Hackney Council’s transport boss has called for the decriminalisation of minor driving offences following the release of startling figures showing Hackney had the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths in London.
Cllr Jon Burke (Lab, Woodberry Down) was quizzed at a recent council meeting over road casualties in the borough, with TfL figures showing that there were 160 fatal or serious incidents in 2018, with 215 pedestrians or cyclists killed or seriously injured between 2015 and 2017.
The Town Hall is now lobbying for enforcement powers to be move from the police to local authorities for less serious traffic incidents, though Cllr Burke stressed that such a policy would only address the margins of the problem, promising to go further in significantly discouraging driving in the borough.
Cllr Burke said: “Ultimately enforcement can work after the event. It will discourage drivers at the margins of violations, but not the guy who flies down the road at 100mph.
“It’s cold comfort to the parents of a schoolchild who’s been killed if we’re able to say, ‘We did fine the driver’. We need to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads in the first place.
“SUVs and pick-up trucks, which are beginning to seep onto our streets, are too big for the narrow streets of Hackney, and they represent a threat to pedestrians and to cyclists. They’re too heavy. Their aerodynamic profile and weight also mean they consume more fuel, so they contribute even more to the climate crisis.
“Enforcement powers would have an impact at the margins, but ultimately we are working on a vision of motor vehicle transport in the urban environment that involves fewer vehicles, slower vehicles and smaller vehicles.”
Further outlining the idea, the transport chief envisaged additional cameras placed around Hackney, with revenue from fines being reinvested into further resources, even raising the possibility of council officers with speed guns enforcing “low-grade” violations.
Burke accepted that, with 40 per cent of the borough’s traffic stemming from outside Hackney, the council is planning to work with neighbouring boroughs to “significantly discourage” vehicles, while putting in place schemes such as segregated cycle lanes at the Stoke Newington gyratory and additional infrastructure in Lea Bridge.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said that there are “no current plans” to extend existing powers for moving traffic contraventions, such a yellow box junctions and banned turns, held by local authorities.
EDIT: This article was updated at 13:56 on Monday 3 February to include a response from the Department for Transport.