Careful What We Wish For

Concerning the fear of problems that the proposed schemes might impose on local residents driving into and out of the area, one organisation has outlined solutions on its website, http://camdencyclists.org.uk/2016/08/motor-traffic-congestion-in-judd-street/ . As a resident here for over 70 years, I wouldn’t wish anything detrimental to our area. Someone has said of the Tavistock Place experimental scheme, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Well, the arrangement introduced a few years ago, which preceded the present scheme, was seriously “broke”. It was (predictably) confusing and dangerous for all classes of road user, and the accidents it promoted should be on the consciences of those who encouraged or acquiesced in its introduction. It needed fixing, and my experience as a car and bike user, and a pedestrian, is that the present experiment has indeed fixed it, by greatly improving safety and convenience for pedestrians and cyclists, and significantly reducing motor traffic congestion along Tavistock place, at little or no added inconvenience to residents entering or leaving the area by car. Suspicion of change is natural, but I would urge a reality check lest schemes that would benefit the area are rejected on the basis of excessive or false apprehensions. Thus, addressing some of the complaints that have been aired: 1. Increased motor traffic along Hastings and Leigh Streets. Rather than being caused by the experimental scheme, increased traffic volumes in those streets actually pre-date it, being caused by the “no left turn” from Tavistock Place into Upper Marchmont Street introduced at the time of the aforementioned earlier scheme. 2. Increase in traffic volume along Sandwich and Thanet Streets. This is simply untrue. I have witnessed no such increase in these streets, where the block of flats in which I live and work is situated. 3. Constant traffic queues in Judd Street. Judd Street has always been busy, and the above-mentioned left turn ban and the experimental one-way scheme in Tavistock Place have undoubtedly worsened the congestion, but the congestion is by no means all day, only occasionally during rush periods, and the proposed traffic schemes for Brunswick Square and for the north end of Judd Street should relieve the problem. 4. Congestion in Endsleigh Gardens. Whilst the experimental scheme might be contributing to it, its root cause is the closure of the north end of Gordon Square for UCL building works. 5. Impeding emergency vehicles. I am not aware of failures or crucial delays to emergency services due to the experimental scheme: perhaps opponents of the scheme would care to cite instances if any have occurred; besides, the emergency services are no doubt capable of making their own representations if they feel that safety is being jeopardised. On a different point, whilst I doubt whether segregated, or indeed any, cycle lanes are appropriate for all roads, segregated lanes do have advantages in some situations. Non-segregated cycle lanes tend to get used for car parking, causing bikes to move out into the main traffic, to the danger of cyclists and the inconvenience of motorists. Hence they are unfit for purpose. “Kill the Tavistock Traffic Scheme” may be an attractive inaugural rallying cry for BRAG, but I urge the rest of us to be careful what we wish for.

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