Monday 1 February 2010

Traffic Calming - Barnet Council Style

Last year I attended a meeting of Barnet Councils Cabinet where Mr Novak, who lives in Uphill Road, presented a paper detailing why road humps should be put back into his road. His report had the support of all but three of the residents. He detailed how hundreds of schoolchildren us his road to walk to Mill Hill County High. He detailed how 50% of cars break the speed limit according to the councils own stats (bearing in mind that at some periods of the day there is congestion). He detailed how residents had suffered accidents due to speeding motorists using the road as a ratrun from Marsh Lane to Lawrence Street. He detailed how motorists hurtled down the road to avoid Apex Corner as a cut through to Mill Hill Circus. In short he made his case.

Barnet Councils then road supremo, Andrew Harper (now deputy Leader) dismissed the report. The views of local residents didn't matter. The safety of schoolchildren didn't matter. Why, you may ask?

The answer which Mr Harper gave, in no uncertain terms was this "Barnet Council is a motorist friendly Council so we don't want traffic calming measures, the car comes first". Mr Harper pointed out that the average speed in Uphill Road was just under the speed limit, therefore there wasn't a problem (ignoring the fact that this meant 50% of cars were breaking the speed limit). Mr Harper said that road humps damage cars and slow down emergency services. This is paramount. The emergency services must be able to get from A to B as quickly as possible (no doubt to attend accidents caused by speeding motorists).

As I drove around the London Borough of Barnet this weekend, I pondered Andrew Harpers comments. Due to Barnet  being unable to access £27.4 of reserves in Iceland, having reportedly lost £12 Million completely and having lost milions in interest, there is a cash crisis. As a result Pothles are not being fixed. These have sprung up all over the Borough. On many busy roads such as Pursely road, used by the 221 bus, these are huge. Car suspensions are being destroyed by these menacing obstacles. Wheras you see road humps and there are signs to alert you, potholes are a hidden menace. I saw an ambulance on Pursley Road nearly crash on Saturday, avoiding a particularly nasty hole.

The thing about potholes is that they grow every day they aren't fixed. As they grow, the whole fabric of the road disintegrates. A small hole can be fixed relatively cheaply and easily, as they grow, the whole road cracks up. When it comes down to it, this is one of the first and most noticeable signs of Barnets Icelandic financial woes. A decent administration would have set up a "Potholes task force" after the bad weather and would have fixed them up as soon as they appeared. In the long run this is far cheaper than resurfacing the whole road. Next time Harper and his colleagues tell you they are motorist friendly, consider the damage being done to cars everywhere by Barnets pot holes.

As to the cost. If you damage your car on a pothole, it is the responsibility of the Council. I'd suggest you write to Andrew Harper and ask him for the cash.

Traffic calming measures come in many forms. For Barnets Tories, their favourate is the Pot hole.


Unknown said...

Barnet Tories Kill.

Let there be no mistake - this administration's refusal to implement traffic calming causes deaths. Pedestrians are killed because Barnet will not put traffic calming into place at accident black spots.

On North End Road - cars and buses accelerate downhill from the heights of Hampstead towards Golders Green. As cars and busses cross the boundary from Camden to Barnet they put on speed as the hill steepens. On the Barnet stretch, there is a zebra crossing and a pelican crossing. Individuals have been knocked down and killed on (or by) both of these crossings because vehicles have been going too fast to be able to stop in time.

Just by the entrance to Golders Hill Park, Barnet have installed two of those dreadful park-on-the-pavement spaces. My son was almost knocked down walking along the pavement as a Chelsea Tractor zoomed at speed into one of these spaces without seeing a small child toddling along the pavement.

It is one thing being motorist friendly - it is quite another to be prepared to sacrifice the lives of those living in the Borough because it is not prepared to slow down traffic.

Drew said...

I live in the Brunswick Park Ward in Barnet and many of the streets & roads in this ward are nothing but 'rat-runs' and noise and pollution tunnels. It is very evident that the local Cllrs and MP have no empathy for local residents who are forced to run the gauntlet of tailgaters, speeders and abusive motorists whilst attempting to park and cross their roads. It seems in Barnet that breaking the speed limit is tolerated by this Council. The Councils lack of action on this matter merely highlights their lack of concern. Due to this disastrous and treacherous policy, once beautiful streets and avenues are turning into places where no community thrives, children don't play and people don't walk. It is a disgrace.

Markasaurus said...

The UKIP candidate in Golder's Green is running on a platform of "stopping the persecution of motorists." Unbelievable! I cycle from Brent Cross to central London every day- the potholes, combined with speeding motorists making illegal turns and not giving anyone the right of way, make for a terrifying experience at times.