The latest figures on injuries across streets and public spaces show Greenwich borough with the highest increase of any London borough at 16% in 2017.
Pedestrian injuries were up a massive 36% and cyclist injuries 25%. Car occupant injuries reduced 2%.
This site has long highlighted dire conditions of many streets in the borough. Improving public spaces and streets are so often an afterthought at best with spending priorities. They’re cluttered, ugly, dangerous and littered with dangerous parking.
I could say “I told you so” but I’d much rather they changed tack and start focusing on this issue instead of continually turning a blind eye. How many times do they need informing of poor parking? How many examples of poor design practice in the borough, and better examples elsewhere have to be shown, before more funds are allocated and better street design adopted?
I’ve also covered many sources of funds that are available to improve the situation.
Despite this, public realm and street changes are usually long down the list of priorities for Greenwich Council. They rigidly stick to dated working practices and cluttering up streets with bollards and guardrail instead of looking what works in the 21st century. Those boroughs that have de-clutterred on a large scale see some big drops.
Greenwich are often reliant on external funds from TfL for any changes instead of using some of their own income. One example is east Greenwich’s low emission zone. Welcome though it is, the amount spent is far below income the authority has in its coffers from new developments in the area.
TfL are not helping the situation by cutting short the planned Cycle Superhighway from Tower bridge at Deptford Creek instead of Woolwich and removing the roundabout under the Blackwall Tunnel approach flyover from improvement schemes, however responsibility for 90% of streets rests with Greenwich borough.
A new 1,600 capacity school opens in weeks on Greenwich Peninsula. No new crossings have been provided. Ikea opens soon. No firm plans are in to improve things for pedestrians or public transport users. Charlton retail park income still lies unspent.
Asking the public
When using TfL funds, consultation is often non-existent. Abbey Wood is a prime example. £120,000 was recently spent. Since then three serious accidents have occurred in recent weeks. Many local people were not asked about changes.
On my first trip through after work completed it was immediately obvious some of the scheme was idiotic.
Parking issues were still prevalent and enforcement absent which compounded the issue.
I’ve often covered the many millions Greenwich council receive from new developments that could be improving streets including:
- £174 million in forthcoming Section 106 income. £34 million is already in council coffers. Public realm is usually way below other areas for spending. The councils employment agency GLLaB takes far more income than safer and healthier streets, to give one example.
- New Homes Bonus – this scheme has seen £66.2 million awarded to Greenwich Council in recent years and £12.2 million this year – more than the entire city of Manchester, or Birmingham, or Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool and others. The 4th highest amount out of 356 English authorities.
Instead of using substantial funds from these vast amounts, Greenwich are running a scheme for £30,000 to be spent in areas of the borough. Nice and all, but penny change when compared to the overall pot and unlikely to do much.
So despite the many millions of income, very little is allocated towards public spaces and street improvements and now the borough has the highest growth in casualties in all of London.
It’s all so predictable and yet sadly injuries will continue. More accidents will happen in areas like Greenwich Peninsula as new schools and shops open and street work lags behind.
What will it take for them to wake up? Each time some figures come out, or a new development is announced, you think maybe this time. But it doesn’t happen. And more and more people are injured. More and more people turn to their cars as cycling and walking conditions are so poor.
And with that, Greenwich continues to see public health issues increase. The percentage of adults classified as overweight or obese is 27th out of 33 authorities in London.
It’s all related. And for all the PR nothing is really changing. What councillors will take this issue by the scruff of the neck and enact changes in priorities and working practices?
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