James, Witherington Road N5
I am mainly a walker/runner/cyclist but I sometimes need to use a car to transport heavy items and because I have a health issue. The main thoroughfares across the borough are now in complete gridlock. For example to drive direct from Witherington Road to Clissold park used to take about five minutes and is now at least a half hour journey via Highbury Corner during which my car is spewing out unnecessary exhaust fumes.
As a cyclist I find the newly congested roads dangerous, and I also injured myself badly two weeks ago when I came off my bike on a slippery section of Drayton Park due to the roadworks everywhere.
Eyre & Elliston - Electrical Wholesalers - Frogmore Industrial Estate N5
Many regular customers have been calling to say that due to the traffic restrictions they are no longer able to do business with us. There has been a sharp decline in trade already.
PATRICIA MICHELSON - LA FROMAGERIE, HIGHBURY BARN
The LTN's have made travel around the borough very difficult to say the least. For businesses on the Highbury Park road, it is now very difficult to make deliveries on certain roads and lengthens the travel time with long waits in queues causing more idling and potential pollution by vehicles. More shoppers are taking the delivery option as they can't get to the shop by car if they wish to do a big shop, and this is unprecedented in our 27 years trading on the street. This puts more strain on the business trying to do these deliveries and clogging up the roads, even with pedal-me options.
Whilst the idea of LTN's has been to benefit the neighbourhoods, I believe the Council has not looked at how it impacts business and flow. It has been a very one-sided option driven through a desire to cause as much disruption as possible creating conflict, chaos and anger instead of being a fair and logical way of making a neighbourhood and borough a happy and thriving place to live, work and play. The stress of everyday life over the last year has been very harmful, and the long term impact will determine whether businesses can survive, and people want to live or indeed carry on or open a business in this neighbourhood.
I have lived in the area close to my shop for over 25 years, and never felt there were such serious issues as to re-imagine how the roads and traffic should flow. Of course there are increases and changes have to be made but none of them have been efficient especially the Highbury Corner road system.
Consultation is always one-sided and there is a concerted effort to make anyone using the road in a vehicle to feel unduly reviled and unnecessary. I use my electric car to get to my business and warehouse both situated on the Highbury Park side, but I live on Highbury Crescent making it a very long journey now with long queues of traffic to get there. I have to then go to my other shops in Bloomsbury and Marylebone using a longer journey with more traffic hold ups making it much more difficult. Then returning to my warehouse to end the day before going home I am faced with a ridiculous roundabout route taking 4 times the length of time to arrive home.
This is no way to live and work and just makes for bad feeling and resentment. You may think that I am inconsequential to the bigger picture, but without business and without a thriving community paying taxes and contributing to the coffers, the borough will become a neglected and obsolete place as businesses move to more accessible areas. The problem will be that the businesses will have no faith in the Council and will not be a positive force should the council need help or backing in the future.
Howden’s Joinery - Frogmore Estate, HIghbury
I am the manager of Howdens Joinery is Highbury. The road closures are affecting my business and the surrounding high street massively.
I normally have sales of about 2.6m a year, we supply to our local traders, everything about Howdens is working with the local community.
I currently have lost 100k worth of sales in the first 7 weeks of the year. This is affecting my staffs pay, mental health and our customers who bring work into the area. As we all love to be apart of Highbury are finding that the council are not supporting local or any business in the area.
We all pay high rates, and the council is jeopardising our businesses.
This is something that is having a huge impact on business. Builders are looking to avoid the area and trade in Kentish Town and Hornsey instead.
A simple 5-minute journey is now 25-40 mins, and no one wants to travel in this area.
Something really needs to be done about this 'trial' it is not only affecting us, but also putting the small builder out of work and those who normally work in the area.
BO - Highbury Resident
I have been increasingly interested in the development of the HW and HF LTNs, since your leaflet arrived unexpectedly through my door. At first as a concerned member of the community and as a member of the hastily convened resident group - Keep Highbury Moving.
I have been engaged in debate on Twitter and Next Door - initially just expressing my fears, but have latterly become increasingly alarmed by the behaviour of cycling lobbyists in this local agenda, and the behaviour and supported of locally elected representatives in response to those lobbyists. The most prolific of whom do not even reside in the wards impacted by the LTNs.
On further research, what’s interesting is that all of the Council’s manifesto promises made reference to firstly, 2 way consultation, and secondly, to reducing rat runners rather than stopping residents using their cars. Not only was advance consultation absent (unless you call a survey asking if you wanted to see a reduction in pollution and rat running reduced, consultation) but they and supporters have conveniently forgotten all about rat runners.
Almost without exception talk is about reducing resident car use. I and others have suggested that, in line with what we believed to be your objectives, ANPR would at least provide relief for local residents.. If the objective were ever elimination of rat runners, what would be the issue with ANPR? But the goal posts would have appeared to have shifted from your manifesto promises. It’s now all about grassing over streets (that’s a direct quote from a cyclist), children playing in the middle of residential streets (despite them all “still being open to residents” - again a direct quote) and particulate reduction (let’s be clear - this is not about all types of pollution - CO2 emissions can be significantly reduced by electric cars, but suddenly no one supports them either).
This was not what we were sold. So I hope people vote on their feet next May.
Much of the data around justification and successful operation is generalisation based. Aldred - a pro cyclist, no coincidence - is oft quoted (though rarely properly peer reviewed), but she doesn’t recognise that not all arteries are created equal (Blackstock Road is NOT a dual carriageway intended for heavy traffic. It’s little more than a residential high street. It’s narrower than Drayton Park!), it is not an arterial road around an outer London borough like Waltham Forest. Our LTNs are huge. Yet our inner london communities small. Navigating round a huge inner london LTN onto already gridlocked arteries (Holloway Road) for essential resident car use is not the same as keeping out of borough car users to the roads bounding residential streets for which they were built, and resolving the rat running issues created by sat nav.
Forcing all traffic onto a local high street crossed by children attending schools and nurseries bounding, or located ON that road, edged by high density flats and houses is quite different. And the disregard to the health of people living and working, and going to school on those roads scandalous. How exactly do you represent? Because the scheme is certainly not considering the lung health of people on those roads.
For Highbury residents, the scheme is meaning increased pollution for many on those roads and the roads adjacent to them (because clearly pollution is not static), whilst protecting the wealthy residents of multi million pound houses to the top of Highbury Hill. For those in the more affordable housing and the social housing located from mid Highbury Hill down to Arsenal tube is means Lorries and vans doing 3 point turns outside their front doors. Their children certainly can’t “chalk on the street”. Nor is it making it safe for walkers, cyclists or conducive to this people friendly streets utopia. The utopian publicity on social media - from cycling lobbyists whose interest is apparently “personal” despite having presented on the scheme to the Council, from people who don’t even reside in the affected wards cannot detract from the reality.
At least ANPR for residents resolves one of those issues, although it cannot help the poor souls who live on the arteries. But if we look simply at what the Council’s agenda was, before the cycling lobbyists took control of the agenda, there should be nothing wrong with ANPR. Yet you continue to dismiss it.
I would add that I have sympathy with those who live on roads like Benwell Street which became a rat run. But Highbury corner and bollarding had resolved this long before the LTN. I also understand parents worry about their children’s lung health. As we all do. But this doesn’t rely on essentially full scale road closure (because let’s not dress it up as anything else. And you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say all roads are open in one breath, and “kids can now cycle down the centre of the street and sit chalking in the road” on another - as well as being irresponsible, it’s just not the reality).
Change could have been achieved in a less aggressive and decisive way, had you spoken to the people who live here first. As you promised.
The most heavily rat run roads could be made one way, others being bollarded, or hours of operation could have been introduced. It didn’t require whole swathes of an area entirely cut off from one another or all access routes closed. It just needed sensible planning to create exits too wieldy for rat runners from out of borough to navigate.
Now that I’ve read through the history, I’m genuinely astounded at the agenda shift and mis-sellling by elected representatives of their original manifesto commitments. And I’m alarmed to see that you’ve simply become the flower pot men of the cycling lobby puppeteers.
I’m not suggesting neighbours who have come out in support of the scheme are wrong or aren’t entitled to a different view. But I wonder what actual percentage of your electorate they make up? They certainly aren’t reflected in the 4,000+ signatories on the Keep Highbury Moving petition.
Nor am I suggesting we don’t absolutely need to work hard to reduce pollution or ramp up road safety. But this anti car approach is tiresome. It is not a them and us. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be, though certain of your members, putting their own personal views over that of those who elected them, would appear to publicly suggest it is. We all live here and we’re all entitled to use the streets in the ways we feel we need to. Lots of residents walk, use public transport and cycle. And use cars only to escape London/visit family elsewhere in the country/holiday with tents in the UK rather than flying abroad/ to collect teenagers from late night clubs in the cold and dark/do the shopping. This is not an unreasonable use of a car. Others rely on them for work, to visit elderly relatives, carry out volunteering roles. This is not unreasonable either. But for some reason such use is being lumped in with people driving 2 mins to drop their kids to school or speeding through a borough to get to a job where the tube would have sufficed. In entering into this toxic public debate, you’re also breaking down the very fabric of community cohesion in Highbury. Pitting car owners against those who aren’t. Despite the fact your 30% car ownership figure is disingenuous (a borough figure does not reflect the very family focused and residential status of Highbury/Finsbury park. Of course car ownership on upper street is low. I think if we surveyed Highbury alone, your 30% figure would be considerably higher). But requiring locals to add 30-45 mins to their essential journeys is unreasonable, and does nothing to resolve the pollution problem. This evaporation argument - is just that, an argument. It’s not been properly tested in an inner london borough like Islington. And how can we properly test it in a pandemic?
Constantly bringing children and their “right to play” into it is also disingenuous. There are plenty of activities for kids without them needing to sit chalking in the centre of a road used by cars. London is awash with opportunities for toddlers and primary kids. Always has been. That’s why we live here. If I wanted mine to build dens in the woods, I’d move to the countryside. (Though over lockdown mine did indeed build dens in Gillespie park!). I don’t understand this part of the narrative. It’s irrelevant to a discussion on reducing pollution. No one mentions the impact of LTNs on teen safety or teen activity - because that doesn’t suit the narrative. The fact that virtually every teen boy I know has been mugged, often at knifepoint, phones stolen, chased on a bike by another group of unknown teens, in HIghbury goes unmentioned. Because it doesn’t suit the narrative. Parents of those boys will not stop collecting them from sports fixtures in the dark by car - because it is simply not safe. I will not stop accepting lifts for my daughters fro after school sports in Whittington Park or Highgate in the dark of winter, because it is not safe for them to wait alone at a bus stop on the Holloway Road. So let’s stop with the active play propaganda.
Why can’t the council and publicists just have a two way debate about POLLUTION reduction? And how this can be achieved through a range of means. Rather than this circular debate which is essentially about scolding car users, and heralding cyclists. Because that’s essentially what this debate is.
Instead the debate and thus the scheme should have looked at supporting all of the different road users in equal measure. Increase cycle lanes (TfL doing this in tandem anyway), increase hire bikes (my husband gave up attempting to cycle this way to work because there was often never a bike available until he’d walked half way to work), more electric charge points, incentives for electric, the fact ULEz is coming, looking at blocking off one end of roads used as rat runs by non residents, incentivising public transport, lobbying for greener Council vehicles and TfL buses, or indeed contributing the funds used for the trial on replacing diesel Council vehicles, devising routes which discourage ran running, introducing peak time additional blockages? Instead one small group of cycling lobbyists have monopolised the agenda, and you have let them. In the meantime, The outcomes for some residents concerned about pollution, who don’t own a car etc is good, so of course they support it. But for everyone else it’s retrograde and ill conceived. But if we say this, we’re told we’re road hogs (even though I don’t myself drive and don’t even hold a licence! I do however ask for the support of friends with cars to collect my kids from clubs/for tesco to deliver my shopping/for a friend to help me take heavy unwieldy bags of toys to a charity shop or deliver meals to someone in need).
As for the councillors who retweet and promote well constructed, experienced publicity and comms put out there by, cycling lobbyists who don’t even reside within the LTNs, over damning negative impacts by genuine residents, well let’s see what next May brings.
Sarah - Highbury Resident
The impact of the recent LTN arrangements on my elderly and disabled mother - her life has been completely changed for the worse as a direct result of this unconsulted change. My mother has advanced Parkinson’s Disease. She cannot walk, and cannot manage a mobility scooter. She uses a wheelchair sometimes but finds this very uncomfortable and requires two people for transfers. My mother is virtually trapped at home. Her mental health is suffering terribly. I can no longer take groceries to them, and my father is now having to leave her alone to shop. She has had several falls as a result.
Portia - Highbury Quadrant
The scale and design of the LTNs are creating major traffic jams on main roads. An initiative that was supposed to ease air pollution is actually making it worse.
Daniel - Highbury Hill
From what I hear and see as a resident of Highbury Hill, the LTN is already showing many signs it is not supporting local residents and is more divisive than it is inclusive, and ultimately not meeting the objectives of 'People Friendly Streets' for Highbury.
Elizabeth - Highbury resident
These traffic changes are unbelievably disruptive and upsetting. They are making life a misery. I am extremely concerned about how awful it is going to be when schools return and people start travelling as normal to and from work.
Colin - resident of Highbury for 41 years
The introduction of LTNs to Highbury has increased our journey times to hospital by double, much of it sitting in stationary traffic with all its concurrent stress and additional pollution. We have no option but to use the car and penalising local disabled people without consultation, or consideration, is grossly unfair and totally avoidable. A simple solution lies in allowing us locals have access to our own area by permits or the use of ANPR within the LTNs.
Nicholas - Highbury Fields
In 40 years working around here and nearly 30 years residence, I am not aware of a single pedestrian being knocked down by a vehicle (several by bicycles). The streets involved, particularly on the Highbury Fields side, are not congested with traffic. It has always been an oasis here and this complicated and in places unfathomable scheme affects residents in a draconian and unnecessary way.
John M - Personal Trainer, Islington Resident
During lockdown my work has been severely affected with the closing of the gym I usually work from.
I have tried hard to maintain my income by training individuals in their local parks. This involves travelling around North London in my car with heavy equipment required for each session. I am already losing out with travelling time between clients and since the LTNs went in I have had to allow even longer travel time between sessions. Today due to the burst water main on Blackstock Road, I was so held up taking a lengthy diversion that I was almost 40 minutes late getting to a client, which resulted in another lost session.
There is no longer any way to realistically factor in travelling time as there are not alternative routes offered because of the new road scheme, it takes one problem or set of road works to completely gridlock the area, like today (17/2/21).
It has been a really difficult year and I have tried to adapt my working day to ensure I can continue working, if not to the same capacity as previously, but enough to get by. How can the council justify making my working day more difficult and losing me even more business. Isn’t this a time when we should be helping each other – not making things even more difficult than they already are?
GC - Highbury Park
I have lived in Highbury all of my life, as have my family for 3 generations before me. I enjoy being part of a lively and vibrant neighbourhood in the heart of a city.
I feel the new restrictions implemented by the council have caused a division across our community. Not only the physical aspect, but the mental - turning neighbours against each other (with strong opinions) and the total lack of care or regard for those of us directly affected. I have been told ‘get on a bike’ -!
I shop for 3 sets of elderly neighbours on a weekly basis - I cannot shop for 3 households plus myself on a bike. In addition I take them all to doctors and hospital appointments on a regular basis. I use my car for essential journeys only. I walk, I take public transport, but time and logistics do not always allow for that.
I loathe the soulless atmosphere these new enclaves have created. I walk around the side roads and they feel dead and deserted, as well as unsafe. I bought in to city life, not country life. We have a wealth of wonderful green space around us, more than enough for every child in the borough to play in safely. Why anyone would want or to encourage their children to play in the road is beyond me.
These new schemes have given to some people but taken away from more, especially those living on the main roads experiencing increased noise and pollution levels. It’s inconsiderate, drastic and ill thought out and I hope the council revisit to ensure a fairer solution for the greater community.
S H - Highbury Barn
I am an electrician. I was born in Islington and have lived here my entire life. I cannot believe the mess the council have made of the roads. I serve the local community and always have done. 90% of my customers live within 2 miles of my home in Highbury.
Many jobs involve going to look at a problem and then popping out to one of my suppliers either at The Angel or on Frogmore Estate, Highbury to pick up parts, returning to the job to complete.
Now I can no longer pass East to West the journeys back and forth are taking three to four times longer (and this is during lockdown, with no schools open and just a small proportion of the normal traffic on the roads). The delays are added to by the chaos of Highbury Corner.
Where I would complete 4-6 jobs in one day, I am now struggling to do 3-4. I have suffered a huge loss of business during lockdown and at a time when work is finally picking up, I find that the council have put these obstacles in my way, making my work difficult and limited. I am suffering financial loss and I am not able to offer the same level of service to my customers as I used to.
Lee - Bourne’s Fishmongers Highbury Barn
The new road system is making life difficult. We have 3 shops in North London and are opening a fourth in Islington shortly. It is essential I spend time at each shop every day and moving between the shops now is taking up more time than I actually spend there.
We are having issues too with deliveries and fear that in time our supplies will be compromised as delivery drivers will refuse to serve us on a daily basis as they currently do.
We are also considering suspending our own local delivery service, which many older and vulnerable customers rely on. We simply do not have the time or resources to spend hours sitting in traffic for journeys that took minutes previously.
MA (Highbury resident)
I am a Consultant Doctor so fully appreciate the health implications of high levels of pollution but the measures currently in place will without doubt lead to higher levels of pollution in Islington overall and will have health implications for those living on the main roads where, when Lockdown ends there will undoubtedly be gridlock. Not all journeys can be done on a bike eg transporting elderly relatives, sometimes a car is necessary. For this reason the traffic restrictions currently in place won’t reduce car ownership or usage in Islington.
CHRIS GODFREY, GODFREY AND CO BUTCHERS - HIGHBURY PARK
* The new arrangement of blocking off roads is having a detrimental effect on our business. Most of our local deliveries are in the N5 area, and our vehicles are now taking on average, an hour longer to do these deliveries (please note, we have an app that shows the shortest route between our orders). Therefore our vehicles are sitting in traffic for 1 hour a day longer, which negates any good you feel you are doing for the environment.
* We have invested heavily in new vehicles in the past year with Euro6 engines.
* We service our shop in Highbury Barn, from our Unit in Finsbury Park. A distance of approximately 0.5 miles. Currently, because we cannot drive directly down Highbury Hill because of traffic, our drivers have to go around the back way, via Manor House, avoiding Blackstock Road, to reach our Unit. This is again taking on average 45 minutes each journey.
* Our external delivery drivers, our already complaining that they are finding it hard to drop off at our shop due to traffic constraints.
* Our business has been in Highbury for over 100 years, a fact we are rightly proud of. We rely on local people, but also local people rely on us. We deliver to the self-isolating and vulnerable. People have come to trust the fact that they can get a local company deliver to them – your road closures are making this impossible, it is easier for us to send our packages nationwide than a 2 mile radius.
* The problem of deliveries is difficult now, how will it be when this lockdown is over and all cars are back on the roads – absolute carnage! The incident of road rage will most certainly rear its ugly head, as we all try to make a living again.
* Please believe, we do understand your reasoning behind the scheme. Two out of three of our Directors, and many of our staff , cycle to work each day.
Please think again about this scheme, perhaps allow deliveries only between 10am and 3pm. Close the roads where primary schools are, encourage parents to walk to school.
Our business will not survive having to close our delivery business. We employ local people, we are a committed local Company
Rianne - Aged 29
I was driving to Canning Road, week ending 24/01/21. I drove on to Drayton Park and found myself unable to get on to Highbury Park or Blackstock Road, as Gillespie Road is now closed, Highbury Hill is closed and Aubert Park is closed. I was redirected to a heavily congested Holloway Road, down to Highbury Corner. What would have been a 2 minute journey home from this point, took me a further 20 minutes! These road closures are an utter absurdity and causing more pollution due to longer travel times, increased petrol costs and undue frustration at an already stressful time!
Ann - Elfort Road
My mother is 82 years old and because of her medical condition, has severe mobility issues. She lives on her own and is very dependent on me. I go to see her daily. Although she lives only 5 mins away, we are now in different LTN zones, which means that for me to drive to her I have to take a long round trip, approximately 2.5 miles each way. Whilst I often walk to her, there are times when driving is a necessity – for example, to take her to GP and hospital appointments, bring her over to my house (she is in a bubble with my family), drop off her medication, shopping etc. It really is absurd the extra mileage, time and stress now involved in my journey – and I dread to think the extra pollution and traffic being caused as a result. Is this really the intention of the scheme?! Pushing an elderly, frail person on a wheel chair up or down the hill is really not a practical alternative, particularly during the winter season.
Like so many others in the borough, I too want our roads to be safer to pedestrians and cyclists, but this should not be at the cost of our elderly, vulnerable residents and their carers – particularly as walking or cycling is not an option for them. ANPR for residents would provide an ideal solution.
Joe Bainborough - Canonbury Roofing Limited
I have worked in Islington as a roofer for 30 years. These latest LTN's and road closures will significantly hurt my business and willingness to keep working in the area.
1. Massively increased journey times to my lock-up on Compton Street—on a job last week a return journey took 34 minutes that would normally have taken 5 within Canonbury—and its lock down and outside peak time. Much more pollution pumped out on the main roads.
2. Increased journey times mean less work time and less income. I will either have to increase my prices or accept less income.
3. Some jobs simply won't be worth the effort and clients may have to find another roofer.
4. Premier Plumbers on Drayton Park will lose my business because they are so hard to get to.