Friday, 6 March 2020

SRS supports Our Healthy Streets - Dulwich

The members of Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School are committed to helping children get to school by sustainable means.  Travel to school by car has gone down over the last three years, as our schools promote the behaviour change that has earned them a disproportionate number of STARS Gold Medals in Southwark for their school travel plans.

However, parents who want to let their children walk and cycle are often afraid to do so because of road danger and those who do walk and cycle report finding it intimidating and stressful. We have learned from past experience that permanent, widespread behaviour change is not possible without creating a network of safe routes to school.  Only infrastructure change can address the dangers that heavy traffic poses to children.

One of the main objectives of Our Healthy Streets Dulwich is to provide safe routes to school for children, enabling them to walk, cycle and scoot safely, reducing their exposure to road danger and dangerous levels of air pollution.  We support the scheme for these reasons.  
We have been, and continue to be, in constructive engagement with the Council over the detail.

We support the Our Healthy Streets vision of healthy streets for all.

Our formal response to Phase 2 of the consultation is below:

Dear Officers

Please accept this email as Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School’s (SRS) formal response to phase 2 of the Our Healthy Streets consultation.

SRS supports Southwark Council’s Our Healthy Streets initiative and appreciates the opportunity to work with Southwark to make our streets safe and healthy for children who walk, cycle or scoot to school or who would like to do so.

   We strongly believe that the Our Healthy Streets design should prioritise pedestrian movement over vehicle traffic, particularly around schools. We would like to see reduced traffic, reduced vehicle speed, pedestrian crossings, pedestrian countdown lights, longer cycles for crossing etc. Children should never have to weave through traffic to cross roads.

   We are concerned, given that the availability of free parking in Dulwich generates traffic, that the lack of parking restrictions will prove an obstacle to traffic reduction. The density of parking in the area is a significant barrier to children walking and cycling: it impedes sight lines and visibility, reduces road width and creates chicanes, all of which require confidence and skill to overcome. These obstacles may be one of the reasons families feel they must cycle on the pavement, which in turn creates anxiety for some pedestrians.

   We would like more protected cycling space around schools and on local routes so that children will be safe cycling door to door.

   The aim should be to build a network of door to door walking and cycling routes that make active travel safe and easy.

Whatever plans are drawn up in response to the community engagement, it is vital to look at the area holistically. Consequently we would like to raise two points, which are linked.

1.      Every entrance/exit to the area should be examined in conjunction with draft plans for the Village junction. Small interventions at entrance and exit points can help reduce traffic, discourage rat running and ensure that any junction changes do not have adverse consequences. Each entrance and exit should also be examined in light of the following point.

2.      Any designs should as far as possible be future-proofed i.e. no work undertaken should have to be redone in order to accommodate any future expansion of the healthy streets programme within the ward or to neighbouring wards.

In particular, the west side of Dulwich Village Ward is situated between the Our Healthy Streets area and the proposed Brixton Liveable Neighbourhood. However, currently there are no plans for traffic reduction in this area. Therefore, we would like to see any OHS plans include a general (not necessarily specific) plan for this area. 

Planning ahead will ensure that any future bid for a liveable neighbourhood etc could proceed smoothly, without having to undo any work undertaken as part of OHS Dulwich. Indeed, it may facilitate a future bid and reassure residents who might otherwise be minded to object to OHS Dulwich proposals.