'Too much focus on cycling in Haringey Council's plan'

Highgate Rd towards Archway

The very steep Highgate Road running from Archway to Highgate High Street - Credit: Catharine Wells

Haringey has developed a borough-wide Walking and Cycling Action Plan, covering Highgate, east from the High Street.

While stating that “walking is the mode of travel that is most important to the aims of this action plan” and noting that most journeys (74%) are solely on foot, or in combination with public transport, Haringey has allocated a disproportionate slice of the budget (47%) and content of the plan to cycling (only 3% of journeys are made by bike).

The plan divides Haringey up into low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) to be closed to through traffic. Cycle lanes and through routes, identified in the plan for wider Highgate, take no account of the suitability and topography of affected roads: current traffic burden (Archway Road), narrow roads (Southwood and Wood Lanes) and the need to service businesses (shopping parades). Shepherd’s Hill is to be closed to through traffic while Wood Lane will remain open, making it hard to get from Highgate to Crouch End, adding to existing congestion.

The plan does not address this except by saying people will either find ways round it or not travel by car. It fails to consider those dependent on car journeys for health or age reasons, steep roads, timings of bus journeys and the needs of emergency and service vehicles.

Elspeth Clements, Highgate Society

Elspeth Clements wants amendments made to Haringey's Walking and Cycling Action Plan - Credit: Harry Richards

These proposals will inevitably increase congestion which is inefficient while leading to higher and more harmful emission levels. The plan is silent on particulates, apart from nitrogen dioxide, and despite significant deaths caused by pollution on London’s roads, is only proposing to monitor rather than address this.

“Road reallocation” is mentioned but with no policy explaining how this will be managed – for example, where there should be a bus lane rather than a cycle lane and what will happen to existing traffic. Highgate from the Gatehouse to North Road ‘s Highpoint is the ninth highest spot in London at 136m. Surely a cost-benefit analysis should be done before spending the proposed £11.9 million on cycling.

The Highgate Society has responded to Haringey’s plan, making these points and others. We hope that Haringey will provide an improved draft taking them into account. 

The council's consultation questionnaire can be completed here or by emailing Transport.planning@haringey.gov.uk but it closes today (January 10).

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Elspeth Clements is a practising architect, past chair of the Highgate Society and chair of the Highgate Society Planning Committee.