waterlink way

Waterlink Way: How much longer will we have a safe and traffic free route from Ladywell through Catford?

The section of NCN 21 which runs through Lewisham underneath the South Circular and then alongside the Pool River to Bellingham is a rare gem in our busy borough. Several miles of either completely traffic free or very quiet roads, upon which one could ride with the family, for a day in the park, a jaunt by the river or a trip out shopping. That could all be about to change. The development of Catford Dog track derelict and empty for a few years now, is all set to start. And we have just been sent the plans the contractor suggests for re routing the Waterlink Way around the development site.

We got sent a Stopping-up plan

This was hard to interpret and we thought the plan was to send cyclists across the South Circular to the Waterlink Way, as the safe crossing under one of the busiest roads in South East London looked inaccessible on the rather vague drawing.

Then we gotimage

which was clearer, and now seemed to show that the traffic free crossing under the South Circular was still accessible, but by a hilly and much longer route, exiting Ladywell Fields at the top of the hill, turning left into Ravensbourne Park Rd (a fairly busy road itself) and then left into Adenmore Rd by the station. The return journey involves a difficult right turn out of Adenmore going back up that hill, between parked cars and fast moving motor traffic and another right turn before reaching the quiet and safe haven of our much loved traffic free paths. It didn’t feel good.

Add to that, the fact that there seemed to be no useful dates anywhere on these documents indicating when any change might start, how long it might last for and finally no indication what kind of route would exist after the development was completed and the result was a very large group of worried, and annoyed cyclists, not just in Lewisham, but Bromley as well. It’s a popular commute route as well as a great leisure and utility route used by pedestrians as well as large numbers of cyclists.

We have contacted Nick Harvey, Lewisham’s Cycling Programme Manager and he has assured us he is consulting already with those responsible for the rerouting. Unfortunately, while we know he understands the importance of the route to the community, and the transport network in Lewisham, and trust that he will do his best to communicate this, the way this has been handled so far does not fill us with confidence that his view of the importance of cycling in the borough is shared by the contractors, or indeed,  all Lewisham’s transport team.   No prior consultation with route users, no attempt to quantify the importance of this route within Lewisham’s transport network, no attempt to make the re routing as safe as possible a replacement.

 

We are hoping to get answers to our questions in the very near future.  We are hoping that those answers will reassure the large numbers of people who use this route that they will still be able to make their journeys safely, free from the danger of fast moving traffic, be they young, old, able or less able, experienced cyclists or less experienced.  We are hoping.  And we are waiting for those that seem to think that a change to a cycle and walking route is not such a big deal really, to recognise and understand just how wrong they are.

Lewisham Roundabout: Too dangerous for SuperHighway status.  Too difficult to redesign?

Lewisham Gateway: What’s happening?

It seems the tortuous saga of planning and consultation over Lewisham Gateway may well be drawing to a conclusion.  Last year, some of us viewed the latest plans of the so called Low H road design which had been reviewed to include space for cycling.  We listened to what the planners, Tfl, and the developer’s had to say.

Space for cycling has different meanings, depending on who you are it seems… in the planning for Lewisham Gateway context it now amounted to a few lead in cycle lanes to ASL’s at multi lane junctions.  No protected space, at all.   A shared space path through the central development itself was agreed, but we came away with very mixed feelings about it, indeed. We put up a short post here at the time, back in October.  We did not post details about the proposals because we were hoping that our comments would be reviewed and taken on board and were waiting for a final response before asking what the wider community of Lewisham Cyclists felt.

Below is a very simple diagram, showing roughly how the Low H road design works… I borrowed this off the Alternative Lewisham Gateway website, a group set up to provide arguments against the original plans put forward in 2007 (yes, it’s been going on that long!)

Low H diagramThere was no real consideration at all back then given to how cyclists would move through that junction… the central area of development had plenty of provision for pedestrians walking through, but none for cyclists. The long planning and consultation process since then has coincided with a growth in cycling in London and a growing, if still grudging, awareness that cycling must be considered as a transport option when planning major junctions.  However, instead of revising the road system properly and redesigning it with this in mind, the solution offered was to “tack on” a few lead in lanes to ASL’s at the new signalised  junctions.  Every time we suggested the use of protected space,  or the use of semi segregation, we were told, no. Not possible.  The one area where a full cycle lane had been marked out was alongside the buses only area, and looked alarmingly like the provision on Blackfriars Bridge put in around a decade ago where Vicky McCreery was killed  in 2004, by a bus moving out into that area.  blackfriars bridge old laneGiven the large numbers of buses that would be passing through at this point, we did not feel this was safe as it could not be a mandatory protected lane.  There were also lead in lanes to ASL’s marked on the left at the signalised junctions.   At the junction of Rennel and Molesworth St, there were three lanes of traffic marked heading towards Molesworth St with the middle lane being for traffic turning both left and right… we felt this posed particular problems for cyclists approaching this junction, who may well be heading right to get on to Loampit Vale.  The question of positioning at busy junctions is crucial for cyclists and having the middle lane full of motor traffic turning left or right with a lead in lane right over on the left to an ASL, makes adopting a safe position for a right turning cyclist so much more difficult and dangerous.

So, in summary, the revised cycling provision for the road system was less than perfect.  The planners and engineers themselves acknowledged this, but said there was no option to completely redesign the junction from scratch.  Basically we were being told this or nothing. We went away and eventually drafted our response, which you can read again here .  It included increasing options for accessing the Waterlink Way safely from all arms of the junction,  and increasing shared space at crossings,  including the big, wide one planned for Rennel St.  Their answer, which we received on 20/12/2013, is below:

“Thank you for your further correspondence dated 12 November, which follows up on the meeting of 24 October.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.
As was explained at the meeting, the Development is constrained due to the two rivers, railway infrastructure and the shopping centre as well as having to accommodate two major roads.

Since planning approval was given in 2008, there has been a significant shift towards providing facilities for cyclists as a much higher priority when designing a highway scheme. In response to this shift, the Developer has been working with TfL and LBL to rebalance the priorities within the permissions set out in the Planning Approval. These changes were discussed when at the meeting in October.

The current highway layout, including the Northern Lewisham roundabout, creates a substantial barrier to cycling for both local and commuter journeys.  The proposed road layout removes this uncontrolled junction and replaces it with three signalised junctions to create the required development area.  The road alignment and junctions are therefore an intrinsic part of the scheme and necessary to deliver the regeneration benefits.

In order to provide routes which can be used by cyclists with a wide range of experience, a two level strategy has been adopted in the design.

·         An on-road provision consisting of wide general traffic / bus lanes, road markings, mandatory cycle lanes and cycle Advanced Stop Line (ASL) will highlight the presence of cyclists and support them in maintaining the safest positioning within trafficked lanes

·         An off-road provision using segregated cycle lanes and shared footways supported by toucan crossings gives cyclists a safer route to, from and through the development.  Movement between the on-road and off-road routes is provided for by dropped kerbs within the Gateway development.

 

The suggestions put forward in your letter are appreciated. Below provides an indication of how each of these is being considered:

1)    Molesworth Street southbound bus lane.  The proposed cycle lane on the far-side of Molesworth Street southbound bus lane was proposed to highlight the presence of cyclists and make bus drivers aware of how their bus stopping manoeuvres in this area could conflict with cyclists.  The concern is that this feature directs cyclists into an area which may not be safer and so the cycle lane markings that currently sit within the bus lane extents will be removed.

2)    Waterlink Way near Jerrard Street.  The route of Waterlink Way across the proposed bus stand entrance will be reviewed with the aim to improve the layout of this crossing point. This has also been raised with Cycle Super Highways for further review should their route come along Thurston Road.

3)    Rennell Street central crossing.  Together with item 4 below, this would provide an off-road link from Waterlink Way (southern side) into the development. The suitability of making the central crossing and the footway on each side shared footway will be investigated.

4)    Molesworth Street staggered Pelican crossing. The feasibility of this option will be reviewed as it is dependent on there being sufficient space to widen the Molesworth Street crossing, ensuring that the footway is wide enough and providing a safe route for cyclists over the car park entrance.

5)    Lewisham Road / Lewisham Hill roundabout. Planning permissions restrict the length of good vehicles permitted to use the Building C service yard to 10 metres.  The access has banned right turns into and out of the service yard to protect the operation of the local highway network, but as a consequence there is a need to provide a mini-roundabout at the junction of Lewisham Road with Lewisham Hill to facilitate U-turning movements.  The geometry of this roundabout is designed to safely accommodate u-turning movements by 10 metre rigid goods vehicles so cannot be made any smaller. However, during detailed design the deflection of the approach roads will be reviewed to ensure that it is designed to reduce traffic speeds.

6)    Loampit Vale Pelican crossing. The use of this crossing to provide a route between the Waterlink Way and the development is not possible due to their being insufficient space to widen the footway on the northern side under the railway bridge.  This suggestion therefore cannot be accommodated.

Subject to the Developers agreement, items 1-5 will be incorporated into the scheme design with the aim of providing a feasible solution that gives an appropriate balance between road users and the Developers overall budget for the highway scheme.

Hopefully this provides sufficient mitigation to ease any remaining concerns related to cycling through and within the Gateway development.

The Developer will keep you updated on progress and will arrange to meet with you again during the detailed design process to ensure you can provide input to the details of the cycle provision.

Thank you again for your correspondence and if you require any other assistance please feel free to contact me.”

So, there will be provision for cyclists. But limited. Which we feel is a waste of an opportunity. An opportunity which doesn’t come along often in London. The chance to re-design a major junction from scratch, giving pedestrians and cyclists the attention and space they deserve, enough space, care and attention to persuade more of Lewisham’s residents to walk and cycle. Sadly, we do not believe that this new design will encourage significant numbers of people to choose a more sustainable form of transport in the future, even though it may well be easier to negotiate on foot or bike than the old roundabout.
We intend to continue asking questions about it. Such as, why was it never included on the list of major junctions for review, neither on the original list of 100 difficult junctions, nor it seems will it be on the revised list of thirty three drawn up by the Mayor and his team. Given its strategic importance, we find that odd.
We note the final sentences in the reply from TfL that they will continue to consult us on the cycling provision within the development as it moves towards implementation. That is welcome, and we will keep continue to update everyone here. However, the plan itself now seems well on its way to implementation. Looks like we will just have to wait, see and hope.

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Space4Cycling: Survey results and Campaign News

Before Christmas, you may remember that we asked you to complete a survey drawn up by the London Cycling Campaign in which you could draw attention to what you considered to be the barriers to cycling, both in Lewisham and across London wherever Lewisham cyclists ride, or in many cases, would like to ride, but can’t due to the severity of those barriers.   We now have the results of that survey and have begun to analyse them.  One of the things that we have done is to plot the locations in Lewisham that you consider real barriers to cycling in the borough, together with your comments, if given.  Other borough groups will be doing the same with their data and when available, we will give you the links to those.  We know many of you listed areas outside of Lewisham   as many of us regularly cycle through other boroughs.  But there is a link to our map here https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zymna9GbZKQs.kTpzv122DGnI

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LC Monthly Meeting 6.30pm 15th January, Dog and Bell, Deptford – Agenda

All are welcome at the Lewisham Cyclists monthly meeting held on the third Wednesday of each month in our favourite Lewisham pub. These meetings are fairly informal and it’s a good opportunity to hear about the current local campaigns and influence their direction. Please come along…

Here’s the agenda for this month’s meeting:

Lewisham Cyclists Meeting

Wednesday 15th January 2014 at 6.30pm

Dog and Bell Public House, 116 Prince St, Deptford, SE8 3JD

Note: Nick Harvey, Cycling Programme Manager for Lewisham Council, is planning to attend this meeting so this is a good opportunity to discuss current cycling development plans or issues directly with him.

1) Apologies and Welcome
2) Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
3) Space for Cycling/2014 Election Campaign
4) Financial & Budgetary Report for 2013/2014
5) Quietways & Lewisham Local Implementation Plan (LIP) submission
6) Assorted issues: Cutty Sark Gardens cycling consultation; Central London Green Bridge consultation; Temporary closure of Surrey Quays – Oldfield Road path; Beckenham Place Park Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
7) Campaigning updates:
a. CS5 and its extension to Lewisham
b. Lewisham Gateway and Thurston Road developments
c. Connect 2 extension from South Bermondsey station to Surrey Canal Road
d. Trundleys Road crossing
8) A.O.B

Tim C. (Secretary)

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CS5 and Lewisham…a troubled relationship.

I remember when I first heard about The Cycle Super Highways, it seemed a great idea. Fast, safe routes for cyclists, from all around the city to Central London? Honestly? This was heady stuff. When had we ever heard anyone talk like this about cycling in London? The LCN, which had promised so much still remained piecemeal, patchy, and was never intended to give cyclists equal access to the mighty, main roads that power straight into our city’s centre. The proposed network of Cycle Superhighways seemed ambitious, brave and, finally, an indication that the authorities at last recognised the importance of cycling as a major strand of London’s transport network and were prepared to give it the space it was due.
Well, that euphoria, if it ever really existed, didn’t last long. Even Boris’ biggest fans soon had to admit that, as the first dabs of blue paint began to appear and then promptly disappear for a few yards whenever a junction got a bit tricky, that this wasn’t quite what the initial publicity had seemed to promise.
In our own borough, the planners took a closer look at our lovely major junctions, and quickly ditched the section of CS5 originally planned to run from Lewisham to Lee. They discovered what we already knew: you would have to make radical structural changes to Lewisham roundabout in order for cyclists to negotiate it safely. (The opportunity was there to do that, in the planning of a Lewisham Gateway, but had already been missed. And that’s another story!)

Lewisham Roundabout: Too dangerous for SuperHighway status.  Too difficult to redesign?

Lewisham Roundabout: Too dangerous for SuperHighway status. Too difficult to redesign?

So, CS5 would now run from just inside the borough, linking New Cross, St John’s and the edge of Brockley to Central London. Well, actually, no it wouldn’t. And again, the planners realised what we already knew. The New Cross Gyratory is a particularly difficult piece of infrastructure to negotiate on a bike. Difficult to even work out where the blue paint might go, let alone ride a bike on it.
This, coupled with the increasing roll call of tragic cycling fatalities and serious injuries at major junctions and even on a super highway already in existence, led to this section of the route being ditched,as well, leaving merely a few yards of it in Lewisham now.

But the super highway planners at TfL seem to remain in favour of creating some kind of route through New Cross at least. We have already been asked for our comments on a kind of mini or so called “lite” version, not using those main routes, but using quieter routes parallel to them, at least as far as Lewisham, where it could link to the Waterlink Way. And it looks like they want to begin planning for it in the New Year.

Opinion amongst local cyclists that we have heard from so far is mixed. Some of us think that, if decent, safe infrastructure is on offer we ought to take it. Others think that we should move on, accept that TfL won’t deliver CS5 in Lewisham to an acceptable standard and demand that they use the budget to deliver infrastructure elsewhere in the borough where it’s needed. A fully segregated CS4 (Greenwich to London Bridge along Creek Rd and Evelyn St, with good, safe cycling links to the rest of Lewisham from that, is one example.

TfL will be talking to us about it in the New Year, prior to producing anything for consultation. Which is, I guess, a small move in the right direction in itself. In past years, we would just have been shown the finished plans, if we were lucky. They are getting the idea that it’s actually useful to consult people who know what a safe cycle route should look and feel like before you plan and build it.

So, if you have views, please tell us. The route which TfL are considering will have to somehow connect New Cross Gate with Lewisham without using the New Cross Gyratory. They have a few initial ideas, one using bits of route 2 through Deptford, then going up Brookmill Rd, to link with the Waterlink Way. If you think you have a better idea, you can leave a comment here, or email us on lewishamcyclists@gmail.com or even visit our Facebook group (icon link on our home page) and comment there.

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Last chance to show LCC the barriers to cycling in your area. Make your membership count!

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The closing date for the LCC survey is midnight tonight (Thursday 12th December). If you haven’t already done it, please fill it in here.
http://lcc.org.uk/articles/tell-us-about-local-barriers-to-cycling-to-help-our-space-for-cycling-campaign-and-you-could-win-a-brand-new-bike

LCC will be using the results to inform the campaign we are mounting for the 2014 London elections. A campaign to ensure that all the candidates know exactly what is important to their cycling and potential cycling borough residents. So it’s extremely important that we know exactly what the majority want us to campaign for. And if you want to help us in the campaign itself, which will swing into action in the New Year, once the results of the survey are analysed, just contact Lewisham Cyclists, via this website, our Facebook group, (links on home page) or our email lewishamcyclists@gmail.com
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Boris’s Solution: Take off those headphones and complete this survey

Although we feel that everyone is quite clear about what is wrong with some of the major pieces of cycling infrastructure in our city, and believe that cycling and other sustainable transport organisations have been explaining for some time now what needs to be done, Boris, as usual has his own ideas.  So, folks, whip off those headphones because apparently you iPod carrying wheelers are the scourge of the city’s roads.  And after that, could you fill in this little survey.  But not while you are actually on the bike.

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/investigations/cycle-survey

We would still urge you to fill it in, (I have just done it myself) even though we feel it’s not necessary.  If City Hall, the Mayor and TfL don’t realise by now how people feel about cycling in London, then they must have had those headphones firmly clamped to their own ears permanently for the last couple of weeks.  But, it seems we have to keep on making the point time and time again.  We can’t give BJ any excuse to say there is no widespread agitation for change in our road planning.

So, spare a minute or two and fill it in.  Strangely enough, no questions about headphones, though.

 

tandem trike

Wheels For Wellbeing: A Cycling Good News Story

A  good news story featuring cycling.  Very welcome this week, especially and a really good one to remind us just how enjoyable and positive an activity cycling can be.  I met a group of cyclists that reminded me again of some of the many reasons I love cycling.

I was responding to an email request for volunteers to learn how to pilot tandems to enable people with visual impairments to cycle.  The email came from Abigail Tripp,  who works for Wheels for Wellbeing, a charity which aims to help anyone “share in the joy and many benefits of cycling regardless of any physical, health,  mental or psychological barriers they may experience”.

So, on Monday morning I headed down to Herne Hill Velodrome.  It was a dull, cold wet day, but several people still turned up to have a go on whichever of the charity’s great range of cycles  suited them best.  There are hand cycles, recumbents, tricycles, tandems, wheelchair bikes,  plenty to choose from.

courtney

Courtney, enjoying her bike ride immensely, said “It felt great, like I’d been riding a bike for years, not the first time since I was three.”

In this situation I was the one needing training.  I needed to learn how to pilot a tandem so that people with visual impairments could join in the activity.  My tandem experience is limited but the staff were great and soon overcame my fear about riding up front.  I soon realised it’s a partnership, not one person being in charge and total control.  Communication is the key  and I surprised myself by how quickly I improved, largely because I realised I could rely on the person behind much more than I had anticipated.   I realised that I had prejudices about people with disabilities that I wasn’t really aware of before.  Just because someone is visually impaired doesn’t mean they need “babysitting” on a bicycle.  They can take the same responsibility for themselves in learning how to physically handle themselves on a bike in the “stoker” position,  as a sighted person.

Then it was my turn to have a go on the back and try and experience what that is like for someone with a visual impairment.  I am afraid I cheated and didn’t shut my eyes.  Some of the other trainees were much better at this than me.  I found it really difficult so used as I am to riding solo for so many years.  me stoker

I enjoyed myself immensely and didn’t really feel like a volunteer.  Just someone, out for a couple of hours enjoying myself on a bike, chatting and laughing about the experience, like everyone else there that day .

If you have some time to spare, Wheels for Wellbeing need volunteers at several venues where they run sessions, including Ladywell and Croydon Arenas, as well as the velodrome.  Jobs include greeting people when they arrive, helping them to register, make the tea, hand out the biscuits, introducing them to a cycling instructor who then helps find the right cycle for them and cycling on a tandem or side by side with people. Also to help get the cycles out and put them away in the container or van.  I would definitely recommend it.  Check them out  http://www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/

 

 

LC Monthly Meeting 6.30pm 20th November, Dog and Bell, Deptford

All are welcome at the Lewisham Cyclists monthly meeting held on the third Wednesday of each month in our favourite Lewisham pub. These meetings are fairly informal and it’s a good opportunity to hear about the current local campaigns and influence their direction. Please come along…

Here’s the agenda for this month’s meeting:

Lewisham Cyclists Meeting

Wednesday 20th November 2013 at 6.30pm

Dog and Bell Public House, 116 Prince St, Deptford, SE8 3JD

1) Apologies and Welcome
2) Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
3) Quietways & Lewisham Local Implementation Plan (LIP) submission
4) Lewisham Cyclists website re-design
5) Space for Cycling/2014 Election Campaign
6) Campaigning updates:
a. CS5 and its extension to Lewisham
b. Lewisham Gateway and Thurston Road developments
c. Connect 2 extension from South Bermondsey station to Surrey Canal Road
d. Trundleys Road crossing
e. Courthill road/Whitburn road junction consultation
7) A.O.B

Tim C. (Secretary)

transportation201005times-square-street-close-up

Transforming City Streets with a Paintbrush

transportation201005times-square-street-close-upWhenever you meet with TfL’s highly trained and intelligent road engineers to discuss cycling infrastructure, they will often baffle you with their references to traffic modelling systems that show them just how impossible it is to take the kind of road space from cars for other road users that we ask for.  They will quote surveys and projections of future traffic flow needs at you that can leave a simple cycling campaigner beginning to believe his or her ideas are just too low tech and unsophisticated for a complex 21st century city.

Then you hear this woman talk about what she and her colleagues have done in New York  City, and you begin to realise that, perhaps it’s just that TfL isn’t quite courageous enough to take those brave decisions and just give it a go.  TfL, watch, listen and weep.

new york streets