In the January 2019 issue of the FBWRA Newsletter we reported on proposals for a traffic scheme in Friern Barnet as set out in the Friern Barnet Lane, Buxted Road, Ashurst Road and Friern Park Discover Community Engagement Report January 2018 ( the “Report”), a scheme which is directed at facilitating a proposed “ Quietway” cycle route from Hornsey through Friern Barnet to North Finchley that is being funded by TfL .
The Report was funded by TfL and produced by Sustrans, an organisation that works to assist other organisations develop “cycling and walking strategies and implementation plans”- it is not an impartial independent professional consultant- it is a lobby-group, with its own agenda.
You can access the Newsletter article here:
– and the Report here: https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/1173/documents/1386 .
The Report proposes the adoption of a traffic management scheme, focussing on the treatment of the Ashurst Road/Buxted Road junction, and sets out three different options for this junction, and of these Sustrans strongly recommends “OPTION 1”: diagonal closure of the junction, stopping through traffic between Woodhouse Road and Friern Barnet Lane (see page 5 of the Report).
FBWRA is now working with members and other residents of the local roads who would be most directly affected by the Scheme were it to be implemented, and we have funded a survey of residents’ opinions on the proposals.
At the beginning of April members of FBWRA including our Chairman, Kate Salinger, and other members of the FBWRA Committee and also other local residents met with two of the Councillors (Cllr. Geof Cooke and Cllr. Barry Rawlings) representing Woodhouse and Coppetts Ward respectively, parts of both of which lie in the area that would be affected by the Scheme, to discuss the proposals.
Following on from that meeting FBWRA has written to other Councillors and to Council officers, to ensure that FBWRA’s views on the proposals are known to the relevant “stakeholders”- this is important as the proposals are due to be considered at a meeting of local Ward Councillors , representatives of Sustrans and Council officers and highway engineers, with a view to agreeing the proposals (the Scheme”) prior to their submission to a Council Committee for approval, and we have been concerned to get our, and residents’ view across before any decision is made.
From our discussions we believe that whilst there is support for the principle of the creation of a Quietway, there is widespread opposition to a Scheme incorporating “Option 1” for reasons including those which we outline below and so we have asked the Council that Option 1 should be abandoned. Further, we believe the Sustrans Report is inadequate in terms of a failure to properly deal with wider issues and failings in its methodology (and, in this connection, it should be recognised that , as mentioned above, Sustrans is not an impartial independent professional consultant- it is a lobby-group, with its own agenda).
INADEQUATE NATURE OF THE REPORT
The Report is inadequate as it fails to consider and deal with material wider issues and has important failings in its methodology.
The Report has:
1. no consideration of the effects elsewhere- in particular Friern Barnet Road, Friern Barnet Lane and Woodhouse Road – if the Scheme was implemented- the Report has been produced in isolation;
2. no consideration of effects at the Scheme perimeter (e.g. at the junction of Friern Barnet Lane and Buxted Road ( where the proposal to narrow the entrance is likely to increase both congestion and pollution) or along Woodhouse Road- the effect on safety, congestion and pollution here is not considered;
3. no consideration of the effect of the Scheme on residents living within the Scheme roads – the only consideration in the Report is to cyclists and pedestrians as such; and
4. no consideration of the effect on local shops.
In terms of the inadequacy of the methodology:
A. the Report is based on incomplete traffic counts ( see page 13 of the Report) and a consultation which failed to secure a meaningful response rate from local residents (see C below);
B. respondents were not invited to consider the consequences of their choices ( e.g .if the volume of local traffic is reduced, where does it go?):
C. of the 1494 homes surveyed, only 190 responded (13%), of which only 43 (3%) were what the Report describes as “hyper-local” i.e. in the area directly affected by the proposed changes (see page 25). This is a very small sample on which to base recommendations with such a significant impact on the community.
Within this group there was support for reducing vehicle speeds and volumes but varying views on the acceptability of measures to address these issues. The use of 20 mph zones and improved crossing points had most support, but these have been ignored in favour of the use of one ways, banned turns and filters, which was one of the lowest scoring proposals, yet is at the heart of what is proposed, even though, as the Report itself notes (page 15) “ it’s important to note that the wording of the question left the exact scope of change very open”- thus there was actually no consultation by Sustrans on the acceptability of the Scheme as set out in the Report.
It is also worth noting that, when referring to these measures the Report itself said “It is also significant to note the higher than average level of objection to this particular option and the very real concerns around displacement/pushing the issues elsewhere” (page 15). FBWRA representatives met with Sustrans during the 2017 consultation and also voiced concerns about limiting access to some roads and pushing the problem to other streets and compounding the daily blockage of Woodhouse Road.
These views have been completely overridden by the authors of the Report in deciding which scheme to propose for implementation. FBWRA members and other local residents recently worked together to carry out their own consultation( funded by FBWRA) with residents on the proposed scheme and the replies to this indicated a very high level of objection (over 95% of respondents), and this consultation has produced a much higher number of responses from local residents than Sustran’s survey did ; and
D. the Report fails to consider or to address the underlying cause of “rat-running” through the Scheme roads, which is congestion in Woodhouse Road and Friern Barnet Road. It is this underlying cause, and ways to improve the situation here, to which the Council and Councillors should be directing their attention, time and efforts, as success here would produce a much greater benefit, improving safety whilst reducing congestion, journey times and pollution across a wider area and so as to benefit more people.
CONSEQUENCES OF PROCEEDING WITH THE SCHEME
Some of the major concerns expressed by residents in relation to the Scheme were: –
1.Through traffic will be channelled and concentrated on to a smaller number of side streets with associated hazards and disruption for residents.
2. Much of the traffic will be forced from side streets onto already congested main roads of Friern Barnet Lane and Woodhouse Road. This will increase queuing and pollution.
3. It will be very hard for local residents to get anywhere without being forced onto the already congested main roads with significant increase in journey times, associated pollution and safety risks – the opposite of what the scheme is trying to achieve.
4. Road closures and proposed one-way systems will also increase journey lengths and times for residents, again increasing pollution and frustration. No journey will be shorter or quicker as a result of these proposals – many will be longer and slower.
5. Some side streets will become far busier, a few will become the only cut through available and the environment will be significantly worsened. Increased traffic in these residential areas will reduce safety and additional noise and pollution will increase significantly. Access in and out of streets will also be severely restricted.
6. Horsham Avenue/Buxted Road will become the only route to bypass queues on the main roads and in addition to seeing a significant increase in traffic it is likely that queues and bottlenecks will occur at either end. Horsham Avenue residents will suffer considerable difficulties entering / exiting the street , bordering on the extreme, with limited access in and out, funnelled into worsened general traffic and heavy traffic at both ends of the street.
7. The proposed cycle route will also put cyclists on the same roads that through traffic will now be forced onto, increasing the risk to the cyclists. In some cases, the planners are trying to introduce a cycle route onto streets that currently don’t have room for 2 cars to pass each other due to parking on both sides of the road.
8. Any additional parking restrictions introduced will displace residents’ parking outside their homes into adjoining streets where parking is already at saturation point.
9. It will be more difficult for people to park near the shops in Woodhouse Road with a potential adverse impact on the businesses there.
Additionally, statutory provision ( s. 16 Traffic Management Act 2004) creates a duty on authorities to manage their road network to secure ” the expeditious movement of traffic “. As the proposals would appear to be likely to result in an increase in congestion there appears to be a conflict between the proposals and that duty, which we think the Council (and Councillors) should bear in mind.
THE WAY AHEAD
We have asked the Council that:
1. the option 1 Scheme should be rejected ;
2. no further work should be done on Option 1;
3. options 2 and 3 should be further developed, but all further development work must progress in a manner which ensures that the wider issues to which we refer above are properly and expressly addressed;
4. The revised proposals should then be the subject of a further consultation of all households in the Scheme roads;
This consultation should include the door-to-door delivery of questionnaires to all the relevant households. The questions in the questionnaire should be proposal specific and test the individual elements of the proposals and should link the choices that residents are asked to consider to the consequences of those choices. Thus, for example, if a proposal includes provision for restricting right turns into Woodhouse Road from the top of Horsham Avenue, respondents should be asked their views on that specific provision and the question should set out the consequences of implementing it in terms of changes to travel routes, and the like. The responses should be analysed on a road-by road basis, as well as in the aggregate.
5. a small group, comprising representatives of FBWRA and of the members and residents with whom we are working should be included / consulted on the design of any a new/revised scheme and on the form and content of the final full area consultation before the consultation is carried out.
We have explained to the Council that FBWRA wants to be and is happy to be engaged with the Council about this. This would help the Council and its partners to produce a better scheme for the benefit of all. We know the area and how it functions-our knowledge should be used, not ignored.
The next step will be for representatives of FBWRA and local residents to meet with Council officers after Ward Councillors have given their views to those officers. We hope this further meeting will take place in early May.