High Barnet - Traffic Movement around the Town

The problem

1. Previous work on the Town Centre Strategy identified options to improve the pedestrian/traffic balance in the High St, and these options should now be reconsidered. However the issues of traffic volumes and how it moves around the town has never really been addressed. This paper discusses these issues, indicating that improvements should be possible to reduce traffic volumes in the High St and in the rat runs.

2. For most of the day The High Street is clogged with traffic, causing noise, pollution, and difficulty in crossing the road. The environment is unappealing to pedestrians and frustrating for the motorist with progress being so slow. The problems for pedestrians are exacerbated by narrow pavements, the need to negotiate crossing between traffic leaving Salisbury Rd or entering Union St, and the slow response times of the crossings at the St Albans Rd Jct and by Union St. These are obstacles to shoppers on foot and to drivers seeking to access the High St (whether using the street bays or using the Moxon St car park). For all users, the High St is a most unappealing environment.

3. To increase the appeal of the High St to shoppers a reduction in the volume of through traffic should be a primary objective. This is certainly not a new idea. In the 1980s there was a proposal to construct a by-pass to the east of the town centre but this was not proceeded with in the face of local opposition, although part of the route (Victors Way) was constructed. Much of the remainder of the planned route has subsequently been built on so completion would not now be possible.

4. Stapylton Rd was widened and extended in the 1980s to link it with St Albans Rd, though the original plan was to extend through to Hadley Green. As well as creating access to The Spires car park It was the intention that this road should relieve the pressure on the High St. But in practice this has never happened. Much of the traffic is to and from the two car parks along the road. For much of the day the road is otherwise lightly used.

5. The centre of the town also suffers from a number of residential roads being used at rat-runs, and any scheme to relieve High St congestion must ensure that this situation does not worsen, and indeed where possible any scheme that is devised should seek to reduce the traffic on these roads.

Traffic routes

6. The major routes through the town are

  1. From the south, a single road feeds all traffic into the town centre, splitting at the Church junction into Wood St/High St, and splitting again at the top of the High St into St Albans Rd and Hadley Green.
  2. From the North traffic enters the town from three directions – Wood St, St Albans Rd and Hadley Green.
  3. Within the town area traffic movement is quite complex. As well as the main north-south arteries, Stapylton Rd provides an east- west conduit linking Wood St and St Albans Rd , as does The Avenue / Alston Rd,; whilst the lower half of Salisbury Rd and Union St, both one way, link the High St and Stapylton Rd.

Traffic movement

7. Observed by BRA, the following appear to be the major traffic flows:

  1. From the south, the greater proportion of traffic takes the right fork into the High St and Then splits fairly evenly at the junction at the top of the High St. Indications are that most traffic from the south heading for St Albans Rd does not use the alternative route of Wood St/Stapylton Rd.
  2. From Wood St, much traffic for St Albans Rd uses The Avenue/Alston Rd, and vice versa, in preference to Stapylton Rd.
  3. About 400 cars a day travelling from Wood St to the High St/ Hadley Green go to the south end of Wood St and then turn left up the High St in preference to using Stapylon Rd/St Albans Rd.
  4. A substantial amount of traffic from Stapylton Rd heading south uses Salisbury Rd and turns right on to the High St in preference to using Wood St.
  5. A substantial amount of traffic heading west from Hadley Green uses High St/Union St to reach Wood St in preference to using St Albans Rd/Stapylton Rd.

8. Thus a pattern emerges where the vast proportion of traffic through the town is funnelled through the High St. The residential Roads of Alston Rd, Union St and Salisbury Rd are used as ‘rat runs’. Stapylton Rd, previously extended to provide a relief road, is under-used with only a little congestion at peak times. Wood St heading north handles the traffic, but there can be congestion heading south primarily because of buses stopping outside the Church just before the junction.

9. The annex to this paper suggests the probable key factors influencing the choice of route for vehicles moving through the town, identifying pinch points which cause congestion and delays. However a comprehensive study would no doubt be required to accurately chart the routes of choice and vehicle volumes, unless such data is already available.


10. If the principle is accepted that through traffic on the High St should be reduced and attempts made to improve the flow of what remains, along with alleviating the rat runs, then it should be possible to develop a comprehensive plan with these strategic objectives in mind. The key should be to properly use Stapleton Rd for what it was designed for – a relief road for the High St. With the expectation of CIL money arising from the redevelopment of The Spires, along with the possibility of LIP funding from TFL, it should be possible to implement a comprehensive plan over the next few years.

Barnet Residents Association

September 2012


Factors Influencing traffic movement around High Barnet

1. Why does traffic in the High street move so slowly?

a) Continuous demand from pedestrians using the pelican crossings.

b) Substantial turnover of parking places in the High St with delays caused by vehicles reversing into parking bays.

c) Southbound vehicles waiting to turn right into Union St blocking traffic behind them.

d) Southbound vehicles turning out of Salisbury Rd blocking the northbound lane.

e) Waiting at traffic lights at the three-way junctions at the north and south of the High St.

2. Why does more traffic from the south to St Albans Rd not use Wood St/Stapylton Rd?

a) From the south, the fork left onto Wood St is often blocked by buses at the stops just before the junction, and occasionally by delivery vans.

b) There is no signage encouraging traffic for St Albans Rd to use the Wood St/Stapylton Rd option.

c) the exit at the eastern end of Stapylton Rd is narrow and traffic seeking to turn right blocks the exit for vehicles seeking to turn left (especially at peak times when traffic tails back from the St Albans Rd lights past the exit, stopping traffic from turning right). The result is traffic backing up along Stapylton Rd.

3. Why does eastbound traffic from Wood St to Hadley Green use Wood St/High St instead of Stapylton Rd?

Same as for 2c.

4. Why does westbound traffic from Hadley Green to Wood St use High St/Union St instead of St Albans Rd/Stapylton Rd?

a) Right turn at the lights at the St Albans Rd jct involves a long wait and lets out only a few vehicles in each phase.

b) Buses parked on Stapylton Rd can be difficult to get around.

5. Why does traffic from Stapylton Rd heading south use Salisbury Rd instead of Wood St?

Possible tailback at traffic lights south end of Wood St (mainly peak hours).

6. Why does traffic from St Albans Rd to Wood St and vice versa use The Avenue/Alston Rd instead of Stapylton Rd?

Same as for 4b