Letter on Living Streets walking routes map

Residents, campaigners and councillors on a Footways walk between Islington and Hackney town halls. 

Residents, campaigners and councillors on a Footways walk - Credit: Paul Cochrane/Footways

Safe paths

Julia Matheson, Ickburgh Road, Clapton, writes:

While welcoming the efforts of Living Streets in devising a network of walking routes connecting key destinations and green spaces in Hackney, I must counsel caution to anyone following the proposed route through Clapton.

Pedestrians are increasingly likely to find themselves in the path of a speeding e-scooter or bike which have begun to appear on quiet side roads and footpaths. A recent serious accident involving an e-scooter emerging from a side road on to Upper Clapton Road has highlighted the hazard these vehicles pose. 

A man riding an e-scooter in Jesmond, Newcastle, where a fleet of 250 orange electric scooters has b

An e-scooter being ridden on a public road - Credit: PA

Traditionally pavements and footways have provided a safe path for pedestrians separating people from motorised traffic. Unfortunately the trend towards shared spaces which has been adopted by both Transport for London and Hackney Council is serving to erode this separation to the detriment of the walking public. Recent works to create a road to accommodate cars from what was historically a footpath between Springfield Park and Clapton Common, and now the proposed Cycleway scheme in Clapton, which involves alterations to Lea Bridge Roundabout and the conversion of what was formerly a footpath into a “boulevard” across Millfield Park, is unlikely to be in the best interests of pedestrians. 

Even Hackney Council’s own chair of the planning sub-committee, Vincent Stops, thinks there are problems with the scheme. He is concerned at a loss of pavement and landscaping, and fears new bus stop bypasses for bikes could impact pedestrians and be “problematic for blind people”, making the public realm “less hospitable” for walkers.

While the concept of shared space might be workable in certain situations, the increasing hazard to walkers of powered vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes, which have the potential to reach speeds of up to 40 miles an hour and which are becoming a common sight on Hackney’s pavements, must be given more serious consideration if the safety of pedestrians is not to be sacrificed.