There has been much debate of late about the safety of women when walking the streets of London. The following article is written by a resident of Lewisham and gives her views on the subject and the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods:
Over the course of my 40 years spent living on Burnt Ash Hill, I have walked home from the train station or the bus stop after a night out many, many times. Advice to women who are walking home alone recommends that they should try to stick to well lit, busy streets. In this regard, I count myself lucky to live where I do because there is always traffic. This may well give a false sense of security because not every driver will stop if they see an incident happening in the street but there is always the hope that the approach of a car will deter or at least disturb a potential attacker and may lead to someone intervening to prevent something bad happening. But what is it like to walk at night on the roads that have been closed by Lewisham Council on the pretext of the Covid pandemic? Their justification is that it will improve the ability to socially distance. But does it really make the streets safer?
To answer that question, I decided to walk along two streets that have been closed. Admittedly, when I left home at 6.45pm it was not completely dark, but it was close enough as I didn’t want to be out much later. Walking down Burnt Ash Hill it was reassuringly busy and crossing over the South Circular and down to the shops where the lights from the shop fronts allowed me to make out the colour of the jacket worn by the man in front of me allowed me a measure of confidence. This changed when I turned left into Holme Lacey Road. At the road closed sign, I turned into Dallinger Road. The further I walked along this road the quieter it became as the traffic noise decreased almost to nothing. From the start of this road to the end just one car passed me and the family travelling in it parked up and went into their house. Further along, a woman was collecting her child from the minder. She got into her car but had to turn around in the road so would not be driving past me. Just one cyclist rode by. I emerged and turned right onto Manor Lane and then right onto Holme Lacey Road. By now, the light had faded, and it was fully dark. No vehicles passed me there. I was happy to get back to the bright lights of Burnt Ash Road.
When I was doing the walk, catching the virus was the last thing on my mind. I was more concerned with getting out of the closed roads in one piece. I would not want to do this walk, alone, after catching the last train home.
Of course, the flip side of living on Burnt Ash Hill is that when lockdown finishes these road closures will once again lead to queues of traffic outside my front door for three to four hours a day. It is not the virus that will kill me now that I have had the jab. It is the toxic air that is created by the traffic jams. In the meantime, potential predators seem to have been given a helping hand for which I am sure they are extremely grateful.
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