Cycle route Middleton Road London Fields Hackney

Cycleway: the proposed route encourages the free flow of cyclists through London Fields and down Middleton Road. Image: Hackney Council

Residents are at loggerheads over council proposals for a car-free zone to the west of London Fields.

During the three-month trial period, due to begin in January, Middleton Road and surrounding streets will be blocked off to motorists, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to travel freely down Middleton Road.

Residents will still be permitted motor access to all streets.

The council hopes the road ‘filtering’ will reduce the amount of non-local motor traffic driving through residential streets, making the neighbourhoods quieter, safer and less polluted.

But the plans have provoked mixed responses from residents, who have launched polar petitions.

“If we filter every road, people will choose a different part of London or just choose not to use their car,” said Ben Alden-Falconer. The 26-year-old launched the Fume Free Streets campaign, urging the council to press ahead with the trial.

Mr Alden-Falconer, who has lived on Middleton Road for 23 years, said the volume of traffic had increased. “Hackney is the seventh worst borough in London for pollution and this is a great way of putting off drivers coming through.

“It will make for liveable green streets and will be great for those who cycle.”

Increasing congestion

Mike Hood, 60, is a cyclist and motorist and long-term resident of Malvern Road. He said: “There is nothing wrong with the roads at present. This area is very quiet and we get a reasonable amount of traffic.”

Blocking off certain roads will not reduce the number of vehicles, according to Mr Hood. Instead it will force more traffic through Richmond Road and Pownall Road, which run parallel to Middleton Road.

The three-month trial will serve as a consultation period in which residents can express their views. Mr Hood has launched a petition calling on the council to prevent the road closures, and at least hold a public consultation period before the trial begins.

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “At the early stages of the announcement of the London Fields scheme officers talked informally to residents at a ward forum meeting about some of the possible methods of consultation.

“An initial leaflet-based consultation in advance of a temporary on-street trial was one of the methods discussed. However, this was met with concern by the majority of residents at the meeting who instead said they would prefer a live-trial method of consultation.”

Mapping quietways

Should the trial period prove successful, the route will eventually form part of the Bloomsbury to Walthomstow cycling ‘quietway’.

The Mayor of London has seven cycling quietways planned, which are networks or continuous bicycle routes throughout London.

The quietways – which run along backstreet routes, parks, waterways or tree-lined streets – are targeted at those cyclists who prefer travelling more gently through areas with less traffic.

The council will be sending out information to all residents in the affected area later this month, allowing an opportunity for their views to be expressed.

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “We believe the three-month trial is the best way for both residents and the council to decide if the scheme is suitable for the area.

“Residents’ views of the scheme will be taken into account during the trial. If it is shown not to work, it will be reversed.”

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