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Guardrails put cyclists at risk in Greenwich

One thing this site has banged on about for years is poor street design with excessive street furniture and the dangers and inconvenience of much of it.

East Greenwich is particularly bad for it. I’ve seen cyclists wedged in between railings and vehicles on a few occasions.

Courtesy Google

Back in the bad old days of post-war street design it was believed that placing railings along many roads improved safety – and yet gave primacy to cars at the same time. Now we know railings often cause more problems than they solve and injuries and accidents reduce when they go in places – yet practice hasn’t matched knowledge in places and much of Greenwich borough is a fine example.

Not designed as a people-friendly space

It’s not to say there’s no need for them on a limited scale in certain places but far from the levels seen in some spots.

The horrible junction near the Greenwich Centre is a spot where cyclists (if they abide by the law and don’t go on pavement which makes sense) are often squeezed between vehicles and railings. The sheer weight of traffic also means the Advanced Stop Lines are occupied by vehicles too.

Standard rush hour traffic – motorbikes suffer too. See width of paving

This state of affairs exists despite very wide paving at this spot and new-builds alongside including the Greenwich Centre which only opened around five years ago. It should have facilitated a cycle lane away from traffic.

Courtesy Google. New builds and wide paving yet cyclists contend with poor parking, a bus lane then guardrail

A large number of new developments are being built across the borough and these projects are not taking advantage to install cycle lanes and encourage modal shift.

New development in Charlton – space for cycle lane here but the chance not taken

Maybe the hope is Cycle Superhighway 4 will sort it – whenever that happens. Dig it all up again.

The same mistakes look like being made in Woolwich too with render of new developments showing no cycle lanes:

Looking down Beresford Street. Premier Inn is on right

Can people be blamed for not cycling with new developments ignoring the chance for new lanes and dated design principles putting people at risk through excessive railings? It’s not going to happen unless change happens on a wide scale.

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3 Comments

  1. John Norman

    Agreed railings + lorries = dead cyclists. I remember someone was killed outside the Greenwich Centre against railings.
    https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-a-ghost-bike-in-greenwich-london-england-27709778.html
    (Mind you someone charging for stock images of ghost bikes makes me a bit sad)

    I see on the Pelton Road side of the junction they are removing the railings – not sure whats going on there though – looks like rough bricks to deter pedestrians crossing there instead of railings….

    As a cyclist – the most dangerous bit of road furniture is the orcas that attempt to divide the cycle lane on Trafalgar road from the traffic. If you are going straight + there is no one blocking the lane – all good. If you want to turn right and leave the lane – or someone is parked, you now have to negotiate the orcas as well. Hit one and you are off your bike. They have also pushed the traffic into the centre of the road, so if you are overtaking to go right, you are now head on against opposing traffic.

  2. Ben

    Worth noting that the council has been removing most of the railings further along Trafalgar Road as part of the work that was done recently — got the impression that this would be the plan for future work too.

    John Norman mentions something that I’d been wondering about — those lane dividers (I didn’t know the name until now). The intent is clearly positive, to separate the cyclist from the main traffic. But they’re at a height that doesn’t really prevent motor vehicles crossing into them (in fact I think it’s necessary for buses to cross into them in places). And I’ve seen plenty of mopeds using the cycle lanes, along with vans using them for parking, so they’re not actually providing any protection there either. And as John says, the height of them means they can easily present a hazard if you need to change lane.

  3. James

    Thank you for this post! Greenwich could be a joy to cycle in – it’s mostly flat and the parks, hospital, and quiet backstreets could easily be connected so cycling becomes mostly traffic free. But Greenwich council seems to not get it – they removed the cycle parking outside the Co-op in East Greenwich, making it hard to cycle to the shops and did the same across the road from the Greenwich Picturehouse.

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