A Greenwich Council Highways Committee meeting last night saw a verbal update given into proposals for a dedicated Greenwich to Woolwich cycle lane.
The cycle lane would extend Cycle Highway 4 which could eventually run from Tower Bridge to Plumstead.
The update stated work from Charlton to Woolwich could begin in late 2024 subject to funds. The video here covers the presentation from the 1 hour 3 minute mark.
Greenwich Council’s officer stated that the route has “high cycling potential demand” which given thousands of car-free homes are planned along it certainly seems plausible.
The route to Woolwich unhelpfully would dump people at the Woolwich ferry roundabout. Not great.
He then stated there could be public consultation from late 2023 covering Woolwich ferry through the town centre to link to existing segregated lanes from Woolwich to Plumstead.
This map giving us a possible hint of what to expect was seen last year.
That old phrase “subject to funding” popped up again.
We know Greenwich planning officers have regularly failed to follow Transport for London requests to allocate substantial sums of Section 106 income from major developments towards the project. If they have allocated any money, total sums are far below requested amounts.
To give one recent example, TfL sought £944,000 from a major development named Woolwich Central surrounding the Tesco superstore when in summer 2022. Greenwich officers decided to go with £150,000. This is a very common theme seen time and again.
Officers did however manage to again find a far greater sum for GLLaB in their agreement with the developer.
A failure to set higher Community Infrastructure Levy rates on developers in 2015 – and then not revising in 2018 as promised – has ensured the Woolwich Elizabeth line station box is still not paid off and thus no funds from that direction either.
If an extension to the cycle lane does go ahead through Woolwich town centre, it’ll be 2025 onwards.
Six improved pedestrian crossings are on the agenda for the earlier phase through Charlton to Woolwich.
Cllr Majid Rehman asked about the Angerstein roundabout on a section recently built.
Cllr David Gardner raised the cancellation of plans to alter the road layout here, with TfL stating they lack sufficient funding. As we’ve seen with recent S106 allocations, Greenwich are refusing to assist to levels desired by TfL required to offer sufficient contribution.
There’s three main ways Greenwich could however assist with this project and others elsewhere. Firstly, Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy income and allocation.
Second, parking revenue. Any surplus by law is ringfenced to transport spend.
Lewisham Council are set to see a £7.4 million surplus this year for example. This is taken from a Lewisham Council document this very week.
Third, income from cameras used to monitor and enforce moving traffic offences and parking in certain areas such as on Keep Clear markings outside schools and on dedicated cycle lanes. That income is again ringfenced to transport.
If all three sources were functioning as they should – and none of them are in Greenwich borough – there would be additional revenue for bold plans to push active travel and assist TfL.
We saw it yet again in December when 523 homes were approved in Woolwich. It’s also not simply refusing to allocate Section 106 revenue but how future developments consider any forthcoming provision. TfL said this about the Armourer’s Court plan which sits on the proposed cycle route:
“Proposal fails to find a suitable balance between servicing requirements and policy requirement to provide good quality public realm and an attractive cycling and walking environment.”
There were also “deficiencies in the Active Travel Zone Assessment”
Back to the meeting and Cllr Van Den Brook raised the issue of cycling on pavements. The Greenwich Officer replied stating a safe lane would help keep cyclists on the carriageway.
Cllr Miranda Williams talked of signage as to what pavements are shared use.
Cllr Gardner then raised the Antigallican junction.
He mentioned measures should be taken to encourage more traffic to head to Bugsby’s Way away from Woolwich Road as part of any forthcoming work.
Greenwich officer Andrew Burton stated that in five weeks TfL will show latest drawings and that could be fed back in.
One concern would be directing further traffic to Bugsby’s Way would slow down buses using that route.
Greenwich Cyclists then spoke, praising the scheme and acknowledged compromises made.
They also had concerns with junctions and conflict between road users, alongside surfaces and colours used.
They noted bright blue paint hasn’t been used as in much of London, and stated this was a decision made by Greenwich Council to reduce maintenance costs.
Cllr Merrill also raised it, with Greenwich stating cost was not the issue. It was because beige was chosen for bus stop bypasses and so that continued to junctions for continuity.
Another issue was passing through the Naval College in Greenwich. No answers there.
And that wrapped it up. We learned of some timelines and as ever, the phrase subject to funding was heard.
Ultimately until TfL are back on a stable financial footing and Greenwich change tack on utilising three possible sources of funds (parking revenue, camera offence revenue and developer income) to assist with projects, any project is tentative and likely to be on the cut-down side, at least with things such as Angerstein roundabout and flyover.
The good news is that can change. As ever the question is will it.