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Submission to London Assembly Transport Committee from Wandsworth Living Streets

December 10, 2013

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1. We ask the London Assembly to remind the TfL Better Junctions Review to continue and intensify building into their proposals, elements that protect and facilitate pedestrians (and not just cyclists and drivers).   The Better Junctions Review arose because of a recognition that junctions are especially dangerous locations, as measured by KSIs, and so need very special attention from TfL which should include a holistic, all-user, approach.

2. We recognise that there are many places in London which have benefitted from measures to improve walkability and the public realm more generally.  Such examples will, we hope, encourage TfL officers and London Assembly members to bear in mind that there is good practice around, and that they in London have instituted many examples of good practice.  What is needed is a much wider roll-out in all future changes to roads that TfL is responsible for of such pedestrian-inclusive thinking, building on precedents TfL has already often put in place in particular locations.

3. There is a pressing need to roll out 20mph speed limits on all TfL routes along High Streets – both as a road safety measure for pedestrians and cyclists; but also as a means to enhance high streets so that pedestrians feel safer there and find them more inviting.  In its thinking about TLRN on high streets, TfL needs to recognise that it has a powerful role to play in contributing to economic regeneration.  This can encompass measures including simple, low-cost changes which improve pedestrian amenity and strengthen the ‘place’ function of high streets and town centres, such as putting in seating to encourage people to linger.

4. In London, pedestrians are at greatest risk when crossing the road.  Being able to cross the street safely is, along with high quality pavements, *the* key element of physical infrastructure for walking.  Again, TfL has a major role to play in ensuring that it is easy, quick and safe for people to cross the street, whether this be via informal crossing made easy via slower vehicle speeds; crossings located where people wish to cross; signalised crossings that don’t unduly delay pedestrians or make them feel harried when crossing on the ‘green man’; removal of pedestrian guardrail which so often obstructs pedestrians’ desire lines; ensuring that all crossings are fully accessible; and ensuring that crossings are properly maintained.

5. We note from Census data that the population of the London borough of Wandsworth is growing strongly.  At the same time, the percentage of households who are choosing not to own a car has increased substantially since 2001.  Wandsworth’s experience matches that across London as a whole, and reinforces the case for improving conditions for walking, as a benign, space-efficient and healthy mode of transport.

Specific responses to the London Assembly’s questions

What are the key concerns for (older, disabled) pedestrians in London?

Footways

  • Narrow pavements, obstacles on pavements such as cars parked on pavements (including ‘half-on, half-off’ parking), poorly located street furniture and fittings, rubbish bags and commercial advertising and encroachment
  • Poor surfaces (including icy surfaces, in winter)
  • Lack of continuity of footways at side road crossings, often even without a dropped kerb
  • Crowded narrow pavements – particularly uncomfortable and difficult for older and disabled pedestrians
  • Lighting is particularly important for more vulnerable users
  • Closely parked cars can make it difficult for pedestrians to get to and from pavements, especially when encumbered
  • TfL and local authorities’ resistance to the idea that parking provision for pedal cycles can be provided on the carriageway

Crossings and safety

  • Inability for informal crossing as traffic speeds often too high and too many lanes of traffic to cross
  • Lack of formal crossing points and poor location and quality of crossing points – few and far between; long waiting times and short crossing times; not all have tactile cone
  • A number of crossings on main roads are staggered crossings that increase crossing time and distance to be covered; are inconvenient for wheelchair users and buggy pushers as require three additional right angle turns; confusing for the same reason for visually impaired users, with the added danger that the indication of the stagger is often a small raised kerb which is a trip hazard or a raised central island which gives no indication of the stagger to a visually impaired person
  • Permitted car parking close to junctions, including junctions with side streets, can make it more difficult and dangerous to cross the major road
  • Medians (raised central traffic islands ) provided often have no dropped kerbs to allow a wheelchair user to use them
  • Pedestrian refuges are meanly proportioned and offer little protection for users, especially with children; in many cases, zebra crossings would provide a better facility for pedestrians
  • Some crossings are poorly drained (hence flooded after rain) which reduces their usefulness to pedestrians, who have to stand back for fear of being splashed by passing motorists – suggesting that design and maintenance issues need to be addressed

What should be the key focus of TfL’s road safety programmes?

Slower traffic speeds and volumes

  • Modal filtering of motor traffic to reduce rat runs
  • Treatment of all side road junctions to improve pedestrian priority and continuity of footway
  • Widening of footways so that pedestrians do not have to walk on the carriageway
  • Presumption against allowing ‘crossovers’ on footways, since these both create danger for pedestrians and degrade the walking environment
  • More frequent crossing points on desire lines that have quicker response times and longer crossing times
  • All traffic signals to have a pedestrian phase
  • Complex junctions to be simplified to allow intuitive pedestrian movement in the shortest time and along desire lines
  • Staggered crossings to be all made straight across
  • No mixing of pedestrian and cyclists on the footway in high footfall urban centres
  • Cycling improvements should not be at the cost of pedestrians.  Rather, space and time should be reallocated from motorised modes to human-powered modes.  Cycle route separation from general road traffic should be permeable for pedestrians

What changes to the pedestrian environment would encourage people to walk more?

All of the above, but with further incentives to walk more and drive less, including

  • Wider footways or landscaping as replacement for car parking spaces
  • Adequate and good quality seating along routes
  • Adequate and good quality public toilet facilities
  • Good quality bus routes (including Countdown information about bus running in real time)
  • Good quality public realm with planting and green areas and street trees for shade and air pollution reduction; also public drinking water fountains (this would also reduce lorry movements)
  • Proactive working with landlords to take responsibility for greening and brightening up their buildings, to help create more interesting and pleasant streets

Examples of good and poor practice in street design for pedestrians (in London  Borough of Wandsworth)

Good examples

  • Removal of pedestrian guardrailing, introduction of diagonal crossing at main crossroads, removal of slip road onto Lavender Hill associated with creation of small public space, as part of streetscape improvement scheme in Clapham Junction town centre
  • Good side-road entry treatments, including the recently installed entry treatments on side roads at St John’s Road, also part of Clapham Junction streetscape scheme
  • Some modal filtering examples e.g. behind Putney Exchange, which has created a network of pleasant local streets.  (But progress on modal filtering seems to have stagnated in recent years)
  • More attractive, less cluttered space around Earlsfield station and approaches on foot
Tobermory-style brightly coloured facades in Northcote Road, Battersea

Tobermory-style brightly coloured facades in Northcote Road, Battersea

Poor examples

  • Queens Circus, Battersea – currently no pedestrian crossings and failure to provide safe on-road conditions for cycling mean that this is an unpleasant location to travel around on foot, which ignores the ‘gateway’ nature of this location – both as an access point for Battersea Park and an entry point (via Chelsea Bridge) to Battersea
  • Poor conditions for pedestrians at a number of major junctions in Wandsworth – main issues are multistage crossings rather than a single crossing (e.g. crossing Wandsworth High Street at jn with Buckhold Road), delays and limited time to cross.  Dififculties also arise from lack of enforcement against encroachment by queueing drivers on signalised crossings.  TLRN generally poor in these respects, but not unique to TfL-controlled roads; a notable example being the poor quality pedestrian crossing provision at the southern end of Putney bridge at its junction with the Lower Richmond Road
  • Advertising board obstructing pavement on (otherwise pedestrian-friendly) St John's Road, Clapham Junction

    Advertising board obstructing pavement on (otherwise
    pedestrian-friendly) St John’s Road, Clapham Junction

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    Closed footway, off Nine Elms Lane during construction works

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