Camden to trial vehicle-free high street

Camden council will close its high street to traffic as part of its new Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN), which was announced earlier this month.

The council plan to close Camden High Street to all motor vehicles from Camden Town underground station to Hawley Crescent which they say will be implemented during the festive and summer periods as well as National Clean Air Day and National Car Free Day.

Camden’s bustling high street is a popular tourist destination, attracting 40 million visitors each year.

However, it experiences high levels of traffic with busy pavements and limited existing cycling infrastructure, meaning that visitors, residents and businesses are exposed to high levels of pollution.

Last year the local authority passed a resolution aiming to reduce air pollution in the borough in line with levels recommended as safe by the WHO, which goes beyond current legal standards which are enshrined in UK law through European Air Quality Directives.

The council also wants to encourage the use of cycle freight and cargo bikes in the borough to tackle poor air quality and traffic congestion as well as doing more to tackle engine idling.

As AirQualityNews revealed in March, the council issued zero fines for idling during 2018.

A visual of how the high street could look without traffic.

Camden Council has secured £500,000 of City Hall funding to create the LEN, with a further £100,000 awarded for the Camden Cargo Bike Network.

Shoreditch, Greenwich, Newham & Redbridge and Westminster already have LENs and Dagenham, Southwark and Hackney are in the process of setting one up.

Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden said: ‘In Camden we radically raised the level of our ambition on cleaning up our air by targeting stretching World Health Organization guidelines for air quality in Camden by 2030.

‘The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund will help us encourage deliveries by cargo bikes rather than congesting vehicles, drive down engine idling, and reduce emissions from construction machinery.

‘I am particularly excited at the prospect of making Camden Town a Low Emission Neighbourhood, including trialling giving sections of the High Street over to pedestrians to enjoy, free from motorised traffic.’