Wandsworth’s proposed cycling infrastructure that never gets delivered

While I was digging through council committee papers as a follow-up to posts about the Wandsworth Riverside, I kept finding references to some simple bits of cycling infrastructure proposed in September 2013: a set of contraflow cycle lanes in one-way streets, and “through-ways” in street junctions which are currently blocked.  On my meanderings around Wandsworth, I haven’t seen many of these.  So that made me curious: what was proposed, and what’s been delivered?  So, I cycled around the borough and took a look.

What was proposed in 2013?

The transport committee of Wandsworth Council met on 23 September 2013 (at that time, transport was the responsibility of the Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee).  Item 22 on the agenda was a proposal to introduce contraflow cycling lanes in up to 10 one-way streets, and to build “through ways” to allow cyclists to cross no-through roads.  The proposal followed suggestions from Wandsworth Cycling Campaign.  The paper on “cycling permeability” lists the roads to be altered:

Contra#1

The consultations, road signs and kerb alterations would be funded from the TfL LIP funds allocated for 2013/14:

Contra#3

After discussion, the proposal were approved with minor tweaks:

Contra#2

Wandsworth Council was clearly pleased with the proposal, as it splashed it on its newsfeed, and planted a story in the local freesheet.

Have the contraflows been delivered?

Google streetmaps link + benefit to cyclists Progress since 2013
Trinity Crescent SW17

Would provide a north-west bound route from A24 Balham High Road to A214 Trinity Road, avoiding the junction outside Tooting Bec underground station

No change
Flowersmead SW17 from Upper Tooting Park

Flowersmead SW17 from Trinity Crescent

Puzzling one, as Flowersmead appears to be a two-way street in the middle of a housing estate.  Possibly, should have been a through-way from Trinity Crescent and, instead, in the list below

No change
Thrale Road SW17

Would provide south bound access to Mitcham Lane from Thrale Road.

This was never a workable proposal without changes to the Mitcham Lane junction. The contraflow idea appears to be dropped, as Wandsworth Council did not include in its proposed changes to Mitcham Lane in its December 2016 Furzedown consultation.

No change
Abercrombie Street SW11

Would provide a route from Battersea Park Road (and CS8) to Latchmere Road. (The main junction between these two roads does not permit a right-hand turn).

No change
Atherton Street SW11

Would provide a route from Latchmere Road to Battersea Park Road (CS8).(The main junction between these two roads does not permit a left-hand turn).

No change
Candahar Road SW11

Would provide a north-bound route from Falcon Road towards Battersea Park Road, and Latchmere Road (across Falcon or ‘Banana’ Park) avoiding the major junction between the A roads.

No change
Cairns Road SW11 from Northcote Road

The neighbouring Atherton Road proposal was addressed by the substation of Buckmaster Road at committee.

Would provide a route from Northcote Road to Battersea Rise, avoiding the major junction.

No change
Furmage Road SW18

Would provide a route from Garratt Lane to Kimber Road and across the River Wandle, avoiding the junction at Garrett Lane/ Swaffield Road, Kimber Road

No change
Harbut Road SW11

Would provide a quiet route from Plough Lane parallel to the railway to Wandsworth’s Old York Road, via Harbut Road, Nantes Close, and the crossing south of the big Wandsworth roundabout into Podmore Road

No change

So, of the nine proposed and approved in 2013, no streets have been altered to provide a contraflow cycle lane.

Have the through-ways been delivered?

The through-ways were proposed at junctions which have ‘no through’ routes to all vehicular traffic.  In most cases, these are where a continuous stretch of pavement has been installed (usually with fences or bollards) to prevent motorists rat-running in residential streets.  Admittedly, many people riding bicycles could lift their bicycles and hop across the pavements. However, this would (1) trigger the ire of Wandsworth councillors who have an ingrained dislike of pavement cycling, and (2) disadvantage cyclists using cargo-bikes, trikes, or similar mobility-aids which are often heavy.

Google streetmaps link + benefit to cyclists Progress since 2013
Orbel Street/ Surrey Lane SW11

Provides a route from Battersea Bridge Road and Surrey Lane towards Battersea High Street via Orbel Street.

Contra#4

Delivered

Installed before May 2015

Swaffield Road / Brocklebank Health Centre, SW18

Provides a quiet route parallel to the busy Garratt Lane, avoiding junction at Swaffield Road

No change
Thessaly Road / Battersea Park Road , SW8

Legalises the crossing from Battersea Park Road (TfL red route) to Thessaly Road, where a Santander Bikes site was installed in 2014. To access BP Road requires pavement cycling.  The signalised-crossing on BP Road is for pedestrians only, and hasn’t been changed to a cycle-friendly toucan.

No change
Eltringham Street / York Road roundabout, SW18 exit not changed to/from railway bridge

Sight line from crossing on York Road – has a drop-kerb but often blocked by parked cars. While access to Eltringham Steet from the York Road crossing does have a dropped kerb, there are no signs to confirm that this is a shared-space.

Opens up residential streets between York Road (CS8) and the railway lines, avoiding the busy York Road.

Drop-kerb from York Road; no change from the railway bridge
Barmouth Road / Allfarthing Lane , SW18

Opens up routes between the residential streets east of Garratt Lane.

No change

Of the five proposed in 2013, one through-way has been delivered, arguable whether one has been partially delivered, 3 are not changed.

What’s been going on?

Several times a year, the highways team in Wandsworth Council provide the transport committee (currently the Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee) with a progress report.

Committee date & link to report / agenda Contraflow update Through way update
December 2013 Investigation and design of contraflow cycle schemes on-going None
July 2014 Detailed designs completed. Approval to consult in 2014 using SO83 procedure being progressed. None
September 2014 The transport committee in September 2014 reviewed the LIP funding proposal for 2015/16.  This seeks £300k for a variety of cycling schemes including two-way streets None
June 2015 Statutory consultation completed and consultation with residents scheduled for June 2015 None
September 2015 The transport committee in September 2015 reviewed the LIP funding proposal for 2016/17.  This seeks £350k for a variety of cycling schemes including two-way streets None
November 2015 Consultation with residents on some schemes, final consultations taking place None
September 2016 The transport committee in September 2016 reviewed the LIP funding proposal for 2017/18. This seeks £30k to trial two-way cycling in selected one-way streets. The streets are not named. None
November 2016 Final consultations for some (unnamed) locations due in early 2017

The minutes of the discussion reference a request from Councillor Charles Lescott for which streets are being considered: the streets are not named in the minutes (item 11)

None

 

No progress report was presented to the Communities Committee for its meeting in February 2017, and the next meeting is scheduled in June.

The consultations were most likely to have been conducted by post, being sent only to residents in the affected streets.  The consultations and results are not available on Wandsworth Council’s website.  No papers have been presented to the transport committee meetings with the results of those consultations.

So, after 4 years, no changes have been made to the named streets to create contraflow cycle routes, and there’s no public statement regarding which streets are still be consulted upon.  The progress reports have never included an update on the through-ways.

Conclusion

Of the 14 bits of simple-to-implement cycling infrastructure proposed and approved in September 2013, only one has been implemented as intended: the through-way between Surrey Lane and Orbel Street.

These are relatively simple changes to street layouts, requiring re-arrangement of a few dozen kerb stones, the erection of a dozen road signs, and publishing the traffic orders.  When originally proposed, the traffic orders would be ‘experimental orders’ which, as far as I know, do not require public consultation (the experimental period is considered to be part of the consultation process).

If I put aside TfL initiatives such as cycle superhighways, TfL quietways and the Santander hire scheme, and just look at borough-proposed schemes, then in the same time that Wandsworth has delivered the single through-way in Surrey Lane:

  • Merton Council has completed dozens of street changes to improve permeability, including removal of fire gates, introduction of contraflow cycle lanes in one-way streets, and installed new dropped kerbs to create through-ways.
  • Kensington & Chelsea Council has designed and installed several local quietway schemes. And RBKC is not regarded as a cycle-friendly borough.

 

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