Greenwich to Woolwich street upgrade and cycle lanes: A look at plans
Here it is then. After around a decade of talk and then cancellation, plans are finally resurrected for street changes between Greenwich and Woolwich including a segregated cycle lane.
It doesn’t include any of Greenwich in great depth nor Woolwich town centre at this stage, but we’ll get to that.
Greenwich Council and TfL had hoped to launch this consultation in November when the Silvertown Tunnel was approved by Mayor Sadiq Khan. It would have been a nice bit of diversionary PR – but the General Election purdah put a stop to it.
The Silvertown Tunnel decision was then sneaked out on the same day it was revealed that Uber’s license was revoked by TfL. A coincidence I’m sure.
The most contentious area of the future route is not included in this consultation, which is the Angerstein roundabout beneath the Blackwall flyover. It is expected to be consulted at a later date with some early ideas included.
The existing Cycle Highway 4 is currently due to stop as soon as it enters Greenwich near Waitrose. It was originally supposed to head from Tower Bridge to Woolwich. The Greenwich to Woolwich section was then cut and so was a separate project to improve the Blackwall flyover as part of the “Better Junctions” project.
Greenwich town centre is also not covered in this consultation. Work on removing the town centre gyratory is planned which is holding up this stretch being announced.
How that project feeds into this new lane is unknown.
Numerous smaller scale plans in the Angerstein roundabout area have not progressed over the past decade. The most recent was a scheme due to start in November 2019 and postponed. It was previously postponed in spring 2019.
East Greenwich is also not included in plans out today including congested Trafalgar Road and the junction beside the Greenwich Centre.
With work on CS4 from Tower Bridge to Deptford/Greenwich now underway, the section to Woolwich will be a couple of years later than originally planned and not officially under the same project title.
This newly announced extension could be a bit of a sop to Greenwich for having to endure Silvertown and ensuing 30 per cent more traffic projected to head from north of the Thames onto borough streets, according to TfL’s traffic projection.
This projection makes TfL’s claim in the consultation that “The volume of traffic on the A206 Woolwich Road is unacceptably high. Traffic levels on the A206 effectively means that communities either side are split by the road” particularly odd. TfL expect extra traffic from Silvertown Tunnel on these streets.
What is in the consultation
What actually is covered in the consultation released today is the section from Charlton to the Woolwich Ferry.
Greenwich Council and TfL don’t exactly see eye to eye on street design so how this all goes will be interesting. Greenwich have regularly flouted TfL street design guidance, including extensive use of street clutter enforcing car primacy and that issue arose once again when I covered work on Cycle Highway 4 in Deptford over Christmas.
Much of what’s included in the new consultation isn’t too revolutionary. Indeed, there’s already a cycle lane along Woolwich Road in each direction, which with wands installed would be far safer. There was little stopping that happening for years.
In addition, parking on the existing cycle lanes through Charlton and Woolwich is a continual problem, which Greenwich Council have been notified about hundreds of times to little avail. I know as I’ve seen the regular complaints. It was the same just yesterday in the same old areas. That’s in part down to poor enforcement – which plays a part in an annual income deficit from parking over at least the past decade now totalling more than £12 million.
Starting near the notorious (and not covered in this scheme) Bugsby’s Way, plans for the large junction near Charlton station would see:
- A new two-way, segregated Cycleway running along the south-side of the A206 Woolwich Road (with the exception of a short section to the west of the junction with Anchor and Hope Lane)
- A new pedestrian crossing close to the junction of Woolwich Road with Anchor and Hope Lane
- The existing westbound A206 Woolwich Road bus lane would be extended by 80m, and it would operate from 07:00 – 19:00 Monday to Saturday
- Bus stop F would be sited on a new ‘bus stop bypass’, to make it possible to introduce the new Cycleway
- An eastbound traffic lane would be re-designated as a bus lane, which would operate from 07:00 – 19:00 Monday to Saturday
The bus lane is a weird one. As a sometime bus user through this area, it’s one stretch where buses are rarely held up. Maybe I’m wrong. Let me know if so. Meanwhile, a couple of miles west a bus lane on Creek Road is being removed where it is needed due to regular congestion.
TfL’s own modelling forecasts slower bus journeys due to this.
There are plans for a new crossing beside the expanded Royal Greenwich Trust School and also Windrush Primary School. The proposals for a bridge have been dropped. It would have swallowed large sums and resulted in lslower crossing times.
That’s welcome to see. Further east and Charlton Church Lane would become emergency service and cycle access only at the level crossing.
At Woolwich Church Street two lanes become one westbound for all traffic including buses. This is beside a planned tower:
One lane would continue for some distance from the ferry to this point. In Woolwich, cycle lane plans stop at the ferry. Not a surprise but a disappointment given that I covered street changes by the Waterfront and forthcoming towers last month. The upcoming changes are dated in approach and leave little room for cycle lanes.
A number of new developments have built right up to the edge of their respective plots in this area limiting scope for wider paving, bus and cycle lanes.
Heading past there towards Plumstead and it’s the same story at another recently submitted plot opposite Premier Inn. There’s no cycle lanes in renders as buildings extend close to the road:
It could be they plan to direct lanes through the town centre to then join recently installed lanes on Plumstead Road.
Given the somewhat limited scope of this consultation it’s hard to draw many conclusions. They’ve avoided the tricky areas and gone for obvious and easy wins.
Roads through Charlton were always the easy part. It’s a wide dual carriageway and already has cycle lanes. It could have been made far safer a decade ago with modest work such as wands and parking enforcement. Only now are they talking about double yellows but if enforcement doesn’t step up will it mean very much?
For a scheme that’s years in the making it’s all a bit lacking. But at least parts of the road will be greener, safer and a lot of clutter will be swept away – unless Greenwich Council insist on following outdated thinking.
A PR tool
Opinion time now, and I’m also fully expecting this to be used as deflection in coming months and years from 1) Silvertown Tunnel and 2) A lack of investment in other areas.
As covered many times, when it comes to income from developers allocated to better streets and active living Greenwich sit almost last in London; often substantially behind similar boroughs.
A cycle lane doesn’t absolve that. Cycle Superhighway 4 is passing through Southwark, and they’re allocating £19.5 million from parking income and £1.365 million from developers in addition to CS4 until 2021/22.
Lewisham have not finalised parking income but are spending £4 million from developer income.
And Greenwich? Zero from parking income and just £206,000 (thousand) from developers over three years.
It’s less than other boroughs seeing Cycle Superhighway 4 pass through. To partly plug that gap they’re using capital/revenue funding – though it doesn’t make up the funding gap and is money that could be spent on health, education, housing and more.
It’s the same story across London with borough that will see, or have seen, Cycle Superhighways. See Lambeth, which allocated £15 million from parking and £3.9 million from developer income:
It’ll be an interesting few months as we wait to see what happens with the trickier spots in Greenwich and Woolwich when further consultation is released, and whether this scheme is utilised as a get out of jail card for inaction elsewhere.
There are some early ideas for Angerstein in the consultation and I’ll look at them in a follow-up post. There’s much more in the consultation so click here to take a look.