The West Greenwich traffic scheme ‘experimental’ period was covertly extended by executive action in August 2021. Experimental ‘modifications’ required for the extension include the notorious peak hours opening of Hyde Vale. This was intended to relieve displaced traffic that has plagued East Greenwich and Trafalgar Road.
Hyde Vale was closed as part of the original scheme, resulting in a drop in daily traffic from 1,120 to 650. Opening this road in the morning peak has created a route to ease congestion in East Greenwich and on Trafalgar Road caused by the scheme. But the scheme also channels morning peak traffic into Royal Hill, threatening the safety of primary school children at James Wolfe School, and stepping up existing disruption to pedestrians, local shops and community businesses - the kind of 'rat run' the scheme was supposed to stop.
A lack of signs for motorists means that few know about the new route. But as traffic finds the new pathway, the worst effects could be felt after the end of the experimental period in February. The new peak hours opening is a sham that could herald a long term disaster for Royal Hill, the area's major pedestrian thoroughfare and shopping street. Royal Hill is already a 'boundary' road following the barriers brought in during August 2020.
The consultation asks whether residents and road users approve the opening and believe it makes the scheme more 'equitable'. This limited opening will funnel all traffic down one route, leaving spacious Crooms Hill, King George Street, Point Hill, as well as Maidenstone Hill (and adjacent streets) still benefitting from traffic reductions. Objecting to the new opening means the Council must think again about the traffic chaos caused by the scheme from Creek Road to Westcombe Hill.
The final question on the consultation provides an opportunity to vote to dump the overall scheme and start afresh. This question asks: ‘Overall, do you support or object to the Experimental Traffic Order that has been made to close various roads in the West Greenwich LTN to through traffic?’
‘Object’ is the answer that could allow a majority of road users, including pedestrians and public transport users to bring an end to the scheme. The consultation can be found at https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/west-greenwich-low-traffic-neighbourhood
It is the only chance to scrap the Scheme and make a fresh start. It could open the way for the Council’s more recent promise of a broader, fairer borough transport strategy. Since it was installed in August 2020, the Scheme has increased the daily vehicle tally of 28,000 on Blackheath Hill, causing life-threatening additional congestion and pollution. Scrapping the scheme will help reduce the nightmare of overloaded boundary rounds. Government traffic figures show that while pandemic traffic reduced vehicles numbers everywhere, heavy goods vehicles on Blackheath Hill increased by 17 per cent. The Blackheath Hill junction with Greenwich South Street has no pedestrian phase, increasing accident risks as displaced traffic travels around the area.
The Scheme has proved to be unworkable from the start, endangering the community and failing to solve area-wide traffic problems.
Other modifications include converting three road-blocking modal filters to ANPR (camera recognition) barriers. This followed a wave a protest by the London Ambulance and other emergency services, about critical delays caused by ‘modal filters’. (Dust carts and black taxi cabs are now also permitted to cross the ANPR filters.)
Councillors now accept that their programme of successive closures in neighbouring areas, together with the loss of road space to the cycle superhighway, compounds congestion and is having a disastrous impact on borough residents reliant on buses, vans and cars, and emergency services. A councillor has privately described the situation as the “perfect storm”.
In June 2021, Cllr Sarah Merrill the new Council Transportation leader, announced a fresh start to the Borough’s traffic problems, calling a halt to new LTNs, dismantling barriers all over the Borough and promising a fairer share of traffic nuisance. But the West Greenwich scheme continues, with the prospect of permanent installation in February.