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Cars in bus lane Seven Sisters Road 7AM, the morning after lockdown easing announced*
ON behalf of the minority of car-owners, Haringey Council—more clearly than ever—are now winning the war against those in the Borough arguing for measures to advance the interests of cyclists and “active travel”.
The Council Cabinet responsibilities for (a) Highways and (b) Strategic Transport are divided between two Councillors. However, between them, they are succeeding in throwing back the siren voices of human-powered travel. Not by loud words, but by quiet deeds.
BIKE LANE DELETED
Perhaps the best single example of a battle won, is the deletion last year of an established cycle path leading to a major transport hub. It was in Hale Road N17, close to the Tottenham Hale bus-, rail- and Underground interchange.
It could be viewed as provocative, but Highways officers are likely to be quietly satisfied that this smack-down to cyclists is big and unmistakeable. After performing her own thorough research, the Cabinet Member for Highways issued a statement (below) defending the deletion on the grounds of cyclists' safety, that “has to take priority” ~
Haringey is committed to … [insert nice phrase here]. Over the past two years, the council's active PR and various statements belie the quiet, low-profile facts on the ground. Let's look at the evidence:
There is not a published policy to promote car use and car-ownership, in fact, to the contrary. One of the two relevant Cabinet members has said, "I hate cars" and, "I'm famous for not liking cars". Haringey has produced any amount of notices and literature claiming to promote active travel. It’s clever, because it creates an impression of action, whereas the deeds on the ground go in the opposite direction, favouring car-use and car-owners. No other London Borough performs better at such bluff and diversion.
On the face of it, semi-independent groups in Haringey battle and lobby in the interests of walking and cycling. They have been a useful lightning-rod for the non-car owner malcontents. They meet with the council and value their contacts and connections and delight in continuing dialogue and positive meetings. The privileged access these groups feel they enjoy, is played-on and played-up-to by canny officers and conservative councillors.
This humouring and fobbing-off has been deployed for a long time, although the residents' groups have not yet become complete council apologists. Haringey has a little further work to do to blunt them and to suborn those who would otherwise continue to push "active travel".
In Haringey one has to distinguish between—on one hand—the smokescreen of PR, talking, meetings, promises and warm words, and on the other hand, the physical reality on the ground, year-in and year-out.
This week, Haringey erected a milestone in their war against the bicycle. The council's assertion did attract the attention of the All Party Parliamentary Committee for Cycling & Walking, but then they have little influence in our car-friendly Borough. Here is Haringey's official, written, passive-aggressive answer to a formal question from an Opposition Councillor:
A SUBVERSIVE ARTICLE
Recently there has been published, however, a potentially dangerous essay by a serving Haringey Councillor that in the long run, could yet threaten the use and ownership of cars in our London Borough.
Haringey lives and breathes cars and the views expressed could represent a new battle-front. The article was well and elegantly written and that could become a problem.
However, in the short-run at least, car-owners can be confident that both Cabinet Members and the Officers will know how to deal with this latest challenge: the former may publicly applaud it while the latter will ignore it and continue with their previous policies, with real effect on the ground. Business as usual.
*top photo by
Cllr. Mike Hakata
There's a problem with basing an argument upon the fact that car ownership in Haringey is low (much less then 50%) and they consequently enjoy too much council attention. It's this - cycle ownership and use is infinitesimally lower still, and therefore, deserves no attention.
Which is presumably not what you intend to argue.
In fact there is a mode of travel common across the borough that approaches 100% and seemingly has few fanatical proponents. Walking. I propose that the interests of drivers and cyclists should be secondary, and the interests of those on foot take precedence in the design of all streets.
Oh. I'll go and have a look.
Plastic, then paint, then screwing things down (orcas?), then pouring tarmac... we'll have our wider pavements before the lobsters know they're boiled.
It is unlikely the attitude has changed and the meeting is consistent with the description at the top.
Expect more statements along the lines of:
Working with the community, Haringey Council is committed
to Active Travel and improving cycling infrastructure.
In view of the attention of the Parliamentary Committee (above), there may be a redoubling of the PR/propaganda effort and further meetings.
The word productive is being misused.
The production from the meeting that was described as very productive are the statements. i.e. the statements, available for PR, that the meetings were "very productive".
It is important to appreciate that the warm words (of being very productive) was the goal of the meeting.
That goal was achieved. To grasp this is to understand how the council works.
The dialogue is no more than a holding tactic; the only thing that matters is action. One cannot rule out action later in the decade.