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  • Backstop:

    Yeah, but, upfront consultation would mean they wouldn't get off the ground, the only way to get anything implemented of this form is to do it and let people see the benefits, all else is just wishful thinking that's got nowhere for 20 years.

    Well, what used to happen was obviously not good, either, but in different ways. Usually, a group of residents got some wind under their wings to go through the motions with the council, took a deputation to a full council meeting, got articles in the local newspaper, etc., got their councillors to support them, with the upshot that something (that usually wasn't very good) was then designed by some highway engineers and put out, top-down, to 'consultation' (which many people think is a vote, but which is actually just an information-gathering exercise and the wrong vehicle for 'voting').

    That then led to the predictable counter-campaigning group to be formed ('we were never informed') who often managed to get schemes watered down or defeated. Again, obviously, that's not good. If there were no alternative to this happening, sure, one could just do it top-down, but there are also examples where things were not imposed top-down, but where communications staff facilitated genuine engagement exercises and where neighbours actually talked to each other.

    It needs to come up from the streets if you want the local knowledge. Top-down generally brings very poor outcomes--I think I've seen one scheme of the current batch that's even halfway acceptable in terms of where the filters are, although I haven't looked at them all. Sure, areas are then filtered, but badly, and they then don't get touched again for 20 years, or get disfigured when the inevitable crash clusters happen that are easily explicable by the poor filtering scheme in operation, but which engineers generally fail to treat adequately, only seeing on-the-spot solutions where area-wide measures, and a complete review of the bad filtering, is needed.

    (That may seem too abstract, but one example is the junction of Southgate Road and Northchurch Road, a very problematic junction, despite looking quite innocuous, where there have been a large number of horrible crashes. The reason why these problems exist at this junction is because the eastern arm of Northchurch Road is filtered at the junction. This causes drivers on Southgate Road, the cell boundary street, to drive like idiots. I can't think of another junction in Hackney where during junction observation I've seen such bad driving. If this junction had a junction mouth on both sides for drivers approaching along Southgate Road, their behaviour in driving through it would be very different, and the junction layout could also be improved significantly. The junction in question has been tinkered with since forever, and I originally didn't understand what the problem with it was, either. However, having thought about it for a long time, I now know that the filter at the junction must be removed and pushed deeper inside the cell. That in turn requires other changes to the filtering of that cell, so it becomes an area-wide problem that people often find it much harder to get their heads around and that, especially in view of the long history of, and the hard-won fight for, the De Beauvoir filtering scheme, is political. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples like this with edge filtering in London, and lots for the other ways of getting filtering wrong.)