“We were writing Barnet’s Transport Strategy”
On 8 March, SUMMIT: How to Solve Barnet’s Car Crisis? brought together more than 30 Barnet residents for a whole afternoon of intense envisioning of a better future for the borough’s roads. “We were writing Barnet’s Transport Strategy,” said Andrew, a transport engineer participant*.
The conference was called by AM Poppy, a local activist concerned that the borough faces a traffic crisis from the ever-increasing density of cars on the streets. And yet, she said, the official response is nothing.
“No Strategy seems to be the approach. The council just waits until residents come clamouring for remedial action. It’s an incoherent, fudged, entirely unimaginative way to address a problem.
“I’ve been shouting for over a year that we need to start a public debate about a thoughtful, imaginative, holistic way to tackle our traffic issues, and then it struck me that I should do it.”
In a collaborative conversation where everyone participates equally, the SUMMIT elicited ideas to help the borough avoid gridlock. “This was very stimulating, and very different from other transport conferences”, said Mark, a veteran of such events*.
The SUMMIT divided the experts, campaigners, residents, and councillors present* into four groups to brainstorm options, and in the second round, the ideas that found most favour were discussed again in more detail, in three categories: immediate, medium and long-term.
The report of the conference will reveal Barnet’s preferred options. “Even I don’t know yet what the recommendations will be,” said Poppy. “But I can tell you an idea from each category that I personally liked: Playstreets (where a street is closed to traffic at fixed times); making 20MPH the default speed on residential streets; and assigning a van, a car and a rack of bicycles to every street on the basis that no one on the street owns a car. I like that from the social cohesion point of view as well.”
The report will be published as soon as it’s ready. All help gratefully received
CONTACT Poppy: phone number available on request by email
* The civil engineers could not reveal their names for professional reasons
* The councillors present were from the Conservative and Labour parties
10 March 2015