Hopes that many of Greenwich borough’s streets would be made safer for walking and cycling have been dashed after Greenwich Council was given less than a third of the £4 million it wanted for “streetspace” schemes.
Town hall chiefs received just £1.26 million out of a total of £4 million – mostly from Transport for London – for schemes designed to make it easier to walk and cycle while capacity on public transport is cut back during the coronavirus pandemic.
While Greenwich still received more than many other boroughs – neighbouring Lewisham, which had already started implementing a number of schemes to block rat-running traffic on side roads, got less than £350,000 – only one new dedicated cycle route has been confirmed under the scheme, out of three that had been proposed.
Plans to make it easier to walk and cycle on neighbourhood roads also appear to have been cut back, with a network of local cycle routes disappearing from planned maps. In the main, this is good news for drivers who, except in a couple of locations, will not find their movements restricted as they have been in parts of Lewisham borough.
But those hoping for a big shift in favour of those on two wheels and two feet will be disappointed – and the lack of funding will add to a feeling that the area’s transport needs are simply not a priority at City Hall.
853 had asked Greenwich Council on Friday for details of what had been funded. It did not respond, but issued a press release to organisations on its mailing list – which does not include this website – on Monday. The following details are taken from a decision paper published on the council website on 29 June, a press release also published on 29 June and the press release published yesterday.
There will be a cycle route from Shooters Hill Road to Greenwich Park, which Greenwich Council says will serve four of the borough’s secondary schools – Greenwich Free School, Halley Academy, Leigh Academy Blackheath and John Roan. This plan appears to have been cut back, as the original map shows it running from Constitution Rise on Shooters Hill – which would have been handy for Shooters Hill Sixth Form College. Children cycling to those schools will still have to navigate unprotected streets to reach Shooters Hill Road, as plans for a backstreet cycle network have vanished (see below).
A cycle route between Greenwich and Woolwich was already being planned by TfL before the pandemic – this now appears as “phase 1” from Greenwich to Charlton Church Lane, and “phase 2” from there to Woolwich Ferry roundabout. Phase 1 is fully funded, with a route running through the Old Royal Naval College and Old Woolwich Road before reaching the A206, but phase 2 now only has “design funding”. Before the pandemic, the route from Charlton to Woolwich was due to be built first.
A route from Eltham to Greenwich Park also has “design funding” – again, this has been cut back slightly, starting at Glenesk Road rather than the borough boundary a mile east.
Another cycle route from Woolwich to Abbey Wood has vanished – to be replaced by modal filters on back roads between Plumstead and Abbey Wood, blocking access for motor vehicles but making it easier to cycle.
Plans for a cycle route along Charlton Road, and up Blackwall Lane to serve North Greenwich station, have both disappeared.
Cycle network disappears
A map issued by Greenwich Council last month suggested a network of cycle-friendly routes was being planned through Eltham, Kidbrooke, Charlton, Blackheath, west Greenwich and Plumstead. These would have linked into the cycle routes mentioned above. A successful bid was submitted to the Department for Transport for £100,000 towards these schemes.
No detail was provided as to how these would be achieved, however 853 understands this would have been achieved using modal filters – blocking back roads to motor traffic to create safe through routes for cyclists. These have appeared in other boroughs as “low traffic neighbourhoods”.
With the exception of the west Greenwich scheme, which was planned anyway, these have all disappeared from Greenwich’s plans.
However, smaller schemes – which did not appear on earlier maps – are planned for streets around Anglesea Road, Woolwich and Colomb Street, east Greenwich. A larger scheme along Abbey Wood Road and Blithdale Road appears to be replacing plans for a dedicated cycle route between Plumstead and Abbey Wood.
Analysis by TfL supplied to councils shows that the most promising area for low traffic neighbourhoods in Greenwich borough lies between the A102 and Woolwich town centre, which has low car ownership, a large population and high levels of deprivation; raising questions about the lack of any schemes in Charlton.
Lewisham rushed through a number of “low traffic neighbourhood” schemes last month, with varying levels of success. Greenwich Council made clear its unhappiness about schemes on the borough boundary, at South Row in Blackheath and Upwood Road in Lee.
Greenwich town centre pedestrianisation
This is a long-term aim of Greenwich Council, but bringing forward the removal of the one-way system at Greenwich Market was trailed in a Greenwich Council press release issued in mid-May. 853 ran a story on it on 12 May. That release was then deleted, and nothing has been heard of the proposal since.
While Greenwich Council put barriers up in the town centre to provide more space for pedestrians, TfL has declined to pay for this work, so Greenwich will have to foot the bill itself.
Space for pedestrians
Work has already taken place in Woolwich and Eltham town centres to create more space for pedestrians. Greenwich will have to pay for the work in Woolwich itself after TfL declined to fund work there – despite Woolwich Arsenal being one of the busiest stations outside zone 1. Further work is planned in Plumstead High Street and around Queen Elizabeth Hospital, although no details have been provided.
A few of these simple programmes, where streets around schools are closed at the start and end of the day – had already been implemented in the borough before lockdown. Invicta Primary School in Blackheath was already due to have one installed after a TfL audit – that is now in place along with Charlton Manor Primary and Wyborne Primary in New Eltham.
What about those strange pavements appearing in Charlton and Plumstead?
“Continuous pavements” – which are appearing along Charlton Road and off Plumstead Common Road – are part of a road safety scheme and nothing to do with the Streetspace programme.
What happens next?
The schemes that are fully funded and not in place already – such as the Shooters Hill Road cycle route – should be in place by September. It is not clear when the Greenwich to Woolwich cycle lane will be built, and no timescales have been given for schemes with “design funding”.
How did Greenwich do compared to other boroughs?
It is hard to say as each borough bid for different amounts and there is no central confirmed list of who has received what. Earlier this month the cycling website road.cc reported that Greenwich had been given £864,000 by TfL – placing it 15th out of 33 local authorities in London. Lambeth was said to have received £2.6 million. More details may emerge in the coming days as final figures for Streetspace funding are confirmed.
Lewisham had proposed a list of “cycling corridors”; a route from Lewisham to Deptford via Thurston Road and Brookmill Road goes ahead following its money from TfL.
Story amended on Tuesday to make clear that some of the funding came from the Department for Transport.
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