Recent complaints from a business in Highbury about new traffic filters have generated much heat and very little light. It is inevitable that changes which make streets safer and cleaner for local people by moderating through traffic may cause short-term concern to businesses worried about motorised deliveries. However, there is already abundant evidence from other low traffic schemes in London showing that far from negatively impacting businesses, these schemes lead to more, not less trade. For example, comments from businesses in Waltham Forest after traffic filters were installed include:
Traffic reduction measures have had a huge positive impact on our business (Froth & Rind)
As parents, business owners and residents on the road, it’s life changing. The air is cleaner and it feels so much safer. GO FOR IT (Yardarm)
Concerns and complaints that it would ‘kill off’ shops that relied on passing trade and had items that needed to be transported by car were soon shown to be unfounded as the street is busier as a pleasant ‘destination’ than it ever was (Phlox Books)
It feels safe and calm. Pollution is low and our business has been affected positively in terms of sales/revenue because customers spend more time on the road. We use our cargo bike for local deliveries and use the loading bays and 2 hour parking slots for when we need to accept bigger deliveries. It really does work. (Edie Rose)
At the same time, creating liveable neighbourhoods provides so many other benefits, such as reduced pollution, reduced road danger, easier and safer independent journeys for children, the elderly and disabled. Significantly, these benefits are also greatest for the least privileged members of our community, who are far less likely to have access to a motor vehicle. At a time of climate crisis, with devastating weather events dominating the headlines, we need less heat and more light in this debate, and a focus on safeguarding and improving our borough and world now and for future generations.
Published in Islington Gazette on 6 July 2021.