Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Traffic counts - not necessary

The traffic measures which have been implemented to allow the essential gas works to take place on Trinity Road are pretty significant.

If residents happened to petition on something like this, it is likely that the council may suggest that the potential for traffic displacement to neighbouring streets would mean that it wouldn't work. eg Kettering Street paper 15-238

I did the following FOI request to see if any consideration had been given to taking traffic counts to see what actually happens when compared to the traffic models.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/traffic_counts_for_temporary_roa

The response is:

Wandsworth Borough Council, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Traffic Division had considered traffic count variables on Trinity Road for the traffic management plan for the works.  Transport for London’s Traffic Flow Data system was used to ascertain the volume of traffic.   The Council did not undertake a traffic count for each of the roads listed below as Officers did not consider it necessary.

This raises three questions:


  1. Why were the fears of traffic displacement raised as a  reason to recommend no further action for the trial proposed for the Kettering Street petition? 
  2. Why wasn't this information used as part of the Fishponds Road area consultation to highlight to residents that their fears of traffic gridlock were unlikely to occur? 
  3. Why is it that councillors on the relevant committee aren't questioning officers given that they are aware from local groups of the evidence that contradicts council positions? 


Don't forget to add your support to the petitions that the Lib Dems are supporting me with locally. It is only with your support that we'll be able to make positive improvements. Labour and the Tories seem too dead set against making positive things happen for the time being.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Serendipity – Kettering St trial

Last night I returned home to find that a trial, of sorts, was taking place on Kettering Street. It has taken place without public consultation, and by all appearances seems to be a low cost solution.

Early morning view
Early evening with contractors present

Fallsbrook Road end of the street

Of course this is to allow the contractors to make good the water leak that has followed from the burst main the other week at the end of Southcroft Road. But it highlights just how quickly action can be taken if there is the will. 

What must residents do to get improvements?

I’m left asking the question, just what is it that councillors on the committee need to hear from local residents in order to act? The reason given for recommending no action on Kettering Street was that no-one had been hurt in the previous 3 years. Does that mean that we need people to be hurt for action to be taken? When the Fishponds proposals went to consultation, the outcome (if you dug into the detail) confirmed that residents agree there is a problem, but not how to fix it. That was reason enough for the committee to agree to do nothing. 

People getting hurt on Upper Tooting Road as a result of collisions from drivers using the back roads as short cuts as yet are not deemed to be the council’s problem as Upper Tooting Road is managed by Transport for London. 

I’ve written to Cllr Cook and Cllr Kaddy as the relevant cabinet member and chair of the committee asking them to clarify what residents can do to improve their streets. I'll keep you posted with the responses I get. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Inertia over the decades in Wandsworth

Whilst I really feel like progress is being made to create safer streets in Wandsworth, a spate of tweets the other evening highlights how it is the politics that really is the sticking point to taking action.


Yet, the councillors on the relevant committee feel like they are taking action asking for another strategy document to be drawn up instead of trialling temporary changes.

Plus ca change eh?

With problems such as:

Air pollution
Obesity
Diabetes
Climate Change
Cost of living (associated with fuel costs)

Doing nothing really isn't an option. But it seems to fit perfectly well with our local councillors.

With a bit of luck, hopefully in the coming months we'll see TfL publish their proposals for both Balham High Road, and Tooting Town Centre. Both are listed on their Roads Modernisation Programme, and given the quality of work that is starting to appear, I'm optimistic that we could have equally high quality proposals for the local area.

If that is the case, then, I hope perhaps a few more people may be inclined to listen to the proposals that I, and others, have been advocating for over several decades now.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Trinity Road re-designed (temporarily for Gas Works)

The recently commenced road works to do essential gas works on Trinity road have galvanised TfL and Wandsworth Councils’ highway engineers into action.

In pushing through these temporary measures, the engineers are highlighting how quickly our streets can be reconfigured if the desire/need is deemed important enough. Gas works essential to re-design the streets, people getting hurt less so.

Sadly, as is all too common, little or no consideration for walking or cycling has been given. The pictures below ‘closing’ the pedestrian crossings give sight to a culture that puts walking as a non-essential means of transport.



With the gyratory type system which has been implemented for motor traffic, cycling contraflows could easily be permitted. The ‘filtering’ of some of the residential streets with no entry signs could be just for motor vehicles, allowing people on bikes to still use the streets in both directions.

You may think you missed the ‘consultation’ on these changes, but you didn’t, because the works are deemed to be essential.

When people ask through petitions, as I have done, councillors have rejected them. Either using difference of opinion from resident responses as to what will happen to prevent a trial taking place, or citing a lack of people getting hurt to justify inaction. The screen grab below is from Crashmap.co.uk, self evidently there is an issue at the junction of St James's Drive and Trinity Road.



I have asked in the past for traffic counts to be carried out when works such as these take place. I am confident that none are being done or were planned. The closing of the pedestrian crossings highlights that no real thought has been given to people walking through the area whilst the works are on-going. With so little thought given to even that, a traffic count to see the actual effects of the re-design would be a step too far.

The re-routing of the 319 has also resulted in 4 stops being suspended, with no temporary or request stops in place.

Seems that when you don't drive in Wandsworth your views and needs don't count. For all the warm words in terms of draft cycling strategy, or the walking strategy from years ago, the current consultation for a new strategy on air quality, without the political will to re-think how our streets are managed and run, little is likely to happen soon.

If you'd like to see real action, there are a bunch of petitions available to sign here.

Update

I cycled past on Tuesday evening (30th June) to play touch, didn't have time to take pictures. The pedestrian crossings at St James Drive are no longer blocked. There is also a temporary bus stop on the route. Cycling against the flow of traffic is currently banned, although I don't understand why it should be.

I've also put in an FOI request to see if any consideration had been given to doing traffic counts as part of this work. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Strategy means nothing if no action is taken

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately I missed out on last night's Wandsworth Council committee meeting.

The good news is that I've heard quite a bit of progress has been made on 20mph roll-out, and whilst we aren't yet at the stage of seeking a borough-wide consultation with exceptions made for key routes, there definitely is political will for this to be advanced.

There was another paper tucked away, relating to another petition that I've done for the street I live on. The petition was asking the council to trial changes to the street similar to what has already been done extensively in Merton and blogged about already here.

The recommendation to the committee was to take no further action as there have been no reported accidents in the 3 previous years, and for the 1 week in January when they did traffic counts the volume was low and speeds were low.

The Labour team managed to make the case that the network of residential streets that I live in, should be considered for a Home Zone. Officers have been tasked with coming up with a strategy for 'Home Zones' in Wandsworth. This is all well and good, however, strategy is one thing, physical change on the ground is another. Very easy to ask for a strategy and another report. Much harder to actually make meaningful change happen.

If Wandsworth council isn't even prepared to try changes on the ground, then short of serious political change at the council or multiple deaths on residential streets as a result of 'traffic collisions' I have real difficulty in seeing how the major changes that are needed for many streets in the borough will occur. This is the 2nd time that the council have refused this trial approach, the first one being with the Fishponds Road area.

The only consolation is the growing amount of support that together with the local Lib Dems we are getting for petitions calling for real changes. Do check out the petitions here, and lend your support.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Response from Wandsworth Borough Commander

The other week I wrote to our Borough Commander, and the head of the Met Sir Hogan-Howe regarding my concerns about road safety.

There were two specific asks in that letter:

  • I would like your officers to place road danger reduction and enforcement of the rules of the road as a much higher priority than it is at present. (For instance: Many drivers continue to seem unaware of Highway Code rules such as 163 and 170, both of which directly affect the safety and perceived safety of cyclists and pedestrians across our borough).
  • I would like Wandsworth Police to be supportive of consultations regarding street design and management that the professionals involved (notably highway engineers and public health officers) believe will reduce road danger and help 'rebalance' our streets towards benign modes of transport.


It appears that the Borough Commander views road safety concerns as different to crime as he would like to see 'road safety concerns discussed alongside crime priorities'. Semantics I know, but I feel that breaking the law whilst driving not only is illegal or criminal, but it places other people in a huge amount of danger. Not entirely sure why they can't be included as a key priority in terms of saving life.

Nonetheless good to see that he has flagged this with the relevant councillors. Well worth raising road safety as a concern at your local SNT meeting, and with your local councillors.

I'd have to dig a bit further to see what the statistics are on victims of violent crime in Wandsworth, when compared to victims of violence on our roads. It would be really surprising to me if what is currently recorded as victims of 'violent crime' even come up to 10% of victims of road violence/collisions.

Now for the good news, the council has been working on a new cycling strategy, and at the next committee meeting (16th June - agenda should be out the week before) we'll see how ambitious it is. From what I've heard it should be a strong proposition.

Also the council is currently consulting on a new air quality strategy. Local air quality is massively impacted by the volume of motor traffic on our streets. There are some interesting proposals in this strategy which if taken forward, and hopefully improved from the consultation process, will allow the council to take stronger action on improving air quality. Part of the actions that are needed are creating safer streets which enable more trips to be walked and cycled than at present.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Another victim of our broken roads - we will not forget

In the early hours of Saturday morning this bank holiday weekend, a 33 year old person was killed. All we know is that it occurred somewhere around the junction of Dr Johnson Avenue and Tooting Bec Road. The police are appealing for witnesses and anyone who recognises the vehicle to contact them.


I took the picture last night. There are no visible marks that highlight the violence which occurred so recently.

What is so sad, is that this is the logical outcome of the approach taken by our council endorsed by both Labour and the Conservatives with regards to road safety. Our highway engineers are only empowered to look into road safety improvements if the following conditions have been met:

3 people killed or seriously injured in 3 years at the same location
or
25% of local residents sign a petition

The personnel working for our emergency services, literally have to pick up the pieces of broken bodies that result from this policy. The engineers are blocked by our local politicians from being able to put forward proposals to make the roads safer by the current policy position.

With the general elections fast approaching it is worthwhile reflecting on this, and the parties that support it. Locally my party, the Liberal Democrats are campaigning to change this position. I hope, if you live locally and are active with one of the two parties that do represent us at the council, you can ask your party if perhaps it is time to review the position.

If you choose to vote for Labour or the Conservatives locally, in part you are endorsing this policy position. Sometimes voting can seem futile, and that things won't change. I disagree.

Our votes do count. 

Policies do matter. 

Lives of people who live in our communities depend upon them.

Sadly, one member of our community is no longer with us this week. Let us make sure that their life wasn't lost in vain.

You can also lend your support to this petition which I'm running specifically for Tooting Bec Road. It is tragic that before substantive action will be taken to make this road safer, it is very likely that more people will be hurt.