CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘People friendly’ streets scheme is welcomed by disabled woman

Mum who uses mobility scooter says she suffers daily abuse from motorists

17 July, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Carly Ashdown: ‘At least once a day, drivers beep or shout at me, but it can be as many as five times a day’ (Credit: Barnsbury and St Mary’s Neighbourhood Group)

A DISABLED woman has described how the council’s “people-friendly streets” scheme could transform her school run, which currently sees her battling road-rage drivers and dangerous streets.

Canonbury is the latest area to be targeted by the Town Hall for its rollout of measures aimed at helping those walking or travelling by bike.

People-friendly streets will see temporary traffic orders imposed to ban through traffic from residential streets, while allowing people access to park near their homes.

Carly Ashdown, whose six-year-old son is a pupil in a Barnsbury school, uses a mobility scooter to pick him up from school every day.

She told the Barnsbury and St Mary’s Neighbourhood Group that navigating the streets puts her “between a rock and a hard place”, forcing her to choose whether to go on the road or on the pavements.

“The roads are not designed for mobility scooters,” she said.

“Part of the problem is the speed cushions – they force me into the middle of the road, causing drivers to slow down which often ends up causing anger from drivers.”

“At least once a day, drivers beep or shout at me, but it can be as many as five times a day.

“It’s quite upsetting. Sometimes I wear a pollution mask or headphones to help me block out the abuse – it helps me cope. It’s not safe, the roads are really quite dangerous. Cars overtake me on blind corners as they can’t wait – my top speed is only 14 kilometres per hour. They often behave as though I shouldn’t be on the road.

“It’s like choosing between a rock and a hard place – whether to go on the pavement or road.”

Further people-friendly streets are set to be introduced in Highbury, Clerkenwell, Nag’s Head, and St Mary’s by the autumn.

The consultation survey on the plans will be held after a trial to see if they should be made permanent.

But some have already spoken out against the plans. A group of Canonbury residents signed a letter sent to senior councillors demanding a meeting to allow residents to have their say, and bemoaning the lack of consultation.

The letter reads: “We are horrified and concerned that we will not be able to get out of East Canonbury at all, on to the Essex Road and Southgate Road which form two of the main boundaries of our area, without going through many residential streets.

“These are meant to be the quiet roads for the cyclists and we already have a cycle route through the area which is well used.

“Traffic will become congested as we attempt to get out of our streets. No access to the Essex Road is a ridiculous idea. The council is effectively locking us in.”

Nearly 4,000 people have also signed a petition calling for a halt to the rollout.

But Town Hall environment chief Councillor Rowenna Champion said: “The people-friendly streets neighbourhood in Canonbury East will create a safer, cleaner and friendlier environment for local residents, while giving appropriate space for social distancing as people make essential trips.”

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