Epping Forest Transport Action Group (EFTAG)
Hi subscriber,
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021, which finds us locked down once again due to the still-deadly pandemic, with all the consequences for mental health, for education and for public transport amongst so many areas of our lives.

More people are getting outside and discovering the joy of walking and cycling – a small upside compared to the devastation of the virus, but hugely important individually. We’ll keep campaigning for more action from our District and County councils to make that feel safer and more attractive. And as ever, we’d welcome your help for this essential campaigning work – reply to this email to get involved.

Clean Air Zone for Forest roads

You may well have seen publicity about new proposals for extra charges to drive the most polluting vehicles on some roads through the Forest. Some action is likely to be legally required to protect what is a nationally important ecosystem.

It’s true that traffic has continued to grow, and this is a direct consequence of the failed policies of our local councils on active travel and on public transport. Moreover there’s a risk that as London expands its Ultra Low Emissions Zone, the most polluting commercial vehicles and lorries will be used for deliveries in neighbouring areas like ours instead. This has serious consequences for public health, and especially that of children.

But local groups have rightly pointed out that the District Council seems to be looking to a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) simply as a magic wand that lets them authorise more housing, mainly to the benefit of a small number of property developers. A CAZ is no substitute for adequate public transport, nor for walking and cycling networks – improvements that are needed to make even limited development in the area sustainable.

The reality is that gridlock (and so pollution) is only going to increase unless people are given real choices about how they travel – and that requires a step-change in the safety, comfort and convenience provided by our streets for people who choose not to use a car. Restrictions on Forest roads might even push more heavy traffic into the district’s towns and villages, so we’ll keep a close eye on the details and keep you informed of what’s going on.

Demand responsive transport trial

Bus 87 has now become a demand responsive transport service, which means instead of a regular timetable you must now book tickets in advance – but you might find the bus can get you there quicker as it will take shortcuts if there’s no-one else to pick up. Epping Forest Community Transport are waiving their usual £15-a-year membership fee for the duration of the trial, so if you need to make essential journeys on the route between Epping Forest Retail Park in Loughton and the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, now is a great time to sign up.

You can read more about the new service and our thoughts on how the trial is being run on our web site.

Epping Forest Consultative Committee

EFTAG has applied to the charity that looks after Epping Forest to join their consultative committee. It’s vital that there’s a strong voice for active travel and public transport in how the Forest is managed.

However, as there was interest from a large number of organisations, the City of London Corporation are reviewing all the applications and have said they may prioritise those with the largest membership. It would help us if you can show your active participation in our campaign – one way to do that is by donating just a few pounds a year to cover the costs of our web site and other activity. This is easy via Paypal, just go to eftag.org.uk/donate.

In case you missed it

In December, we blogged about Loughton Job Centre Bike Rack, on the potential for a new cycling and walking network for Chigwell, and about the traffic lights on the new Lea Bridge Road cycle track. Keep an eye out on our website, or follow us on Twitter, for more over the coming months.
[photo of the useless bike rack outside Loughton job centre]

Meeting today!

Our regular monthly meeting is today (Tuesday 26 Jan). Reply to this email for the Zoom details if you don’t have them and would like to join us.
Thanks for reading. See you soon!

The EFTAG newsletter Team