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Traffic management

Traffic is a big issue for people in Hackney and we try to enable safe, free-flowing movement of traffic in the borough.

London Fields filtering scheme

The Council wants to close 12 residential junctions in the London Fields area to through-traffic in a bid to create safer and cleaner neighbourhoods. The project is due to begin in January. Planters and bollards will act as a filtering system to motor traffic. 

What exactly is the scheme?

We'll be closing 12 residential junctions in the London Fields area to through-traffic - roughly a square kilometre. This type of scheme is known as filtered permeability. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to pass through the closures but motor vehicles won't. However, residents will still be able to drive into these roads and park normally.

Planters filled with flowers, shrubs, and where possible trees, and bollards will act as the filtering system. The trial scheme will take place in streets between Richmond Road in the north and Scriven Road in the south; and Lansdowne Drive in the east and Haggerston Road in the west. The scheme costs approximately £60,000 and is being funded entirely by Transport for London.

What about emergency vehicles?

By law, proposals of this type must be discussed with the emergency services and any views or concerns taken on board as far as is practical. Emergency vehicles will be able to pass through most of the roads in this scheme due to the special types of bollard we will be using. We have already successfully tested these bollards in Pitfield Street, Shoreditch, in conjunction with the local fire team.

Why are you doing this?

Hackney is one of the most polluted London boroughs, for a number of reasons, with toxic NO2 gas levels exceeding European legal limits, and adult mortality due to air pollutants the seventh highest rate out of 33 London boroughs. We hope this scheme will reduce pollution.

Only 50% of London Fields households own a car, yet the whole of the neighbourhood suffers from "rat-running" traffic with high levels of danger, noise and pollution. We want to reduce the volume of vehicles using Middleton Road as well as some nearby roads in order to create safer, cleaner and quieter neighbourhoods.

Encouraging greener journeys

This scheme forms part of our strategy to increase the number of journeys using greener modes of transport, which has already risen considerably in this area in recent years. Cycling in Hackney has more than doubled in the last decade. A lot of research has been undertaken in recent years by various groups and organisations, such as Transport for London (TfL), and the perception of danger has been identified as one of the key barriers that prevents a lot of people from cycling. Increasing walking and cycling is a key objective for the Council due to the wider benefits of reducing pollution and danger, along with improving personal mobility and public health.

Why was this area chosen?

Middleton Road is used by a high number of through-vehicles - around 5,000 a day - particularly commercial traffic such as transit vans and skip lorries. Residents in the area have been complaining to the Council for years about the high volume of traffic, and an area-wide 7.5T weight limit, installed in 2007/8, has only prevented the very largest vehicles from using the road.

It's part of the London Cycle Network and is now part of a new Mayor of London 'quietway', linking Bloomsbury and Walthamstow. It's already used by a high number of cyclists each day and we hope and expect this will increase.


TfL has provided local councils with funding to make improvements to the new quietway routes around London to make them safer for cycling. We're using this funding to investigate the possibility of reducing the amount of through-traffic in the Middleton Road area.

We can't close one road to through-traffic and leave adjacent streets open as the traffic is likely to move into these roads. This means we need to look at the scheme in an area-wide context as there is a greater chance that traffic will stop using the area completely, or people will swap to other forms of transport. There are some roads in the area that don't experience high volumes of through-traffic but unless we treat them as part of a holistic approach then they are likely to be severely affected.

Why were some roads left out of the scheme?

We don't want to divert any bus routes away from the area as they provide an essential service for local residents. Initially these roads will stay open when the trial starts but we will be monitoring them closely and will consider changes if needed.

Can I still get to my home/business/school by car?

Yes. Residents will still be able to use the roads however you may have to take a slightly longer route.

What is the time scale?

A leaflet will be sent to all the homes affected by the scheme in November, which will provide more details on the scheme and residents will have an opportunity to contact the Council to discuss concerns and issues. We're also looking to hold several drop-in events in late November or early December. There will be scope to improve the design during this time. The live trial is currently due to start in mid to late January 2016.

Why weren't we told earlier?

The plans were still in the design stage until late October. Early plans were presented at the London Fields ward forum meeting in July to make local residents aware of our intentions. The response was largely positive. The Council has released some information on the scheme at short notice as the initial designs were made public prematurely.   

Why was there no consultation?

We are consulting. We understand that some residents have concerns and we will be listening to those as part of the design process and during the trial period. Details of how residents can leave feedback will be published later this month.

Suggested leaflet-based consultation

At the July ward forum meeting we suggested using a leaflet-based consultation then a temporary on-street trial. However, the majority of residents at the meeting expressed concerns about this and said they would prefer a live trial method of consultation, as this would allow them to make a more informed decision and understand the impact of the scheme under real-life conditions. 

Residents' views

The Council is trying to explore new ways in which to engage and involve local residents to make the process as effective, efficient and informed as possible, particularly on relatively untried projects of this type. We believe the three-month live trial is the best way for both residents and the Council to decide if the scheme is suitable for the area. We will take residents' views into account and we are currently considering the best ways to engage with residents, including how the scheme could be adjusted in response to any issues or concerns.

Has any traffic modelling been completed?

We have not used traffic modelling to predict the impact of the changes as developing traffic models of this type is an extremely lengthy and costly process and is useful for major road schemes that are likely to significantly impact on the main road network in London, such as new roads, major gyratory removals and so on. Given the time, cost, limitations and margin of error with modelling of this type, we believe a live trial is more cost-effective.

Will the scheme mean more pollution and traffic on other roads?

While some motor journeys might become slightly longer, we believe the scheme will encourage more walking and cycling, providing a long-term reduction in air pollution. There is, of course, a possibility that traffic may move into nearby streets. However, we don't expect all traffic to switch to these roads. Previous schemes have shown that people currently using a particular route tend not to shift directly on to adjacent streets.

Extra motor traffic

We predict that some extra motor traffic may use surrounding roads such as Richmond Road, Graham Road and Whiston Road, however, many journeys originate outside the immediate area and we predict a lot of people will avoid the neighbourhood completely, some will alter their journey habits, and others will switch to other forms of transport, such as walking and cycling.

Real life conditions

In addition, nearly a square kilometre - more than 20 roads - will directly benefit from the scheme, making them quieter, safer, less polluted places for residents, children, cyclists and pedestrians. The live trial will allow us to observe the impacts of the scheme under real life conditions rather than using predictions or speculating as to what might happen. It will then help inform any future decisions. We are currently planning to undertake some air quality monitoring in advance of the trial to allow effective monitoring during the trial process to understand any air quality impacts.

Are there other area-wide motor traffic reduction schemes like this in London?

Yes. It's common for motor vehicle access to be restricted to some residential streets. Transport authorities usually use this type of scheme in response to requests from residents. Some have also been used to make areas safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Examples in Hackney include:

  • De Beauvoir: The scheme in De Beauvoir has existed since the 1970s, when local people called for non-local motor traffic to be removed from certain roads. Our proposal complements existing closures to motor traffic in the area.
  • Brownswood: bounded by Green Lanes, Seven Sisters Road, Blackstock Road and Mountgrove Road - approximately 15 streets.
  • Lower Clapton: bounded By Homerton Road/High Street - Urswick Road - Lower Clapton Road - Lea Bridge Road - more than 60 roads.

Can I support some of closures to motor traffic in my area, but not others?

The closures are designed to work together to reduce traffic. If motor traffic were allowed through one or more of them, the scheme would not prevent non-local motor traffic passing through the area. However, if you have comments or concerns about a particular closure, please include this in your response to the consultation. There is scope to move some closures while still preventing motor traffic through the same roads.

Would vehicles doing three-point turns in the road put pedestrians and cyclists at risk?

Some residents will need to do three-point turns to drive up to their home then leave along the same road. We would ensure that, where necessary and practical, adequate space for turning vehicles is provided to ensure businesses could be serviced adequately.

We are not aware of any evidence that slow vehicle manoeuvres of this type pose a significant risk of harm to pedestrians, cyclists or other road users. We're confident that any minor negative impacts of turning traffic are outweighed by the safety benefits of removing a significant number of vehicles in peak hours from local roads.

What impact would the scheme have on parking?

Our proposals would have a very low impact on parking and minimising the impact on parking was a key consideration. Further details on places where parking will be affected will be available later this month.

Would these changes be bad for local businesses?

We do not expect these proposals to have a negative effect on local businesses. All existing access to properties by motor vehicle would be retained, and there would be minimal effects on parking. Some motor traffic journeys could become longer, while many cycle and walking journeys would become more attractive. We are happy to work with local businesses to address any specific concerns or issues that might arise from the proposals.

Customers' spending

There's evidence that pedestrians and cyclists frequently spend more money per week in local shops than people travelling by car, with walking and cycling customers spending less per visit but making more visits. There's also evidence showing that small businesses overestimate the proportion of their customers who arrive by motor vehicle (sometimes by twice as much), and underestimate the number who walk and cycle. They also tend to overestimate the distances that customers travel to their business.

Would motor traffic journeys for residents take longer?

Some motor traffic journeys would take longer (depending on the route), but this would be balanced against the benefits of living in an area that has significantly less motor traffic. Less motor traffic would mean safer roads, less noise and less air pollution.

Would reducing motor traffic encourage more muggings and burglaries?

Encouraging slower-moving cyclists and pedestrians could increase natural surveillance. According to the Metropolitan Police, people in cars do not provide natural surveillance due to their high speeds. We have not found that crime is more prevalent in roads that are closed to through motor traffic and we don't expect our proposal to affect crime levels.


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Page updated: 13 Nov 2015 

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