Monday 13 August 2012 11.27am
I think that this exercise is quite interesting and there are probably streets in Southwark that are wider than they need to be.
However unfortunately I think the data is not sufficient to make the case for this. On the one hand it underplays some of the potential for closures (since it doesn't seem to take account of off-street parking i.e. in estates or in private apartment blocks). I think it may help as a starting point but it will need local people to engage and point out real problems at a street level that they are aware of, or certain benefits.
The air is perfectly breathable already ... the pollution hotspots are all associated with the strategic (TfL) network not local roads, mapping online proves this.
Closing a street is not going to reduce traffic. It will divert it somewhere else along with its pollution. TfL and Southwark Council
have done a great deal to ensure that residential roads are just that and are not rat runs for through traffic. The main roads are more congested as a result, with idling traffic far more polluting than freely moving traffic, and the banned turns and one way systems cause significant increases in journey length for some residents.
For example, Harper Road
is shown in green as a candidate for closure. This is a fairly safe, straight road and homes have a good setback from it, and it has speed humps etc to limit traffic to 20mph, as it is a busy rat run. Closing this would divert traffic onto smaller and less suitable highly residential streets with tight turns; or onto the TfL network which is already congested, so more queueing traffic (holding up buses, taxis, lorries and other more polluting vehicles) and more accidents at the Elephant roundabout.
The mapping mainly shows fairly well used roads as candidates for closure, and less well used roads will end up being more heavily used and with longer journeys and more congesting resulting. I cannot see the health benefits of that. A much simpler analysis simply looking at traffic flows and access requirements would identify barely-used streets that could be narrowed to give over more space to local people (some local streets are four cars wide yet probably only receive ten cars an hour!) or possibly closed.
Simply put, I think that local communities should start with identifying streets that are not well used and local knowledge of actual issues and avoiding mere displacement or worsening of congestion elsewhere; rather than a relatively complex array of data mixed with unevidenced assumptions as to health benefits. I am sure that local communities would find it rewarding to do that.