Monica Chakraverty, one of Haringey Cycling Campaign’s Climate Safe Streets Champions, reports on our recent ride
Haringey Cycling Campaign group were delighted to be joined on 27th April by five key candidates in the coming local elections on 5th May. Mike Hakata represented Labour and is Haringey Council cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency, as well as deputy leader of the council. He was joined by Scott Emery from the Liberal Democrats, Pamela Harling and Tom Hoyland from the Green Party and Claudia Matthews from the Conservative Party.
Together, they took a somewhat chilly tour around local streets, beginning on Wood Green High Road, that took in the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of traffic and cycle safety. The town centre proved a fairly hostile start, with multiple vehicle lanes and parking, yet no space for cycling, and difficulties for pedestrians to boot. They cycled on to see how some cut-through, rat-run side streets had been transformed into safer, cleaner spaces for residents, pedestrians and cyclists alike. These included well thought out, ‘quick wins’ such as spaced bollards that allowed accessibility whilst limiting traffic, as well as school streets such as the new one at Belmont Junior School.
Some of the changes would still benefit from tweaking, such as the dangerous cycle contraflow down Broadwater Road, or staggered barriers that could still let mopeds through but which might impede those with accessibility issues. There was one tense moment when a bus came a little too close to one candidate whilst they were trying to use a designated cycle crossing, and this demonstrated the journey ahead in terms of cycle safety for those who wish to use cleaner, active transport in the future.
Much is being promised in the future by candidates through London and some exciting commitments have been made. In Haringey, we’re delighted that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have all pledged to commit to key Climate Safe Streets asks. These include protected cycle routes and Vision Zero, with the aim of eliminating all serious cycle injuries caused by motor vehicles.
Other boroughs have also focused on inspiring action plans so, for example, all four main candidates in Hackney have committed to making it safe for every child in that borough to cycle to school by 2026 – this would entail more than school streets, ensuring safe routes along their entire journeys. Imagine a borough with limited school-run traffic, where kids get fresh air and safe exercise before they sit at their desks for the day…
Climate change and overcrowded streets are two issues that won’t go away and won’t be solved overnight. The cycle tour allowed key Haringey candidates to witness at first hand the reality for people who want to cycle in Haringey and to, hopefully, acknowledge that such a healthy, sustainable form of transport deserves focus, funding and a future.