Greenwich driverless car trial begins: Good use of council resources when sustainable links so poor?

A trial of driverless cars involving Greenwich Council has begun in the borough.

The project involves a Greenwich Council subsidiary called DG Cities.

One key question arising from this is just why is a local authority funded organisation is involved in driverless car trials when that same authority cannot get so many of the basics right when it comes to sustainable transport and good pedestrian and cycling links in the borough?

Does this big push for driverless vehicles from the council – see another project here – also ensure that vehicle primacy will remain in the area despite much new housing, including on the Peninsula where dual carriageways and large roundabouts abound to the detriment of pedestrians?

Roundabout on Greenwich Peninsula

The government may be part funding the project, but the project relies on the existence of DG Cities – which is an in-house Greenwich Council team.

Funding for the organisation is also an area to watch as increasingly this looks to receive income from developers instead of healthcare, education and other apparent priorities. isn’t this something large multi-nationals can and are funding?

DG Cities was known as Digital Greenwich, and it’s website stated that it “is the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s in-house team, created to develop and take forward Greenwich’s smart city strategy, and lead its work on city innovation.”

“The existence of a dedicated team, reporting directly to the Chief Executive, ensures focus and sufficient weight is given to bringing forward new ideas, new technologies, and new approaches to address the challenges Greenwich faces, and in particular, to address the increasing pressure on infrastructure, services, the environment and communities.”

Current route from Greenwich peninsula to east Greenwich

City innovation? That sounds all very rosy, but the authority cannot even implement attractive, safe and welcoming links for pedestrians in many parts of Greenwich borough. Maybe try to get the little things right?

And reporting directly to the Chief Executive? How many other areas get that treatment?

Approaching Greenwich Peninsula from east Greenwich

The Digital Greenwich website describes the organisations:

“Digital Greenwich works alongside DG Cities, a Council owned Innovation Company set up in 2015. DG Cities’ brings additional expertise and allows the Council to work in more innovative ways with private sector and other partners. Its remit extends beyond the borough boundary, which enables it to use the experience gained working elsewhere. The expertise of DG Cities in applying technology in cities is also sought by others, enabling the Council to capture the value from its work. Together Digital Greenwich and DG Cities have helped establish Greenwich as a leader in smart city innovation”.


DG Cities are based on Greenwich Peninsula. The same Peninsula that still has dire pedestrian links to existing communities and amenities in east Greenwich despite many millions incoming from new development.

Though it’s based near North Greenwich tube, and not the grotty and dangerous sections to the south.

Courtesy Google. Link to east Greenwich. Red line denotes divide between TfL and Greenwich control

While basic improvements are not undertaken to improve these areas for pedestrians and cyclists, Digital Cities organisation gets a hotline to the council’s chief exec?

Then of course there’s the question of how sustainable driverless cars are. They will still create congestion – which we know will increase in much of the borough when Silvertown Tunnel opens according to TfL modelling.

So perhaps it’ll be long queues of driverless cars in 20 years instead of normal cars rather than truly attempting to create alternatives?

Bad design. Cycle lane in but the public realm is a mess

You can imagine some in Woolwich Town hall thinking they’re at the forefront while never having visited much of the borough with poor links for pedestrians.

Swept away by the glamour of new technology while completely lacking understanding or knowledge of existing problems.

Pedestrian crossing from Ikea towards Charlton retail parks

And all the while, Greenwich refuse to allocate needed sums to improve pedestrian links at new development after new development, and continue in refusing to fund cycle hire schemes.

As for how much money they are allocating to driverless cars and other DG Cities’ projects, that will be something to keep an eye on.


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J 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.

    10 thoughts on “Greenwich driverless car trial begins: Good use of council resources when sustainable links so poor?

    • Time to remove this dreadful council, with an agreement under the counter between Greens/Lib Dems and environmentally aware young who may normally vote Labour, to take over more wards and go all out for removing Labour for the first time in god knows how long. They’ve not just become complacent, they’ve been complacent for decades here, whatever mistakes they’ve made in the past have been ignored by lifelong Labour supporters. But that’s changing with the new younger gen moving in. Leaders need to spend less time in photo-shoots and more time checking out where the problems are for the masses, and solving them. Before they’re outed.

    • 100%. Either the strategy you suggest or more local-focused parties are what we need. Labour is a safe seat and that breeds arrogance and complacency. THey’ve let millions go from CIF and we are paying the price with poor health and poor environment.

    • Absolutely agree 100% with Derek Small and JR.

    • For far to long this Borough as endured neglect. By squandering millions on pointless and wasteful projects. All mastered by the mismanagement of the Labour administration spanning decades. Isn’t it time for Change of leadership, party and direction.

      The Realm is in dire need of investment, Poor outdated design and lack of maintenance as left this in disrepair.

    • This driverless car project is a huge waste of money and a project the Council does not need to be involved at this time, This money would be better spent improving bus services in the Borough and making roads safer for cyclist motorist and pedestrians.

      As you say Ashley the public realm is in dire need of real investment. Housing stock needing urgent repairs and upgrading to make them more energy efficient safe and secure for tenants..We need more new truly affordable social housing to help reduce the housing waiting list and homelssness.

      While also improving health and social care services for vulnerable children and adults including the elderly and disabled who rely on these services.

    • I agree! The slogan for the next election should be, “Turn them out, turn Greenwich around!”

    • Meanwhile Greenwich stick a few cones randomly at the side of a road and call it a cycle lane, not to mention QEH and UHL hospitals are operationally a burning wreck right now

    • You should try living in Tory Bexley borough. Bins not emptied for weeks.

    • You’ll never get them to relinquish the fat cow of Greenwich! Not until we get rid of Khan and his cronies. Every week he finds some reason to pat himself on the back and demand more cash to go in the Labour coffers. Perhaps if the votes were counted by a more independent team? Or, those who benefitted were a bit more diverse? Spending thousands on a couple of pots of paint to brighten up the shops in lower Plumstead??


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