Controversial plans to introduce protected bike lanes and dramatically cut private car access in an outer London shopping street could revolutionise the town centre, according to the local council.
Enfield's £30m "Mini Holland" scheme has been blighted by vehement local opposition as businesspeople fear reducing the current two to three lanes of one-way traffic to one or two lanes of just buses, taxis and loading vehicles, with protected bike infrastructure, will restrict customer access and harm sales.
However, Enfield Council says the Cycle Enfield plans, recently released for consultation, will benefit everyone, not just cyclists, making the town more accessible, and transforming it into a place people want to spend time. Cycle campaigners, who back the scheme, say it will help get more people on bikes and boost business.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, told road.cc: “We want to make our high streets and town centres more accessible and pleasant places to visit; to become places where people will want to visit more often and stay longer. We believe that Cycle Enfield can help us to achieve this.
”We know that not enough people cycle in this borough, and we want to encourage more people to get on their bikes, but we believe this is also a great opportunity for us to revolutionise our town centres so that they are more accessible for everyone. We therefore want hear the public's ideas to help us achieve that.”
“We want to hear from the public their ideas, thoughts, feelings and concerns about our draft proposals. That is very much what the consultation process is all about."
There are two proposed options for the main shopping street, Church Street and The Town, both of which will permit only buses, taxis and loading vehicles, both featuring separate, two-way bike lanes.
Option one (above) shows the bike lane separated from a single one-way traffic lane by trees and pavement, the second option (below) a cycle lane on an island between two traffic lanes.
Both options will have speed limits reduced to 20mph, with separate, protected cycle lanes on London Road, which links to the high street from the South East, and informal pedestrian crossings.
Local media reported tempers flaring at the unveiling of the Mini Holland plans this week.
The London Cycling Campaign's Rosie Downes said the challenge is explaining to people why so much money is being spent on cycling in a place so few people ride bikes. She says the changes will improve the high street environment for everyone, including those visiting on foot and on bikes, which will boost local business, not harm it.
"Lots of people in Enfield would like to cycle, but don’t feel the roads are safe enough. The mini-Holland improvements will create safe space for cycling in the borough, so many more people can enjoy the benefits and joys of cycling," she says.
"Some local businesses have expressed concerns about the impact on their trade. But businesses tend to overestimate how many people travel by car: in Waltham Forest, the council found that businesses on Lea Bridge Rd estimated that 63% of their customers travel to the area by car, but in reality only 20% drive. In fact, research has shown that investing in making places better for walking and cycling boosts footfall and trading."
Awarded by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as part of the his Vision for Cycling, the three outer London Mini Hollands, in Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest, were to be showcases of what can be achieved in town centres if they are made more accessible by bike and foot. Waltham Forest's award-winning Mini Holland scheme was similarly beset by local opposition, but temporary trials to close both residential and shopping streets to through traffic were recently made permanent after receiving broad public support, including from local businesses.
Downes said: "Temporary trials like Waltham Forest’s can be an effective way of tackling these myths: during the Walthamstow Village trials, many businesses were very nervous about the effect of road closures on their footfall. Most of the businesses now back the road closures."
All Cycle Enfield consultations can be seen here. The Enfield Town scheme consultation closes on 18 December.