Greenwich plans
From the 2019 consultation: A view from the gates of the Old Royal Naval College looking down College Approach

Plans to take out the one-way system in Greenwich town centre could be brought forward as part of proposals to make it easier to people to walk and cycle during the coronavirus pandemic, Greenwich Council has said.

A council statement issued on Tuesday said that it ask Transport for London to fund a trial scheme, which follows a consultation carried out in January 2019.

College Approach and the northern half of King William Walk, on the north and east side of Greenwich Market, would be reserved for pedestrians along with a dedicated cycle track. Nelson Road and Greenwich Church Street, the streets to the south and west of the market, would become two-way streets.

However, the council says it would need funding from Transport for London – which itself is facing a financial crisis as a result of the emergency – before it could go ahead with the trial. It said 76% of respondents to the 2019 consultation supported the plans.

While other councils, including neighbouring Lewisham, have started putting in place plans to open up roads to walkers and cyclists – and with the government encouraging some workers in England to return to their jobs from Wednesday – Greenwich says it is waiting for funding from TfL and has formed “a Streetspace Taskforce to identify, develop and implement measures that can be put in place quickly and to develop proposals for TfL”.

“We are focusing on areas we know or expect to be the busiest, for example, town centres, high streets and around green spaces,” it says.

It says it is looking at:

  • widening footpaths in town centres and around Greenwich Park
  • filtering more residential streets to reduce through traffic but maintain access for cyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles
  • creating more School Streets (schemes which close roads to vehicles when schools open and close)
  • bringing forward plans for the Greenwich to Woolwich cycle route

It adds: “Woolwich is the fourth busiest bus hub in London, with 18 bus routes, and presents a big social distancing challenge. We’ve identified areas where temporary measures will need to be implemented.

“In Eltham town centre our priority is to suspend footway parking to create space to queue at shops and walk along the street, disabled parking will still be provided. Protection for cyclists will also be added to the cycle lanes on the high street.”

On Friday, the government said it expected local authorities to make significant changes to road layouts, and council leader Danny Thorpe insisted that Greenwich would go ahead with schemes.

Plans to remove the Greenwich one-way system were mooted in the lead-up to the Olympics, but Transport for London rejected the proposals in 2011 because those plans merely involved shifting the one-way system to Norman Road, west of the town centre.

The current proposal junks the idea of a gyratory completely, and follows similar schemes at Elephant & Castle and Archway where parts of one-way systems have been removed and replaced with public spaces.

Transport for London says it expects to lose £4 billion this year as a result of the collapse in travel because of the pandemic. It receives no day-to-day government funding, and there are fears that a bailout could involve the scrapping of the Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham. Greenwich is also facing financial worries as a result of the crisis, with the town hall not expecting the government to cover all its emergency spending.

Papers released ahead of a Greenwich cabinet meeting next Monday say that Transport for London is redirecting funds from its “local implementation plans” – money allocated towards borough projects – to support social distancing and to “facilitate a strategic cycle network”.

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