Friday 1 May 2009

'safer and healthier communities'

The M11 link road at Leytonstone. This land was once occupied by houses and gardens. Then the Department of Transport decided to rip through Wanstead, Leytonstone and Leyton, in order to connect the M11 motorway with the A12 East Cross route that continues to the Blackwall Tunnel.

Starting in 1993, around 350 homes were bulldozed and their occupants kicked out in a manner essentially little different to the forced relocations of the old Communist regimes. A massive concrete canyon was gouged out, cutting these communities in two.

The Department of Transport claimed that the M11 link road, along with other new roads, were built TO PROVIDE SAFER AND HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES, REGENERATION AND INTEGRATION, AND IN SUPPORT OF JOBS AND PROSPERITY.

At the time it was asserted that

'This road will relieve a hugely congested part of London. The Leyton High Road is choc-a-bloc every day and this will take that traffic away from it and make the area breathable.' (Characteristically the car supremacists at the Department of Transport couldn’t even get their local geography right. The M11 link road ran parallel to High Road Leytonstone and had nothing at all to do with High Road Leyton, which is a quite separate road.)

With even greater hubris an ecstatic civil engineering establishment claimed that

The A12 Hackney to M11 link road should soon bring to an end almost a century of traffic jams in the East End.

It was also stated at the time that

The Department has informed the European Commission that, on opening, the link road will be available to all classes of traffic.

But not cyclists, obviously. Everybody knows that cyclists aren’t traffic. Cyclists and pedestrians have been cast out to the margins, with some scrappy disconnected pathways, bridges, and underpasses, many of them in a squalid, badly maintained condition.

What happened when the road opened, needless to say, was that it brought around 75,000 extra motor vehicles a day into inner London.

There’s a local perspective with photographs here.