The streets of Barnsbury are dysfunctional

Friday, 22nd July

• THE streets of Barnsbury are dysfunctional and residents are demanding change.

Unless you walk or cycle around the area you won’t know that in Barnsbury there are some residential streets, running alongside each other, where one is heavy with traffic and the other has practically no traffic at all.

This seems very odd, until you learn about the traffic management measures that were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. No one seems to know when it all happened, or how, but we live with the results today.

Traffic levels were rising and, even without GPS technology, drivers were finding routes through the side roads. Presumably the residents on the most badly affected routes complained and the council responded.

Some streets were made one-way (Belitha Villas, Richmond Avenue, etc) and some were filtered with bollards and emergency access gates (Huntingdon Street, Brooksby Street, College Cross, Bridgeman Road, Thornhill Gardens, Cloudesley Square, etc). This was in the early days of traffic management when the behaviour of traffic was not yet understood.

We now know that if you restrict traffic in a large area that will discourage journeys and you achieve traffic reduction; but if your restrictions are piecemeal then drivers will use the nearby alternative route and all that is achieved is traffic displacement from one residential street to another, with no reduction.

So what we now have is Belitha Villas and Huntingdon Street with practically no traffic, because it is all using nearby Offord Road instead. And no through-traffic on Barnsbury Park and Brooksby Street because it is all on nearby Bewdley Street.

These are just a few examples, there are many more in the area bounded by the main roads: the A1, Pentonville Road, Caledonian Road. What is the solution for the area bounded by these main roads?

Should all the piecemeal measures be removed so that traffic spreads itself more evenly around all the residential roads?

Or should more piecemeal measure be introduced to move traffic off Offord Road, Bewdley Street, etc. (and on to other nearby residential roads)?

Or should a proper traffic management plan be designed so that none of the residential roads suffer through traffic?

The first option would provide more available road space for traffic and that would encourage more people to travel by car, more often, bringing more traffic into the area and onto surrounding roads.

The second option would just move the burden onto other residential roads.

The third would make driving less convenient and so would encourage more people to travel by alternate means, walking, cycling, wheeling, unhindered by filters, through pleasant, safe and friendly streets.

Whichever option is chosen, it needs to happen soon, the unfairness of the current situation is intolerable.


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