Posts Tagged ‘TfL’

Courthill Road to get a green man in 2012

December 27, 2010

It’s with immense pleasure that I can report that on 15th December in a written reply to Caroline Pidgeon AM the Mayor of London Boris Johnson outlined the timetable for a green man crossing at Courthill Road.

Courthill Road junction
Question No: 3876 / 2010
Caroline Pidgeon
In answer to a previous question on Courthill Road junction in Lewisham (Question number 2981/2010) you stated: “Traffic modelling and discussions with key stakeholders are continuing to this end, and are scheduled to be completed by the end of this calendar year.” Can you please provide an update as to how far this modelling and discussions has actually progressed and how close Transport for London are to finding more ”radical solutions” as an alternative to providing pedestrian facilities at this junction as requested by current and former ward councillors and many local residents.
Answer from the Mayor
TfL is developing a design proposal for Lewisham High Street at its junction with Courthill Road.  Part of this proposal is to introduce a “green man” pedestrian crossing facility on Courthill Road.  I went out on site with TfL’s Chief Operating Officer London Streets and Heidi Alexander before she became an MP. The traffic modelling is completed and the preliminary design will undergo a road safety audit which is planned to be completed in January 2011.  Consultation on the scheme is planned for early in the New Year.  As the proposals include banning some movements at the Courthill Road junction, with displaced traffic being diverted onto other local roads, feedback from the consultation process will potentially affect not only the final outcome but also the timescales for delivery.  If a viable scheme can be developed, TfL has provisionally programmed detailed design to commence in the summer of 2011 with works commencing early 2012.

This is the result of  the coordinated pressure that residents of Lewisham Central have put onto TfL over a number of years, thanks to all those that helped towards this result. This blog has a Courthill Road tag to read about some of those efforts.

For now, until the traffic lights are actually in place, let’s still cross it with extreme caution, I was almost run over yesterday and the railings on one of the corners have just been replaced after someone smashed into them.

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A Countdown Bus Stop for Hither Green

April 5, 2010

Transport for London (TfL) is currently consulting on the location for 2500 new countdown displays for bus stops to be rolled out across London next year.
The map of the locations for Lewisham has been published, unfortunately not one of these displays has been allocated to Hither Green Lane (click on map to enlarge).

We Lewisham Central Liberal Democrats think that there is a strong case for one of these displays to be placed on Hither Green Lane, we also think that we fit well one of the criteria chosen by TfL for eligibility, that of interchange value, especially when including walking as an alternative, a mode of transport that’s often only praised but not actually promoted through transport strategies.

In fact many waits for the bus on Hither Green Lane are either made to go to Lewisham Station for the DLR or to Lewisham Market, both places that are in reach by walk and a decision to walk could often be made if the time for the wait was known.
What instead currently happens is that people dithers in indecision indefinitely, until, often much later, the bus arrives, and many times when it does it’s overcrowded.

We also have a train station, which obviously increases the interchange value even further, as many people do take a bus after the train and this means that a countdown display would be of value also to people living beyond the immediate vicinity of the bus stop.

In both these cases a known wait would often result in reduced overcrowding on buses and an increase in pedestrian journeys, both very positive results from the point of view of transport planning, and it’s with this argument that we ask for a countdown display for Hither Green. Our proposed locations are Hither Green Lane and Springbank Road.

TfL is consulting with Councils, not individuals (click here for the consultation documents pack), but we decided that we will make a representation anyway and we also found a powerful advocate in Caroline Pidgeon AM, who is the Chair of the Transport Committee at the Greater London Assembly and will support our case.

Please add your name to our petition, and if your personal experience is one where a countdown display would clearly be of benefit then please tell us about it in the comment box so we can submit it as a sample case.

TfL in partial agreement on Courthill Road

March 17, 2010

I received further correspondance from TfL about my enquiries asking clarification on their position regarding the Courthill Road Junction.
This latest letter, that I received last week, has some very interesting points indeed, and I’m much delighted to read that they agree with the point I raised about the context of the junction and how a pedestrian traffic light here would only delay traffic to the next junction and traffic light, that in both directions on the Catford to Lewisham route is very near indeed:

You are right, this section of the A21 between Courthill Road and Catford Town Centre is a particularly busy route. However, the impacts of installing a pedestrian crossing at Courthill Road cannot be viewed as simply holding a queue at one location rather than another. We must be sure that any queuing created as a result of this pedestrian crossing does not have significant impacts on other neighbouring junctions, not just on the A21 but also on local borough roads.

So, it seems that the concern here is about Courthill Road and Withburn Road and whether a pedestrian light would make queses there longer than the current situation (note to self, ask to Head of Highways of Lewisham Council what he’s heard about this).

Later on TfL also says that:

As part of our previous investigations we built a model which replicates the operation of Courthill Road junction and nearby Ladywell junction which are both linked operationally. We are now testing the impacts of any changes of the junction to identify whether they are acceptable to both Transport for London and the London Borough of Lewisham.

And that’s encouraging. Read the full letter here.

P.S.: at point 1 the letter mentions an attachment with details of the recorded accidents. The attachment was actually missing, I have asked for those data again, both to TfL as well as to other contacts at City Hall and I’ll post that data here as soon as I receive it.

More pressure on TfL for action on Courthill Road

March 12, 2010

Last week’s crash on Lewisham High Street by the Courthill Road junction is reported in this week’s South London Press and the Mercury.

Following the accident I had a good discussion about what’s wrong with that place with the Lewisham reporter John Hugill, who then contacted TfL that told him:

we are currently investigating whether we can improve facilities for pedestrians at the junction of Courthill Road with Lewisham High Street.

I’m also pleased that the very important data that the junction saw 21 accidents in the past three years is now in the public domain through mainstream media.

Campaigner Max Calo said: “It’s the 21st accident on the junction in three years.

“TfL’s argument that they don’t want to have tighter regulation with traffic lights because it will affect car flow is wrong.

“When there is an accident you break the flow of traffic for hours because the road has to be closed, so their argument is wrong.

“The junction is occupied by cars most of the time so an emergency vehicle will find it very hard to cross there because there are always cars stuck in the middle.

“I can’t see why TfL can’t just give us campaigners what we want and make the road safer for both pedestrians and drivers.”

Read the full article here.

Dodging Courthill Road

February 18, 2010

“My strong instinct is swerve. As the man says in Dodgeball – the world’s greatest ever film – dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge.”
Mayor Boris Johnson, September 2009
(link)

At Mayor’s Question Time of 27th January the Chair of the Transport Committee at GLA Caroline Pideon AM has tackled Mayor Boris Johnson on the issue of two dangerous junctions in Lewisham, both in need of a pedestrian light.
Mayor Boris dodged! Just as TfL has recently done when enquired about the Courthill Road junction.

Question No: 116 / 2010
Caroline Pidgeon
You failed to properly answer my question (3048/2009) about the Tiger’s Head and the Courthill Road junctions in Lewisham which I asked in October 2009. Following the immense delays in ensuring there are improvements in pedestrian safety at these two specific junctions at Lewisham, and also the significant direct representations that have made to you by Assembly Members, local councillors, Lewisham Council and members of the public, I would like to ask again whether you yourself would be willing to join me and look at these dangers that presently exist at these two junctions?

Answer from the Mayor:

In my answer to MQ3048 / 2009, I said that TfL would contact you to discuss this issue. As I understand it, the Director of Integrated Programme Delivery within TfL Surface Transport met you on 3 November 2009 for a discussion. As experts and highway authority for this junction, it is correct that TfL discusses this with you on my behalf. Should a site meeting still be required, please let TfL know.

I spoke with Caroline Pidgeon AM about this, and what seems to happen here is that either TfL or Mayor Johnson are being clever with words.
Caroline Pidgeon AM is Chair of the Transport Committee, and as such has routine briefing meetings with officers, including the one quoted in Mayor Johnson’s letter, but never, as the reply from Mayor Johnson says, she was contacted “to discuss this issue”.

And so let’s restate the invitation to Mayor Johnson, please come down to Lewisham and cross the road with us. You’ll find that in lieu of a pedestrian crossing the 5 fundamentals of dodgeball – dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge – come very handy indeed when crossing Courthill Road. Show us how a master does it.

You can also write an email to Mayor Johnson and ask him to join us in a crossing of Courthill Road.
——
p.s.: since I’m on the issue here’s the letter I sent to TfL in reply to their last correspondence on the subject.

Roadworks at Loampit Vale

January 27, 2010

TfL has communicated that major roadworks on Loampit Vale will start on 1st February and will complete by 12th March. These are non-essential maintenance and are done to solve the problem of road drainage and will be a major disruption for traffic and bus service for the period involved.
Brockley Central has more details.

I wonder, does TfL knows that just there a major development is supposed to start? There Barratt should not only build hundreds of flats and a leisure centre, but also provide new pedestrian paths and also new bus stops.
Is this a case where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing?

Maybe the timing of these works is a couple of years off the mark and those money would be better spent elsewhere, like providing pedestrian crossing at the various dangerous crossings around the borough, like Courthil Road, also belonging to TfL. But those are money for pedestrians, not cars, so Boris’ TfL may not see that as much useful.

Unless TfL has information that the Loampit Vale development won’t happen anytime soon, but in that case they could tell us as it would be an information of extreme public interest.

TfL’s reply about Courthill Road – cars first

January 11, 2010

A few days ago I received from TfL the reply to my enquiry about the Courthill Road junction and you can read the full letter here.

A very important element of the letter is the disclosure of the statistical data about the junction:

The number of collisions is higher than we would expect for a signal controlled junction similar to this in Lewisham. Our latest personal injury collision statistics up to the end of June 2009 indicate that there have been 19 injury collisions, in the last three years, with pedestrians having been involved in four of these collisions. I do not believe that the accident you mention in your letter that occurred in April is included in these statistics, for reasons that are not at all clear, but this would bring the total collisions to 20, with pedestrian collisions rising to five. These would appear to have occurred on all arms of the junction and we are therefore focusing our attention on seeking ways to improve pedestrian facilities for the whole junction, not just Courthill Road.

First of all the fact that 8 months after this accident happened TfL still has no record of it is a very worrying thing that casts a doubt over the reliability of their statistics altogether, especially in absence of an explanation.
Still, they have on record 20 injury collisions in the past three years alone, and 5 of these involving pedestrians! Isn’t that enough?

Evidently not, because as they go on explaining according to them it’s not that easy:

The fact that there are queues on all the approaches to the junction during peak periods with the current traffic signal operation is a clear indication that this junction is operating at its capacity limit. To provide pedestrian signals we would need to shut the entire junction down for traffic to enable pedestrians to have a free period to cross or we would need to re-phase the traffic signals and provide wider pedestrian islands to enable pedestrians to cross all arms of the junction at different times without being opposed by vehicles. If all traffic movements were to be permitted both of these options would have a significant impact on the amount of time that traffic currently has to move through the junction.

And later on the letter says that:

Clearly, there is a balance to be struck between the competing modes and it is important to understand that we, as a public authority, are governed by a number of other, sometimes conflicting policies, one of which is an initiative to “smooth traffic flow”. This seeks to reduce the delay and congestion along the Mayor’s network and presents particular challenges when the task is trying to integrate signalised pedestrian crossings into congested junctions like this one.

That’s the key, they want to help traffic flow, and pedestrians get in the way. Or so they think, only that it’s nonsense, because as I already said in a previous post the context of this junction is not a flowing route, this is between Catford and Lewisham. Traffic only flows to the next junction and it makes almost no difference whatsoever if you can go past this junction fluently in either directions because inevitably you’ll hit another one, and being this between Catford and Lewisham if you’re at peak time almost invariably it’ll be gridlocked.
When it’s not peak time you’ll have instead a decent ride, what will one extra pedestrian crossing add? Not much, especially since they’re all request crossing nowadays.

A tangent consideration here is due, two junctions down from Courthill Road there’s the Lewisham Station roundabout, that TfL agreed to redesign to allow the Lewisham Gateway development to happen. Now, I don’t think that there are many better ways to slow down traffic than to build a 20 storeys complex over a major roundabout.
I remember that when the consortium for the Lewisham Gateway admitted that contrary to all they had said to that point the new layout would slow down traffic then all of a sudden the talk was about “capacity constraint”, now it was a positive and even green thing. Slowing down cars to convince drivers to get on buses and trains instead. Only that the traffic going through the Lewisham roundabout, as also Lewisham’s Head of Planning recently recognized, is not a locally generated traffic, is a traffic that only passes through here to go from somewhere else to somewhere else and there’s very little that can be done locally to discourage it and therefore we can imagine that slowing that junction, which is truly a key junction for the area, will lead to an environmental worsening for what air quality and noise are concerned across all the arms of the junction, which means up Lewisham Way, Loampit Vale, Lee High Road and upstream towards Catford including also the Courthill Road junction of Lewisham High Street. But that’s ok for them. A pedestrian crossing on Courthill Road instead cannot be done.

Because that’s what I feel is the gist of this letter:

We will continue to investigate whether we can provide pedestrian improvements but this process takes some time. To comply with the other policy objectives we must be able to demonstrate that the introduction of signalised pedestrian crossings will not have an adverse impact upon traffic flow through the junction. If we cannot demonstrate this then, it is unlikely that we would be able progress any pedestrian improvements.

It’s taken them years to come to this point, where they know that there is a serious problem, they know that there are solutions and yet all they are prepared to say is that they’ll study the problem again!

How can they ignore that this junction leads to another clogged up junction whatever way you go? They’re TfL, these are their roads, they surely know this. Why don’t they act?

The Mayor’s Transport Strategy states that it aims at:

Providing better, more attractive streets to encourage people to walk and lead active, healthy lifestyles

This was not quoted in the letter, they chose the other point of the strategy:

Improving road journeys and smoothing the flow of traffic

For TfL the Courthill Road junction is therefore primarily a place for traffic to flow and for us to keep on risking our lives, in other parts of London the other part of the strategy may apply instead, there they’ll be providing better, more attractive streets to encourage people to walk and lead active, healthy lifestyles.

I’m not impressed. Last year I asked Lewisham Council’s Head of Highways about this junction and what he told me was that according to TfL statistically it wasn’t a very dangerous junction and as funds are limited (and shrinking) other junctions had to be invested on first and Courthill Road wasn’t likely to be sorted out anytime soon.
But then TfL agreed to study the situation so that was a glimmer of hope. In that context this letter doesn’t sound good as it carefully avoids to commit to anything and specifically states that only if we don’t slow down traffic at all they’d provide a solution, which is obviously impossible because however minimal there would always be an impact, but it’s a compromise that we must keep on pursuing, because as TfL’s (possibly incomplete and completely contradicting what told last year to Lewsham Council) statistics now show, it is a dangerous junction indeed, and a strong case can therefore be made.
There are ways to design safe pedestrian crossing and keep delays to traffic to a minimum, this is in fact alluded to in the reply:

we would need to re-phase the traffic signals and provide wider pedestrian islands to enable pedestrians to cross all arms of the junction at different times without being opposed by vehicles

and that’s what should be done here.

And if you haven’t done it yet then please sign the petition for a safe crossing at Courthill Road.

Thrilling and chilling times on Courthill Road

December 22, 2009

Braving a ridiculously cold weather and armed with stopwatches and clipboards this Sunday a team of Lewisham Libdems were joined by a handful of thermally resistant residents and timed the Courthill Road junction.
With people at each side of the junction raising a hand whenever the light they faced was red we could ascertain that there is never a moment when all lights are red for cars and the junction is safe for pedestrians to cross.

Another important observation that we could make spending half an hour there was that with intense traffic the junction becomes seriously gridlocked over and over again because just as pedestrians remain dangerously stuck halfway through the crossing, cars also remain very often stuck halfway through the junction.
Now, despite the fact that a gridlocked junction is actually quite safe to cross (unless you have a disability, carry shopping bags or push a pram of course), what this indicates is that TfL’s argument that a pedestrian light would slow down traffic doesn’t really have any merit because the junction doesn’t need any help from pedestrians to reach standstill.

But what is also important is the context of the junction. When traffic is intense all other junctions on its route are just as stuck and traffic between Catford and Lewisham (and beyond both ways) goes as slow as traffic can go, and this means that a pedestrian light wouldn’t make the Courthill Road junction a bottleneck on an otherwise flowing traffic, only a more ordered and safe junction of a road that every day at peak time receives much more traffic that it can take.
Out of peak time traffic the argument against a pedestrian light is also weak as traffic flows and cars can therefore afford the odd ten seconds to let pedestrians cross in safety.

What next? We’ll feed these data together with a stronger case for a pedestrian light at the bottom of Courthill Road to both TfL and Caroline Pidgeon AM who is chair of the Transport Committee at the London Assembly. We’ve been campaigning for a pedestrian traffic light at the bottom of Courthill Road for a long time and awareness is high, let’s keep it on the agenda of those that can make it happen.

I wrote this already but it’s worth repeating, you can help by emailing to londonstreets@tfl.gov.uk and adding your name to our online petition.


In the photo from left Tam Langley, me with a hat, Chris Maines and Andrew Milton.

Courthill Junction timing at Christmas time

December 16, 2009

This Sunday 20th December we have an afternoon double bill of Libdem initiatives and everyone is invited to come.

The appointment is for 3pm at the trouble junction between Lewisham High Street and Courthill road SE13. There we’ll time the traffic lights and we need quite a lot of people to do this because we need someone at each traffic light of the junction plus others with stopwatches and others marking down the time.

Ideally we’ll have more than one team to double check the measurements, so please join us if you can, there’s a job for anyone, whether with the stopwatch, the clipboard or just raising a hand when the light goes red (all hands up means that the junction is safe for crossing).

This timing is a very useful exercise, it will give us a precise understanding of the way the junction works and how much time this setting provides for pedestrian crossing. The collected data will then be used by the Libdem Chair of Transport Committee at GLA Caroline Pidgeon AM to press the Mayor of London and TfL to sort out the junction and provide it with the pedestrian light we all need.
Then once the timing is done, and that shouldn’t take much more than half an hour, we all move to the nearby Jolly Farmers pub to examine the collected data and… Christmas drinks.

The video here below shows well what’s the issue with the junction, about halfway through the video there is a 20 seconds window to cross but without light you can’t know it, then a woman crosses and does it quite dangerously, as many do every day.
In the past TfL rejected calls for a pedestrian crossing with the argument that it would slow down traffic, this is surely wrong for the reason that it puts cars before safety, but also it seems that there could already be some windows of opportunity to cross in safety, only that without a green light pedestrians can’t possibly know that.

Do something fun and useful this Sunday. Join us in Courthill Road.

Courthill Road Junction campaign

December 11, 2009

One of the issues that affect many residents of Lewisham Central and users of Ladywell Pool is the devilish pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Courthill Road at the junction with Lewisham High Street. Recently a very serious accident took place there and a woman was run over by a car, she was badly hurt but fortunately survived. Do we have to wait for a fatality before a pedestrial traffic light is provided?

Here’s a video I took a few months ago, it shows how in absence of a traffic light for pedestrians it’s actually near impossible to cross in safety. Cars can come at you from 4 different directions and as it happens most people have only two eyes. I’ve been crossing that road most days for about 11 years and I still don’t know which way to look.

About halfway through the video there is a window of about 20 seconds where it is possible to cross, only that without traffic light one cannot know if it is safe or not and for how long, maybe cars are not coming from some direction not because traffic lights are holding them but because there aren’t cars from there in that moment. With so many possible ways to have incoming traffic it’s very difficult to understand that and it does happen that just as you start crossing someone speeds in front of you, you just cannot know, you can’t see their traffic light.
Then just as the traffic restarts a woman wants to cross, notice how at first she is unsure about when to start crossing, and then after she starts crossing and reaches the middle of the road cars start to move, but again she cannot know if they’re going straight or turning into Courthill Road so she has a moment of hesitation and waits in the middle of the road with cars running near her until she finally finds the moment to cross the second half of the road.
It’s crazy, that’s the normal way to cross Courthill Road.

A few months ago me and Libdem Councillors Chris Maines, Andrew Milton and Dave Edgerton went to City Hall and delivered to Mayor Boris a 600 signatures strong petition asking him to give us the traffic light we need. The petition sheets were handed in by Caroline Pidgeon AM who is the Libdem Chair of the Transport Committee of the GLA.

We were then told by TfL that they were studying possible solutions but since a few months have passed and I haven’t heard anything about it I just sent another email to TfL asking for an update and I’ll post here any reply I receive.
You can do the same by emailing to londonstreets@tfl.gov.uk and in case you have not done so yet you can add your name to our online petition, the more people sign it the bigger the pressure we can put on TfL.