A letter to Haringey Council

I’d like to start with a picture. A picture of my neigbourhood and the streets I cycle through every morning, to bring my son to school. 

Look at this picture and ask yourself what is wrong here, before continuing to read: 

Today I cycled my son to school. I left around 8.30, more than an hour later than I would normally cycle him to his breakfast club. Traffic was absolutely mad. And, as a result I suffered yet again a barrage of abuse. This time for a man in a Lyreco van. He sped into Albion Street (see picture) from the top, while I came cycling up from the bottom of the street. I had to duck in between cars. And shouted “20” (20 is plenty). The comments I got (while my son was on the back) are not fit for publication.

I very much blame this man for not driving according to the law. Driving a Luton van does not give you license to do whatever. But, I also blame Haringey Council. I blame the council for years of lack of vision. Haringey Council, this is a letter to you.

Coming back to the first picture. Have you figured out yet, what is so horribly wrong with this lay out? If not, let me walk you through it. All these streets are two way streets. All these streets have parking bays on both sides of the street AND all these streets have pavements the size of small football fields (when you compare them to the average pavement in my hometown Hasselt, Belgium). Still, people say there is no space to put in segreggated cycle infrastructure. So, in best case scenario, we are left with a painted bicycle on the road. 

How will we ever be able to have small children, and even the elderly cycle safely to their destinations, if a council like Haringey is holding on to road layouts stuck in the 1950’s? Well, the 1950’s were not too bad, because hardly anyone had a car. But now, in 2015, where people are born with metal boxes attached to their backside, this road lay out is outdated, to say the least. Roads, with two way systems AND parking spaces on both sides is car centric thinking. Haringey Council, THIS needs to change.

I keep banging on about a change in mentality, but this change will only happen if the law makers are on our side. Haringey council might, in their defense, say they are. But trust me, I know Rome was built twice over before a road lay out gets changed over here. 

From next year Haringey will be introducing 20mph in the borough. We will also see the (very flawed) CS1 come into action. A supercycle “highway” which will take cyclists through two way streets, filled with parked cars. And I am here to tell the council now: sorry, it is not good enough. I will still be here, cycling on the pavement. And I will still be here, refusing to let my own kid cycle by himself to school. As it stands now, Haringey has failed. Majorly. 

And as a result, people like the Lyreco van man get free reign over our streets. When is enough enough?

One thought on “A letter to Haringey Council

  1. What is even worse, in my opinion, is that this neighborhood doesn’t seem to have some kind of circulation plan. One way streets is one option, like you proposed, but you could also combine that with placing bollards on certain crossroads, or somewher halfway a street, which makes that cars can’t pass that way and cyclists have a more direct, fast shortcut, compared to cars.

    This kind of neighborhoods are ideal to take that kind of measures. It’s cheap and effective. Those who want to take the car will have limited roads left they can use, with of course a possibility on extra delays during rush hours, the cyclists get more secure roads, because there is less traffic on them.


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