Murky Depths

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Greenwich

Low Traffic Neighbourhood installed in Greenwich

Barrier on paving to rear located near sign limits paving space for wheelchairs

A number of barriers and planters have been installed in west Greenwich as part of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme.

Crooms Hill

The project predates recent measures and has been on the drawing board for some time. It aims to reduce rat runs to quieten residential streets.

Signage on the A2 in Blackheath

Opponents state more traffic is driven to main routes while supporters state residents have less pollution and children have safer streets to play.

Flimsy barriers likely to be removed

The key to getting these projects to work is to ensure more people walk or cycle for short trips (the majority of car journeys are below three miles) thus freeing up road space for those who have no alternatives, public transport and emergency services.

Planters and bollard

The issue in this area is that Greenwich town centre has a scheme which puts cyclists at greater danger and is far from helpful to pedestrians. That needs looking into – and quickly.

A website asking for feedback will launch on 3rd September.

36 Comments

  1. JB

    Fantastic. A more peaceful area to walk now, a safer space for kids and a cycle up the hill without feeling like you’re slowing the motor vehicles down.

    • Sally Hughes

      The roads are not actually closed to vehicular traffic, just a spine of blocks along Royal Hill, preventing local people in particular from accessing main routes when they use their cars. This does not make it safe for pedestrians and children walking in the enclave. Also, the main closures – Hyde Vale, Croom’s Hill and Point Hill are extremely steep creating hazards for children, pedestrians and novice cyclists. A fatality involving a cyclist and pedestrian occurred after the closure of the park road to vehicles during lockdown. So beware – look both ways and hope cyclists have good brakes.

  2. MattB

    Yet again, focus is reducing/eliminating traffic in the ‘better off’ areas, pushing more into low-income areas where most children are forced to play outside as there is no inside space for them! As long as the rich kids are ok!?

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Not really as the longest low traffic neighbourhoods have been in poorer areas like Abbey Wood. In this area it would force more towards Blackheath – that is if it doesn’t cause behavioural change.

      • Lieve Reckers

        That reply is incorrect, Murkydepths! This traffic plan is shifting N-S traffic from West Greenwich to East Greenwich, to streets such as Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill which already have a heavy traffic burden. They will now become gridlocked. Also as a result, Trafalgar Road will be even more busy, and the effect on nearby residential streets is considerable. To think that it will reduce car traffic is naive in the extreme.

        • Gio

          I don’t see how that’s an argument for not doing something somewhere else. If anything this strengthens the case for the council to trial closures in other areas such as East Greenwich and Maze Hill. Also evidence from other areas (e.g. Waltham Forest) shows no real change in main road traffic but huge reductions in traffic on filtered streets and more walking and cycling (over time of course…)

          • HK

            I have to disagree Gio, you are assuming that most of the people who are driving are only driving locally where they can easily switch over to walking or cycling.
            This is only going to push traffic elsewhere and make matters much worse. The problem is there are too many bottle necks in our road system.
            What happening to emergency service vehicles?
            I think making Crooms Hill & Point Hill one-way and better phasing of traffic lights along Trafalgar Road & especially the one-way system in Greenwich town centre would be a better compromise

        • Sally Hughes

          the plan is doing both. To circumvent the east west A2 traffic, you can take a route from Blackheath via Granville Park or Elliot Vale etc to Lewisham Hill. The other route of desire has been made more difficult by road narrowing at the bottom of Croom’s Hill to provide parking, and the recent closure of the Park road. That is throwing traffic on to Maze Hill where it now queues up to the entire length of the road, depending on congestion on Trafalgar Road. We’re all on the same side here.

    • Marilyn Pryce-Rogers

      On point MattB, I live in front of a primary school and the traffic is horrendous, most don’t even bother to turn their engines off and even though it’s double yellow it doesn’t stop them blocking your drive almost every day. Guess it’s ok as I don’t live in blackheath village

    • SallyH

      I agree. the traffic was not particularly heavy and, as you say, the streets closed contain big houses occupied by people with at least one car per household. Local, as well as commuter traffic will now be forced on to Blackheath Hill/A2 which is already a local pollution blackspot. Many people live on Blackheath Hill in social housing and don’t own cars.

  3. Richard

    As far as I can tell, the net impact of these particular changes will be that cars wanting to go along the A2 from Deptford to the top of Blackheath Hill will have to just queue on the A2 and not try to rat run through tiny residential streets. They could try to crawl through Greenwich town centre and go up Maze Hill but that would take longer. It will be mildly irritating if you live just on one side of the barrier and want to get to the other side, but very few people apart from rat runners will be genuinely affected.

  4. Chris Pennells

    Took me an hour to get from the corner of Blackheath/ Shooters Hill to Norman Road in West Greenwich due to these through roads being shut; I already can’t access my road because of a closure due to Tideways. How is this acceptable?

  5. Chris L

    This may improve the traffic flow across Blackheath.

    The traffic lights at the bottom of Maze Hill are phased to limit the number of cars entering Trafalgar Road.

    • Simon

      As a delivery driver I can tell you it’s made the traffic worse on the A2 and A206 which was pretty awful before the road closures. 99% of traffic is vehicle going through Greenwich to somewhere else, all the council have done is created more bottle necks and more tail backs. Bravo 👏🏻

  6. Since we’re talking about some of the steepest streets in the borough does anyone really think this is going to lead to a huge increase in cycling?

    • fromthemurkydepths

      In isolation not really. As part of a joined up network it could well do.

      Able bodied people can do it. That then leaves road space for people who can’t like the disabled.

      • Tim

        With the increasing popularity of e-bikes the steepness of the hills isn’t really an issue any more. Even if you don’t have an e-bike, with a pretty standard range of gears and no concerns about cars and vans rat-running up and down them it’s perfectly fine at a slow pace for most people with a pretty average level of fitness.

  7. Adam

    Surely this is a positive, there is only so much space on the roads, making it harder to do short journeys is the only way to discourage people from unnecessary journeys. Improving our streets is worth the risk and sacrifice.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Indeed people have to realise that less public transport equals more cars unless walking and cycling is a viable and welcome option for short journeys. The numbers are clear as day. More than three million people a day took public transport. Only a fraction now can. If they turn to cars it’s gridlock everywhere. Far more than what a LTN creates. Basic maths.

    • Lieve Reckers

      Sorry Adam and Murky, that sounds lovely but is not realistic. Our streets in East Greenwich have not been improved, they have been turned into “a car park of stationary filfth chugging traffic for the duration of both rush hours”, to quote a Maze Hill resident whose children have to walk to school through it. Thank you for moving your problem on to us, without even consulting us!

      • fromthemurkydepths

        The plan is to do things in east Greenwich. It should be linked I agree. If they don’t asap then it’s unfair and will leave residents there with a crap situation.

        • Lieve Reckers

          What plan? To do What in East Greenwich? We haven’t heard or seen anything!
          To be in the least bit believable, that should have been part of the same plan, implemented at the same time. But I don’t think it will ever happen, and probably nobody has so far found a way to make it possible. (Like you have a pile of rubbish in a room, you can decide to sweep it to one side of the room rather than the other, but if you say you’re going to make the pile disappear, you need more than a sweeping broom!)

      • Tim

        Maze Hill was bad before this work took place; I suspect the post-lock down problems there are caused by traffic backing up from the reduced capacity through the town centre. I agree that they need to do something on there (and possibly Vanbrugh Hill, although that never seems to be as bad) to dissuade people from driving down there.

  8. Matt w

    Nice clear article (nothing from Greenwich cl, ha). I fully support it but it does feel on the surface that lots is going on in Greenwich where as Woolwich, Charlton and plumstead have a lot less measures to promote cycling – probably wrong but cycling around seeing lots of schemes in the west, hopefully there’s more planned for the rest of the borough but alas that’s for Greenwich to tell us about.

    How about a proper cycling diversion next to the Woolwich ferry where they closed the river path, some street safe stuff in plumstead rat runs, parking enforcement in traffic lanes using roadside cameras and wands along Woolwich to Greenwich….

    • fromthemurkydepths

      To be fair Plumstead Road now has dedicated, protected lanes after a £1.2m scheme for the entire street which gave extra space to buses, vehicles and cyclists though at each end it meets heavy traffic hence not great for most people who would try cycling.

      Other projects still leave gaping holes in Plumstead High Street and also through central Woolwich past the waterfront, Premier Inn and now past the ferry to Charlton.

  9. Jo

    I’m hearing a lot about this project which is flat out incorrect including people complaining about more traffic on Blackheath. The same Blackheath that has been gridlocked daily for weeks long before this as more people drive?

    Also the daily A2 lane closures due to roadworks impacts traffic and that is nothing to do with covid measures.

    It may work and needs a few months to find out. Opponents aren’t doing much credit by blaming this for things that either existed or impacted by other, bigger roadworks which are nothing to do with corona response.

  10. GAL Controller

    I’ll give my view as a route controller who controls buses coming through Greenwich. On Thursday afternoon we had delays of 30-40 minutes on 180s and 386s through Greenwich and Blackheath losing time on Trafalgar Road, Greenwich South Street and Greenwich High Road. Friday it was a little bit better but still 20-30 minute delays. Seems like another scheme designed to cause cahos in an already heavily congested area.

    • Lieve Reckers

      Please make sure you report your findings to Greenwich Council!

    • Thanks for that GAL Controller.

      So we have it officially from someone whose job it is to monitor these things. Cutting off these streets has led to delays on public transport. Delivery drivers, once lauded during lockdown but now back on the blacklist, hate it as well. And forget about the folk in East Greenwich.

      Still, some rich peoples’ houses are probably worth a bit more now!

      • Bob

        Traffic has been very bad for weeks now across the area regardless of this scheme. My bus journeys have been extremely slow before this project. Last week was awful too. Just today I had a long delay on the 180 and nowhere near a traffic scheme as car use is rocketing.

        The Blackwall approach is chokka too today and can’t blame that on neighbourhood scheme. Dartford is blocked again leading to delays in Bexley borough. Again, can’t blame local schemes there. Fact is car use is going up a lot right now and that isn’t sustainable.

        Something has to be done to combat it. Maybe bite the bullet, roll out loads of schemes and only then will people ditch the car for short trips. You cannot judge a scheme on the first day or week anyway. They take months to sort out.

  11. I was reasonably anti before but I see the change is an improvement overall.

    The speed of the traffic is defined by the main bottlenecks. These cut-throughs essentially allowed people to get off the A2, cut through a corner and rejoin it. The speed of through traffic won’t change overall.

    The main effect in Greenwich itself is to push traffic onto South Street and the High Road, which of course is a problem, but they are bigger, wider roads than the narrower ones that have been blocked off, most of which only have space for a single car to pass.

    It will cause problems for us, personally, but we will have to walk to a few more places or get the bus, and that, overall, that’s what we all need to do.

  12. Igoris Nikitinas

    This is an idiocy, because of a few well of residents they do shut the roads so they can enjoy a better air quality. A tiny percentage if you take Greenwich as a whole. Now the drivers and commuters are almost regarded as evil, who must be inconvenienced and discriminated, punished and banned altogether at some point.

    Hopefully councils implementing this will face a legal action. Seriously cretins with an initiative.

  13. mvb

    Finally a great improvement to West Greenwich imo. I do not see this as an anti driver or anti commuter measure but it is a means of directing traffic along the most suitable roads. As Paultrynka has explained there is no benefit in rat running which has been a huge problem in West Greenwich for a long time. I will more than happily sit in my car for the extra detour time just to have what are now quieter and safer streets. I would also definitely welcome these measures to be implemented in all other areas such as East Greenwich and beyond where rat running has also become an issue. West Greenwich may be the first to receive these measures but hopefully other areas will receive this benefit further down the line.

  14. Local resident

    I fully support the scheme, well done!
    Narrow residential streets aren’t the place for long distance journeys, only nearby residents or businesses serving them should use them. Too often I have witnessed verbal abuse directed to residents willing to park on their streets by rat runners trying to save 2 minutes. I rarely use the car, when I do I go to the A2, I walk or cycle to the town centre. Yes it adds 3 minutes to my drive, but it’s a price worth paying for the benefit of this wide area. The improvement is magnificent, kids can now walk or cycle to school in a much safer/cleaner environment. Roll it on to East Greenwich too.

  15. District Nurse

    Not everyone has the option to walk or cycle. As a district nurse in Greenwich with my boot filled to the brim, I certainly can’t. I do not count as an emergency vehicle obviously, although it has delayed me getting to insulin patients (a critical medication) by 45 minutes, and some mornings we have up to four people to get to within an hour and a half. We do not simply have difficulty getting to work in the morning time, but carry on travelling to people all over all day, often rushed. Sometimes I see 12 people in a day. The traffic has caused such problems for us and yet again we are not thought of (we have very little rights in terms of parking as well, less rights than postmen and delivery vans).
    All it has done it push all traffic to the main roads. No less pollution and cars on the road for longer! And very limited access to the very closed roads that I need to get to to reach my patients.

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