Emergency road safety measures: Barnabas Road to close to through-traffic

Barnabas Road in Hackney is set to be closed to through-traffic as part of the next stage of emergency road safety measures to provide people with more space for social distancing and improve road safety as they walk and cycle. 

The road, linking Wick Road and Homerton High Street, is a key route for residents using Homerton Station, workers at Homerton University Hospital and cyclists using protected lanes on Wick Road. 

It will be closed under an experimental traffic order, with planters installed to prevent through traffic. 

The closure follows yesterday’s Government advice that people should continue to avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary, and Saturday’s updated guidance on walking and cycling, which featured a number of schemes already in place in Hackney. 

Following this advice, it is widely expected that through-borough motor vehicle traffic, which in normal times accounts for approximately 40% of all road traffic in Hackney, will continue to increase. 

The Council is therefore continuing to identify sites for the introduction of other additional measures to protect people walking and cycling, and has also begun adapting its borough-wide traffic survey to investigate the potential impact of easing restrictions on traffic levels. 

The Council has already closed Broadway Market to through-traffic, widened pavements at seven locations to help maintain social distancing and produced online road safety resources for schools. 

After the Government’s advice recommended that local authorities investigate introducing School Streets, the Council is also resharing its School Streets toolkit — which is currently being used by Transport for London to encourage best practice — and launching a hotline for London boroughs looking for advice on implementing them, which is funded by Healthy Streets Everyday.

While we are well-known for our existing measures to reclaim the streets of Hackney for people who walk and cycle, including our pioneering work on School Streets and the 120 road closures we already have in place, coronavirus is showing that we need to redouble these efforts to protect people and help them get around.

Following the recent letter that the Mayor and I sent to the Transport Secretary calling for the powers to transform our streets in order to improve road safety and social distancing, it was refreshing to read Department for Transport guidance released on 9 May advising local authorities that 'measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect'.

As a result of the pandemic, people are walking and cycling more, but there is a clear danger that traffic will increase as people continue to avoid public transport. We’ve widened pavements and closed Broadway Market to through-traffic to help people maintain social distancing, but we’re now launching the first of what will be a series of new road closures to protect the public from additional motor vehicle traffic and reclaim more public space to address what could be a radical long-term shift in levels of walking and cycling. 
Cllr Jon Burke, Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm