Transport for London have announced an intension to extend the dedicated cycle lane from Greenwich beyond Charlton to Woolwich.
However the notorious, dangerous and ugly Blackwall flyover is to stay as it is, and there is still no plan to continue through Woolwich town centre after Greenwich Council refused to help with funding at levels requested by TfL.
TfL list a number of proposed changes, including a “two-way segregated cycle way along the A206 from Anchor & Hope Lane to Woolwich Ferry roundabout”.
Pedestrians crossing will change from staggered to straight across, new crossings on the A206 and wider paving.
However there is one obvious caveat, with TfL stating “expected to begin in spring 2024, subject to funding“.
In recent weeks the proposed route of a lane through Woolwich town centre was revealed which was covered here, though as it stands it will end at the busy Woolwich ferry roundabout.
The “subject to funding” is the big thing to watch though. Transport for London’s latest funding agreement limits spending on public realm and street projects as construction inflation rises sharply.
That means borough councils would need to step up, though in recent weeks Greenwich Council have refused to contribute Section 106 income from major developments at anywhere near levels that TfL requested.
At that particular site, TfL sought £944,000 for cycle lane improvements. Greenwich opted for £150,000.
Two weeks later Greenwich approved a development nearby for a new leisure centre and nearly 500 homes.
TfL sought £766,862 for cycling provision. Greenwich replied that “a minimum of £50,000 has been secured towards towards Cycleway 4.”
Those low levels were despite the GLA and TfL calling for investment in active travel to dissuade car usage.
Same seen elsewhere
For many years this site has been keeping track of how and where Greenwich Council spend income from new development across the borough.
Those two recent examples from Woolwich town centre follow a long-term pattern of refusing to allocate anything but small sums from parking and development to street changes including at Plumstead gyratory where 1,750 homes were approved.
Shortly after they approved plans for 333 homes nearby. On both occasions Greenwich Council again ignored calls from various bodies to allocate greater levels of related income to encourage walking and cycling leaving this as a major route:
Just £40,000 was allocated from the 333-home development A small fraction of the overall income.
When asked by TfL to invest, Greenwich responded by stating they were investing yet in completely the opposite direction to an existing segregated cycle lane, shops, buses and railway station.
If you know the area, what Greenwich suggest makes little sense.
Last year Greenwich were bottom in London for collecting Community Infrastructure Levy income and regularly refuse to allocate Section 106 income towards streets changes to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, rail and other public transport users.
They set a low rates in 2015 way below what an independent viability report stated was possible, then failed to revise in 2018 as promised.
If they had revised, the Woolwich crossrail tab would almost certainly have been paid off some time ago with many millions available for various services and improvements above and beyond what is seen.
If anything, their own developments also go out the way to make future changes for cycling provision more difficult. Last year they approved a major estate rebuild in Woolwich beside the forthcoming cycle route.
They refused to contribute to Network Rail’s request on constructing a new, accessible bridge over the railway line thus leaving this as the main link from hundreds of homes to bus routes and the forthcoming cycle lane:
The estate’s new design beside the existing A206 also limits space to ensure a dedicated bus lane, cycle lane and wide paving for pedestrians:
What could help is when Community Infrastructure Levy rates are finally revised, as expected by late 2023 when the council’s Crossrail bill should also be paid off.
That should then ensure substantially more money for various projects – though there is the dangers that a recession will press the brakes on much development post-2022.
That ensures they’ve missed the boat on additional income from huge numbers of developments approved in recent months and years, with developers avoiding revised fees and costing the authority and residents sizable sums.
So we come back to that all important phrase from TfL in their press release: “subject to funding”.
If Greenwich continue to refuse in supporting projects via hard cash while proclaiming support in words, it may take some time to begin.