The demo at Archway last night was the result of a fruitful collaboration between three Islington organisations. Between us (Islington Cyclists Action Group, Better Archway Forum and Islington Living Streets) we assembled a significant crowd of over two hundred people on foot, on bikes and of all ages. The cross party support for ridding Archway of the dismal gyratory was very clear Lib Dems, Greens and Labour were all represented and our local paper was there to record the event.
I was so busy making sure we’d caught everyone on camera, keeping the police happy and making sure we got on to the roundabout safely that I didn’t have time to notice much about the demo apart from enjoying the transgression of claiming the carriageway for people on foot and on bikes for a precious few minutes. I’ve asked two Living Streets participants for a few words to describe how they found it.
Stephanie Palmer who carried the Islington Living Streets banner, had this to say: “I did wonder as I arrived at the strange oasis of buildings in the centre of Archway Gyratory to join the ‘Ditch the Roundabout’ demonstration, just how many others would arrive. There is something very sad about 20 people trying to get their point across. However, 250 of us, some just walking, some pushing bikes, some with cats ears and one with a huge musical wheel attached to his bike all walked together around the roundabout. We stopped the traffic! People seemed relaxed and happy to be able to participate. The police too were friendly and helpful. The Living Streets banner led the walk and I hope the demo will help to make the changes so badly needed happen.”
While Gillian Comins a founder member of Islington Living Streets wrote this about the experience of joining us: “Emerging from Archway station at six o’clock, I looked around eyes and ears bewildered by the roads, and the traffic and no obvious street plan. Where was Archway Close – the place where we were due to meet? Wandering round I found a handsome post office – if only there could be one like this at the other end of Holloway Road near the Highbury and Islington roundabout. Then I came upon the library and help from one of the staff. Striking out again, I found the Close and assembled walkers – many with children, some in push chairs, cyclists and guardians – police and Community Service Officers. At 6.30 we set out on a slow walk or cycle round the gyratory system having promised to behave prudently and not antagonise motorists. We proceeded, chatting to each other, cameras busy recording the scene. Ten minutes later and it was all over. Was it worthwhile? Emphatically yes – the Mayor and Transport for London have the power to improve the situation but can be forgetful. This action was a reminder.”