Petition brushed off by Council after residents complain barriers block wheelchairs

A petition by residents concerned about Greenwich Council installing street furniture near Maze Hill station which could block wheelchairs and buggies has been brushed off by the authority. Note, the main picture isn’t the barrier in question but another nearby.

Despite continual claims about seeking to enhance walking and cycling, the council has installed numerous barriers and obstacles which can hinder mobility – particularly for the most vulnerable. The response to why they installed obstacles claims a complaint about a moped led to the move:

“The barriers at Lemmon Road were installed for health and safety reasons after a complaint/concern that mopeds had been seen driving on the footpaths. Because of the risk of injury to pedestrians swift actions were taken to mitigate against any motorised vehicles being driven down the pathways. Unfortunately, this meant that the normal resident engagement was not possible.”

Route to Maze Hill station blocked for some on approach from the east

I’ve often found this line somewhat baffling. On the off-chance mopeds may travel on the pavement they seek to make life more awkward for everybody on foot. By that rationale why not block off all pavements, walkways and any other area that potentially may see a moped, bike or car travel? Make life harder for everybody due to the actions of a very small minority?

I’ve also been sent a Freedom of Information request which asked for the decision making process on similar measures elsewhere in Greenwich, with a resident asking about records of installation and the decision making processes.

Click to enlarge

The council failed to provide the detailed design from the Traffic Engineer for this area of paving despite being asked. No impact on disabled people was taken formally with only a “visual inspection” apparently made at the site below:

Barriers installed around 2020 based on “visual observation” alone.

It’s somewhat strange they can rush to do this and easily find money, yet requests for other street improvement work can take years. No money for lighting in places? No money to make local centres and shopping parades more attractive and welcoming?

Yet one apparent complaint and the money is suddenly there and swift action possible, yet numerous residents asking for removal not only of new clutter but older obstacles and no action is taken. It’s fine to obstruct pedestrians apparently. Ah, but it doesn’t they claim. Tell that to the people who email me about obstacles making their daily walk to the shops more difficult, the people I’ve spoken to who say the same or the 18 residents on one street alone asking why a barrier was installed and want it gone ignored in this latest petition. Apparently staff in Woolwich Centre know better. It’s stark how some areas – such as estates – see no investment for years in basic maintenance of streets or buildings, except for endless street clutter popping up. In 2019 Greenwich Council revealed they were to spend £75,000 to train staff on modern street design despite TfL already providing an extensive street design guide. It doesn’t look like it achieved much. For every sign towards some sort of modernity, a new scheme brings back the obstacles and clutter.

Basic design flaws: Location of street sign hampers wheelchairs and buggies

The concern is that Greenwich Council Highways Department seem happy to keep hindering pedestrians including the most vulnerable, brush over recent reports to encourage people to travel sustainably, ignore a petition raised by residents, claim pedestrians are not hindered despite many stating otherwise, demonstrate dated thinking on road and street design again and again, ignore TfL street design guidance and recent evidence on street safety –  yet some councillors (not all) and Cabinet Members seem unable or unwilling to act. This impacts vulnerable pedestrians. It wastes money. Do they want to encourage active living?

New street design in town centre akin to rural A-road in design. Modern street design ignored

Even last year’s measures for social distancing demonstrated basic design flaws, with crossing points for pedestrians blocked and access for cyclists from roads to cycle lanes blocked.

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

The potential cost of plastic barriers according to Greenwich Council runs to £119,130 in Greenwich town centre alone. That included £13,875.55 for “Design and PM work”:

Cost of plastic barriers

I’m informed disability groups are now looking into the installation of numerous obstacles across the borough and the impact – particularly on disabled pedestrians. It does seem likely that after years of both the Highways and Housing Departments ignoring concerns from the most vulnerable – and councillors achieving little to modernise working practices in those departments – that action could be taken from bodies outside the borough to highlight and force change in working practices.

If you have similar obstacles or your life made harder to get around on foot, email me examples at fromthemurkydepths@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John 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 “Petition brushed off by Council after residents complain barriers block wheelchairs

  • March 24, 2021 at 11:31 am
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    What!!! – those bollards at Earlswood Street have been there as long as I can remember. See what your FOI comes up with but my guess is installed by the GLC c1972. (GLV remodelled that whole area early ’70s and cut access between the two bits of Woodlands Park Road – it had been all prefabs previously).

    Reply
  • March 24, 2021 at 12:35 pm
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    That particular one is just an example. They are still putting ever more in – including others in the post. It doesn’t matter what happened in 1972 – they have the ability to stop hampering the disabled now. Mistakes decades ago doesn’t excuse making them again now. The world has moved on.

    Reply
  • March 24, 2021 at 12:41 pm
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    The council are truly hopeless with accessibility and disabled people. Someone should bang heads together and TALK to people who face the reality of this. Its no fun being in a wheelchair, then despairing to have to worry about boarding a train (will the staff be there with ramp????) THEN the authority ensure reaching the station is harder. Same with shops and parks and well, many elements of daily life.

    Let me tell you these barriers are far more of a menace than a moped or bike. I’ve seen cars drive in weird places and people mess about in odd areas. we don’t then lock every single inch of public space. Well maybe they want to.

    Reply
  • March 24, 2021 at 3:21 pm
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    Countless times I’ve seen mopeds manage to get through your second photo (outside Maze Hill station) anyway.

    Remove the barriers!!

    Reply
  • March 27, 2021 at 4:47 pm
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    I’m wondering if the moped is true. The other set of barriers to the top picture are just before the flight of stairs leading to Maze hill. Were moped riders really riding down and back up the stairs? I can’t imagine there’d be many willing to do that!

    Reply
  • April 5, 2021 at 8:35 pm
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    The second picture not the top picture.

    Reply

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