Across Islington, streets are changing. By reducing traffic and creating more space for walking, cycling, and wheeling, the borough’s low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) are helping to create more welcoming streets. One example of that is the hustling, bustling Cross Street, which is part of the recently-made-permanent St Mary’s Church LTN. We caught up with two local businesses to find out more
Just off Upper Street, at 50 Cross Street, is Supply 91 – a swish, modern hairdresser, which opened in October 2021 with a strong commitment to the environment. “We’ve found that around 70 percent of our customers are from Islington, and that the vast majority of those walk, cycle, or get the Tube to us,” says co-founder Luke Davies.
“Since the introduction of the low-traffic neighbourhood, there’s been more of a buzz on Cross Street – it’s becoming more of a destination spot. With fewer cars going by, it’s definitely got a bit more inviting, especially on weekends, when people have a mooch around.” The changes across Islington have also helped Luke on his commute – he cycles down from Tufnell Park for a “relaxing” trip to work.
Supply 91’s commitment to tackling climate change has also seen them transform trims into trees, by donating 2,000 trees to Madagascar through climate action group Ecologi. “We’re trying to create a community in Islington, and part of that is offsetting our emissions and being sustainable.”
Just down the road from Supply 91, at 40 Cross Street, is Twentieth Century Posters, which is filled with unique, authentic posters dating from the 1890s through to the 1980s. The founder, David Bownes, thinks the low-traffic neighbourhood has helped create a “friendly vibe” in the area. “I think it’s more of a pleasant area, and there’s much more that can still be done,” he says. “You look at places like Camden Passage and Exmouth Market, how lively they feel. Somewhere like Cross Street can be exactly like that as well – you’ve got beautiful architecture, and it’s a lovely-looking street.”
The changes in St Mary’s Church, and across London, have meant David can get rid of his family car. “I sometimes take framed works to clients and the bus network round here is extraordinarily good, so it’s super quick to get to people,” he says. “We have some concerns about the environmental impact, but we also just don’t need it.”