Pedestrianisation of Mare Street (Narroway)

Many thanks to @damian for bringing this to our attention.It appears that TfL have finally found a way to at least trial the diversion of buses away from the Narroway in order to pedestrianise the street; is an online survey at the bottom of the page to give feedback on this idea.I remember reading in the Hackney Gazette some years ago TfL stating that this was “impossible”. I’d be interested to know how the “impossible” has become possible quite so simply.If this is a success I can only imagine it would radically change the commerce in the road.”


  1. \The trial closure is part of Hackney Council’s wider plans to attract more visitors and customers to the area. The trial is expected to last until early in 2014.”

  2. I agree that this could make Narrow Way commercially more attractive but diverting buses won’t change the fact that the stretch is littered with \money shops” and bookies.  Perhaps they should tackle that problem first.  If the shops were worth visiting then more people would shop there.”

  3. @morriap I don’t think there’s much that the council can do about money shops and bookies. Any commercial change will no doubt take a while to make itself felt. I guess any new business drawn to its new pedestrianised status would at least wait until the trial period is over before making any commitment to the road. The most obvious step that I can think of that the council could take would be to allow businesses to utilise a patch of pavement outside their premises for tables & chairs. This would be a significant incentive for new cafes and restaurants, which might then attract other business. Having said all that, there’s nothing wrong with pound-shops, cheap shoe shops, Greggs etc. – they do provide service for a great number of less affluent residents who could be the losers if this road eventually becomes exclusive.

  4. Narrow way is a popular shopping area, its just not popular with the sort of person that might post on a site like this. I think the eventual gentrification of the place is inevitable given the influx of middle class people, the outlet village on morning lane and the efforts of the council (diverting buses, improving the appearance of the shops and the work to integrate the two stations). That said, people on the other side of the fence can give a bit too. Just because a pub doesnt serve locally brewed ‘craft’ ale in faked shabby chic surroundings  it doesnt mean you cant go there. Just because Percy Ingle doesnt charge £3 for a small loaf of bread, doesnt mean you cant buy there. Greggs do a good sausage roll too. Ive heard.

  5. I’ll be interested to see how the diversion goes. There are a lot of bus routes and every time they close the street for putting up decorations or repairs the traffic backs up to Lower Clapton Road. I use the shops and services on the narroway. I have done for as long as I’ve lived in Hackney. Although I don’t eat sausage rolls.

  6. @ewebber I’m not sure what they do regarding re-routing when they close it for repairs etc but the traffic backs up blocking the LCR on a regular basis. I think during busy times the buses cannot get out on to Mare St fast enough to accomodate buses entering off LCR. Even purely in traffic management terms something has to be done about bus routes here.I note that the new bus stops will be on Dalston Lane towards Pembury bus stopsI don’t know what this will mean for business such as Chase & Sorensen and Spandeli. @chaseandsorensen @rosana

  7. I think there may need to be some diversion down Clarence road and certainly the right filter lane at the bottom of LCR will need to be extended. The problem then will be more backing up of traffic on the approach to those lights from Homerton. Its really not an easy solution, as there’s a huge swathe of area between morning lane and dalston lane that is inaccessible thanks to the train lines and the closure of narrow way.

  8. The bus diversion starts on Saturday, details over here 

  9. Page 11 of current issue of Hackney Today;\A SIX month cultural programme is being planned to celebrate improvements to the Narrow Way in Hackney Central including a trial partial pedestrianisation.The Council-run series of events will feature street food markets art and craft workshops live music theatre shows fetes a big street lunch and other community projects organised by residents.On 7 September the Narrow Way is set to be taken over by a huge family festival produced by Mimbre – a Hackney-based circus and street theatre company – which will fill the area with interactive performances including live music street dance and acrobatics. There will also be a host of free workshops a bouncy castle plenty of play equipment and outdoor games.Local architects Studio Weave have been recruited to dramatically change the look of the Narrow Way including painting temporary patterns on pathways and installing recycled seating along with planters to create a more welcoming place for people to enjoy…..”

  10. More on cultural programme here: on bus route changes here:

  11. I quite like the narrow way as it is.Having said that, I am quite excited about what the pedestrianisation of this little section will do for the feel of Hackney. Perhaps it will be the return of a more village type ‘street’ where you can shop and stop and talk without having to keep a constant eye on your kids in case they run into a bus. A bit of street theatre every now and then? Music? Should be interesting!

  12. As much as what ever happens will probably be nice I’m with some of the others here, by feeling that it’s a nicely busy place already. I like it, I’d say it’s one of my favourite streets near where I live.There’s a really arrogant way to use words like ‘cultured’, the place is cultured, just differently from the culture of organic shops, expensive children’s clothes shops and pretty cafes.

  13. As much as what ever happens will probably be nice I’m with some of the others here, by feeling that it’s a nicely busy place already. I like it, I’d say it’s one of my favourite streets near where I live.There’s a really arrogant way to use words like ‘cultured’, the place is cultured, just differently from the culture of organic shops, expensive children’s clothes shops and pretty cafes.

  14. Can’t say I like the Narroway at all in it’s current state. Whenever I go down it, it’s invariably clogged with buses, so I don’t tend to hang around the area – I just get what I want and leave as soon as possible. Also, many of the businesses are so run down, tatty and badly presented, it’s hardly the most inspiring place to shop. I’m not saying the answer is gentrification and shops selling ridiculously over-priced goods, but you’d have thought no matter what market a business is targetting, they’d make a concerted effort to smarten up their shop and organise a half-decent window display that would actually help them to attract, rather than repel, customers. So personally speaking, I welcome the pedestrianisation and the council’s efforts to inject a bit of colour and fun to the area – along with the new shopfront scheme. The alternative as I see it is that the street becomes shabbier and shabbier, and more shops close down to be replaced by yet more bookies and pawnbrokers.

  15. Amhurst Road seemed to be fine just before 9 this morning. I cycle down Narrow Way so don’t know what the Pembury Circus/Dalston Lane Junction was like.

  16. Thanks for the heads up regarding the route change.  I’m glad I won’t be having to look back to see if there is a bus coming behind and now I can look forward to whizzing down on a nice even surface.

  17. Yesterday I waited at the top of the Narroway and noticed three buses coming down Dalston Lane instead of the usual route. Has it started already? I have been away for several  months and on my walks yesterday was amazed at the many pockets of ‘chic’ that have popped up around E8. Wherever did they come from in such a hurry. The Pembury development is also galloping along! What I’m not getting is the rise of little cafes charging £6-8 for a starter in our area that is still vastly populated by people who probably can’t afford it. Where are all these upwardly mobile customers? They must be hiding somewhere or only come out at night when I’m relaxing at home. I like change – it keeps life interesting – but I have questions…! A good topic for Twee8 I think!!!!

  18. @janice yes it started last Saturday

  19. We’re collecting feedback on the trial here:

  20. Is that a vision of Hackney in the future? Where are all the black people?

  21. There will surely need to be bus lane on Dalson lane leading up to Pembury Corner

  22. @Tom-Massey yes! right now there’s not nearly enough space if several buses show up at once. There’s a street parking lane right behind the buses and can they really get rid of that?NEW TOPIC: The Narrow Way is now a giant cycling path. I have to say I now feel it’s far more dangerous for pedestrians. The buses were large but slow and the drivers quite courteous if you needed to cross. Now the bikes are racing down there at top speed and completely ignoring pedestrians. The Hackney is Friendly lady said there were plans to put benches along there and this may stop the speeding cyslists. What has anyone else heard because this bike-dodging is not good!!”

  23. @janice I know what you mean about the cyclists. You can see some sort of seating in the picture above, but I doubt it’d have any effect on cycling speeds.

  24. i see the benches and agree. i suppose the question is does someone have to be injured or killed before something is done about it. I’m an advocate of SAFE and RESPONSIBLE cycling, by the way. This behaviour doesn’t fit in either category. is there an appropriate person to report to?

  25. @janice you probably want to talk to @hackney-council

  26. A piece from the London Cycling Campaign on the Narrow Way;

  27. Thanks  @benjamin  – i have added my comment there and will get around to the Council in a less busy time!

  28. Obviously it will take a while for everyone to adjust to this layout and for people to be aware of the difference from noisy buses trundling along in one direction to much quieter bikes going both ways.  It’s such an improved place to walk or cycle along and I certainly feel safer without all the buses there.

  29. Today, I heard an assistant in one of the shops on the Narrow Way asking a customer to sign their petition to bring the buses back. I guess this means that some businesses believe there is less footfall as a result of the bus re-routing, but to my mind the street is now a much more relaxed and pleasant place to be and I’m actually more likely to walk down there now. I think abandoning the pedestrianisation at the end of the trial period would be a massive step back now. By the way, does anyone know when they are commencing with the shopfront revamps? On the original schedule, they were meant to have been done by end of June. The revised deadline is Christmas I believe, but I guess they’ll have to get a move on if they’re hoping to revamp 40-odd businesses…

  30. Free Circus

  31. Hi all, We’re running a street party style event on 22nd September featuring Swing Dancing Classes, Zumba dance demonstrations, drawing workshops, historic led walks and a treasure hunt. It’ll also be an opportunity for people to voice their opinions on the future of the Narrow Way. Hope to see lots of you there! Car Free Day on the Narrow Way

  32. ‘Putting people first in the Narroway’ on Youtube


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