Published: 20 April, 2012
LAST month, Islington Council adopted a 20-year transport plan designed to boost public transport, cut traffic, cut pollution and save lives.
This has been widely welcomed.
At the same time, we decided to create a handful of short-term parking bays in four of our smaller town centres – Archway, Caledonian Road, Newington Green and Essex Road.
Some critics have said this contradicts the transport strategy.
They say we are encouraging a free-for-all in parking.
Far from it.
Islington has about 40,000 parking bays and we will convert about 18 of them to free short-stay parking.
These critics have lost sight of the scale of what is needed – and the scale of what we intend to do.
Our critics ask why we aren’t tightening the screws on our car-owning residents.
Because over 80 per cent of Islington residents make their principal journeys by public transport, cycling or walking.
Our residents aren’t the cause of pollution and congestion.
They aren’t driving the cars, vans and trucks passing through Islington on their way to somewhere else – traffic that makes up 90 per cent of all vehicle movements.
Those through roads are managed by Transport for London (TfL).
The policies of the Mayor of London, who directly controls TfL, are the most significant single factor affecting pollution in our borough.
TfL has encouraged more traffic onto major routes and has resulted in faster speeds – especially at major junctions.
I am not arguing that it’s all down to TfL and City Hall.
There’s much that we can do from Islington Town Hall too.
We intend to remove all the gyratory and one-way systems.
We have taken a major step towards removal of the Archway gyratory and are currently fine-tuning a scheme to remove the roundabout at Highbury Corner.
We have successfully persuaded TfL to fundamentally review the King’s Cross gyratory system.
Over the longer term we intend to remove the one-way system that divides the borough along Seven Sisters Road, the roundabout at Old Street and the Goswell Road/City Road “triangle” at the Angel.
We will shortly be the first London borough to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all borough roads, not just residential side streets.
We are also doing our best to stop rat-running – and will shortly be building width restrictions which help to reduce dangers to cyclists and pedestrians.
So, for the first time in 25 years we will begin to properly police the HGV ban on our streets – a ban that is widely flouted.
And, we have signed up to improve safety standards by drivers of large vehicles, including the council’s own vans and lorries.
Less than a quarter of Islington residents own a car.
But we recognise that cars, vans (and even trucks) are necessary for families, businesses and our public services.
Reducing pollution and getting safer streets will not be achieved by a few empty political gestures that make life harder for those residents who happen to use a car.
• Cllr Paul Convery is Labour executive member for regeneration, planning, transport and leisure, Islington Council.