Earlsdon Liveable Neighbourhood

These are the personal views of Claire McArthur, not ECHO’s.

The consultation period for the Earlsdon Liveable Neighbourhood Proposals will run until 29 October. In response to public feedback from the initial consultation, the proposed measures cover a wider area than initially planned. Additional funding secured from Sustrans to improve the National Cycle Network 52 cycle route which runs through Earlsdon has assisted in facilitating this extension.
A primary intention of a Liveable Neighbourhood (LN) Scheme is to reduce the volume of through traffic along residential roads by encouraging vehicles onto roads that are more suitable for high traffic volumes. Analysis of traffic flows shows that a substantial proportion of traffic in Earlsdon is not local and is not stopping in the area. The Earlsdon LN Scheme seeks to direct such traffic to make a wider diversion around the area using roads such as the Kenilworth Road, the A45 and Butts Road. These roads have been specifically adapted or built for the purpose of absorbing greater volumes of through traffic. Inevitably, some measures will also change the way that local traffic can use residential streets. In reality, this may necessitate taking a different route (which in turn may mean a slightly longer journey time) but it will not mean that access to roads is denied. Local traffic will not be prevented from moving around and through Earlsdon but it will need to make some adjustment as to how it moves.

The proposed scheme is comprehensive and detailed. There is a great deal to read and perhaps it is tempting to concentrate on proposals that particularly affect the street on which you live. However, the measures are designed to be ‘joined up’ and most will produce benefits beyond their immediate vicinity, for example:

• The traffic calming measures proposed for Beechwood Avenue are specifically designed to make it (and adjoining roads) unattractive in terms of speeding and rat running. The subsequent reduction in traffic volumes should more than offset any potential displacement of vehicles resulting from the proposed measures for Arden Street. In addition, traffic will be required to drive more appropriately.
• The Dalton Road bus gate proposal (which allows access for buses, taxis, cycles and blue lights but not other vehicles) will not only reduce the volume of speeding traffic along Spencer Avenue but will reduce traffic on Beechwood Avenue, Warwick Road and Leamington Road, as people are no longer using Warwick Road to access Spencer Road as part of a through journey.
• The small increase in traffic in some parts of Earlsdon Avenue would be offset by reductions elsewhere, and again, by the fact that vehicles will be travelling more appropriately.
• Reducing through traffic and the ‘space’ that it creates within a LN provides opportunities for the safer movement of pedestrians and cyclists and generates a positive impact on people living there. Comprehensive studies of the impact of similar schemes show that roads within a LN generally experience a 50% reduction in road casualties and an increase in more active travel with people choosing to walk or cycle locally. People are making these choices not because their opportunity to drive has been limited but because they recognise that lower (through) traffic volumes in tandem with a reduced speed limit* means that their streets have become safer. LN also report a reduction in street crime and no adverse impact on emergency vehicle response times. It is also important to note that LN schemes have no consistent impact on boundary roads. A study by Possible and The University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy found that average decreases in motor traffic on roads within LN to be: “almost 10 times higher than average increases in motor traffic on boundary roads, suggesting…a substantial overall reduction in traffic.”

*The 30mph limit for built up areas was set in 1934. It was fundamentally an arbitrary decision made with little evidence or research on survivability rates from collisions. Given our modern, congested urban roads with their mix of vehicles and vulnerable road users an adjustment downwards seems a valid consideration. ROSPA are clear that: “20 mph speed limits can result in 40% fewer collisions and a seven-fold reduction in deaths.” The World Health Organisation (WHO) says: “A safe speed on roads with possible conflicts between cars, pedestrians and cyclists is 20mph”. Interestingly, research suggests that, whilst crash outcomes are far better at 20 than at 30mph, traffic flow and journey times don’t seem to change very much.

Clare McArthur
(member of Earlsdon Community Speedwatch)