Saturday, 3 October 2015

Failing to deliver for Balham Boulevard

Having seen this consultation go live (technically the bit adjacent to where the Balham Boulevard project is due to happen) it doesn't bode well.

Here are some thoughts/comments below. I'd welcome your comments before submitting my response to TfL.

Balham Boulevard:
- it isn't as it is the stretch basically from Ritherdon Road south.
- however, it doesn't bode well for Balham Boulevard as this would adjoin it, so if this isn't significantly improved then Balham Boulevard will just be the name of the current road with perhaps some more paint on it.

*It is not possible to provide a segregated cycle lane at this location due to access to residential properties being required
- Utter rubbish. The LCDS illustrate how this can be done, and Old Shoreham Road in Brighton is a UK example where this is in place. A road for motor vehicles doesn't pose a problem for access to residential properties, neither does a pavement. Consultations for the Mini-Holland projects in London also show that TfL can do this.

Floating Bus stops or lack thereof
- Again in Brighton, Lewes Road, has a series of floating bus stops that from all reports work very well.

Affecting traffic capacity:
28% drop in motor traffic volumes (2005-2013) along the A24 Clapham South to Tooting Bec (
Providing a real alternative to travelling short trips by building proper cycle lanes along a road this wide would not only give people real choice as to how they travel, but also make it easier for those who need to drive to get around too.

- The central reservation hasn't been touched. This is wasted space currently helping no-one.
- From Tooting Bec heading south there is effectively only a single lane for motor traffic in each direction, and the same goes northbound once you start going through Balham. Smoothing out the narrow points for motor traffic would provide a more consistent travel time for motor traffic and free up significant amount of space to improve the public realm for walking and cycling, as well as the local environment for businesses and residents.

These are some initial thoughts. Please feel free to chip in.

In case you are wondering how this can be put forward given the high quality of other schemes which have gone to consultation recently, the answer is the politics. It is self evident that TfL has the engineering capability &/or sourcing capability to brief consultants to come up with high quality schemes that will deliver significant improvements to all road users. 

In the absence of a strong political steer as to what is wanted, the engineers are being asked to please everyone which isn't possible. This is a huge opportunity to genuinely improve the local area for generations to come. What is currently on the table frankly just isn't good enough. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Lessons from elsewhere

It's been a while since my last post, but that's probably for the best.

There has been a lot going on over the summer in terms of real progress to humanise our streets, with the work on Embankment and around Oval being front of mind. As the naysayers are keen to point out, there isn't the space to implement these kind of solutions on every street.

That is true, one size doesn't fit all, but fortunately there are other options.

The Loughborough Junction experimental scheme started the other week, and whilst in Lambeth, should provide interesting lessons for other urban areas in the UK. It is interesting to see how the engineers/officers at the council have been able to already rapidly respond to the situation on the ground. It is also worth noting that local politicians have been open minded enough to allow the scheme to go ahead.

It is no secret that this approach is one that I feel has considerable merit, and that Wandsworth Council should be able to adopt. The barriers to that are political, no more, no less. At present both Labour and the Conservatives in Wandsworth have been resolute in their opposition.

A little further south, we have seen the Norbury Avenue scheme take place. Another trial, which has been contentious to say the least. It is sad that some of those opposed to the scheme have seen fit to vandalise the temporary measures inhibiting the ability to gather robust data. There was a lively discussion at Croydon Council regarding Norbury Avenue last Monday. Again, the outcome here will be an interesting one to watch out for.

Back in Wandsworth, the council has done a survey looking at the possibility of reincorporating Dr Johnson Avenue back into Tooting Common. Again, it will be very interesting to see how the council responds to this. My party has suggested that adopting a trial approach would be a good way to proceed to take into account the views which will have been expressed in the survey.

The approach taken to street management raises the important issue as to how councils reconcile their public health responsibilities against listening to local residents. Particularly when local residents may not believe the public health case, even when the evidence base is very strong.

For all those who believe that removing car access one one road will definitely cause further congestion, this post on the mathematics behind how that isn't always true is well worth a read.

Food for thought. As to if our local politicians are listening, well, we live in hope.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Traffic counts - not necessary

The traffic measures which have been implemented to allow the essential gas works to take place on Trinity Road are pretty significant.

If residents happened to petition on something like this, it is likely that the council may suggest that the potential for traffic displacement to neighbouring streets would mean that it wouldn't work. eg Kettering Street paper 15-238

I did the following FOI request to see if any consideration had been given to taking traffic counts to see what actually happens when compared to the traffic models.

The response is:

Wandsworth Borough Council, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Traffic Division had considered traffic count variables on Trinity Road for the traffic management plan for the works.  Transport for London’s Traffic Flow Data system was used to ascertain the volume of traffic.   The Council did not undertake a traffic count for each of the roads listed below as Officers did not consider it necessary.

This raises three questions:

  1. Why were the fears of traffic displacement raised as a  reason to recommend no further action for the trial proposed for the Kettering Street petition? 
  2. Why wasn't this information used as part of the Fishponds Road area consultation to highlight to residents that their fears of traffic gridlock were unlikely to occur? 
  3. Why is it that councillors on the relevant committee aren't questioning officers given that they are aware from local groups of the evidence that contradicts council positions? 

Don't forget to add your support to the petitions that the Lib Dems are supporting me with locally. It is only with your support that we'll be able to make positive improvements. Labour and the Tories seem too dead set against making positive things happen for the time being.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Serendipity – Kettering St trial

Last night I returned home to find that a trial, of sorts, was taking place on Kettering Street. It has taken place without public consultation, and by all appearances seems to be a low cost solution.

Early morning view
Early evening with contractors present

Fallsbrook Road end of the street

Of course this is to allow the contractors to make good the water leak that has followed from the burst main the other week at the end of Southcroft Road. But it highlights just how quickly action can be taken if there is the will. 

What must residents do to get improvements?

I’m left asking the question, just what is it that councillors on the committee need to hear from local residents in order to act? The reason given for recommending no action on Kettering Street was that no-one had been hurt in the previous 3 years. Does that mean that we need people to be hurt for action to be taken? When the Fishponds proposals went to consultation, the outcome (if you dug into the detail) confirmed that residents agree there is a problem, but not how to fix it. That was reason enough for the committee to agree to do nothing. 

People getting hurt on Upper Tooting Road as a result of collisions from drivers using the back roads as short cuts as yet are not deemed to be the council’s problem as Upper Tooting Road is managed by Transport for London. 

I’ve written to Cllr Cook and Cllr Kaddy as the relevant cabinet member and chair of the committee asking them to clarify what residents can do to improve their streets. I'll keep you posted with the responses I get. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Inertia over the decades in Wandsworth

Whilst I really feel like progress is being made to create safer streets in Wandsworth, a spate of tweets the other evening highlights how it is the politics that really is the sticking point to taking action.

Yet, the councillors on the relevant committee feel like they are taking action asking for another strategy document to be drawn up instead of trialling temporary changes.

Plus ca change eh?

With problems such as:

Air pollution
Climate Change
Cost of living (associated with fuel costs)

Doing nothing really isn't an option. But it seems to fit perfectly well with our local councillors.

With a bit of luck, hopefully in the coming months we'll see TfL publish their proposals for both Balham High Road, and Tooting Town Centre. Both are listed on their Roads Modernisation Programme, and given the quality of work that is starting to appear, I'm optimistic that we could have equally high quality proposals for the local area.

If that is the case, then, I hope perhaps a few more people may be inclined to listen to the proposals that I, and others, have been advocating for over several decades now.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Trinity Road re-designed (temporarily for Gas Works)

The recently commenced road works to do essential gas works on Trinity road have galvanised TfL and Wandsworth Councils’ highway engineers into action.

In pushing through these temporary measures, the engineers are highlighting how quickly our streets can be reconfigured if the desire/need is deemed important enough. Gas works essential to re-design the streets, people getting hurt less so.

Sadly, as is all too common, little or no consideration for walking or cycling has been given. The pictures below ‘closing’ the pedestrian crossings give sight to a culture that puts walking as a non-essential means of transport.

With the gyratory type system which has been implemented for motor traffic, cycling contraflows could easily be permitted. The ‘filtering’ of some of the residential streets with no entry signs could be just for motor vehicles, allowing people on bikes to still use the streets in both directions.

You may think you missed the ‘consultation’ on these changes, but you didn’t, because the works are deemed to be essential.

When people ask through petitions, as I have done, councillors have rejected them. Either using difference of opinion from resident responses as to what will happen to prevent a trial taking place, or citing a lack of people getting hurt to justify inaction. The screen grab below is from, self evidently there is an issue at the junction of St James's Drive and Trinity Road.

I have asked in the past for traffic counts to be carried out when works such as these take place. I am confident that none are being done or were planned. The closing of the pedestrian crossings highlights that no real thought has been given to people walking through the area whilst the works are on-going. With so little thought given to even that, a traffic count to see the actual effects of the re-design would be a step too far.

The re-routing of the 319 has also resulted in 4 stops being suspended, with no temporary or request stops in place.

Seems that when you don't drive in Wandsworth your views and needs don't count. For all the warm words in terms of draft cycling strategy, or the walking strategy from years ago, the current consultation for a new strategy on air quality, without the political will to re-think how our streets are managed and run, little is likely to happen soon.

If you'd like to see real action, there are a bunch of petitions available to sign here.


I cycled past on Tuesday evening (30th June) to play touch, didn't have time to take pictures. The pedestrian crossings at St James Drive are no longer blocked. There is also a temporary bus stop on the route. Cycling against the flow of traffic is currently banned, although I don't understand why it should be.

I've also put in an FOI request to see if any consideration had been given to doing traffic counts as part of this work. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Strategy means nothing if no action is taken

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately I missed out on last night's Wandsworth Council committee meeting.

The good news is that I've heard quite a bit of progress has been made on 20mph roll-out, and whilst we aren't yet at the stage of seeking a borough-wide consultation with exceptions made for key routes, there definitely is political will for this to be advanced.

There was another paper tucked away, relating to another petition that I've done for the street I live on. The petition was asking the council to trial changes to the street similar to what has already been done extensively in Merton and blogged about already here.

The recommendation to the committee was to take no further action as there have been no reported accidents in the 3 previous years, and for the 1 week in January when they did traffic counts the volume was low and speeds were low.

The Labour team managed to make the case that the network of residential streets that I live in, should be considered for a Home Zone. Officers have been tasked with coming up with a strategy for 'Home Zones' in Wandsworth. This is all well and good, however, strategy is one thing, physical change on the ground is another. Very easy to ask for a strategy and another report. Much harder to actually make meaningful change happen.

If Wandsworth council isn't even prepared to try changes on the ground, then short of serious political change at the council or multiple deaths on residential streets as a result of 'traffic collisions' I have real difficulty in seeing how the major changes that are needed for many streets in the borough will occur. This is the 2nd time that the council have refused this trial approach, the first one being with the Fishponds Road area.

The only consolation is the growing amount of support that together with the local Lib Dems we are getting for petitions calling for real changes. Do check out the petitions here, and lend your support.