How Southwark can spend less to do more on their Quietway

After my last post about Southwark’s pointless plans to waste cycling money on their section of Quietway 2, I’ve had a think about what I’d suggest.

Some of the route is already fine, but the bits that aren’t fine have too many motor vehicles on them. While Southwark want to throw money at fancy paving and plants, what this route really needs are modal filters to remove motor traffic while allowing bikes to pass through.

This is cheap because it’s just bollards and a few signs. Politically it’s trickier because car-owning residents often want to drive out of their street at both ends, but I’d be amazed if car-free households aren’t the norm in this area by quite a large margin. The added bonus of more greenery, safe places for their children to play, cleaner air and quieter streets should be enough to get most residents’ approval, I should imagine.

And the nice thing is that this can be trialled easily and altered or removed if it doesn’t work, saving any “place-making” for when the changes are proven to work.

In this scheme, for example, I can see the plaza on the corner of Webber Street and Great Suffolk Street being expanded across the existing junction. This sort of thing should come later, though there are plenty of firms willing to sell their expensive designs for fancy paving without actually changing the nature of the traffic passing through.

Anyway, here’s my suggested plan:

Re-worked map of Southwark's Quietway plans, showing modal filters at various points to remove through-motor-traffic, while retaining motor access for residents and visitors.

Click to see full-size version

It removes through-motor-traffic from the entire route, while keeping motor access for residents and visitors. (In addition to the filters here, all of which are in Southwark Council’s area, I’d add one further west on Webber Street too, near the junction with The Cut.)

Suddenly, and for a bargain price that can’t be beat, the whole of Webber Street and Great Suffolk Street will now carry so little motor traffic that they’re safe to ride.

Further east, the northbound rat-run on Tabard Street is removed (vehicles currently enter from Great Dover Street via Becket Street, turn left up Tabard Street, then right along Pilgrimage Street), while full access is retained.

Most importantly, Law Street is no longer a rat-run. This is currently an awful street to cycle on due to vehicles avoiding the major Bricklayers Arms junction in both directions, just off-image to the south-east. In fact, the filtering in this area improves the entire block between Great Dover Street and Long Lane, as all rat-runs are now prevented. (I think – can you see any?)

The filtering at the top of Law Street also makes safe the turn into and out of the Rothsay Street cycleway, which under the current plans looks awfully dangerous.

I’ve gone no further because I’m not familiar with the area from this point, I always went up Wild’s Rents from here on a complicated, meandering route towards Tower Bridge.

So, that’s it!

The consultation on this section runs until the 5th of September (with the western-most section until the 15th), so there’s a few days left to respond now.

It’s probably worth responding so that when Southwark ignore all our suggestions we can at least point the finger at them when the plans fail. (Cynical, me?)

Addendum, 2nd February 2015: One of the hot debates along the route is the awful restrictive gateway on Trinity Street. Having thought about it, the simplest solution is to move it so it’s to the south of the Globe Street junction. It will still perform its motorbike-filtering purpose there, but not interfere with the Quietway. Ta-da!

Trinity Street SE1, with motorbike barrier that hinders cyclists too. Simple solution is to move it.



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5 responses to “How Southwark can spend less to do more on their Quietway

  1. This sort of approach needs to be taken more seriously by UK councils. They’re quite capable of rapidly creating a Experimental TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) that lasts for 18 months. This requires no consultation, a significant cost of schemes.

    Initially there will be an out roar from a minority of vocal locals. 18 months later, they’ll have realised the benefits and won’t want it to change back.

  2. Angus Hewlett (@angus_fx)

    Looks good to me. Webber Street is possibly overkill – you don’t necessarily need to do SBR *and* Blackfriars Road ends – tbh, the Great Suffolk Street filter will probably get rid of most of the Webber St rat-runners anyway, especially if you also filter Webber west of Blackfriars. At the moment the whole thing is a useful alignment for a would-be ratrunner – break the alignment up a bit and most of them will disappear even without total filtering.

    Is Law Street really that bad? Room for improvement, sure, but it’s a long way from “awful”. Then again, I say that as someone who cycles in Croydon…

    • Good point! We discussed Webber Street at length, debating whether it was overkill to block off both ends or not. The worry is that rat-runners may use Lancaster Street to avoid the St. George’s Circus junction at the bottom of Blackfriars Road. Perhaps the filter should be on Lancaster Street instead?

      I think the main thing is that the council should be keeping an eye on this sort of thing, seeing how well it works, making changes. I’m sure the rat-runners will find alternative rat-runs that will need to be dealt will. Repeat until there are no more rat-runs! As ‘wheelsonthebike’ says, there is a legal instrument that enables councils to do this cheaply, quickly and easily.

      Law Street really is that awful. I used it once by bike, but it was so threatening that I adjusted my route to go through Tabard Gardens and up Pardoner Street instead. My route still took me past the junction at the top of Law Street, and I saw the speeding, rat-running cars using it plenty of times.

  3. Simon

    “We discussed Webber Street at length …”

    Why isn’t anybody discussing Webber Street (and the Crossrail bike route and Tottenham Court Road and all the rest of them) within the framework of a cycle network? We’re drowning in minutiae! Why is there such resistance to the idea of getting the network to work and then developing it further “on the basis of priority interventions and a timetable”?

    I know the British are a highly differential people, often preferring to remain aloof from the practices of continental Europe, but why are we actively pursuing a strategy which no one in their right mind would think to copy, all the while ignoring a strategy which is recommended as “a prudent course to follow”?

    The LCC say that they – and others – think the two “crossrail” routes could be a game changer. “If these plans go ahead,” they opine, “it could open the door to more quality high quality [sic] cycle infrastructure in London [and] would be a big step towards transforming London’s street into spaces that are safe and inviting for cycling.” I don’t believe it.

    Besides the fact that there are three things protected bike lanes can’t do, there is another big issue, as the Mayor’s press release makes clear:

    “The routes have fewer of the usual features which can make installing segregated cycle lanes difficult. They have also seen a reduction of around a quarter in motor traffic in the last ten years. Only a small fraction of the east-west route is on roads served by TfL daytime buses, for instance, and there is little residential parking along most of the routes.”

    And then:

    “North of Farringdon station, where Farringdon Road is not wide enough for segregation in both directions, the route will use low-traffic back streets and/or segregation in one direction.”

    Which mean to say, the routes are going, not where there are most useful (see map), but rather, where they can be squeezed in without too much disruption. Indeed, as llodovic points out:

    “Who wants to go to Acton? Not me, certainly. Has any traffic survey been undertaken? What about Hyde Park to Hammersmith and then onwards to
    Putney and Richmond? Those boroughs have the highest proportions of cycle ownership…”

    One of the main features of an holistic (or top-down) approach is the analysis of journeys, whereas one of the main features of an adjustment (or bottom-up) approach is the analysis of situations.

    Seemingly, big business supports the idea of cycle infrastructure, just not the way that the Mayor is going about it. Well, hear, hear to that.

  4. Been working on modal filtering for Willow Walk, also part of the quietway, Southwark Council in the form of Chris Mascord states:

    I can confirm that this proposal is not currently being developed. Initial investigation as part of the filtered permeability initiative highlighted a number of access issues to existing and proposed new developments with access off Willow Walk. It was that traffic volumes along Willow Walk do not pose a significant danger to cyclists or other vulnerable road users.

    Southwark now consider significant danger as a requirement for modal filtering

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