Trial barriers will be put in residential streets in Lee Green and Lewisham from Monday, with residents getting less than a week’s notice because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lewisham Council had already planned to do a six-month trial scheme before the lockdown, where roads would be blocked off to through traffic as part of the Lewisham and Lee Green Healthy Neighbourhood plan. The scheme aims to reduce rat-running, improve air quality, and encourage people to walk and cycle.
The latest version involves 13 barriers, or modal filters, which will close off the roads so that only cyclists and pedestrians can get through.
Some residents have been concerned about access for emergency services, hospital journey times, more pollution around schools and traffic being pushed onto other roads. But others have welcomed a hoped-for reduction in traffic and pollution, with neighbourhood roads being opened up for walking and cycling.
Residents received a letter informing them of the plans dated June 23 – they were originally supposed to get a month’s notice, but the council said due to the pandemic that was no longer possible.
Most TfL funding for traffic schemes has been removed because of the mayor’s transport agency’s financial problems as a result of the pandemic. But the government has since given TfL £45 million in “streetspace” funds for councils, which aims to rapidly transform London’s streets to help facilitate social distancing, cycling, and walking as lockdown eases.
Lewisham applied for £2.9 million from the pot of money – it has been awarded just over £20,000 so far.
From Monday, a modal filter will be place in Manor Lane, the end of Holme Lacey Road and Dallinger Road, in Leahurst Road, Woodyates Road at the end of Manor Lane Terrace, in Leyland Road, Upwood Road, and Cambridge Drive. The Upwood Road filter will be on the Greenwich-Lewisham borough boundary.
Four camera-enforced modal filters, through which only emergency services, local buses, and bikes are allowed through, will be placed in Dermody Road, Manor Road, Ennersdale Road, and Manor Lane.
Kevin Sheehan, Lewisham’s executive director for housing, regeneration and environment, said in the letter to residents: “In light of TfL’s and the Department for Transport’s guidance we have taken the decision to deliver a package of temporary measures in Lewisham and Lee Green, subject to TfL funding approval.
“These measures will be implemented using a temporary traffic order as we seek to protect public health and address safety concerns.
“TfL has indicated that boroughs will not be required to undertake detailed traffic modelling on the plans, due to the speed of roll-out required to protect public health and safety and also the uncertainty around what future traffic levels might be.”
He said when the council wrote to residents in January, it explained they would be given “at least” a month’s notice before the trial started.
“Clearly the situation we now find ourselves is very different and there is a need to implement measures as a matter of urgency to protect public health and safety and therefore we unable to adhere to these timescales.
“The scheme will now be implemented from the week commencing,” he said.
Lewisham is bringing forward a host of measures to make it easier for residents for walking and cycling, using planters so the closures can be altered if problems arise. Planters were installed on South Row, in Blackheath, but the scheme was altered after drivers diverted to a narrow street past a school, then were temporarily removed altogether because drivers simply ignored the revised scheme.
Neighbouring Greenwich Council, whose border runs along the road, had complained it was not consulted on the scheme.
Grainne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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