People in Hanover had the first glimpse of what a low-traffic neighbourhood might look like before a pilot scheme planned for the area next summer.
They were given an outline of the “mini Holland” scheme in Waltham Forest, London, at a virtual meeting organised under the Livable Hanover banner on last night (Tuesday 15 December).
Green councillor Elaine Hills, who represents Hanover and Elm Grove, hosted the event to introduce the idea of a low-traffic neighbourhood before a public consultation and the proposed pilot.
She introduced the Labour deputy leader of Waltham Forest Borough Council, Clyde Loakes, who is responsible for transport, traffic and highways.
Councillor Loakes said that the £27 million project was a radical intervention to reduce traffic volumes and speeds without resorting to traditional traffic calming – and had transformed residential roads and shopping areas.
He said when the council there consulted local people, many were concerned that reducing access for cars and taking away parking would damage trade.
Councillor Loakes said: “One of the big issues we always get pushed back on is the need for businesses for parking. They love parking. They want parking.
“But if you look at studies done in London, in the UK and internationally, we know if people walk, cycle or take public transport to a shopping area, they will spend more money over the course of a year than anyone who arrives by car.”
He said that 2,500 drivers previously used one shopping street, Orford Road, every day, with cars parked on the pavement, making it impossible for wheelchair users or parents with buggies to pass.
The Dutch ambassador officially launched Waltham Forest’s “mini Holland”, with a timed closure allowing for buses and deliveries, enforced by cameras. The ambassador was surrounded by protesters against the scheme.
Councillor Loakes said that despite a positive response to the consultation, with a quarter of the community giving their views, the scheme resulted in the biggest protests there in 50 years.
He said: “You can see the difference you can make by introducing modal filters into residential areas.
“You take out the rat running, through traffic, non-local traffic that was using residential areas to by-pass traffic infrastructure that was designed to manage those amounts of traffic.”
In the streets where traffic restrictions were introduced, he said, the number of vehicles passing through decreased.
Free bike hire services were also introduced, including cargo bikes and electric-assisted bicycles, as well as secure parking.
During the Hanover meeting, people asked about deliveries, parking near their homes and carers visiting people who were old, ill or disabled.
Councillor Loakes said that residents and anyone else who needed to drive in a low-traffic area could still do so.
Hanover Action member and Belgrave Street resident Ian MacIntyre urged people to sign up to represent their streets.
In the new year, the group is starting its My Dream Street project to encourage people to talk about what they would like to see in the area.
Last June, Brighton and Hove City Council approved a pilot project as part of the Interim Covid-19 Response Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, using money from the government’s emergency travel fund.
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