Post COVID-19 Response: Hampstead
GSR is a group of parents who want to see their children resume their classes in Camden, NW3 schools, however this should be done safely and with their best interest in mind. We are asking that Camden Council make several specific changes and that other groups join with us to create a new voice in the COVID-19 response. We are asking for:
one area of NW3 to be pedestrianised
for the removal of parking in specific areas to create needed safe space for pedestrian pavements and cycle lanes
that the Council actively supports a Park & Stride scheme to encourage driving parents to walk the latter part of their journey to reduce congestion.
We believe that our asks are ambitious, but also doable, and this health crisis requires both vision and action from the council and from residents. We refer to this as our GSR Post COVID-19 Response, but it is wider than that. It is about parents letting Camden Council know what we believe is important to enable us to reach our schools in the safest manner possible.
Pedestrianisation of Fitzjohn’s Avenue (B511) between Arkwright and Hampstead High Street (A502)
We recognise that this request may seem extreme, but we would be in favour of pedestrianising even more of Fitzjohn’s Avenue as there are so many schools (8) located on or just adjacent to it, so we believe the benefits to pedestrians, children, cyclists, retail shops and the community will far outweigh any traffic related concerns. It will give ample room for social distancing to reach the two primary schools located on Holly Bush Vale and would enable safer access to Tesco as there will likely be people waiting outside on the pavements. We would envisage that this would be a ‘filtered’ road so that TfL buses, emergency, delivery and very local residents would retain access, but that the road would be closed to all other users. There are already alternative routes to this road, including Hampstead High Street and Finchley Road.
Widening of the Pavements
Social distancing will require wider pavements and we see these as actions that must be taken. The areas that we highlight are those that were crowded before the COVID crisis:
Pavements where Holly Bush Vale and Heath Street meet – this area is already very crowded with traffic, delivery vehicles and pedestrians. Ideally the area would be temporarily pedestrianised.
Intersection of Arkwright Road and Fitzjohn’s Avenue – this intersection is already very crowded with children sometimes spilling off the pavements and into the roads. There is parking at the top end of Arkwright Road that, if converted into pedestrian space, would give overflow space to those waiting for the light to change to cross the road.
Arkwright Road – the size of the pavements all the way down this road, which gives access to Finchley Road and the Overground Station, do not allow for social distancing. We are asking that parking on one side of the road be removed to allow for wider pavements.
Cycling Lanes on Fitzjohn’s Avenue – we are asking that parking on one side of the road be removed to create a real cycling lane that encourages cycling for children. We would want some signage to ensure that cyclists remain at safe speeds (particularly going south as it is downhill) as there are so many children in the area. This may mean having some school volunteers or active management of the zebra crossing across Fitzjohn’s at Lyndhurst Road.
Council Support to Park & Stride System
Reports from Wuhan and other areas that are re-opening after lockdown are showing an increase in car use. The many independent schools in NW3 have very wide catchment areas, and many parents already travel by car. People will be concerned about the safety of public transport, and we expect that more parents will be travelling by car. They will need a safe place to park and then walk their children to schools. We would ask that these parking areas be free and without parking enforcement temporarily. Safe parking areas could be the parking area of the O2 Centre, the Council Pay and Display lot near Downshire Hill (East Heath car park), a parking area near to Swiss Cottage (TBD) and at Jack Straw’s Castle (Heath Brow). Ideally, parents could choose to walk from these parking lots or - as it is some distance from many schools – the council’s disabled access vehicles could pick the children and parents up and bring them closer to Fitzjohn’s Avenue on a revolving basis.