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Yes to Mini-Holland!David Flint puts his personal viewpoint for the Enfield Society's magazine (but it's in line with EGP policy)
Let's start with the people of Enfield. Enfield residents have a high level of obesity and this undermines their health. Now everyone knows that obesity results from too much food and drink and not enough exercise and I think we also know that gym membership is not the answer. Exercise is most sustainable when it's part of our daily routine and the obvious way to achieve this is by walking or cycling - to work, to school, to the shops and to the park. Even to the pub!
Unfortunately many people are deterred from cycling by fear of cars and lorries. It's a reasonable fear and the Mini-Holland plan will make cycling safer by creating separate cycle lanes on major routes. Increased exercise and reduced air pollution (now known to be the second largest public health risk) will have other health benefits too and NHS costs may fall.
The previous report in this magazine focused on the proposal to close Church Street to cars and vans. This is important because Enfield Town is one of the areas with the most 'potentially cycleable trips' in London. Some town centre shopkeepers fear a loss of business but several studies have shown that traders generally over-estimate the proportion of their customers who travel by car. Other studies have shown that pedestrians spend more than motorists whilst investment in facilities for bikes generates more trade per pound than do facilities for motorists.
But the cycling super-hubs at Enfield Town and Edmonton Green are not the most important elements. The most important elements are the routes across the borough - six North-South and five East-West. After all, there's no point in providing bike racks and repair shops unless we can cycle to them!
The Council has been criticised for inadequate consultation but we should note that there was consultation and that the bid had the support of both Labour and Conservative groups on the Council. Outside the Council it has the support of the Enfield Green Party, the London Cycling Campaign, the Enfield NHS Trust and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority amongst others. In any case the Council will be obliged to consult on the details of the various elements as the work proceeds.
The scope for cycling to increase is vast. Official data shows that 30% of car trips in Enfield are less than 2 km long and a further 28% are between 2 and 5 km in length. So almost two thirds of trips could be done by bike by ordinary people.
In the medium-term health improvement from weight loss, greater fitness and reduced air pollution is the biggest benefit.
In the long-run Mini-Holland should be part of a broader trend to return our streets, the streets where we live and shop and our children go to school, to all our people - even those without cars!
Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ