Next week, residents who live in the Eastern side of Forest Gate North ward (the area bounded by Sebert Road, Woodgrange Road, Capel Road, and Ridley Road. As ever, no calling this ‘the village’!) will receive a leaflet giving an update about the next stage for the proposed Woodgrange and Capel Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or LTNs. If this term is entirely new to you, there is information in the leaflet, but also I wrote a blog post here that explains, albeit imperfectly, the concept of an LTN.
‘Capel and Woodgrange LTNs’ were previously sometimes called LTNs 5 & 6, and have been renamed for clarity but also I think, perhaps in a spirit of ambition: perhaps in future there will be so many Newham LTNs that a numbering system would become confusing? Certainly the older LTNs, which exist right across Newham, were not called LTNs or indeed numbered, they are so much a part of the furniture that we often don’t notice the series of bollards and road closures which prevent cars from cutting through in various key places.
Residents in this area might remember that there was a street survey asking for opinions about what the area is like at the moment. You might have also noticed (as I have) those cables that run across various roads being installed and uninstalled at various points. This was all part of capturing information, both data on traffic numbers but also qualitative information about how people feel about how our streets feel to walk and cycle along.
This leaflet is the next stage: it summarises what we have found out, suggests an LTN as a way of tackling some of the issues raised, and explains what happens next.
I am, as regular blog readers will know, a strong advocate of measures that improve our roads for people walking, scooting, wheeling and cycling, and hence am also a strong supporter of LTNs. I know that not everyone feels the same way, but quite apart from the pleasant aspects of quieter, more peaceful roads, there is also an important issue of environmental and social justice here too. I honestly believe that over the next few years we will need to make really significant changes to the way that we live in order to adapt our lives to try to limit climate change, and changing how we move around, and adjusting our assumptions about who drives, and when and why on residential roads in London and other cities will be a vital part of that.
That said, I know that any changes to road space will raise concerns and questions, many of those from people who share the aims above but want to make sure that any changes are practical, and work as well as they can. People are often worried about emergency services access, for example, or access for disabled people. These issues are really important, and liaising with emergency services and with disabled residents and organisations is a vital and ongoing part of the work that colleagues in highways are doing as they work on a design. Along with other councillor colleagues, and officers, I’ll try my very best to answer as many queries as I can, to listen to concerns and worries and complaints, to pass on ideas for improvements, to flag up issues that we can resolve, and to generally engage in collaboration so that we can make our roads work together, for everyone, in the best way that we can.
You can see the leaflet that is going out using this link:
There is, needless to say, more information coming out. The next stage will be to share the proposed LTN design: to show where the proposed filters are. As soon as I have information on this I will share it.
In the meantime, there is information about the impact of previous LTNs in the leaflet, or if you’re curious to see an LTN in action, it’s easy to do so: just cross Woodgrange Road into the roads that go west towards Stratford.
PS: I can’t write this post without acknowledging, again, the ongoing disruption caused by the negotiations about refuse collectors’ pay, and the strike. This is, as we expected, meaning that bin collections are of course disrupted as we catch up, but also resulting in less street cleaning, and the ongoing suspension of services like bulky waste collection and Love Clean Streets reporting. I’m really sorry about the inconvenience caused by this, and saddened to see our streets looking less cared for, but also I, and I know many residents too, entirely respect the rights of the refuse workers (and any workers) to strike, and to ask for better pay. I also think that whilst the negotiations go on, it’s important that work continues on all other other areas that the Council works on, and this is part of that.