Mini Holland Major Argument

Is anyone else bored of Mini Holland? I don’t mean the scheme its self, I mean the continual, never-ending arguments that rage around it. Its like some kind of stretched out story line on Eastenders. The kind of soap plot that starts in January and continues all year, finally reaching its dramatic climax on the Christmas Special. Trouble is, by the time it gets to the big reveal, you are so bored of the story you just don’t care any more. I don’t care who killed Lucy Beale, I don’t care who walks, cycles or drives, I just want to hear the duff duffs and get the whole thing over with. Of course, that’s not entirely true, I do care what happens in Walthamstow and the wider borough, but I really want the credits to roll on the arguing and nonsense that surrounds Mini Holland. I’m bored of being forced to choose a side. I’m bored of being defined by the method of transport I happen to be using at the time. I’m bored because the Mini Holland debate is going around in circles and getting nowhere fast.

There’s no shortage of people who will tell you which problems the scheme fixes. There’s also no shortage of people who will tell you all about the problems the scheme causes. I hear it’s all good, and I hear it’s all bad, but no group can really present a balanced view. Fault is placed at the feet of all sorts of groups. Nutcase drivers are to blame, no wait, the cycling Taliban are to blame. No, that’s not right either, it’s the councils fault, or the people doing the school run, or transport for London, or Boris Johnston. And why the Hell isn’t Stella Creasy fixing this! Take a photo of a busy road and stick it on Facebook to prove Mini Holland is terrible. Take a photo of a quiet road and post that to Facebook to prove it works. Shout, argue, post and protest, but don’t do the one thing that could bring a resolution, talk to each other.

You see, the real problem with Mini Holland isn’t the scheme at all, the real problem is our collective inability to talk, listen and compromise. The general perception is that there are two camps, two sides in this debate,  those for the scheme, and those against. Each shouts with loud voices, and neither likes criticism. If you criticise Mini Holland, those who are for the scheme will waste no time telling you how wrong you are. If you come out in favour of any part of the scheme, the anti lobby will shut you down and stop listening. I’m writing from experience here, I once stated on twitter that I didn’t like Copenhagen crossings, a supporter of the scheme told me that was my problem because I was too stupid to cross a road safely. On the occasions where I have said anything in favour, I have been sworn at and insulted. This behaviour is indicative of the problem we face, neither camp is willing to recognise that the other has valid points, neither is willing to compromise, and Walthamstow is loosing out as a result.

In reality of course, there are not just two camps, there are lots of people like me, people who just want a sensible approach to Mini Holland. People who want to be able to challenge opinions and have a balanced discussion without being shouted down. The vocal sides of the debate both claim to represent the majority of Walthamstow, but because neither will compromise, neither side truly represents the community they claim to. If the two sides of this debate really want to make a difference, they need to stop waging a war with each other, and instead find a way of working together to deliver workable solutions. In my opinion, this is something we can all do, instead of telling people their opinion is wrong, why don’t we try to understand differing opinions and suggest sensible solutions.  There are good points and bad points to this scheme, we need to be grown up enough to recognise both. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure we all want safer roads, less traffic and cleaner air, the one and only way we are going to get something that really works, is to stop the nonsense and start working together.

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7 comments

  1. I just can’t agree with this. The side I’m on (pro) has been public about issues with the scheme, has tried repeatedly to reach out and find common ground. No scheme is perfect – and no scheme will solve every problem. Sure, there are a couple of swearier, angrier pros (me sometimes, after having fielded thousands of anti comments and concerns – I can get tetchy). But they are an isolated phenomenon.

    Contrast that with the nearly universal approach of the antis. They’ve repeated rumours as if they are facts, dismissed any facts or evidence put against them as somehow illegitimate, and worst, have a pattern of repeatedly revealing personal details, making direct threats and abusing those who are in favour. Local FB groups run by antis will absolutely not just ban anyone who says anything in favour, and delete their comments, but follow up with a volley of abuse. At public meetings they’ll shout down anyone and everyone – at the Markhouse public meeting they drove mums with kids out crying.

    On top of that, their own stated position is on shifting sand – it’s whatever slogan is convenient. But underneath it all, really they won’t be happy unless nothing happens at all. Take their central claim that they’re against “road closures” but in favour of cycle lanes and tracks. When the Lea Bridge Road scheme went to public consultation (a scheme of cycle tracks, not closures), they organised blanket opposition to those tracks.

    Sorry, but really, honestly – the issue here is not a small group of pros versus a small group of antis – the issue here is one side is trying to make the best out of change and an opportunity. And the other side is basically saying “we don’t like change” (while ignoring the fact change would be happening with or without mini-Holland). With that as the position, you really can’t find much common ground.

  2. The scheme is flawed in several ways, but not in the way the antis believe. I can only talk about the village scheme because it’s the area I know best.

    1) leaving Vestry Road open was a mistake. It should have the same treatment as Orford Road (namely a bus gate). Because of this error Pembroke, Orford, Addison, and Beulah are seeming to taking more traffic now then before.

    2) leaving Orford Road open in the morning was a mistake; cars drive way too fast. I fear it is a matter of time before one ends up in a shop front.

    3 ) As they knew Orford was going to be open for 12 hours a day and the bus would continue to run through it why did make the pavement flush with the road?

    4) The Copenhagen crossing are poorly done. The geometry should be much tighter, the ramp much steeper. Dare I say that they’re a little too advanced for this country too? God knows what drivers of Walthamstow will make of the tiger crossing at Aubrey Road when it’s complete.

    5) the signage on Orford Road, whilst technically correct, is awful. How many of us understand the red circle without looking it up?

    As to compromise, I’d say it was impossible. The official anti-line from E17 Streets For All is no modal filters. Period. No modal filters means no Copenhagen crossings (hurrah) but it also means no safe routes to the main, as yet unconstructed, cycleways. I’m sure as soon as construction work starts on LBR the anti line we change from no road closures to no cycleways on main roads.

    The truth is E17 Streets for All do not see bicycles as a legitimate form of transport.

    The only constructive proposal E17 Streets For All proposed was a cycleway that ran down the side of the railway. This route went 500 meters from the Nags to Walthamstow Central and was very vague about what happens at the bridges.

  3. The scheme is flawed in several ways, but not in the way the antis believe. I can only talk about the village scheme because it’s the area I know best.

    1) leaving Vestry Road open was a mistake. It should have the same treatment as Orford Road (namely a bus gate). Because of this error Pembroke, Orford, Addison, and Beulah are seeming to taking more traffic now then before.

    2) leaving Orford Road open in the morning was a mistake; cars drive way too fast. I fear it is a matter of time before one ends up in a shop front.

    3 ) As they knew Orford was going to be open for 12 hours a day and the bus would continue to run through it why did make the pavement flush with the road?

    4) The Copenhagen crossing are poorly done. The geometry should be much tighter, the ramp much steeper. Dare I say that they’re a little too advanced for this country too? God knows what drivers of Walthamstow will make of the tiger crossing at Aubrey Road when it’s complete.

    5) the signage on Orford Road, whilst technically correct, is awful. How many of us understand the red circle without looking it up?

    As to compromise, I’d say it was impossible. The official anti-line from E17 Streets For All is no modal filters. Period. No modal filters means no Copenhagen crossings (hurrah) but it also means no safe routes to the main, as yet unconstructed, cycleways. I’m sure as soon as construction work starts on LBR the anti line we change from no road closures to no cycleways on main roads.

    The truth is E17 Streets for All do not see bicycles as a legitimate form of transport.

    The only constructive proposal E17 Streets For All proposed was a cycleway that ran down the side of the railway. This route went 500 meters from the Nags to Walthamstow Central and was very vague about what happens at the bridges.

  4. How can you talk or compromise with people like council lot Loakesd and his cronies who are not even prepared to listen to your point of view and corrupt democracy to suit their end

  5. I’m not against the mini Holland scheme, but I do think that more thought should have gone in to the rest of Walthamstow. The traffic now on Palmerston Road, Hoe Street etc.. is crazy! Takes 20-30 mins to get to Forest Road somedays. I understand were trying to make our roads safer – but as a car driver I just feel discriminated against.

  6. The real problem is down to the willy-waving of one man, the unspeakable Loakes, who did his level best, not so long ago, to close both the Vestry House museum & the William Morris Gallery.
    I live JUST outside the original mini-holland area. I am now 70 & I’ve been cycling since I was 11.
    It does NOTHING AT ALL for cyclists.
    ( What it’s like for the poor buggers between Hoe ST & Blackhorse Rd I shudder to think.)
    It should be possible, just, to get through by cat & therefore ambulance & fire-engine, which seems to have been lost in Laoke’s arrogance.
    The width restrictions should remain & “No Right/Left turn” signage put up, so that any through routes are both “twiddly” & slow.
    There’s also the matter of electoral fraud in the way the votes were taken regarding implementation, but let’s not go there, right now, shall we?

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