Sunday 31 May 2020

Help Keep our Quiet Streets

Over the last two months, the quiet streets of lockdown have seen a boom in the number of people walking and cycling in Ealing. Children as young as five are riding their bicycles on the roads, and we now have a much nicer environment to live in. But can we keep our quiet streets when lockdown ends? Unfortunately, there's a real danger we can't. Transport for London (TfL) has calculated that, with social distancing, the tubes, trains and buses will only be able to carry 15 percent of the people they would normally carry. If people start travelling by car instead, it estimates private car journeys in Ealing will increase by 40-50 percent compared to pre-lockdown levels. The pleasant streets we have now will quickly fill up with rat-running vehicles, and congestion and pollution will be worse than ever.

Fortunately, there are plans to prevent this happening. First, TfL is making it easier for commuters to use active travel on the major routes. And secondly, it is planning to tackle the worst rat-running areas so locals can continue to safely walk and cycle - and social distance. To do this it has mapped the whole of London to find areas where the street network creates conditions that encourage rat-running.

In Ealing, the worst areas are in the south-east of the borough, on either side of the Uxbridge Road. The government and Mayor of London are prepared to fund temporary measures to help keep these streets quiet when lockdown is eased.  Our suggestion is to turn them into Street Parks - areas of streets where people feel it's as safe and pleasant to walk and cycle as in a park. (Transport engineers call them low-traffic neighbourhoods.) This would be achieved by preventing rat running through these areas, but retaining access for local residents, emergency vehicles, and deliveries. The Department for Transport is looking for temporary schemes that can be implemented quickly using cheap materials such as planters. Councils must bid for funding by 5th June. Once they receive the money, they must start installing the schemes within four weeks and complete them within 8 weeks. We've suggested 13 Street Parks that align with TfL's worst rat-running areas in the south-east of the borough. These could all be installed cheaply and within the proposed time scale.

If you would like a street park in your area, please contact your local councillors  and ask for an emergency, temporary street park / low traffic neighbourhood.*

The following map shows potential Street Parks in Ealing based on TfL's revised analysis published in mid June 2020. The dark green areas are considered highest priority.