A local conservation group in Enfield Town is to launch a campaign to scrap plans for cycle lanes in Church Street and to instead opt for a radical rethink of the road network in the town centre. Some local campaigners in Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill are also thinking along similar lines.
The Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group (ETCASG) opposes the plans put forward by Enfield Council to turn Church Street into a buses and cycles-only road and instead will be asking the Council to use the opportunity provided by the "Mini-Holland" funding to implement an alternative scheme based on the principle of "shared space", which they consider would improve conditions for everyone using the town centre - shoppers, customers of cafes, restaurants and pubs, local businesses, pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and people using the town centre simply as a social space.
Earlier this week the Study Group issued a report on a public meeting which it organised with the aim of spreading awareness of the principles of shared space and initiating discussions of whether they could be applied in Enfield Town.
The large number of people attending the meeting was evidence of the degree of interest in the subject. As well as residents of Enfield Town there were visitors from Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill, concerned about the impact of Cycle Enfield on their town centres and interested in whether or not Shared Space might be an option there too.
The main speaker at the meeting was Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a leading transport, traffic and urban design consultant, most famous for his innovative redesign of the centre of Poynton in Cheshire.
Mr Hamilton-Baillie began by saying that, because of competition from out-of-town retail centres and the Internet, town centres would have to change and become inherently attractive, or they would become redundant and "die".
He described the process by which over recent decades central and local government have been introducing ever more measures to control and segregate vehicles and pedestrians in town centres through the installation of barriers, traffic lights, painted lines and signs. Their aim has been to speed up movement and reduce accidents. However, in his view the evidence points to their actually slowing down traffic and increasing the number and severity of accidents. This may seem contrary to common sense, but, he said, it actually corresponds to understanding of human psychology and the way that people behave in real life.
The alternative approach of "shared space" removes much of this enforced segregation and prompts drivers and pedestrians to become aware of situations and adjust their behaviour appropriately.
The meeting report includes examples of successful implementation of shared space principles and thoughts about how the current layout fails to make the most of the attractive buildings and public spaces in Enfield Town.
The report concludes with some thoughts about how best to campaign for a shared space scheme in Enfield Town and a call for other groups and individuals to participate.
Full text of the report.
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