There is still no confirmation on the date for the commissioning of the other cycling facilities and Southwark has not responded to concerns raised in the recent safety audit. The Society has now written to the relevant Council Cabinet member asking for action to be taken.
Letter by email to:
Cllr Darren Merrill The Cabinet Suite 160 Tooley Street SE1 2QH
Re: Townley Road/East Dulwich Grove junction
Following a question from Councillor Anne Kirby at the last Southwark Council Assembly meeting you said that you would be happy to hear from the Dulwich Society regarding local residents’ concerns over the unfinished works at this junction.
On the positive side, there is no dispute amongst users, and nearby residents, that the changes have improved the pedestrian experience at the junction and that it is easier, and safer, for school children to cross using the diagonal crossings.
On the negative side, despite promises by officers, there have been no further safety audits carried out, and it is now more than 3 months since the revised junction became operative. I refer you to the Interim Stage 3 Road Safety Audit Exception Report on the Council’s website where several of the concerns raised by the audit team were denied or ignored by council officers. The disagreement between the two parties remains unresolved.
I will now deal with our concerns over pedestrian & cyclist safety:
Pavement build out at corner of Townley Road & East Dulwich Grove (EDG) - The substantial pavement build-out on the corner of Townley/East Dulwich Grove opposite JAGS means that coaches and cars turning left from Townley into EDG have a very sharp turn to make. This often results in larger vehicles having to stray over the central white line on EDG as they make the turn impacting on both motorists and cyclists planning to turn right into Townley Road (see item 2 below) The only alternative is for them to clip the corner of the pavement while making the turn. This is not acceptable and the crossing patrollers are very concerned about this potentially dangerous manoeuvre.
Cyclists Advanced Stop Line on East Dulwich Grove (EDG) - Large vehicles, mainly coaches, turning left from Townley Road into East Dulwich Grove are frequently overrunning the cyclists’ advanced stop line on EDG heading North East. As above, the cause is the very large build-out at the Southern corner of the junction - which was highlighted previously by the two interim safety audits for the junction. We do not accept the council's response to the point in the safety audit, this is dangerous and intimidating for cyclists, and the size of the build-out should be reviewed.
Advanced Green Light for Cyclists - These are intended to help cyclists crossing from Townley and Green Dale. Initially they worked in sync with the main traffic lights but they are now giving cyclists a head start as planned - they were commissioned in Nov\Dec last year. We have timed the head start at 4 seconds which does not seem enough for cyclists to get across East Dulwich Grove safely before cars start turning. The original AECOM junction design suggested a time lapse in the order of 8 seconds – why was this changed?
East Dulwich Grove to Townley Road Right Turn Filter - For the first few months of operation this filter was only working randomly, leaving vehicles stranded in middle of junction, or inadvertently crossing on red. This was very dangerous. The problem was fixed by TFL in November last year and is now working most of the time. A recent check showed that it worked 9 times out of 10. Is this variable level of performance acceptable to the Council?
No protection for cyclists turning from East Dulwich Grove into Townley Road. The re-designed junction removed the right turn "pocket" and the protecting island. This leaves cyclists turning right quite exposed. The council should consider putting in some sort of protection for cyclist making this turn.
Poor protection for cyclists crossing from Green Dale to Townley Road. Several of the schemes proposed by AECOM had road markings ("elephant's feet") to make it more obvious that this is a right of way and to reduce risk of "right hooking" from cars turning right from Townley into EDG. The final scheme does not have these and we assume this is because they are not allowed due to the introduction of the diagonal pedestrian crossing. Cyclists get some protection from the traffic lights head start but, as mentioned above, this is currently very short. Should this be re-assessed?
Waiting Lanes\Bays for nervous cyclists - not implemented - The "final" design proposed to replace the waiting bays with waiting lanes, protected by a physical barrier (on the lines of a 60 cm strip), designed to work in conjunction with a secondary ‘cyclists only’ traffic light green phase. This has not been implemented. Some more experienced cyclists have told us that, in their view, it was a complex, over-engineered solution which would not be used by, and could actually increase danger, for them. It would also increase congestion at peak times by reducing the available width for vehicles turning from Townley into EDG. Less experienced cyclists tell us that at the moment cars form 2 informal lanes and this leads to traffic overlapping the bike lane – which they find very dangerous (and appears to defeats the object of having a bike lane). There should be some better means of filtering traffic into a single lane and away from the bike lane - either by signage, a raised bump on the outside of the lane, or even regular traffic enforcement / fines. It is particularly dangerous when there are two cars at the lights as the left hand vehicle is forced right up against the bikes.
‘Copenhagen’ right turns - not implemented - These were in the approved design but had disappeared in the final one. Cyclists who commented at the time did not think they would be used much but they were used as a reason not to provide protection for cyclists turning right into Townley from EDG (see point 5 above). The Council should consider a right turn pocket as an alternative.
If you feel a meeting with officers on site between 8-9am when the problems are most obvious, we would be happy to arrange it.
Ian McInnes Chair Dulwich Society
cc (by email)
Helen Hayes MP Councillor Jon Hartley – College Ward Councillor Andy Simmons – College Ward Councillor James Barber – East Dulwich Ward Councillor Rosie Shimell – East Dulwich Ward Councillor Charlie Smith – East Dulwich Ward Councillor Anne Kirby - Village Ward Councillor Jane Lyons - Village Ward Councillor Michael Mitchell - Village Ward