many car journeys in our borough are less than two miles and could be taken on foot or bike if the streets were calmer, safer and more attractive.

On busy main roads what makes people feel safer is being separated from traffic. The new protected cycle lanes proposed for Lea Bridge Road and redesigned junctions will mean cycling becomes much safer and more attractive.

Another key Mini Holland measure is to put modal filters into residential areas. A myth of modal filters is that it means closing roads. But the filter means roads are still open for people who walk or cycle, and motorised vehicles can still enter the street at one end, so homes can be accessed.

This will make residential streets safer, quieter and less polluted. Roads will be more attractive, locally focused and safer for children, and great places to walk and cycle.

Change can be scary and uncomfortable. But given our increasingly congested borough can we really afford to do nothing?

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Adrian Stannard, from E17 Streets For All:

In Waltham Forest it appears the cycling lobby is in charge and has dictated how the £30m Mini Holland money from the Greater London Authority should be spent.

Surely for a successful community you don’t want to set one group off against another, but that is exactly what Mini Holland has achieved.

It has ignored the fact that many disabled and infirm people need to use cabs and buses to get around. The internet is widely used for shopping, and logistics companies need access to all the streets. In Walthamstow Village some are virtually inaccessible.

According to the recent High Court hearing, Waltham Forest Council consulted residents properly, as law dictates. Well maybe the law needs amending, because I don’t see that a complex website achieves anything except letting residents enter the dream world of a computer game.

How council officers allocate the £30m to each area is a mystery. Can they provide any evidence of why the Village should have £X compared to £Y for Markhouse Road? If the figures were available we could see whether the resources were allocated fairly.

If you travel along Mile End Road you discover this important artery into the city is clogged by roadworks for cycle lanes. Instead of quickly completing one section at a time the whole road is littered with barriers. What impact does this have on London’s economy, residents and environment? Is this what will happen to Lea Bridge Road and Whipps Cross roundabout?

Traffic will probably grind to a halt, which will increase pollution levels and everyone’s misery. Cabbies are already complaining bitterly about delays in Hoe Street.

However well-intentioned Mini Holland was at inception, it is intellectually bankrupt. It favours few, is likely to increase pollution levels on the majority of streets, and seriously harm the borough’s economy.

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