Recent changes in Woolwich Town Centre have been undertaken which ignore TfL guidance on improving streets for pedestrians in another blow for Greenwich Council’s beleaguered Highways Department.
Thousands have been spent (in a time of cuts) on installing more unnecessary street furniture in the form of railings. TfL guidance is to not do this, as shown here in an example of street improvements from their street design manual:
Greenwich Council’s Highways could do with having a read, as they recently ripped out landscaping and put railings in along the A206 in Woolwich Town Centre. As can be seen, pedestrians now walk in the central reservation or road to find a spot to cross:
TfL realised that pedestrians usually take the easiest path. It’s one core reason the grade separation and streets in the sky concept from post-war estates often failed.
Putting obstacles in pedestrians way is not good design. Whilst there I saw pedestrians crossing despite the new additions. It can’t even be said railings stop crossing at this point as there’s gaps along the railings, so what’s the point in spending so much? But even if there wasn’t gaps, people will jump over. Instead of denying facts make it easier to cross.
There’s no cycle lanes along here at all. Removing the central reservation entirely and simply having double white lines would free up space to install them.
The changes are straight out of a 1980s Highways handbook. Greenwich Highways are far behind the times, and wasting thousands to boot.
The previous error
Before the Highways Department did this they installed landscaping along the central reserve, just as similar landscaping was being replaced directly to the east as it was strewn with rubbish and safety rules often prevented staff access to clear it.
Despite this experience to the east on Plumstead Road they ploughed ahead here and it’s obvious what happened to the newly installed planting:
It became a mess and the landscaping became a mix of litter, weeds and overgrown bushes.
And so to compound one previous mistake – that was always going to happen – they’ve now done another. Tens of thousands gone whilst cuts are in place. Highways always seem to have money to blow however. The random wooden bollards that pop up everywhere at random intervals spring to mind, as a cost of £130,000 over the past couple of years.
Yet when street improvements are badly needed, at say the new retail park in Charlton, none can be found. There’s terribly placed crossings, obstacles pushing pedestrians on convoluted walks and the most basic attention to new-build access isn’t being paid.
Highways should be asking about pedestrian and cycle access when applications are made. When planning applications are made departments are asked to input comments. The lack of responses from Highways on access is often seen.
Someone needs to shake up the Highways Department and ask serious questions of how they spend money and why such dated practices are in evidence.
Currently it seems to be another badly failing department to add to the Parking Department, the Planning Department and the Housing Department. Officers oversee Departments failing basic tasks which cannot be blamed on cuts, as is the reflex reaction when asked.
Many local Labour politicians seem more concerned with backing them up rather than fighting for residents and asking questions of practices and waste.