Jam today, jam tomorrow in Greenwich and Lewisham

It’s not going to be a good couple of months to be getting anywhere around Greenwich unless you’re on foot, on a bike or going by rail. The A2 on Blackheath Hill and the start of Shooters Hill Road is closed Kent-bound for eight weeks so the carriageway can be improved – if you’ve ever seen the state of the little bit of the A2 that’s affected, you’ll see why it needs work on it. Cue terrible traffic conditions in both directions as motorists funnel through Greenwich and Lewisham town centres to get away from the closures. Hopefully the delays will ease as people get used to it – the spectacular Blackheath Hole closure of 2002 lasted seven months – but for now doing anything on four wheels around here is madness. I was in Greenwich at 8pm the other night and the traffic was still heavy then. And the traditional canaries-down-the-mine in these situation, the buses, have been suffering badly, with many turning short of their destinations. Want a 286 from central Greenwich? Forget it.

The 53 trunk route from central London, in particular, has been wrecked by the closure, after Lewisham Council objected to Transport for London using Lewisham Hill as a diversion route – denying people on the Greenwich side of the heath a bus service and simply shifting the problem to Westcombe Hill instead. Lewisham isn’t the only council to get all this wrong – the delays in Greenwich have been compounded by problems in Charlton as Greenwich Council decided to resurface Bugsbys Way, ruining journeys for motorists avoiding Blackheath, wrecking access to North Greenwich Tube and stopping people from taking the bus to the retail parks there. I saw a bus driver pull out of Charlton Church Lane this afternoon and make what appeared to be a last-second decision to divert away from his normal route to avoid blocking the junction. And that’s on a junction that’s already been screwed up by the endless Thames Water works.

It’s not good out there. Left hand, right hand… why don’t you get to know each other a bit better?


  1. Enjoying the blog….

    I was surprised that TfL intended to use Lewisham Hill as a diversionary route for the 53. The left turn at the bottom of the hill is very tight, and as it’s never been used by double deckers before, objections were inevitable.

    Why can’t the 53 run through Blackheath Village and Lewisham like it did when the hill was closed before? That was very handy for getting home from the station.

  2. It’s used a lot by double-decker buses out of service; I’m sure it’s been used in past closures but I’m not sure about that left turn.

    Ta for the kind words!

  3. I wondered where the 53 was going come back from London. I’m not really sure why it should make the traffic over the Heath so much worse (unless it is the lights at the bottom) but it has added half an hour to my journey into Central London.

    As for buses out of North Greenwich – forget it! They are beyond impossible right now.

    As you say – right hand and left hand… I fear it is the “let’s use the budget before the end of the year” panic.

  4. Er – the 53 is running through Lewisham and Blackheath village at the moment (eastbound) – or at least it was when I got it home Wed night/Thurs morning

  5. Er – it wasn’t about 45 minutes ago when one went past me on Trafalgar Road. And it wasn’t on Thursday afternoon, either, when I saw one crawling along Woolwich Road.

  6. How peculiar … and the TFL website still reckons the diversion is via Lewisham Hill.

    I’m now doubting myself – but I’m sure it took me through Lewisham and up Belmont Hill, joining the 54 route.

  7. I’ve seen them going through the Village and up Westcombe Hill over the last few days. I noticed today that some of the bus stops on the Heath have gained ’53 Temporary stop’ stickers, so it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on.

Comments are closed.