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The long war of mini-Holland in Enfield

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Disputes about the installation of cycle lanes on main roads through a north London suburb continue to rage

The best way to understand a vast metropolis is to explore it on foot, which is why I walked three southbound miles along the gently curving A105 from Enfield Town to Palmers Green during the morning travel peak. It is one of a matrix of main roads linking a constellation of small town centres in this part of suburban north London. Its route passes a weave of residential streets, the “set back” frontages of large interwar homes and intermittent parades of shops. There is a flow of motor vehicles, sometimes smooth, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The carriageway is broad. It is also a bit of a battleground.

The root of the hostilities can be traced to March 2014, when Labour-run Enfield Council secured around £30m from Transport for London (TfL) to make the borough more conducive to cycling. Its bid for a big piece of Boris Johnson’s “mini-Holland” fund, created to encourage bicycle travel in Outer London, was distinctive for its emphasis on installing dedicated bike lanes on those very Enfield roads currently dominated by cars. The council’s plans, augmented with further funds, aren’t all about these segregated tracks – there will also be investment in quieter cycling routes. But, as Councillor Daniel Anderson, cabinet member for environment, puts it: “We don’t want to push cyclists down side streets. We need cycling to become a genuine direct alternative for making trips across the borough.”

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