By our active travel correspondent Katie Crowe
Feels as though this is a pretty topical issue right now! In essence, when people refer to the ‘road closures’ we have in Crystal Palace (and beyond), these can better be described as modal filters.
A modal filter is where a ‘barrier’ is put in place on a road. During the trial phase of any implementation these will be temporary. Planters being the contentious barrier of choice in the area, but can also include bollards or bus gates (either camera controlled or by physical gate). If measures become permanent, the paving is sometimes altered, so you’d never know the road was accessible to vehicles before!
Modal filters allow designated traffic ‘modes’ to pass through – whether this is bike, scooter, pedestrian, wheelchair (through planters/bollards/paving) or adding to that, buses and emergency vehicles (through a bus gate).
There are already numerous modal filters in place across London and this area of SE London is no exception. Some of these have been in place for a long time, some are relatively new, and some were designed in when the houses were built (or estates grew). Below are some examples.
Does anyone know the history of any of these? Queensthorpe Road in Sydenham was only altered about 10 years ago but I’ve struggled to find any history on the others. Largely, I think most of these have been in place so long, we barely even notice them. And we definitely don’t ever think ‘they should open that up and let traffic through’.
On the subject of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, I used to think that the UK didn’t really do LTNs. But on researching this blog, I’ve realised that these already exist. Even within the confines of SE19.
First up, our beloved Triangle – picture the roads within the Triangle, surrounded by Westow Hill, Westow Street and Church Road. You can drive in and out, but you can’t drive through. Was this by design, or could you originally drive straight through and it was later altered? I’d love to know!
A quick nod to the Kingswood Estate – this is also an existing Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Access to the Estate is via either Bowen Drive or Lyall Avenue (both link to Kingswood Drive). There are other access points via Seeley Drive and the Hunts Slip Road junction with Bowen Drive, but they are filtered. So no through traffic for vehicles here. It’s just been this way for such a long time no-one thinks of it in any other way. The residents probably don’t even know they are living on one of the area’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhoods!
So, when I talk about ‘filtering’ it’s this safe, direct, and convenient access for people on foot, people on bike, people scooting. I would be interested to hear if anyone has a case to open (or re-open) to vehicles any of the access roads described here.
*hat tip to Murakami, whose title I have bastardised