With local councillors and activists calling on Haringey Council to transform its streets to benefit cyclists and pedestrians as lockdown eases, the town hall revealed it was working on three programmes that would see the borough adapted over the next six months.
PUBLISHED: 10:04 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:06 22 May 2020
Crouch End traffic. Picture: Sam Volpe
The town hall has also confirmed the Liveable Crouch End scheme is “on hold” at the request of Transport for London (TfL), but that many of the projects which could have formed part of the scheme which would have seen a redesigned town centre will instead be “fed into” TfL’s new StreetSpace programme.
The council’s environment chief moved to make clear the council is hoping to “bring forward east to west and north to south cycling routes” in the borough, and work was taking place from this month.
Local Lib Dem councillor for Crouch End Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison has called for the town hall to make sure it made safe cycling and walking a priority and not to miss a chance to make cycling an viable alternative to car use.
He told this newspaper: “I think they’re doing some stuff, but it’s not enough. If people are going to start going back to work and the way they go back is by public transport then it puts them at risk – they will use cars if they don’t feel they can cycle safely. Many more people are keen to do so, or considering cycling, but Haringey doesn’t have the infrastructure.”
Cllr Kirsten Hearn, Haringey’s environment lead, said: “As people return to work, even a 10 per cent increase in car use will cause gridlock across London. For many, travelling on the Tube or bus will be impossible because the transport system is running at 20% capacity – to ensure that social distancing is adhered to for passenger’s safety.
“That is why we are working to provide temporary walking and cycling facilities in Haringey. This work will help Haringey residents travel, whilst ensuring that the necessary social distancing and safety measure measures are in place.
“We will also aim to bring forward east to west and north to south cycling routes, so that more residents can be confident that cycling is a safe, clean and efficient way to get around. We will also identify low traffic neighbourhoods to discourage use of cars.”
Simon Munk, from the London Cycling Campaign, told this newspaper the group had been disappointed with the speed of Haringey’s interventions compared to other London councils.
He said: “There are councils I fully expect to say they’re working on plans that will become reality.
“If that’s what’s happening in Haringey, and they’re taking the time to get things right, then great. But if it’s just warm words and nothing follows, I think the residents of Haringey will be quite angry.”
Drafts from the TfL StreetSpace plan’s identify a cycle route connecting the Green Lanes area with Crouch End as a “top priority”.
A Haringey spokesperson said the council was working on adjustment of street spaces to improve social distancing at pinch points on pavements, increasing active travel and tackling care use, and working to address the “legacy” of Covid-19 on its highways and considering how to implement low traffic neighbourhoods.
The council said proposed measures which had formed part of Liveable Crouch End – such as footway widening and cycle routes – would form part of the borough’s bids for funding from TfL’s StreetSpaces programme.
Reacting to the “pause” of Liveable Crouch End, the chair of the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum (CENF) Mark Afford said: “The CENF is extremely disappointed at losing the expected £5m investment into Crouch End, we need it, though it’s ironic that three quarters of the project may well return as part of the Covid emergency work.”
Cllr Seema Chandwani – the council’s neighbourhoods lead – is heading up the plans to eradicate “pinch-points” and make pavements more amenable to social distancing.
She said: “We have listened to concerns from residents and where possible and safe to do so, we are temporarily extending pavement spaces outside shops that are attracting queues to enable people to walk safely down our high streets.”
Around 20 “pinch-points” have been identified and seen improvement so far, with Cllr Chandwani adding: “Our dedicated highways team is assessing and monitoring our high streets and various spaces to identify new areas that may also require adjustment during this time.”