Plans to stop through traffic from driving through the Page Estate in Eltham have been dropped by Greenwich Council after protests from drivers.
Greenwich and Transport for London had planned to place cameras on Eltham Green Road, which is due to become part of a cycle route between Eltham High Street and Greenwich Park – which the two authorities hope will eventually feed into a new cycle route to central London.
Eltham Green Road, which feeds into Birdbrook Road in Kidbrooke, links Rochester Way and the South Circular Road. Shawbrooke Road, which links Eltham Green Road with Rochester Way, was also due to have cameras installed – effectively creating a low-traffic neighbourhood in the Page Estate, although it was never promoted as such.
While the scheme was aimed at stopping rat-runners from using the residential roads as cut-throughs – while allowing free access for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency services – a consultation also drew complaints from those living in the affected streets.
One respondent accused the council of seeking to “put a physical border in the middle of the Page Estate and separate that community”.
The cycling schemes have been funded by Transport for London with money coming from central government, with Boris Johnson insisting earlier this year that councils should “crack on” with the projects. A separate scheme involves building a cycle route from Shooters Hill Road to Greenwich Park, while TfL itself has created a cycle route along the A206 in Greenwich and Charlton.
Now a response to a local resident from council leader Danny Thorpe’s office, seen by 853, says that planners have been asked to draw up an alternative solution.
“It is clear from the range of feelings expressed in the recent consultation exercise that modal filters on the Page Estate are a sensitive issue,” the mail sent on behalf of Thorpe, which was copied to Eltham MP Clive Efford, said.
“Officers have been asked to develop alternative options that do not involve restricting motorised traffic on Birdbrook Road and Shawbrooke Road, but still create conditions that allow more people to feel confident cycling for local journeys.”
Some of the route is already in place, although cyclists are currently encouraged to use a poorly-lit path next to the A2 which is shared with pedestrians. Greenwich argues that closing side streets to through traffic will encourage people who are intimidated by high levels of traffic on the back roads to get on their bikes. Across London, there has been a 58 per cent increase in traffic on minor roads over 10 years – a period when traffic on A-roads has stayed static.
The route also includes plans for another camera filter on Kidbrooke Gardens, close to where Lewisham Council tried to place a physical filter on South Row to stop rat-running on Blackheath. Planters were removed after just a few weeks because of objections from the nearby Morden College almshouses.
Residents in Blackheath and east Greenwich are also waiting for a decision on plans to create a low-traffic neighbourhood between Maze Hill and Westcombe Hill, while a decision on the future of the existing Hills & Vales low-traffic neighbourhood in west Greenwich is expected later this year.
Of the five candidates in yesterday’s council by-election in the neighbouring Kidbrooke with Hornfair ward, two campaigned against measures to curb traffic and help cycling: independent Sharon Kent, and Conservative Andrea Borbely, who called for local referendums on each scheme.
Charlie Davis, the Conservative councillor for Eltham North, said: “Once again a lack of consultation with residents by the council leadership has meant they’ve had to perform an almighty u-turn in the face of Conservative and community opposition. If Labour councillors took the time to speak to communities they represent rather than forcing policies upon them, maybe the council wouldn’t keep finding itself in this situation.”
A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “We have listened to the feedback we received regarding the Eltham to Greenwich Park Strategic Cycle Route and there are clearly strong feelings about the proposal in our consultation plans for closures on Birdbrook Road, Shawbrooke Road and Kidbrooke Gardens to reduce through-traffic and create a safe space for people cycling.
“We’re currently analysing all the responses we received (alongside other data) before making any decisions. However, given the strength of feeling about the closures, we’re already working closely with Transport for London to explore how we can improve this route for cyclists without these modal filters.
“Updates on our low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle lanes will be announced on a scheme-by-scheme basis in due course.”
The council is posting updates at greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is.
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