Addressing Traffic Congestion and Safety Concerns in Underhill's Highways

Barnet Residents Association (BRA) recently met with Underhill Councillors Zahra Beg and Tim Roberts to tackle the urgent issue of traffic congestion and safety concerns within the Underhill Ward. Over the past years, the influx of vehicles moving through and around High Barnet has resulted in increased traffic jams and delays on main thoroughfares. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of strategic planning to manage this surge, leading drivers to seek alternative routes through small side roads, often at inappropriate speeds for residential areas.

Cleaner air emerged as a top priority among local residents, in a survey conducted by the BRA. The diversion of through traffic into residential roads not only disrupts the peace of these neighbourhoods but also poses risks to pedestrians and cyclists who are often overlooked by hurried motorists. Consequently, implementing traffic calming measures becomes essential to safeguard the well-being of local citizens.

During the meeting, the focus was placed on two critical "pinch points" within the ward. Addressing these areas could help alleviate traffic flow, redirect vehicles away from side streets, and subsequently reduce emissions and improve safety of all road users.

Firstly, the width restriction outside the Co-op on Mays Lane was discussed. This restriction has caused significant delays throughout the day and serves as a crucial crossing point for local residents frequenting the Co-op and neighbouring shops. Originally implemented to enhance pedestrian safety following a fatal accident, the crossing still presents dangers and necessitates redesigning to improve pedestrian safety. The Governors of Underhill School firmly believe that maintaining the width restriction is vital for the safety of the school's 280+ pupils.

The second area of concern involves the junction of Underhill and Barnet Hill (A1000) was thoroughly discussed. The congestion stems from the narrowness of the road leading to the junction. If parking continues to be permitted there, widening Underhill becomes the recommended solution to accommodate two lanes of traffic (east and west) in addition to the parked cars. Located just 260 meters away on Barnet Lane, the Ark Pioneer Academy experiences an influx of student commuters, predominantly arriving by coach. As the student intake is projected to increase each year from 2019, peak-time traffic is expected to escalate. 

Additionally for the children attending the Ark and Totteridge Academy, there is currently no designated safe passage from these schools to the bus stops/station on A1000, except for the pedestrian crossing by Vale Drive. 

Furthermore, Westcombe Drive has transformed into a rat run to evade the junction. A potential solution involves removing a strip of pavement at the junction of Underhill and A1000, without compromising pedestrian safety, to provide the necessary road width, particularly during morning and evening rush hours.

Councillors have expressed agreement with the identified priorities and have already engaged in discussions with council highways officers. Moving forward, the BRA will continue working closely with the Councillors and relevant authorities to propose viable solutions that prioritize the safety of local citizens, especially children and pedestrians.

In conclusion, the meeting with Underhill Councillors shed light on the urgent issues of traffic congestion and safety concerns prevalent in the Underhill Ward. The BRA remains dedicated to collaborating with Councillors and council highways officers to explore effective strategies, ensuring the well-being and safety of local residents are at the forefront of future developments.