Friday 3 February 2012

All change for the E & C northern roundabout

The SE1 Community Website today suggests Boris may fork out £200m towards the remodelling of the Elephant & Castle tube station and the northern roundabout.

Let's see if we can turn the roundabout into a crossroads instead and create a wonderful public space.

The opportunity must be seized to achieve really significant change at the Elephant & Castle and St George's Road, Westminster Bridge Road and even Westminster Bridge - changes that will improve life for the residents, tourists and workers by favouring walking, cycling and public transport over the private car.

Unhappily TfL's current design, below, is still for a huge five-lane roundabout, though with surface crossings rather than underpasses for pedestrians and St George's Road remains a one-way multi-lane motorstrosity.

If TfL's plan, based on the existing or higher volumes of motor traffic, goes ahead E&C and central London will remain as choked up with motor traffic and unpleasant to walk and cycle as it is now. It's time to find ways to restrict the traffic and the multi-lane gyratories that foul up our area.

Here's a quick sketch of one idea (avoiding spending £15m+ to move the Faraday Memorial and electricity substation marked in blue) - maybe you've got a better one. Let's get them being discussed and researched. There has to be a better solution that the one TfL currently propose.

I envisage St George's Road made two-way and only used by buses and cycles. General traffic uses London Road to approach Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges. At Elephant & Castle there's a simple crossroads as shown, with a t-junction from St George's Road. Pedestrians get more space and easier crossings.

A bonus of removing private motor traffic from St George's Road is that it facilitates doing the same on Westminster Bridge. In turn Parliament Square can cease being an inhumane traffic island and become a place deserving its World Heritage Status..

Big, bold ideas. Maybe my crossroads flight of fancy, on examination, won't turn out to be the right one, but the underlying principle of stopping central London being dominated by the motor vehicle is absolutely what is needed. We mustn't end up with just a multi-million pound minor tweak of the existing dismal arrangement.