Saturday, 7 September 2013

Can we debate about traffic calming without Ham&High churnalism?

"Churnalism" is a form of journalism in which pre-packaged material is used to create articles in newspapers and other news media in order to fill column inches without undertaking further research or checking.

I say this because the reporting of traffic calming and penalty notices is invariably reported in simplistic ways by the Ham&High, regardless of the facts.  The recent proposal to make a borough-wide 20mph zone was dismissed by the Ham&High and the reporting of Grafton Road traffic calming exemplify this point.  

Camden's issuance of penalty notices has actually gone down, not up, in this administration. There has been a 27% decrease in penalties from 2006-10 and now.  Contrary to the accepted wisdom any surpluses have always been ring-fenced for transport projects, e.g. repairing roads etc, not central coffers.  

Like other boroughs Camden has to strike a balance between car users and everyone else - over the past three decades I have lived here the number of cars has trebled and some neighbourhoods have been blighted by 'rat runs.'   

Because Camden is in the middle of London the problem is worse.  

I have seen the council deal with these via a variety of means, outright road closure; physical traffic calming; CCTV; signage and voluntary measures (like a 20mph zone).  Every one of these measures has been opposed at one stage or another - often with intemperate language and the obligatory 'outraged' Celeb - by the Ham&High over the last 10 years, making it near-impossible to hold a sensible and balanced discussion about traffic-calming in NW3. 

Presumably it shifts a couple of papers locally, but the public interest is usually lost somewhere along the line.   

Before calming was put in Grafton Road was notorious rat-run for commuters coming from the north seeking to avoid Kentish Town Road. Traffic surveys undertaken in 2003 showed that traffic volumes had reduced on Grafton Road by up to 82%.  

There is strong local feeling (70%) for 'no change' or retention of the existing scheme with modifications. However, there has now been a 'call-in' to examine bollards and we shall see what the officers response is - I do know that people in Oak Village have had experience of bollards, in that they had to be removed because of vandalism, the bollards were cemented and glued and were therefore hard to maintain. If they are not working then the rat-runs continue.

Rising bollards were removed and replaced with CCTV some years ago.  There have been concerns about continuing high levels of non-compliance (meaning high numbers of fines) and the community asked us to improve the scheme. The community asked us to consult precisely because there were a high number of fines, and we have done so to improve the scheme for local people, not because of income generation. 

The decision has been called-in to investigate whether bollards can be re-instated - we should look at that option but do so in a reasonable 'what works' way and try and avoid the churnalism.

Don't hold you breath though. 

No comments:

Post a Comment