Woolwich Road flyover, 2009
Adrianna Skrzypiec died trying to cycle around the roundabout in 2009

It’s long overdue, but the horrible Woolwich Road roundabout – where the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach meets the A206 between Greenwich and Charlton – is finally due for a revamp under TfL’s Better Junctions programme “to make them safer and less threatening for cyclists and pedestrians”.

But what we’re short on is detail – and with the flyover 33rd on a list of 33 junctions, we might have a long time to wait for that.

“These road junctions are relics of the Sixties which blight and menace whole neighbourhoods,” roared Boris Johnson in his press release, presumably unaware that his Silvertown Tunnel proposal, which will add more traffic to the flyover will simply reinforce that blight and menace in this part of town. Ho-hum.

But how to fix the junction? Should the roundabout be ripped out? It opened in 1969 as a more traditional traffic junction before the gyratory was installed in about 1980, with traffic lights being put in during the late 1990s.

Or should we be looking longer-term and doing something even more radical? After all, in 2011 the flyover was reported as being in a “poor” condition. Should we go for it and take the thing down, slowing down the A102 traffic in the process?

No other junctions in this part of south-east London are affected by the scheme – indeed, beyond two grim junctions in Rotherhither, TfL’s map doesn’t suggest we were high in its pritorities…


But there are two other road schemes in the pipeline. There’s a small plan to tweak the Shooters Hill Road/ Stratheden Road junction on Blackheath, while something bigger emerged at the weekend – Lewisham bus station closed, heralding the first steps in the Lewisham Gateway scheme, which will revamp the north end of Lewisham High Street, ripping out its dreadful roundabout in the process.

18 replies on “Woolwich Road roundabout to get a revamp – but when?”

  1. I cycled that roundabout for the first time yesterday, after getting a bit lost trying to follow signs to the peninsula from Woolwich Road. It wasn’t pleasant and there wasn’t even that much traffic.

    I would tear the whole flyover down and slow down the traffic – I was really struck by the noise the road makes as the traffic speeds along it.

    There’s no joined up thinking from Boris/TfL – the Silvertown Tunnel plan is completely at odds with pretty much all of TfL’s plans to get people healthier through active travel, reduce air pollution etc. Let’s hope it gets kicked into the long grass.

    I wonder if Ikea coming to the Sainsbury’s site (as I assume it will) could speed things up for doing something with the junction, setting aside my ideas for the flyover for a minute, maybe they could be forced to fund some cycle lane improvements in general as part of the planning application. Perhaps we’ll find out tonight?

  2. When you say take the whole thing out, surely you’re not saying making the A102 actually intersect with Woolwich Road somehow? Personally I think the current separation is a good thing for negotiating during peak traffic times.

    I agree the junction needs improving, and literally having some clear road markings would make a massive improvement. Currently there is very little in the way of defined lanes.

    There are some subtleties to the junction depending the direction of approach, but the common danger for cyclists in both directions is traffic coming across you from the right as they turn left whilst the cyclist wants to go straight on. Going westbound its traffic trying to get onto the A102 as fast as possible and concentrating mostly on trying to get through before the lights turn, rather than noting anyone on their inside.

    Going Eastbound I think the junction is even worse with there being 3 fairly undefined lanes which stop at the lights. Here the road markings should make it clear that the left lane is for A102 or the retail park only, middle lane for Charlton and Woolwich, and right for A102 southbound. I forget the number of times I’ve been on the right on the left lane in order to go straight on, and traffic in the middle lane has cut across me to go to Sainsburys.

    A radical rethink of the junction is welcomed, but simply doing the cheap/obvious things in the short term to throw some paint about to better define the lanes and, to allow all road users to recognise that most cyclists just want to go straight through the junction, shouldn’t be too hard?

  3. I am absolutely in favour of improving he junction, but the needs of all road users should be considered – drivers as well as cyclists and pedestrians. Some form of improvement is long overdue and anything that makes the traffic flow more freely must be welcomed. Taking out the flyover would be horrendous for local road users bringing them into direct contact with the queuing traffic for the Blackwall Tunnel. Utter madness to even suggest it.

  4. The entire junction is a nightmare for all. What happened to the downgrade of Woolwich Road?

    I’m interested me in your little snippet about the Stratheden Road junction on the A2. I have been moaning at Tfl and the council about the commuter coaches that illegally turn right off the A2 onto Stratheden Road during the rush hour when the A102 is backed up.

    After their illegal turn they go down Westcombe Hill to rejoin the A102 later. The roads are not designed for them (have you seen the potholes on Westcombe Hill??, no need for traffic calming!!), there are loads of kids/mums around and they add to bad congestion around the Standard.

    My record ‘illegal coach count’ over 10 minutes is 17. There were 10 this morning. These coaches are using Greenwich as a rat run. They contribute nothing to our economy and in fact cost us.

    Response from Greenwich/Tfl so far?

    One computer generated acknowledgement from Tfl.

  5. This roundabout was supposed to be worked on about 3 years back from that years LIP funds. It was on the list of projects Greenwich were to spend money on. I never saw anything happen.

    Removing the flyover would never work as things stand. It would snare up traffic (and buses which are generally overlooked in things like this) for miles around and simply drive more to cars which have greater maneuverability and are far more comfortable if sitting static for an hour. It’s nowhere near feasible until there’s at least 3 more public transport crossings and they stretch way south into southern Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley boroughs. Similarly, in the north to north Newham, Barking etc along with a crossing from Kent to Essex further along the Thames. Every junction for miles around would be blocked without that. I’ve seen enough junction re-modellings that have only led to more traffic and bus hold ups which didn’t improve in time. The hoping modal shift doesn’t happen because that modeal alternative is not there for the majority of journeys in south east London.

  6. Chris, the Kent commuter coaches used to rat run down from Westcombe Hill, Combedale Road, Denham Street and then Tunnel Avenue to get onto the A102. It was awful – Kings Ferry, Chalkwell, Buzz Lines and Clarkes Coaches being the culprits then. In rush hour I lost count of the number of coaches whizzing past our house. We complained to several of them about the short cuts their drivers were taking. I seem to recall the response was that they were free to use any route. I’m guessing scheduled routes must have previously had to stick to a set route? The misery in Tunnel Avenue only stopped when the bus access point was intoduced at the bottom of Westcombe Hill. Even today you see commuter coaches coming down Maze Hill and even taking short cuts past the Sainsbury’s and B&Q.

  7. re coaches using Westcombe Hill: as I understand it, these commuter coaches run under something called a London Service Permit.


    If you look at some of the registrations in the LSP bulletins, many of them have registered the use of Westcombe Hill as an ‘alternative route’. I’m not sure what the restriction is on the Shooters Hill Road/Stratheden Road right turn but if it’s ‘local bus services’ only, I think the coaches would be OK so long as they have an LSP. I’d be interested to hear what TfL say and if I’ve interpreted this correctly.

    This anorak is really getting awfully warm…..

  8. Slowing down the A102, what benefit would that have in any way? Why not put some speed bumps along it whist you’re at it and a couple of zebra crossings?
    Keeping the A102 traffic away from local traffic is the answer at that junction but will need more space. This would make things easier for locals whilst through traffic goes on its merry way.
    As for Stratheden Road junction, I used to ride past that daily and it was always a heart in mouth time where even relocating the food van wouldn’t make much difference given the attitude of drivers that appear to be ‘late’. Interestingly, for all the vehicles that maneuver illegally, I’ve never seen any Police that frequent the food van get involved – I guess the bacon sandwiches are too good.

  9. I’m not sure how the Woolwich roundabout can be significantly improved without re-engineering much of SE London (SE England, maybe); as long as the A102 is a major route through London, and Woolwich Rd is the way into Greenwich from the east it’s going to attract traffic. They could start by improving some of the basics, though: re-surfacing it, putting clear lane markings in (I’d be surprised if TfL aren’t breaking some laws with the state that the markings – particularly the stop lines – are in at the moment), lighting it properly, and re-thinking how pedestrians get across it. The railings, footpaths, etc, are all in a poor state, which, along with the rubbish and general gloom, creates the feeling that you’re not really meant to be crossing it by foot.

  10. A couple of benefits to slowing down the traffic on the A102:

    1. To encourage drivers to stop seeing it as a high speed cut alternative to the M25. Encourage HGVs to use the M25 instead.

    2. To make it less noisy and generally unpleasant for the poor sods that have to live right next to it.

    Why should that area be treated as if it’s “out of town” – it’s a residential area that’s been wrecked by a giant bypass. I’m talking about redressing the balance.

  11. ned – thanks for your observations about the LSPs. Must admit, never heard of them!

    But all the same I would argue that a coach that doesn’t serve the Royal Borough in any way cannot be called ‘local’. If they want to turn right on to Stratheden Road then they must obey the law and use the slip road onto the heath to turn right, as law-abiding motorists do.

    Steve – think you’ve mistaken where Stratheden Road is. In no way would I ever argue for a relocation of the hut! Too much of an institution, despite the Blackheath Society!!

  12. Thanks for the heads up on the Stratheden Road junction. I’ve left my comments.

    Sadly they’ve completely missed the ball on what needs to be done. The cyclist only left turn onto Shooters Hill is pointless (cyclists who would want to turn left cut across the Heath anyway – who would ever use it?). It pushes all traffic from Blackheath up to the nightmare that is the Prince of Wales roundabout. This is at constant Gridlock with completely unobserved and badly marked ‘Keep Clear’ markings as it is.

    What IS required is a light controlled crossing at the top of Stratheden Road so parents with kids can cross safely. The Northbound lane is always ‘green’ to somebody, and it’s impossible to see the cars turning left from Shooters Hill Road until they’re on top of you. That’s not even mentioned.

    Oh – and red light cameras on the junction too.

  13. Clare – I hadn’t seen your earlier comments on the A102 when I posted earlier. Anyway, I heartily agree with them. I knew someone involved in building the M25 and he said the original design was that it would be motorway access only. It was meant to be a London ring-road in that it would be used by traffic avoiding London, not entering it.

    Instead there are now so many access and exit points to it, it is the car park we know. The majority of journeys on the thing are for three exits or less.

    The A2/102 attracted traffic because it meant people could access a free Thames crossing point a lot more easily. Also, it saved fuel, no need for east Kent or Essex.

    If there was a way of identifying (and then banning) traffic that uses the tunnel as a short cut to cross London then traffic volume would be greatly reduced IMHO.

  14. Illustrates my point about the A102. You realise loads of those cars have come off the motorway only to go straight on, just to queue jump. Others are heading for the retail car park to park for free, blocking spaces close to Sainsbury’s so that my wife with mobility problems cant’ park close enough to use Sainsbury’s.

    Not only that, they block other cars heading west!

    PS – I ‘ve got a great idea! Another tunnel at Silvertown using the same road for access will solve things beautifully…..:-(

  15. Quite right Chris, I’ll file that under ‘another junction that needs a bit of a look at’!

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