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Healthy Streets for ALL

OneLewisham is a group of local residents set up to support Lewisham’s aims to reduce traffic, improve air quality and enable safe cycling and walking.

But we want healthy streets for all – including people who live, work and go to school on main roads. This is especially important in an area who’s Mayor was elected under a manifesto of For The Many, Not The Few.

We feel that Lewisham Council has misused Coronavirus legislation to push through a flawed “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” into the Lee Green and Hither Green East areas. We want to work with the council and TFL to make vital and urgent changes.

Traffic has been pushed to surrounding residential roads such as Hither Green Lane, Lee High Road, Burnt Ash Hill and Brownhill Road which were already coping with heavy traffic and illegal pollution levels. The result is gridlock and worsening pollution for more people than the scheme benefits.

We think this is wrong, unfair, and discriminatory: pollution is a social justice issue.

Furthermore, there is little or no evidence that schemes that simply
restrict certain roads to certain types of traffic actually change car
usage. Read more on our research and findings.

Read our ‘fact check’ of Lewisham Council’s leaflet

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Our Mission

To ensure improved mobility options for all, not simply road closures

The EU Commission’s guidance from their paper “reclaiming city streets for people” clearly states that if space is removed from drivers then something should be given back – it must be an integrated strategy. This is supported by research into “traffic evaporation” – which is a real phenomenon, but is by no means guaranteed.

Closing roads to through traffic is a blunt instrument, and does little if anything to improve social distancing as the council claim. Without improvements to alternatives, evidence suggests any traffic reduction may creep back to its original level, or higher – and many people will simply relocate out of the area.

The council has said their intention with the scheme is to encourage ‘modal shift’, to encourage more cycling and walking. Successful schemes did not simply close roads- they included combination of strategically placed modal filters, enforcing speed limits, segregated cycle lanes, pedestrian crossings and pedestrian priority junctions. We want these both inside and outside of the LTN.

We have been told that these things will come in the future, dependent on a successful trial. But if journeys by car are to be made more difficult now, people who have to drive need better alternatives now – not in six or even 18 months. Other councils have shown during Covid-19 that some of these improvements can be made cost effectively.

To ensure residents of main roads are not forgotten

Our research suggests that the roads which will suffer from additional traffic and pollution as a result are more likely to be home to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) families. These are the very people at higher risk from Covid-19. Given that some studies have linked the impact on ethnic minorities to pollution, it’s no wonder that some residents have gone so far as to accuse the council of “environmental racism”.

And those who do not live on main roads are still affected by their pollution and dangers when walking and cycling. A ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ is of limited use if you have to cross or walk down a busy main road, with no provisions for cyclists or pedestrians, to get anywhere.

Some of the main roads here have such shockingly narrow pavements it’s impossible to pass a single person with even a half metre distance. Given the lack of cycle lanes and wall to wall fast moving traffic, cyclists are often seen on the pavements.  It’s no wonder that there are six times more accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists on these surrounding roads than inside the LTN.

We need to re-balance these roads to remove the complete dominance of cars, but this will take huge efforts, especially given some are TFL-managed ‘red routes’. In the meantime we should add cycle lanes, improve pedestrians crossing and junctions in ways that are cost effective and quick. The residents cannot wait and suffer during the LTN trial.

To ensure transparency, equality and a fair trial

Lewisham Council is marking their own homework. Their plans for measurement have not been fully published, but from what we do know they are woefully inadequate. They haven’t even told us what the criteria are for a successful trial.

As with some other schemes now claiming to be successful, they are only measuring traffic and pollution within the scheme and seemingly plan to ignore the effects on surrounding residential main roads and major roads further afield.

The council has hinted that they conducted modelling on traffic flows to decide where to place modal filters. They have not shared the results. They must know how much traffic they expect to divert onto the surrounding roads, but this has not been published.

The council has not published their Equality Impact Assessment, despite it normally being a requirement under Section 149 of the Equality Act. The changes disproportionately affect ethnic minorities, the elderly, the disabled and parents of young children, all of whom are being left with limited options to move freely.

Our campaign is initially focusing on the Lee Green / Hither Green area impacted by the ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ implemented in late July 2020. However, as Lewisham Council and TFL roll out more road changes under cover of ‘reasons related to Coronavirus’, it is clear that more of our borough risks similar issues of divided communities and some residents being more equal than others. If your area within Lewisham is being affected, please get in touch.

What people say

“I don’t blame people for wanting quieter roads, but they need to understand that they do not have the South Circular in the midst of their neighbourhood. People live on these main roads, and it’s the poorer people who live on them. When I campaign, I don’t just campaign for my children, I campaign for all children.”

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, clean air campaigner

Low traffic neighbourhoods are exciting & essential. Reducing traffic and its pollution on ‘main roads’ is also essential. Without an overall traffic reduction plan, this will be divisive. With such plans, it can unify by improving quality of life for (nearly) all.

Phil Goodwin, Emeritus Professor of Transport Policy and co-author of the study “Disappearing traffic”.

Note: The quotes used above do not constitute an endorsement of our campaign by their authors.

About us

We are a group of Hither Green residents who are concerned about a scheme which benefits a few at the cost for many.

We come from a range of backgrounds across the political spectrum, and we live both inside and outside of the ‘low traffic neighbourhood’.

We support the goals of the scheme – we are not “petrol heads”, and many of us do not own a car – but we demand improvements to the scheme as implemented.