This year has been entirely unprecedented and disruptive on a number of levels. Hackney has, and continues to be deeply affected by the pandemic. This has restricted what the council and more broadly the UK has been able to achieve in terms of its ambitions for road modernisation.
The first lockdown in March demonstrated to many people the improvements to life brought about by low levels of traffic across the UK. Central government issued guidance early on to provide local authorities clarity on ensuring public space was re-prioritised to enable active travel. Hackney Council launched their emergency travel plan in response to this.
Since we launched the Vision for Hackney in May 2020, a lot has changed in the borough. As we enter 2021, let’s look back what has happened on the ground and what more needs to be done. Multiple measures have been introduced including 44 filters, five bus gates, 39 school streets, and one main road cycle track that have been built over the past seven months. Lots more needs to be done to make Hackney more accessible to cycling and walking, and we lay out where we believe the focus should be over the coming few months.
We are conscious that the schemes have been implemented through Experimental Traffic Orders for 18 months. The Commonplace online feedback portal is open for comments for 6 months from implementation, so a number are due to close in early 2021, and so if you like the schemes, remember to complete the Commonplace comments.
Progress since May 2020:
4 new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Hackney Council have implemented 4 new LTNs, and provided an outline for an additional LTN in Stoke Newington – a total of 25 additional filters and five bus gates. An overview of the LTNs is given on the London Fields, Hoxton West, Hackney Downs and Stoke Newington sections.
Priorities for 2021:
If/when funding is confirmed for Stoke Newington Church Street Zero Emissions Zone , it will be transformational for the area and help the area maximise its purpose as a vital local high street.
Our Vision map provides details of where else we would like LTN’s and High street interventions to be implemented. The Chatsworth Road area would benefit hugely from the filters we have suggested.
19 new filters
An additional 19 filters have been installed, with some of them creating mini LTNs, such as the filters on Ashenden Road and Meeson Street, in the Kingsmead Estate area. Others have strengthened an important cycle route, such as Walford Road filters strengthening CS1, and the filters on Elsdale Road and Mead Place making Quietway 2 a much improved experience for that section.
Some of the other filters have tackled individual streets with excessive through traffic, such as Shore Place, and Clissold Crescent.
The 19 new filters add to the existing filters in Hackney – which we calculated as standing at 113 at the launch of our Vision.
The 44 filters have allowed us to designate 743 streets in Hackney as suitable for all-age and all-ability cycling (the green streets on our Vision). These green streets have increased from 628 in May, or 115 streets turning from being motor dominated to being open and attractive to active travel.
Priorities for 2021:
Despite the progress, 150 streets remain as Orange on our Vision. These are streets that should receive treatment to limit the number of motor vehicles on the streets. Our Vision suggests that approximately 80 additional filters and bus gates could be implemented to create LTNs throughout the borough and ensure that the remaining orange streets can also be designated as ‘green’.
Five School Streets were in place at the beginning of 2020. School Streets are such an excellent idea and one that has broad support, even among people who are sceptical of other motor-traffic calming measures. Yet, nobody could have foreseen the rapid expansion from five School Streets to the (approximately) 40 School Streets that are now operational in Hackney.
Priorities for 2021:
Hackney Council have implemented School Streets on nearly all of the borough’s primary schools, and should be commended for their ambitious and swift work. Secondary Schools should now be the next focus, to support pupils to travel independently and safely to school. As well as restricting motor traffic by the front gates, bike parking facilities are required to remove the practical issues of cycling to school.
Main road schemes
The Queensbridge Road cycle tracks were completed during 2020, with the southern part built to a high permanent standard, while the northern part will require more permanent treatment in future. Nevertheless, the area is now an example of what we would like to see elsewhere on Hackney’s roads: main roads with cycle tracks, surrounded to the north, south east and west by low traffic streets that are welcoming and safe to people on foot and bike.
Priorities for 2021:
Plans for cycle tracks on Green Lanes have not progressed as quickly as we would have liked, and should be a priority for 2021. Similarly, plans for the Hackney section of Lea Bridge Road and roundabout have been consulted on, and should be implemented, so that the excellent cycle tracks through Waltham Forest can continue through Hackney to Dalston, to meet up with CS1.
We will continue to call for big projects on major roads in the borough, such as the A10 and Hackney Road. While acknowledging the financial difficulties faced by TfL, high quality cycle routes on main roads are essential to enable as many people to cycle as possible.
Other priorities for 2021
We want to see a full roll out of secure cycle parking across all social housing estates. A large increase is needed in on-street bike parking due to shortages, and innovative solutions to enable cargo bikes to be stored safely.
We will be launching our Junior Hackney Cycling Campaign scheme in the new year and look forward to being able to welcome young riders and for us to reflect their views directly.
The Cycle Buddies scheme will continue, pairing up people who want help to cycle more, with people who want to help others to cycle more.