Let’s be absolutely clear, if drivers respected people on bikes then we wouldn’t need to provide cycle lanes. Unfortunately there are some drivers who do not take into consideration the safety of others when they are on a bike. As someone who cycles I feel I take my life into my own hands every time I venture onto the roads. What seems to be forgotten is that a bike has as much right to be on the road as any other form of transport and that a person on a bike has little or no protection in a collision with a motor vehicle.
There has been some lively debate online and in the papers about the implementation of the Mini Holland proposals, now called Cycle Enfield. This debate has included both ration and irrational comments and heated exchanges. A lot of ‘anti’ comments talk as if bike riders are not welcome in those town centres and should be directed away from them so that they can bypass the centres without disturbing the people who drive their cars there and who, by inference, are the only people who spend money in local shops. To me all this does is persuade a growing minority that their trade is not welcome in these town centres and that if they want to shop by bike then they should go elsewhere.
What seems to be concerning a number of shopkeepers in Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill about the potential of cycle lanes being put onto Green Lanes is the loss of parking for those people who arrive by car with one comment from Tony Ourris of Anthony Webb Estate Agents being ‘If businesses loose even one of those parking spaces it could be disastrous for the local economy’. To me this is one of the more irrational of statements being made.
I have been carrying out my own survey over several weeks of Green Lanes and between the Fox Pub and the Triangle I have counted 39 carparking spaces. Behind Waitrose at the Triangle end there is a large carpark with a total of 160 spaces, 3 of which are for over 70’s and 7 for disabled people. Over that period I have been visiting that carpark on numerous occasions and have counted the unused spaces excluding the disabled and over 70’s ones and the availability has ranged from a minimum of 52 spaces up to 127 empty on a Saturday. Clearly showing that this carpark could easily accommodate any loss of spaces on the High Street. I have suggested to the council that they improve the signs pointing to this carpark, including putting in a digital display showing the number of free spaces similar to those in Enfield Town and that they allow a period of say 1-2hours free parking here whilst maintaining charges on the High Street with the aim of encouraging drivers to use the carpark instead of parking on the High Street. The lost revenue could be funded from the Mini Holland money. Additionally I suggest that from the Fox Pub to the Alfred Henning pub the pavement is sufficiently wide to accommodate a single cycle lane without impacting on the parking there and that the parking spaces there could be made disabled parking to alleviate any concerns about access to the northern end for people who have difficulties walking unaided.
An article in the Homes & Properties section of the Evening Standard talks of the new cycle super highways in London opening up home buying opportunities locally and builders and Estate Agents are already seeing the positives of having cycle lanes and advertising properties as cycle friendly offering secure cycle parking, quick access to the super highways etc. This can only improve those areas and increase values of properties as people seek to buy where facilities are available for them to cycle safely.
If cycle lanes go through Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green along Green Lanes then money will also be spent improving those centres and as a result they will be more pleasant places to visit encouraging more people to shop there whether by, Bus, Train, Car, Bike or Walking. This can only be good for those areas. If the cycle lanes are forced to go elsewhere then the money will not be spent locally and that would be a great shame for both shopkeepers and shoppers alike.