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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

With all the attention on the benefits and disbenefits of the current closure of Wightman Road , we haven’t yet spent much time thinking about what the future of Wightman Road might be. With both the current closure and traffic study, now is the ideal time for us to start that process.

I should perhaps begin by saying that I write in full knowledge of the problems caused by the current closure, including the significant impact on some businesses and  longer queues at some ‘pinch points’ especially at ‘rush hour’. I’m also very aware that there is more traffic on some roads such as Hornsey High Street, Green Lanes and Turnpike Lane as well as other roads further afield. Alleviating those problems needs to remain uppermost in our minds.

It seems like the most discussed longer-term solution to Wightman Road’s woes locally is permanent closure. Could limiting access, in the current way be the best solution to the danger, pollution and noise caused by the traffic in the block of residential roads made up of Wightman and the ladder roads?

I was one of those who previously thought this was impractical. But now I’m beginning to question this assumption. I’ve been taken aback by seeing and hearing how significant a difference it’s making to people lives; small children cycling to school, cyclists calling out to each about how lovely it is, Wightman Roaders being able to open their windows for the first time, kids skateboarding, hearing birdsong, walking to the station actually being pleasant.

The dangerous pollution levels along Wightman Rd which breach EU limits presumably have been eliminated, taking significant numbers of people including children out of real danger. As others have said this option could also create a pleasant and safe cycling, jogging and walking route, not just for residents of the immediate area, but for a wider group of people across Haringey and beyond.

The other reason for my change of heart is that as time goes on, the level of negative impact gives cause for hope that it may be possible to find good mitigating solutions for the traffic and pollution dispacement. Does anyone have any ideas about what could be done in the surrounding area to help buses flow or/and avoid traffic queues? Can anything be done about the pollution in Turnpike Lane and Green Lanes? What else would we need to think about?

If permanent closure is not the answer, it will be gut-wrenching just to go back to the old status quo and I think the Council will have a fierce fight on its hands if it wants to do that. So what other possible solutions are there that might both allow for an improved quality of life but allow some traffic flow to other Haringey residents? I’ve read elsewhere on HoL about the idea of road-pricing, or limiting access to HGVs. What could we do to drastically reduce cross London traffic rat-running along Wightman and the Ladder roads, yet still permit some access to more  local traffic?

Is permanent closure the only option or is there another way?

Tags for Forum Posts: harringay traffic study, traffic, wightman bridge closure, wightman road

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Hi Julia,

Totally agree with you we need to keep Wightman road permanently closed !

Its funny when you read these threads how quickly everyone becomes sidetracked into discussing all sorts of  side issues.

FACT = Wightman road is a residential road that is used as a major rat-run causing huge misery for residents and ill health through noise and air pollution.

FACT = many other similar roads have been closed to traffic in the locality

fact = HUGE potential benefits for local residents. I truly believe that closure would dramatically improve the whole of the green lanes area.

FACT = it is not down to the residents of one road to worry about north London's traffic problems. Lets just focus on our own roads and our own health.

Yes there are some negative knock on effects of closure but again this is not a reason not to close wightman road.

I'm going to stat a new thread to discuss action plan to keep road closed for good.

I don't really see why these are side-issues.  Julia's thread was about the future of Wightman Road and whether there is any "third way" between full closure and the previous status quo.  And anyway you'll have a better chance of achieving closure if you can persuade the Council the downsides can be mitigated.  I think the only realistic way of mitigating such a closure would be to reduce car use - and provide proper incentives for that. 

Banning diesel cars would also improve air quality at a stroke even if the road were re-opened.  That's a side issue too but a bloody important one for all of us living in London.

@ Simon

Amazing how someone can post opinions that one is so diametrically opposed to!

My views:

Totally agree with you we need to keep Wightman road permanently closed !

Its funny when you read these threads how quickly everyone becomes sidetracked into discussing all sorts of side issues.

"Wightman road is a residential road that is used as a major rat-run causing huge misery for residents and ill health through noise and air pollution." - No - it is an important route which for a hundred years or more has been used by vehicular traffic and is relied upon by eg those in the south and south west of Haringey to reach western and north-western Haringey and many other destinations beyond. Using Wightman Road is not "rat-running" but normal, lawful and reasonable use of a road perfectly suited for the purpose. I don't of course disagree that cars create pollution which is why I would like to see car usage slashed across London.

"Many other similar roads have been closed to traffic in the locality" - can you name any? As far as I know no other similar roads have been closed.

"HUGE potential benefits for local residents." I can't see any benefits at all and (naturally) I am a local. "I truly believe that closure would dramatically improve the whole of the green lanes area." How? And how is it a fact?

Hermitage Road.

Allow me to paste in my reply to you on this same subject on another thread a few weeks back:

Wightman was set out by the British Land Company to service the Ladder roads. Without it they would all have been cul-de-sacs. It wasn't ever envisaged as a thoroughfare.

If you look at this map of 1893, you'll see that successive changes by Haringey Council over the past 50 years have sought to turn a series of narrow residential roads into a Wood Green bypass. It started as a way of giving motor vehicle access to the expensively  built shopping City and its car park. You'll see that neither Wightman Road, Hornsey Park Road nor Mayes Road were set out for any other purpose than to serve residential streets.

Given a different quirk of fate, with a few junction alternations and what have you, the bypass could have snaked through the narrow roads to the east of Green Lanes. Can you imagine the mayhem?

As one of the few around here, who actually lived in Harringay and very close to Hermitage Road fifty years ago, I would say that it was similar to Wightman and had similar usage.

It was a direct link from  South Tottenham to Green Lanes, was used as cut through and was very busy, in relation to the other roads in the area at that time. You'd often see black cabs using it - now if that isn't a sure sign that it was a major cut through route.

Hi Paulie,

Thanks for the reply.

The fact is that Wightman road is a residential road with houses either side all the way down. Saying "no" will not change that. Yes its an important route and each vehicle uses it lawfully but times change. The numbers of cars in use has soared over the decades and we as humans are much more conscious of the ill health associated with living next to busy roads both through inhaling the output of thousands of cars exhausts and via the noise and dirt the create. You may think that a road with families and children, schools and play areas and thousands of local people having to put up with noise and pollution is "perfectly suited" to large volumes of traffic but others do not.

Rat run = a ​smallroad that is used by a lot of ​drivers who are ​trying to ​avoidtraffic on ​largerroads

(Cambridge dictionary) Yes we have to have cars all over the pavements to make it wide enough to be a normal road lol

If you would like to see car usage slashed then close roads. Open them up to cyclists and walkers and residents.

Wilberforce Road / Finsbury park road just south of Finsbury park used to take all the traffic avoiding black stock road now they have been closed. Blackstock is an A road like green lanes. The roads closed are same width as Wightman.

The potential benefits - you cannot see any benefits fair enough.

1) Read through the the threads on here and you will see numerous people saying how wonderful it is to have the road closed. To open their windows and hear background noise of life and not just the noise of cars and lorries.

2) The proven facts of the health risks of breathing in car fumes ?

3) To be able to cycle all the way from the top of the ladder through Finsbury park along other closed roads through high bury fields and all the way into the city without having to fear for your life - to encourage a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

Yes there is the issue of where the traffic would go but that does not detract from the arguments to close the road. We may well find after 5 months that the great ebb and flow of this city has restored its equilibrium as people adapt and avoid congestion on green lanes. There are options - move retail park entrance to Seven sisters road for example.

Think big think of the future we don't have to settle for today's bad habits and norms. Remember when smoking on the tube was completely acceptable !

May I ask the question of why would we want to not close it ?

But Hermitage Road is not a B road and has not been a through-road for over ten years - just a minor residential road which is blocked to through traffic.

At the time is was closed Paulie, it was serving the same purpose as Wightman Road, carrying abut the same amount of traffic.

Mount Pleasant Road N17 (used to live on that one)

The closure of Hermitage is what precipitated the raft of piecemeal interventions. This was followed by the closure of the Gardens (which are B/C roads)... and on it goes.

John and Hugh will point you more directly to the fact that Wightman has not been "an important route which for a hundred years or more has been used by vehicular traffic", (if by "used" you actually mean relied upon to as to facilitate 120,000 vehicle movements a week... I believe it was relatively recently reconfigured to facilitate large traffic flows. It has become an important route, but only because of a misguide effort that the conspiracists would say as part of an undeclared attempt to make it the Wood Green by-pass.

Also Paulie, you state that you see no potential benefits of closure. Well, how is six months of extra life per person? This for the average person in Britain, I expect the impacts on mortality and life expectancy in areas with higher pollution loads such as Wightman would be significantly higher!

Hi Hugh

When you say it was built to service the ladder roads I'm not sure what you mean? In any event, of what importance is the origins of the road when compared with its usage in the last fifteen years? We could all find roads that started as insignificant dust tracks but that is not an argument for reversion.

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