At Lewisham Cyclists, we have been wondering just what the omission of Deptford Bridge from TfL’s revised list of junctions that will be reviewed with a view to redevelopment, actually means. In fact, not one junction in Lewisham made it on to that list of 33. Andrew Gilligan did warn us that the original list of 100 would be reduced, when he visited our meeting last year. He stated then that it was better to spend more money on fewer junctions and do a good job, than spread the money available thinly and end up wasting it on sub standard and inadequate changes. But, when not one junction in a borough with its fair share of dangerous, busy and badly designed road systems is on that final list, the message, in the absence of any explanation, seems to be that maybe TfL has forgotten Lewisham. Or possibly they believe we don’t really mind these most dangerous, dirtiest and polluted spaces in our borough.
Schoolchildren have to make a guess at when it’s safe to cross, then run for it in the gaps. Not one pedestrian crossing on this whole, massive, very busy junction. Unbelieveable, but true!
Well, we, the local cyclists and pedestrians who have to use it, and the even greater numbers of us who deliberately avoid using it because it is so awful, want to make sure that TfL realise that it is that bad. More than bad. And we do mind it. Very, very much. And we want to make sure TfL don’t forget about it and what it does to the community it severs so violently and dramatically with, in some sections, eight lanes for motor traffic across its whole width.
Darren Johnson, Green Party councillor and Assembly member, agrees with us. Which is why he asked us along to a photoshoot in the hope of flagging up to TfL just how bad the junction is and how serious and damaging its effect on the local community is.
It’s bad enough for cyclists to negotiate…there is not one single manoeuvre on this junction that doesn’t present serious risks. We’re all used to the danger presented by crossing lanes to make right turns…that’s magnified here in places where so many lanes have to be crossed to get into the correct position to turn. However, merely travelling straight on can be a problem, with so many lanes to deal with, and even a simple left turn isn’t that simple, when it’s from a crowded, narrow feeder street like Brookmill Rd where one can be squeezed dangerously as cars accelerate out on to the much wider junction roads.
An ASL, but 4 lanes of traffic to cross if you are turning right! No wonder this cyclist seems confused.
So, tough enough on a bike, but if you want to walk across, just as, if not even more, dangerous and intimidating. While we were standing on an island in the middle of the junction, we witnessed a mother crossing the road with her young children…constantly on the alert, eyes everywhere, she had to be aware of traffic from three or four directions at once and make a split second judgement about when to go for the safety of the next pedestrian refuge and then do the same again for the next stage of the road….three times she had to do this, before getting across the whole junction. At no point anywhere on this junction is there any assistance for pedestrians, not one pedestrian light signal anywhere. Yet all around the area are flats, shops, houses, schools, parks, a busy DLR station and important bus routes. It’s a lively, thriving community, completely blighted by this terribly designed junction.
Wait for the gap, fingers crossed and go for it! While the rest of us huddle, squeezed in between lanes of fast moving heavy motor traffic and wait for the next time…no pedestrian light phase or crossings anywhere at this junction to help.
We have already commented in an earlier post that Tfl still hope to run an extension to CS5 through to Lewisham. And we know that the route they are considering would run through this junction. It’s not a done deal though…we are awaiting the results of the feasibility studies they are doing. What we would emphasise very strongly, is that, whether or not a CS5 extension goes through here or not, Tfl must attend to Deptford Bridge. And not just to make one route through it safer for cyclists. To make it part of its community again…a link to the different parts of New Cross, Deptford and Lewisham for everyone, incorporating pleasant traffic free spaces for bikes and people. It will always be a busy place we know, but it can be a space where motor traffic is calmed and controlled sufficiently, to make moving through it on foot or by bike, easier, safer and a whole lot more pleasant and attractive than it is now. A space which becomes part of the community environment to which it truly belongs, rather than a multi lane speed track which slices that community in two and forces its residents to risk their safety and that of their children every day, and to accept that risk without question. Well, we are questioning it, as loudly and as frequently as we can. Until those that have the power to change things for the better accept their responsibility and start to act.
If you want to help us get in touch on email@example.com and think about joining the London Cycling Campaign http://lcc.org.uk/pages/membership-and-benefits
Thanks to Mike Cavenett from the LCC for the photographs.