Greenwich Council have come in for much criticism since lockdown after minimal measures to encourage walking and cycling were introduced as public transport capacity was substantially reduced.
Criticism is both external and internal, and requests for patience have not gone down well while numerous other authorities have unveiled and already launched a number of substantial schemes.
After missing out on the first three rounds of funding and so far releasing barely any detail, they’ve now released slightly more – but still far less than many other local authorities.
I’ll go through the latest update – and link to previous failings to show how despite years of warning that previous annual street plans were inadequate, no change in internal culture was undertaken leaving them in a very poor position to now act.
They start with the somewhat ludicrous claim that “our plans have developed very rapidly” which, as anyone who has seen what has been both installed and revealed so far has seen, is simply not the case. Compare it to many other corners of London and it’s a poor showing.
We immediately see passing the buck – as has been the case with funding for years – towards TfL:
“How much of this programme we can deliver will depend on funding allocations from Transport for London (TfL) under the London Streetspace Programme.”
TfL need to see good, thorough plans to award money. So far there’s none in the public domain from Greenwich – and no funding wins. Greenwich Council refuse to release any substantial detail in numerous area which is suspicious. Does it exist? Why were there not a backdated list as most other boroughs had ready to roll?
And have they learned anything? Previously they’ve ignored TfL street guidance on other projects such as cycle highway 4 in Deptford.
Next up on the council’s webpage is something new – but again it barely says anything.
“Plumstead High Street
This busy bus route and high street is narrow so it is more challenging to create wider footways, however, we have asked for funding to make changes where possible and reduce footway clutter”
Other boroughs across London have listed exact locations where paving is narrow, exactly where new crossings or wider pavings could go and just what the pinch points are. There is nothing here like that as seen below on Bromley:
Claiming to want to reduce clutter now is pretty ridiculous in the context of recent history. In 2017/18 TfL gave Greenwich Council £150,000 to enact street improvement work along Plumstead High street which should have reduced numerous obstacles for pedestrians, as seen below:
Firstly, with this previous funding they didn’t consult widely (sound familiar?) despite work being in a major town centre shopping location. Then, they released no detail in public (they’ve got form here) and when work was carried out it was over a year late and achieved little to address many chronic problems.
What is happening now is simply the continuation of years of similar behaviour. They bumble along in a bunker-like mentality and achieve little.
Current problems go back a long way, politicians come and go and none appear able or willing to address serious cultural failings.
Next up is this:
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
The borough’s major hospital is served by seven bus routes. This means there are often many people waiting at bus stops so we have bid for funding to create extra space for waiting passengers on Stadium Road.
Not much to say about this. Decent I guess, but would have helped three to four months ago. It’s a very small area.
What would make sense is another path on the right hand side of the road above.
Next up is some new info on potential cycle lanes.
“Eltham to Greenwich Park
Protection for cyclists would be added on the A210 corridor, then the route would pass through Kidbrooke, across Blackheath to Greenwich Park. This route would potentially serve five secondary schools, and provide an alternative to the bus for pupils of those schools.”
Very little to go on here.
“Woolwich to Abbey Wood
Our proposals between Woolwich and Abbey Wood would create a cycle route across our entire borough, by connecting to TfL’s planned Cycleway 4 extension between Greenwich and Woolwich. Protection for cyclists would be added to the A206 by the Royal Arsenal to connect to the cycle tracks on Plumstead Road, and then quiet back streets parallel to Plumstead High Street would lead to Abbey Wood station.”
Mention of protection for cyclists on the A206 sound is welcome, but is this including Woolwich High Street past the waterfront which is frankly awful on a bike? No mention. Again, barely anything to go on.
Parking is almost always terrible here and rarely if ever enforced.
As for “quiet” back streets in Plumstead and Abbey Wood, well, they often aren’t. What will be done here? It’s been part of National Cycle Route 1 for many years which is ultimately some tiny signs. The lack of information continues.
“North Greenwich to East Greenwich
This route would create a protected cycle lane on Blackwall Lane to connect the Peninsula and its community to East Greenwich and the rest of the borough. It would also include upgraded crossings on major roads in the Peninsula and a connection to the Thames Path.”
This sounds positive but again any drawings or detailed maps are absent. No real info.
The basic gist is what this site has been calling for for many, many years as tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds from Greenwich peninsula developments brought Section 106, Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus income. Nothing was done. Years wasted.
Greenwich don’t want to use their own income but deflect to TfL. They’ll need a lot more information submitted to succeed. But if they don’t, voila, it’s all TfLs fault. Not Greenwich failing to spend huge sums new homes have brought them.
“Greenwich Park to Shooters Hill
This route would connect Greenwich Park and Shooters Hill via Old Dover Road and Shooters Hill Road. We want to deliver safe, protected cycling space along Shooters Hill Road and create a better environment along Old Dover Road for walking and cycling. There are four secondary schools and one sixth form college on or close to this proposed route.”
No exact details. If this is the sum total of what they’ve sent TfL after three months of work they’ll be astonishment at their end.
We want to upgrade the existing cycle route along Charlton Road between Blackheath Standard and Marlborough Lane to add light segregation to improve protection for cyclists.”
No mention of where light segregation will go.
Then it’s the same old, same old.
Three new School Streets (Invicta, Charlton Manor and Wyborne) began on Monday 15 June. We are continuing to engage with schools to deliver temporary School Streets in the borough using Streetspace funding”
I think just about every authority I’ve looked at has more than three school projects. If Greenwich does they don’t mention them. Why so slow to identify more?
The newly updated webpage ends with Modal Filters but gives no location of any whatsoever.
So yep, this is still dire stuff. Embarrassing for them. We come to the same conclusion; if this is the total information submitted to TfL the organisation will be amazed at how poor it is (or possibly not given the authority’s history), yet if there’s more why do keep it secret and not share?
Whatever the answer, heads should roll. It’s months now since lockdown – and years of the same old problems. The weak, almost pitiful performance by the Cabinet Member for Transport in a council meeting last week was a sorry sight. Asking for patience. Years of failure mean no one should be patient.
They shouldn’t be patient when public health is at risk and we could see gridlock on a scale rarely seen before. Years of pathetic practices now culminate in what is a huge, huge failing.
And do you think they care? Every single action says otherwise.