Murky Depths

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Greenwich

New Greenwich cycle lanes beneath flyover take shape

Courtesy Will Norman. Below the flyover

Work on a new segregated cycle lane through Greenwich from the Old Naval College site used by Greenwich university to Charlton continues to take shape as lanes appear below the flyover on the Blackwall tunnel approach.

These lanes are contentious and have aroused some heightened emotions – as did changes seen in other parts of London and abroad in the past which ultimately paid off (see the Netherlands in the 1970s).

Courtesy Will Norman. Mixed feelings from potential users

However there are a number of valid questions here and people just aren’t getting answers. I’ve asked Greenwich Council leader Dan Thorpe a number of times and he never replies. I’ve tried again today.

At each end cyclists are placed in dangerous situations and there are no answers about that.

TfL cameras cover the cycle lane. It shows numerous cars parked most times I check (or pass in person)

The whole idea is to encourage people making short trips to give cycling a go freeing up road space for those that need it. However that will not work if the eastern end in Charlton places cyclists on an unprotected lane blocked by parked cars daily. And it is daily – with little to no enforcement.

All it takes is some wands to provide protection yet the council leader never replies when asked about this. Not even a “we’ll look into it” or “I’m asking X or Y”. Just silence and PR pieces in council media. Explain to people opposed and make it work for those that support. At present neither is really happening.

Courtesy Kate Middleton. At first the scheme blocked access to riverside cycle lane.

At the western end it places cyclists at the Greenwich town centre one-way system which just about everyone now agrees is a bit of a mess. In places it blocks pedestrians, cyclists are squeezed and buses held up in congestion as lanes reduced. No one really wins.

Greenwich Council stated it cost a mighty £118,130 for a few plastic barriers in the town centre. See here for details on Freedom of Information requests after they failed to tell anybody about plans or costs. That included £49,542 for two staff to make changes and maintain for six months. Aside from some minor alterations not much has happened.

The new lane through Greenwich itself should encourage people to give cycling a go – though it’s truncated nature works against it. The Angerstein roundabout is awful and work there is long awaited and welcome.

However two-way lanes next to narrow lanes has seen some cyclists express wariness about riding into the flow of traffic rather than alongside.

There is little doubt radical action is needed as even areas without road changes traffic are becoming gridlocked. Millions more people taking to cars is just not feasible in a city like London as public transport capacity is reduced. We need more people walking and cycling for short trips to ensure road space is there for people like the disabled who need to drive. It’s no coincidence cities the world over are doing similar things.

Unfortunately London is doing it so slowly and in a piecemeal fashion it seems tailor made to annoy many.

Abroad

There was no cycling schemes drawn up and implemented in three days as seen in other nations. In Greenwich – like much of London – too often it has been unsightly, poorly implemented barriers at high cost taking a couple of months and then semi-permanent work only going in when traffic is already back to very high levels.

If this was done back in April as so many other cities managed it would have been undertaken on empty roads as many gave cycling a try – and seen less resistance than doing it when traffic was already at or above previous levels six months after lockdown begun.

Given that, arguments against will now be fierce and whether this works is up in the air. The city needs urgent change but authorities seem flummoxed about doing it quickly and affordably.

Better communication and cohesive schemes are now essential.

11 Comments

  1. Roy

    Some 3 or 4 years ago I had made a Complaint or two with no response from the Council so I sent the Files to the Council Leader at the time..his reply was that it wasn’t his problem….

  2. JR

    Can’t be any worse that then current death trap that is the Angerstein roundabout. Using it as a pedestrian, bus user, motorist and cyclist it is an awful experience regardless of the format.

    Still not sure why they’re blocking the northbound sliproad onto the A102.

  3. GB

    This is a MASSIVE relief, very much looking forward to it being completed. I avoid that roundabout at all costs if I can.
    I currently go over the bridge at the B&Q then cut around the back which brings you out on the still dangerous Woolwich road.
    But I also agree with JR. Blocking the slip on the A102 doesn’t make much sense to me.
    I contacted the team via the details given on the ‘consultation’ for an explanation (perhaps they’re trying to segregate HGV’s and cyclists as much as possible) but I’ve had to reply as yet.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      I dont think anyone has had a respond from various parties. The thinkingbehind it would be welcome as well as asking people like yourself with first hand experience.

  4. Jo

    Great to see work on the roundabout.

    I agree it’s almost too late now to do something like this without seeing a large backlash which is no good for anybody. I think back to silent streets in March, April and into May as cities like Paris built huge networks and so little happened here. Now traffic in London is 105-110 per cent of levels in February and work gets underway…

    We have massive problems with transport and bureaucracy from a local bike lane up to HS2. It takes extremely long periods of time and costs are highly inflated, again from Greenwich town centre all the way up to HS2.

    I suppose people at Charlton could peel off and go by the river to reach Woolwich but getting from A to B quickly is a fundamental aspect of good transport schemes. Not diversions and meandering. If the council leader isn’t bothered about looking into this then it wont happen. It’d be welcome to see him lead.

  5. Leyton

    As a Bus Driver of the 422 I can tell you that the delays we are getting every morning are ridiculous, it’s now averaging 2 hours from Bexleyheath to North Greenwich, Drivers are fed up already and it’s only going to get worse. The whole area has become gridlocked. There will be many an accident too with this contraflow cycle lane and the narrow road structure, can just about for 2 buses side by side now where the narrowing begins. I’ve seen some stupid decisions by Greenwich Council but this wins the prize.

    • Rich

      Well said. I’m glad that there has been a comment that makes complete sense. As you mentioned, buses are majorly held up. The narrowing side of things, has anyone thought through the danger of this? How about when both sides of the road are held up, gridlocked. With traffic, roads narrowed, buses barely getting through.. How on earth are emergency services going to get through? Drivers would of before all this, parted ways to allow emergency services through the middle of the road shaving vital seconds/minutes. The amount of high rise buildings that are going up all round, as covered here in regards to flammable cladding, God forbid it ever happens again, but what if there was another Grenfell Tower incident? With this point in mind, this cycle idea is not looking to bright of an idea. The road layout was better before. Protective raised cycle lanes would of been better along side the pavement for an example. Much like they have in east London.

    • HK

      David Kurten and various residents are pushing back on the various ‘traffic’ (like LTN’s) and cycle projects. One of the London councils has already uninstalled some off the measures because it created far too many problems.

      The problem is many of those who push these protects have very little knowledge of what causes the problems and go for the ‘simple’ solutions not knowing the unintended consequences!
      They don’t seem consider the drivers, trades people, emergency services, businesses etc

  6. mave

    It’s known locally as the Woolwich road flyover, not the Angerstein roundabout. I have asked the council what before and after statistics are being collected, no answer as yet.

  7. Jim

    I think this is more TFL than greenwich council as it’s an A road.

  8. David N

    About the northbound slip. This was mentioned in TfL’s ideas for improvements last year ( https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/916e3226/ ):

    “We would aim to improve air quality in the area by reducing the volume of traffic on the A206 Woolwich Road. We think it might be possible to do this by restricting access from the A206 Woolwich Road to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road.”

    They also mention “We would provide a new turning area for buses only, to help them navigate through the junction more quickly, benefitting bus passengers.” Is anything happening on this front?

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