East Greenwich traffic shambles continue

A notorious east Greenwich junction is again seeing chaotic driving as the area resembles a free-for-all on a daily basis.

In recent weeks daily videos have been filmed of many drivers heading the wrong way down the road and jumping red lights. Regular school parties cross the road heading to the Greenwich Centre swimming pool.

That leisure centre even adds to the problem by attaching adverts to guardrail obscuring pedestrians behind from drivers. This is basic stuff *not* to do for road safety.

Last year police were in the area but after one or two days disappeared and havn’t been seen since.

Greenwich council used plastic barriers in recent weeks which appeared to do little apart from block a pedestrian crossing. They were removed after a couple of days.

The authority put out a news story yesterday about a carbon neutral plan and reducing car use. It’s the latest of many. They come along every year or two and little happens.

If we look at the main picture again take a look at the sign; it’s pointing the way to a school with an eventual capacity of 1,600 pupils.

Has that school or areas nearby seen much in the way of streetscape improvements with an associated increase in pedestrians? No.

Previous reports that stated encouraging walking achieved nothing to improve matters and introduce basic measures in much of the area.

Large roundabout beside new school

While many drivers in daily queues around here are those undertaking long journeys, many will be local people driving short journeys.

With such dire public realm many people will not switch transport modes

Pedestrian route from Greenwich Peninsula housing to east Greenwich shops

It’s dirty, ugly, unsafe, isolated and with little thought for those on foot or cycling.

This is all very much groundhog day stuff but with upcoming elections politicians may start demanding more of failing departments.

Greenwich streets hostile to those on foot

Perhaps it’s unlikely though. Since formally adopting the latest carbon reduction report, developments before the Planning Board show the Planning Department are still ignoring allocating income to improving public space and better streets.

Back to east Greenwich and despite daily notification, petitions and numerous attempts to gain action from politicians, people are still seeing chaotic driving every single day.


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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.

24 thoughts on “East Greenwich traffic shambles continue

  • Couple of things – there are of course two schools – well three if you count the nursery – very much nearer to all that mess – than St.Mary Magdalene (Christchurch & St,Josephs).
    You don’t mention TfL’s role in all this – unless things have changed in the last few years TfL control the traffic lights at the bottom of Vanburgh Hill and also in Trafalgar Road. There is a bus route – the 386 – on Vanburgh Hill and I suspect that London Buses get the last word on any changes where there is a bus route – that was the case a few years ago. There is also the issue of the lorry ban which is supposed to be policed by the – er – police. What I mean is that this is a really really complex situation with a lot more issues and players in it than you are mentioning.
    Also unless things have changed recently the ‘Angerstein’ roundabout is also really complex with TfL having the last word – as far as I am aware the pedestrian route is theirs – they certainly designed and insisted on its (awful) predecessor. As I understand it the Dept. Transport owns the Mway above, TfL own the roundabout and the supports for the Mway, Greenwich Council owns some of the land and some of the surroundings. Again its much much more complicated than you make out – and each body has its own agenda. Even if I am wrong on detail – which may have changed since I was in a position to know about it – it is still very complex

    • I’ve covered ownership before based on FoI and Greenwich manage and control a great deal of the local streets and public space.

      What is key is how other boroughs have worked well with TfL and Greenwich has seen next to nothing.

      Greenwich regularly refuse to fund improvements. We’ve seen recently with CIL how many boroughs seek TfL funding and co-fund but crucially solely fund if they have to. Greenwich continue to allocate almost nothing from s106 and have absolutely messed up CIL funding.

      TfL are far from perfect, however Greenwich often refuse to fund projects and when they do, they often contradict all modern street design guidance including TfLs own street design manual. When they contribute to TfL consultations the comments are based on decades old thinking. When we look across London we see other boroughs achieve great improvements working alongside TfL.

      With all that in mind, the failures of funding, thinking and implementation fall on Greenwich. Highways Dept are hopeless and the Planning Dept continue to fail to secure funding. Where’s the leadership to rectify that?

  • oh – and ps – the ‘large roundabout’ has the gas main under it and can’t be touched.

    • It certainly can. That does not prohibit changes. It can be reworked and beforehand crossings located at practical locations. It’s only like it is for traffic flow which may have made sense 20 years ago. Not now with so many homes in the area and schools.

  • This is a mess. More pollution emergency vehicles delayed small businesses struggling as customers avoiding area. Greenwich council have not got a clue. I watch cyclists riding in road not using cycling lanes. How long do we have to put up with this madness

  • mary (or else?) whilst i do agree (somewhat) and respect you (are you Mary Mills?) that the situation IS complex,I take the side of John here in saying that other boroughs can and do negotiate and work ‘with’ TFL successfully and make use of the CIL money. Why can’t RBG??
    It seems they are always one or more steps behind other boroughs in planning for our future streetscape and overall environmental standards. Even LTN’s all getting rowed back now, back to prev levels of traffic already and worse to come. And that is without dwelling on the failure to secure anything like enough money from developers.
    I for one would normally relish an independent investigation here, if it were not that the ruling national party have destroyed any faith i once had in so called ‘independent reviews’. They simply spend more taxpayers money to uncertain ends.
    The only light on the horizon is that the very apparent failings of current local leaders will be seen and understood by sufficient electors to make a change, it has to be of benefit to Green and LibDems, and they need to go all out at the locals.
    It’s a perfect time to once and for all bring what has always been a Labour stronghold, (certainly since I was a whippersnapper, with their politicians relaxing somewhat in that knowledge), to a more competitive democratic environment, with the new young intake having few Labour loyalties.
    Volunteer with one or both of these parties and YOU could make the difference we need. If you don’t take the opportunity, accept the current! That’s how democracy ‘works’. But it is more complex of course, just like council and tfl blaming each other for the Deptford Bridge/cycle infrastructure completion stalling. Another complex issue causing stalemate.
    I detest the Chinese regime intensely for its state control and human rights issues in particular, BUT, they DO get things done, and they’d probably build the 12 hospitals Tory’s keep promising with empty promises in just a few weeks. And maybe even have achieved the (lied about) promises of Boris’s Brexit Benefits that we strangely have far from gained. But that’s another issue. Meanwhile, give the ruling party in you local environment a shock. It just has to work. It’s time coming soon.

  • James, funny how cyclists always get blamed for traffic congestion, I cycle and love the lanes, but object to the polluting vehicles chucking fumes down my throat when i use them. Sorry! Just putting the case for the other side.

  • Yes and Yes – I appreciate that perhaps other boroughs do schemes successfully – or perhaps we just don’t get to see the detail or hear the rows. I can think of a number of times where Greenwich transport staff were falling over themselves to go along with residents’ wishes and to do it quickly but were stopped by someone being able to override them – sorry but that was my experience. And I do think with the whole of Trafalgar Road there are a whole lot of conflicting interests – and that this situation has gone on for over 50 years now with plans for tunnels, and roads along the riverfront or the railway line and so on and always there is some outside body which can intervene. And I can think of councillor after councillor who has said ‘we really are going to try and solve this’ and ending up getting nowhere – and the blame, despite the very real effort they put in..

    Incidentally I was just looking through Youtube yesterday and put on an old Ian Nairn programme from the 1960s about Pimlico and how transport engineers had devised a road pattern to stop through traffic and promote pedestrian neighbourhoods – which is still in place and still works. I suspect one reason is that they were able to look at the area as a whole in one go – and also replace bomb sites and build Churchill Gardens without a developer around. Interesting.

    And none of that excuses the low standards of driving currently going on on Vanburgh Hill – which I guess are partly do with the current culture – ie back to Thatcher and ‘no such thing as community’ etc etc etc. Do it for yourself and those that stay in the queue – or who use public transport – are losers.

    I don’t know enough about CIL to argue about it. However in my dim and distant past the small voluntary sector organisation I worked for ran a day’s seminar for academics and planners which resulted in boroughs – mainly Greenwich at first – working on what ended up formalised as the 106 agreements. At the same time the Greenwich team of EHOs were leading London in their important work on air pollution. But time goes on, staff retire, other people use your early experiences to do it better.

  • oh and ps – while you are slagging off the council can you just take in the rail infrastructure – surely even you can appreciate the work that has gone into that. I am only too aware – because I worked for an organisation which monitored it – of the effort the Council (with Lewisham) put into getting the DLR south of the river, and later the Jubilee Line. Have you any idea of how it started off as unthinkable. And moan as you do about the Crossrail station in Woolwich – have you any idea of the effort that took to get a station there at all? Every bit of this has been because the Council fought for it. (and more recently very small scale but to keep the Angerstein crossing)

  • This council deserves much more than ‘slagging off’. Lazy councillors who do nothing and collect their allowances safe in the knowledge that they’ll be re-elected with zero effort. The east of this borough is left to rot, and nobody in the council is willing to fight for it, so please don’t talk about fight in the same sentence as Greenwich Council. Abbey Wood Estate is in an embarrassing state while 2/3 of the ward councillors don’t even live in Abbey Wood. It’s pathetic.

    I’m praying that Labour are booted out in May, but deep down I know that there are too many delusional apologists like you in this borough who welcome the rot.

  • There are some pretty good Greenwich councillors who don’t live in their ward eg John Fahy (Labour) and John Hills (Conservative), combined age about 165.

    A sign of a dodgy councillor though is one who abandons their ward to move to one with a bigger majority, at least two current Labour councillors fall into that category.

  • FalseA, I think maryorelse was probably referring to specific achievements of Labour councillors, staff,leaders and officials mostly if not all in the past, would that be so Mary?

  • @ James Taylor I agree this is a mess. The junction at Woolwich Road, Blackwall Lane, Vanbrugh Hill and Trafalgar Road needs a complete re-think to make this junction much safer. As does the Angerstein Roundabout and the cycle lanes through East Greenwich.

    You are right James emergency vehicles are delayed and traffic are unable to pass buses stopped at bus stops now they stop right in line of the traffic due to the new cycle lanes installed rather than pulling in to the side of the road as they did before.

    I see so many cyclist ignoring red lights at traffic lights, pelican crossings and failing to stop at Zebra Crossings etc as if the rules of the road do not apply to them.

    Cycling is healthy alternative for travel but please respect other road users and pedestrians. Please use the cycle lanes provided So we can all keep safe.

  • sort of yes and no. Yes a lot of past councillors have put a lot of effort in and got results. But we tend to see them just in retrospect. I think the current council is doing some impressive things – at last some quality council housing, and also all the work feeding and helping residents through the pandemic. And other things we don’t know about. Different councillors approach things in different ways and I am sure that those who you categorise as ‘lazy’ may be working hard on something you aren’t aware of. But there are bound to be some who are overwhelmed or distracted and just give up – but not many. All I am trying to say about the situation in East Greenwich is that it is complex and has been building up for a very, very long time. No one has yet come up with a workable solution. Incidentally the local road I live on has a LOT less rush hour traffic on it than it did in the 1980s-90s – and don’t know why that is. I must shut up now, its not ok for old ladies to rant on about traffic.

  • Wait, I’m sure there used to be a box junction at the intersection of Woolwich Road, Blackwall Lane and Vanbrugh Hil. Reinstate that and change the phasing of the lights so that everyone as longer to cross over.

  • Graham and James, I certainly respect your feelings, but these comments attacking cyclists please believe me when I say they don’t help. The same happens on other forums too where it becomes a ‘them v us’ confrontation. We all need road space, and we all need safe road space. To be fair cyclists were here before cars! But now many car drivers feel the road is only theirs. And many cyclists are becoming scared of using roads because the resentment drivers feel leads over into malicious attacks physical and verbal, even where the cyclist is innocent. You need to have been a frequent cyclist for years to build up a feeling of confidence on our roads and know how to stay safe, and not many have that experience or understanding, and so we get deaths and serious injuries commonly. The type of cyclists you both refer to are the minority, and often the inexperienced, just as car drivers who break rules are too. Difference is that breaking the rules for cyclists makes them far more vulnerable, which isn’t to excuse their behaviour, they need educating. I fear that these type of blogs aren’t often read by the cyclists or drivers who cause such problems. Hackney police recently started fining cyclists running reds, £50 each, but this is a one off, it needs to be commonplace and the practice will soon stop, but attacking all cyclists for being cyclists as one, just creates problems and anger. I take it personally I’m afraid. The junction you mention James has no easy answer, it is safer for bikes now though, and as you are prob aware there have been cyclist fatalities here before. A heartbreak for families concerned. If emergency vehicles are being delayed, adjustments need to be made, and they will no doubt make suggestions via the proper channels once figures are presented for response times. Your second to last parag Graham applies to all road users. It infuriates me too when drivers stop across pedes crossings at traffic light junctions all the time because their exit is blocked by traffic congestion, congestion which is due to volume of traffic for roads which are not suited to the number of cars/delivery vehicles. Your final parag is a conciliatory tone though which i agree with, as long as we all remember, cyclists and drivers alike, that it is ultimately the cyclist who runs the biggest risk to injury and death by far. My youngest son (23) was very recently a passenger victim in a serious road traffic incident, car coming other way at speed lost control on a sharp bend, rolled and hit my sons girlfriends car head on. both her car and other drivers a write off, air bags worked, my son and his girl escaped with minor injuries miraculously but still suffering concussion and whiplash effects after 2 weeks, getting back to both working as physios part time until full recover. It was a terrible shock. Depression also kicked in for both of them. I thanked God that night that he wasn’t on his bike, as he cycles too for work. They were driving to his girls parents home for dinner. If he had been cycling…..I don’t wish to think about that, but I do think of my own vulnerabilities when cycling daily. I’ve been lucky and in over 45 years regular cycling, 30 years commuting by bike, have stayed safe. Respect of other road users on all sides as you say is essential, but it is the cyclist we should all remember, both cyclist and driver, who usually comes off worse, much worse. Have a good day guys, hope i haven’t preached too much, its an emotional issue for many.

  • Put a box junction in and gone everyone that enters. Loads of Money for community use sorted. Stricter parking times and proper enforcement. Oh and get rid of the current transport council staff that can’t seem to pull their fingers out their ears and get in some credible staff with a track record of delivering.

  • @ anonymous 201481 I totally agree. I have asked several times in letters to both TFL and RBG to change the traffic lights signals so that all lines of traffic move safely in turn to avoid the criss crossing of traffic. Unfortunately I never received any replies from TFL or RBG.

    New developments need to take public realm, cycling and improved public transport in to account as part of the planning process. Along with wider pavements by new developments so pedestrians can pass each other safely.

    Some new developments have seen pavement space reduced. Making it difficult for patents with children or disabled people to pass each other safely.

    We are not going to see car usage, traffic congestion or air pollution reduce unless there is more investment in the public transport infrastructure.

  • Take a look at who does the killing of other motorists, pedestrians and people on bikes and it is not people on bikes. How about targeting the killers instead of the killed? Telling people on bikes to obey the law to make the roads safer shows how dim you are.

  • Those who want to remove restrictions on cars don’t appear to think 5-10 years down the line. On this site we read every week about new housing plans in the area and we know there’s tens of thousands planned. If even a quarter of those newcomers drive it’s gridlock. Even less really. Removing restrictions may help in the short term but does nothing in a few years. There has to be attempts to get people to stop driving where they have an alternative.

  • Are you suggesting then that obeying the law is only something done by stupid people?

  • Mary you refer to JB’s comments? I do understand his emotions here though, passionate (I was too quite a few years back!), and to be fair we don’t know the personal circumstances causing these emotions which are as u say inferring something he I believe was not intending. His emphasis I believe was on the somewhat unfair attacks on cyclists compared to those on motorists, whereas quite rightly the share of perpetrators of injuries and deaths falls in the vast majority on motorists shoulders. They are driving what are literally ‘killing machines’, and a few/some of these drivers take little account of this in their driving behaviour. Cyclists are not all ‘angels’ nor always the innocent party, but almost always the victims ultimately, even if in some cases by ignoring road safety rules themselves they may have contributed to their demise. once again we have to beware of this becoming a them and us scenario, we are all road users, and should respect that, and allow for various vulnerabilities, and I include pedestrians in this.
    Rule enforcement needs to play a big part here, and RBG has not been successful with this, with camera usage/fines amongst the worst uptake of any borough. Same as with the CIL (community infrastructure levy). They don’t appear to concentrate on ways of raising funding which also have the beneficial effects of improving road safety.
    I so agree with the posts by Jo and CDT, how council (even with a new transport/environment ‘supremo’ on paid staff), is not looking to a transport policy for the future, more in appeasing the current majority (drivers) for political gain. Their current policies and u-turns on LTN’s have not a hope of meeting net zero targets, and they are making few positive moves in that direction as the post quite rightly states, to cope with what will be even greater congestion from the influx of new homes, even if some of those are electric (which are not totally emission/particulate free either). I think you have picked a part of JB’s post which was not the centre of his argument, your political training Mary! Best.

  • @Derek Small: that was an uneasy read and I hope your son makes a full recovery. As you indicate, the accident would have been a good deal worse if he was on his bicycle.

    I am not one of the anti-cycle brigade and believe that everyone has their place on the roads. The problem with the cycle lanes is how much of the road has been devoted to two passing cyclists. Fully half of the carriageway is for cyclists, leaving motor traffic with a single lane in each direction. There is no lay-by for buses to pull in and no space for emergency vehicles. I would like to know who determined the space that cycle lanes should occupy?

  • sorry – keep meaning to shut up and don’t. Some quick things – one is that I know that Greenwich has lost experienced transport staff and suspect the establishment has been cut, as it has everywhere. Those left are new and are just given piles and piles of new work with the community moaning about them all the time. Transportation staff need to know every inch of road in the borough and learning that takes time.
    Then the constant stand off between cyclists and drivers. Yes. I was brought up when everyone cycled in a very strict framework of rules and then there were years when no one did. The first ‘new’ cyclists in London were couriers or free spirits who believed in breaking rules. And ever since then there has been a stand off and its a pity. Most drivers aren’t Mr. Toad and most cyclists aren’t aggressive couriers but no one seems to acknowledge that.
    I think many LTNs are being put in too quickly and ignoring many issues which need to be taken into account and that’s a pity too – the old ones put in since the 1960s (and there are lots) were done without all this aggro. Oh – and as I said elsewhere just saw on youtube an Ian Nairn programme from the 1950s explaining how they have shut traffic out of Pimlico – it worked and still does. It also helps if it isn’t done to divide us up into ‘them’ (stopped from driving when it is the only status they have) and ‘us’ (loving our quiet streets, lovely parks and yummy restaurants).
    Will try and shut up and not go on and on.


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