Sunday 23 May 2010

‘Naked streets’ in Walthamstow

Saturday 15 May, Walthamstow High Street. Spot the pedestrian stranded in the middle of the road while drivers pass by on either side. Contractors working on the Selborne Road/Willow Walk junction had turned the junction lights off and set up temporary lights. For some reason - almost certainly to 'ease traffic flow' - they simply switched off the pedestrian crossing lights at the nearby High Street/Willow Walk crossing, shown above. So on the busiest day of the week for pedestrians, High Street shoppers were left without crossing lights, allowing them to try out the exciting 'naked streets' concept. As you see, this simply means that drivers plough on regardless of any pedestrians in the vicinity.

The fact that contractors have the power to switch off lights for pedestrians and leave them to their fate is simply another symptom of the core reality that London is a city planned around the needs of drivers, not pedestrians or cyclists. In the past year, pedestrian lights have been switched off on Hoe Street E17, on Selborne Road E17 and on Blackhorse Road E17, leaving children and elderly people to get across busy roads as best they can. The dedicated cycling crossing lights remain switched off at the St Mary Road E17/Selborne Road crossing, and, incredibly, have been off since last September.

Note also the two bikes locked to the traffic sign in the foreground. At Sainsbury's (immediately to the left of this picture) there is parking for hundreds of cars and, er, two bike stands. Which tells you all you need to know about the London Borough of Waltham Forest and its Green credentials.