The junction of the South Circular Road at Shooters Hill is notorious for collisions – and those who live near by often have to pick up the pieces, with two deaths in the past 16 years.
Locals have had enough and want to see action from Greenwich Council and Transport for London, writes DAN O’LOGHLEN.
The warped pavement railings around the Shooters Hill traffic lights serve as a grim reminder to pedestrians that this intersection is an accident blackspot.
Stand for a minute or two at rush hour. Horns will pierce your ears as drivers jostle to make it through the lights, often after amber.
This is an important junction, funnelling vehicles between Blackheath, Eltham, Welling and Woolwich. Heavy goods vehicles make their way past Woolwich Common to the ferry. The stretch leading down to the junction from Shooters Hill is a magnet for speeding. Vehicles pick up speed as they come down the incline from the second highest point in London.
Transport for London’s data reveals worrying statistics. In the four years between 2016 and 2019 there were an average of 18 collisions a year at the four-way traffic lights and 11 on Shooters Hill itself. Since 2006 two people have lost their lives on Shooters Hill.
The junction and Shooters Hill itself have different custodians. Greenwich Council has responded to queries about Shooters Hill in a timely manner, expressing concern about the situation. Councillors have obtained speed monitors and called for their town hall to resolve the situation.
But the traffic light junction, part of the South Circular Road, is managed by TfL. Following an enquiry by Clive Efford, the Eltham MP, TfL said it would look at the issue but could not “commit to a scheme with certainty” due to questions over long-term budgets.
TfL also said that it was removing guardrails on its road network because streets with them had more collisions, but there was no reference to the Shooters Hill-Well Hall Road junction in the list supplied.
Local residents have had enough. They have got together to improve safety in the area. In June, they began a petition which quickly gathered support from a local neighbourhood watch group, Christ Church Primary School, Shooters Hill Sixth Form College and Greenwich Free School.
At the time of writing, the petition has more than 600 signatures. It calls for traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and/or a 20mph limit outside Christ Church School. It also calls for pedestrian lights at the junction at Shooters Hill and Well Hall Road and, lastly, filter lights for cars turning right.
The Annan family live in the Old Police Station development which overlooks the junction. It is not unusual for them to be woken in the middle of the night by the sound of collisions and immediately worrying for the safety of anyone involved.
A phone call to emergency services quickly follows with the job of resettling their young family to sleep.
In July a collision on Shooters Hill involved a manager at a local restaurant crossing the road after a shift at midnight. He was hit by an unknown vehicle with the driver refusing to stop.
Jacquie Howell, a local resident, arrived home to see police on the scene. Jacquie and her husband comforted the victim with a blanket and waited with him for the ambulance. The next day, his wife came to thank Jacquie and said her husband was seriously ill in hospital awaiting his second operation after significant internal injuries.
Jacquie says: “We need to have traffic calming measures on the hill as a matter of urgency. It’s a busy road and many pedestrians use it. This gentleman was very fortunate to not have lost his life.” At the time of writing, police have appealed for witnesses.
Christ Church Primary School sits just up from the site of that accident and has been trying to get action for the last couple of years. Before budget cuts, the school had a lollipop person on the crossing outside the school. Then the service had to be removed.
Parents, many of whom walk with their children to the school, are well aware of the issues and often report rush hour collisions to warn others. After a recent plea the lollipop person was reinstated, but nothing was done to slow drivers down.
Half-term week has just begun, but next week children will be making their way to school once again. Hopefully, the authorities will be taking action on the junction and Shooters Hill soon, and the railings won’t be further bent out of shape.
Until then, sadly, the collisions continue, and local residents continue their push for action.
The residents’ petition is at change.org. DAN O’LOGHLEN is coordinator of Red Lion Lane Neighbourhood Watch and secretary of Shooters Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel.