ROBERT MOLTENO & our Waltham Forest Mini-Holland tours

Many visitors to this website will know that our dear friend and campaigner for better streets across Wandsworth and London, Robert Molteno, died suddenly on 31 January 2022.  As co-founder of Wandsworth Living Streets, Robert proved a determined, effective and charming campaigner for liveable streets, especially for people on foot.  We were fortunate to have known and worked with him and to have shared his satisfaction in achieving lasting change across Wandsworth (and beyond) – most visibly, the borough-wide introduction of 20mph speed limits on Wandsworth-controlled roads, the initiation and gradual roll-out of School Streets and, across London, shorter waiting times at signalised pedestrian crossings.

For a glimpse of the positive difference that Robert made in Wandsworth and across London, you can read a blogpost by Living Streets, with tributes from campaigners and policy-makers who knew him, at  https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/remembering-robert-molteno

In recent years, Wandsworth Living Streets organised guided visits to Waltham Forest Mini-Holland for councillors and others with an interest in learning about how to create a street network that enables active travel and enhances the public realm. Robert had set up a tour, led by WFMH expert Paul Gasson, to take place in late February. The tour went ahead and, even more than ever, gave a great insight into what can happen when a borough moves beyond thinking about ‘projects’ towards ‘mainstreaming’ healthy streets and active travel.  Although there’s still work to do, Waltham Forest provides an exemplar of how streets across a wide area can be transformed – in a relatively short time and (sometimes) in low-cost ways.

Robert was always keen to spread any learning we gleaned from our campaigning activities. As a tribute to him, Wandsworth Living Streets, thanks to WLS committee member Camilla Ween, has put together a report on our visit, based on our observations and learning on the day, which you can read or download below:

Susie Morrow, March 2022

VISIT TO WALTHAM FOREST MINI-HOLLAND

ORGANISED BY Wandsworth Living Streets (WLS)

 FRIDAY 25/02/2022

ATTENDEES:            

 HOST: Paul Gasson

Wandsworth Council: Cllr Judi Gasser

Wandsworth Council:  Cllr Clare Fraser

Susie Morrow

Mike Grahn

Ruth Pates

Camilla Ween

INTRODUCTION

MINI-HOLLAND schemes aim to reduce the impact of motorised vehicles on walking and cycling and to create a shift towards calmer, more sociable, greener and more walking- and cycling-friendly neighbourhoods. 

The tour of Waltham Forest Mini-Holland (and continuing) improvements demonstrates how better neighbourhoods can be created by interventions to the highways and public realm that favour walking and cycling. 

More info can be found at https://enjoywalthamforest.co.uk/about-mini-holland/ and https://www.enjoywalthamforest.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Blackhorse-Road-Junction-Consultation-Document-July-2017.pdf

MINI-HOLLAND TOUR ROUTE

KEY INTERVENTIONS OBSERVED ON THE ROUTE:

  OUTSIDE BLACKHORSE ROAD UNDERGROUND STATION

JUNCTION OF BLACKHORSE ROAD / FOREST ROAD (by Blackhorse Road Underground station): 

Cyclops Junction – funded by TFL and local S106. Cost of scheme £1.5M. 

Protected provision and clear parallel routes for pedestrians and cyclists through all arms of the junction, maximising junction efficiency. Below are the consultation plan and images.

[Full details of the consultation process can be seen here: https://frproposals.commonplace.is/proposals/blackhorse-road-junction]

Key benefits (as set out in the consultation)

•Wider pavements and new crossings for safer pedestrian and cycle access 

•Attractive, safer place with new public spaces, more green space, more trees and plants 

•A fit for purpose road network that can cope with growth 

• Improved public transport access 

•Less congestion on the road network which means less emissions and better air quality

   

 JUNCTION TREATMENT BLACKHORSE RD/ HARWARDEN RD 

     Pavement continuous and level

     Planting restricts opening to side street, which slows traffic.

   

 OUTSIDE COPPERMILL SCHOOL / EDWARD ROAD

Buildout of pavement (protected by wands); road filtered to eliminate rat-run traffic; planting / Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS).

 MURALS

Artworks inspire and reflect growing sense of place  and community engagement in response to the changed environment.

 

 PRETORIA AVENUE

Closed to motor vehicle traffic to protect Stoney Park and Stoney Park Primary School (cycling and walking access maintained).

      

   OUTSIDE ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS CHURCH

         Previously 3000 motor vehicles per day  on road; very hostile environment. The section of the road outside the church is now cut off to motor traffic and converted to a pocket park, with cycle stands and a bike hangar and two planted beds .

  No benches at present; but it was suggested the best approach is to put in something temporary (under an Experimental Traffic Order) and monitor the results before making a decision on whether to make it permanent.

JUNCTION TREATMENTS & ENTRY NARROWING TO PRIORITISE WALKING AND CYCLING

A variety of treatments have been employed to facilitate walking and cycling.

PROVIDING  CONVENIENT CROSSINGS for walking and cycling to connect neighbourhoods

 GREENING

Planting is encouraged; often managed by local residents and amenity groups.             

SLOWING MOTORISED VEHICLES

By narrowing carriageways, motorists are forced to slow down.

 

 FORMER RAT RUN CUT OFF – AUBREY ROAD

To create quiet passage for walking and cycling

  RAILWAY BRIDGE CLOSED TO VEHICLE TRAFFIC

Bridge closed to motor vehicle traffic, allowing cycle and walking access only. 

 

  

ORFORD ROAD FILTERED

The road now has a ‘bus and cycle gate’ allowing only bus and pedal cycle entry between 10AM and 10PM; pavements widened; car parking removed; cycle parking added; carriageway flush with footway. This has become a very successful shopping and eating street with higher retail occupancy than previously.

WALTHAMSTOW VILLAGE SQUARE 

PUBLIC OPEN SPACE created at  ORFORD ROAD junction with EDEN ROAD

GENERAL POINTS

Waltham Forest Mini-Holland approach was a blend of walking and cycling infrastructure, motor traffic management and public realm enhancements.  The programme created 4 Km of protected cycleways, high quality streets and safer junctions. Providing visual cues for behaviour.

The scheme had its origins with conversations kickstarted in 2011 following the Council’s decision to worsen conditions for cycling and walking via the introduction of a swathe of one-way streets;  in 2013 bid for TfL Mini-Holland funding; £27M awarded from TfL, supplemented by S106 funds.  WFMH programme ran till 2019.

WFMH was an ambitious programme carried out in phases – 2nd phase: Lea Bridge Road; 3rd Phase: connecting town centres (Chingford, Walthamstow Central, Leytonstone etc). Parallel complementary measures (as part of WFMH): cycle hangars, cycle training, cargo bikes, bike loans, website to communicate news etc. Roll-out of cycle hangars continued in response to huge demand [Mini-Holland was originally going to install 90, now there are 650].

The approach to re-balance streets towards people has continued after Mini-Holland programme. The borough has, since 2019, created a further four low traffic neighbourhoods (from various TfL funds). More recent approach has been using cameras (ANPR). The effect has been to create places to dwell; art trails (murals etc).  A large element of the rationale for Mini-Holland and subsequent interventions to the street network has been around social justice (many residents do not have cars; Waltham Forest is the 12th most deprived borough in London).

One of the early LTNs outside the school in Warner Street engaged school kids in the design of the SUDS scheme. LTNS represent an excellent value investment; they have social and health benefits as well as enabling active travel through the street network. Hackney Borough aims to have the whole borough covered with LTNs.

Cycle hangars in Waltham Forest are charged at £35 per space per year. Many of these were seen on our tour. 

Waltham Forest borough has now installed 25 parallel crossing (pedestrian + cyclist zebra crossing- see images above). These are a very low-cost way to enable quiet residential streets to be connected across busier roads, creating a network of cycle- and walking-friendly streets and routes.

Aubrey Road (section has mode filter to exclude motor traffic); previously it had 1,000 motor vehicles per day. Network Rail overbridge on The Avenue (mode filtered instead of bridge strengthening);  prior to the mode filter, a total of 2500 motor vehicles passed the school daily.

FUNDING APPROACH – collect ‘pots’ from different initiatives and S106/CIL funds from nearby development.

POST-COVID CHANGE:  More people are now at home 2 – 3 days a week; through the  creation of  walkable neighbourhoods, greater community engagement has been achieved. Much of the planting and SUDs schemes is cared for by local community groups/ resident associations and neighbourhood groups and residents.

’Greening’ schemes contribute to Climate Change mitigation in many ways e.g. reducing storm water run-off and promoting active travel and reducing car dependency. Residents plant flowers etc. at tree bases. Place-making interventions act as a spur to connect communities.

ENGAGEMENT: School kids were engaged to design SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes) outside the school on The Avenue.

MESSAGE:  “It is NOT about punishing low income groups within the community, who disproportionately have borne the burden of (other people’s) use of cars”.

IMPACTS

  • Less motor traffic and improved driver behaviour. It is now possible to walk in the middle of many streets (even where cars have access), as speeds are lower and driver behaviour is more considerate.
  • Friendlier –the approach tends to dissipates the sense of driver entitlement and supports community life.
  • Focus should NOT be ‘road schemes’, but more as ‘neighbourhood schemes’.
  • WFMH and its subsequent interventions to its streets and public realm are proving powerful tools to deliver on its Climate Emergency commitments.

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One thought on “ROBERT MOLTENO & our Waltham Forest Mini-Holland tours

  1. Robert was one of the nicest and most civilised people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. The transformation of streets by Waltham Forest Council is the finest example in the UK of the kind of people-first urban environment that Robert campaigned for so effectively. We need more Roberts.

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