ICAG objects to banning of cycling on Islay Walk/Douglas Road

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Gates on Islay Walk

Cycling is currently banned along Islay Walk. Islay Walk runs in parallel to the New River in Canonbury between Douglas Road South and Douglas Road North. Homes For Islington have erected 4 sets of barriers (as above) and 10 ‘No Cycling’ signs. The road is part of an estate managed by Homes for Islington on behalf of Islington Council.

In 2009, Homes For Islington achieved national notoriety by putting speed humps down Islay Walk to stop speeding cyclists, the first in Britain and that reached the Daily Mail and other newspapers.

In the summer of 2010, Homes For Islington ripped out all the speed humps and replaced the with barriers and No Cycling signs.

Islington Council consults residents and all stakeholders like cyclists about any changes they make to the streets in the borough. However Homes For Islington operate a ‘we do what on earth we like policy’ and say that they are not obliged to consult with cyclists. Anyway we wrote to Homes For Islington on Sep 11th 2011 and said:

Dear Homes for Islington

As I am sure you are aware, the ‘No Cycling’ signs and the new barriers have deterred most cyclists from using this path which was a very safe cycle route. Last week I counted about half a dozen cyclists in 15 minutes starting from 8.30AM on a bright sunny day. Cyclists are now using alternatives like the more dangerous Essex Rd or the path along the New River Walk which is very narrow and brings cyclists into conflict with pedestrians.

When we exchanged emails on September 30th 2009, we said ‘ICAG agrees that the needs and safety of the local residents is very important’. And you said ‘we will try to accommodate the needs of the cyclists as much as possible’. So we didn’t expect you to ban cycling by putting up ten ‘No Cycling’ signs less than one year later.

We believe that erecting four sets of barriers as well as the ‘No Cycling’ signs is not a measured response to the problem of speeding cyclists. The four barriers alone have created such a time penalty that speeding cyclists might always divert to other routes so the No Cycling signs may not be necessary.

Last September, when we suggested that you put ramps across half of the road, you said ‘It is felt that a separate cycle lane on the New River Walk side would not slow down the cyclists’. But, as far as we aware, Homes For Islington hasn’t sought advice or suggestions from council transport officers or anyone else.

In recent email correspondence with Anthony Leonard, you say that this is a “path that belongs to the housing estate and, therefore, to the residents of the estate”. Is this really a fair statement? Surely the path belongs to Islington Council along with many others in the borough? It just so happens that this path is managed by Homes For Islington. No other group of residents in Islington is able to claim ownership of the road outside their front door and demand that any particular mode of transport be banned on the grounds of safety.

Please step back and look at Islington as a whole and consider the council’s Sustainable Transport Strategy, the 15 or more cycle permeability schemes that the council is currently working on, and the Connect 2 project, This estate is in the middle of an inner London borough and it covers a large area which people want to cross. There is no through motorised traffic and so residents enjoy low levels of traffic noise, pollution and danger. Surely it’s not unreasonable to ask you to devise a scheme that keeps residents and children safe while still ‘accommodating the needs of cyclists as much as possible’. The first step might be to remove the ‘No Cycling’ signs on a trial basis.

As I mentioned last September, and this was restated by Zahur Khan in an email to Doug Goldring on June 25th this year, ICAG is happy to meet with you.

Homes for Islington wrote back two days later and said:

I am sorry to note that you do not find the action that we have taken to accommodate both the safety of our residents and the cyclists acceptable.

You have referred to my correspondence with Anthony Leonard. In that case , I hope that you have also noted that in the interests of the safety of our residents, which should be of a paramount importance to everyone, we have not banned the cyclists but merely asked them to dismount for a few hundred metres of the estate path. The signs clearly say this! We believe this is reasonable.

Senior council officers wrote to Homes For Islington but nothing happened.

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