Woolwich Road flyover
The Woolwich Road flyover in a rare quiet moment

A cyclist has died this morning after a collision at the Woolwich Road roundabout in east Greenwich where mayor Sadiq Khan cancelled plans to improve road safety.

The rider is reported to have been hit at about 8.20am at the A102/A206 junction, where the Blackwall Tunnel approach and Woolwich Road meet.

Khan removed the junction from two improvement programmes dating back to previous mayor Boris Johnson – Cycle Superhighway 4 and the Better Junctions programme – last year.

The narrow junction, used by thousands of heavy goods vehicles, is notorious for putting bicycles and lorries in conflict. Road markings on the junction encourage cyclists to drift to the left at the junction – a manoeuvre which often places them out of sight for lorry drivers.

Khan has also been pushing through plans for the Silvertown Tunnel, a scheme that will allow more HGVs to use the A102 northbound to reach east London.

Last summer, Greenwich Council officers – whose political leadership backed the tunnel – told the planning inquiry into the scheme that safety issues needed to be addressed if the scheme was to go ahead.

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

In May 2009, 31-year-old Adrianna Skrzypiec, from Rotherhithe, was killed while cycling home from her workplace in Charlton. A lorry driver was charged with dangerous driving but charges were dropped before the case got to court; a coroner later recorded a verdict of accidental death.

In 2014, TfL included the interchange in its Better Junctions programme to improve 33 of the capital’s worst junctions, which was intended as a response to a number of cyclists’ deaths.

But that scheme was quietly dropped after Sadiq Khan came to power, and replaced with a new project, Safer Junctions, which does not include the Woolwich Road roundabout.

The route was also due to be looked at as part of Cycle Superhighway 4. This was originally meant to run from London Bridge to Woolwich. Greenwich Council carried out some preparatory work by widening cycle lanes on the A206.

However, this was cut back by TfL – which is under financial pressure from both the loss of its government grant and Khan’s fare freeze – and will now run only as far as Deptford Creek.

A letter from Greenwich’s transportation planning and strategy officer, Kim Smith, to the Department for Transport said TfL needed to include the junction in its mitigation strategy for the Silvertown Tunnel:

“When the original junction list was agreed, the Angerstein roundabout was excluded from the applicant’s submissions as it was identified in both TfL’s Dangerous Junctions and Cycle Superhighways programmes.

“These schemes were intended to be developed and implemented prior to the [Silvertown] scheme’s completion. Both of these schemes have now been significantly delayed or removed from TfL’s Business Plan.

“Addressing the redesign of the Angerstein roundabout is a [Greenwich] priority.”

But neither TfL nor Transport Secretary Chris Grayling addressed this issue in the planning process which gave approval for the Silvertown Tunnel last week.

The flyover has long been a source of frustration for local councillors, who have struggled to push the issue up the agenda, despite it being a long-term concern for local people.

In February, Greenwich West councillor Aidan Smith raised the issue with TfL representative Gary Nolan at a scrutiny meeting, asking if Cycle Superhighway 4 could run in two sections until issues at Greenwich town centre could be resolved, which would make the junction safer.

At another scrutiny meeting last week, Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd voiced his frustration at not being able to influence changes on the area’s road network because TfL controls the A102 and has a say in what happens on the A206. Senior transport officer Tim Jackson said that the Silvertown Tunnel planning permission included a provision for councils affected by the scheme to order TfL to carry out works to mitigate its impact – which could include the Woolwich Road roundabout.

On the other side of the Blackwall Tunnel, it took two cyclists to die in three weeks at the Bow roundabout in 2011 before Transport for London installed cycle safety schemes there.

Today’s cyclist death is the second on the A206 in Greenwich this month – a 46-year-old man died last Friday after being hit by a lorry on Romney Road two days before.

1.45pm update: Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook responds to today’s news.

My condolences to the family and friends of the cyclist killed this morning in a collision at the Woolwich Road roundabout. This junction should never have been removed from the two improvement programmes that had been promised. Please look again at what can be done @SadiqKhan

— Matthew Pennycook MP (@mtpennycook) May 18, 2018

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