Tuesday 11 July 2017

Is it time for a new Thames walking bridge in Waterloo?

The controversial Garden Bridge is looking ever more likely to be cancelled, but I wonder if the footbridge I propose might appeal to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists (especially bus drivers)?

You can get an idea of the proposed bridge, built out from Waterloo Bridge approaching the IMAX roundabout, in the illustration (kindly drawn up by Iain Longstaff) below, with the cycle track that it enables shown in green.

To give it context, Waterloo Bridge has just become part of Quietway 1. Quietways are "routes which will overcome barriers to cycling, targeting cyclists who want to use quieter, low-traffic routes, providing an environment for those cyclists who want to travel at a more gentle pace."

The start of the bridge southbound from Westminster, albeit not perfect, isn't bad. There is however a significant issue for the Quietway towards the exit from Waterloo Bridge.

Despite being an enormously experienced London cyclist, I don't enjoy this section and I know that it doesn't appeal to the people I give cycle training to.

Independently of the Quietway, Transport for London have just started consulting on plans to turn Waterloo Roundabout into a peninsular and improve the space for active travel (walking and cycling). It is clear that a lot of careful and good work has gone into the plans, but the same problem remains .

The plans don't provide Quietway quality space for cycling until after the bridge end, and even then the queuing space at a red light is tight for the increased number of people who will be cycling here.

According to TfL the problem is that the width available between the pedestrian ramps on each side of the bridge doesn't  allow for the provision of a dedicated cycle lane alongside lanes for motor vehicles. 


Pupils cycling on the Quietway over the bridge to London Nautical school would have to move out as the pavement flares out, hopefully having checked for buses, then slow down for a sharp turn to continue on the Quietway

Pedestrians are also ill provided for, with a narrow strip of pavement close to the traffic.

Building a wide footbridge (green line below) between the approach to the pedestrian ramp (black) and Kings College would provide a wider and direct route for pedestrians away from traffic at the same gradient as the current pavement. A Quietway quality cycle track can then be created, combining the current pavement space and a narrow strip of the road, to the benefit of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians using the bridge. I don't think it would be difficult in engineering terms or particularly expensive

Below, the view from outside Kings College towards Waterloo Bridge - I don't think a new pedestrian bridge here would wreck it. A small downside, depending on detailed design, is that tall vehicles (coaches for example) may no longer be able to use the on-ramp from Upper Ground to the former roundabout, but there are many other exits from Upper Ground and Belvedere Road they can use.

The footbridge wouldn't ruin the view of Waterloo Bridge as it is at the end, and could be designed to fit the existing character if deemed sensible

What do you think?

If you support this idea it is important to say so in your consultation response

Friday 5 May 2017

People really are rubbish, so organisations must change

The Castle Leisure Centre opened at Elephant and Castle last year and I have been to the pool there many days this year. There are bins throughout the centre, with recycling ones next to general waste bins. I've been amazed over the months at the failure of people to sort their rubbish. Those people who bother to put empty shampoo or water  bottles in the bin seem to do this randomly, about half go in the bin labelled plastics and half in the general waste bin adjacent.

At Taunton station last week I saw the clearest attempt I have seen yet to help people simply sort their rubbish.
Every waste bin has one recycling bin adjoining it, and clear directions are given on what to put where should you be in doubt. 
  Look inside the bins though and you can see that people just don't care at all. There is no appetite amongst consumers to take the tiniest step to sorting their rubbish. They just bung it in a random bin or drop it on the platform.

I can't see any other option than to transfer legal responsibility to the manufacturers and retailers to resolve the waste problem their products create, and so what if it means they must pay people, either directly or via taxation, to sort the waste. The businesses will also need to pay for the cost of enforcement, with significant penalties for non-compliance.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Tackling the Brook Drive rat-run

Brook Drive, a busy rat-run by the Imperial War Museum on the border of Lambeth and Southwark, has the potential to be as quiet and free of traffic as neighbouring Walcot Square and adjacent streets. It can be achieved inexpensively. The gate,to the right of the picture below, which makes Walcot Square so calm, could just be turned 90°.

Firstly though, why is Brook Drive a rat-run in the West-East direction? Google map directions reveal all. Drivers from Westminster Bridge or Lambeth Bridge to the Walworth Road are directed via Brook Drive and Dante Road rather than the designated A roads.

The immediately neighbouring enclave of back streets, in grey below, around Walcot Square and St Mary's Gardens are very much calmer and quieter. Many years ago the residents persuaded the council to install the gate (marked by the short, thick black line) at the junction of Sullivan Road and Brook Drive to prevent motor-traffic cutting through their streets.

Turning that gate by 90°, to the pink line, would create two cells - part of Brook Drive would become part of the Walcot Square quiet enclave - still able to get to and from their houses while enjoying the benefits that their neighbours have had for years. The other half of Brook Drive would be part of a newly calmed enclave of streets gaining the same or similar benefits.

As well as enabling the residents of Brook Drive and Dante Road to have less noise, danger and air pollution, such a measure would increase the freedom for local children attending the local Charlotte Sharman, Archbishop Sumner and Crampton primary schools to easily walk or cycle to school at minimal risk. 

Turning the barrier may not be the ideal, or the whole, way of creating a back street area free of traffic that should be using the main roads. There may be a better location to install the traffic filter on Brook Drive. And there's a likelihood that some rat-running would relocate to use Wincott Street / Renfrew Road (the thin black line) so it makes sense to consider options and implement appropriate measures within the entire cell of back streets bordered by the A roads. I welcome suggested alternative options or additions in the comments section.

This traffic filtering scheme (and similar ones you may think of) would fit well into the current Lambeth consultation for this area - if you like it please include it in your response. I hope that Lambeth will accept responses from residents on the Southwark side of Brook Drive too.

Monday 2 January 2017

Kennington / Oval Cycling Improvements Meeting this Thursday

If you live, work or visit the North Lambeth area (Prince's and Oval wards), the Council would like to find out your priorities for investing payments that are made by developers to fund local improvements. A Community Local Investment Plan (CLIP) is now being drawn up and your input would be appreciated.

What are your priorities for your streets, open spaces and places?

The money can be spent on capital items (e.g. cycle parking or segregated cycle tracks) or on revenue items (e.g. cycle mechanic training programmes).

Councillor Joanne Simpson has arranged a meeting to source ideas for cycling improvements in the area. It is this Thursday 5th January at 6.30pm, upstairs at the Black Prince pub, 6 Black Prince Rd, SE11 6HS. If you can't make the meeting but have a suggestion beforehand you'd like discussed please email it to lambeth_cyclists@hotmail.com.

Ideas from the meeting will feed into Lambeth's Prince's and Oval wards CLIP consultation that runs until Friday 24 February 2017. Please reply to the survey there too.