Op-ed: Barkingside resident and motorcycle journalist on why council’s Quiet Streets trial needs major amendments

Barkingside resident and motorcycle journalist Bob Pickett is opposed to the Quiet Streets initiativ

Barkingside resident and motorcycle journalist Bob Pickett is opposed to the Quiet Streets initiative launched by Redbridge Council. Picture: Bob Pickett - Credit: Archant

Motorcycle journalist and Barkingside South resident Bob Pickett explains why he thinks the council’s Quiet Streets trial needs some major amendments

Bob thinks the idea meant to reduce rat running is a good idea in theory but will lead to more traff

Bob thinks the idea meant to reduce rat running is a good idea in theory but will lead to more traffic. Picture: Bob Pickett - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council has announced the launch of its “Quiet Streets” initiative.

The first area to trial the scheme is Barkingside South; a rough triangle formed by Tanners Lane at the top, with the Gants Hill roundabout and Green Gate junction at the bottom.

The idea sounds good in principle: “Enable all local people to walk, cycle, play and live healthier lives” whilst putting a stop to the ‘rat-runs’ between Cranbrook Road and Horns Road, also stopping speeding and accidents on Ashurst Drive and Donington Avenue.

We are told how our streets will be quieter, greener, healthier and more relaxing.

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The reality? The ‘filters’ being installed remove all access to the A12 and Horns Road in the area. To get to these roads, residents will have to go onto Cranbrook Road, then heading either to the Gants Hill roundabout or the Tanners Lane junction to Horns Road. Cranbrook Road already suffers tailbacks at the roundabout, often as far back as the library (where the new community hub is scheduled to be built). Horns Road also suffers regular tailbacks from the Green Gate junction.

By forcing an additional 3,000 vehicles per day (Redbridge Council’s figures) onto Cranbrook Road, the tailback will increase exponentially - it would not be surprising if tailbacks as far as St Augustine’s Church become common.

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The additional pressure on the Tanners Lane junction - a junction not designed to cope with the volume of traffic that will be forced onto it - will see massive tailbacks heading in the opposite direction. Horns Road will also be put under increased pressure, longer tailbacks there are inevitable.

With tailbacks comes pollution. There are two schools close to Cranbrook Road (St Augustines and Fullwood). Both these schools will suffer poorer air quality… contradicting one of the key aims of the scheme. The same applies for any roads abutting Cranbrook Road.

Both of these schools will also suffer increased traffic, due to the filters blocking any access to main roads. St Augustine’s will particularly suffer, as it is placed on the only link left open between the north and south parts of the area, forcing significantly more traffic into small roads that are not capable of supporting it. This will also endanger the residents of George Davies Lodge, a residential/care facility.

The council is already aware of the dangers and risk to vulnerable residents, as there are a number of speed bumps along the length of Loudon Avenue and Veronique Gardens. Yet they deem these roads fit to provide the sole nexus between the two halves of the area?

As anyone who lives in the area can tell you, the main traffic issues come from:

a) Speeding down Ashurst Drive and Donington Avenue

b) Hamilton Avenue and Headley Drive being used as cut throughs

The common factor on the above? Long, straight roads. Ashurst (and to a lesser degree Donington) give access straight onto the A12, so perfect getaway routes.

So rather than block ALL access, wouldn’t it make sense to remove the ability to head in a straight line, but have to vary your route? So place filters on Ashurst and Donington.

Ashurst; well placed filter between Otley and Headley would stop rat runs instantly. Likewise, Donington would be negated as a rat run by blocking on the junction with Springfield Drive.

To alleviate Hamilton Avenue, one filter between Ashurst and Donington would force traffic to take a slower, more indirect route. It would no longer be necessary to block off access to Horns Road and the A12.

What WOULD be a good idea, to achieve the stated aim of “Enabling children to walk, wheel or cycle to school” would be to put a filter on the junction of Loudon Avenue and Veronique Gardens.

A filter placed here would still allow cars to go along Loudon Avenue and onto South Cross Road (controlled by the existing speed bumps), and greatly improve the safety of the residents of George Davies Lodge.

The intention of the scheme is sound. The way Redbridge Council has applied it? They have used a sledgehammer to crack a nut. A few well placed filters would remove the issues discussed above without such a detrimental effect on residents’ lives. The implementation of the scheme needs reassessing - and quickly - in conjunction with ongoing discussion with residents.

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