Up The Junction: depressing saga of vested interests not listening

If you’ve cycled through Lewisham Town Centre recently you’ll be all too aware of the new “H” Junction – basically two T junctions linking the A21 and A20 main routes as they converge between Lewisham town centre and Overground and DLR stations. Cyclists are expected to dodge three lanes of traffic moving in different directions which is inherently unsafe, and there are lethal “left hooks” at traffic lights to trap the unwary.

We saw the outline and non-cycling friendly designs for the “H” some years ago and instantly started a campaign to include segregated space for cyclists:
We met with TFL and Lewisham Council to suggest improvements.
We submitted our own expert plans showing the incorporation of segregated space with no major change to the junction footprint. Alternative Lewisham Gateway safer junction design here
We drew on best practice elsewhere in London to eliminate lethal left hooks.
We canvassed local MPs, GLA members, local Councillors and the Lewisham Mayor and Deputy Leader.
We asked a Council Question to support Lewisham in its discussions with TfL.
We attended and lobbied Local Assembly meetings, and consistently raised our concerns with Muse developers.

Despite all of this work, none of our suggestions have been included in the completed scheme. It’s 10 years out of date, dangerous and not fit for purpose. Despite many fine words about sustainable transport, and improved health for all, in many of the planning documents supporting the new housing development, none of these principles have been incorporated. The junction is one of the worst examples of how planners and designers can get it so horribly wrong, when there was such a golden opportunity to provide something to showcase Lewisham’s flagship £230m development scheme, which is meant to be about joining up the Town centre with the transport hub to the north of the site.

Seeing the new junction in action we were so concerned we filed another report (see our website campaign pages) and did manage to have a site meeting with TfL and Muse. Unfortunately, although they did commit to improving the bike lane in front of the police station, which currently ejects cyclists straight into A20 traffic, they could offer no concessions. Off carriageway routes will remain as ineffective lines of paint, and the overall road junction remains a potential death trap.

We will continue to campaign for this out-of-date design to be improved. We are seeking a meeting with senior TfL representatives, as it is clear that a political solution is required to get a change of heart. Meanwhile the “H” is still a hazard for the hundreds of cyclists who daily must pass through the town centre. If you want any advice on routes around the “H” please contact lewishamcyclists@gmail.com and we will do our best to suggest routes, although this will always be a personal decision taking into account experience and confidence.

In the meantime you can help by writing to your MP, and local councillors, and by sharing your concerns with us on Twitter or through our Facebook page information, about this contact us.