Death on Lewisham’s scrapped cycle superhighway

Loampit Vale, 24 June 2014

The worst of news to start the week with, as a cyclist died after a collision in Lewisham town centre during Monday morning’s rush hour.

The car involved did not stop at the scene of the incident in Loampit Vale, but a man has since has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

This is the stretch of A20 which was originally going to be included as part of a cycle superhighway from Victoria, until route CS5 was cut short to New Cross Gate last November.

Loampit Vale, 25 June 2013At the time, Transport for London said “opportunities to introduce Cycle Superhighway-type infrastructure are limited” – essentially, it didn’t want to tackle the New Cross one-way system and the A20 into Lewisham.

Earlier this month, TfL announced that initial work between the Oval and New Cross Gate will be finished this autumn, with the lanes to be “semi-segregated” during 2014, but also that “various options” were being considered to restore the Lewisham leg of the route as well as links to other areas east of New Cross Gate.

At the time, that looked like a bit of a fobbing-off, but Monday’s tragedy is a reminder of just how important that original idea was.

Hopefully it will also concentrate the minds of local politicians, with the Lewisham Cyclists group complaining that Lewisham Council has been ignoring its attempts to start a dialogue about much-needed improvements. (In Greenwich, such a dialogue does exist, but the council’s leadership isn’t interested.)

The site of the Loampit Vale collision – between the junctions with Thurston Road and Elmira Street – is also on one of south London’s best-known leisure cycling routes – the Waterlink Way, which runs from Deptford to South Norwood.

Incidentally, there’s still no news on what’s happening with CS4, the planned cycle superhighway from London Bridge to Deptford, Greenwich and Woolwich, although Greenwich Council has undertaken some works on the A206 through Greenwich and Woolwich to make cycle paths more prominent.

However, buried in a TfL press release last Friday was news that Greenwich Council had been given £200,000 for “pedestrian and public realm improvements” in Greenwich town centre, billed as a “package of measures to improve air quality including widening and improving the quality of footway linkages in Greenwich Town Centre and smoothing the flow of buses and taxis”. This doesn’t seem like a revival of the shelved pedestrianisation scheme, but what it means for cyclists, walkers and drivers remains to be seen.

Thanks to Clare Griffiths for the picture of the scene from Tuesday afternoon.


  1. Tragic news. I used to commute through there daily. Rest in peace.

    Will you keep us informed? I wonder if there might be a ride in the cyclist’s honour, or a ghost bike.

  2. Sorry, hit post too early and had intended to say RIP. I will be thinking of him when I cross over there tomorrow morning.

  3. Incidentally I cycled part of the New Cross one way system and down Lewisham Way to Loampit Vale this evening. Yes the one way system is tricky, but with a bit of will it could be tackled. Increasingly coming to the conclusion that boroughs (and the mayor) just can’t be bothered to change things.

    And as I said on twitter, the signage at the above junction is a mess now that the Glass Mill is up – one of the signs seems to suggest heading down towards the main roundabout to continue on the Waterlink Way, which is clearly nonsense, and coming in the other direction from Elmira Street it is completely unclear where cyclists are supposed to go, the signage is non-existent.

  4. I’ve been cycling this intersection pretty much most office days for 10 years. I want to know who approved the new development and failed to replace the cycle crossing. You used to be able to pull into the bus bay and cut across a metre of pavement and you had a full bike lane with button operated lights. It isn’t like new funding was needed as the developers should be on the hook for that. Now I’ve got used to waiting for the gap in the traffic and cutting across to use the pavement over the other side and continue on down the cycle path around Matalan. It’s the only part of my journey into central London that using the pavement is far safer to me as RIP the unfortunate cyclist has paid the ultimate price. There isn’t enough room for two boy racers alone through that intersection before adding a cyclist to be forced into the path of idiots like above.

    Those who are taking a salary from the public purse that have a say over this intersection shouldn’t be lying in bed straight about this at night. They have a say so someone else doesn’t have to explain to their 5 year old that daddy isn’t coming home tonight.

  5. RIP went past here at 8:30 this morning and knew something wasn’t right. Makes it all to real when you do this route everyday

  6. Greg, couldn’t agree more. The junction is a mess and it needs fixing. It’s probably one of the most unpleasant parts of my 8 mile journey into town, yet it could be solved with a relatively small amount of money from the developers. The current signage also appears to point you in the wrong direction for Catford when you’re doing the reverse journey. See:

  7. It’s a junction I go through a lot, too. Obviously, we don’t know yet how the accident happened. I think the most dangerous bit is the uncontrolled right turn into Jerrard St: very scary to turn right there on a bike, and there’s also a danger that a cyclist coming down the hill may not be seen by a car driver turning right.

    The toucan crossing ought to help, but at very busy times traffic tails back across it during the crossing phase.

    The official route of the waterlink way seems to be a loop around the Glass Mill centre, using shared pavements. In practice, it’s much more sensible to use Elmira St. But the signposting is hopeless.

  8. Thanks for that Brian, I didn’t realise the official route was round the Glass Mill. That would explain the signposting. In practice though, everyone I’ve seen has gone down Elmira Street and then through Cornmill Gardens which makes far more sense, as you say..

  9. Yes, it’s dangerous. Traffic moves at speed from the outside lane to the inside to go up Loampit Vale while traffic moves from the inside lane to the outside to turn right into Jerrard St. Hold them up at the lights and then release them let them race to get first in lane. It might be safer if modern cars were fitted with indicators to use while, or even before, lane changing.

    I’m not afraid of heavy traffic but I am afraid of dodgy junctions. Via Marsala Road and Elmira St is an alternative route without red lights if you’re coming from Catford. You can also slip onto the cycle path on Molesworth Street, go under the railway bridge and join Elmira St via the shared use path. No lights or roundabout to navigate and the lights phase where the cyclist was killed gives you an empty road for changing lanes.

  10. I ran past there yesterday only to see the poor man on the floor. RIP my friend.
    I either run or cycle that section each commtuer day and it is a joke around that exact spot. You are confronted with a guessing game of where to go as it is not safe on the inside, middle or outside, this after having negoiated the roundabout which initself is a lottery. I took a different route today.

  11. The Waterlink Way route towards Catford was previously as Brian points out; round the leisure centre and straight on to the end of the gardens, then turn right down Pine Tree Way to rejoin Elmira St. Before the redevelopment was hoarded off there was plenty of room on the pavement (and plenty of signage) but once the fences were up it was difficult to pass the bus stop on Loampit Vale without putting pedestrians at risk. I’m assuming the signage should be reinstated once the hoardings are down – or am I being too optimistic?

  12. I hope they’ll sort the signage out, but now the leisure centre is there I wonder if Elmira Street is a better option anyway, using the crossing and part of the pavement then onto the road before heading into Cornmill Gardens?

  13. I don’t know that road well at all, but looking at the pic it looks as though the paving will be very wide to the left of the road. Wide enough for a segregated cycle lane to be installed, paid for by s106 money? The road could have been widened by a metre or more, the signage and clutter moved and the guardrails removed, and a segregated lane installed. Instead cyclists seem to be forced to jostle with cars on a narrow road.

  14. Lewisham Cyclists are asking the council about the current works near the railway tunnel in Thurston road – it seems its linked with the new bus garage. The plans we have seen don’t look too good and we understand they have not been consulted on by the council. This is the same for the Gateway scheme – even though its a TfL road its the developers who are leading on the highway scheme and it appears the final design will not be consulted on. Very little facilities for cycling. If anyone can write to the council and put pressure on them to take this whole area seriously for pedestrians and cyclists. It just seems so disjointed with little co-ordination or communication with local stakeholder groups.

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