Road Closures

I think rat running, rat runs, rat runners etc all vile, dehumanising terms and deliberately devisive.

It’s been used by Cllr Leo Gibbons on this very forum.

It’s used all over Commonplace by those people in favour of for example the Bishopsthorpe road blocks:

Lewisham Council uses the term, for example here:

So who are the rats? Everyone who uses the road who doesn’t live on it? Whether they be cyclist, pedestrian, jogger, old lady with a zimmer frame, motorist etc - “rat runners” one and all? I’ll take bets that everyone who uses this term is thinking of motorists. I don’t call anyone using my residential road as a route to get from A to B a rat runner. Everyone who uses a car or any form of motorised transport - be it a delivery or a service provider or personal transportation - uses roads they don’t live on.


My point was that ‘rat run’ is a commonly used term. ‘Rat runners’ was called out as being dehumanising. I don’t think that was in any way intended by the use of the term rat run in the same way was it’s not dehumanising to say someone has gone down a rabbit hole with an argument for example.

Yes of course, and they’re perfectly entitled to do so. Rat runs specifically applies to roads that are notorious cut throughs. People tend to speed down these roads so councils put in force traffic calming measures to deter people from using them unnecessarily, or for example one way systems like Manor Mount (and people STILL come down the hill) - we’re not talking about people getting from A to B using residential roads.

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Lovely set of hazards for the sight impared there, with tactile paving that leads straight to them.


Cool, I had no idea that’s what they were for - I thought it was to stop people slipping down the inclined kerbs!

The trouble is that the people who install the barriers don’t know either. Or they just don’t care, the less able having lost so many hard one rights since the pandemic. Those particular patterns indicate a safe place to cross, with dropped kerb and no hazards to bump into.

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Personally my main issue with all this is the lack of process, proper consultation and accountability, which seems to even include safely implementing the changes and co-ordinating with other councils.

Anyway, I thought I might be able to look into the data, because it’s on a webpage and I can count things.

So earlier today there were 322 comments listed here:

Of them I counted some stats and threw in a graph to make it less boring:

In answer to the question “Would you like this scheme to be made permanent?”

  • 55% of respondents said ‘No’
  • 38% of respondents said ‘Yes’
  • 7% of respondents said ‘Undecided’

The question “How effective do you feel this scheme is in helping you socially distance and walk or cycle more?” allows a response on a scale of 0 to 100 to be chosen on the slider. 0 represents “Not very effective” while 100 represents “Very effective”.

  • The average value of all returned responses was 39.7
  • The average value of returned responses that also said ‘No’ to making the scheme permanent is 4.8
  • The average value of returned responses that also said ‘Yes’ to making the scheme permanent is 90.0
  • The average value of returned responses that also said ‘Undecided’ to making the scheme permanent is 40.0

The distribution of the responses can be seen in the following chart, which is pretty polarised as we would expect:

The site also features an ‘Agree’ button where other people can give a thumbs up to multiple existing comments quickly and simply. Interpretation of these is difficult as we don’t know which part of a response is being agreed with. Since the question about making the scheme permanent is simple to interpret (and matches well with the 0-100 answer), we can use that:

  • There are a total of 3998 individual ‘agrees’ across the 322 comments counted
  • The average ‘agrees’ across all comments is 12.4 per comment
  • The average ‘agrees’ for all comments which responded ‘No’ to wanting want the scheme permanent is 11.2 per comment
  • The average ‘agrees’ for all comments which responded ‘Yes’ to wanting want the scheme permanent is 15.4 per comment
  • The average ‘agrees’ for all comments which responded ‘Undecided’ to wanting want the scheme permanent is 5.7 per comment

So in conclusion, a significant majority of respondents are saying they don’t want the scheme to be made permanent. The average response to whether the scheme is helping socially distance and walk or cycle more was also leaning towards the negative. However, about 4 more ‘agrees’ are being given to each comment that does wish the scheme to be made permanent, than those that don’t.

We don’t however know why, or who has entered any of this data, so we will have to trust the council to make proper use of it and hope they tell us later.

Similarly you don’t know exactly how I got or processed all this data, so you’ll have to trust I’m not making it all up!


Amazing depth of analysis, @ForestHull. Well done!


Lies, damned lies, and statistics

I had a very unscientific look at the comments and likes and detect a late surge towards the keeping it permanent vote. Probably just 10 locals liking the positive comments about keeping their local streets free of excess car pollutants. 10 seems to be a number that comes up very often liking it but it could just be a coincidence.

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I agree and think the likes are being ‘gamed’ as that’s the easiest thing to do, and the "agree’ count does seem samey on a lot of positive posts.

However, after I got out of the data, I realised that the headline is probably that the majority don’t think the measures help social distancing, won’t encourage waking or cycling and don’t want the changes permanently.

But here we are with the modal filters installed.


It’s outrageous that we have to guess why some schemes have been chosen and others ignored.


What was revealed with the flawed Commonplace so called consultation on Mais House was that a lot of people didn’t even clock the slider and on some consultations you move it one way or the other depending on what is written directly under it. It’s not intuitive and even on the various current traffic ones I’ve moved one of the sliders the wrong way, not realizing the question had changed. My fat fingers and small phone screen meant I hit yes rather than no on the permanency question. Once you’ve hit enter, you cant change anything.

Plus when Commonplace produced the results, they produced a very confusing graph (I’ll try to find one and post a link) and they added up all the “agrees” and said they had had X-hundred people voting agree. But it was actually the TOTAL number of people that had agreed with a comment. There was no breakdown of whether these “agrees” were in favour or not in favour of the development.

The questions are wrong and there’s no policing of who’s voting and how often they’re voting. I think if I were a road signage manufacturer for example, I’d be encouraging all my staff to vote early and vote often, even if they didn’t know the area.


I was pondering the slider, why it was 0 to 100 rather than 1 to 100. I think the answer is so that there is a ‘dead spot’ at 50 which is entirely neutral to avoid skewing the data incase no input is entered on the slider (it starts at 50). That said, most people wanged it to one end or the other, and in the above data the slider value almost always agrees with the answer to the final question “Would you like this scheme to be made permanent?”.

To make such a mis-interpretation is plain stupid, though making objective sense of the ‘agrees’ is not easy. ‘Gaming’ the ‘agrees’ isn’t hard, and the whole agrees thing would be best being completely dropped in my opinion.

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To be honest I’d not have heard about anything to do with Road Closures if it wasn’t for this thread. I hadn’t heard of Commonplace as a way to register opinion either. It certainly isn’t a democratic way to garner public opinion if it’s not well publicised. Either that or I missed a leaflet through the door that said ‘hey we want your opinion’.

The comments about traffic remind me of the phrase ‘you’re not stuck in traffic, you ARE traffic’.

What I do find bizarre about the whole thing, and I agree with people complaining about this, are that they seem to have shoe horned it in as a ‘social distancing excuse’, to quote myself earlier when I saw the signs on the planter boxes:

I think it’s a lame excuse for blocking roads and just frustrates everyone on both sides of the discussion, they should stick to the main argument: cars pollute, cause traffic and for a majority of short journeys are unnecessary. Walking and cycling is better for your health, you’ll be less of a drain on the NHS, you’ll have better mental health etc etc etc. Reducing traffic promotes safer environments for more people to cycle.

Are we going round in circles yet?


Out of curiosity, let’s recreate the poll here, and see if there’s a difference in opinion (note that our poll is restricted to trust-level-1+ members in order that we’re only sampling people who’ve participated in this forum as opposed to new signups):

The council has now blocked traffic on certain roads in Lewisham, in a plan designed to discourage motorists from using their vehicles and encourage walking, cycling and social distancing.

Critics pointed out the lack of formal consultation, the resulting increases in congestion on other roads, and the peculiar choice of roads to target.

How do you feel about this new traffic management strategy?

  • Pleased to see these road blocks
  • Unhappy about the road blocks
  • Don’t feel strongly either way
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

I filmed and reported 3 drivers that all did this one after each other last year on a FH road. Although this was because of roadworks and there were clear diversions in place and they ignored the short diversion next to the roadworks!Children had been walking along here just minutes before. The police fined all of those drivers.

It does annoy me when drivers are too arrogant to obey signs but not sure how I feel about this situation though if there’s no warnings and no alternatives…

I’m confused by the signs at the end of Devonshire Road. Cars obviously still coming off the south circular and cutting through in the morning as a short cut even though the south circular is not busy and they’re just being too impatient, so what purpose were these barriers meant to serve?

18 months ago. That’s interesting. I thought these measures were temporary, and Covid-related… :thinking:

This is not the work of the Deputy Mayor.

Even though we may disagree about the closures, we can agree that using Covid as an excuse is daft. I don’t approve of the method even if I agree with the solution. As I said before it detracts from the real issues.


There was something in that tweet which made me wonder whether those specific interventions had already been planned and consulted. It looks to me as they were. For context the tweeter along with and the two other people referenced are the local councillors for Lee Green Ward where that specific intervention fell.

So perhaps not so nefarious as suggested.

There’s been a lot of discussion as to whether these plans have been simply pulled out of the hat. No doubt some have, or at least plans advanced in light of the Covid-19 crisis. And I too hope that the post-intervention consultations are in full swing, they will be more robust.

But the Council’s plans for interventions of this nature was very much a part of their transport strategy released in February 2019 and widely consulted on in 2018. This included statutory consultees including emergency services, disability groups, and other special interest bodies for road users. Specific recommendations for the aforementioned Lee Green (May 2019) and East Sydenham (June 2019) were already advanced following area specific consultation processes before the Covid-19 crisis hit. It wouldn’t be that far fetched to suggest the results of those consultations would be replicated to a degree in other Wards. Hard to say yes… hard to say no.

We should never lose site either that these actions are, in part a result of central government direction to local authorities and in response to the Covid-19 crisis. No doubt this has helped some within the council - councillors and mayor included who now find their programs conveniently aligned with central government policy.


I think I speak for many here when I say: I don’t care which arm of government, or which party is behind these poorly implemented, poorly thought out traffic blocks. This discussion isn’t about political point scoring, nor should it be.

The main concerns raised in this topic are:

  • how did the council choose which roads to close?
  • is the means of consultation fit for purpose?
  • why was the signage so poor, or missing in many cases?
  • is it appropriate to punish drivers for escaping the impossible situation of being trapped midway down a long narrow road with a long queue of vehicles behind them, having encountered a blockage which was inadequately signed?

I’m glad you posted James’ tweet containing those stats:

If you look closely you’ll see none of those statistics imply actual support for the specific schemes that have been implemented. Take the “1506 text comments” stat for example. How many of those comments were positive, and how many of them were scathing, critical of a scheme which we’ve seen criticised widely over social media?