Our open letter to Brent Council re expanding active travel in Brent:
To: Chief Executive Carolyn Downs
CC: Councillor Muhammed Butt, Councillor Krupesh Hirani, Assistant Chief Executive Shazzia Hussain,
Councillor Neil Nerva, Councillor Krupa Sheth, Councillor Thomas Stephens
Subject: URGENT - Expanding Green Travel measures in Brent
Dear Ms. Downs,
The government is calling for a “step-change” in the roll-out of Active Travel measures, and that these should be taken “as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks”. Moreover TfL and The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have launched the ‘London Streetspace’ programme to help residents switch to more sustainable forms of transport, reducing the pressure on other parts of our transport network. Immediate action is essential in reducing public transport to 20% to enable social distancing whilst travelling. As you know there is funding available from TfL and we are keen that Brent secures as much funding as possible to enable the changes that are needed. We hope there is time to consider the recommendations below on green travel as a necessary and timely response to the Climate Emergency declared by Brent council last July.
1. Put in place Clean Air Zones, with charging if needed.
2. Reduce car use through measures such as promoting car-sharing and the need to own and use a car through managing developments in the local plan. The Housing Minister has revoked the sign - off for Local Plans so we ask Brent to run counter to this and find alternatives to removing Green Space / Green Corridors within Brent.
3. Deliver a rapid transition of the council’s own fleet of vehicles to electric.
4. Require deliveries to the council to be by electric vehicles or bike (e.g. through setting-up a distribution centre for onward deliveries by clean vehicles).
5. Extended time limit on pedestrian green phase at every signalised junction for disabled pedestrians; these should run without needing to push the button.
6. Connected cycle lanes through major thoroughfares and parks, clearly painted with their segregation significantly improved through the use of wands, cones, armadillos, and planters and pop-up cycle parking should be encouraged, especially in areas of high pedestrian traffic. Major thoroughfares in turn should allow cycles in bus lanes, but no other (private) vehicles, with stiff fines for infractions; they should use 'swept path analysis' software to ensure cycling safety and viability; see
7. The provision of cycle hoops and bike hangers to be accelerated on given residential streets, as long as two or more households are in favour, and in the parking lots of all schools.
8. For the safety of cyclists in Brent speed limits should be lowered, especially in residential areas and near schools, with increased enforcement and speed camera infrastructure significantly expanded; wherever possible, at intersections without traffic lights and the Council should consider banning turns to remove hooking danger, among the leading causes of injury and death among cyclists.
9. The Council should commit to converting existing parking to green spaces/ tree and hedge planting wherever possible, thereby simultaneously reducing car usage and improving air quality, and adopting weekly car free days and making all school streets car-free within 500 metres of schools with exemptions for people with blue badges/disability driving badges.
10. On top of air pollution, noise pollution is a public health issue pertaining to traffic. Brent Council should more aggressively devise and implement noise impact assessments and increase enforcement including fines for all vehicles with noise levels above 10 dBA and increasing fines for modified vehicle exhaust systems that make the vehicle in question noisier after it has been ‘type approved’.
11. The North Circular Rd/A406 should be a top priority for traffic reduction, as it contributes to dangerous particulate levels and noise pollution for all adjacent communities, bisects the borough in ways that make crossing exceedingly difficult, and is extremely un-user friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. Optimally, a trolley line should be placed in lanes for both directions, although this would need coordination with TfL and adjacent boroughs. More immediately, existing plans to sequester lanes in both directions for cycle and pedestrian use, with planters/shrubbery/green verges segregating these from traffic, should be implemented; and over/underpasses for cyclists and pedestrians greatly increased. We urge you, therefore, to consider the above and prioritise green travel plans as quickly as possible. Where appropriate, funding should be sought from TfL – and where the changes are not the responsibility of the Council we urge you to lobby TfL for these changes. We look forward to hearing from you regarding the recommendations outlined in this letter. We appreciate regular updates and feedback on the subsequent Developments of your efforts.
Coordinator Brent Friends of the Earth