This is what Croydon Council Highway Improvements Team say:
The road closures and other measures across the borough have been installed at speed in response to covid-19 pandemic with the aim of reallocating road space to cyclists and pedestrians enabling safe, socially distanced active travel and form part of the Council’s Streetspace Improvement Programme (CSIP). The central government imposed lockdown has resulted in a substantial reduction in motor traffic, creating less polluted, quieter streets across our borough. Many people have opted to cycle or walk instead of using their own vehicles or public transport, in some areas there has been a 70% increase in the number of people using bicycles for exercise, safe and socially distanced travel.
The northern areas of Croydon such as South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Crystal Palace and Norbury have high levels of public transport usage, but capacity of transport services has been reduced to near 10% of normal to enable social distancing, for example on a double decker bus no more than 20 passengers will be admitted, forcing the public to seek alternative modes of transport. Even, if a small percentage of people opted to use cars for their daily travel this could result in significant levels of congestion and pollution on the borough road network.
It should also be said that there has for many years been a background of concern from local people to the volume of traffic travelling through the local residential area, the pollution this causes, and road safety implications, which then further discourage walking and cycling. Many of the responses we have received since introducing the road closures have celebrated the quieter streets, cleaner air, and road safety improvements which will hopefully allow people to feel safe when making short journeys either by foot or by bicycle. As for the effect on Cypress School, I would hope that the measures introduced will further help to encourage pupils and parents to travel to school by more sustainable travel options where practicable.
We know that there are disadvantages to the introduction of these closures and every resident and road user will have a different view depending on their own circumstances. Unfortunately it is very rare that traffic management changes can be made that will not have some adverse effects and these will not suit everyone. But overall, the benefits from having less motor traffic and an improved environment should outweigh the small inconvenience to car drivers of having to travel slightly further when travelling to and from their property.
The expectation is that after an initial settling-in period, through traffic will become aware of the measures and seek alternative routes or motorists will choose to use other sustainable forms of transport. Overtime a gradual reduction in the volume of through traffic is anticipated.
Existing highway works:
We are aware of existing utility works in the local area, a large proportion of this work is being undertaken as essential emergency repairs of ageing underground utility infrastructure such as gas mains etc. We understand residents are concerned about temporary traffic lights on Church Road that support temporary hoarding currently bracing a structurally unsafe building. Unfortunately it is an insurance matter meaning the council has limited influence but we are making weekly representations to the insurance company asking for urgent repairs to be made to the building so that we can remove the temporary traffic lights.
The Council is monitoring the volume and duration of road works on our network and is using all the relevant statutory powers available to minimise their impact on our network. For specific queries on temporary works on the highway or any defects please email: HighwaysMaintenance@croydon.gov.uk
Central Government guidance:
The Government has made it clear that it expects local authorities to make significant changes to the highway to give more space for cyclists and pedestrians. This is detailed in the Government’s guidance ‘Reallocating road space in response to COVID-19: statutory guidance for local authorities’, which for your information can be found online here.
Consultation & Engagement:
All the closures in the area have been introduced on a temporary experimental basis, the Council is keen to receive your feedback on our proposals. All the comments you have made have been recorded and will be presented to the Executive Director of Place, at which point it will be considered whether the measures should be made permanent, amended or removed. I can assure you that before reaching a final decision on the scheme a formal public consultation will be carried out when the lockdown is fully eased, giving local residents an opportunity to comment on the proposals taking into account pre-lockdown traffic levels and with public transport capacity normalised. It is also hoped that when we are able to engage in wide consultation on a permanent low traffic neighbourhood, that the measures currently being introduced will not be the only options available to us.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) & where to find further information:
The attached document may assist in answering some of the most common questions you have. To learn more about the CSIP programme and stay up to date on the schemes being implemented in our borough please visit our webpage dedicated to this programme: www.croydon.gov.uk/csip