Quick design wins for street upgrades from Woolwich to Greenwich

There’s noises coming from TfL and boroughs such as Greenwich and Lewisham about changes to streets to prevent gridlock as people return to work and keep numbers cycling or walking, including enabling social distancing on tight paths.

Impossible to avoid people crossing from other direction in pedestrians cages. Bring out the chainsaws

We are now 41 days past lockdown when public transport was to be used only by those making essential journeys. So far there’s been no specific action announced let alone implementation.

Courtesy Google. “Wands” protecting lanes are a cheap measure

Many other world cities have long since introduced measures. In Berlin, for example, it took just three days from initial planning to implementation.

Existing unprotected cycle lane in Charlton – no wands to be seen

So what easy wins could we see in south east London? Many will be all too aware of areas near them that could be improved. One obvious standout to me are cycle lanes from Plumstead through Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich. And no, the Thames Path isn’t ideal for everyone and it’s busy as it is.

One obvious easy and cheap action is to install “wands” or poles along the length of the road offering light separation between general traffic and cyclists. The lanes already exist.

Some now exist in east Greenwich:

Poles protect lane

Yet vast areas of cycle lane don’t have any.

No light segregation

They could also prevent parked cars blocking lanes.

Common in east Greenwich

It’s the same story for miles. This area is due a multi-million pound upgrade but why not install far cheaper measures in the interim?

No cycle lane protection

Could we see painted cycle lanes on wide paving too where paving is wide enough? This was something I noticed in many European nations including the Netherlands. Many hold up the Netherlands as an exemplar – and it is – but in many places they simply paint on paving. It’s cheap and easy to implement widely and sets cultural norms that can be invested upon later.

Wide paving – painted cycle lane to avoid bus stops rather than dice on narrow road?

There’s potential legal issues in the area above. I suspect council land is only where they installed their “straight-out-the-90s” paving in recent years.

But that isn’t the case everywhere. There’s is a once in a lifetime chance to enact changes with long-term impact. With traffic anecdotally increasing by the day, every week’s delay makes it harder to achieve. Wait too long and those those dabbled with cycling will give up as more cars return, and some drivers will complain bitterly about disruption as measures are introduced. Do it while the roads are quiet and that could be lessened.

Is it already too late?


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

6 thoughts on “Quick design wins for street upgrades from Woolwich to Greenwich

  • Like I always say London Buses get the final say. I suspect they want space for three buses abreast – one each side of the road and one overtaking. Also – those poles – are there any accident figures for them? if I was cycling along past them I would be dead scared of falling on one – they look really sharp and nasty to me. (you might not believe I used to cycle up to Holborn every day).

  • Majority of time outside rush hour in Woolwich and Trafalgar Roads I see cyclists are on the pavements rather than dedicated cycling lanes, even when some have wands. I guess because lanes are full of drains and covers that are bumpy, and lycra clad speeding commuting cyclists. Remaining cyclists go on the pavement. The roads need bus lanes and cyclists need dedicated wider cycle lanes..

    • The problem with the Trafalgar Road cycle lanes is that there are always things parked in them.

      I’m sure the Coop delivery van is there every single hour of the day.

      Not that those are good reasons for people to cycle on the pavement.

  • The poles in the Rochester Way can actually hold up traffic if cars are turning right into Birdbrook Road. With a pair of poles opposite the turning cars heading towards Well Hall Roundabout can’t squeeze past on the left hand side if there is a queue.

    When they were originally put in a couple were so near to road junctions that cars were hitting them as they turned left..

  • That is the trouble a lot of cycle lanes and bus lanes do get vehicles parked in them a lot.

    Some bus lanes are 7 am to 7 pm only on Monday to Saturdays, Some are 24 houts and others are peak hours only so it is important for drivers that theyread the signs for bus lanes as not all the same.

  • I think reducing the width or getting rid of the central reservations, such as shown in the first image in this article which runs from the BP petrol station at Charlton all the way to the roundabout where Plumstead bus garage is, would provide more space to work with for developments of pavements, cycles lanes and cars.


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