“The car was traveling at such speed that it flipped over having clipped another car.” I was shocked but not surprised when a local woman told me about last Friday’s horrible crash on Candahar Road.
The woman, who had been in touch before to complain about speeding cars, told me: “I am pleased to report there were no serious injuries, thank goodness, but there were two children in the car and my son was parallel to the accident on the pavement so it could have been a very different story.
“It took 17 firemen to free those trapped in the car. My husband spoke to the paramedic who expressed disbelief that this could happen in our side roads.”
Earlier this year, I presented to Wandsworth’s mayor a petition signed by 83 residents of Afghan and Candahar Roads that said: “We the undersigned would like Wandsworth Council to investigate measures to stop cars rat-running in our streets”.
I spoke to dozens of parents while collecting signatures. Similar complaints kept coming up. White vans speeding through the quiet residential streets as children walked home from school. Cars deliberately going the wrong way down the one-way section of Candahar Road. Drivers using the Little India neighbourhood (given the name as its streets are called Kabul, Afghan, Khyber and Nepaul) as a cut-through to avoid the traffic lights at the junction of Battersea Park Road and Falcon Road.
In response to the ‘rat running’ petition, the council’s Strategic Planning and Transportation Committee considered a report on the issue in September. The committee voted to do nothing – as the council’s report stated: “The low traffic volumes, low speeds and low accident incidence do not show justification for any further action”.
Frustrated by this decision, my fellow Latchmere councillors Tony Belton and Wendy Speck have been knocking on doors in Little India during the last month to collect signatures for a local 20mph zone. So far the response has been positive.
When I heard about the Candahar crash last Friday, I wrote to members of the council’s Transport Committee to ask them to reconsider their decision. It is clear to me that we’ve had a very lucky escape and should take traffic calming action as soon as possible. One possible step would be to close the one-way section of Candahar Road to all traffic except bicycles. This would remove the traffic short-cut and preserve these side-streets for residential access only.
As the local woman concluded: “I know you are on our side but what do we do next? The traffic surveys seem to yield little response, it is not a question of the weight of traffic, it simply takes one car traveling too fast to kill.”
Kandahar, Kabul, Afghanistan and Nepal are not in India. The term “Little India” is a recent invention of local estate agents. The area has been traditionally known (accurately) as “The North-west Frontier”. We already have to put up with Clapham Junction being deemed part of Clapham by the likes of the BBC. Is it Labour policy to perpetuate the misnaming of our neighbourhood and the confusion of school geography students?