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East London Assessment Study (ELAS)

East London Assessment Study (ELAS)

The East London Assessment Study (ELAS) was one of several commissioned in the mid 1980s to solve traffic problems in key areas of London. It covered the Boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets. The study encountered difficulties in trying to identify ways of accommodating what was forecast at that time to be significant traffic growth. It was also recognised that even if road capacity could be expanded, problems of environmental impact would continue or be increased.

In order to address the environmental as well as traffic objectives of the study, Tim Pharoah was brought in (in 1989) to consider the potential for traffic calming as an alternative to conventional traffic management or road building. The aims were to reduce the impact of traffic on residential and town centre areas in particular.

Traffic calming reduces congestion

The traffic model set up for the full study reflected the frequent traffic queues at key junctions on the network. A re-run of the traffic model was proposed, with an assumption that traffic calming was in place to limit vehicle speeds to 20 mph rather than 30 mph. The output plans showed that the traffic queues were reduced in length, and in some cases disappeared altogether. This was intuitively correct, since in a network with frequent junctions, as in London, higher speeds simply bring drivers to the back of a queue more quickly - that is, they spend a larger proportion of their driving time stationary rather than moving. (See pdf "Traffic calming reduced queue lengths.) Thus, if congestion is defined in relation to queuing, traffic calming or speed limitation has a beneficial effect.

The study also included a case study of how traffic calming principles might be applied in mixed activity areas, in this case Upper Street, Islington.

The traffic calming options were included in the ELAS consultation, but attracted little comment. Of those who did comment, 81 were in favour and 51 against. This must be seen in the context of the overwhelming opposition to the road building options included in the study, which were opposed by many hundreds of respondents.

LocationLondon England
Client(s)Department of Transport
Team(s)Tim Pharoah with Llewelyn Davies Planning, Ove Arup & Partners 1989/90


Traffic calming, speed management, network management, East London, congestion reduction, environmental traffic management, East London Assessment Study, ELAS