WERTER AND OXFORD ROADS TRAFFIC COUNTS
Between 7.00 and 11.00am on the 9th of December 2020 volunteers from the Putney Society and Wandsworth Living Streets, together with local residents, conducted traffic counts at locations on Werter Road, Oxford Road and Putney High Street, as shown in Annex 1. The purpose was to :
- understand the role that Werter Road and Oxford Road play in the strategic road network. Both are classed as residential roads and yet carry a substantial proportion of through traffic. This conflicts with council policy for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods  and TfL policies for promotion of healthy streets and active travel.
- suggest changes to existing traffic management arrangements to resolve the above.
- Due to the “no right turn” for westbound traffic on Upper Richmond Road into Putney High Street, northbound traffic on Oxford Road amounted to 1,257 vehicles (314 per hour) during the count period. Of these some 30% (130 vehicles per hour) use Werter Road to enter the High Street. It is considered that these are unacceptable traffic volumes for roads that are classified as residential.
- Traffic entering the High Street from Werter Road accounts for 15% of the northbound flow, unduly interferes with southbound traffic and delays the passage of northbound traffic.
- During the morning peak 91% of traffic using Werter Road is rat running. The proportion using Oxford Road is not known but is assumed to be similar.
- A significant proportion of northbound drivers descending Putney Hill avoid the traffic lights at Upper Richmond Road by using a rat run of Carlton Drive, Oxford Road and Werter Road.
These conclusions support the following proposal.
- Reconfigure the junction between Upper Richmond Road and the High Street to allow westbound traffic on Upper Richmond Road to turn right into the High Street. This will reduce the burden of traffic on Oxford Road by transferring through traffic from a residential street to a main road, in line with council and TfL policy. However, to achieve this it will be necessary to discourage the continued use of Oxford Road by,
- closing the western end of Werter Road to eliminate rat running traffic, and safeguarding against diversion to Disraeli Road by,
- adjusting the right turn phasing of the traffic signals at the junction of Disraeli Road with the High Street.
This proposal will not materially affect the flow of northbound traffic on the High Street because this is determined by the capacity of the junction with Putney Bridge Road and Lower Richmond Road. Whether or not northbound vehicles gain access to the High Street from Werter Road (or Disraeli Road) will not alter this. Queues to turn right may result on Upper Richmond Road. However, sufficient width exists to accommodate a right turn lane so as not to impede straight on traffic. If queues to turn right do occur it is preferable that these take place on a main road rather than a residential street. (Queues on Werter Road can extend the full length to Oxford Road).
Closure of the western end of Werter Road will require its remaining length to operate as a two way road accessed only from Oxford Road. Traffic will be confined to residents and those wishing to visit Sainsbury’s and/or the Community Church. It is not envisaged that this will create any difficulties as the volume of traffic will be considerably reduced. Only 10% to 20% of vehicles that currently use the road have a reason to be there. Moreover, its width is no less than many two way residential roads in Putney, Fawe Park Road being a good example. However, cancellation of some on-street parking bays will be necessary to create passing places.
A further advantage of closing Werter Road is that the area between the entrance to Sainsbury’s basement car park and the High Street could be made into a pedestrianised civic space, an amenity that is lacking in the town centre. The only vehicles that would be permitted to enter the area would be Sainsbury’s deliveries (at designated times only), emergency vehicles and cycles. Details of this suggestion are contained in a separate document entitled, “Werter Road Civic Space : Putney”, dated 21 November 2020.
The main findings are summarised below. Tabulated results are included in Annex 2 and cover the periods 7.00-11.00am and the peak period of 7.00-9.00am.
1 Werter Road
- A total of 521 vehicles used Werter Road between 7.00 and 11.00am. This equates to 130 vehicles per hour, more than 2 vehicles per minute, well above an acceptable level for a road classed as residential.
- During the peak period of 7.00 to 9.00am, 300 vehicles travelled on the road, increasing the intensity of traffic to 150 per hour, or one vehicle every 24 seconds.
- Approximately 80% of vehicles turned right to join the northbound traffic on the High Street.
- 70% of vehicles accessed Werter Road from the northbound flow of traffic on Oxford Road.
- From 7.00 to 9.00am 52 vehicles entered Sainsbury’s basement car park and another 61 vehicles parked on the street. Taken together these show that only some 20% of vehicles had a reason to visit Werter Road whereas some 80% were rat running. During the peak of 7.00-9.00am rat running increased to 91% of vehicles.
2 Oxford Road
- 1,257 northbound and 991 southbound vehicles were counted between 7.00-11.00am. Together the total flow in both directions amounted to 2,248, an average of 562 per hour, almost 10 vehicles per minute.
- 378 (30%) of northbound vehicles turned left into Werter Road. Only 16% of southbound vehicles turned right into Werter Road.
- The total number of northbound vehicles (between Disraeli and Werter Roads) is almost 60% of the northbound vehicles on the High Street (between Chelverton and Werter Roads). This shows that a road classified as a residential is actually part of the strategic road network.
- It was not possible to determine the proportion of traffic that is rat running. However, from casual observation it is estimated that most (90% or more) uses Oxford Road to access the High Street (via Disraeli, Werter or Putney Bridge Roads) in order to cross the Thames at Putney Bridge.
3 Putney High Street (Northbound only)
- Of the 2,165 vehicles that comprise the northbound flow almost half (48%) were private cars or taxis. Heavy goods vehicles, including buses, accounted for 11%.
- From 7.00 to11.00am cycles represented 13% of total vehicles, rising to 17% during the peak of 7.00-9.00am.
- 386 vehicles turned right from Werter Road to join the High Street’s northbound traffic, increasing the total flow to 2,551. This means that rat running traffic on Werter Road accounts for 15% of the total northbound flow on the High Street (after Werter Road).
- The ability to turn right from Werter Road onto the High Street is greatly assisted by :
- the absence of traffic signals, unlike Disraeli and Putney Bridge Roads, and,
- the bus stop immediately to the north of the junction between Werter Road and the High Street. While passengers get on or off at the stop southbound traffic is blocked thereby enabling vehicles from Werter Road to move into the southbound lane. Northbound traffic has to admit them in order to unblock the southbound flow.
These attributes account for the popularity of Werter Road by rat running drivers to access the High Street and thence cross the river.
- Knowledge of the above has resulted in a significant proportion of the drivers descending Putney Hill avoiding the traffic lights at the junction with Upper Richmond Road by turning right into Carlton Drive, then left onto Upper Richmond Road, right into Oxford Road and finally left into Werter Road.
4 Commuting Traffic
The count took place during Covid Tier 2 restrictions which may have influenced decisions about mode of transport (a preference for private motorised vehicles rather than public transport). Notwithstanding the above, cars or taxis (mostly occupied by a single person) accounted for a disproportionate amount of the overall traffic and illustrates the function of residential roads for commuter movement.
Car or taxis accounted for :
- 72% of Werter Road vehicles that turned left or right onto the High Street.
- 67% of the total flow on Oxford Road (in both directions).
ANNEX 1 : COUNT LOCATIONS
ANNEX 2 : COUNT RESULTS
For Annex 1 and Annex 2 please refer to PDF file here
 Paper 20-134, Improving and Encouraging Active Travel, dated the 4th of March 2020, which resolves, “working in conjunction with TfL and local residents, scope out potential Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across the Borough, with areas prioritised based on a clearly defined set of criteria, such as known incidence of rat-running, concentrations of vulnerable members of the community such as school children, and other criteria and the support of local residents;”.