Saturday 3 March 2012

Mixed messages around the Elephant & Castle

Late last year the eastern Cycle By-Pass to avoid the dangerous Elephant & Castle roundabout was relocated to permit work to start on redeveloping the Heygate Estate. I'm pleased to report that, just a little over two months later, work has started to alter the signage so it no longer directs you to cross the noisy, polluted New Kent Road (above, as imagined by LendLease to look in the distant future) where you now can't.

The pavement that leads to the newly installed Pelican pedestrian-only crossing has been marked as shared space allowing cyclists to ride right up to the Pelican Crossing where they have to dismount and walk across the New Kent Road before remounting to ride on the shared pavement the other side.

Why then did TfL not install a Toucan crossing instead allowing cyclists to ride across the New Kent Road on this Cycle By-Pass to avoid the dangerous Elephant & Castle roundabout? 

The reason is that TfL's modelling demonstrates that getting off and walking smooths a cyclist's journey on this Cycle By-Pass to avoid the dangerous Elephant & Castle roundabout whereas riding across would significantly delay the cyclist's flow. I quote from an email TfL sent out:

"Transport for London (TfL) undertook a modelling assessment on the crossing and found that unfortunately, a Toucan could not be provided here as it would result in significant delays to the traffic flow. The design drawing which indicated that this crossing would be a Toucan was provided by the developer of 50 New Kent Road at the initial design stage."

What TfL fail to explain is why, if they deemed a Toucan crossing was not feasible on a Cycle By-Pass to avoid the dangerous Elephant & Castle roundabout, their consultation included one. Maybe they thought they'd get strong objections if they showed a Pelican crossing on a major cycle route and hoped that if they showed a Toucan on the plans no-one would notice when the Pelican was slipped in instead?

Cyclists will however be reassured to know that this crossing relocation is only temporary. The Pelican will  be there for a mere FOUR F***ING YEARS to enable the new development at 50 New Kent Road to be constructed, part of the huge Heygate Estate area redevelopment. 

LendLease, the developers of the Heygate, had an exhibition of their plans last week. They were adamant that they did not want a Cycling Superhighway running through their site so it look as though the pressure is on TfL to make the E&C roundabout totally sweet for cyclists to use. I'd suggest they have a look at my doodle here.

While LendLease don't want a Cycling Superhighway their plans show a reassuring intent to enable cyclists to ride around their patch and to restrain motor vehicle use. Below is a plan showing proposed cycle routes in red (sadly not yet showing one through the railway arch to the west and the new swimming pool) and some impressions of how the spaces might look.

In the last throws of the current Mayoralty, there's a chance to raise concerns with the Deputy Mayor of London this Thursday 8th March at 18:30 at Crossway Church on New Kent Road (adjacent to the junction with Rodney Place).
Whilst organised by the Spanish/Portuguese speakers alliance, they would like to invite and encourage everybody with an interest in the area to attend and to quiz Richard Barnes on any aspect of Mayoral policy that affects the Elephant - from housing to transport to S106 funds and beyond!