Greenwich Council recently published their new cycling strategy. With cycle use actually declining in the borough there is a need for some decent projects to change behaviour. One project to be implemented is changing the road layout from the Blackwall Tunnel flyover west into Greenwich, from Tunnel Avenue to Blackwall Lane.
The proposals seem decent on which is a constricted road. £132,500 is to be spent and is coming from TfL. They are however vague in parts – stating that continuous lanes will only be in place if there is ‘sufficient room’. Is that sufficient room just on existing tarmac or looking holistically at both road and paving space? If it the former there is little space for a dedicated cycle lane where bikes must dice with buses, lorries and cars as the road narrows. If an approach is taken consisting of space including paving then there is adequate space for a cycle lane, segregated from traffic, and pedestrians lose no space. Here is a very basic mock-up image of what i would like to see alongside how it is now –
The cycle lane would ideally cross the junction and the stop line on the road to the left moved back. A feeder lane could be installed on that road. Cars may block the lane as they move out but there’s a CCTV camera right next to it which could monitor the situation. This set up would be safer and more inviting for cyclists entering from the roundabout, Westcombe Park station and Combedale Road. It also removes the excessive street clutter and alleviates the ugliness of this spot, which is a very poor first impression of Greenwich upon exiting the dual carriageway. Kerbs, small bollards or ‘armadillos’ could be used to segregate the cycle lane from the path and road.
This whole area is a spot in which no one wants to stay for very long. The parade of shops, pub and future owner of the library site (when it moves) would benefit from a more attractive space. ‘Humanise’ it so it is less hostile to pedestrians along with cyclists. Remove excessive clutter. If some railings and signage are needed at least paint them and use higher quality materials. Hang some greenery. If nothing else you’d expect the council would want to make it a nice spot so they’ll have more interest if they sell the library site when they move.
Further along the road the paving narrows and the current cycle lane begins on the road. It will be widened from 1.2 metres to 1.5 metres. TfL and the police opposed this as this left just 3 metres each way for buses which are 2.25m wide. TfL and the police were worried traffic would then encroach into the widened cycle lane. A compromise has been reached so the central road markings are removed. A bus stop which juts out into the road will also be altered. The paving will no longer widen at this point.
There is another spot where cyclists conflict with a bus stop, where there is little space to do anything. Unfortunately a recent development has been built leaving narrow paving.
The development could have been a number of metres to the left. This would have enabled a vastly wider pavement with sufficient space for a cycle lane by-passing the bus stop and avoiding the road. To mitigate developer complaints an additional storey could have been permitted. The wider expanse of the street would prevent the building from appearing too overbearing. As it is we have a spot which is narrow and congested where buses, cars, lorries, and cyclists are all vying for space. Pedestrians and people waiting at the bus stop also have little space.
Moving along the road is the large junction by the former Greenwich Hospital, which now has large scale residential development under construction on a couple of sides and potential for more. This marks the end of this improvement scheme. I’ve wrote about this junction before. It’s awful – huge swaths of tarmac and street clutter.
Approaching it the paving widens and there is scope for a cycle lane to peel off the road running behind the bus stops, removing cyclists from traffic and conflict with bus passengers. There is though the issue of conflict with the new development, its entrances and the space taken by the raised planters. Things like that could be remedied in the planning stage. The alternative for cyclists is dicing with two busy lanes of traffic and bus stops. Anything is better than that and if we want the very low percentage of people cycling to rise then usable segregated lanes are needed, and need to be considered at every stage of planning.
This would be a large scheme and unaffordable in the £132,500 funds available this year. However space is possibly available depending on the new building. Section 106 payments to the council from the many new developments here will run into the millions. In many areas across London public realm improvements occur on existing streets and public spaces directly from s106 payments. I can’t really think of many in Greenwich. Anyone know of any? There’s also future years’ TfL money that could be used to change this particularly ugly junction. Pooling the available funds should see enough money for improvements.