|Ever wondered what Stoke Newington
Common would be like if they would just close the road that rips through
the middle of it to traffic?
I have, which is why I started a campaign at the beginning of this
year to try to get Stoke Newington’s one-way system scrapped
and Rectory Road grassed over. It turns out that hundreds of my neighbours
have been thinking the
same thing and so, I have just discovered, does the man who can do
something about it.
The key traffic planner for Hackney, Dale McKenzie, employed by
Ken Livingstone’s Greater
London Authority to manage the borough’s red routes, wants
to shut Rectory Road and restore the Common for residents. At a
meeting in St Paul’s Church Hall, on Evering Road on 22 February,
he took to the stage to tell around 40 residents that he was ‘passionate’
about closing Rectory Road over the Common, joining together the
two parts that have been severed for 30 years by the one-way system
planners imposed on Stoke Newington. ‘I want to give something
back’, he said.
The closure of the road will form part of a feasibility study he
is about to commission into scrapping the one-way system –
known in the planners’ jargon as a gyratory – that I
believe has blighted Stoke Newington High Street and the houses
and lives of residents along Evering Road, Rectory Road, Manse Road
and Northwold Road since the 1970s.
Since making my first phone call, to the editor of N16 Magazine,
and writing my first email – to Ken Livingstone’s office
– the campaign has taken on a life of its own. My email to
Ken was passed down through several layers of GLA management until
it reached Dale McKenzie. He told me that he was about to commission
a study into removing the gyratory. When I told him of the support
I knew there would be from residents, he suggested I arrange a meeting
so that he could hear their views.
N16’s editor put me in touch with Atique Choudhury, owner
of Yum Yum restaurant who has recently formed the Stoke Newington
Business Association. Atique had already made his own judgement
of the one-way system. ‘It’s designed to get traffic
going as quickly as possible through the area’, he told me.
‘It does nothing for the community itself or for the traders.’
I phoned Trevor Parsons of the Hackney branch of the London Cycling
Campaign, because I’d heard he was a key mover in getting
rid of Shoreditch’s one-way system three years ago. I told
him I was starting a campaign to do the same with Stokey’s
gyratory. ‘Good. We’ve been waiting for someone to do
that for a while’, was his instant response. There was a very
similar reaction from three very active residents groups –
Northwold Area Residents, Cazenove Area Action Group, and Listria
Park/Martaban Road who are all now
involved in the campaign.
Bringing a big chunk of the Common back to life – and it
would be an area the size of a football pitch – is not the
only benefit. Getting two-way traffic on the High Street, Evering
Road, Brooke Road and Northwold Road again would make life safer
and quieter for people trying to walk or cycle to the shops and
to school. Drivers restricted to one lane cannot accelerate past
each other in a race for the next traffic lights. Crossing to shops
on the other side of the High Street would become easier because
pedestrians only have to deal with one lane of traffic at a time.
If Dale’s plan is to ever get off the drawing board, Ken
Livingstone will need to be persuaded to find the money to implement
it. We’re planning a series of events and petitions to keep
the pressure on. We want Transport for London to trial the closure
of Rectory Road on the Common for one weekend this summer so that
we can hold a fair there and people can see how much better life
would be without the gyratory. I’m looking for ideas, support
and signatures on a petition. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Lindsay is a resident of Bayston Road and a founder
of the Scrap Stoke Newington One Way System campaign (SNOWS)
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