Saturday 3 January 2015

Vauxhall Gyratory Consultation Response

I do not normally respond to consultations, particularly in London, mostly because I feel that I would be talking to myself. However, this is an important scheme, and I felt that somebody needed to take a considered look at this, and say something.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing in response to the consultation on Vauxhall Gyratory.

I note that the main one-way system around Vauxhall is planned to be removed. However, the smaller one-way system in the north-eastern corner (Kennington Lane / Durham Street / Harleyford Road) is to be retained, I see, except that the one-ways are now planned to be reversed, so that they operate in the opposite direction.

The main vehicle flows will be as per this simple map:

A202 : orange / A3036 : dark blue / A3204 - A3205 : green
A203 : light blue

Between South Lambeth Road (A203) and, say, Vauxhall Bridge (A202), the northbound route will be different from the southbound route.

For a larger version of this map click here

Between Kennington Lane (A3204) and Nine Elms Lane (A3205), the main route would be via South Lambeth Road and Parry Street. That group of cyclists identified as the Strong and Fearless would probably find it quicker also to use this route. However, most utility cyclists would, I think, prefer to jump on the CS5 route underneath the viaduct, and then head south on Wandsworth Road (see red-coloured route below).

The works planned for the Vauxhall Gyratory do not preclude the possibility of a Quietway route through the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (green-coloured route), which I regard as a positive. However, given that the Mayor has said of these changes that they would be better than Amsterdam, the retention of the one-ways in the north-eastern corner, coupled with the fact that literally no cycle facilities at all are planned for the one-way section of Kennington Lane, means that this scheme falls somewhat short, in my opinion.

I would like to understand why installing some form of cycling provision on the northern edge of Kennington Lane (at least as far as the junction with Durham Street) has not been proposed.

You can see from the image above that the one-way system under discussion has been reversed, with the aim "to reduce queues on the approach to the viaduct". Thus there are now four traffic lanes on the Kennington Lane one-way, two to go straight on to Vauxhall Bridge, and two to go south to Battersea and Wandsworth.

In the year 2000, the average number of vehicles passing through Check Point 18463 (Kennington Lane one-way) each day was 29,357. This number has been falling steadily ever since, and in 2013 stood at 21,677 (26% fall).

We see a similar pattern through CP 8478 (Harleyford Road one-way): 33,437 motor vehicles in 2000, down to 22,883 in 2013 (31% fall).

Westbound-motor traffic on the A202 has just a single lane, all the way up Kennington Oval, all the way up Harleyford Road, and all the way up Durham Street. There it joins with westbound-motor traffic on the A3204, and well, have you seen that?

A3204 approaching the junction with Durham Street
Image from Google StreetView

So a single lane of westbound-motor traffic joins up with another single lane of westbound-motor traffic, and both feed into a one-way street. One plus one makes two, of course, which means that two lanes would be needed to accommodate all of the traffic through the one-way section, right?

Kennington Lane near the junction with Harleyford Road (the one-way
is to be reversed, and space set aside for four lanes of motor traffic).
Image from GoogleStreetView

TfL themselves say that Vauxhall’s potential to flourish is held back because it is dominated by traffic. They want to create a thriving centre for Vauxhall, they say, to make it a better, safer, more vibrant place for everyone who lives, works and travels through it.

This is interesting: "During peak hours, public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians account for 90% of all journeys, with motorised vehicles accounting for only 10%. However the current layout means that vehicles dominate, making it intimidating for pedestrians and cyclists."

TfL say that the proposals are still in the early stages, "with further development required particularly at Wandsworth Rd / Parry Street and Kennington Lane / Durham Street locations."

I set out to understand why some form of cycle provision had not been proposed on Kennington Lane. I still don't understand, and would be grateful for any light that you are able to shed on this issue.

Yours etc.

* * *

Tom Harrison from the London Cycling Campaign has said (source):

"I believe we need a dense grid of cyclable routes (roughly 400m x 400m). These need to be direct and enable everyone to cycle where they want to go. Much of this can be achieved on quiet roads, especially if you filter to make them quiet enough. But not all roads can be filtered, and therefore these need segregated tracks (to ensure risk averse cyclists are able to go on these streets). That is my vision, more or less. We also need to work with the way the political wind blows, which means supporting a scheme and trying to make it the best it can be to fit into the long-term plan."

I asked Tom which long-term plan he had in mind, but he wouldn't say. If he was thinking of the LCC-proposed grid, or the Sustrans-proposed grid, or the TfL-proposed grid, this would explain a lot.

It seems, at any rate, that the omission of a cyclable route on Kennington Lane was actually planned. How can this be?

Cycle Infrastructure Design (LTN 2/08) is very clear: "Networks should serve all the main destinations, and new facilities should offer an advantage in terms of directness and / or reduced delay compared with existing provision."

The National Planning and Policy Framework—which is in fact a material consideration in the determination of planning applications—is equally clear: the transport system "needs to be balanced in favour of sustainable transport modes, giving people a real choice about how they travel."

So when Tom says that we need a dense grid of cyclable routes which are direct and enable everyone to cycle where they want to go, there's absolutely no argument.

The second of the LCC's campaign demands says the following:

Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they controls [sic] are complete [sic] to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions.

London is a city that is constantly being regenerated. If Dutch principles of design were made standard here, then in only a few years there would [be] excellent progress towards making many major roads and junctions safer for cycilng [sic] and walking. For example, London Bridge and Vauxhall Cross are both due for major changes in the next few years.

As things stand, there is a little bit of a cycle lane currently in place on Kennington Lane, and it is proposed that this be removed (#Smoothingtrafficflow).

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