Planters have been installed this morning on a notorious rat-run in Blackheath, closing the road as a through route for vehicles in a move which Lewisham Council hopes will make it easier to walk and cycle.
South Row has been closed off with planters outside the Princess of Wales pub, blocking both it and Paragon Place at Prince of Wales Road.
The planters have been installed as part of an emergency scheme to make it easier for people to get around during the coronavirus pandemic. Together with adjacent Kidbrooke Gardens and Westbrook Road – both in Greenwich borough – South Row is a heavily-used cut-through between Kidbrooke Park Road and Blackheath Village.
The rat-run crosses the border between the two boroughs, and one of the first drivers to be inconvenienced was in a Greenwich Council van. Asking Lewisham’s contractors what was going on, he exclaimed: “Nobody tell us what’s going on!”
While many have wanted the rat run closed for many years, the scheme has been rushed through to encourage walking and cycling. Two more sets of planters have been planted close to The Paragon, but there is just one, easily-missable sign on the Greenwich side of the border, and nothing to deter drivers from using Kidbrooke Gardens at Kidbrooke Park Road.
There have been fears that rat-runners will simply divert to the Blackheath Cator Estate or use Paragon Place and Weymss Road to access Blackheath Village, meaning the scheme backfires. Drivers could be seen diverting into Pond Road, one of the estate roads, this morning.
Other worries expressed on a consultation page set up by Lewisham Council include access to the Princess of Wales pub’s car park and a three-tonne weight limit on Kidbrooke Gardens affecting shopping deliveries and Greenwich Council bin trucks. Some, though, were simply dismissive, saying if people wanted to socially distance, they could use the heath. “There isn’t a problem. There is a whole heath to walk on. This is probably the most ridiculous idea I have seen,” one said.
The scheme could be in place for up to 18 months, and will be reviewed to see if it can be made permanent. Visit lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is to send feedback.
There are still no details of Greenwich’s plans for safer walking and cycling, despite a decision from cabinet member Sizwe James having been due yesterday. More pavement space has been created in Greenwich town centre, Eltham High Street and around a bus stop in Vincent Road, Woolwich.
Last Friday, Greenwich announced it planned to create a cycle route in Blackwall Lane, east Greenwich; a route from Abbey Wood to Woolwich, effectively extending TfL’s plans to create a route from Greenwich to Woolwich; and a route from Eltham to Greenwich Park which would incorporate the Kidbrooke Gardens/South Row route. It has previously announced plans to pedestrianise part of Greenwich town centre. It is asking Transport for London to pay for the schemes.
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