Better Streets for Tower Hamlets recently attended a community-organised public meeting in Wapping about motor traffic in the area. Around 30 residents were present, and it was clear from what they said that the area has some serious traffic problems.
We heard that Wapping suffers from a significant amount of vehicle-borne criminality, including drug dealing, and a great deal of extreme antisocial and dangerous driving – with a good deal of road racing occurring. We also heard that Wapping suffers from rat-running, including by coaches and lorries; given how direct a route The Highway (the main road just to the north of Wapping) is, much of this rat-running must be irrational – can these drivers actually be saving any time?
There was strong agreement at the meeting that Wapping would become much pleasanter if its streets only carried local traffic, removing the rat-runners and significantly reducing the opportunity to race through the streets and deal in drugs. Given that Wapping is sandwiched between a main road and the Thames, there is really no good reason for non-local traffic to be there.
We talked about the idea of creating some new no-through roads in Wapping, which could make it impossible to rat-run through the area, and much more difficult to race or otherwise drive antisocially. It was thought that this could be done while still giving all local residents easy vehicle access to The Highway. It was noted that Wapping’s two bus routes would need to get through, which could be allowed with either rising bollards or camera-controlled no-through points.
As we were leaving, as if to demonstrate the problem we saw a just-crashed car. Eyewitnesses to the crash said that the driver had immediately run away upon crashing – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that it was untaxed and without an MOT!