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).
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.
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.
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.
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.