Lambeth Cyclists have made the following feedback:
Political context In the 2014 council elections the Labour administration was elected, with a massive majority of councillors, on a manifesto to be “Fair to everyone, ambitious for all.”
Key pledges within the manifesto on which Labour was elected included:
“Help to keep you healthy by getting more people involved in sporting activities and healthy exercise”
“Make Lambeth cleaner and greener”, including “Make Lambeth the most cycle friendly borough in London.”
Rebalancing Lambeth’s streets away from motor traffic domination, while retaining access, is not only fairer to those wishing to travel actively but it will also benefit health, air quality, climate change mitigation, and noise reduction.
The most recent manifesto pledges are in line with Lambeth’s long established transport hierarchy which places pedestrians and cyclists at the top. Walking and cycling, then public transport, should be the most straightforward way for people of all ages to make most of their journeys.
The Loughborough Junction trial is an ambitious step towards rebalancing the streets and will inevitably meet resistance from some quarters. We note that Loughborough Road is not even designated as a B road, so should not have the volume of traffic that has been using it. Resistance does not of itself mean that the scheme is wrong, in particular resistance from drivers outside the area preferring to use back streets than the A roads intended for through traffic.
The reasons for resistance need to be checked. If the scheme is not meeting the manifesto aims then adjustments or a review are needed. If, however, the scheme is meeting the manifesto aims then it should be continued. The way these changes contribute to the outcomes pledged and voted for at the elections may need to be explained or reiterated to those opposing the change. Lambeth Cyclists trust that the Council is monitoring motor traffic volumes, air quality, noise and active travel in this area, and expect the facts and manifesto commitments to play a large part in deciding whether to continue with the trial as it is or amending it.
2. Successes and Issues
2.1 The impression we have is that there is significantly less traffic using Loughborough Road and Milkwood Road, but some streets, such as St James’s Road, and Denmark Road, within the cell of the A2217 Coldharbour Lane; A202 Camberwell New Road; A23 Brixton Road appear to be experiencing more traffic as motorists try to find an alternative cut through to avoid using the main roads that are intended to be used for longer journeys.
2.2 The potential of motor traffic diverting to other streets in the cell was included in preliminary publicity about the scheme with the potential for additional measures to be put in place. We feel some may be needed with regard to St James’s Crescent and Denmark road (albeit in Southwark) for example. A local member’s says his “perception is that the closures have impacted negatively on Knatchbull Road which now has more cars travelling down it (and often speeding as they seek to avoid having to stop for oncoming traffic), also Flodden Road which is joint Lambeth/Southwark feels like it has more traffic as the traffic coming down Denmark Road turns right rather than going straight on. At times Cormont Road at the junction with Calais St also feels more dangerous as people who are prevented from going straight on have to take a left turn – it may be that over time this gets better but it would be good to have a speed table or even pedestrian crossing here as there are always lots of people going to the park.”
We make a cell based filtering recommendation below.
2.3 There may be more traffic on Coldharbour Lane, but road works on it and related temporary lights are likely to also have a significant part to play in any traffic delays here. One local member says that his “perception of traffic on Coldharbour Lane is that it is no more than it used to be – bus journeys at weekends to Brixton and beyond don’t seem to take any longer”. Some traffic will be turning off Milkwood Road as they discover they cannot continue up Loughborough Road; though through drivers may be beginning to use the main roads instead of Milkwood Road as the trial progresses.
2.4 Emergency services are exempt from the motor vehicles bans and have greater ease of movement throughout the cell now there is less motor traffic. The bus route may also experience a quicker journey within the cell.
2.5 Some motorists bypassing or ignoring the road closures are taking advantage of the emptier streets to speed, to the detriment of those wishing to cycle.
2.6 The Padfield Road, Calais Street measures appear to be having a particularly positive effect on the quietness and safety of those streets. “The success of the Calais Street closure is felt more widely – there used to be queues of traffic, speeding traffic and ‘bickering’ as cars jostled for space on Calais Street and also Lothian Road heading to Calais St. These benefits are also felt on Langton Road which feels much safer for the many children walking home from local primary schools and St Gabriel’s College secondary as the volume of traffic has been much reduced. The lower volume of traffic means that it feels much safer and more pleasant to walk home along Calais St with my children riding on scooters. Anecdotally I have noticed more local people cycling in the area who previously walked and in particular we know people who now cycle with their five year old to school along Calais St where before they walked.”
The Gordon Grove closure seems to be less successful currently a success – A local member says, “when I am passing along Gordon Grove to Eastgate Street in the mornings and evenings there is a steady stream of drivers passing through ignoring the signs.” Greater enforcement should be considered.
2.7 Parking and ‘bickering’ traffic remains an issue on Loughborough Road between Brixton Road and Five Ways Corner, and in the area generally due to an absence of meaningful parking controls. The parking problem is a major factor in the area – Loughborough Road and the roads around Myatts Fields Park desperately need a CPZ. Look at the difference between a weekday and the weekend to appreciate the value. This problem has got worse in recent years as other areas have gained CPZs and the former Camberwell bus garage staff car park has been built on. Having a CPZ would also address the problem of untaxed and abandoned cars on the roads and the variety of crashed and other unroadworthy cars which are left on Paulet and Knatchbull Roads by car repair garages (generally the ones on Camberwell Station Road and by the bridge on Denmark Road).
2.8 Local Lambeth Cyclists members have been told by some residents that they are switching the way they are making some local trips, to walking and cycling, away from car journeys. However we don’t get the sense a targeted cycle promotion scheme (e.g. cycle loan for adults and children at local schools) has taken place in preparation for and coordination with the road closures.
There may have been a weakness in communication about how the scheme meets the elected body’s pledges. Better communication of how the measures meet the pledges may help dispel some of the opposition. The increase in residents at the new Oval Quarter housing development with low car ownership also gives a very solid reason to balance the streets in the cell, and this needs to be communicated. Has the developer been involved?
3. Next Steps
3.1 The Council should have and communicate clearly a classification for streets, with three types:
a) Main through roads – Few in number and mainly TLRN. Here, the A23 Brixton Road and the A202 Camberwell New Road. It is in question as to whether the A2217 Coldharbour Lane should be a main through road. To nurture cycling by all ages and abilities, segregated space for cycling will be needed.
b) Connectors – Again few in number, only where needed to allow motor traffic from a cluster of streets to reach a main through road (and potentially more than one, so long as it cannot be usable by general motor traffic as a rat-run). Segregated space for cycling is likely to be needed on Connectors for a wide range of the population to feel comfortable using them. Potentially Coldharbour Lane should be categorised and amended to be a Connector, not a main through road. Loughborough Road, though not a B road, is a connector with or without the current closure as it continues via Akerman and Lothian or Akerman, Patmos and Foxley). It may be that the filter needs to be in another position or supplemented by additional filters.
c) Access – streets that have a low volume and speed (actual, not limit) of motor traffic, and that cannot be used by rat-running traffic. These should be recognisable as streets that parents and carers will be willing to let their children cycle on without segregation. Pedestrian and cycle traffic movement between Access streets also needs to very good – hence the potential need for segregation on connectors.
3.2 The Loughborough Road scheme within the three A roads should be checked against the classification – in terms of what they were before the trial started, what they are now, and what they are planned to become in the future. The current trial should be continued while this is determined, and if the measures in place fit the future plan then they should remain in place for the longer term. If the closures are in the wrong place then they should be repositioned during or following the trial period.
The reasons for change should be communicated and a timeline for implementation established.
3.3 Complementary measures to support cycling, especially for short trips, should be provided in the locality – cycle parking where needed, Dr Bikes, and promotion of the Council’s cycle loan and training schemes. The involvement of local health care professionals, cycle shops etc. should be encouraged.
3.4 It is likely a Controlled Parking Zone should be implemented within the cell, dependent on the borough wide review currently being undertaken.
3.5 Any decision to end a trial of a road filter should be taken on a street by street basis in line with strategy, rather than on an ‘end one, end all’ basis. Again we emphasise the importance of manifesto commitments, clear communication and the need for politicians to maintain a strong stand for the policies they were elected to deliver rather than kowtow to a vocal minority.