It's easy to see the beauty of naked street plan

The Chair of the Gospel Oaks Safer Neighbourhood Panel (Safety of our children is at stake, H&H letters, January 21) has misrepresented by selective quoting and mis-attribution my comments in an on-line discussion forum. I hope you will allow me the oppor

The Chair of the Gospel Oaks Safer Neighbourhood Panel (Safety of our children is at stake, H&H letters, January 21) has misrepresented by selective quoting and mis-attribution my comments in an on-line discussion forum. I hope you will allow me the opportunity to redress the balance. The full text from which Mr Fagg selectively quoted was, with the part quoted by Mr Fagg in italics:

''Yes, children must not be allowed to get in the way of motorists who must be able to carry on without slowing down or having to deal with children in the road. When I was young children used to play in the streets and nobody thought anything of it. Now they sit inside, getting obese in front of the telly or computer because we daren't let them near the roads.

''As a result obesity is set to overtake smoking as the number one cause of preventable deaths in the UK. This idea that roads should be kept clear for motorists to have unimpeded progress at (or above) the speed limit has become ingrained and needs to be tackled. If the children spill out in that way then give it the full naked streets treatment, allow them to spill out and force motor vehicles to negotiate their progress through them. Removing the railing is a welcome step towards reclaiming the space from the cars.''

Your readers may not be familiar with the naked streets concept but it is well tried and tested in Europe and being introduced in the UK. It essentially removes all obstacles, signs and markings that indicate where pedestrians and motor vehicles are expected to be.


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While it may seem counter-intuitive to mix pedestrians and vehicles in this way, in practice it leads to greater safety, which I'm sure Mr Fagg will agree is the priority. It also returns it to a public space for the community and not just a transit route for vehicles. For example the removal of railings and markings on Kensington High Street in 2003 has led to a 44 per cent reduction in accidents with a halving of deaths and serious injuries while pedestrian numbers have almost tripled and cyclists doubled..

Locally, Camden is already in the process of converting a 380metre long stretch of the High Street (Camden Town Stripped Bare, H&H November 26). So, far from being a 'brave experiment', what Camden Council is proposing for Gospel Oak is already proven to increase pedestrian and child safety over the traditional segregation approach that Mr Fagg and his Panel wish to retain and reinforce.

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Mr Fagg attributes my words to the Camden Cycling Campaign, but I do not speak for nor represent the views of the Campaign. My views are no more than those of a cyclist in Camden who contributes to online discussions between Campaign members..

Dr Tony Raven

Chapel Lane, Melbourn, Royston, Herts

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