Scheme to stop rat-running drivers too unambitious for Hackney campaigners

Image by Joshua Lamb

Residents and local activist groups have warned Hackney Council that the redevelopment of a single junction in the borough is not enough to stop dangerous “rat running” drivers, who use residential streets to avoid traffic on Upper Clapton Road and the A10.

The council want to redevelop the junction connecting Brooke Road and Evering Road by constructing a “staggered junction”, narrowing the highway and expanding the pedestrian footpaths. This is in a bid to reduce traffic speeds and crossing distances according to Hackney council’s website.

Hackney Living Streets, a group of local residents aiming to improve public space for social use have joined local cycling activist group, Hackney Cycling Campaign and urged residents to call on the council to consider a wider traffic reduction scheme.

They want the council to consider alternative methods of traffic filtering, instead of focusing on a single junction.

Brenda Puech, a coordinator for the group said: “We don’t want this junction to be done and then dropped for another 10 years. We’re looking for everything to be done in a coordinated way and to achieve wider traffic reduction rather than just treating a single junction and trying to make it safer. We feel that the way forward is to look at the whole area and look at how you can reduce traffic”.

Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at the HCC’s parent group, London Cycling Campaign, said that removing the capacity for drivers to use residential streets as a way of saving time in traffic on main roads will help in not just reducing rat runners, but traffic volumes and pollution also.

“This area has several key cycle routes with lots of people cycling and walking. They’re mixing with vans, lorries and cars that don’t live in the area. Those rat runners tend to drive faster and more aggressively so they are a real barrier to people. It is about actually filtering the area so there’s much less traffic in general” said Munk.

Brooke Road resident Alice Roberts responded to a council consultation of the proposed redevelopment in February this year after other residents became concerned with drivers speeding through the area, as there are 11 schools in the locale.

Filtering traffic is a solution she proposed, using a method of strategically placing bollards in the streets known as “modal filtering” to prevent traffic from using residential roads as cut throughs. 

Roberts’ idea for modal filters (triangles) and a bus gate (circle) all within the red through routes – Image by Alice Roberts and Hackney Living Streets

Roberts said: “We just want main road traffic to stay on the main road. We have suggested a boundary for a set of streets as a through route from the Clapton roundabout over to Stoke Newington. That [boundary] solves a lot of problems such as speeding, rat running traffic, road danger and volume of traffic and noise.”

Hackney council said on their website that between January 2015 and December 2018 there were 9 reported road traffic collisions at the Brooke Road junction. 5 of these collisions are due to traffic failing to give way.

Currently, the junction features a 3-stage crossing system. This means there are long distances for pedestrians to cover to reach the other side of the road.

Brooke Road features a 3-stage crossing system – Image by Joshua Lamb

Hackney Council are proposing to reduce the road width by widening footways into the road, thus shortening the crossing distance. They also aim to create a new “public realm space” displaying new trees and soft landscaping, incorporating Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

The council plan to begin the construction works in March 2020 aiming to complete it within 12 weeks according to their website.

Hackney council were unavailable for comment at the time this story was posted.

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