Where philosophy meets cartography
Musings by Robbie Griffiths
The glorious thing about defending the concept of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, is that it forces supporters to consider ever more aspects of human life in the city. So it was inevitable that philosophy should raise its head at some stage. So we have to thank Helen on our Facebook platform for pointing out the dangers of dogma, though I’m not sure she meant the dogma that cars and the city are somehow inevitably entwined.
She also introduced the idea that the main roads around our LTN are not really main roads. We also have Daniel on this website arguing that Auckland Road is not really a residential road, but more akin to a main road. Is this an example of semantics, or is there a purpose behind these arguments? If there is no appreciable difference between the status of say Church Road and Auckland Road, then does the LTN have any validity?
Before we examine how roads can be defined, let’s look at various maps available online. Google maps is almost unique in not revealing the class of road through colour. If we turn to Bing, we are offered in effect two options: Road or Ordnance Survey, both of which show main roads in a discrete colour. Looking further afield I stumbled upon OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world. It provides map data for thousands of web sites, mobile apps, and hardware devices. Apart from one obvious advantage of using it – it provides social as opposed to commercial data – it allows different interpretation of the underlining data by offering five layers that provide varying ways of looking at it. It is worth pointing out that in all versions that use colour to identify the class of the road, the roads around our LTN are all indicated as main roads, while some of the roads within the LTN have conflicting status.
|Map||Church Road||Auckland Road||Cypress Road||Sylvan Hill|
|Obscured by bus route||Double line||Residential||Residential|
|Obscured by bus route||Grey||Grey||Residential|
What is clear is that all cartographers agree that Church Road/Anerley Hill are main roads, while Auckland Road may have some elevated status. Cypress Road and Sylvan Hill are classed as residential by 6 out of 7 cartographers.
What is not clear is who chose the classification of these roads, what was their expertise, what was their authority?
If we now examine these roads as laypeople, what can we determine by eye or little expertise?
|Criteria||Main Roads||Auckland Road|
|Status||‘A’ road||No classification other than Cycle Route 29|
|Funded by||Central Government||Local Council|
|Lanes for moving traffic||2 lanes for its entire length allowing cars to pass each other coming from opposite directions||For much of its length it is effectively single carriageway as vehicles are allowed to park on both sides|
|Speed bumps||None||Along entire length|
|Other traffic controls||Speed camera||Restricted width at council boundary; bus gate|
My verdict therefore is that our main roads, A212/A213/A214/A215 are indeed main roads according to all definitions. I would concede that they occasionally have traffic levels that overwhelms them and that levels of traffic in the Triangle don’t make it a very attractive place to visit.
The answer is not to divert this traffic onto residential roads to gain access to, at most, a tertiary road. Auckland Road has been selected to be a safe route that might encourage drivers to try out a more active form of travel and as such it is a very small step in seeking to address the problems of overuse of motorised vehicles.
If this is not the answer, then another question arises: what do we have to do to make Crystal Palace triangle a pleasant place for people? This website will be open to people who want to address the problems of 10,000 people a year dying in London due to pollution and over 2,000 people being killed or seriously injured on our streets.
What is your verdict?