It's been over a year since the implementation of the last People Friendly Streets scheme in Highbury. It's great to hear the council finally announce plans to introduce a new scheme for St Mary's Church. The planned filters in the area around Cross Street will make it much safer to walk and cycle and the new parklets will make the area much more pleasant. However, due to the banned turns at Highbury Corner and at the Essex Road/Upper Street junction, Canonbury Square and Gaskin Road will become boundary roads. This means the low traffic neighbourhood will cover a much smaller area than originally expected. This is clearly disappointing as in the short to medium term it will have an adverse impact on these roads, which are already blighted by large volumes of traffic.
Canonbury Square has seen an astonishing 283% increase in the number of cyclists due to the introduction of the Canonbury West scheme, however cycling through the western side of Canonbury Square does frequently mean taking your life into your own hands, as motorists often overtake around the double blind bends. The new pedestrian crossing will hopefully make access to the Canonbury Square much safer, but it will do nothing to reduce the pollution and noise that surrounds it. With access to green space in Islington being the lowest in the country, Canonbury Square has the potential to provide a peaceful respite if traffic levels were reduced.
It is therefore critical that the council significantly reduces through traffic along Theberton Street, Barnsbury Street and Islington Park Street to prevent the east west cut through by motorists across central Islington. I urge the council to kick off the engagement and design process for People Friendly Streets in Barnsbury and St Mary's as soon as possible. This will ensure the necessary measures are put in place to reduce road danger and pollution in Barnsbury and St Mary's as well as the northern and southern sections of St Mary's Church.
Published in Islington Tribune 28 January 2022