Lewisham Pushes Ahead Regardless in Lee Green

The Alliance of British Drivers issued the following national press release yesterday:

One Metre Rule Makes ‘Social Distancing’ Road Blockages Redundant

Many current and proposed road blockages are now unnecessary argue the ABD.

Spokesperson Paul Biggs explains:

Anti-car authorities all over the UK have relished the chance to obstruct motorised traffic under the guise of encouraging walking and cycling by enabling 2 metre distancing. Most of these schemes have dubious merit and many have simply resulted in making life more difficult for drivers, clogging up the roads whilst the extra space remains virtually unused. With the expected announcement that a 1 metre gap is sufficient, there is even less justification for such schemes. Existing schemes should be scrapped and no further schemes pursued. The roads must be allowed to flow freely to get the economy back on track.

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One London Council that is ignoring this in their desperation to get road closures in place is Lewisham. They previously proposed numerous road closures (modal filters and school streets) as part of their Healthy Neighbourhood proposals. This generated numerous objections from local residents which enthusiastic cyclist Councillor Sophie McGeevor proceeded to ignore.

But the Council has just circulated a letter in Lee Green which spells out that they will be implementing almost identical proposals next week using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse. See the letter here which includes the latest map of the proposals: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lee%20Green%20Council%20Letter%202020-06-23B.pdf

The road closures will be implemented using Experimental or Temporary Traffic Orders which have not been published (we will advise the details when known). There will be no public consultation on the proposals – effectively they will be delivered as a fait accompli by Councillors ignoring the views of many residents, particularly those elderly or disabled who cannot cycle or walk far.

These road changes are clearly intended to be made permanent in due course. Residents should object to the Traffic Orders and should bear in mind the names of the local ward councillors at the next local council elections who have supported these plans – namely Octavia Holland, Jim Mallory and James Rathbone in Lee Green.

Postscript: The first road closures in Lewisham have now been put in for Scawen Road, George Lane, Kitto Road, Glenbow Road, South Row, Bishopsthorpe Road and Silverdale. These closures have been authorised using a Temporary Traffic Order – see: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Lewisham%20Temporary%20Traffic%20Order%20Phase-1%202020-06-22.pdf

We have sent the Council this letter pointing out that the road closures are unjustified and the wording of the Traffic Order does not justify the closures as it needs to do: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/ABD_Letter%202020-06-26-Web.pdf

The Council seem to be ignoring all the legal niceties including putting in the road closures even before the date authorised on the Traffic Order.

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Bromley – Funding Submission for Highway Measures

ChislehurstHighSt1Anyone with an interest in the activities of the local London Boroughs as regards highways measures will know that a revolution is taking place for two reasons: 1) The Mayor and TfL have run out of money so funding by Tfl for previously approved highways schemes has been stopped; and 2) the Covid-19 epidemic has prompted the Government to ask local councillors to bring in measures to promote “social distancing” and encourage walking/cycling to relieve pressure on public transport and roads. Some money is available in grants for such measures but they have to be bid for and soon in a competition that will be judged on merit.

Bromley Council have published what they may submit in a document that explains the process – see https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/documents/s50082088/ES20029.pdf

Many of the proposed measures may be temporary, but some might be made permanent. Plans for “Healthy Neighbourhood” or “Mini-Holland” schemes which include road closures may have lost previous funding, but they might still be snuck in using the new funding measures. It is therefore important if you live in London to keep an eye on what your local borough is proposing because there will otherwise be minimal public consultation. The proposals are considered urgent now because of the epidemic and decisions may simply be delegated to council staff to push them through quickly.

However, I have submitted the following comments to some of the relevant Bromley Councillors and officers (I may try and cover some other boroughs later but it really needs someone with local knowledge of the roads to make suggestions and comments – with 32 London borough I cannot personally cover all of them):

Bromley Funding Submission for Highway Measures

Dear Councillor Harmer,

Here are some comments that you requested on the published “Funding Submission for Highway Measures to Support Social Distancing….”. As you may know, I have taken a strong interest in traffic and transport issues in Bromley for the last 20 years.

Being someone who is considered a particularly “vulnerable” person from the Covid-19 epidemic being a transplant patient, I have a strong interest in ensuring that roads and pavements provide adequate social distancing capabilities. However I also have a strong interest in ensuring that vehicle users are not unreasonably prejudiced by such measures in my wider role for the ABD in London, particularly as the use of cars rather than public transport can be an invaluable resource to the elderly and disabled, of which there are very many in the borough.

In general most of the proposals being put forward for funding seem quite reasonable, so I will only comment on those worth highlighting and where I have particular knowledge:

Temporary measures in locations where walking and cycling schemes have been previously supported by members.

BROMLEY TOWN – Glassmill Lane. I note the proposal to “filter”, i.e. close, the road to southbound traffic with the introduction of a cycle lane. This road is used by a lot of traffic headed from Bickley or Chislehurst to Beckenham (you indicate 15,000 vehicle movements). The reason for this is because the alternative routes, particularly Beckenham Lane where traffic queues up to Shortlands Station for much of the day, are not very viable.

Although the volume of traffic may be temporarily lower, it is clearly likely that any such change would be made permanent. There are also a considerable number of properties to the east of Glassmill Lane (between Mill Lane and Bromley Gardens) who would be severely inconvenienced by this closure. I suggest if nothing else that they be consulted before this is done, irrespective of the urgency of these proposals.

I can well understand this proposal is being considered because the tight bends at the top of Glassmill Lane and the narrow carriageway at that point are clearly dangerous, and not just to cyclists. However, I would suggest that a closure northbound rather than southbound would be better. Traffic travelling from Beckenham eastwards has good alternative routes so would not normally use Glassmill Lane.

CHISLEHURST: Add a refuge at the bottom of Old Hill. I am very supportive of this proposal.

COPERS COPE: A regards the proposed temporary closure of Park Road, I suggest the local residents should be consulted before any such measure is undertaken. The ABD is opposed to road closures unless there are very good reasons to do so.

As regards the suggestion that Temporary Traffic Orders (TTOs) might be used to put in measures such as road closures, they are intended for the use in emergencies and it would be a misuse of the legislation that permits road closures by councils. The latest Government Guidance does not change the wording of the Act that covers such capabilities. TTOs should only be used for such things as emergency road repairs and should be temporary as the name implies. To use them for measures to improve social distancing may be justified temporarily, but that does not support the closure of Park Road, nor the closure of Glassmill Lane mentioned above.

SHORTLAND: Durham Road – Valley Road. It is not at all clear what is being proposed here, and by “filter” I presume a road closure is being proposed. Could you ask whoever writes these documents to stop using a euphemism. A road closure to everyone but cyclists is a closure. What are the alternative routes that might be used around such a closure? Again local residents need to be consulted first. The Covid-19 epidemic should not be used as an excuse to close roads without prior public consultation.

Town Centre Distancing Hotspots.

BROMLEY TOWN CENTRE: I would support the pedestrianization of East Street. As regards keep left and lane signage for pedestrians, I really doubt that this will be adhered to and could be expensive to implement.

ORPINGTON: We would oppose any suggestion of restricting the High Street to buses, cyclists and servicing vehicles only. I doubt any vehicle users who know the area would use this road as a through route, so the vehicles are mainly dropping off and picking up pedestrians. However, some of the parking on this road could usefully be removed.

CHISLEHURST TOWN CENTRE (see photo above).  I completely agree with changing the parking to be parallel with the road between Willow Grove and Prince Imperial Road entirely. Indeed I have supported this ever since I was involved with the Chislehurst Society. This should be made a permanent change. This would provide a wider pavement, possibly even a cycle lane, and smooth traffic flows.

Temporary Measures for Schools in the Borough.

CHISLEHURST: Chislehurst CE Primary – closure of School Road at Royal Parade. A closure at the end of School Road (at the junction with Royal Parade) would effectively mean the closure of Church Row and hence require all north/south traffic to use Church Lane instead. This would put more pressure on Royal Parade which already has stationary traffic for most of the day, on Bull Lane and Manor Park Road. I would suggest alternative closure points would be better, including making Church Row one-way southbound which has long been proposed and would enable wider pavements to be introduced. In summary, I think any changes in these roads would be problematic without a lot more consideration and estimates of the impact on traffic queues. The closure of School Road might be welcomed by the School, but local residents over a wide area might be adversely affected.

Temporary Measures in locations where walking and cycling schemes were being developed.

CHISLEHURST: Improving the footpath between Belmont Lane/Edgebury and Kemnal Road. As a former resident of Belmont Lane, I wholeheartedly support this, although it’s not a “short-cut” that takes you anywhere of interest. However the last time I walked it, it was barely passable on foot and in winter gets very deep in mud and slippery at the Northern end. It would be a useful improvement but far from essential.

I hope you will consider the above comments before deciding where any money that is available might be spent.

Yours sincerely

Roger Lawson

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P.S. Apparently the intention is to make Glassmill Lane, Queensmead Road and Station Road one-way along the whole length thus enabling one phase of the traffic lights at the Shortlands Station junction to be closed, thus improving traffic flow on Beckenham Lane. But it would create major inconvenience for many local residents forcing them onto Beckenham Lane via a circular route.

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