Transport for London says it is monitoring the effects of widened bus lanes between Charlton and Woolwich after over 2,000 people signed a petition calling for them to be removed.
The lanes have been widened between Anchor and Hope Lane and the Woolwich Ferry to assist buses and improve safety for cyclists, cutting the ordinary traffic lanes down to one in each direction.
In January TfL consulted on plans to build a segregated cycleway between Charlton and Woolwich, which would have had a similar effect, but after the coronavirus pandemic the route between Greenwich and Charlton was prioritised instead. Eventually TfL hopes there will be a continuous cycle route between Tower Bridge and Woolwich.
Bus lanes were widened as an interim measure – and introduced to Woolwich Church Street for the first time – to speed up services and to add some extra safety for cyclists. However, they have been blamed for increased congestion on Woolwich Road and Woolwich Church Street.
A petition created three weeks ago by Gagandeep Singh says there are “vehicles queuing up all day and evening”. By Thursday evening it had gained 2,359 names. One signatory claims it took them 90 minutes to travel between Woolwich and Charlton; another said: “It’s impossible to get out of the roundabout at Warspite Rd. Traffic jams are terrible all day long.”
While there has been a huge jump in traffic since the end of the first coronavirus lockdown, there has been congestion where drivers attempt to filter from two lanes to one at the junction with Anchor and Hope Lane. While the wider bus lanes – which replace narrow cycle lanes on Woolwich Road – allow cyclists to overtake buses at stops, they are not continuous. This means riders still have to take their chances with HGVs and other fast-moving traffic at roundabouts – despite the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on the route.
A Transport for London spokesperson told 853 the widened lane had been introduced as part of its Streetspace programme “to create more space for people to safely walk and cycle”.
He added: “The bus lanes push general traffic and HGVs further away from cyclists; making this corridor a much more pleasant and less intimidating route, and provide a link from Woolwich into the Cycleway that is currently being built between Greenwich town centre and charlton. These lanes are an interim measure while we work on the permanent scheme that was consulted on earlier in 2020, and which would provide a two way segregated cycle lane taking people from Woolwich all the way into Greenwich, and eventually into central London.
“Bus lanes protect buses from congestion and ensure journey times and intervals between buses are more reliable. Bus lanes will help guard against a damaging car-led recovery by improving bus journey times and safety for Londoners making journeys by public transport and the increasing proportion travelling by bike.
“Changes made as part of the Streetspace programme are being introduced on a temporary basis under temporary traffic orders, and will be monitored after implementation to ensure they deliver the expected benefits. Monitoring along the A206 corridor will include reviewing cycle flows, perception of safety, collision rates, general traffic flows and bus journey times.”
He continued: “We are reviewing the operation of the bus lanes with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and the data we are collecting is helping to inform these ongoing discussions. Where appropriate, adjustments to the scheme will be made if they aren’t performing how we expected. The new measures will be in place for up to 18 months, after which the monitoring strategy will form a key part of discussions between TfL and the council as to whether the scheme should be removed or made permanent.”
Woolwich Ferry to Anchor and Hope Lane, Charlton: Bus lanes as interim measure, funding for cycle route not yet certain
Anchor and Hope Lane to Farmdale Road, Greenwich: Work yet to start
Farmdale Road to Old Woolwich Road: Due to open early December
Old Woolwich Road to Old Royal Naval College: Uses existing routes
Old Royal Naval College to Norway Street, Greenwich: Awaiting funding application
Norway Street to Rotherhithe Tunnel: TfL in discussions with local councils, plans due in coming months
Rotherhithe Tunnel to Tower Bridge Road: Complete
Work is continuing on the cycleway between Old Woolwich Road and Farmdale Road, which will see a safer crossing put in place for riders at the Angerstein roundabout. It is due to open in early December – about two months later than planned.
The TfL spokesperson said: “This is later than originally anticipated for a number of reasons, including delays in our supply chain for temporary materials, issues with ducting identified when on site and a recent design change to Vanburgh Hill bus stops to assist bus operations.
“We are currently finalising plans for the section of cycleway between Charlton and Anchor and Hope Lane and will announce our proposals and construction timescales shortly.”
A small section of Cycleway 4 is already open between Tower Bridge and Rotherhithe Tunnel; TfL said this week that plans for the section through Deptford would be announced “in the coming months”.
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