Bus passengers stand to lose out if campaigns to get rid of the Stoke Newington one-way system succeed.
This month Hackney council have reopened the moribund debate on the future of the Stoke Newington one-way system with a new public consultation.
An earlier attempt, in 2008, to get rid of the one-way system failed when Transport for London intervened, pointing out that:
“As regards bus movements, both [proposed] options could create potential problems for services approaching the High Street from the north or south… The capacity reduction at key junctions approaching the centre is likely to create additional delays for buses.”
The options on the table at the last consultation suggested either:
Making Stoke Newington High Street two-way, with access for buses, cycles and loading only during the daytime and Rectory Road made two-way to accommodate all through traffic.
Or making both the High Street and Rectory Road routes two-way for all traffic, with a part-closure of Rectory Road at the Common to discourage southbound traffic.
TfL felt that neither of these options were worth pursuing on cost-benefit grounds, and considered both would negatively affect bus journey times.
Stoke Newington Business Association also object to the idea because they say a two-way system is impractical for loading.
Anthony Johns, who works in Stoke Newington Bookshop, said: “There are arguments that deliveries would be an issue to a lot of people down here.”
Some businesspeople are in favour of the scheme. Katharine Tasker of the Lemon Monkey café is in favour of a change. “Deliveries are a problem anyway,” she said. “I think more people would see our shop if it was two-way, and we would get a lot more people getting take-away coffee if there were a bus stop on both sides.”
However, it is unlikely that there would be a bus stop on either side of the road because there is currently only room for three lanes of traffic in the narrowest part of the High Street (where Lemon Monkey is) – so buses would either have to be run entirely on Rectory Road (taking them further away from the High Street), or the High Street would have to be closed to other traffic to allow for bus lanes and creating traffic congestion through Rectory rd.
Or, alternatively, bus lanes would have to go – and that would mean bus passengers being forced to crawl through central Stoke Newington.
Pete Owens, a local resident and bus user, said: “I rely on the bus every day to get to work. There’s already so much congestion in this area. Removing bus lanes would increase an already-long journey time.”
Those in favour of removing of the one-way system include the Leswin Area Resident’s association (LARA) and the Cazenove Area Action Group.
Sarah Woodworth, a local resident, said: “I think you’d get a lot more custom on the high street if there were two-way traffic, and it would really enliven the whole area. It would be fantastic for cyclists and positive in all sorts of ways. At the moment it’s just a rat-run through.”
The Hackney branch of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) argue that reverting to a two-way system will see a decline in cyclists riding on the pavement, quicken the time it takes motorists to navigate the area, and deter drivers from residential neighbourhoods.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Feryal Demirci, said:
“It is important that we hear how the Stoke Newington gyratory system affects residents, visitors and local business owners, and we are particularly keen to hear views on the proposal to introduce measures to improve traffic and road safety conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Council has organized meetings and drop-in sessions, and will use the feedback to identify issues with the gyratory that are of concern to residents and local businesses. These will be held on:
Friday, 12 November 2010, 5pm – 8pm at Morrison’s Supermarket, 47/49 Stamford Hill N16 5SR
Saturday, 4 December 2010, 10am – 2.30pm at Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market, William Patten School, Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0NX.