Why is this needed now?
In May 2020, the Government required all local authorities to rapidly improve conditions for walking and cycling by building temporary cycle lanes and removing through traffic from minor streets, in order to avoid increases in traffic as the economy reopens but people are reluctant to use public transport.
West Harrow is a residential neighbourhood containing a school (Vaughan School) and an existing signposted cycle route on roads which are intended to have a low level of traffic (Metropolitan Cycle Route, consulted on and built in 2017-2018). This is an important east-west desire line for cycling, as per TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis, but the roads are narrow with cars parked on both sides, and some motorists hoot and drive aggressively because there is not enough space for them to overtake people cycling.
Unless traffic volumes and speeds are low, this route does not meet TfL’s Cycle Route Quality Criteria. There is no parallel alternative for a cycle route, as both Pinner Road and the Ridgeway have narrow sections which will not provide space for cyclists to be separated from motor traffic. Compared to Pinner Road, the route through West Harrow (Blenheim Road, The Gardens and Vaughan Road) connects better with the Roxborough Bridge underpass and Lowlands Road for people cycling towards Harrow town centre and Kenton.
Residents submitted a petition in early 2020 asking for traffic to be reduced in the area. This was due to be considered by the council, with a plan for a community consultation and development of a scheme. However, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that a full engagement and consultation programme was not possible, and the Government recommended that temporary measures should be put in place with ongoing consultation and review of traffic counts during the trial. The trial needs to last at least 6 months in order to provide meaningful results, as it takes this long for people to start to change their travel behaviour – for motorists to be used to the new routes and for people to start to walk and cycle more. A formal consultation can then take place about making the scheme permanent.
What are the council’s plans and how can I give feedback?
Click here to download the council’s temporary plan for West Harrow. You can comment on the scheme here: https://harrowstreetspacestrials.commonplace.is/proposals/low-traffic-neighbourhood-schemes-ltn
How will traffic flow with the new arrangements?
Current traffic flows for access
Currently there is full access to any of the residential areas from any of the access routes.
Flows of through traffic pre-LTN
Without the LTN, there are multiple routes through the area which avoid junctions on the main roads, e.g.:
- From Pinner Road to Imperial Drive via The Gardens and Blenheim Road
- Pinner Road to Bessborough Road via Vaughan Road
- Porlock Avenue to Pinner Road via Drury Road and The Gardens
- Bessborough Road to Pinner Road via Butler Avenue, Butler Road and The Gardens
There can be heavy traffic on some of these routes, and also speeding as people are in a rush to travel through the area.
Traffic flows with point closures in place
Point closures are located at West Harrow station (which is also near the entrance to Vaughan School) and on Blenheim Road. With these point closures in place, there will be no through traffic in the area. Access to each of the residential zones is only from the nearest access point.
The point closures will substantially reduce traffic in the area, particularly near the entrance of the school and the station, where there are large numbers of pedestrians. This will make it safer for children to walk to school, and also make the whole area more pleasant and safer for walking and cycling.
Will there be more traffic on surrounding roads?
There may be more congestion initially as drivers get used to the new layout, but in the longer term low traffic neighbourhoods encourage people to change their travel habits and drive less for short journeys. Traffic monitoring after similar schemes has shown that traffic volumes reduce overall. In Walthamstow Village low traffic neighbourhood there was a 56% decrease in traffic volumes within the scheme area and only 11% increase on the boundary roads, but traffic was more spread out through the day with lower peak traffic flows, and there was no impact on bus services. Recent studies in Hackney and Lambeth have found that LTNs did not increase in traffic on main roads.
On the other hand, without LTNs and other measures to improve walking and cycling in Harrow, it is almost certain that there will be a major increase in traffic on all roads in Harrow as people go back to work and avoid public transport.