Lewisham’s shortened cycleway is delayed over council worries

Lewisham High Street
This short section of A21 at Lewisham High Street would have gained a cycleway

Plans for a short segregated cycleway alongside Lewisham High Street have been put on hold for a redesign after Lewisham Council raised concerns about its impact on the local road network.

The route along Molesworth Street, Lewisham High Street and Rushey Green was one of a number singled out for a cycle route under City Hall’s Streetspace programme, which is aiming to encourage more people to walk and cycle while public transport is operating at a reduced capacity.

In May, City Hall promised “space for cycling will be created between Catford town centre and Lewisham via the A21” as part of its “bold new Streetspace plan”; while Lewisham has long wanted a segregated cycle route right the way along the main road.

However, earlier this month Transport for London announced that riders would have to share bus lanes between Catford town centre and Ladywell Road, with a new section of cycleway built from there to Molesworth Street.

TfL map of cycle route between Lewisham and Catford

The extended bus and cycle lanes would have been made 24/7 with four side roads made exit-only to protect cyclists. Similarly, left turns from Ladywell Road and right turns from Courthill Road would have been banned for all traffic except buses, cycles and taxis.

Late on Friday, Lewisham Council announced: “We support the principle of improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists along the A21 corridors, but have some concerns regarding the potential impacts of some of the specific proposals.

“The starting date for work that was originally proposed – 24 August – has been postponed, whilst we and TfL work together urgently to consider alternative temporary proposals and develop a scheme agreeable to both organisations.

“Our joint aim is to improve safety on the A21 for pedestrians and cyclists as soon as possible, without significantly impacting on Lewisham’s resident and road network.”

While Lewisham did not go into detail about its concerns, the council has been under pressure following the introduction of a “low traffic neighbourhood” between Lewisham town centre and Lee, which has placed restrictions on car movements in local back streets and been blamed for increased congestion in neighbouring roads.

Some residents off Lewisham High Street would face even greater curbs on how they could access their roads, while the left-turn ban at Ladywell Road would send more traffic down two side roads, Wearside Road – which is home to a major council depot – and Whitburn Road.

When asked by 853 earlier this month about the banned turns, a TfL spokesperson said they were “essential for the safety of people cycling in the area”.

Preliminary work has already begun on a cycle route along the A206 Woolwich Road in east Greenwich, although as with the Lewisham route, that is also less extensive than had been originally implied by City Hall.

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