As Old Street’s traffic gets pushed into residential streets, Steven Separovich explains why he set up the residents group Better Bunhill
As a result of major construction works on Old Street roundabout initiated more than two years ago by Transport for London (TfL) and Islington Council, traffic through previously quiet residential streets has increased exponentially – and a constant stream of vehicles circumvent the roundabout by cutting through Bath Street and Peerless Street.
My residents’ group Better Bunhill believes that this isn’t a good outcome for the area. Both of these streets are an exception to other neighbourhood streets in the Bunhill Ward, as there is a primary school (St Luke’s) on one, and the Moorfields Children’s Eye Hospital on the other.
Given that Bunhill is the ward with the highest pollution levels and lowest car ownership in the borough of Islington, we’re unhappy with this concentration of traffic. This increase in traffic generates pollution, noise and danger of accidents outside both the school and the hospital, which is highly concerning, particularly as a number of scientific studies have shown a link between air pollution and children having smaller lungs, an increase in lung cancer, and other cardiovascular and neurological problems. In addition, the highest proportion of child fatalities happen as a result of vehicle accidents.
Better Bunhill feels this is highly likely to happen as young children use these facilities, particularly at the Children’s Eye Hospital where sight-impaired children use the facilities outside of the School Streets times.
Better Bunhill is concerned with people-friendly streets and has been proactive in campaigning for immediate action to be taken to address this situation. We have been in contact with our local councillors to raise this issue, and have attended a number of the Bunhill Ward meetings regarding the unfinished traffic scheme on Old Street Roundabout.
During one meeting TfL outlined plans for two schemes: one for Bath Street to become a School Street – restricting traffic on Bath Street for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon – and secondly, to reverse traffic on Bath Street and Peerless Street. This would be fine but we remain very disappointed that TfL took nine months since the last Ward Council Meeting to offer proposals that will not take effect for months.
Neither of the proposals will solve the problem of the pollution issue and dangerous traffic. It was also mentioned that Scheme 2 construction will not start construction until March 2022. Despite all the above, TfL and Islington Council see no urgency in addressing this.