Plans to create a cycle route between Eltham and Greenwich Park have been quietly scrapped in the latest setback for campaigners hoping to make the borough safer for walking and cycling.
Greenwich Council had planned to create a cycle route from Eltham High Street to Greenwich Park, using a segregated route on Eltham Hill and back streets into Kidbrooke, before using the existing segregated route on Rochester Way.
The route would then have followed Westbrook Road and Kidbrooke Gardens before crossing Blackheath on routes already put in by Lewisham Council to reach Greenwich Park.
While changes to the entrance to Greenwich Park are going ahead, the rest of the route has been scrapped. A three-week consultation held last year – mainly targeted at those living near the affected roads – found 61 per cent of respondents were against the scheme.
The scheme had included plans to close off roads to vehicles at two locations on the Page Estate in Eltham, effectively creating a low-traffic neighbourhood. This element of the scheme was quickly scrapped after local Conservatives began to campaign on the issue and council officers were told to find alternatives.
Proposals for a third modal filter – on Kidbrooke Gardens, a notorious rat-run in Blackheath, remained. This followed the failure of Lewisham Council’s attempt to block off neighbouring South Row to through traffic because of problems caused to service vehicles attending nearby almshouses.
However, this has now also been scrapped – meaning both boroughs have now failed to make a key route for riders safer.
News of the scrapping of the scheme was quietly slipped out on an obscure section of the council website on Friday, the last day any controversial decisions could be released before council elections on May 5.
Concerns over “congestion and traffic displacement from filters”, air quality, “longer car journeys for essential users” and road safety were cited in the consultation.
Another reason given for scrapping the route was that a segregated lane on Eltham Hill would have meant the loss of 30 parking spaces.
“This approach demonstrates that the council has listened to, and considered carefully, the views expressed at public consultation,” the council said.
Also scrapped is a proposal for a route from Shooters Hill Road to Greenwich Park. A first phase had already been installed on Shooters Hill Road, but the rest looked unlikely to go ahead after the initial segregated lane was removed after a few months and replaced by a painted line. The report says the ambulance service, which has a station close by, had raised concerns about the wands.
This proposal had included a bus gate on Old Dover Road, which had led to worries about access to shops there. It would also have stopped through traffic on Banchory Road, a side street used as a cut-through by HGVs going to a police car pound in Charlton.
Greenwich had spent £826,000 on money from central government, provided via Transport for London, on developing the two schemes.
In 2020, Graham Nash, who was Greenwich’s senior officer in charge of transport at the time, said that the Eltham to Greenwich Park route was a priority for the council; but that TfL had favoured the Shooters Hill route, which linked a number of schools, because it had more potential.
Councillors have until Thursday to challenge the decision – however, with Labour having cooled on measures which would inconvenience drivers, and the Conservatives always having opposed the schemes, a call-in seems unlikely.
Of all the major schemes to help cyclists brought in during the pandemic, the only one to remain in Greenwich borough is the segregated route between Greenwich and Charlton – one which TfL hopes will eventually form part of a route to central London.
At last week’s full council meeting, Sarah Merrill, the cabinet member for transport, said that an outline of a new transport strategy for the borough would be ready in the summer.
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