THE TRANSPORT WORKING GROUP REPORT
London's Action Programme for Transport 1996-2010, drawn up by the London Pride Partnership of business and public sector bodies, emphasises that improvements to London's transport cannot wait any longer, and that
Hackney Council's policies also recognise the need to reduce "unfettered car usage" and encourage alternative means of travel. Their objectives for transport, outlined in the Transport Policies and Programme 1997/8 include:
2. Our Vision Transport planning in Hackney needs to look further than the need to move and park motor vehicles on our overcrowded streets, to the effect on our environment as a whole. Giving priority to motor traffic gives us air pollution, unreliable and uncomfortable public transport, and streets which are choked with vehicles and unpleasant to live in.
Local people should be able to go about their daily lives without having to get out of the way of dangerous traffic. The public space of our streets should be available for all to use; for children to play and travel to school in safety, for elderly people to use the shops, and for everybody who lives and work in the Borough to enjoy. A sustainable transport plan will not put up railings to keep pedestrians out of the way of cars, nor can it permit three lanes of trunk road along a local High Street. Instead it must overturn the priorities of the last fifty years, and put pedestrians, residents and cyclists first.
A review of transport in Hackney cannot take place in isolation from Londonwide and national transport policy issues. Underinvestment in public transport and the lack of accountability of the Transport Director for London won't be addressed by local action alone. Our proposals therefore envisage us and our representatives going beyond the borough boundaries in our quest for change.
Our vision seeks to address the causes of current transport problems by:
1 in 10 people are estimated to have mobility difficulties which affect their use of transport. Having an accessible transport system is not just about limited specially adapted provision such as dial-a-ride and once a week mobility buses, but about ensuring a seamless service by which people with mobility difficulties are linked into an accessible mainstream system. So specialist services need to be more widely available and flexible to enable those who need them to use the public transport system in the same way as everyone else.
Practical ways of making transport accessible are numerous: from lifts at stations to low-floor buses to having more staff around to help. Most such measures are actually about making transport better for everybody, it's just that bad transport planning makes life even harder for people with mobility problems. A major road between home and the post box is unpleasant and dangerous for some, totally impassable for others. Replacing unstable and overcrowded midibuses on main routes with larger, crew-operated vehicles improves efficiency, safety and accessibility for all.
Our vision seeks to address the causes of current transport problems by:
3. Accessibility 1 in 10 people are estimated to have mobility difficulties which affect their use of transport. Having an accessible transport system is not just about limited specially adapted provision such as dial-a-ride and once a week mobility buses, but about ensuring a seamless service by which people with mobility difficulties are linked into an accessible mainstream system. So specialist services need to be more widely available and flexible to enable those who need them to use the public transport system in the same way as everyone else.
Practical ways of making transport accessible are numerous: from lifts at stations to low-floor buses to having more staff around to help. Most such measures are actually about making transport better for everybody, it's just that bad transport planning makes life even harder for people with mobility problems. A major road between home and the post box is unpleasant and dangerous for some, totally impassable for others. Replacing unstable and overcrowded midibuses on main routes with larger, crew-operated vehicles improves efficiency, safety and accessibility for all.That's how we see a sustainable transport policy, but what do other local people think?
The Shoppers' Survey
We carried out a tick box survey of shoppers in three different parts of Hackney. On Local Transport Day in March 1996, we asked 382 people about their journey that day, and how they would like to see transport improved locally.
We found that people who use Hackney's shops live locally: over half had arrived on foot - 75% travelling less than a mile, and only 13% had used their car. This suggests that local businesses make most of their money from people who don't travel by car.
Even 68% of those who owned cars said they'd be happy to do without them if bus services were better. More frequent and reliable buses and trains, and lower fares were the most popular issues, with a massive 94% agreeing that: "More priority should be given to improving public transport".
87% said there should be more facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, even if this restricts motor traffic. Lots of people suggested traffic reduction in residential areas, and a comprehensive network of bus and cycle lanes kept free of parked cars. Specifically, 62% of shoppers in Stoke Newington and Dalston said that buses and cycles should be allowed to go both ways along Stoke Newington High Street (currently a part of the A10).
41% said they had a cycle at home, although only 4% had used them that day. 55% said they would cycle, or would use their bikes more, if the roads were safer.
The positive response we had to our survey reinforces our feelings that local people from a wide range of backgrounds would support big changes in the way we think about and plan transport in Hackney.
The Women's Conference
Delegates to the Agenda 21 Women's Conference also supported the direction of Hackney's Agenda 21. They were particularly concerned with:
The May Conference
Workshops on transport at the 1996 Agenda 21 community conference raised the issue of the conflict between community and mobility. While everyone wants to get around faster, people are much less likely to know their neighbours if they live on a main road. Transport links are as likely to lead to an outflow of economic activity from the borough as an inflow.
Those in the workshop placed a special value on Hackney's community spirit, and felt we could be proud of our street markets, lively high Streets and the sheer variety of shopping and leisure facilities. These need to be protected as we develop local transport.
5. Practical Goals What would our vision for a sustainable transport plan in Hackney mean in practical terms? We came across a huge variety of practical ideas which local people have for improving local transport, all of which point in one direction: restraining car use and improving provision for public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians.
There are some things which could happen quickly to improve the local environment, and other developments which will take longer, not least because of the need to go beyond Hackney for resources and political change.
In the short term
Our objectives for the next five years in Hackney look like this:
1. Implement the new hierarchy, putting pedestrians first on local roads
Some examples of what this would mean include:
2. Reduce non-local motor traffic
3. Improve the efficiency of public transport
4. Encourage people to use alternatives to the car
Ten years ago 80% of children made their own way to school, now it's nearer 10%. As more people drive, the roads become more dangerous for those who do not. We think it's important to break this vicious circle by encouraging children to walk and cycle to school. Ways to do this include:
5. Addressing the wider issues
We need the Council to take up the views of local residents with London-wide and national transport bodies whose decisions affect our roads. They could start by asking the Traffic Director for London to review the introduction of Red Routes along local High Streets, and by ensuring the effect of road schemes such as the M11 on neighbouring areas is taken into account.
Our longer term objectives are more ambitious, and many will be considered to require commitment and resources from beyond the Borough. They are nevertheless essential if we are to see real and lasting improvements in our environment.
A. We need a democratic body to co-ordinate and pay for London-wide transport. The existing Traffic Director for London makes decisions about major roads passing through our Borough without reference to the local community. At present, plans for a town square at Dalston cannot be effected because the traffic flow along the A10 must not be impeded. Local people are not allowed to say whether they want the town square or the through traffic.
B. We would like to see the development of new rail and light rail schemes to reduce dependence on the roads and provide Hackney residents and businesses with a reliable connection to the rest of London. In the long term, the reintroduction of trams along major routes into town should be considered in order to provide a fast and efficient means of transporting large numbers of people without cars.
C. Fundamental to a sustainable transport policy is the need to reduce the total amount of journeys made within the borough, through more local provision and support for local developments. So planning decisions, such as the number of local libraries we have in Hackney, must take into account the need to travel to get to them.
D. And finally, we need to reduce our own dependence on cars. Housing authorities could develop "car-free estates", where tenants agree not to run a car but have access to a car pool and improved local services. Shops and offices need to be close to homes. But above all, individuals must look at the journeys they make, and whether there are ways in which they can reduce their use of the car.
6. Implementation: the reality gap In the year since the Transport Working Group began this report the government have drawn up a National Cycling Strategy and a Transport Strategy for London. The Council have reiterated their commitment to walking and cycling in their latest TPP and the private sector have joined the partnerships of London First and London Pride to produce reports calling for radical changes in transport policy.
In the same year, the government has cut funding to London Transport and launched its privately financed roadbuilding initiative. London Transport in turn are increasing fares above inflation and planning the end of conductor-operated buses. And our local Council have increased legalised parking on pavements in Hackney, centralised library provision, introduced one-way streets with two lanes of car parking and no contraflow cycle lane in Stoke Newington, and pushed forward plans for a 300+ space car park off Dalston Lane.
With car ownership and usage continuing to soar, the need to close this widening gap between what we say and what we do has never been more urgent.
7. Transport sustainability indicators In the borough of Hackney each year: