How Satnav increases traffic in St Peter’s

Satnav systems direct traffic down residential streets for the sake of saving a few seconds on a journey. This trend is accelerating - now every driver has 'the Knowledge' to cut through the city

How Satnav increases traffic in St Peter’s

Traffic on Basire Street, Prebend Street and St Peter's Street is increasing and will continue to increase unless Islington Council takes action. Every week, more vehicles drive down our residential streets. The dramatic rise of Uber and internet deliveries only exacerbates the problem.

Let's focus on one cause, the increased use of satnav systems. For the sake of saving 30 seconds, traffic that historically stayed on main roads is now being routed down residential streets.

Traffic queuing at the St Peter's Street roundabout

Taking a shortcut is nothing new, but 10 years ago only local drivers and cabbies would know the secret. Now, access to these routes is universal: every driver has 'the Knowledge'.

It's getting worse every year - for example, Uber has put an extra 45,000 cars onto London's streets - and it's very hard to limit: whenever councils try to combat traffic, satnav apps powered by thousands of the smartest developers look for ways to get around the perceived 'delay'.

Take a practical example: drivers travelling west from Hackney. To avoid having to wait at the traffic lights on Essex Road, vehicles cut down Basire Street, through Prebend Street and then up Packington Street or St Peter's Street and onto Essex Road.

This is one of several cut-throughs in the ward. Others include: New North Road -> Essex Road; Essex Rd -> City Road; and City Road -> New North Road.

Traffic cut-throughs in St Peter's Ward

This poses an enormous challenge for the council. Adding more traffic lights in the ward, say at the junction of St Peter's Street and Prebend Street, will not help. Satnav systems will simply route traffic down the side streets that do not have traffic lights.

Rush-hour traffic makes crossing Prebend Street difficult for schoolchildren
Traffic from New North Road entering Basire Street

St Peter's Street

The St Peter's Street cut-through from Essex Road to City Road poses additional problems. St Peter's Street could never be a through-road: it's simply too narrow.

Between Colebrooke Row and Cruden Street, pedestrians are pinned against a wall on a narrow pavement.

Wheelchair user forced into St Peter's Street due to narrow pavement

The street narrows to the south as well. Down by the Duke of Cambridge and Narrowboat pubs, heavy traffic makes it difficult for children to cross the street to Hanover Primary School.

Time for action

The increase in traffic is going to get worse as the Covid lockdown eases. We need the council to take action now.

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