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Imagining Southwark (help with project needed)

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Monday 13 August 2012 7.51am
We've been working with the data we recently managed to get from the council, with numbers of residential properties for each street in Southwark and have now put this data against how many people living on those streets actually own cars (where this was known), to see if there are any patterns, clusters etc. SE1 is incredibly interesting, as there is very high concentration of roads where very few residents own cars. We've linked all of these streets, across Southwark, as we believe Southwark needs a safe, carfreee network (the article explains it all
How you can help - have a look and let us know what you think - the best way would be to make as many comments for individual streets on the google document (link within article) as we are aware that there may be some issues with some of the streets included (eg one of the cyclists pointed out that some of the streets were predominantly industrial, where a full road closure wouldn't be manageable etc).
All comments, suggestions etc more than welcome. Thank you all in advance xxx
Monday 13 August 2012 10.27am
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.
Monday 13 August 2012 12.20pm
Is this more complicated than you make it seem? Does the data from the council include residential off street parking?
Monday 13 August 2012 12.31pm
@paul s: the data from the council was for residential parking permits, visitor parking permits & motorbikes
Monday 13 August 2012 12.50pm
Thanks for the work this Pros - interesting stuff.

Colinio wrote:
...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. ...

There's plenty of evidence that opening roads increases traffic (eg opening the M25 made large numbers of previously impossible commutes possible). Why should the opposite not be true?

There's even some research (eg that closing roads does reduce traffic and congestion (which are two different but related things).

If you close or narrow roads to cars and lorries, it makes the costs of doing that journey (or ones affected by the displaced traffic) greater and, consequently, encourages modal shift.

Further, it makes non-motorised journeys more attractive so may even increase non-motorised traffic.
Monday 13 August 2012 12.59pm
colinio, thanks for the detailed response - i have to ask you just one thing - are you a cyclist yourself?

i have to disagree with you on a number of points

- air is not perfectly breathable at all - back in September last year, we published this piece - London Air Quality Network has most up-to-date information so is worth checking out

re street closure/traffic reduction- your argument contains the counter-argument within it rambling phil's response puts it better than I was going to :)

we originally looked at the traffic flow and this was the first major indication that things, as they are, simply aren't working, or not working effectively enough to give you just one example, looking at the cycling 'hot spots', london bridge is the top route. Cs7 (planned by tfl/southwark council) is on southwark bridge road and not used as much as london bridge.

@rambling phil: thanks x
Monday 13 August 2012 2.34pm
I can't download the document on the website. It says "mime type not recognised". Anyway, there are a number of roads I can think of which are hardly used at all for either driving or parking. On the Rockingham, many people have said that Rockingham St and Bath Terrace are largely quiet and with very few people using them for parking yet there are loads of spaces. There are parking bays on either side and 2 traffic lanes. There are empty parking spaces on the estate too usually. When I asked the council if one of these roads could be closed they said it would just mean drivers took a detour through the estate roads but anybody who is driving on them would be going somewhere on the estate anyway not taking a short cut. As Bath Terrace and Rockingham St are parallel, surely you don't need both. Swan St north of Harper Road is another one. There is a case for making the whole of the Rockingham a "home zone" with a low speed limit and where all roads become shared spaces but even so, we don't need the amount of road space we have and something much better could be done with it. The estate greens could be widened for a start. It is great that you are looking at this.
Monday 13 August 2012 2.47pm
@martinuco - thanks for the comment, i'll forward the technical thing to our technical person as i've no idea what 'mime type' means.
is it ok to put your comments on the google document, so it's all in one place?
Monday 13 August 2012 3.28pm
have updated the google doc now.
Tuesday 14 August 2012 1.33pm
just a quick and massive thank you to all of you who have made comments so far - those who still haven't, please do - if you can, when you get to the google document, put all your comments in the 'comment' column (as the first four give the name of the street + the proposal as it is on the map, so if this is changed, it will confuse people)
thanks again
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